The tale of the tigers

Of all of Georgia Tech’s ACC rivals, Clemson tops the list for me. I love the Clemson-Georgia Tech rivalry. One of the reaons why is that Clemson is located in the foothills of the mountains, in northern South Carolina. My family comes from just across the Chattooga River in the foothills of the Georgia mountains, so it feels a little like home. The campus sits on a lake just under the mountains and the actual town of Clemson is no more than a stoplight and a couple of stores. It’s truly the definition of a college town. The stadium is a cathedral, one of the steepest upper decks I’ve ever seen, so if you’re at field level all the noise crashes down on you. Plus, there’s Howard’s Rock and the “most exciting twenty-five seconds” in all of college football.

Clemson fans are a unique breed, too. They are some of my favorite fans in all of the ACC. They are loud, energetic and only rarely obnoxious. They come dressed head-to-toe in bright orange in cars with tiger tails hanging out of the tailgate. They are, most of the time, gracious in defeat and in victory. They are also fabulous poor mouthers (I love the old fans….”there’s no way we can possibly win this game…”) and love to hedge their bets (“we may beat Tech, but Florida State will kill us next week.”)

Combine all that with a series that, lately, has been as exciting as they come. Georgia Tech used to play Clemson on Thanksgiving Day from 1905-1914. Tech enjoys a 44-23-2 series lead over Clemson, but most of those wins came before 1975. When Tech joined the ACC and Danny Ford arrived at Clemson, suddenly Clemson wasn’t a gimmie anymore. In the last nine years, all but one game was decided by less than a touchdown, and from 1996 to 2001, each of the games was decided by 3 points. That’s a close series.

The first Clemson game I remember was in 1989 when I listened on radio as Georgia Tech went up to Clemson and won at Death Valley. Nobody won at Death Valley in the 80’s, so that game was an alert that the Tech program was back. In 1990, the game in the unrelenting heat at Bobby Dodd was a classic as Tech held Clemson at the goal line and started to get the attention of the national media.

The game I remember most fondly was the 2000 tussle when Clemson was undefeated and ranked #5 in the nation. Genay and I travelled up to Clemson and stayed with one of his friends, a sweet girl named Shannon and toured the Clemson campus during the day. I remember running into one of our friends from back at Tech and she spouted off in her typical vulgar language about how angry she was that she hadn’t found any alcohol yet for the game and how angry she was that she wasn’t drunk yet. After she left, Shannon asked timidly, “Are all the girls at Georgia Tech ….. like that?”and without missing a beat Genay answered, “Most of them, sadly, yes.” I remember Clemson blocked a punt early in the game and scored a touchdown and I’m not sure I’ve ever been in the middle of such hysteria in my life, the noise and commotion was unreal. However, Kerry Watkin’s one-handed catch with seven seconds left in the end zone sent the crowd home stunned and Genay and I into euphoria.

Last year’s game bordered on unreal, also. The muffed punt and Calvin Johnson’s touchdown catches in the 4th quarter were the stuff of legends. I still find it hard to believe that Tech won last year.

There are so many other memorable games in this series. Some where Clemson finished on top. Woodrow Dantzler was uncatchable in 2001. Adriene and I sat in the upper deck of Death Valley in 2002 and watched as rain band after rain band poured on us in the “hurricane bowl.” Only the “ugly purple jersey” game of 2003 has been a snoozefest lately.

Here’s hoping for another chapter in this exciting series. Combine it with homecoming on The Flats and there should be a lot of excitement this weekend.

Q&A with The Brothers Chaps

At the Paste Rock n’ Reel festival this past weekend, Adriene and I attended a Q&A session by Matt and Mike Chapman of If you don’t know what Homestar Runner is, check out the link and prepare to waste a couple hours.

They showed some clips from the website (some Strong Bad e-mails and a couple music videos) and also a couple unrelased things. The Q&A session was a lot of fun, they even brought out the Homestar and Strong Bad puppets and answered some questions in the character’s voices. I thought I’d share some interesting trivia tidbits for the Q&A session:

– Their biggest cartoon influences are Bugs Bunny and 80’s Saturday morning cartoons. They never intended for their cartoons to be so “clean”, but it mainly came out of the fact that their influences were relatively innocent and they also said they were backlashing against the proliferation of “South Park” knock-offs that filled the web about five years ago.

– Matt and Mike are actually close to my age (32 and 29) which explains their love of the Atari and Nintendo game systems. They kept joking that they figured they would be doing something a lot more mature by the time they reached this age. Matt does a large majority of voices. Mike does much of the animation and design.

