Distractive Emotions

This is Part III of the Brian Hawthorne saga.

If you missed out on Part II, click here and go check it out.

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“Hey Hawsy!” yelped Salverro as they got off the bus. “A few of us are gonna head for the bar and celebrate some more. You in?”

“Nah, I think I’ll pass,” answered Hawthorne. “I wanna go hang out with Sarah; I haven’t seen her all week.”

“Alright man. Have fun. See you at practice tomorrow.”

“Peace.”

Hawthorne gave the team a wave and headed off across campus to Sarah’s dorm. It was a perfect spring night. the temperature was comfortable enough for him to make the cross-campus walk in his LSU Baseball t-shirt. The humidity of the Baton Rouge afternoon had long since faded away. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky and it seemed the whole expanse of the universe was visible overhead. Hawthorne paused for just a moment to take it all in.

“Wow, this is what it’s all about,” he said out loud to no one in particular. “We’re SEC Champions, NCAA Tournament-bound and now I get to curl up for the night with the girl I’m probably going to marry someday.”

When he arrived at Sarah’s dorm, Hawthorne called his buddy who lived down the hall to come open the door so he could truly surprise his girlfriend. He headed down the hall for her suite, found the front door propped open, headed into the common room, turned the corner, walked into Sarah’s room…

… and stopped dead in his tracks.

Hawthorne couldn’t believe his own eyes. There was his girlfriend, sound asleep, wrapped in the arms of some guy with a shaved head and bulging biceps. Their clothes were strewn about the room, and what was that on the floor? Hawthorne bent down to pick it up. A condom wrapper. Hawthorne flung it aside as he stood back up.

“Well, at least you’re practicing safe sex, you whore!” Hawthorne shouted as loud as he could, shattering the peace of the night and scaring Sarah and her boy toy wide awake.

“Oh my– Holy– Brian! You’re here earlier than you said you’d be.”

“Yeah, too early for you, I guess,” answered Hawthorne, his words slathered in sarcasm. “You want me to leave and come back at a better time for you?”

“Brian, it’s not what it looks like.”

The rage flickered in his eyes. “Oh really? Well that’s good, because it sure as hell looks like you’re a cheating skank!”

“I don’t really like the tone you’re using right now.”

“And I don’t really like his dick in your mouth while I’m in Alabama!”

A crowd had now gathered. All of Sarah’s roommates had been awakened and were in the common room in a sleepy haze. Half the people on the floor were standing in the hallway outside listening to the carnage.

“Brian, you really need to calm down,” pleaded Sarah as tears started to well in her blue eyes.

“Oh, go fuck yourself,” answered Hawthorne as he turned to walk out the door. After a couple steps he turned and shouted a parting volley over his shoulder: “Or better yet, just have him fuck you again.”

Hawthorne put a hole through the wall in the common room with his right foot on the way out for good measure.

—-

Beep… beep… beep… be– *CRUNCH*

Hawthorne put his fist straight through his alarm clock the next morning.

“Yup, still angry,” Hawthorne grumbled to himself as he climbed out of bed.

But, where had he seen that guy before? So many of the details from last night were jumbled in Hawthorne’s head. He was so stressed, so disheveled and so irritated that his brain was a mostly useless lump of gray jelly for the moment. But there was one thing he was sure of: he knew the dude who was sleeping with his girlfriend. It was all he could think about as he went through his morning routine. As he made breakfast, as he showered, as he got dressed; all he could think about was the man with the shaved head, broad shoulders and ripped upper body. Who was it?

Then, as he began to brush his teeth, it hit him.

“Fuck!” he yelled as he flung the toothbrush across the room. It clattered off the tile wall and clattered around on the floor of the shower. “She’s fucking the fucking Hawk!”

Leon “The Hawk” Hawkins was a junior power forward on the LSU basketball team. Of course Hawthorne recognized him; he had spent all winter watching from the student section as Hawkins led the Tigers to the SEC title and an appearance in March Madness. They had talked to each other at the bar after the SEC Basketball Championship game. Hawthorne had vowed that the Tigers baseball squad would match the feats of the hoops team

“I wonder if she slept with him that night, too,” Hawthorne wondered to himself as he headed out the door for the gym.

Kyle McDermitt was the first teammate Hawthorne saw when he got to the weight room. The junior pitcher had a dark purple ring around his right eye.

“What the hell happened to you?” Hawthorne asked.

