DAILY BRIEFING
Nationalism, Theology, and the NFL

Sep. 8 - It's 2:23am on Monday morning. I'm a working guy, so it's pretty stupid to be awake at this hour. But in just seven minutes—whoops, make that six—the Oakland Raiders will be kicking off (or receiving) against the Tennessee Titans in what will hopefully be the first good game I've experienced this opening weekend.

We only got two games here in Denmark this evening: the Chargers-Chiefs game at 7pm, and the Niners-Bears... er.... game? In retrospect I can't justifiably call it a game. An embarassment? A devastation? A bitch-slapping? You get the point. The combined scores of the winners and losers in these two games was something like 143 - 4.

So I'm clinging to my computer right now, having forked over $39.95 to NFL Field Pass for the privilege (I hope) of hearing my beloved Raiders play good, clean, competitive, and ultimately victorious football against the Titans. In an unbelievable stroke of luck, John Madden is in the booth, and his voice is a breath of fresh American air.

"It doesn't matter what they did last year, what they did in the preseason," Madden is saying, "What matters is now—what they do tonight."

Hallelujah. I'm ready for some goddam football.

* * *

Trine and I watched the earlier games the home of some friends who'd gone to some effort to make it an all-American evening. We had cheeseburgers, fries, chicken nuggets, cole slaw, and beer before the games, followed up by more beer and popcorn, pork rinds, and potato chips during the games.

I lost about a pound and a half last week. I think I may have gained it all back tonight.

* * *

I'll tell you something. People throughout the world have bought into this idiotic notion that America's a nation of jingoistic, flag-waving yahoos. From what I've seen in the past five months (in which, admittedly, I've only been in Denmark, England, Germany, and the Czech Republic), we're not even in the same league as our European friends. Our flag appears, like Elwood P. Dowd's eponymous Pooka, now and then, to this one and that one (and how are you Wilson)? The sudden fluourescence of stars and stripes on September 12, so remarkable to us, would hardly have been noticed in Denmark (assuming the flags were Danish, rather than American), for example, where the dannebrog is used to highlight everything from birthdays to furniture sales.

I haven't seen many American flags since I moved here in late March and I certainly haven't heard our national anthem.

And so tonight, at the start of the Chiefs-Chargers game, as the crowd at the 9000-mile-distant Arrowhead stadium raised their voices for our difficult anthem and their eyes to our lovely flag, I was seized by a fit of homesickness that was as powerful as it was surprising. And as the Air Force jets did their stadium fly-by and the Rockwellian montage of corn-fed Americans with their hands over their hearts dissolved into an image of our flag flapping in the heartland breeze, I got all choked up.

I immediately began to resent myself for choking up—for succumbing so easily to such flagrant schmaltz—which subsequently led to my despising myself for resenting myself. Wasn't I allowed to be homseick, for God's sake? I was lost in a debilitating intellectual fog. What was nationalism, after all? Is it the same as national pride? Who am I? What is truth? Where is God?. . .

And then toe hit ball and the game was underway, and I was just me again, enjoying a game, another beer-addled American at peace with himself and the world.

God bless America and God bless the NFL.

("We're underway from Nashville," the announcer has declared. And so they are...)

* * *

It's 2:56am. I've just realized that although I'm supposed to be getting the stats and the audio stream in "real-time" (i.e., live), the stats are coming over the wire a few seconds before the audio. The little helmet icon moves five yards backward on the virtual gridiron just a moment before John Madden informs me that Charlie Garner has been dropped for a five-yard loss.

I think it would be cool if you could take Madden NFL on an X-Box or Playstation and plug it into a live feed of real-time NFL stats and audio commentary, and the video game would then "play out" the stats on your television to give you a virtual visual. It's way too primitive just watching these little helmets move up and down a green rectangle. All the technology's there—it would just take a little coding to made it happen. Someone please do this.

* * *

It's about quarter past ten in the morning now. The Raiders were up 10-9 when I finally gave up and went to bed but I woke up this morning to see that they'd lost 25-20. The Patriots had been blown out by the Bills earlier in the day. Two starters on my fantasy team were more or less shut out and a third showed only a flicker of promise before leaving the field on a stretcher.

So for all yesterday's excitement, now I'm just tired, depressed, bloated, and way behind schedule. And I'm in no mood to go to the goddam gym or do any goddam work.

God damn the NFL.

Et Cetera

On this date in 1628, John Endicott arrived in Naumkeag, Massachusetts, as the leader of a group of Puritan Bastards who had purchased land patents from the Plymouth Council in England. A previous group of settlers had established themselves in Naumkeag in 1626 but had no patent and were therefore Villainous Heretics. They gladly surrendered their claim in the face of the newcomers' Superior Moral Virtue, which came in a variety of gauges.

Later Naumkeag became Salem and developed witches, ultimately resulting in a profitable cottage industry.

* * *

Constantine the Great's three sons, Constantine II, Constans, and Constantius II, named themselves Caesars and divided the Roman Empire between them on this date in the year 337. But it was nearly sixteen hundred years before Sid Caesar himself was born, on September 8, 1922.

Birthdays and Holidays

It's La Vierge de Meritxell in Andorra.

Today is the birthday of Patsy Cline (1932), Peter Sellers (1925), the aforementioned Caesar, Claude Pepper (1900), and Siegfried Sassoon (1876).

Happy Monday!

2003, The Moron's Almanac™

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