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TET and the SBNation BlogPoll - Week 12

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A game, huh?

Funny you'd mention that -- it's not ringing a bell for me.

I suppose that what teams do on Saturdays.

But Auburn? Hmm....nope...still not remembering it.

And you know what that means:  it must not have happened.

 

So we could use some humor, right? Right?

For funny stuff, hit the jump down there.

Go ahead...hit it.

HIT IT.

Hit it like you're laying a good helmet-to-helmet stick on a return man, to make your coach proud!

(Who knows...with any luck, he may even learn your name.)

 

 

So, the last we checked in, Winston was having a bit of an awakening, regarding his role in The Process and his love for The Program.

Let's check back in this poor wretch of a manfan, and see what happens, in the second of our three-part serial, Got 1984?

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For some time he sat gazing stupidly at the paper. The telescreen had changed over to a strident rendition of Yea, Alabama. It would seem curious that he seemed not merely to have lost the power of expressing himself, but even to have forgotten what it was that he had originally intended to say, were it not for the bovine mindset of the average Program loyalist. For weeks past he had been making ready for this moment, and it had never crossed his mind that anything would be needed except courage. The actual writing would be relatively easy, once he brushed up on his alphabet (the Program had never issued an official statement, but he believed that there were still 26 letters, assuming you only counted “R” once, from its beginning of “RTR”). All he had to do was to transfer to paper the interminable restless monologue that had been running inside his head, literally for years – and then look up the meaning of the words “interminable restless monologue”. At this moment, however, the monologue had dried up. Moreover his stomach had begun growling unbearably. He dared not eat more, because if he did so he packed on the pounds. The seconds were ticking by. He was conscious of nothing except the blankness of the page in front of him, the growling of his bloated stomach, the blaring of the music, and a slight booziness caused by the rotgut he’d ingested.


Suddenly he began writing in sheer panic, only imperfectly aware of what he was setting down. His small but childish handwriting straggled up and down the page, shedding first its capital letters and finally even its full stops (as he had no grasp on simple grammar anyway):


1,984. Last night to the flicks. All championship team highlights. One very good one of a Georgia State program being bombed in its first year of existence. Audience much amused by shots of a great huge fat defensive end trying to swim move past a lineman with the guard pulling over to chop-block him out of existence, first you saw him thrashing helplessly like a wounded porpoise, then you saw the guard lower his shoulder going to the ground, then he was writhing on the field and the Tide players round him flexed and hooted as he collapsed, the assembled faithful in Bryant-Denny Stadium shouting with laughter when he fell. then you saw a kickoff return formation full of raw recruits with ‘Bama’s coverage unit hovering over it. there was a small, slight player might have been a return man standing up in the rear of the formation with a smaller back out in front to block. little back screaming with fright and bailing on his block as if he was trying to burrow right into the turf and the return man waving his arms round overhead although he was blue with fright himself, all the time frantically waving as much as possible as if he thought the fair catch signal could keep the hit from him. then Dre Kirkpatrick planted a helmet-to-helmet hit in among a terrific flash and the return man went all to matchwood. then there was a wonderful shot of the lead blocker’s arm going up up up right up into the air a helicopter with a camera in its nose must have followed it up and there was a lot of applause from the Program seats but a woman down in the student section  suddenly started kicking up a fuss and shouting that it was a dirty hit and they didnt oughter of showed it not in front of kids they didnt it aint right not in front of kids it aint until the campus police turned her turned her out i dont suppose anything happened to her nobody cares what the students say typical student reaction they never –


Winston stopped writing, partly because he was suffering from brain cramp brought on by use of multisyllabic words. He did not know what had made him pour out this stream of rubbish. But the curious thing was that while he was doing so a totally different memory had clarified itself in his mind, to the point where he almost felt equal to writing it down. Almost. It was, he now realized, because of this other incident that he had suddenly decided to come home and begin the diary today.


It had happened that morning at the University, if anything so nebulous could be said to happen.


It was nearly eleven hundred, and in the Athletic Department, where Winston worked, they were dragging the chairs out of the cubicles and grouping them in the centre of the hall opposite the big telescreen, in preparation for the Two Minutes Hate. Winston was just taking his place in one of the middle rows when two people whom he knew by sight, but had never spoken to, came unexpectedly into the room. One of them was a girl whom he often passed in the corridors. He did not know her name, but he knew that she worked in the Media Department. Presumably -- since he had sometimes seen her carrying crayons and a notebook, she had some job on one of the program-writing teams. She was a bold-looking girl, of about twenty-seven, with thick hair, a freckled face, and swift, athletic movements. A narrow crimson sash, emblem of the Junior Anti-Fan League, was wound several times round the waist of her overalls, just tightly enough to bring out the shapeliness of her hips. Winston had disliked her from the very first moment of seeing her. He knew the reason. It was because of the atmosphere of Program history and statistics and coaching anecdotes and general clean-mindedness which she managed to carry about with her. He disliked nearly all women, and especially the young and pretty ones. It was always the women, and above all the young ones, who were the most bigoted adherents of the Program, the swallowers of slogans, the amateur spies and the ones most likely to paint their faces and holler "RAMMER JAMMER" at visiting fans even if the Tide were losing (were such a thing possible). But this particular girl gave him the impression of being more dangerous than most. Once when they passed in the corridor she gave him a quick sidelong glance which seemed to pierce right into him and for a moment had filled him with black terror. The idea had even crossed his mind that she might be an agent of the Red Elephant Club. That, it was true, was very unlikely. Still, he continued to feel a peculiar uneasiness, which had fear mixed up in it as well as hostility, whenever she was anywhere near him.


