The Bullet Points
- For a long while after last Saturday’s ungodly miscarriage of a game, I had resigned myself to a confrontational, incendiary fire-and-brimstone rant. Like most of you, I was angry at what I saw that night — as angry as a spectator with no actual stake in the team’s performance can be, anyway. I saw a group of players with a gift-wrapped division title essentially give it away to a 4-6 Fresno State team nowhere near as good as the one that beat them the year before. They were humiliated and de-pantsed at home in a way few conference opponents have done to Nevada in recent history, and a lot of it was entirely self-inflicted. Even basketball provided no respite this week with their 0-3 showing in the Paradise Jam Tournament. But some time on Tuesday morning, when I finally stopped procrastinating and began trying to put mental pen to virtual paper, I had a moment of clarity (I swear I have them now and then). I realized I can be disappointed in what I saw — and I will be for a long, long time — while being mindful of much better things the calendar is reminding me of this week. You’ve probably guessed by now: I’m doing a “What I’m Thankful For” column. Yes, it’s trite. Yes, it’s cliched. Yes, it’s longer than my other columns have been. But a good rant once in awhile is only fun to write and read to a point. If I had gone where I originally thought I was going with this column, I would’ve been That Internet Guy: hiding behind a keyboard venting his displeasure with a world he doesn’t bother trying to understand. That’s not why I accepted this gig — I do it to entertain people who share my love of the Pack. I think it’s much better this way for everyone involved, and I hope you’ll agree.
- I’m thankful Nevada is a member of the Mountain West Conference, with its mix of old and new opponents, terrific basketball pedigree (most years), and greater all-around competitiveness. Every conference game has a sense of anticipation and weight that a typical WAC slate almost never had. There are no Idahos or New Mexico States to be found here, and that’s a very good thing. Speaking of which…
- I’m thankful Nevada isn’t in the WAC anymore, and will never have to split up their athletic department between two conferences just to stay alive. There will never be serious talk of Nevada moving all of its teams back to the Big Sky. Idaho? Much more so.
- I’m thankful that Doug Knuth is Nevada’s athletic director. This cannot be overstated. There is no one else I would rather have making phone calls, shaking hands and raising money for Nevada’s various wish list projects — save maybe for the ghost of Billy Mays — than Doug Knuth. The department still has a long way to go for the Mackay Stadium renovations, the indoor field house and the basketball practice facility, but the progress is being made. Real, tangible progress being done the right way. Progress which has come about as a result of a clearly articulated vision with real action backing it up. Can we say the same about his predecessor’s efforts on that front? Or the taxpayer-funded mega-stadium pipe dream UNLV just tabled for awhile?
- I’m thankful that Brian Polian is Nevada’s football coach. The growing pains will continue, and he often shares Chris Ault’s penchant for tantrums, but I believe the man has a good plan for Wolf Pack football. He has a sound understanding of what goes into running a good football team, and has already proven himself leaps ahead of Ault in the area of public salesmanship. If — or more likely when — he moves on to another job elsewhere, he will have left the program in better overall shape than he found it, and that’s all the Nevadas of the world can ultimately ask of him.
- I’m thankful for Chris Ault. ’Nuff said.
- I’m thankful for Colin Kaepernick, Joel Bitonio, Zach Sudfeld, Josh Mauga, James-Michael Johnson, Duke Williams, Rishard Matthews, Brandon Marshall, Virgil Green and every other Wolf Pack football player currently tearing the NFL a new silver and blue corn chute.
- I’m thankful for Nick Fazekas and his pigeon-toed running.
- I’m thankful for the Invisible Ladder, the Double Rainbow Read Option, the Sweet Sixteen team, Pack Friday and the blue Fremont Cannon soon to be liberated from enemy clutches.
- I’m thankful for all of my readers, and the site publisher foolish enough to grant me webspace every week.
- I’m thankful I live in one of the best-kept secrets of the western U.S.
- I’m thankful for this article.
- I’m thankful for the Awful Awful, the Truckee Trickle (er, River), picon punches, Icky IPAs, the Nugget Rib Cook-off, MidTown, Lake Tahoe, the Hunter Creek hiking trail and the beer crawls. All of them.
- Lastly, I’m especially thankful I didn’t go to UNLV.
Tenaya Creek Calico Brown Ale (Las Vegas, NV) — My first brown ale was in my student days at the old Breakaway (now the Corkscroo) on 9th Street. It was right after the final exam for a geography class, and I’d walked over with a few classmates to celebrate. Our professor — the late and still great Dr. Gary Hausladen — bought a pitcher of Newcastle for all of us to share. Even after a satisfyingly easy exam, the taste…did not agree with me. Thankfully, my second taste many years (and many more beers) later was considerably better, and at least the commercials were funny. In that time, I’ve also tried a few other brown ales which were quite tasty (Rogue’s Hazelnut Brown Nectar tops that list), but it’s still not a style I typically gravitate towards. This one poured surprisingly flat with absolutely no head to speak of, and the color was dark mahogany, browner than the dusty, unpaved parking lots surrounding Sam Boyd Stadium. There were a few interesting flavors of brown sugar and caraway, and the finish was lightly fruity, but the whole experience was thin and downright watery. It didn’t leave a good impression on me, or really any impression at all beyond “bland” or “possibly skunked.” I was bound to pick a sub-optimal beer at some point in this feature, and this was it. I looked up a few other online reviews that spoke much more highly of it, so I’m thinking I may have just purchased a bad bottle this time. I’d like to come back to it at some point in the future, but in the mean time, I give this particular glass two tipsy Wolfies out of five.
Still no meat in a tube this week, but I do have these:
“UNLV is just really a four-year junior college with a nice stadium for the basketball team.”
~Adam Carolla, “The Man Show”
“For a loser, Vegas is the meanest town on Earth.”
~Hunter S. Thompson, “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas”
“Those [Las Vegas] audiences are wonderful. Talk about the most bitter group of people on the planet Earth. For one brief shining moment, I am Mr. Happy.”
~Lewis Black, “Anticipation”
“I fully expected the girls to laugh and ask us what we really did…and that is what I get for underestimating the stupidity of UNLV students.”
~Tucker Max, after lying to three women that he and his friends were in a Christian rap group, “I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell”
All fan mail (burning or otherwise), should be sent to:
c/o North RV Lot
Campus of THE University of Nevada
Reno, NV 89557