Today our local media obsessed a bit about a football game between the University of Texas and the University of Oklahoma. The contest proved, in a phrase, not to be a contest.
I offer to fans of both schools the opportunity to boldly go where no one has gone before. I'm speaking, of course, of the Austin College Kangaroos.
Every state has an Austin College, only in the other states, its name is not Austin. It's the liberal arts school for people who aren't as spacy as the liberal arts folks I am and know (I have a Bachelor of Arts in physics, which is rather like having a non-tactile degree in chiropractic). You know, the kids who get on the law message board and insist that anyone who thinks that liberal arts are easy has not taken early Ukrainian literature at their school. Austin's a bit more down to earth, but no less proud. Austin College is for people who are "really" pre-med, pre-law, pre-seminary or in teacher training. You know the "professions" from yesteryear, kinda like a living Trollope novel, or where you go when you graduate Brookfield and can't get into Oxford (i.e., Texas), Cambridge (i.e. Texas A & M) or the redbricks (i.e., Rice).
Austin College is located in Sherman, nearly an hour north of here, just a few dozen miles below the Red River which marks the Oklahoma border. To my mind, Austin College should imitate the University of Texas at Dallas and the University of Maryland at Baltimore, our nation's pre-eminent chess powerhouses, and eschew football. But in fact, Austin College has the Kangaroos. They play football, in a manner of speaking.
I read an interview with the coach of the Kangaroos. I will paraphrase my explanation for their so-far winless season as "hey, my kids are pre-med". My suspicion is that the Kangaroos are in need of fans. I note that tickets to their game are free. So when you are bored of the latest examination of Steve Spurrier's or Bill Parcell's pronouncements, or long to hear AM radio focus on important things like mariachi music or on-air flea markets instead of sports gossip, I ask that you join me in saying "Go Kangaroos!". Football is all well and good, but teams should play schools with names like East Texas Baptist University, and retire from the field, nobly trounced, 37-3, because the players have studying to do that week. So I eschew Longhorns and Sooners and even my beloved (if today defeated) Arkansas Razorbacks, and say instead "Go Kangaroos!".
Today I was seeking out barbecue, trying to decide between a hike at the Heard Natural Science Center and a fishing trip to the sunfish-laden ponds at the Park Hill Prairie, when I saw the sign advising me that New Hope, Texas is again enjoying its place on the map. New Hope has less than one thousand residents, and is more a rural community than a town, though, like many places, it is incorporated (the town hall is a charmingly and amusingly small building), sitting some twenty miles from my home (and thirty five miles from the home of the Kangaroos).
New Hope's one day a year claim to fame happens on the second Saturday of each year. It is a massive set of garage sales. The entire hamlet all sponsors a garage sale simultaneously, yard upon yard upon yard.
I found numerous 3 dollar cassette recorders (in 2 instances the home owner actually cut off the music to sell me the unit. One instance cut off Shania, which is fine with me, because I believe Shania Twain should be seen and not heard, while the other instance cut off the Beach Boys, which is okay with me, because I have only so much spring in my step on any given day). These well-aged machines will be used for my new "overdub kazoos and other trivia with less than twenty dollar alternative to a proper recording 4 track", with the subtitle "if I could only figure out how to use cakewalk, I would not have to face such curious looks when I explain why I brought home a car full of outmoded cassette recorders". I thought of a recent debate I had--yard sales, virtuous or sad?, and though I take the affirmative, I am sure I could debate either side.
I also found a vintage cigar box for rum-dipped cigars that I'll send off to a cigar box loving LJ friend, a table top foosball game that my nephews in Arkansas will enjoy, a Polaroid instamatic that I have no idea why I bought, and a few other small items. I did not get the gorgeous 70 dollar handmade wedding ring kingsize quilt, which is too bad, because that would make an ideal xmas gift in the "gift exchange" my wife's family does each year. I did not have the money on me, and ATM machines are a bit of a drive from New Hope. I resisted the kokopelli place mats offered to me for 7 dollars, reasoning that kokopelli are charming to look at, but not really perpetual dining companions. I do look back with fondness on my wife's old college acquaintances' wedding china, which, on special dinners, was brought out, revealing rather curious birds doing something that I can only describe as dancing the pony. I do not believe that dancing bird china would have ever occurred to us, but it works. Go Kangaroos! Virtually everything cost between fifty cents and three dollars, but I should still have passed on the Mexican folk art owl, even at a dollar. I did not find the 10 gallon aquarium hood that is my only true yard sale quest. I only hit 15 or so sales--no doubt nirvana awaited at a sale not visited. I will soon be reduced to Wal Mart on this quest.
I love that New Hope has trees, and that the church rummage sale took place by a field of goats. I love the home with the giant wrought iron sculpture--one skeletal man in chains, like a cross between the Schwarzenator and a burgher of Calais, and one turtle who looks like a turtle made in an old-fashioned plastic cooking machine called a Thingmaker.
I used to have a thingmaker, a walking toxic factory of plastic cooking, in which I would bake little green soldiers in heavy metal molds. I had long ago lost the little light wires that were to be their spines, so my soldiers were, well, spineless. Ah, for the days when DDT sprayed freely and children got to play with plastic burning toys at high temperature. This ain't your sibling's easy bake oven. I love the smell of wood burning kits in the morning.
I love that the bbq place, attached to the convenience store, was named something like "Mike and Cammie's BBQ Pit" and that they had a "Garage Sale Special" of a bbq sandwich, chips ("that's Lays' not that more expensive brand") amd a 20 oz soft drink. Many folks, some garage sailors, some locals (you could tell by a certain rural bon vivant air the locals had, except the guy with the backwoods beard, who seemed to me to have "Deliverance" or "Legend of Boggy Creek" done in invisible ink on his forehead), all of whom had eyes glued to the television. At that time, these Texas fans thought, based on a good first five minutes, that Texas would not get mopped up in an embarrassing fashion. But I say, go Kangaroos! Monday, after all, the OU grads (who flock to Dallas for jobs) will have their Sooner flags flying, like pirate flags, from trucks and Lexis autos.
Kangaroo fans need not be intimidated.
I asked the proprietors where the beautiful huge photo mural (broken up by only a doorway in mid-mural) of hot air balloons flying over a Texas lake were taken. They both only could say "not Lake Lavon", Lavon being the local lake.
The alcove in which the photo was located, twelve feet high,
had a plaque over it, which said "Air Room" or some such.
I think about what sychronicity that the Motley Fool radio show featured a question from a home muralist, wondering how to keep tabs on his business. I think also about how "this American life" featured the piece about musicians who got together in a single day and recorded "rocket man", after answering musician ads. The theremin was particularly effective, both on "rocket man" and "danny boy". I wonder if Austin College has a marching band, or could they use an electric kazoo demonstration at half-time.
On my way back home, I stopped at the Heard Natural Science Center for a brief walk. So many native flowers in bloom!
I saw many butterflies, and looked at the mosasaur fossil and the many living Texas snakes. Some of them were quite lovely, but I do not plan to have any snake pets any time soon.
My sister in law called us, saying the man and two sons in her house had made other plans, so we took her to dinner at San Miguel, the great Tex Mex place in McKinney, and then we went to see "School of Rock", which was amusing indeed. Jack Black is a gifted actor, although the movie produced fewer laughs and more warm smiles than I expected--a truly sweet, small commrercial film. Joan Cusack is so talented.
Now I"m home, and I have Jane Austen's "Persuasion", and my message to the world (with apologies for the rhetoric device to my readers, and K. Vonnegut) is "Go Kangaroos!".