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Friday, January 21, 2011

Post holiday blahs in a dreary Michigan January

Every time the Christmas/New Years holidays come to an end, I inevitably say to myelf, "So that was it?...Now what?"

I enjoy the buildup to Christmas (especially now that I no longer work in retail), and generally enjoy Christmas Day. The week between Christmas and New Year's Day could be one long party if not for having to go to work--but January 2 has to be about the most depressing day of the year. The rest of the month isn't much better, due in large part to the grey, cold, dark, snowy weather in Michigan.

For some reason, this month seams particularly bleak. The sun made an appearance this morning and I swear it felt like at least a month since I'd last seen it. We've been lucky in that the sun has been out all day today, unfortunately this has been canceled out by the fact that the temperature outside is hovering at about 7 degrees Fahrenheit. So, though the sun is shining gloriously, it's too unGodly cold to do anything outside.

Now that college football season is over, I am back to join the rest of the human race. I can now indulge in other hobbies and interests that take a backseat from September through early January. Those interests are primarily music and books.

I perused the Book Burrow of the downtown Lansing library last week and someone had left a motherlode of '70s/'80s vinyl, and most of it was actually in decent shape. I picked up an original 1973 pressing of Led Zep's Houses of the Holy for a buck, then went back for Get the Knack (dust jacket a little dinged up, but record in decent shape and worth the dollar), Fine Young Cannibal's The Raw and the Cooked (still in the cellophane). There were a few other decent LPs that I've considered snagging, but I don't want to go overboard. (I've really been debating whether to spring a bill for a nice-looking copy of the first ELP album. I don't even really like ELP).

Today, I swung by the only remaining used record store in East Lansing, Flat Black & Circular,
with the intention of quickly picking up some plastic protective LP sleeves (really indulging in my music collector "geekitude"--but I have several LPs I'd like to protect) but knew I couldn't go in and out of there without quickly looking through the racks. I found a copy of the Bob Seger System's Mongrel (marked "$6.50 as is") in the vinyl racks and bought it without hesitating. FBC also had Seger's Back in '72 (a little too pricy for me at $20) and Seven. I didn't feel like blowing too much money at once, so I may have to go back later to see if Seven is still there, but I have a feeling that by the time I get a chance to return, it'll be gone. The old, out-of-print Seger albums do not stick around for long.

More music posts to come, I promise!

(Update: Ever the obsessive music nerd, I did return to FBC and DID obtain a vinyl copy of Seven, though I passed on Back in '72).

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

A terrible end to an otherwise great season (Alabama 49, Michigan State 7)

I feel silly that I really thought MSU had a chance in this game. How wrong I was. How amazingly, ridiculously wrong I was!

In my defense, I'll say that the primary reason I thought the Spartans had a chance was that I questioned how motivated the Tide would be in this game...well, the Tide was motivated. Extremely motivated.

The obvious question is: how in the world did Alabama lose three games this season? That was the most dominating performance I have seen in a LOOOONNNNNNG time. In fairness to MSU, the way Alabama played, they wouldn't have lost to ANY Big Ten team. Ohio State is the only Big Ten team that may have given the Tide a game, and I think the Buckeyes would've lost by at least a touchdown.

Alabama waited until the final game of the season to play like the pre-season #1 they once were, and the poor Michigan State Spartans were the unlucky recipients of this spirited and inspired butt-kicking.

I was at my in-laws' house to watch the New Year's Day games, and we continued to watch this game until the very end, probably just to see how bad it could possibly get. This game was like watching a trainwreck. My only hope was that somehow the Spartans could hold 'Bama to less than 50 points, and that if they got lucky, maybe, just MAYBE, the Spartans could score.

When the Spartans did finally score their lone touchdown, we celebrated and cheered the same way we did, a few years ago, when my son's youth soccer team finally scored their only goal of the season.

One of the few saving graces of the day, for MSU, was that the rest of the Big Ten did poorly. Michigan was blown out by Mississippi State, Penn State was dropped by Florida (in Urban Meyer's final game as coach), and Wisconsin fell to TCU in the Rose Bowl.

It was a dreadful day for the Big Ten, and I am once again pondering whether college football in the northern United States is becoming as irrelevent nationally as college baseball in the north.

Despite the loss--and it was a tough loss to take, there's no doubt about that--it was a very good season for the MSU football team. The team will have a banner to put up in Spartan Stadium for the first Big Ten title in twenty years. Most importantly, the culture of losing that has pervaded East Lansing for years finally seems to be ending. There are many reasons for Michigan State football fans to be optimistic for the future.