Having grown up and lived most of my life in the metropolitan Atlanta area (except for the nine years I spent in Athens getting five or six years' worth of education, of course), I always looked forward to Furman Bisher's annual Thanksgiving column in the otherwise forgettable Atlanta Journal-Constitution, in which he listed the things for which he was thankful.
I plan to borrow a page from Bisher's book on this occasion and I begin by expressing my gratitude to Brian Cook of MGoBlog for running the weekly BlogPoll. The latest edition of the webloggers' rankings is up and running and I had a banner week, even if the 11th-ranked 'Dawgs did not.
I finished fifth in the running for the Coulter/Krugman Award (which goes to the pollster with the highest bias in favor of his own team), third in the race for the title "Mr. Manic-Depressive" (which goes to the weblogger whose ballot changed the most in the course of a week), and first in the chase for the title "Mr. Bold" (which "goes to the voter with the ballot most divergent from the poll at large").
Brian notes that I now tend to be biased towards the Bulldogs "after spending quite a bit of time early in the year on the Straight Bangin' list," where I underrated the Red and Black relative to the BlogPoll at large.
As for the boldness of my ballot, Brian credits me with having "a lot of slightly strange things" on my ballot but two noteworthy aberrations: I ranked Fresno State 10th, for which I previously provided an explanation, and I had U.C.L.A. at 21st when no one else had the Bruins ranked lower than 16th. For the latter affront, Brian admonished "The Mayor (of the non-city of Georgia)" thusly: "Bad mayor!"
I've said all year that I wasn't a believer in the Bruins and I freely admit that, as a conservative lawyer, I have a natural disdain for U.C.L.A. because I don't like their stance on letting folks display the Ten Commandments in their courthouses. (Oh, no, wait . . . that's the A.C.L.U., not U.C.L.A. Darn dyslexia!)
Seriously, though, I expect a lot of idle teams will profit from their sloth this Saturday when it comes time to cast next week's ballot, so I may adjust U.C.L.A. upwards a bit, but the Bruins will have the opportunity to convince me on December 3. If the boys in powder blue take down the champs, they will skyrocket on my ballot. If they lose narrowly---as they did last year---they will get the benefit of the doubt, just as Fresno State and Notre Dame did. If, as I suspect will be the case, the Trojans blast the Bruins by 20+ points, well, then I will feel justified in my position.
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The BlogPoll, though, is only one of the things for which I am thankful this day, so I would like to offer a few thoughts on---though by no means a comprehensive list of---some of the other things that cause me to feel gratitude.
I am thankful for the Phi Kappa Literary Society, the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences and the Joseph Henry Lumpkin School of Law at the University of Georgia, and the Hampton United Methodist Church, all of which have a great deal to do with where I am right now as a person.
Although I am not a fan of cold weather, I am thankful for the ability to start a fire in the fireplace when it does turn cold.
I am thankful for my father-in-law's home theatre, which features a movie-size screen equipped with H.D.T.V., on which I will be watching M.A.C. and Big East games about which I don't care in the slightest . . . but which will look great.
I am thankful for friends like Pete Allen and Jeff Rogers, who, like me, are traditionalist enough to know that "Easy Rider" had a happy ending.
I am thankful for the ability to make my home in Hampton, Ga., which was named neither for former Bulldog running back Rodney Hampton nor for Hamp Tanner's son, but which is a fine place to live, work, worship, and raise a family, nevertheless.
I am thankful for the ability to look out my office window, see the railroad tracks that had to be replaced (please, not "reconstructed") after the Battle of Jonesboro in 1864, and know why William Faulkner was able to write that, in the South, the past not only isn't dead, it isn't even past.
I am thankful for the rest of the college football blogosphere, the existence of which has made me aware that I am not, in fact, unique in being an obsessive-compulsive dork who wastes way too much time thinking and emoting about a game; as it turns out, I am part of a much larger community of obsessive-compulsive dorks who waste way too much time thinking and emoting about a game. In particular, I am grateful to Paulwesterdawg at Georgia Sports Blog and to Brian Cook at MGoBlog for their guidance and assistance, to Nathan at Golden Tornado and to Orson Swindle and Stranko Montana at Every Day Should Be Saturday for demonstrating that a fellow can still be a good guy even if he roots for a team I consistently root against, to Warren St. John at Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer for bringing class and credibility to the enterprise of college football weblogging, to such fellow Bulldog webloggers as Doug Gillett at Hey Jenny Slater, Hamp Tanner at the Hunker Down Dawg Blawg, and The Drizzle for providing a sense of camaraderie even when we come at the same objective from very different angles, to Ian at Sexy Results! for making interesting reading of stuff I am simply far too unhip to comprehend, and to L.D. at the Corporate Headquarters of the San Antonio Gunslingers for giving me the opportunity to sit at my computer terminal, gesture emphatically at the screen, and declare enthusiastically, "What he said!" Also, I am grateful to L.D. for hanging the nickname "The Mayor" on me, as it seems to have taken hold, even at the most popular Michigan Wolverines site in the Central Asian steppe.
I am thankful for the guy who walked up to me after a Magistrate Court hearing on Tuesday afternoon and asked me for one of my business cards, because I'm pretty sure that was a compliment from a neutral observer regarding the manner in which I had represented my client.