“Things got a little out of hand last night,” McDermitt answered with a grin. “We got into a bit of a bar brawl with some tourists from Kentucky.”

“Oh wow, wish I had been there,” said Hawthorne.

“No you don’t,” replied McDermitt. “I’m sure you had more fun with Sarah.”

“Yeah, something like that,” muttered Hawthorne under his breath as he headed off to start his workout.

—-

Catcher Danny Salverro was the unofficial captain of the LSU baseball team, especially of the infield when they were out in the field on defense. Salverro could see everything from his station behind home plate. He could track the ball, he could see where all the fielders were, he could see where the baserunners were, he could position his teammates as if they were so many chess pieces on the checkerboard of well-manicured grass in the field. Salverro would notice when a purple and gold uniform was even one step out of position in left field during a blowout, so he certainly noticed that Hawthorne was perhaps a tad out-of-whack in practice on Monday.

Every time the ball came Hawthorne’s way in the field, things didn’t go quite right. Salverro saw his normally sure-handed third baseman boot the first ball hit his way during infield drills. One error wasn’t cause for alarm in itself, but once the catcher saw Hawthorne throw the next ball away, he started paying more attention as the team moved into its intra-squad scrimmage.

Manager Lenny Menkler liked the Tigers to play at least three innings amongst themselves every day in practice. Especially as the season wore on, he felt it kept everybody having fun and kept their minds in game condition while breaking up the monotony of the everyday drills. After all, as Menkler often reminded his club, what better way to practice baseball than actually playing it and being forced to react to game situations?

Hawthorne normally enjoyed these intra-squad scrimmages. He loved to ratchet things up to game intensity on a daily basis. He loved the adrenaline rush he got from competing, even if only against his teammates. He also felt it would help prepare him if he got a shot at professional ball, where he would be expected to play almost every day for months at a time. But today it was simply three innings of hell for the senior third baseman. Nothing he could say to himself could focus his mind on the scrimmage and away from the events of the night before.

Salverro watched as his third baseman let a routine ground ball go straight between his legs. He watched as Hawthorne flat-out dropped a relay throw from left field. He watched as the normally mentally-sharp senior failed to charge towards home plate on a sacrifice bunt. He even watched as Hawthorne threw the ball into right field when his squad was throwing the ball “around the horn” after a strikeout. He saw Hawthorne fire his glove against the wall of the dugout after the scrimmage was finished.

“Hey Hawsy,” said Salverro as he approached the third baseman in the corner of the dugout. “Is everything alright?”

Hawthorne’s head was spinning so much at the moment that he didn’t even know how to respond. On the one hand, he wanted to sit down, talk about everything and see if he could put it all in perspective. On the other hand, he wanted to be alone with his thoughts and didn’t want to be any kind of a burden on the team with the NCAA Tournament right around the corner. So what was he to do?

————

Once again, it’s your decision. Two options this time around. Hawthorne can either spill everything to Salverro or keep plugging away on his own. Vote here, vote via IM, vote whatever way you please. Then check back next week-ish to see what happens.

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Sociality?

This is Part II of this blog’s newest writing project. If you missed Part I, you should probably click the link and go read it first.

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The thunder of their feet as they came down the line was only eclipsed by the thunder of the crowd as they roared to a crescendo with the game on the line. Brian Hawthorne, the Louisiana State third-baseman, charged on the infield grass. Billy Wirkin, the potential winning run for Alabama thundered down the third-base line toward home plate. Waiting there was LSU’s junior catcher, Danny Salverro, poised for the possible play at the plate. The baseball was dribbling through the infield grass towards the charging Hawthorne. The SEC Championship had come to a head in the bottom of the ninth inning on a gorgeous Saturday night in Alabama.

Everything seemed to slip into slow-motion in Hawthorne’s mind.

Hawthorne bent down and snared the baseball with his bare right hand. He fielded sure-handedly and flipped the ball underhand towards home plate. Salverro dropped his left knee, clad with its purple shin pad to the dirt to block any straight-line slide attempt to the plate. Wirkin went into a hook slide toward the outside of the dish. He hoped to slip around Salverro’s leg and stab at the plate with left hand. The ball plopped into Salverro’s gloved left hand. He covered it with his bare right hand and dove head-first in the direction of the sliding Wirkin. The glove hit Wirkin, Wirkin’s hand hit the edge of the plate, but which happened first? Tension rolled over Sewell-Thomas Stadium as if a weather front had suddenly rolled in and a momentary hush fell over the field as all eyes focused in on home plate umpire Todd Cirillo.

