54b’s Commentary - UTEP Recap/Rice Preview

"54b, you said that if I would read your commentaries you'd stay with me all season, but I noticed that during Hurricane Ike, there was only one set of footprints on the beach. I don't understand why, at a time when I needed you most, you would leave me with no commentary."

"My precious, precious reader, I would never leave you. During your times of trial and suffering last weekend when you saw only one set of footprints, it was then that I took a sabbatical from my playing gig at Chuck E. Cheese to cheer you up on the Galveston seawall."

On a serious note, as we're all well aware and many of you may have even experienced first hand, Hurricane Ike ripped the Texas Gulf Coast a new one and Galveston now looks a lot like my coffee table after a night of drunken Jenga. It may be a little late coming, but my thoughts and prayers go out to the people devastated by the latest tropical nightmare and the many BON readers from the Houston-area still without power.

Considering my training in the Cub Scouts left me capable of little more than field dressing a S’more, I can only imagine the survival mode many of you find yourselves in. Here’s hoping for a speedy return to some semblance of life before the storm and maybe a few laughs from this commentary in the meantime.

When last we corresponded, I was on my way to...

UTEPIA

UTEP ain’t exactly a utopia, but I can think of a lot worse places to spend a September Saturday. And that pretty much sums up why my fellow former walk-on buddy and I ventured out in the west Texas town of El Paso where we fell in love with the Mexican food. By the end of the weekend, Clay and I were both back up to our playing weights and were forced to say three Novinas to Our Lady of The Expandable Waistband just to make it back through the airport metal detector on our way home.

Though we could neither pronounce nor spell the majority of the comida we were consuming, I’m pretty sure there’s a hamlet in Juarez missing their sacrificial goat and I'm now convinced you can eat anything as long as it’s smothered in Queso. But alas, we did more than pass gas on our way to the Sun Bowl for UT vs UTEP, aka The Baracho Bowl. After what seemed like the Bataan Death March of tailgating, we actually made it to the stadium to witness the Longhorns take care of business against a feisty Miners team. For those of you who weren’t there because you weren’t taking Mike Price and his Pickaxe of Freedom seriously, allow me to share what it was like leading up to the “biggest game ever” in El Paso history (like anybody could know that). Because let’s face it, the story of El Paso is the story of none of us.

Irregardless, scoot over Pancho and Lefty, it’s time for...

THE ADVENTURES OF CLAY-O AND HEFTY (54b)

To honor all my new compadres in El Paso, who apparently have no concept of punctuality or sense of urgency whatsoever (must be nice), I’ve decided to mark the nefarious events of the weekend using ambiguous places and moments instead of actual times (and because there is a good chance the authorities are still gathering evidence against me including the shot of scotch I left under my seat in the Sun Bowl that didn’t agree with my constitution)...

Friday Noche, September 5, 2008

Aeropuerto – On the flight from Dallas to El Paso, wouldn’t you just know I had the great pleasure of sitting next to an 18-year hotty pants freshman from where else, Texas Tech, on her way home to see her boyfriend (read: marathon chorizo slam) for the first time since she left for college. Yeah, I know, she made it a whole two weeks. Anyway, rather than explain to her that her boyfriend probably spent the fortnight delivering pizzas to horny cougars a la Patrick Dempsey in Loverboy, I decided to bury my nose in the latest issue of SI.

Of course that didn't stop (let’s just call her) Bliss from blathering on and I, and everyone else seated in a 5-row radius of us were made the wiser with some really interesting tidbits like: Bliss’ entire high school class was either on drugs, pregnant or both and she never would have dreamed of staying home to go to UTEP because the guys there are so Emo. Either UTEP guys laugh a lot when they’re tickled or I have no idea what Emo means. Finally, I think she got the hint that I needed her tutelage like I needed another hole in my ass because then she dropped this 4th grade smack down: “You wanna know what, UTEP students call themselves “UT” and call you guys, “UT-Austin.” So I smiled politely and told her I didn’t see any reason why we should quibble over geography when we’re all “UT-Americans.” Well she looked at me like my dog does after I fart on his head to wake him up, but like it mattered, I’m pretty sure she had no maps at home nor any lights on upstairs anyway.

