Saturday, January 30, 2010

Any 17-15 win must be impressive if it includes #18

I've been reading tons of fan comments regarding the Super Bowl on NFL.com, where a number of trends are evident:

1) Colts fans bragging about how classy their team is, all the while accusing the Saints of playing dirty and living in a dirty city full of whiny welfare recipients.

2) Fans of every other team accusing the Saints of playing dirty and living in a dirty city full of whiny welfare recipients.

3) A handful of Saints fans praising and defending their team, many of whom are shockingly able to do so without tearing down another team.

4) A lot of heckling about New Orleans' talk of "destiny," followed by forecasts of Peyton Manning winning it all because, hey, it's just supposed to happen.

5) Tortured analyses of how the Colts will run all over the Saints in Miami (as long as the refs don't let the Saints win per NFL policy, which is clear to anyone who hasn't seen a Saints game all year).

6) Peyton Manning is the best quarterback in the history of the world. He could win it all by himself, and other variations thereof that inadvertently insult the rest of the Colts.

7) The occasional spelled word and not-missing punctuation.

However, there's something that neither side has brought up much, if at all, but it's something I've been noticing all season. In football, it's said the only stat that counts in the end is the score on the board. So I took the Saints score from each game and paired it with the Colts score from the same week. They had back-to-back bye weeks, so I paired those scores together. I know it's arbitrary, but so is every other tape-tale that hasn't been fleshed out on the field. Here are my findings:

Regular season
Saints - Colts - Result for NO
45 14 W
48 27 W
27 31 L
24 34 L
48 31 W (byes)
46 42 W
35 18 W
30 20 W
28 35 L
38 17 W
38 35 W
33 27 W
26 28 L
17 35 L
17 15 W (both lost)
10 7 W (both lost)

Playoffs
Saints - Colts - Result for NO
45 20 W
31 30 W

Total points
Saints - Colts
586 466

This table shows that the Saints outscored the Colts in 13 of 18 games (going 11-4 when both teams won and 2-0 when both lost). It doesn't even take into account margin of victory, strength of schedule or any number of other variables that might actually tip it more in the Saints' favor.

I'm not trying to reach any conclusion other than, how the hell can anyone say the Saints can't win Super Bowl XLIV? It seems to me that they have every bit a chance - and more - as their storied opponent. Bring it!

A new round of rules

Rule #149: Juice the Palms
Now that the Supreme Court has ruled that money equals free speech and thus no limits can be imposed upon it, professional sports has to legalize all steroids. After all, both are unfair advantages that tilt the playing field in ways that force honest people into unhealthy practices just to stay competitive. We should at least be consistent.

Rule #150: Sour Purple Grapes
If you're going to complain about the bad officiating in the NFC Championship Game, you have to gripe about all of it, not just the calls in overtime. After all, the refs gave the Vikings a touchdown on a dubious pass-interference call earlier in the game. Yes, the officiating was bad. You know what else was? Twelve men in the huddle and multiple fumbles. Skol Saints!

Rule #151: Who Dat Say Dey Gonna Bleed Dem Saints?
The NFL cannot copyright "WHO DAT" any more than Paris Hilton could claim "That's hot" or Fox News could take "fair and balanced." And, please, don't force me to equate the first with the last two ever again.

Rule #152: GOP Hates All Things PC
The Republican Party needs to actually learn to use the Internet. With its awkward shout-outs to Twitter and Facebook, and the one-off "What Up" blog, it's a wonder the party's site isn't called www.republicanpartyinternetwebpage.com.

Rule #153: Fence on the Ground
Let's see more of the Barack Obama who spoke at the State of the Union address and the GOP retreat this week. I could grow to like that.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Playing horseshoes

"The Saints have an explosive offense and an opportunistic defense. So many weapons on both sides of the ball, it's hard not to root for them, especially in light of what this team means to a still-recovering New Orleans. But, wow, Peyton Manning! Colts win, 56-0." - Every sports analyst

It seems there's a Freudian transferrence of affection among sportscasters from Brett Favre to Peyton Manning. One can only wonder how pornographic sports shows will get if Manning's still playing at 40.