Cirillo pointed with his left hand down at the area where the tag play had just taken place. He stepped forward with his left foot, which was clad in a freshly-polished black shoe. He formed his right hand into a fist which he the drove through the air in front of him with such enthusiasm that his momentum brought his trailing right foot off the ground.

“YER OUT!”

With two words, the game snapped back into real-time in Hawthorne’s head. “Yes!” he exclaimed, to no one in particular as he gave a fist pump with his right hand and pointed at Salverro in appreciation of the tag applied on the play. Salverro rolled the baseball back to the mound and pointed right back at Hawthorne as they trotted off the field toward the Tigers’ dugout on the first-base side. The SEC Championship would go into extra innings tied 6-6. The crowd in Tuscaloosa, which largely favored the host Crimson Tide, was stunned into a temporary silence.

The play at the plate seemed to energize the LSU squad. Hawthorne in particular seemed to have his engine revved up by making the play to get out of the jam. He clobbered a one-out double off the wall in left-center in the top of the 10th inning. He made a diving snag of a line drive hit to his right to save an extra-base hit in the bottom half of the inning. He fielded a hot ground ball and started a 5-4-3, inning-ending double play in the bottom of the 11th. Hawthorne was so in the zone that he barely saw the hit that would eventually be the game-winner.

There were two outs and a runner on base in the top of the 12th and Hawthorne was standing in front of the bat rack at the end of the dugout. He was “in the hole” and getting himself mentally dialed in for his upcoming at-bat when Tiger senior second-baseman Lance Donnelly turned on a 2-1 fastball and hit it over the wall in left field for a two-run home run and an 8-6 LSU lead. Just like that, after the next batter struck out and Alabama went in order in the bottom of the inning, the Tigers were SEC champions.

After the celebration started to die down a little, Hawthorne picked up his cell phone, headed for a quiet corner of the locker room and made a call.

Riiiiiiiiiiiing…

Riiiiiiiiiiiing…

Riiiiiii–

“Hey there!”

Hawthorne could barely hear her over the loud background noise on the other end of the phone.

“Hello?… Sarah?”

“Yeah, hey… What’s up?” came the reply from the other end, as the background noise faded off a little bit, but remained present.

Sarah Miggalo was Hawthorne’s girlfriend of two-plus years; a fellow LSU senior who originally hailed from Minneapolis, Minnesota. Her sing-songy voice always left Hawthorne feeling a little weak in the knees.

“Did you listen to the end of the game tonight?” asked Hawthorne.

“Huh?–… … Oh, the baseball game!? Nope… Sorry, hun… I’ve been studying all night, I’m swamped this weekend.”

“Oh… That sucks… Well, we won, so we’re going to the N-C-double-A tournament.”

“… … … Congratulations, sweetie… That sounds like fun…”

“So, what’s going on at your place tonight? I’m having trouble hearing you over the noise.”

“Oh, that? That’s just the TV… it’s keeping me company while you’re kicking ass in Alabama.”

Hawthorne could make out the sound of a door closing and suddenly the background noise stopped.

“Awwww… How sweet,” Hawthorne said. “Well, just wanted to let you know what was going on. I’ll let you go. Try not to stress out over school.”

“Alright. Congrats on winning your ballgame. When will you be back on campus?”

“We’ve got the conference banquet tomorrow afternoon so we won’t be back until late tomorrow night. I’ll see you Monday.”

“See you then. Love you”

“Love you too.”

Hawthorne closed his phone, picked up his equipment bag and headed for the team bus to go to the hotel for the night.

Sunday was a busy day. Still riding an adrenaline high from last night’s win, the team spent the afternoon mingling with the rest of the SEC at the conference banquet. Then, they loaded up on the bus and started the five hour trek back home to Baton Rouge. The bus rolled up to the athletic center at about quarter after midnight.

“Hey Hawsy!” yelped Salverro as they got off the bus. “A few of us are gonna head for the bar and celebrate some more. You in?”

Hawthorne wasn’t sure what he wanted to do. He kind of wanted to go out with the guys. But, at the same time, he really missed Sarah and kind of wanted to go drop by her room and surprise her. Further still, part of him just wanted to go back to his room, throw in a movie and crash off the adrenaline rush he’d been riding for a full four days now.

