AOL frustrated me so much today that I deleted this entry. But I returned and beat two browsers into submission and here it is again. I just wish it were a better entry. Oh well, sometimes the concept is more important than the execution.
MARCH OF THE NOTRE DAME GAME
VS. Tennessee at HOME
I'm multi-tasking this entry today. Football and a movie.
My stepmom wanted to see March of
the Penguins the other night. So did I, but I was thinking I'd wait and watch it
No matter how much everyone has raved about that flick [do
people still say FLICK?], I just knew it would be a made for TV kids
and family thing. I wasn't in a feel good mood. I wanted men, action and
Besides it was French. Not that I
don't love the French. well, Jacques Cousteau anyway. But the problem
with the French is that they're so French. For instance, even though
the movie is narrated by Morgan Freeman, I just had the feeling there
would be subtitles -- in French -- to remind us just whose movie it was.
NOTRE DAME 0 TENNESSEE 0 Game Starts
Jarhead looked interesting, but a
war movie wouldn't fly with my Stepma. And Jake, with the impossible to
spell and pronounce last name,
doesn't elevate my pulse -- just as well, given my age. I love Jamie
Foxx and, of course, I do have a thing for men in almost any kind of
uniform. Although I think the UPS guys could wear something more
flattering besides BROWN.
Anyway, Stepma and I go to March of the
Penguins. I'm prepared for chicks eating regurgitated fish, Penguin
sex. Lots of snow and ice. Penguin sex. Plenty of underwater shots in the freezing cold. Penguin sex. Penguins eaten by
predators. Penguin sex. The usual National Geographic fare. Ah, but
this was a sophisticated French documentary. Perhaps we might be spared
the bird porno.
We go to see the movie at the cheap
seats theater, which always has the movies you meant to see, but didn't
for some reason. The penguin movie has been out for awhile. The good news is
that late first run movies cost less.
The bad news is I passed for my
age. The guy taking tickets announced that anyone over 62 could get in
for a special price. I told him I was 62 with a big smile and he didn't
say a thing. Asshead.
At the very least, he could have
pretended I didn't look that old. "62? You had me at 55." He should
flatter me like the sales guy in Pretty Woman who starts sucking up to
Richard Gere until Gere tells him to suck up to Julia Roberts. But,
noooooo, he didn't.
NOTRE DAME 7 TENNESSEE 0 6:51 First Quarter
Irish score on their first
possession. Yay. Quinn throws to Fasano, followed by the tightend lumbering into the end zone, with
an all important block for him by Maurice Stoval.
The penguin march movie begins with
extraordinary footage of the Antarctic ice shelf on the edge of the
ocean.The beauty of the pristine white cliffs of frozen water is
eventually interrupted by the bobbing movement of indiscriminate shapes
on the horizon.
I am reminded of the opening of Lawrence of Arabia when Omar Sharif
slowly appears out of the waves of heat rising
up from the desert, riding on a camel.
Only now it's penguins waddling across the Antarctic ice.
NOTRE DAME 14 TENNESSEE 0
5:51 First Quarter TD ND -- Stoval makes a leaping catch from Quinn, then falls down on
his back in the end zone.
The Penguins are walking, trudging actually, in a long single
file. Summer's over and they're heading to the thick pack ice where
they will meet and greet and make babies.
The ice pack is seventy miles away. You try walking seventy miles in a penguin suit.
NOTRE DAME 14 TENNESSEE 3 3:43 First Quarter
Field Goal Tennessee
Other penguins return from their
summer of feeding out in the ocean to join the march. Astonishingly the
huge group of thousands of birds reaches the deep ice homebase within a
day or two of each other. Like college students arriving at Daytona
Beach during spring break.
NOTRE DAME 21 TENNESSEE 3 9:49 Second Quarter
Zbikowski of ND [a Chicago area boy] returns a punt for a touchdown like he did against USC.
There is a scene with several penguins navigating the slick ice, when
one does a sudden pratfall worthy of the Three Stooges. The penguins behind
him chatter as if to say, "Hey, are you okay?" After righting himself,
the fallen bird made a sound that I could have sworn meant, "Man, that
NOTRE DAME 21 TENNESSEE 13 5:14 Third Quarter
Field Goal Tennessee
The courtship of
the penguins was very, ah, French, you know, almost romantic. None of
the graphic examples of males climbing on top of females that
you might expect from American animal epics. The photographers showed
what appeared to be genuine affection between the coupling birds.
