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Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The New Powers In College Football Carry Old Baggage

As Showdown Looms,
Kansas and Missouri Fans
Re-Fight the Civil War
November 20, 2007; Page A1

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- As the universities of Kansas and Missouri prepare to play the most important football game in their 116-year-old rivalry, trash talking is rampant here in a metropolis that straddles both states.

Yet this isn't just the usual back-and-forth about which quarterback or defense is superior. Nor is it centered on the inevitable jokes about how many Kansas (or Missouri) students are needed to change a light bulb. Rather, this trash talking is focused on which state's residents behaved more abominably amid the Civil War.

Fans "go back to the history books and start calling people names for things that started 150 years ago," says Kevin Worley, a Kansas City-based documentary filmmaker who isn't immune to that tendency himself. A die-hard Missouri fan, Mr. Worley suspects that "there's this ancestral hatred of Kansas bred in me" by a lineage traceable to soldiers who marched with Confederate general Jo Shelby.

[Kansas v. Missouri]

To most of the nation, the showdown Saturday between second-ranked Kansas and fourth-ranked Missouri will most likely determine which team will play in the national championship game. (To reach that final, the victor Saturday would need to win one subsequent game.)

But to many here on both sides of the state line, the game is merely a proxy for a war that never really ended. Perhaps no other football rivalry in the nation pits against each other states that once fought as brutally as did Kansas and Missouri. Evidence that the feud is ongoing can be seen on the back of Dave Hickerson, a Missouri fan who this weekend chomped a cigar in a Kansas City bar called the Velvet Dog.

He sported a University of Missouri football jersey that bore the name not of Chase Daniel, the team's spectacular quarterback. Rather it said Quantrill. A Missouri hero and Kansas villain, William Quantrill led a Rebel guerrilla unit that in 1863 burned and pillaged Lawrence, home of the University of Kansas, in the process slaughtering about 150 people, including children.

"I don't think there's anything redeeming to be said about [the jersey] except that it" angers Kansans, says Mr. Hickerson.

[Dave Hickerson]

But Kansans have their own T-shirt that they hope will offend Missourians. The shirt says: "Kansas: Keeping America safe from Missouri since 1854." The shirt features a drawing of abolitionist John Brown, who before his famous raid on Harpers Ferry led murderous raids against farms and families in pro-slavery Missouri. "They're the slave state. We're the Free State. Look who won out in the end," says Heather Knox, a 25-year-old accountant and Kansas alumna who lives in Kansas City, Mo.

On the gridiron, theirs is the oldest major college rivalry west of the Mississippi River. Neither team is usually a contender for the national title; their showdown more often determines third- and fourth-place in the six-team North division of the Big 12 conference. But bitterness on the football field goes back a long ways. The two sides can't even agree on their series' all-time record. Missourians say the series is tied 53-53-9, while Kansans say they own a two-game lead. The point of contention is their 1960 meeting, which the Jayhawks won with ineligible players. That loss killed Missouri's best chance at a national title, and the Tigers have never again reached No. 1 in the polls.

The game Saturday will take place in a neutral site in the city -- Arrowhead Stadium, home of the Kansas City Chiefs professional franchise -- but nothing about it is expected to be neutral. A night-time kickoff means that fans will have plenty of time to drink beforehand. Arrowhead officials, who typically replace about 15 of the stadium's 80,000 seats following a Chiefs game, expect the Kansas-Missouri brawl to leave as many as 500 seats destroyed. Tickets with double-digit face values are selling for $300 online.

Neither school has ever won a national football championship. Indeed, neither team has finished atop their conference since 1969. To fans on both sides, it is maddening to think that the biggest obstacle toward doing so this year is their oldest nemesis. "I hate Kansas more than everything," says Mr. Hickerson. On weeks when they're not playing each other, "I hate Kansas so much, I would rather have Kansas lose than have Missouri win."

This hatred dates back to the 1850s, when the Great Plains state of Kansas became a beachhead for men around the country committed to ending slavery. Many, however, hid behind that noble cause, all the while killing, pillaging and raping their way across the culturally Southern state to the east, Missouri. These Kansas guerrillas called themselves Jayhawkers -- supposedly a combination of two birds, the jay and the hawk.