Hawthorne turned to reply…

——————————————

So, that’s where you come in. There’s three options for Hawthorne this time in what is a social dilemma rather than an on-field one:

1. He can join Salverro and some of his teammates and head for the bar.

2. He can surprise his girlfriend and go see her after a week on the road.

3. He can go back to his own room, unwind and crash on his own.

The decision is up to you. Leave your votes as comments here, or drop me an IM, or get in touch with me whichever way you know how. Sometime next weekend-ish, I’ll tally up the votes, find out what you have chosen as Hawthorne’s decision and go from there.

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Charging Hard

Note from the author: so I’ve begun my latest creative writing project. As per usual, who knows how long it will last. Years, months, a week, or maybe it ends right here (but I like to think I’m better than that). The plan is to get some participation from the readership (i.e. whoever stumbles in here every now and then). Every “episode” (or chapter, or column, or situation, or what-have-you) will end with a sort of decision box for one of the characters (who are going to come in and out of the storyline pretty much whenever I feel like it). Then, it’s up to you folks to decide what happens next. Leave comments here, drop me your vote via an IM, whatever you want. Whenever I feel like writing the next part (I’m definitely not running with any set schedule since it’s just for fun), I’ll tally up the votes and whatever was decided on will be the starting point for the next posting. Sounds like fun, doesn’t it? Away we go…

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Thump-thump.

Brian Hawthorne could feel his heart beating in the left side of his chest. He swore he could actually hear it pounding in his head and it felt as if his stomach had crawled its way up into his throat. This couldn’t be happening. Not to his team. Not to the Tigers. Not to him. Not in his senior season. They had fought too hard as underdogs all year. The decisive game of the SEC Tournament had seemed so wrapped up.

Brian’s Louisiana State team had jumped to a 6-0 lead in the first three innings. Hawthorne himself had cranked a two-run home run into the left field bleachers in the top of the second. The Tigers pitchers had worked into jams all night long, but had kept coming out unscathed. This was a team of destiny. The last team to qualify for the conference tournament, they were about to upset everybody and punch their ticket to the NCAA tournament. Tonight’s victory over the top-ranked, host Alabama squad was simply going to be the exclamation point.

But then it fell apart.

One unearned run in the fifth. A two-run home run in the seventh. A run in the eighth. And just now, a two-run, two-out, two-strike triple to tie the game 6-6 in the bottom of the ninth. Suddenly it had all evaporated. It all led up to the scene Hawthorne saw in front of him from his position at third base. The potential winning run, the run that could end the Tigers season was standing at third base. LSU manager Lenny Menkler was on his way to the mound to make yet another pitching change, his fourth in three innings. This time, his walk had no swagger to it. He had no answers. He couldn’t find anybody who could get an out and it showed as he laboriously made his way to the hill.

Waiting for him there was sophomore pitcher Hal Prosser, who could do no more than stare up at the stars. His eyes watered over as he handed the ball over to his skipper. He trudged off the left side of the mound and made his way to the dugout, which was no more than a watery blue blur in his eyes by this point. This couldn’t be happening.

Thump-thump.

The Tigers were tight right now, and all of Alabama knew it. They had felt all week long the Tigers had to crumble under the pressure eventually, but for the first time all week they could see it with their own eyes. Also for the first time all week, the crowd caught Hawthorne’s eye from third base while the new pitcher (junior left-hander Kyle McDermitt) took his warm-up tosses. The stands in Tuscaloosa were an overwhelming sea of crimson. The fans of the Crimson Tide had seemingly multiplied as the game went on and Alabama rallied. They all had seats but at the moment, nobody was using them. The sea of crimson was roaring, but not with the gentle crashing sounds of waves from a normal sea. The Tide fans were riding anybody within earshot who was wearing a Tigers uniform. The din was unlike anything Hawthorne had ever heard before, or at least unlike any crowd he had ever noticed. And they were in his head. Bigtime.

Thump-thump.

One tiny corner of the stands deep down the right field line was the only part of the stands which was not adorned in that damned crimson red, and it couldn’t be any farther from Hawthorne at third base. Though, to be truthful, the section of LSU fans could have been right next to him and it wouldn’t have mattered at the moment. They were despondent. Heads hung, arms draped over railings, backs slumped against the hard, plastic seats. The Tigers fans could feel the season slipping away. Like Menkler, they had no answers and it showed. Hawthorne swallowed hard, trying to force down that lump in his throat as McDermitt fired his final warm-up pitch.

