A bevy of interesting links are included at the bottom of this entry, including a list of Alabama stereotypes, an account of Jay Barker's wedding and even a re-living of my lowest point as an Tide fan (back when I could still BE a Tide fan).
But -- and I'm trying to avoid sounding like one of those awful radio-show hosts when I do this -- we'll get to all that in a moment. Right now, I feel the need to rant about Dan Brown.
Dan Brown, for those who aren't sure, has written several novels -- the two most popular are "The Da Vinci Code" and "Angels and Demons," one of which has already been made into a mediocre movie starring Tom Hanks (and the other is in the process of it). The two novels have remarkably similar storylines: a murder in a European country; a random American professor brought in to help with the investigation for whatever reason (Robert Langdon, in both cases); the corpse's attractive relative getting involved; and a bunch of history lessons that may or may not be factual (since you're already engrossed in the story, it becomes difficult to stop and reference each point for its basis in fact or even legend).
I became bored with "Code" pretty quickly, possibly because I'd already seen the movie (I always believe in seeing the movie first, but that's neither here nor there) and possibly because -- beyond its "explosive/controversial/heretical" subject matter -- the plot is absurd and hokey. Apparently, Robert Langdon isn't like any professor I ever had in college: he can dodge copious amounts of bullets, drive like Mario Andretti and unlock centuries-old mysteries of theology, all while wearing a tweed sport coat and engaging his company with historical tidbits. Also, he never sleeps, goes to the bathroom or hurts himself. He's like a cross between Indiana Jones, Jack Bauer and one of those "experts" you see on a History Channel special.
In any case, I was promised I'd get a better story in "Angels and Demons." And frankly, the first two-thirds of the book are immaculate. Without spoiling it for those who want to read it, each of the central characters is dealing with a number of different issues; each has a traumatic moment in his past that's shaped who they are; each is working against time and unspeakable evil. There's some good history in there (again, I assume most it's at least loosely based on history), some good action, one incredible villain (the Hassassin, a terrifying cold-blooded debaucher), all set against the backdrop of the Pope's death and the conclave to elect a new one.
And then the whole thing falls apart.
Like I said, I don't want to spoil it for those who wish to read it for themselves (and I encourage you to do so), but the story basically plays out like the last season of "24" or the seventh "Harry Potter" installment: apparently, the writers in all those cases woke up one day, looked at what they had so far, realized they'd written themselves too deep into a hole ... and decided, rather than overhaul the story, they'd just come up with a way to neatly wrap it up inside of 30 pages.
I can't speak for the reading public, but I can speak for myself: C'mon, man. Give me a break. An intricately-conceived plot deserves a better ending. Just saying.
With that, the links ...
-- Much like Alabama fans preparing talking themselves into Nick Saban, UCLA fans are already preparing themselves to struggle in the first season of Rick Neuheisel. Of course, I'm one of the same people, given that I argued relentlessly that the 2007 Alabama team (7-6) was much better than the 2006 Alabama team (6-7) and that if Mike Shula had coached the same bunch in '07, he'd probably have won 5 games and we'd be employing Mike Sherman or somebody of that ilk.
-- For the ladies: Jay Barker weds Sara Evans. All told, they have seven children now -- and supposedly, Sara wants another one. Lucky for Jay. Does that mean it's time for the Jay Barker youtube? I think it is ...
-- Something I missed from last week: EDSBS hosted 'Bama bloggers on their site, to give outsiders a clearer picture of the actual Alabama fan.
-- Speaking of which, Picture Me Rollin' has been on a (no pun intended but pretty much unavoidable) roll lately with posts, including his series about the worst losses he's ever seen in person (vaguely similar to last summer's "13 Levels of Alabama"). His most recent entry? Auburn's 9-0 win over 'Bama in 2000. A couple thoughts on this loss, as this is already slated to go as one of the longest non-football season blog posts of all-time:
One: what color is your season? In other words, please explain the metaphorical state of your program through the metaphor of color:
Not to be too obvious here, but how about crimson? Isaiah 1:18 states “Come now let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson they shall be as wool.” Can you name another SEC program in more need of redemption right now? Didn’t think so.
- On a personal note, I was a sophomore in Tuscaloosa at the time, was dating an Auburn girl and not in possession of a jacket. And I stayed the whole game. Somehow, I avoided dying of exposure. You figure it out.
- As it turned out, this season was the beginning of the winter of discontent for 'Bama, with this game symbolizing everything that went wrong. Conversely, this game and this season signaled a turn in Auburn's fortunes with the changing of the centuries -- Auburn's record in the '90s against Alabama: 3-7; starting in 2000: 7-1. I'd say that's a pretty significant difference. There were mitigating factors: probation in Tuscaloosa, a steady stream of scandals and coaching changes, the fact that Tuberville unwittingly stumbled into a handful of future NFL first-rounders, and so forth. But the 2000 season changed everything. Let there be no doubt.
-- Finally, in celebration of Bill Curry's hiring at Ga. State, Finebaum sticks his head out of his cave to write about the possible jinx Alabama has on coaches. To quote Oddball from Kelly's Heroes, "Always with the negative waves, man ... always with the negative waves."