Today, it is a sore point among Missouri fans that the University of Kansas mascot is the Jayhawk. Matt Gaunt, a development officer for Missouri's agriculture college, concedes that his state's fighters committed atrocities as well, but notes that Missouri never named a team after them. Some argue that Missouri's mascot -- the Tigers -- are named after some pro-Union forces in an otherwise Confederate state.

But the hometown of the Missouri Tigers, Columbia, is still known as "Little Dixie," and many in Missouri remain proud of their Confederate past. It's enough to start former Missouri player Brandon Barnes, who is African-American, wondering whether Tiger fans are "hating the Jayhawkers for something I might celebrate." But then he remembers the time that Jayhawk fans threw ice at him and footballs at the Missouri team bus. "We hate each other for a reason," he said, as he sat in a Kansas City bar on Saturday.

On chat boards, fans of both teams are weighing in. "Definition of Jayhawk = murderer, rapist, low-life scum. Kansas fans are so stupid they think that name is something to be proud of!," said a post on a Kansas City Star message board.

A University of Kansas poster wrote on a fan board: "The Jayhawkers defended Kansas against terrorists and helped make Kansas a free state just before the start of the Civil War."

Here in a city where the line between the two states is virtually invisible, many Missouri fans won't live in Kansas, and vice versa. When Jayme Salinardi, a lawyer, proposed moving to a Kansas suburb that offered first-class public schools, his wife, Missouri-born Heather, refused. "I'm not living on the Kansas side," he recalls her saying. He finally prevailed -- by finding a house that is only one block from Missouri.

The game this Saturday will provide the perfect capper to a college football season where up has been down. Traditional powers like Notre Dame have stumbled badly while upstarts like South Florida have joined the Tigers and Jayhawks in making once-unthinkable runs for the top. Neither Kansas nor Missouri was expected to win the six-team Big 12 North division. That crown was supposed to belong to the Nebraska Cornhuskers, a team that is 5-6 and that lost to Missouri and Kansas by a combined score of 117-45.

Not everyone sees the upcoming game as bearing great historical overtones. Corby Jones, a star quarterback for the Tigers in the mid-1990s, sat in a sports bar Saturday watching with glee as Missouri beat Kansas State, setting the stage for this week's mammoth showdown with Kansas, an 11-0 team that before the season started was expected to finish fourth in the Big 12 North division.

But even if Missouri, 10-1, loses, Mr. Jones, a lawyer, won't be leading any campaigns against Kansas or its fans. "It's a football game," he said. "It's not war."

Monday, October 29, 2007

October 29, 2007

Dan and I have had a FUN weekend. My childhood friend Lara Kirkham was in town for a conference, and we got to hang out last week and over the weekend.

I haven't seen Lara since 2000, maybe 2001. We have kept in touch off and on since high school. I kind of lost track of her for a while when she was traveling and moving about for the Navy. But, she's staying put for a while until she's done with her duty.

Thursday, we went to see the Nashville Predators for the first time. It was great, because they won and because we got $5 tickets thanks to the Vanderbilt Graduate School.

Saturday Lara and I went to the flea market, which I love, but am a little overwhelmed by sometimes. Lara was excited about going to Hatch Show Print afterwards to get a great print.

Then, dinner was at Rosepepper Cantina, one of the best restaurants in town, and it's in our neighborhood.
Maybe if my mom finds an old picture of the two of us when we were younger, I'll post that, too.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

October 23, 2007

We must be doing something right, because we have grass!

We have been so lucky to get rain all this week, and some last week. Hopefully, our water bill won't set us back too much.

Keep praying for rain!

Monday, October 15, 2007

October 15, 2007

This weekend, we undertook the biggest home improvement task to date. We have done a lot of smaller projects all along the way, but this was the biggest one-day task ever. We tilled up our entire front yard, and planted grass. We didn't really have grass to begin with--we had a yard full of dust and weeds. Then the drought hit, and we just had dust. Since our house was moved from another location across town, the heavy machinery used to move the house compacted the soil making it feel more like concrete than vegetation.