Thump-thump.

The right fielder!… Number six!… Harrrrrrooooooolllllllldd Jeeeefffffffffersooooooooon!

The announcement boomed over the public address system as an already raucous crowd whipped itself into a frenzy for the man who needed no introduction. Jefferson, a senior who had been born and raised right here in Tuscaloosa, was the consensus SEC Player of the Year and had been fending off major league scouts with a stick ever since his junior year of high school. Perhaps the best left-handed bat in the nation, Jefferson was a physical specimen: six-foot-two-inches, 200 pounds of sheer muscle. He had all five tools, but all the Crimson Tide wanted him to do now was what he had been doing all year; hit the ball.

Thump-thump.

Hawthorne turned around and faced left field. “Two down,” he uttered meekly, the words barely having enough force to escape his mouth. He held his right hand to the air, index and pinkie fingers extended. He got the same signal back from his left fielder, but he already knew. Everybody knew. There had been two outs for the last three batters, but that third out continued to prove elusive.

As Hawthorne was about to turn back to the infield, the lights of the scoreboard caught his eye. Specifically, he found himself reading the line which displayed Jefferson’s season stats. A .365 batting average, 21 home runs, 76 runs batted in. Jefferson had been on a hot streak for what seemed like the entire season. For the first time all week, Hawthorne thought to himself, “This guy’s going to beat us. We’re going to lose.” For the first time in his career, the stadium lights suddenly seemed oppressively hot bearing down on him.

Thump-thump.

McDermitt rocked and fired the first pitch to Jefferson. Fastball, in at the knees. Strike one.

“Alright Kyle,” Hawthorne yelled from third as he pounded the pocket of his glove with his right fist. “Here we go kid!”

Thump-thump.

Again McDermitt threw to the plate. Slider off the plate low and away. One ball, one strike.

“Looked good,” crowed Hawthorne as he kicked the dirt with his spikes. “Keep working, two-four.”

Thump-thump.

Working from the stretch, McDermitt took a long look at the runner at third, but went to the plate yet again. The 1-1 slider fooled Jefferson and he checked his swing. However, the bat still caught a piece of the ball.

Ping.

“Shit!” muttered Hawthorne as he broke in from third towards the ball. The potential winning run on third base broke with him, down the third base line toward the plate. Clump after clump of sod flipped through the air behind him as Hawthorne raced in for the ball, which was dribbling ever so slowly towards him on the infield grass. The SEC tournament, the season, Hawthorne’s career; it had all come down to this play. The potential winning run was on his way to the plate. Jefferson had his head lowered and was busting as hard as he could down the line towards first. Hawthorne bent down and bare-handed the ball…

Thump-thump.

————————————-

What will Hawthorne do next? Does he throw off his right foot and against his body to try to get Jefferson on the force out at first base? Or does he go with his momentum and toss home to the catcher for a tag play and potential collision at the plate? The decision is up to you. Leave your votes as comments here, or drop me an IM, or get in touch with me whichever way you know how. Whenever I’m ready to write the next part of the story, I’ll tally up the votes, find out what you have decided Hawthorne’s decision should be and go from there.

Let me know what you think.

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The Untold Story of Easter

Peeps, the UnbelieversSo, this is about a day late, but I didn’t come up with the idea until late last night and needed some time today to flesh it out. What follows is the “The Untold Story of Easter” as excerpted from the Gospel of the Voice (“Matthew 2:11,” if you will). I’m probably going to hell for this, but hopefully I’ll make some people laugh along the way. Happy belated Easter, everyone!

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From the beginning of time, there were two groups of people on Earth who were embroiled in a bitter and fierce clash of beliefs. On one side there were the Catholics, believers in God and followers of His son, Jesus. On the other side were those known as the Peeps, believers in the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man and followers of his apostle on this planet, the Michelin Man.

Now, God was not pleased to look down to Earth and see this divide in beliefs amongst the people who He had created. He was very disappointed that those whom he had created from nothing would not have faith and believe in Him. He figured these Peeps must simply be lost and misinformed. So, in an attempt to reward the Catholics who believed in him, and also in an attempt to lure others into the Catholic movement, God created a rabbit by the name of Peter Cottontail. Now, Peter was certainly no ordinary rabbit. Rather, the eggs which Peter laid were the most exquisite of treats. Nay, the eggs which Peter laid were of the chocolate variety, and in addition were filled with the most incredible sugary treat known to man. Henceforth the eggs which Peter laid would be known as the Cadbury Creme Egg.