– The name “Homestar Runner” comes from one of their friends who knew very little about sports, he once described a football player as a real “home star runner” and it stuck.

– They actually had a friend in school (from here in Dunwoody) who was nicknamed “Bubs”, who actually ran a concession stand and had a voice like Tom Waits.

– They make enough off of the merchandise that H*R is actually their full-time job. Matt used to work at Earthlink customer support, but quit once they started making enough off of the website. The orders from the store are actually filled by them or their wives or parents.

– The Strong Bad e-mails are actually real e-mails. Matt says that they usually read the e-mails and try to respond to them with Strong Bad’s voice and the ones that they are able to talk about for a while are the ones that they use.

– They’re always surprised and think it’s funny when they are out in public and hear someone use a quote from one of their cartoons.

Good fun… I tried to get some pictures of them with the puppets, but the lighting wasn’t good and the pictures didn’t turn out well at all.

Over the Rhine at Paste Festival

Over the Rhine at Paste Festival

This weekend, Adriene and I attended the Paste Rock n’ Reel Festival. Paste Magazine has set up a new office in a new work/live/play area in Decatur and it was the perfect grounds for a festival. The area had a couple buildings for movie screenings. Resturaunts, a flea market, and a coffee shop also complimented the normal festival vendors (any place that has Newcastle and Sweetwater on tap is my kind a festival) The festival had a main stage and a new artist stage. For a first year festival, there was a modest crowd, but certainly room for more people. By the time Over the Rhine took the stage in the evening, there were a couple hundred people present to see the show. The weather was a pleasant fall day in the afternoon, but as the sun set, the wind did make things a little chilly.

When we arrived on the grounds, we saw Tyler James at the New Artist Stage. He was a singer-songwriter that played guitar and piano and was accompanied by a cello player. His songs reminded me strongly of the prevalent Coldplay/Damien Rice sound.

One of the highlights of the festival was the screening with the creators of the popular website, Mike and Matt Chapman. The Brothers Chaps entertained the audience with some of their more popular cartoons, previously unplayed movies, and a question and answer session with the audience, including anwsering some of the questions in some of their character’s voices. I was amused by their humble self-deprecating humor and their mom-and-pop environment given their expolding popularity.

We enjoyed some dinner and then arrived at the stage in time to catch the end of Brandi Carlile’s set. The best surprise of the evening was Erin McKeown. I had enjoyed her set when she opened for Over the Rhine at the Taft Theater in 2001, but tonight she was even better as she was accompanied by a drummer and playing an electric hollow-body Gretch guitar that gave a full tone in a REM/Peter Buck sound. Though small in stature, she had no problem keeping the crowd involved with her charisma and sound.

Over the Rhine was the reason that came to the festival and they delivered. During the past year, Over the Rhine has toured with Kim Taylor and she joined the band on guitar and background vocals. Karin Bergquist and Linford Detweiler have also been touring with Devon Ashley on the drums and Rick Plant on the electric guitar and bass guitar.

Set List:
Hometown Boy
Born (/w Kim Taylor)
Spark (/w Kim Taylor)
Lookin’ Forward (w/ Kim Taylor)
Jesus In New Orleans (w/ Kim Taylor)
I Want You To Be My Love
Drunkard’s Prayer
Show Me
Latter Days

Linford played bass on “Lookin’ Forward”, “Firefly” and “Show Me.” Rick Plant played electric on all those songs and also on “Born” Plant also played an acoustic bass on “Drunkard’s Prayer”

The band came out dressed warmly. Karin wondered if this really was Atlanta, given how chilly it was. Humorously, the house PA played a mix of music between the performances on the stage, including the song “Born” only moments before Over the Rhine took the stage. Someone requested “Etcetera Whatever” and Karin commented that people there that weren’t familar with their body of work must think that someone was bored with their music. Karin also commented that apparently “I Want You To Be My Love” is becoming a popular song for weddings and they are becoming competition for “The Wedding Song.” They don’t currently play at weddings.

Fun show. Very relaxed atmosphere all around at the festival which I thought reflected the attitude and personality of Paste Magazine pretty well.

The Burning Down

“You know you’re better off without her,” Christine whispered in my ear as I sat there and watched her on the dance floor.

She was right. I was better off without her and I suppose she was better off without me. At the end of our relationship, we were slowly poisoning each other with mistrust, sarcasm, and unreal expectations.