So, we rented a tiller and got to work with the help of Dan's family. His dad manned the tiller. I didn't think to get pictures of that :-( And Dan's granddad (as the hardest working man alive) helped us out too. We found construction debris, bricks, concrete chunks, rebar, rusty hinges, rocks and all manner of things in the ground.

We pulled it all up, and put down soil amendments (top soil, mushroom compost, manure, etc.).

We tilled that in, and put down more.

Then, came the grass seed and the straw to cover it.

And now, my least favorite part--paying for the water to get the stuff growing.

Otherwise, all of the work is for nothing...

Keep praying for rain so we can have some grass and the poor Tennessee farmers can at least have a fall crop.

We are so proud of ourselves for finally getting such a big project finished. I think we'll take a little break for a while after that.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

October 10, 2007

I've already asked the question--What Simpsons character are you? Now it's time to ask, "What superhero are you?" Dan and I got the same results:

You are Spider-Man

Wonder Woman
The Flash
Green Lantern
Iron Man
You are intelligent, witty,
a bit geeky and have great
power and responsibility.

Click here to take the Superhero Personality Test

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

October 3, 2007

Thanks to my boss, the girls I work with and I attended another VIP party last night hosted by Nashville Lifestyles Magazine. We listened to a fun band, and had dinner off of hor'dourves. A good time was had by all.

My main motivation for sharing is to shock everyone with my short haircut!

Monday, October 01, 2007

October 1, 2007

I'm good at a few things but blogging and gardening are definitely not in that category.

Because I'm a bad blogger, you haven't heard from me in a while. Because I'm a bad gardener, I stared death in the face this weekend. It's a leap to connect that cause and effect, but in this story it's true. Here's the story: I have tried three times to plant bushes along my back fence to create some privacy between our yard and the alley. Of course, a brand new privacy fence would do the trick, but that's not going to happen. So, the second round of plants I put back there are dying. I planned to dig them up and put them in the buckets they came in originally, then park them in a sunnier location to see if they could recover.

So, I start looking for the original planters. I find all but one in the shed. The last one was thrown haphazardly in the back corner of the yard. I grabbed it and carted it over to the plants with the rest of the buckets. After I set it down, I looked inside. I saw a big black spider. Being of the frame of mind that the only good spider is a dead spider, I killed it. But, because I was a zoologist in a former life, I wondered what kind it was. So, I turned it over. And, to my shock and horror I found a bright orange hour-glass shape on the bottom of the body. Since this is the tel-tale sign of a black widow, I promptly started freaking out at the thought that I had just carried this planter (with holes in the bottom) across the yard withing noticing that it could have crawled out at any moment and killed me. That was my first stare-down with the afterlife over the weekend.

The second came a little later the same day. I had to take a shower after my gardening experience, so I went to the linen closet to get a clean towel. Thank goodness I didn't have my glasses on, because I didn't immediately freak out when I saw something scurry from the linen closet. I put on my glasses and saw a big brown spider, which I promptly killed. Thanks to a half-off coupon to the Nashville Zoo, Dan and I learned all about poisonous spiders a couple of weeks ago. I recalled my zoo trip and realized that the unwelcomed guest was a brown recluse.

I hope no one planned to drop by for an unannounced visit this weekend, because you will enter our home to a cloud of toxic chemicals. Don't worry, we won't leave the dogs inside. Just don't plan to drop by if you value your life. I don't think anyone could survive the amount of pesticide I plan to use to rid us of our deadly little roommates.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

August 15, 2007

Who will you vote for? I took this quiz by and was surprised by which presidential candidates support a border fence and No Child Left Behind. If you are having a hard time deciding who to vote for, take a look at the quiz. My results were unexpected.

Friday, August 10, 2007

August 10, 2007

One of the perks of working for a cool company is that sometimes you get invited to cool parties. A new magazine launching in Nashville called Style 615 invited our company to their launch party. Several of the girls I work with decided to go because we thought it would be fun to hang out with the beautiful people of Nashville and get some free drinks and hor d'oeuvres. We had fun simply because we got to be members of Nashville's stylish few for a night. Did I mention open bar? I was more excited about the food, but apparently food isn't that stylish, because there wasn't much of it circulating.