I blame the Saints. It's as if they're incapable of being liked by a lot of people. If (when) they win the Super Bowl, watch for some explosively bitter commentary on par with that currently being spouted by Vikings fans (who have a selective memory with regards to the bizarre calls throughout the entire game against both teams).

You see, the Saints aren't supposed to win. Ever. Because they were bad from 1967-86 and much of the late 1990s, and that directly ties in to the Payton-Brees-Sharper era through some psychic twist I have yet to figure out. The Vikings were supposed to win, dammit, because they had more yards. Yards > points? What is that, metric?

Oh no, I know why. It's because of Brett Favre. The Saints hit him a lot and robbed him of the goal he had with the Vikings in the first place: to win a Super Bowl. Now he just looks like a gunslinging mercenary who's having too much fun to realize how arrogant he comes off. And that's just unfortunate.

To his credit, though, Favre took his lumps and seemed genuinely upset at the end. I don't blame him, and his post-game comments actually had me wondering if everything bad I'd ever said about him was less about him and more about how the media puts him on a pedestal.

Now that I'm seeing the same awe over Peyton Manning by the press, maybe that is in fact the case. Which means Peyton - who I've always liked - might become a source of resentment. I don't want that to happen. It's just one more reason I want to see a Saints win in the Super Bowl - I'm tired of hearing how Manning is going to singlehandedly dismantle my team. Also, I think Drew Brees deserves some respect. It'll never be on the Favre-Manning level of slobber, and it shouldn't be, but neither should Brees be perpetually relegated to the second-class tier of great NFL quarterbacks:

"Yeah, Brees is great, blah blah blah, but Brady and Manning have won the Super Bowl in the past, which makes them better back then."

I'm not out to be vindictive, because like all other Saints fans I have many positive reasons to want my boys to win Super Bowl XLIV. But there seems to be this sentiment that the Colts deserve to win this...just like the Vikings apparently did. And we know how that turned out.

Who Dat! (Registered trademark of nobody)

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Sage Saints question

If a tree falls in the Superdome but no one can hear it because the crowd's so loud, how deaf will Brett Favre be when his pants hit the ground?

SOFA recap, 1/17/10

Usually when players meet up for some Sunday SOFA action, one of the toughest tasks is picking teams. Players generally shy away from being team captains, and teams tend to form on the basis of who can’t be paired together (due to fairness/treetrunkiness).

However, that was not a problem on Sunday for the nine men who assembled for an afternoon of flag football. With NFL playoff fever in full infection mode, Ian and Joe became catalysts for team loyalties. Ian, resplendent in his Saints cap, and Joe, with his ratty old Colts cap, made natural team captains. Each player picked a side (think Team Edward and Team Jacob, for those of you who need that sort of analogy, but way cooler). Once that was done, the Saints side bowed to fairness and gave Joe’s team a few players to even it out.

The Saints Partisans (Ian, Jerome, Sam, Aaron, Dave in rotation) slammed the Colts Partisans (Joe, Kenny, Chad, Steven) 92-64 in what will clearly prove to be a precise microcosm of Super Bowl XLIV.

The Saints got going early with Ian at the helm, spreading out the ball among his receivers with short, strategic plays. Their no-huddle offense went off without a hitch, just like they had practiced. Their playbook is only one page, and they were all on it (I'm here all week).

The Colts managed to score quite a bit, too, but Peyton Manning can only carry so much of the burden when he's not there. They turned over the ball several times on fourth down. Or was that the other Saints game? Probably both. We're consistent.

The Saints benefited mightily from the five-man rotation, which has lost only one game in SOFA history. It worked so well, in fact, that even the Colts couldn't catch a break when they had a brief run with the rotation.

After enduring a sick-sounding smack to the stomach, Chad had to sit out for a few plays. Ian substituted for him, eventually throwing a pick-six interception to Jerome, who was otherwise his teammate. The SOFA statistician's head exploded.

The Colts did manage to score on a nice reverse involving Chad, Steven and Joe. I guess you could say it was a "reverse" of fortune. Again, here all week.

This week's score of 92-64 was actually one of the lowest scores in recent SOFA lore. The way the NFC playoffs are going, this could well be the score of the actual Saints-Vikings game. As for the Colts, well, see you again soon.

