The holiday season is officially here! Which you know gets my juices going.

It was weird to be sitting in Arizona last weekend, switching around TV channels while S. was in her conference session, and coming across a Christmas cookie show while it was pushing 80 outside. I spent one year in northern California – we moved west the week before Christmas 1987 – and it was odd to my Midwestern core for it to be in the 50s and 60s over the entire school break. Living farther south, where it is summer-like during the holidays, would be even weirder.

As my Facebook friends know, I got a little head start on the holiday season, violating one of my self-imposed, admittedly silly rules. Saturday it snowed here. Hard. For 4–5 hours. We ended up with about 2” of snow when it stopped. Had it not been near 60 on Friday and the ground been warm, we likely would have had closer to 4”. Between the Winter Wonderland scene and a phone call from my friend Omar in KC, in which she told me she had listened to “Feliz Navidad” on her way home Friday, I cracked and flipped the radio over to SiriusXM’s Holiday Traditions station while I was running errands Saturday. A blatant violation of my prohibition against listening to Christmas music until after Thanksgiving.

I regret nothing.

You know who started their Christmas celebrations too early, though? The jackasses who decided to park a Santa at one of our local malls the FIRST WEEK OF NOVEMBER, that’s who. They need a punch in the head.

Also the Gap, which was already mixing Christmas music into their store music feed back in October. They suck.

I was in Office Depot or Office Max – they’re the same to me – last week and there were Christmas tunes BLASTING on the internal PA. Man, I love Christmas music, but to have to listen to it at that volume for six weeks? No wonder folks in retail get homicidal this time of year.

I began recording Christmas shows Saturday, and C. and L. watched both The Grinch and Elf on the Shelf last night. I don’t have too many years left where they’ll want to watch them, so I have no problem with them watching before Thanksgiving.

And now some other random notes.

A couple travel notes I forgot to share.

While we were waiting to drop our bags at the Phoenix airport, I had a couple interesting encounters. As we inched through the line, there was a family with a young boy, I’d guess he was 4 or 5, right behind us. Apparently he was tired of waiting and began kicking my suitcase. As first he just tapped it. Then he began kicking the crap out of it. His parents didn’t do anything at first. Then, just as I was turning around to give them a look, the dad yelled, “Hey, knock it off!” As I looked back I saw the entire family was wearing Philadelphia Eagles jerseys. I smiled at the boy and said, “I should have known it was an Eagles fan.” As soon as the words escaped my mouth I wondered if I had just made a terrible mistake. Philly fans aren’t know for their warm, fuzziness. Was I about to get my ass beat in the bag drop line for making a sarcastic comment about their fandom?

There was no need to worry. The parents laughed and admitted it has been a difficult fall to be an Eagles fan. I mentioned I was from Indy and the Colts weren’t exactly having the finest season themselves. It all turned out fine.

Later, as we continued to work through the line, we were talking about our friend who always gets pulled out of line for extra security measures. The only reason he can figure is that they do it because his head is shaved.

I mentioned that when I first began flying for work in 2002, I booked a lengthy west coast trip that lasted nearly two weeks.[1] Because of my jumping around the western quarter of the US, all my flights were booked as one-way flights. Which, in 2002, was an automatic red flag. Before every single flight I got pulled out of line at the gate and had my bag and body searched behind the little screen that was just to the side of the boarding area. Twice flights had to be held while security agents went through every single item in my possession. Including, I said to my friends in Phoenix, my contacts case.

As our line doubled-back on itself, a guy behind us chimed in.

“I don’t mean to eavesdrop, but I heard you saying they searched your contact case. That’s where my buddy puts his pot when he flies, because they never search it.”

OK then.

There haven’t been any Reporter’s Notebooks in awhile because I haven’t covered any events since the first week of October. We’ve been busy, and I’m finding it harder to make the long drives I’ve made in recent years to cover games for my paper.

I did get to drive down to Milan in late September. Milan, if it doesn’t ring a bell immediately, is the town/school that won the 1952 Indiana boys high school championship. Which was the team that the movie Hoosiers was based on. I was hoping to get to walk around and check out the museum, but didn’t have enough time before kickoff.

The town, in many ways, feels like it’s still stuck in the early 50s. There are hand-painted signs saying “1952 Champs – Straight Ahead” as you enter town. Milan High School are the Indians. Which, whatever. But there is a bar/restaurant down the street that is called The Teepee. Which is a little weird. But the strangest thing was some of the Milan fans let out an Indian war cry when their team does something good. You know, the noise you made when you were little and played cowboys and indians, patting your lips with your palm. I imagine 20 years ago a lot more people did it. And 50 years ago? The sound was probably deafening.

The next week I was covering a game where Broad Ripple, David Letterman’s high school, traveled south to play a school down near our lake house. Now Broad Ripple is not the most affluent school in the world. Or even in Indianapolis. And they tend to suck in sports. Also, it was a chilly, dreary night. But there was exactly one person in the visiting stands that night. And she was the cheerleading squad’s coach or coordinator or whatever. It was so sparse that when I arrived, and the team was still in the locker room, I wondered if the bus hadn’t made it, or we were about to see a forfeit. I felt sorry for the Broad Ripple kids that no one in their families wanted or were able to make the 45-minute drive to watch them get their asses kicked. The final was 56–8.

Finally, I was lined up to cover the Class 4A football state championship game this weekend. IF the Catholic school we cover, RHS, won their semi-state game last Friday. They were on the road, down near Cincinnati, playing a team they beat by 21 in the regular season. I downloaded the app of a radio station down that way that was airing the game so I could listen. RHS fell behind 14–0 early. They had a long drive to start the third quarter but turned the ball over on downs inside the five yard line. They got an interception but gave it right back. They ended up losing 21–0. So no trip to Lucas Oil Stadium this weekend for me.

  1. Big mistake. That was brutal. But I did spend the weekend with friends to break it up.  ↩