Said God to Peter after his creation: “Go forth, my rabbit son. Go forth and disperse the eggs which come from your loins. Let all my children, Catholics and Peeps alike, enjoy their great, sugary, creamy, chocolatey goodness.”

And so Peter Cottontail did go forth and disperse the Cadbury Creme Eggs to the people. And so the people ate them. And they were good. And so, all the land rejoiced, at least for the moment.

However, it seems that the Peeps did not approve of the Cadbury Creme Eggs. Following the Doctrine of the Stay Puft Man, the Peeps felt that all treats to be enjoyed by man must belong to the marshmallow family of snacks. Thus, they did not take kindly to Peter Cottontail’s distribution of the Cadbury Creme Eggs and took it upon themselves to make things miserable for Peter on his trips through their villages. From high in the trees, the Peeps pelted Peter with handfuls of stale (and thus hardened) mini-marshmallows. In their front yards, they loaded catapults full of flaming marshmallows and hurled them at the poor rabbit as he made his way through the streets. Peter Cottontail faced an immense and seemingly insufferable amount of persecution, all for bringing the good of liquid sugar encased in chocolate to the people. But Peter fought through the persecution and continued to do the work of God.

Said Peter in a letter to the Michelin Man: “All I seek to do is the work of God. He hath charged me to distribute the eggs from my loins to all the people of His Earth. He wishes that they all enjoy the sugary, creamy, chocolatey goodness which the Cadbury Creme Eggs possess, and through enjoying it come to believe in Him. I mean you no harm, and seek only to spread the eggs and the word of God. Please, good sir, call your people away from their persecution of me.”

But, the Michelin Man and the Peeps were unmoved by the words of Peter Cottontail. They continued to persecute and hassle the rabbit as he made his rounds through the villages with the chocolate eggs. Then one day, things turned for the worse. The Peeps formed an angry mob, and when unsuspecting Peter came down the street, they ambushed him and took him into custody. Within a matter of days, the Peeps had decided that Cottontail must be put to death. Thus, the Peeps crucified Peter Cottontail, driving their marshmallow-roasting sticks through each of his four paws and suspending him over the fire of their annual Great Marshmallow Roast. And it was there that Peter Cottontail was left to die, while below him the Peeps enjoyed a feast of s’mores and mini-marshmallows.

Over time, Cottontail had developed a loyal following of Catholics (and it is believed some Peeps, as well) who appreciated his efforts to carry out the work of God and his attempts to help unite the divided groups of people. These followers of Peter were greatly saddened by his capture and made several attempts to free him from the custody of the Peeps. However, each time Peter requested that they leave him be, for he was brave enough to face whatever they would do to him. And on that fateful day of his death, as chocolate poured from his wounds and into the fire, Peter re-assured his followers: “Do not worry, my friends. Do not shed a tear. Do not mourn my death. Fear not for my soul, for one day I shall be resurrected.” And with those words, Peter bowed his head one final time and gave himself to the Great Beyond.

Watching from above, God was not amused by this crucifixion of Peter Cottontail, the rabbit whom He had put on Earth to unite the people who He had created. Thus, with their actions, the Peeps had thoroughly tested and pushed past the limits of God’s patience, and it was determined that they would face the wrath of a now angry and vengeful God. So, as he rained down fire and brimstone from above, God saw to it that all the ungrateful, non-believing (and in fact, evil) Peeps were transformed into colorful, tasty, animal-shaped lumps of marshmallow; the very substance they had worshipped.

Once this transformation was complete, god set about on his next creation: the microwave oven. In only a day or two, his microwave designs were complete, and it was decreed that all Peeps should be condemned to an eternity of being exploded inside these new microwave ovens. And thus, the unbelieving Peeps were vanquished, and the work of God was done. And thus, all the people rejoiced, and all was right with the world.

So it is that every year at this time we gather with friends and family and distribute amongst them the Cadbury Creme Eggs, celebrating and imitating the mission of Peter Cottontail, in hopes that some day his spirit will be resurrected and he will return to give God’s sweets to all His people once again.