Game notes/balls:

• Newcomers Steven and Dave rocked out full-throttle for their respective teams. Steven, a Marine new to the area, was a force at receiver for the Colts. Dave's diminutive stature helped him be swift to the ball on kickoffs and did nothing to lessen the impact of numerous dives that helped him with several big plays (and left him with numerous dirt tattoos).

• SOFA now has a mascot! Or did for a few minutes in the second half, anyway. A beautiful, large, timid dog of indeterminate breed wandered onto the field and spent several minutes watching us from behind. Ian named her “Sophie” (get it?). Her owner eventually came calling, which was good, because she (the dog) was wandering close to the street by then.

• Ian was dynamite at quarterback, throwing touchdown passes in all but his last series, which was rescued by a Dave pass to Jerome for a TD. There might have been an interception too.

• Aaron and Sam were welcome sights for SOFA eyes. They, too, made pivotal plays for the Saints in their return.

• Someone (probably from Kickapoo) had carved a giant swastika into the mud before the game, and also drew one out on the gravel near the sidelines. Kenny raked it and replaced it with a much more aesthetically pleasing peace sign.

• Ian did not catch a pass in the game. There were also no girls at the game. Undeniably a connection there.

• Joe still hurts to hit. Chad too.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Welcome back, Saints


"Bummer of a game, man. Show me some love."


"Come on Drew...Brenda won't mind!"


"No, Kurt, Kim's watching. And her cameras."


"How about it, huh, Larry?"


Awwwww.....

Yesterday's Saints-Cardinals game was awesome! Not just for the 45-14 score, but because of what New Orleans showed about itself yesterday:

- With Jeremy Shockey, Jabari Greer, Pierre Thomas, et al. back, it looked like a team we haven't seen in several weeks...if at all. And while Shockey limped a lot, it only seemed to make him more determined.

- The biggest mistake the Cardinals made in the entire game was scoring on the first play. That galvanized the Saints defense like nothing else could have done.

- I don't care what lame Tom Brady rule negated it; Darren Sharper's wicked, acrobatic interception was among his absolute best. It's hard to blame the D for giving up a touchdown after losing that to some lame Tom Brady rule. Thanks, Brady!

- Drew Brees' flea-flicker to Devery Henderson was my favorite play of the game. I love flea-flickers, especially when they're long touchdown bombs like that one. But mainly, I love the way the crowd sounds when they realize that something really cool's about to happen. It's like they cheer in a deeper octave. Man, I want season tickets...

- When Bobby McCray slammed Warner on the Will Smith interception, I was pulling for Warner to get up. After all, he is a human being and a hell of a competitor. Also, Matt Leinart had some life in him, and I couldn't have any of that.

- REGGIE! REGGIE! REGGIE! Where the hell has that been? I credit Deuce McAllister.

- I haven't verified this for sure, but it seems like there are a lot more Louisiana boys and other lifelong Saints fans on this team (Devery Henderson, Randall Gay, Tracy Porter, Deuce McAllister) and others who have made New Orleans as a city their own (Drew Brees, Darren Sharper, Mike McKenzie) than in years past. I think it shows that these players, for whatever other reasons they play in New Orleans, get the bond that fans don't necessarily share with other teams. Which is one of so many reasons why the Saints can, and deserve to, go all the way.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

My decade in life: 2005

1/1 - Ring in the new year at a rockin’ party for the second year in a row, under the delusion that this will turn into a tradition.

January - With our long-awaited new track finally under construction, the UL track team begins practicing at Lafayette High. I really went far in the last seven years, I think to myself, though it does make picking up my sister from school amazingly convenient. Actual cell-phone conversation:

Keely: “Where are you?”
Ian: “Look to your left.” (Waves)
Keely: “Ah!”

1/24 - Get called to jury duty for the first time ever. I get as far as the juror’s box — it’s like the playoffs if you’re into that sort of thing — before being tossed. I told them I couldn’t side with the corporation over a denied injury claim. Also, I knew four of the witnesses (one of whom was a relative). The case sounded pretty juicy, so I was actually kind of disappointed when they dismissed me. Still, I got $25 for it!

February - Blog 19 times that month, an all-time low. Curse myself for being so blog-lazy and vow never to hit such a dry spell again.

March - A group of my journalism friends and I get serious about starting an underground magazine called “The Undermind.” We meet every Sunday to strategize, though really we just hang out and write/draw/brainstorm most weeks. Good times.