The other person was a man named Saban, a member of the Inner Process and holder of some post so important and remote that Winston had only a dim idea of its nature. A momentary hush passed over the group of people round the chairs as they saw the crimson windbreaker of an coaching staff member approaching. Saban was a wee, diminutive man with a pencil neck and a coarse, humorless, brutal face. In spite of his formidable appearance he had a certain charm of manner. He had a trick of gesturing wildly with his hands which was curiously disarming – in some indefinable way, curiously civilized. It was a gesture which, if anyone had still thought in such terms, might have recalled an anchorman for a non-Program highlight show. Winston had seen Saban perhaps hundreds of times in almost in just over five years, although he still couldn't make the connection between the man before him and the name of the Program's recognized puppet-master. He felt deeply drawn to him, and not solely because he was intrigued by the contrast between Saban’s urbane manner and his munchkin-like physique. Much more it was because of a secretly held belief – or perhaps not even a belief, merely a hope – that Saban's Program loyalty was not perfect. Something in his background suggested it irresistibly. And again, perhaps it was not even mercenary disloyalty that was written in his face, but simply intelligence. But at any rate he had the appearance of being a person that you could talk to if somehow you could cheat the telescreen and get him alone. Winston had never made the smallest effort to verify this guess: indeed, there was no way of doing so. At this moment Saban glanced at his wrist-watch, decided that he supposed that he had time for this shit, and evidently decided to stay in the Athletics Department until the Two Minutes Hate was over. He took a chair in the same row as Winston, a couple of places away. A small, sandy-haired woman who worked in the next cubicle to Winston was between them. The girl with dark hair was sitting immediately behind.


The next moment a hideous, grinding speech, as of some monstrous machine running without oil, burst from the big telescreen at the end of the room. It was a noise that set one's teeth on edge and bristled the hair at the back of one's neck. The Hate had started.

 

As usual, the face of Gene Chizik, the Enemy of the People, had flashed on to the screen. There were hisses here and there among the audience. The little sandy-haired woman gave a squeak of mingled fear and disgust, followed by a drunken hiccup. Chizik was the renegade and backslider who once, long ago (how long ago, nobody quite remembered), had been one of a lowly coordinator at a rival program (Winston couldn't be certain, as the Program encouraged only knowledge of the talking points and major names within the conference -- thus simplifying the process for a simple fanbase), nowhere near a level like Bear Bryant himself, and then had engaged in counter-conference employment, had been condemned to death by coaching at Iowa State, and had mysteriously escaped and reappeared at the helm of hated rival Auburn. The programmes of the Two Minutes Hate varied from day to day, but there was none in which Chizik was not the principal figure. He was the primal fraud, the chief defiler of the Program’s superiority. All subsequent crimes against the Program, all treacheries, acts of sabotage, heresies, deviations, sprang directly out of his team’s following. Somehow he was still coaching and hatching his conspiracies: somewhere beyond the friendly limits of Birmingham, under the protection of his booster paymasters, perhaps even -- so it was occasionally rumoured -- in Auburn itself.


Winston's diaphragm was constricted. He could never see the face of Chizik without a painful mixture of emotions. It was a square, meaty face, with a small frizzle of brown hair and well-hidden teeth -- a clever face, and yet somehow inherently despicable, with a kind of jockish silliness in the thick nose. It resembled the face of a golem, and the voice, too, had a gruff quality. Chizik was delivering his bland platitudes regarding his own program – heaping praises so exaggerated and perverse that a child should have been able to see through them, and yet just plausible enough to fill one with an alarmed feeling that other people, less level-headed than oneself, might be taken in by it. He was abusing the legacy of Bear Bryant without ever mentioning it, he was denouncing the unquestioned supremacy of the Program by expressing a belief that the Iron Bowl would be a clean but hard-fought affair, he was advocating the spread offense, tight man
coverage  (editor's note: scratch this and replace with "thoroughly ineffectual drop coverage", in order to bring narrative in line with reality, following Georgia game)  on passing downs, solid and consistent effort on special teams, a spirit of cooperation and teamwork, he was speaking of his program as if it were worthy (as worthy, even!) of praise as the Capstone – and all this in rapid polysyllabic speech which was a sort of parody of the habitual style of the spokespersons of the Program, and even contained Tidespeak words (like “effort” and “motivation”: more Tidespeak words, indeed, than any Program loyalist would normally use in real life. And all the while, lest one should be in any doubt as to the reality which Chizik’s specious claptrap covered, behind his head on the telescreen there clashed the offensive and defensive lines of the Auburn team – row after row of solid-looking recruits with expressionless faces, who swam up to the surface of the screen and vanished, to be replaced by others exactly similar. The dull rhythmic thump of the players’ pads formed the background to Chizik’s buzzing voice.