Instead of viewing acrobatic acts of mounting, there were gentle
touches and soft carressing between the future mother and father.
NOTRE DAME 21 TENNESSEE 10 3:19 Second Quarter
Tennessee TD pass from Eric Ainge
to the back of the end zone -- he should have been sacked before he
threw it. I was screaming at the TV.
The male penguins take over the
incubation of the egg, but first the mother has to transfer the egg
from her feet to the father's feet. They actually practice this move beforehand. We watch as one egg falls to the
ice in a bad transfer. The freezing cold causes the contents inside the
egg to expand and freeze in a matter of moments, splitting the shell as
the bird embryo perishes in the cold. A bunch of frozen eggs dot the ice like giant pearls.
NOTRE DAME 21 TENNESSEE 21 1:49 Third quarter
Tennessee TD pass from Ainge
followed by 2 pt conversion [pass]. Ainge is good dammit. His front
line gives him all day to throw.
The females walk the 70 miles back to sea to feed again while the male incubates the egg for eight
weeks in -80 degree weather, going without food the entire time.
The winter storms are ferocious. The males take turns huddling at the
center of the flock where it's warmer. When the chicks are born over
several weeks, the wait for the females to walk the seventy miles back
from feeding begins. They better hurry. If Mom became a meal for
a seal out in the ocean or died on the trek back, her chick will die.
Dad can't save it.
After they're born, the chicks
perch precariously on Dad's feet since they will freeze to death within
seconds if exposed to the ice.
When Mom returns, parents
and chicks recognize each other by their unique vocalizations, which are
as different as fingerprints. Then another transfer tales place between
the parents. This time it's the newborn chick instead of the egg. And some of the birds screw it up. Mom has to feed the
baby. Dad has to get food now. He's already lost lots of
weight taking care of the kid.
NOTRE DAME 28 TENNESSEE 21 13:57 Fourth Quarter
Samarzija catch for ND TD -- his
12th TD pass of season, a ND record. They call him The Shark
because he looks like a character in Shark Tale.
More chicks die because Mom or Dad couldn't handle the pass. We watched one female
mourn her dead baby, touching it for signs of life while making sounds
that clearly expressed sadness and anguish. The sound of grief was so
familiar you couldn't help but recognize it, no matter what your
A childless mother who lost her
chick tried to steal one from another penguin. But she was rebuffed by
a whole group of females. The males, who have lost half their body
weight while incubating the eggs, have started on their own seventy
mile walk back to the sea to get a decent meal. They haven't eaten for
almost three months by this time.
NOTRE DAME 31 TENNESSEE 21 7:47 Fourth Quarter
Fitzpatrick field goal ND, Samarzija holding
As summer nears, the
chicks start losing their fuzz and their parents leave them alone more
and more. The ice breaks up with the warmer weather, making the walk to
the ocean pantry shorter and shorter, until the adults only have to
walk a few hundred yards to dive into the water for food.
Soon all the adults take off for
the summer ocean feeding grounds and the chicks, who have never been in
water, seem to realize that if they want to eat they better follow. For
four years they stay out at sea. The fifth year they return and join
the rest of the penguins to march back to the nesting grounds.
NOTRE DAME 34 TENNESSEE 21 4:06 Fourth Quarter
Field Goal ND
precarious balance of life on this cold and desolate continent, I realized
that if global warming continues, the pack ice may soon not be thick
enough to keep the chicks and the eggs from falling into the nearly
If that happens, nesting and
breeding would suddenly be an almost impossible task. In a very short
time the Emperor Penguin could easily become extinct.
NOTRE DAME 41 TENNESSEE 31 3:07 Fourth Quarter -- FINAL
ND TD/Zbikowski again/this time an intercepted Tennessee pass
After watching the movie, I had
newfound respect for the resilience of the rest of the animal kingdom.
Anyone who thinks that the human experience entitles us to claim
superiority over any other species should try raising kids outdoors in
an ice storm, or walking 70 miles any time you want food.
DeVito legs with bird feet.