April 1 - Less than two months after turning 15, my sister gets her learner’s permit. Given the day, I thought it was a joke. But she did in fact get it, so I begin teaching her how to drive (even though she apparently already knows how). She and I spend many an afternoon after school driving around Cajun Field on my improvised obstacle courses. She still owes me gas money.

May - My final semester in school — my 15th in college and 22nd year overall — comes to an end with two days of written and oral exams conducted by three of my professors (my only academic commitment of the semester — no classes). I am asked to sit outside for 15 minutes while they decide whether or not I will get my master’s degree. Longest 15 minutes of my life. Afterward, I learn that I’m going to Hollywood! Yeah!

On my way into the Cajundome for graduation, I run into a group of relatives, who were coming out from seeing my cousin graduate. They are shocked to bump into me. “How many times are you going to graduate?!!” asks my great aunt. This time around, I choose not to sing “Lean On Me.”

Spring/summer - Spend lots of afternoons swimming, playing softball, volleyball and racquetball and stargazing with my grad-student friends, who will part ways all too soon.

At about this time, I take my truck in for I think will be a $69 brake job. Winds up costing $700, though the mechanic says he can do a partial job for much cheaper that will last about four months. I decline, figuring I’ll have the truck much longer than that. I take out a loan and get my brakes, which have to be done twice after I nearly explode on the highway.

6/5 - Start up my Facebook account. Actually had to validate it through my college e-mail...that’s how far back I go.

June - With my trademark humility and rationality, apply for a job with United Media in New York, home to Peanuts, Dilbert and every syndicated columnist you read. Weeks later, get a single post-it note in response, unsigned, telling me off in a such a way that made “No, you asshole” seem dignified by comparison. Miss school already.

July - Take a trip to Arkansas to visit family. We visit the Clinton Museum in Hope and spas in Hot Springs. But I’ll perhaps remember the trip most for eating at Western Sizzlin for the first time since 1987, when I threw up after eating a corn dog. I avoid the corn dogs and don’t get sick.

July also marks my last work trip to the UL track, my last swim and run at Bourgeois Hall and my last access to the UL computer lab. The end of a long, long era, and the beginning of one that will feel even longer.

8/29 - Hurricane Katrina. That bitch.

In the immediate aftermath, three things happened in Lafayette: 1) Several franchise businesses announced that, for an indefinite period, they would only hire ex-New Orleans employees; 2) Radio stations started blasting unsubstantiated stories about carjackings at Wal-Mart; and 3) perhaps weirdest of all, Subway ran out of food, because all of their suppliers went through New Orleans.

9/3 - Join hundreds of volunteers at the Cajundome, where Katrina evacuees are being housed. Work three full shifts in a 24-hour period. Meet lots of great people who are unbelievably resilient in the face of tragedy. Go home and take a nap, feeling really good.

Wake up from the nap feeling really, really bad. Like, on-fire bad. Much, much worse than I’ve ever felt before or since. Throw up 20 times in two hours, completely convinced I'm going to die right there on the bathroom floor. But mostly, I’m pissed that I’m too sick to work another shift. Though the most likely cause of my illness was 18 hours in close proximity with thousands of people who had just nearly died, my body decides it was the peanut butter sandwich I ate that afternoon. I don't eat another one for an entire year.

9/18 - The engine of my truck seizes up for the last time. This wouldn’t have been so bad if I hadn’t been driving home alone from Morgan City at the time, 44 miles from home, doing 70, at 3:30 a.m., right after six tow trucks from Carencro passed me by. Where I stalled was so desolate — nary a light or sign — I had to call 911 just to ask where I was. And even they didn’t know. Spend much of my night in a police station and the rest on my girlfriend’s couch.

I wound up getting a tow, and a month later sold my truck to the mechanic for the price of the tow. Forced to quit my reporting job as a result.

September - Hurricane Rita smacks Lafayette. It’s not as bad as Katrina, though it hits the same day I’m scheduled to fly to Minnesota to visit a friend and catch a Second City show from the front row. My friend loses 3,000 frequent-flier miles and I lose a huge travel opportunity.

October - At least the Saints...meh.