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A Note From the Editor

So, it has become painfully obvious that I do not have the time to be a full-scale blogger. I’m simply not into writing shorter, everyday peices. Rather, I’m much more comfortable writing more expansive feature articles (i.e. the Northford retrospective from a month ago) on a less often basis. In addition, I’ve really struggled to find my niche in the blogosphere. My articles are kind of all over the place, with no real order to the madness. As such, the blog is going to continue, but not in the form it was before.

For now, I’ve begun to write for the fine folks over at the WQAQ Sports blog (a subsidiary of the Sports Department of Quinnipiac’s student-run FM radio station, WQAQ). I’m hoping to write stuff for them on a weekly (or close to weekly) basis, and I’ll be posting those articles here as well (but be sure to head on over and check out them and their fine writing).

Eventually, when I come up with an idea, I’m going to do some sort of weekly column on my own for my own blog as well. It will probably be college sports-oriented, but I’m really not sure where to go. It’s tough to write stuff of the quality that I would like to write when you aren’t able to get out and cover games and interview people. I guess I need to come up with something interesting to write about from the fan’s perspective.

I just know that I don’t have the time or energy to blog on a daily or even every-other-day basis and be a student and have a job at the same time. “The Voice of (un)Reason” was a fun project for the winter break, but I think now it is going to have to become more of a place to showcase my more involved writing when I have an opportunity to do it. Or maybe I’m just lazy… or uninspired… either way…

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Skiing Naked to Deliver the Mail

Rewarding unReasonable Actions EverywhereThere comes a point in every person’s life when they realize that things can be far more interesting without clothes than they are with them. Whether it is streaking, fornicating, creeping out the neighbors, exercising, or just sitting around the house in their underwear (or less), a lack of proper clothing holds a strange position of intrigue in our society. This week is no different. On Wednesday, Rainer Schoenfelder of Austria took to the hills in his birthday suit for a nude ski run. Schoenfelder partook in the streaking slalom (find me a better example of alliteration, I dare you) to settle a bet with his physiotherapist. For his actions, It looked like this, only without all the clothes.Rainer Shoenfelder is this week’s unReason of the Week Award in the field of sports. I don’t really have a rant on this one, and I don’t even necessarily disagree with what happened, but you try to tell me with a straight face that you heard of something more ridiculous this week in the world of sports (and if you cite the David Beckham contract with MLS, I WILL punch you in the neck).

Every Sunday or, in this case, Monday (I wanted to give the post about Northford some more time at the top of the blog), “The Voice of (un)Reason” presents two unReason of the Week Awards, one each in the field of sports and news. These awards honor the most ridiculous, inane, or downright stupid things we found over the course of the previous week. Now, on to the news award:

Drop a letter off today… they’ll make sure it gets there by about 2063.This week’s unReason of the Week Award in the field of news goes to the United States Post Office for FINALLY delivering a letter that was postmarked in 1954 (this story was originally linked to in Tuesday’s recap of the BCS National Championship game). Neither rain, nor snow, nor sleet, nor nuclear holocaust, etc, etc, etc. Yeah, sure. The ridiculous thing is that an event like this allows the post office to spout their propaganda, and make themselves look good when they own up to the mistake and still deliver the mail some 50-plus years later. What if this had been some important document in the ’50s?  What if somebody’s financial well-being hung on that piece of mail being delivered in a timely manner? Yes, it is nice that they delivered it, but really, who else but the government could do something 50 years late and still make themselves look good for doing it?

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After Nine Years, the Final Curtain Falls on Northford

THE Northford Ice Pavilion

If you ever find yourself driving north on I-91 in southern Connecticut, be sure to make a stop off at exit 11 (exit 12 if you’re headed southbound). Follow Route 22 East for a few miles, cross over the railroad tracks, and soon you’ll find yourself in a place where blue and gold once reigned supreme. Tucked back away from the road, sharing a driveway with Honeywell Factory is the Northford Ice Pavilion, the community rink which served as the home of Quinnipiac University Ice Hockey for the past eight-and-a-half seasons.

The Northford Ice Pavilion was a kind of strange place. It was the building where a community that normally shuns the university came to embrace the school and it’s hockey players. Game night in North Branford was an event. For the locals, it was a chance to see Division I hockey right in their own back yard. For the students, it was a chance to get dressed up, go out, see and be seen before heading for the club scene in New Haven on a Friday or Saturday night. For the fine folks on the Northford Ice Pavilion staff, it was a chance for their building to be the centerpiece for a weekend of fine entertainment.