Christine was a loyal friend of iron will. She shot straight from the hip and never hid her feelings. That’s why I liked her. I chose to take her to my spring formal in 1998 because I knew she was a “safe” choice. She wouldn’t leave at the end of the evening with some other guy or spend the entire night flirting with someone else in front of me. She would simply stay by my side and smile alot and we could make each other laugh. However, there was no romantic connection between us, so I was as single as ever that night. Nevertheless, her comment blazed with truth.

When I parted ways with my girlfriend in 1997, I had assumed that our paths would never cross again, but I wasn’t afforded that luxury. Only a couple months afterwards, she started a relationship with a good friend of mine. Now, I could’ve gotten pretty angry with my friend for violating the Guy Code, but ultimately I could not. As far as I was concerned, she was long gone, so it didn’t matter to me who she went out with next. Also, I knew firsthand how charming she could be, so I knew how easy it was to fall for her, so I couldn’t blame him. I was presented with a tough choice. I could let this embitter me and hold a grudge against them or I could let it go. I could free myself from the bondage of feeding, caring, and nursing bitterness which takes a lot of energy I’ll have you know, and wish them well instead.

Earlier that Christmas at the end of 1997, I spent part of the holidays in Chattanooga and Nashville visiting friends and hiding out alone in places in those cities. I realized then that it was the first Christmas in five years that I was not in any kind of relationship with a girl. There would be no romantic gift-giving, nor any other romantic time spent during Christmas time. I would’ve thought this would’ve brought me down, but instead it was liberating. I discovered a joy in finding fulfillment in God alone and not in some other person. Sometime around that Christmas season, I finally began to embrace being single instead of cursing it.

Sometime after the dance, I remember talking to good friend and she asked me “When do you think you are truly over someone?” I paused and then answered that I didn’t know if you ever “get over” someone. I think it’s something that you eventually just come to terms with and accept that God wanted it that way and that it is for the best. Eventually, you are able to see things better from a more objective point of view and you know it is better for both of you that it happened this way. One thing I knew for sure, the stakes had raised with dating for me and it was time to be a lot more selective. If I could help it, the next girl I dated would be the last one.

But that night, I had no choice but to see her and him together. That night the world as I knew it was burning down. I wasn’t the only one who was dealing with the transition of ending relationships. Many of the dating relationships that formed when friends of mine started dating in the excitement of meeting new people upon coming to college were now running out of gas. (Even Adriene got in an altercation with her boyfriend that night, though to this day she can’t remember what it was about.) Many of us were dealing with disapointment and the unexpected parting of ways. We were “children, playing with guns. Children, playing with hearts.”


After Auburn and Georgia, the team that Georgia Tech has played more than any other in football is Duke. Georgia Tech and Duke have played each other 72 times. There’s lots of talk about Georgia Tech and Duke when it comes to basketball, but Tech and Duke have had a pretty heated football rivalry, too. Tech only leads the series 41-30-1.

Most of Duke’s wins came in the 40’s and 50’s when they were a power in the old Southern Conference. During the dryer years of the 70’s and 80’s, Duke also won nine out of twelve from Tech from 1972 to 1983. Steve Spurrier also enjoyed success against Tech when he was head coach at Duke. The legend goes that Spurrier was passed over for Bill Curry for the head coach position at Georgia Tech (Spurrier was a quarterbacks coach under Pepper Rogers) and Spurrier was so angry he vowed to never lose to Georgia Tech. He never did, winning the three in a row before bolting for his alma-mater, Florida. The low point came in 1987 when he continued to tell the quarterback to throw the ball deep late in the fourth-quarter scoring touchdowns long after the game was over to embarrass Tech 48-14. Tech fans still haven’t forgotten about that game (though beating Georgia often did help Spurrier’s image among Tech fans.)

That’s not to say Georgia Tech has not beaten Duke many times. It should be noted that Duke has been Georgia Tech’s homecoming opponent more than any other team. Recently, Georgia Tech has turned the tables and won thirteen out of fifteen games against Duke. The most glaring aberration in recent years was the 41-17 beating that Tech took at the hands of Duke, this time from another former Georgia Tech assistant coach, Ted Roof. I remember Adriene went with some of her girlfriends to the game and I decided to play in a golf tournament instead. She called me when I was on the ninth tee and said, “I am so glad you are not here to see this.” I replied, “Yep! I am too!”

I did go to Durham for a Georgia Tech-Duke game once in 1999. Tech struggled in the game until Joe Hamilton finally pulled the game out to win 38-31. Despite all the wins in Durham recently, Georgia Tech has not played well in Durham historically which has me worried about this weekend. My first date with Adriene was a football game against Duke. It was a 41-13 victory and all around a pretty good day.