November - On my blog, give thanks that “That there's only one month left in this godawful year” and “That only two of my friends died this year.” That would turn into three by December, but is still below average.

December - Hold out hope for a new job and a better year in 2006. Or at least a not-worse year.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Correction

The census was not, in fact, created by ACORN as an effort to turn everyone into Democrats after confiscating their guns and sending them to Chicago. It is, in fact, a constitutionally mandated national count conducted every 10 years that determines, among other things, proportional representation in Congress.

Michele Bachmann regrets the error. Well, no, probably not.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

My decade in life: 2004

Jan. 1 - Eat my last meal with meat for two months, as I vow to try vegetarianism. Unfortunately, my new diet does not swear off Flamin’ Hot Cheetos, and I actually gain a lot of weight.

February - Lose my college ID and have to take a new picture. I still consider it the worst picture I’ve ever taken. This is made worse by hearing three times in a week how much better I used to look. Make vow to get back in shape.

2/24 - I can’t remember Mardi Gras.

March - While washing my truck in preparation for a memorable first date, I accidentally click on the cabin lights. By evening, my battery’s completely dead. Have to take my dad’s trash-strewn truck instead. This is followed not long after by the fuel pump dying, also while on a date. Great.

4/24 - My brother gets married. I serve as best man. Hilarity and heartwarming hijinks ensue.

5/8 - Can’t remember my birthday. Probably had a final or a conference track meet or both.

5/31 - 6/1 - With my parents and sister off to Disney World and I alone in the house puppy-sitting, I sit at the computer and create a blog on impulse. I don’t stop until 6 a.m., after which I e-mail several of my friends to tell them about “Ian McGibboney: Not Right.” As far as I know, only one of them ever looks at it.

June - While blogging in the middle of the night, I hear a sound like a gunshot. It’s the sound of a kitchen-ceiling panel ripping out, which takes part of the ceiling fan with it. The hole remains to this day.

Not long afterward, the ceiling fan directly above our computer also rips out, also while I’m blogging in the middle of the night (and while it’s running!). Misses me by inches. Get deathly scared of the fan directly above my bed.

Summer - Moonlight as a videographer for the Louisiana Swamp Gators, a Lafayette-based football team in the NAFL (Motto: “For the love of the game.”). The guys pay for uniforms and bus fare to travel as far as Alabama on the weekends. A really fun experience.

July-ish - Visit the Polka Dot Camp for what turns out to be the last time. Wouldn’t visit Butte La Rose again for five years. Truly a missed opportunity.

August - Get really into Mad Max for some reason.

September - A high school classmate of mine is killed in Iraq. I attend his funeral, which is a sad kind of reunion.

10/16 - Critique a book by young conservative pundit Ben Ferguson. Bizarrely, the blog post ranks among the top Google searches of his name for years, and is still 19th.

11/2 - Dubya wins re-election. I am genuinely shocked and cry all night. Get heckled a lot at school the next day.

Christmas - Get a surprise gift: My first cell phone. Also, the Indiana Jones trilogy on DVD, which I watch (somewhat awkwardly) with my German girlfriend.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Optimism time: Saints edition

- The Saints are 4-0 this year against teams that fly (Eagles, Jets, Falcons sweep).

- Kurt Warner has never beaten the Saints in the playoffs. He had only one chance, granted, but HAKIM DROPPED THE BALL!

- Despite conflicting injury reports, New Orleans is likely to have most of its long-missed starters back Saturday (you know, the ones we missed in the recent fiascos).

- Now that everyone besides Saints fans has written them off for dead, the team can regain that old back-against-the-wall motivation that seems to serve them so well.

- Did you see the Cardinals' near-meltdown late in the wild-card game? The Saints have that covered on both fronts. With the newly re-intact offense, Drew and Co. can replicate and even exceed early-season glories. If the Packers can notch 45, New Orleans should be able to absolutely rock it out (look for lots of burns down the middle). The Saint defense, unlike Green Bay's, will show up.

- Neil Rackers proved that the Cardinals, like the Saints, have clutch-kicker issues. I predict it won't matter, because it won't come down to three.

Wood-knocking prediction: Saints 48, Cardinals 27

(UPDATE: Apparently, my prognostication is the same score as the Giants game, which came off a bye week. The Saints' last playoff win was the second 27-24 win over the Eagles in 2006-07, also after a first-round bye. I'm definitely sticking with this one. It just feels right.)