Another Bobcats goal.The rink itself was the quality of a high school rink (and probably worse than some high school rinks). The bleachers are only on one side of the ice. The visiting and official’s locker rooms were little more than rooms with benches around the edges. The Quinnipiac locker rooms were only marginally better. The bathrooms were a disaster, and after a day full of hockey, the locker room side of the ice had a very… distinct… smell to it. But at the end of the day, the food was good, the hockey was good, and the place was home.

Nowhere did the clashing characteristics of less-than-ideal facilities and a home-ish feeling show through more than the press box. The Northford Ice Pavilion press box had only four windows over most of the length of the ice, which meant that over half of the box came with an obstructed view. Yet, the press box was one of the most spacious in our league, and I certainly can’t complain much about the center-ice window that has served as my perch over the last two seasons. Was it a little awkward and cramped at times? Sure. But at the same time, it was home.

Celebrations happened more often than sorrow at the NIP.Northford was certainly kind enough to the Quinnipiac Men’s Hockey team. After defeated Brown 5-1 on Friday night in their final game in the building, the Bobcats all-time record at Northford stood at 89 wins, 15 losses, and 10 ties. Not too shabby. It was incredible to watch what Northford did to big-time hockey programs that came in. They simply had no idea what to do in the building, they had never seen anything like it. Cornell and Colgate came into town on the same weekend earlier this season, both among the favorites of the ECAC. Both left with losses. Last season, Dartmouth came to visit as our second-ever ECAC opponent, in our first weekend of league play. They left with a loss. The Northford Ice Pavilion was a place where giants fell, and the building saw more than its share of great hockey action over the nine years Quinnipiac called it home. Whether it was Mercyhurst in an Atlantic Hockey rivalry, Bentley or American International in games that almost always got a bit feisty, Connecticut in a Heroes Hat game, or an ECAC school that found itself in over its head (Quinnipiac finished 8-1-1 in Northford against the ECAC), the NIP was the place to be on weekends from October to March.

For me personally, the Northford Ice Pavilion covered the whole range of emotions. There were the joys, fist-pumps, and high fives of victory (which we were lucky enough to experience on a regular basis). There were the head-hangings, the empty feelings, and the eerily silent locker rooms of defeat (which while we didn’t experience often, still stung). I have laughed in the Northford Ice Pavilion. I have been proud in the Northford Ice Pavilion. I have been angry as all hell in the Northford Ice Pavilion. I’m not even afraid to admit that I have cried in the Northford Ice Pavilion. It has been one wild ride in the place that we’ve called home.

Another packed house at Northford.So, if you find yourself in southern Connecticut, make sure to take the trip over to the little community rink in North Branford. The first thing you need to do when you walk in is head to the concession stand and order yourself a bacon cheeseburger, fries, and a large hot chocolate. By the time you finish the food, the hot chocolate will have cooled to a drinkable temperature (the stuff is just about on fire when they give it to you), and it will be more than worth it. The whole thing won’t cost you more than seven bucks. Next, head inside the right-most of the two rinks (the “red” rink, closest to the concession stand). Grab yourself a seat on the metal bleachers, and soak in whatever practice or game is taking place on the ice, no matter the level of play.

Then, imagine the building stuffed to the gills with 2000-plus spectators (even though the bleachers only old about 1000). The fire code will tell you only 1750 can be in there at a time, but anyone who was there for a big game knows we fit in more. Imagine the people standing four and five deep in the areas behind the nets between the bleachers and the team benches on the opposite side of the ice. Imagine a visiting team so rattled by the feeling in the rink that they quite simply had lost the game before they ever stepped on the ice. Imagine a crowd that is so close to the ice and so loud that the very ice of the rink is shaking. Imagine the coming together of a university and it’s community, if only for three hours. That is the atmosphere that made the Northford Ice Pavilion the place to be. That is the atmosphere that neither the Northford Ice Pavilion nor Quinnipiac Hockey will be able to re-create separately. That is the atmosphere I will always remember.

On January 28th, Quinnipiac Men’s Hockey will open a new era when they play their first game at the brand new, sparkling, multi-million-dollar TD BankNorth Sports Center. The new building will feel a little more custom-built to Quinnipiac, with the blue seats and gold rafters making the school colors evident to all those who walk through its doors. But at the same time, they will be leaving behind the place where blue and gold was truly a culture.

At the same time, they will be leaving home.

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