The Vato-Mobile – Another fun fact/caveat according to my blissfully ignorant seatmate was that the majority of El Paso motorists lacked car insurance and driving from one end of town to the other was tantamount to an endless game of Pollo con Gringo. So I called Clay immediately upon landing and we had this conversation....

“Clay-o, does the optional coverage on the rental car include life insurance?”
“No, but get this, I got us a Ford Explorer and it smells like Tacos.”
“Beef or chicken?”
“Combination.”
“Mmmm, combination.”


Avilla’s Mexican Restaurant – Well with that kind of Pavlovian trigger wafting throughout the car, we were easily able to overcome our vehicular phobia and it was only a matter of minutes before our first foray into the world of authentic Mexican food. And when I say authentic Mexican food, I mean the kind where you pay for your dinner on your way out at a cash register area resembling a confectionery replete with everything from Chicklets to pralines made with sugar so fine it was probably cut with a razor blade. Truthfully, Avila’s was pretty good and I had something called “tampiquena” which is basically a skirt steak covered with so much melted cheese that you’ll need a piece a leather to bite down on the next time you attempt to move your bowels.

The Camino Real Hotel/Dome Bar - If you're familiar with the Driscoll Hotel in Austin, that's sort of what the Camino is like only they replaced the old world charm with a nuevo Mexicano theme made popular by Taco Bueno. Needless to say, I wasn’t that impressed and it certainly didn’t help that the AC unit blew hot ass smell, the bathroom hadn't been updated since Cortez stopped in, and the elevators required the patience of a coma patient. I’d really like to say something nice about this hotel, but even their famous Dome Bar with the stain glass ceiling was a let down. It looked like a pretty sweet place, but the speed of service was rivaled only by the elevators and the vibe in the bar felt a lot like a an Enzyte commercial.  

Cincinnati Street – With the Dome Bar well on its way to AARP Bucket List status, we figured we’d mosey on over to El Paso's version of 6th Street that much to our chagrin, turned out to be just a handful of bars competing in the Bouncer Bel Grande contest. Here’s a tip: if checking an ID with your left hand mimics the early signs of a heart attack, it might be time to mix in a salad. Every bouncer on the street was at least four bills and broke every law of physics when sitting upon their stool of impunity. No doubt the Longhorns paraphernalia we were sporting didn’t help, but the border-style interrogation we got just to enter the bar was rarely worth the warm piss coming out of their taps. But like the bumper sticker reads, "When in Rome, ay caramba." So we settled on Kern’s Place Tavern which was sort of like a Caribbean Oasis in a desert.

Saturday, September 6 (Gameday)

Jogging North Mesa Street
– After a night of light boozing and an extra hour of sleep, I had no excuse not to put the kicks on and get a little exercise. But that would prove to be harder than you’d think and not because I had a year’s supply of Mexican dairy in my lower intestine...Actual conversation between me and the front desk lady:

"So where can I go running around here?"
"Why, who are ju running from?"
"What, no, I want to go jogging, you know, like for exercise?"
"But sir, this is the city."
"Gracias."


Lucy’s/King’s X Bar
- After dry heaving a lung running in the dry, mountainess desert air, we decided the only way to feel whole again was of course, more Mexican food. And we had it on good authority that Lucy's on Mesa was where it's at. No sooner had we ordered Lucy's famous Machaca (again, no idea what it is, but it blended well with the meat and cheese theme) then we noticed that it was connected to a sports bar called King's X.

If you remember that biker bar from Pee Wee's Big Adventure, then you get the picture. And with Bloody Maria's on especial for a buck-twenty-five, it wasn't long before Clay and I were starting our own rendition of Texas-Fight that apparently didn’t go over well with the gang of Satan's Helpers sitting next to us. I asked one particularly leather-clad patron if he knew the spread on the game and he said, "twenty to life." But I didn't feel truly welcome until the owner looked right at me and announced to the bar, "I say we tattoo him, then we stab'em, then we hang'em, and then we kill'em." Fortunately for them, Clay drug me out of there before I could jump up on the bar and yell, Tequila!