Parting quote: "The Saints are still the class of the NFL." - Trent Dilfer, after the Bucs loss

Saturday, January 09, 2010

My decade in life: 2003

January - Get in and start grad school. A friend asks me how I could turnaround like that so soon after graduating. I tell her, I don’t know how not to be in school.

February - Watch with a crowd as two old dorms on my college campus are imploded. This happens at the very moment the space shuttle Columbia blows up, which leads to our local meteorologist being interviewed on CNN an hour later claiming he heard it. What he actually heard was the implosion. Our university lost a plant project on the shuttle.

Later that month, my friend is killed in a motorcycle accident, and his rider - also a friend - is critically injured. Around this time, another friend inexplicably stops breathing and dies. Crazy month.

3/20 - War on Iraq begins. More uncomfortable conversations.

4/30 - See Los Lobos live at Festival Internationale de Louisiane with friends. The band plays a fun, high-energy set, but saves “La Bamba” for last, and leads everyone to believe they’re finished before they get to it, meaning we were nearly at our car before we heard it off in the distance. Still, a good time had by all.

May - Semester ends; job hunt begins. I apply for a freelance reporting job.

May-July - A lot of late-night computer solitaire and bike-riding.

July - Apply for my old job at FedEx Ground. Told they’d be happy to have me back, but the computer application apparently considers me overqualified since I now have a college degree. Curse what I think is a rock-bottom job market. The next day, get a call from the newspaper. Get a good stringer gig I keep for more than two years.

August - Start what turns out to be my single hardest semester in grad school. One professor will tell me I’m “headed for disaster.” Feeling the love.

9/11 - R.I.P., John Ritter. Will tragedies never cease?

10/7 - Write column in UL paper ridiculing a girl in California who tried to start a Caucasian Club at her high school. Leads to weeks of hot letters, one of which is by an anonymous white guy who is angry he can’t spew the N-word while singing rap lyrics, and another who calls me a race traitor; other letters defend me with equal passion and facts. Love it. Love it.

November - Start listening to the Commodores’ “Nightshift” a lot for some reason. Love it. Love it.

December - Manage to pass all my classes, even the “disaster” one. Don’t know how, but breathe sigh of relief.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

My decade in life: 2002

2/3 - I cheer for the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XXXVI. One of my friends, a die-hard Pats fan, is extremely bitter over Tom Brady replacing Drew Bledsoe, and thinks it will be the death knell for the team. However, the Pats hold on to win over the hated (in Saints circles, anyway) St. Louis Rams. This would be the last time I ever pull for the Patriots.

Late in the spring semester - Perform as Lysander in a scene of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” for my theater class. My Lysander is a lecherous guy who tries to cop a feel on two different women and winds up getting kicked repeatedly across the floor for it. Wasn’t (entirely) my idea, but apparently enough people wanted to see it happen.

April - Attend a journalism convention in Fayetteville, Arkansas, where I hear a speech from someone working at a newspaper called the Springfield News-Leader.

Hours after arriving home from that convention, I find out that my college track coach - the man most responsible for my attending college tuition-free - died of a heart attack the day before. The wake is in an hour. My head spins.

May - For my last journalism-related class assignment, attend a governor’s meeting at the state Capitol. When I and a gaggle of reporters crowd then-Gov. Mike Foster afterward, I realize I have to cock my head almost 90 degrees to see his face.

June - Start both my college columnist gig and my reporter internship. Both very different, and truly enjoyable, experiences.

Summer - While visiting a friend’s apartment to help him revise a paper, my truck gets towed from the empty parking lot. On a Sunday night. Apparently, there was a visitors’ lot completely invisible from how I got there. Costs $125 to get out of impoundment. “In all my years here, I never saw that happen,” my friend says. Go figure.

9/21 - Watch the UL Ragin’ Cajuns football team thrash Alabama-Birmingham 34-0 in driving rain. I don't think such a blowout has happened since, or even in the several years preceding it.

10/2 - Hurricane Lili hits my house. Gatorade and cold showers for days.