We didn't see any celebrities that we recognized, which was a disappointment. But we did see a lot of skinny girls trying to look interested in their conversations while constantly perusing the crowd for someone better to talk to.

Some pictures:

My co-worker Whitney and I posing as though we are completely engaged in the conversation. It looks real, doesn't it?
Whitney pretending to be the focus on this picture when we fact we were trying to capture some of the "style" presented at the event.

These are some of the folks I work with. I had my eyes closed in this picture, but PhotoShop'ed them in from a different picture. Pretty good, huh?

Monday, August 06, 2007

August 6, 2007

I had an adventure in June that I never told everyone about. In celebration of 20 years in business, my boss at Lovell Communications took my entire office on a white water rafting trip down the Ocoee River in northern Georgia. It was great to get to know my coworkers better since I have only been working here for a couple of months. I attached some pictures of our adventures for your vicarious enjoyment.

That's me in the white helmet second from the left. I just climbed out of the raft and jumped off of the giant rock behind the raft. That was the coldest water I had ever felt.

I'm in the white helmet on the left side of the boat.

I can add more if there are requests. I encourage everyone to go rafting. It was much less scary than I thought it would be. It was a great experience.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

July 30, 2007

My friend Amy at Girl About Town inspired me to find out what Dan and I would look like as the Simpsons in honor of the new movie. I think Amy's likeness is dead-on, but I don't know about us. What do you think?

Jan Simpson
Dan Simpson

Saturday, June 23, 2007

July 18, 2007

For those of you who have been interested in seeing the infamous scooter, I attached a couple of pictures. I try to drive it to work every day during the summer while the weather is nice. I used to ride it in the winter when I worked downtown, but that was only a 3 mile trip. My new job is 10 or 12 miles away, and I don't know if I can handle the cold for that long.

Memorial Day Weekend:

Obviously, I'm behind on my blogging, so I am trying to catch up. We had the best Memorial Day almost ever. We went to Mississippi with our friends Kris and Brigitte Lange. They are both from Iuka, Miss. We stayed with Brigitte's parents and had an amazing time. We went to the beach at Pickwick Park, rode our bikes around Shiloh National Military Park, went canoing at Tishomingo State Park and went to Brigitte's family reunion and fish fry. We experienced some real Mississippi hospitality.

We also brought the dogs on their first road trip. We brought our two dogs, Kris and Brigitte brought their two dogs, and Brigitte's parents have four dogs. It was a zoo. Maddie and Hubble went a little nuts with all of the land they had to run in. Maddie dove into the pond and loved it.

Maddie and Hubble are tired after their trip.

Kris and Brigitte Lange after our boating excursion.

June 28, 2007

I have included below the rest of the photos from the Country Music Marathon. This may not interest any of you, but it was such a dynamic event. There were almost 30,000 runners total, which was quite a sight to see. People dressed up in costumes, they said "thank you for being here" as we cheered them on, and they smiled a lot more than I would have in the situation.
This was the crowd of half-marathoners. The full marathoners have just split off, so this is not even everyone!

Elvis worked very hard to separate the half from the full marathoners.

Elvis working hard with his bull-horn.

And Minnie Pearl was there, too! Can you believe this guy ran 13 miles with a wig, hat and dress?! And, I thought running 13 miles without being chased was crazy...

These girls had fun together in their matching princess outfits.

June 25, 2007

I am such a bad blogger. We have had technology problems at our house recently. Dan's computer was out of commission for a while, which set me back on our updates. I also got a new job (more to come on that), which has kept me busier than I ever imagined.

But, first thing's first. On April 27, 2007, my brother Jeff and his wife came to town for Jeff to run the Country Music Marathon. It was his first, and he was a real trooper. He was completely awake and alert at the end, which I did not expect at all. I thought he would collapse in a heap of confusion after running 26 miles.

The weather originally cooperated, but the sun came out half-way through and slowed everyone down. We had a really fun weekend just hanging out and enjoying Nashville. Here are some pictures of Jeff (he's wearing the purple tank). More of the race itself to come...

Monday, April 09, 2007

Monday, April 9

Usually my posts are fairly boring updates on our home improvement projects. Not this time!