Tailgate Crashing - Rule #76, never show up to tailgate empty handed. So Clay and I stopped by the Fiesta Mart on the way to the campus and bought a break-away cooler and an 18 of silver bullets which was appropriate considering I was feeling invincible by this point. With the cooler in hand we proceeded to various tailgates fraternizing with the locals until we ran up on two rather vocal Hispanic UTEP fans who were less than impressed with our Longhorn-ness.

So with what appeared to be the cast of Stand and Deliver quickly gathering around us to watch the two trespassing baracho blanco diablos get el muerto,  I did the only thing I knew to do at a precarious time like this and offered them two cans of Coors Light in exchange for their two Tecates. Diplomat is not a cover I typically use when talking to angry mobs (or Texas Tech freshman girls), but I doubt a more lasting peace had ever been witnessed this side of Camp David. Not only were Clay and I granted safe passage to the gates of the Sun Bowl, but I was bestowed the highest honor, a pull from the community bottle of spirit juice (I think it was scotch) that would soon have me convinced I was on a mission to find a giant chicken. instead I just found a bunch of UTEP federales who weren't amused.

As for...

THE GAME

Not much to say...partly because I was in the spirit world for most of the first half and partly because it was kind of like watching the air slowly expelled from a bright orange and blue balloon. UTEP was definitely ready to play, but after a couple of quick field goals, Texas did what they usually do on the road and deflated the home team along with their fans. I will say this though, watching UT’s running game this year is kinda like waking up in the middle of the night only to find out the power's gone out.

Do you go with the candle (Ogbonnaya), the flashlight (Vondrell), or the chemically reactive glow stick (Fozzy)? All could technically get you to the breaker box without stubbing your toe, but figuring out which one works best could take all night.

Fortunately for us UT-Austin fans, the power came back on in the 4th quarter and the Horns cruised to an easy 42-13 win. At 2-0 and ranked #7 in the country I'm not sure we could ask for more heading into the...

NEXT GAME
Normally I don’t sweat the nerd herd, but this isn’t your father’s Rice, or your father’s father’s Rice for that matter. Gone are the days of the Owls’ predictable triple option that had the uncanny ability to average exactly  Pi on every down. With all those Mensa Mathletes on campus, it’s a wonder why it took Rice so long to figure out that 3.14 yards/down x 3 still doesn’t get you to 10 no matter how many places past the decimal point your calculator goes.

The Owls now feature a much more crowd pleasing passing attack led by senior signal caller Chase Clement who’s managed to put a few points on the board this year and may get Rice back to the post season for the second time in 3 years.

Unfortunately for them, the Owls’ defense is still getting their underpants vertically enhanced on a weekly basis. Plus, nobody, and I mean nobody comes into Greg Davis’ house and pushes his offense around. With two weeks to cram and the Owls dealing with that bastard of Neptune that ravaged Houston last weekend, I’m thinking GD will have Colt the boys so confident they may even attempt putting the Q package in the game more than 3 times. But that’s just crazy talk for now. Will it happen, that’s not for me or you to decide. During uncertain times like these when you can't take anything to the bank, it's good to know we can always count on the ever clairvoyant yet never salient...

UNPREDICTABLE PREDICTION
Texas 49
Neutered Hooters 3.141592653589793...

TAILGATE UPDATE
Saturday's game agains the Rice Owls (It'll be a hoot) is set to kick-off this at 6pm (Oh, must be Night Owls). And though Fox Sports Net (ESPNot) is inexplicably televising this game (instead of Greco-Roman Bocce Ball), head on down to the tailgate anyway (Come on, give in to Beer Pressure) a few hours before the game and get yourself some Barbecue (There's a party in my tummy, so yummy, so yummy) and chug a few beers (It'll cure what "ales" ya). And last but certainly not least (#54 on the bench, #1 in your hearts), don't forget to show your appreciation (Don't sweat the technique) by throwing in a couple of bucks (Flash the cash) to the people putting on this awesome tailgate (Props to my Veeps).

QUOTEWORTHY

“When the UTEP running back carries the ball, would you call that a Miner In Possession?”

Hook’em,
54b

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