November - Appear as a last-minute replacement panelist on a live public-access cable show about politics. As a joke, the guy I’m filling in for sends me a preparatory e-mail with the subject line, “Nicaraguan economy.” I talk way too much but hold my own. Looking at the footage later, I decide I should lose some weight. Fortunately, my coming financial drought in 2003 would take care of that for me.

12/1 - Attend my first (and so far only) Saints game, a home stand against the eventual Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers. After jumping to a 23-9 lead, the Saints (in throwback uniforms) hold on to win 23-20 and improve their record to 8-4. Watching ESPN after the game, I remember thinking, “There’s no way this team will finish 9-7 and all the convoluted scenarios that would have to happen to boot them from the playoffs will actually happen.”

12/2 - Rush back to Lafayette early the next morning to take arguably my hardest final of the semester, which I forsook partying in the French Quarter to study for the day before. Make an A. Phew. It wasn’t for nothing.

12/14 - Graduate from college for the first time. Like it so much I decide to start grad school the very next month so I can do it again. The real world could wait, I figured, especially after reading a job experts saying 2002 was the worst year he could envision for college students to be graduating.

12/15 - At graduation party, watch the Saints give up to a terrible Vikings team on the last play of the game. Bloody Randy Moss! Yay for parties.

Semester break - Fretting over whether or not I got into grad school, which starts in mere weeks. Begin reflecting on how teachers always said school years were “the best of our lives.” Uh-oh.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

My decade in life: 2001

January - A girl asks me to kiss her, and I do. This would be the extent of my dating life in 2001.

Jan. 20 - Bush inaugurated president. I miss it because I was at McNeese attending an indoor track meet. This was the same venue where that brawl broke out a year earlier. Learn to avoid McNeese.

Feb. 27 - Spend my whole Mardi Gras - which was the only day I was in town during the festivities - conducting interviews for a class assignment. Decide I hate interviewing people.

March - Briefly rejoin the UL Vermilion as a staff writer. Wrote an article on a local STD clinic. My next assignment is to hang out at the clinic. Sensing this is where my beat is headed, I quit.

April - Create The Screaming Icon, a magazine of political and other satire, for an editing class. Find a purpose in life.

May 8 - My 21st birthday. I don’t remember much about it. And not for any fun reason.

May 31 - Get my first and only fast-food job. Lasts two months, in which time I burn much of my left palm, cut a scar into my left thumb that’s still there and aggravate my back.

July 25 - Last day at that job. Decide I’d rather be poor.

Aug. 2 - One day after an oil change (done by a friend who happened to be working where I went), my truck smokes and stalls in a church parking lot. None of the several guys in the lot offer to help me. Have to limp the rest of the way to the mechanic shop, where they tow it in and make $300 in repairs. Decide this is the worst year ever, and nothing else could possibly top this.

Aug. 16 - Have sciatica surgery on my spine. It was the first surgery of any kind I ever had, and they had to give me a valium/morphine mix just to calm me down enough to give me the anesthesia. Grooooooovy. Hours later, walk without pain for the first time in months. Was totally worth the fact that I could not sit down for two weeks, and that I had to take several bars of soap with me in the shower in case I dropped one.

Aug. 21 - Start the fall semester. Have to stand up at the back of every class for two weeks. At no point in this time did I feel the slightest twinge of self-consciousness.

Sept. 9 - Work a triathlon at the Lafayette airport. Watched planes take off into storm clouds while I chatted with a guy who worked there. Spend the morning thinking how cool it would be to work at an airport.

Sept. 11 - OK, maybe not.

The rest of the year - A lot of tremendously uncomfortable conversations.

I don’t remember much else about 2001, aside from the odd fact that I had maybe three pictures taken that entire year.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Probably a pointless debate

Since the dawn of 2010, I've heard something from several respected friends and sources that I'd never heard previously.

Apparently, this isn't the end of the decade.

Instead of 2010 being the first year of the teens (or whatever alternate cutesy name we wind up giving it), some are considering it the last year of the aughts (or whatever alternate cutesy name we gave that decade - I like aughties myself. Sounds like eighties).

One of my friends argues it's because there was no year zero, and thus every decade ends at the tenth year, which in that case would have been the year 10. It's also been said it's this way because, when you count to 10, you don't start at zero.