I am thankful for the Lone Bugler, whose stirring solo rendition of "The Battle Hymn of the Bulldog Nation" from the southwest corner of the upper deck in Sanford Stadium six Saturdays out of every autumn never ceases to give me chills.
I am thankful for Susan, who steals my socks and my sweatshirts and who sometimes seems to lack the ability to close a cabinet door or turn off a light, but who is a great teacher and a wonderful mother and a terrific wife, whose feet go through the motions of ballet steps without her being aware of it when she is standing and doing other things, and who plans to surprise Thomas by giving him an umbrella as a Christmas gift, for reasons to which I shall get anon.
I am thankful for the "Godfather" trilogy. Well, all right, I'm thankful for "The Godfather" and "The Godfather, Part II." Actually, Bridget Fonda looked pretty good in "The Godfather, Part III," so I guess I'm thankful for it, too.
I am thankful for the Arch, the Chapel, Phi Kappa Hall, Harold Hirsch Hall, the Tate Center, Sanford Stadium, and the garden between the pharmacy school and the forestry school, which are but a few of the landmarks that make the University of Georgia the finest college campus in the country.
I am thankful for the Holy Bible, the E.S.P.N. College Football Encyclopedia, and the fact that the two most famous novels (The Sound and the Fury and All the King's Men) by the two most famous Southern authors (William Faulkner and Robert Penn Warren) end, as Southern novels should, with the words "place" and "Time."
I am thankful for my parents and for the upbringing they provided me, which included spending Saturday afternoons rooting for the Bulldogs and spending Sunday mornings in church. If they'd raised me to worship Thor and root for Auburn, I'd be living the life of a character in a Harry Crews novel right about now, so I appreciate the direction in which they pointed me.
I am thankful for the 2005 University of Georgia alumni directory, which reveals that there are no University of Georgia graduates living in Tibet, so my goal of becoming the most popular Bulldog weblogger there probably is a pipe dream.
I am thankful for the psychic abilities of my former "Dawg Show" co-host, Travis Rice. When we went to see "The Dukes of Hazzard," there came a point, about 20 minutes before the end of the movie, at which Trav turned to me and said, "This is the greatest movie ever made." I nodded politely, thinking it was a great movie but that it had not yet displaced "Patton" as my favorite film of all time. Trav, sensing my disagreement, thought to himself, "If I could change a movie with my mind, what could I make happen in this movie---bearing in mind that the P.G. rating limits my range of options with respect to Jessica Simpson---that would make Kyle agree with me that this is, in fact, the greatest movie ever made?" Then, like David Allan Coe advising Steve Goodman on how to create the perfect country and western song, Trav used the power of his mind to add a scene at the end of the movie in which the governor of Georgia concluded a speech with the words, "Go 'Dawgs!" and a courtroom full of his constituents responded by barking. After seeing it, I realized that Trav was right and "The Dukes of Hazzard" was, in fact, the greatest movie ever made, and I felt obliged to include it on this list. Oh, by the way, you don't have to call me darlin', darlin'.
I am thankful for turkey, dressing, and cranberry sauce in the shape of a can, just like the pilgrims ate with the Indians . . . assuming you buy all that pilgrim nonsense, which a bunch of history-thieving New England Puritans made up around 1870 in order to hide the fact that the first Thanksgiving actually was celebrated at Berkeley Plantation along the James River in Virginia in 1619, before those snooty pilgrims had even arrived in Massachusetts, but you get my point.
I am thankful for Beano Cook, who was interviewed on E.S.P.N. radio yesterday afternoon and who, when asked about the Harvard-Yale rivalry, commented that, since there seemed to be such a glut of Harvard Law School graduates on the U.S. Supreme Court, perhaps the president should nominate an alumnus of another law school. When naming possible other law schools from which to draw Supreme Court nominees, Beano specifically mentioned the University of Georgia. Beano, just let me know where I can send my resume.
Most of all, I am thankful for Thomas King, history's most perfect two-year-old, who, on Wednesday, had his picture made with Santa Claus, rode on an outlet store merry-go-round, wrote the letter "E" on a piece of paper while riding in the car, and passed by a fire engine on the way home. Had we been forced to stop at a railroad crossing while a train passed by, Thomas would have had the perfect toddler day. Also, on Sunday, Susan, Thomas, and I went into a store while it was overcast and came out of the store while it was raining. As we ran to the car in the drizzle, Thomas remarked, "Maybe we can get an umbrella for Christmas." Thomas is a remarkable young man and the joy with which he approaches life infects everyone around him, as evidenced by the gaggle of fawning women who gathered around him when he had his picture taken with Santa and told us how cute he is. There were Gator fans in line behind us, who were also there to get their kids' pictures taken with St. Nick. No one told them how cute their kids were. Go figure.
Wherever you are, I hope all of you have a healthy and happy Thanksgiving and that you will take the time to use the holiday in the manner in which it was intended---not as a prelude to the Christmas shopping season or as an excuse to eat too much food and fall asleep on the couch while watching football (although, by all means, feel free to eat too much food and fall asleep on the couch while watching football), but as an occasion for being grateful to our God, our country, and our families for all that they have given us.