Dan and I had a very eventful weekend. I got a job offer from a local PR firm that species in health care marketing and PR. It just so happens that my experience is in just that. It started with a freelancing inquiry, and the firm decided they needed a full time helper instead of a part-time freelance helper. So, I got the offer Saturday, and plan to start the 30th.

That was news enough before Sunday night rolled around. Maddie, our Jack Russell terrier, decided some decomposing compost looked good as a nighttime snack. So, she ate a lot of it and poisoned herself. We took her to the doggie ER and they flushed out her system overnight. We picked her up this morning and she seems to be doing okay. Our biggest concern was that the neurotoxins would permanently alter her, but they didn't fortunately.

So, that was our weekend. How about yours?

Monday, March 19, 2007

March 19, 2007

Nothing much to report, but figured it was time to check in. Our "zoo" as we call the puppies are doing well. They get along swimmingly, and Hubble is now completely house-trained. I will post pictures soon. I'm not one to gush over my animals, but they're fun and keep me entertained when I'm at home.

Dan and I have been super-busy recently with a couple of side projects. I am starting to farm out my writing skills by freelancing in my "free" time for a web design company that doesn't have any writers on staff. So, I work when I'm at home, and I work when I'm at work. We're putting all of our extra income into the Replace The Neon Fund. Hopefully by the end of the year or the beginning of next year, we won't have to take on more debt to do it.

Dan is always busy with school, of course. He is making plans for the summer when he will be doing about three things--teaching assistant for a short class, and research assistant for two different projects.

Nashville is still treating us well. We're trying to meet more people, but don't even have the opportunity to hang out with the people we already know since I work nights. I don't know how long I will be willing to put up with this schedule...

That's our update for now. I will try to post more even though things aren't that interesting for us now.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Monday, February 5, 2006

This is a couple of days late, but this is what we woke up to Friday morning--our first Tennessee snow of the year. Hubble had fun. He doesn't seem to mind the elements. Maddie is a little more picky and wasn't willing to stay in it for too long. It was fun while it lasted....

Monday, January 22, 2007

January 22, 2007

More manual labor for the Morrison's this weekend. We collected bricks all weekend from what used to be Fudrucker's in Nashville. It has recently been reduced to a pile of rubble, so we took advantage of the fact that an entire building's worth of bricks were parked next to giant dumpsters. If you're bored, I need help breaking mortar off of the bricks, and getting them lined up. Or if you have any patio furniture you would like to donate, we could take that off your hands to complement the area. Don't you wish you were here to help?

Friday, January 19, 2007

Friday, January 19, 2007

Here are a couple of videos of the puppies. Hubble is on the left just chasing and chewing his toy. Maddie is on the right getting to an itch that she can't reach because of her added "bulk."

Thanks for watching!

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

January 16, 2006

Day one of two dogs:

The dogs are doing well, considering the change. I have never seen Maddie run so fast...literally. Maddie and Hubble run in the yard and chase each other. Maddie has played with another dog for maybe the first time that I've seen.

Hubble lives in the kitchen until he is housebroken. He is still very puppy-like. He likes to play with people, dogs and toys. Too bad we gave away all of Maddie's toys since she didn't play with them...

We'll keep you posted on our progress. Give us any tips you have on training. We're taking them seriously, especially if they mean housetraining as soon as possible!

Monday, January 15, 2007

January 15, 2006:

Way too long since the last post...I'll post a few catch ups in the coming days. The most recent catch up is about Hubble. Hubble is a Jack Russell/Westie mix whom we have decided to take in. We were thinking about adding a new pet because of Maddie's boredom and lack of activity. We had a play date with Hubble over the weekend at the family's house that is giving him away. His owner is dying and is getting her affairs in order. We want to help out the family, and he got along with Maddie pretty well. We pick him up tomorrow, and get him neutered on Wednesday. It will be an interesting transition. Hubble has no training. His training went onto the back burner when his owner got sick. So, we have a lot of work ahead of us. But, he is easy-going and not very high-strung. He is easy to get along with so far. Maddie is one that isn't as easy to get on with. More to come....