OK. Fair enough. These arguments make sense in some respects. I agreed that the 21st century actually began in 2001 using similar logic (and, as it turned out with Bush's inauguration, culturally as well). Still, I always considered 2000 the first year of that decade.

And consider three things: 1) Just as there was no year zero, there also was no year 1-10, or even the first few centuries, for that matter. The year calendar as we know it began in either 284 (Diocletian, not used by Western Christians) or the sixth century (Anno Domini, introduced by Dionysius Exiguus, who decided it was 525 A.D.). Not to mention the change to the Gregorian calendar in 1582. Or all the other bumps along the way. The point being, early Western civilization counted arbitrarily at best.

Beyond that, though, the simpler reason to start a decade at zero is this: 2) it's in the name. I was born in 1980. That's not the 1970s. My sister was born in 1990. Nobody considers her an '80s girl. It should be common sense. And, yes, I suppose you could argue that a decade is really what it represents, which is why people say things like, "The 1960s ran from 1964-69," and even I've done that sometimes (as far as the sixties go). But this idea that 2010 is part of the aughts is technical at best and annoying at worst. As I've shown, it takes a strict allegiance to an arbitrary dating system to make a point that, even if you accept it, you have to admit is pretty goofy.

Oh, and there's one last point: 3) We should all want to flee the past decade as fast as possible. Fresh start and all that. See ya, aughts.

Friday, January 01, 2010

My decade in life: 2000

Stroke of midnight, New Year’s Day - Y2K doesn’t happen. The much-hyped end of the world turns out to be a huge disappointment. I remember a Sting song playing on the tube.

1/14 - Suffered a Grade III concussion while ice skating. I fell forward on my right temple after a slip at full speed (probably trying to dodge a child), knocking me back into 1999. Wasn’t quite right for either a month or ever, depending on who you ask. A friend said to my mom at the hospital, “He never did drugs because he didn’t want to kill his brain cells, but he killed them anyway.” Made my 2 a.m. job at FedEx even trippier than it already was.

A few days later - Got my first of two tickets, a dubious rolling-stop violation. Went to defensive-driving school, where one guy said he had been drag-racing. Said the instructor sheepishly, “He’s my son.”

February - At a track meet at McNeese, I videotape a 40-meter sprint that ends in an extended brawl that nearly pushes back to the starting blocks. Unfortunately, I cut tape just in time to miss the first punch, so that vital two seconds is forever lost.

March - Dropped Biology 121, the only class I ever dropped in college. I had failed four straight tests, and telling the instructor that biology was not my thing probably didn’t help. But hey, it isn't!

April - Visited my former house for the last time, to help my parents move out the last of our things. Pretty anticlimactic ending for an era that began at birth.

5/8 - I turn 20. Probably had a final that day. Always did.

May-June - Worked the NCAA regional baseball tournament, which came through Lafayette (and eventually led the Cajuns to Omaha). As part of an upgrade to Moore Field, UL erected a giant black-bar fence around the perimeter. I guess it was necessary, but it looked prison-ish. Met a future, and brief, girlfriend during my stint.

July-August - Worked as a counselor at a camp for training cross-country runners. Was voted both “Most coordinated” and “Least coordinated.” They were half-right.

August - My family gets its first new computer and Internet access. For the first time, I associate e-mail with home rather than late-night cross-town runs to the campus lab.

Sept.-Oct. - Take the Citizens Police Academy course in Lafayette. Got to take a police car out on a skid pad and spatter blood at the crime lab while wearing a full-body paper suit. Also nearly hurled after riding with a cop who drove like Bo Duke. And did I mention getting to watch some of the funniest perp footage ever? Good times.

11/7 - Voted in my first presidential election. Had to stay up and write a report on it for class, due via e-mail at midnight. The lack of clear winner made that very difficult.

The next day - I drop my contact lens down the drain. I have to wear my glasses for more than a month (making an unpleasant month all that more so). I eventually go to the eye doctor for one of my least favorite things dating back to age 5: dilation. Fortunately, advanced technology has since rendered this obsolete. Phew.

12/30 - HAKIM DROPS THE BALL! BRIAN MILNE MAY HAVE RECOVERED THE FUMBLE! THERE IS A GOD AFTER ALL!

December - I get new contact lenses just in time to see the impending decline of the decade crystal-clear.