We Take It Back

This just in from the Houston Chronicle: Jim "Mattress Mac" McIngvale's galleryfurniture.com Bowl is a joke.

Readers might be surprised to learn that fact, given how the Chron endlessly hyped the bowl's inaugural game last year and later declared it a success. (Attendance would have reached 40,000, the paper reported, if thousands of fans hadn't been stranded by bad weather in Lubbock and Greenville, North Carolina, home to football superpowers Texas Tech and East Carolina University.)

"All things considered, it went good for a first-year bowl," the Chron quoted McIngvale as saying in between making yet another huge advertising buy for his store. "Overall, I thought it went very well. I'm really looking forward to next year."

The Chronicle might have been the only paper in the nation that took the galleryfurniture.com Bowl seriously. The game quickly became, and remains to this day, the standard punch line for every sportswriter making a joke about college football (Two weeks ago, the Rocky Mountain News's Bernie Lincicome: "What is clear is that no championship ever was won in November, or even December, unless you count the galleryfurniture.com Bowl, which I understand comes with a nice trophy and a foot stool.")

So what caused the Chronicle to take off its blinders and agree with everyone else that the game is a joke?

Well, they didn't, exactly. The blasphemous opinion got into print only because it was McIngvale himself who said it.

"Jim McIngvale despises the image more than he does particle board," columnist John P. Lopez wrote. "His galleryfurniture.com Bowl has become the bowl season's booby prize, a relative so-what nugget of a trip…It's a last resort of sorts, a glorified spring game sandwiched between an extended recruiting trip. And it eats at Mattress Mac like back-order slips and three-day delivery."

Of course, all this criticism was offered only for the purpose of touting McIngvale's determination to make the game the equivalent of the Rose Bowl in four years.

"Some would bet against the furniture salesman," Lopez wrote. "But my money would be on Mac."

Not to mention Mac's pals in the media.

No Joy in Sweepsville

No good deed goes unpunished -- just as we commended our local television stations last week for skipping the usual sweeps month inanity, they let loose with a barrage of the same old crap.

There were probing investigations of breast-enhancement creams and wife-swapping on KPRC. But KTRK had the strangest effort of all: a hidden-camera exposé of titty-bar dancers who ignore the law that prevents them from touching customers.

The story itself was not strange, of course; what was weird was the presentation. KTRK did the absolutely standard, archetypal gentlemen's club story -- and they acted like no one had ever done it before. It was as if 13 put a reporter out on the Katy Freeway to break the news that some drivers go over the speed limit by as much as five to ten miles per hour.

The whole piece had such a depressing by-the-numbers feel to it that you felt sorry for them. It had to be the most joyless performance of an annual ritual since JFK Jr.'s birthday party in November 1963.

We can only hope the station recovers its footing when it hits the bars for the next sweeps month.

You Sexy Thang

We've got nothing against the Chronicle's three outdoors writers; they write some of the better stuff in that gray, bland sports section. But we don't know what got into Shannon Tompkins as he waxed poetic about deer-hunting season on November 29.

It's not often you get to read a sentence like this: "Contrary to the slanderous stereotype, time spent afield in the professed pursuit of venison is not consumed in a saturnalia of alcohol or bacchanal of blood."

Got it. No saturnalias.

Instead, the "professed pursuit of venison" is, he wrote, "a ritual of the most serious sort…It is not at all unlike going to church."

Well, yeah, except that some of the parishioners get murdered along the way. (Hey, it worked for the Aztecs.)

But Tompkins really got wound up talking about watching potential future victims. We thought we were reading Penthouse as he described a buck examining a scraped portion of the ground that a doe had visited earlier: "He walked straight to the scrape, nosed the ground, pawed the earth, rubbed his preorbital glands on the twigs over the scrape then scrunched up and urinated over his hocks, washing the musky scent from his tarsal glands onto the sandy ground. He then put his nose to the 'French mulberry' bush the doe had nudged and brushed. Through 10X50 binoculars, I watched as he lifted his head, slightly opened his mouth, curled his upper lip and shoved out his tongue. The buck was literally tasting the scent -- the estrogen and other pheromones -- left by the doe."

It went on, but further thoughts of tonguing musky French mulberry bushes were too much for us.

If this isn't a saturnalia or bacchanal, we can't wait until Tompkins throws a party.

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