Honestly, I didn't much feel like hunting for scraps of news tonight. But I did feel like blogging... What to do?
Go unapologetically creative, damnit. At least on this night, anyway, I had a must-scratch itch to put Rick Barnes and Mack Brown together. Despite this site's ban on politics, an hour of photoshopping and another hour of writing resulted in a good ol' fashioned fireside chat.
Tonight's nominal topic? Recruiting.
Rick: Hell, they SHOULD pay y'all footballers more. Even thinking about that much recruiting gives me a headache.
Mack: You kiddin' me, Ricky? That's the easiest part of the job.
Rick: [rolls eyes]
Mack: Hey now - I'm not kiddin'. [pointing] What YOU do? That's recruiting. But that's not what I do.
Mack: Hell no. I harvest, Rick.
Rick: [scoffing] Like some kind of farmer, huh?
Mack: Exactly right! Like a farmer! Or farm owner, at the least: I sit on my porch, sip mint juleps, and watch all that I need grow right before my eyes...
Rick: [laughing dismissively] Don't make it sound so hard now, huh? For starters, you sound like a damn Aggie. But seriously, come on: if it were that easy they wouldn't be paying you the GDP of Rhode Island.
Mack: [makes mock stern face] Don't tell me my business, boy!
Rick: [sticks his palm in Mack's face] There's a tremendous amount of filth and gook here... And by 'here', I mean your pet theory. It smells.
Mack: [smugly] Fine. I'm not a farmer.
Rick: Thank you.
Mack: [pauses] I'm a shepherd.
Rick: You're a jackass.
Mack: [with a wink] When in Rome, Ricky... I've heard your pressers.
Rick: And I've heard yours. Seriously, what the hell is that? Do you take lithium beforehand? It's like being in Sunday School all over again.
Mack: Hey now. I'm selling an image here -
Rick: [interrupting] No I mean it. You make Jason Klotz look charismatic by comparison.
Mack: Mock all you like, Rick. This chair I sit in's mighty comfortable.
Rick: Right, right. With the mint julep.
Mack: You're not lyin'. Tell you what: do somethin' for me. Say 'The University of Texas.'
Rick: Are you drunk? I thought the drink was a metaphor here, Mack.
Mack: [shakes Rick off] No, no. C'mon now. I'm serious. Say it out loud. 'The University of Texas.'
Rick: For real?
Mack: Don't make me clap.
Rick: [raises arms in surrender] Okay, okay... [gathers himself] The University of Texas.
Mack: [leaps up from the couch] See?! Right there! You hear that? The way you said 'Texas'? [Mack-clapping]
Rick: [defensively] No. Wait, what?
Mack: See that's your problem Rick. That's why you can't see what I'm talkin' about. I may have to sign twenty kids a year while scouting ten times that many, but s'not so bad when they're payin' the piper.
Rick: I wish you were this interesting in your pressers.
Mack: [undeterred] The only thing you need to listen for in my press conferences is the way I say 'Texas.' Here, listen close. [pauses for effect] Tech-susss.
Mack: [excitedly] I'll do it again. C'mon: listen. Tech-susss.
Rick: You ever watch that show NewsRadio, Mack?
Mack: 'Course not. I only watch shows filmed in... Tech-susss. [Mack-claps]
Rick: You're not a shepherd. You're Jimmy James.
Mack: [pauses momentarily] I like that name... [looks up, imagining] He'd have to be an offensive tackle. From Pflugerville. One who has... NO! Lufkin! There we go. Jimmy James, a tackle from Lufkin. Whose Dad was a walk-on noseguard at... [grins] Tech-suss... during the 70s.
Rick: No wonder y'all can't get a playoff together. You're all gonzo.
Mack: [settling back into his seat] Thing is, Rick, half of my job is being Mack Brown. Not the fella on the couch here right now, but the one who says 'Texas' three times in each sentence. And says it Tech-susss each time.
Rick: [looking down] You may wanna clean that up.
Mack: [peers down, brow furrowed] Huh?
Rick: Kevin Durant just threw up on your shoes.
Mack: [laughs, pauses, raises eyebrows, then Mack-claps] Now do ya see? Huh?! [single Mack-clap] That's it in a nutshell, Rick. 90% of my sale is being the right and proper head coach of the University of Texas. And saying so in a way that honors the great state of... [gracefully waving arms through the air like a conductor] Tech-susss.
Rick: You really are a damn harvester, aren't you.
Mack: Damn right I am: Don't kid yourself. I maintain a damn lovely plot of land and water her constantly.
Rick: Something tells me you've thought through this metaphor before.
Mack: [makes 'you're damn well right I have' face] The high school coaches are my gardeners; I treat 'em like family. The fans are my neighbors and buyers; I'm always lining up all my fruits at the county fair in a booth they can proudly say represents them.
Rick: So what's Deloss Dodds? [thinking better of the question] Please don't say he's the Wizard of Oz - the man behind the curtain.
Mack: [chuckles] You're not in Clemson anymore, pretty boy... [leans in, shifting to serious] Deloss? I always figured him a town regulator.
Rick: [understanding smile] 'Damned if he don't' but 'don't care' if he do?
Mack: Now you're talkin' my language.
Rick: Lord help us, I think you may well have a point. [shakes head] I'm just glad this isn't an episode of South Park.
Mack: [momentarily unsure] You worried about that Thompson kid? [trying to sound reassuring] Screw it, you can still blame Canada.
Rick: [muttering dumbfoundedly] Jimmy F--king James, I swear.
Mack: [compassionate sensors activated] Well, what is it then?
Rick: I just meant that if we were on South Park, this lunacy would have to end with one of us spelling out the lesson learned.
Mack: Kinda like Sesame Street?
Rick: [holding back his exasperation] No, it's... No! Holy hell, Mack - how can you possibly be succeeding in a job where 'Work and relate well with young men who will love South Park' is a main criterion?
Mack: [fakes a Mack-clap] Two words for ya, Rick... Tech-susss.
Rick: I can't decide if I respect you more or less for this conversation.
Mack: [as serious as he's been all night] Bet you dollars to donuts underestimating Jimmy James was a mistake.
Rick: [unable to hold back grin] When you're right, you're right.
Mack: Now how 'bout that lesson?
Rick: You got it... [concentrates for 'Rick Barnes does Kyle from South Park' moment] Maybe we did learn something today. Maybe we all need to realize better that things aren't always what they appear to be at first glance. Other people's challenges often look easy or hard from afar, but only because we're confining ourselves to our own vantage point. Sometimes, there's a multi-billion dollar mogul underneath the circus mask. Or a dynamic personality lurking beneath someone's restrained public persona... And maybe we just learned that there's oftentimes - if not always - danger in taking things for granted.
Mack: [nodding purposefully, as though inspired] Not only that, but... [pausing pensively]...
Rick: [surprised but encouraged] Something else?
Mack: [in perfect Eric Cartman pitch] Or maybe only a coach of a p-ssy sport like basketball could tack on a life lesson to a midnight bullsh-t session.
Rick: [seething, but stunned] You sick son of a...
Mack: [winking, while rising to leave] You don't suppose Jimmy James just woke up in the castle, do ya?