Step on the Gas and Get in the Limousine

Editor’s Note: I haven’t followed the Oregon baseball team closely enough this year to devote a whole post to their playoff success (they won their four-team regional this weekend), but what’s better than your team handing you opportunities to watch live baseball for free? Yay for a Super Regional.

Baseball note aside, this post is really about the Beatles since that’s pretty much all I think about these days. (Though I have devoted a little time in the last week to defending my Honors College thesis, which, after a few revisions are made in the next few days, will pass with honors!)

Since we talked about it in class Thursday, I’ve wanted to write about Abbey Road – specifically, the album’s 16-minute ending medley. Though I’d now consider Sgt. Pepper my favorite album, the Abbey Road medley is probably my favorite “chunk” of Beatles music. (Some people have favorite songs, I have favorite chunks. Reading it back, that sounds pretty gross.) Before I launch into exactly why I love it so much, hear its brilliance for yourself:

“Changed perspective” seems to be the theme of my experience in Beatles class. “You Never Give Me Your Money,” the medley’s opening track, has long been a favorite jam of mine, but more for the EPIC guitar section (2:09-2:28) than anything else. Paul McCartney wrote the song as everything in the Beatles’ world was going to pieces (the “you” refers to Allen Klein, their manager at the time, whom McCartney distrusted). To give you a sense for how depressing the time was, Ian MacDonald, author of Revolution in the Head, says this: “To anyone who loves the Beatles, the bittersweet nostalgia of this music is hard to hear without a tear in the eye.” I’m not crying over this music, but the joyful innocence was gone once I understood its context.

That aside, this song contains one of my favorite Beatles lyrics: “One sweet dream/pick up the bags and get in the limousine/soon we’ll be away from here/step on the gas and wipe that tear away.” I have no idea what these words really meant to Paul, but to me, they’re a symbol of freedom: escaping a dreary situation by getting in a fast car and riding off into the sunset, toward your dream.

I don’t want to ruin the medley by picking apart every song, but I will say I’m partial to Paul’s contributions. “Sun King,” “Mean Mr. Mustard” and “Polythene Pam” (all John’s songs) are alright, but “She Came In Through the Bathroom Window” (Paul) is another favorite, especially because I now know there actually was a girl who came through the bathroom window of Paul’s house and stole a picture of his father.

MacDonald calls “Golden Slumbers” and “Carry That Weight” the “heart of the medley.” I remember the latter tune being a favorite when I was younger, before I understood its place in the medley, and I still love it today for the way it incorporates sections of “You Never Give Me Your Money” while featuring all four Beatles in the chorus vocal.

Writing about “The End” depresses me. Its final line is arguably the Beatles’ most famous, but what I really love is the opener:  “Oh yeah/alright/are you gonna be in my dreams tonight? Paul’s rock n’ roll voice gets me every time.

Of course, “Her Majesty” was tacked on as a hidden track so it’s technically the end of the album, but man – what a way to go out. I almost feel guilty for analyzing the medley as much as I just did. Sometimes, you just have to sit back and listen to that 16 minutes of musical brilliance.

While nothing can really top that, I had to toss in a few other highlights from the past two weeks (and no, this was not a conscious attempt at writing the longest blog post in history):

Highlight 1: We Have a Crush on Paul McCartney c. 1967

My friend Kelly (also in the class) and I have come to terms with the fact that, to meet our biggest celebrity crush, we’d need a time machine. Any out-of-class conversation devolves into gushing about Paul’s status as the handsomest and most important of the Beatles. (Why am I admitting this?) Anyway, we just can’t get over this video of “Hello Goodbye” from 1967 (the Beatles recorded it for the Ed Sullivan Show in lieu of performing live). Watch and see how Paul is obviously the most endearing.

We also think Paul is the highlight here (His meta-reference to “Fixing a Hole”? Adorable!):

Highlight 2: The White Album

I was disappointed we didn’t spend more time on this one in lecture, but in listening to the album on my own, I found two songs I always knew existed but never really listened to: “Martha My Dear” and “Happiness is a Warm Gun.” I now count both among my all-time favorites.

Paul is the only Beatle performing on “Martha My Dear”; since the band members worked separately on much of the White Album material, Paul recorded this in a day with the help of session musicians. No one considers it a standout in the Beatles’ catalog, but I think it’s beautiful (and for whatever reason, I envision it as theme music to a Mary Tyler Moore Show-esque sitcom).

Opposite the simplicity of “Martha My Dear” is “Happiness is a Warm Gun,” a Lennon song. It sounds like three songs in one, and I really love Lennon belting the title lyric in his best ’50s do-op impression (around 1:38).

Highlight 3 – The Rooftop Concert

The Beatles’ rooftop concert is an iconic image for any music fan, but I never understood the circumstances under which it was played. On January 30, 1969, during the Let It Be recording sessions, they decided to play an impromptu concert on the roof of Apple Records’ building, without announcement (or the proper permits). Police shut them down after a few songs, but what a set. This footage of the concert (later included in their Let It Be movie) is awesome, but the true brilliance is in the footage of office workers and cops on the street finally catching on to the madness.

Tuesday is our last lecture and we’ll cover the band’s legacy. If gleefully writing 1,000 words about it is any indication, I’m not ready for that class to end! If you have a favorite moment/song/video from the Beatles’ later years, or would like to divulge your embarrassing Beatle crush details, I am eager to hear.

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Delayed Reaction: Rose Bowl

Yes, I know the Rose Bowl game was practically a week ago. But after a couple days in the car and a couple more organizing my life before winter term begins, this is all I could muster for a recap of my wonderful four-day SoCal stint.

I drove down with two great friends – Lauren and Lindsay – and we made a pit stop in San Francisco to ring in 2012.

Yep, we're those people who hold our arms out to take pictures of ourselves. Please note the cable car in the background - we were DEFINITELY in San Francisco.

We spent our New Year’s Day on I-5, and I feel pretty good about my year knowing that the first lunch I ate in 2012 was an In-N-Out Burger.

Because an Oregonian can't come here and not take a picture of her meal.

It was an incredibly smooth journey that carried us all the way to the Hilton at LAX, the Ducks’ team hotel. There were designated ticket pick-up hours, and a line was already forming when we arrived. As we waited, my usual bout of ticket anxiety kicked in. Did I really get one? Yes, I’ve been receiving the Azumano Travel emails. But did I remember to buy a second one? Yes, I distinctly remember listing my dad as Lauren’s emergency contact so I could submit the form as quickly as possible. Do I have my student ID card? It never hurts to look again. Yes, it’s there.

This always happens to me at Autzen. The student ticket distribution system is so touchy that, even with guaranteed student season tickets, I’d get nervous every time I neared the turnstiles.

But my fears were unfounded, and two gorgeous tickets waited for me in a crisp envelope.

The coolest sporting event ticket I've ever possessed, even if it is a rip-off of the Obama "HOPE" design.

We went from the Hilton back up to Santa Clarita, where we’d be staying with the family of an old housemate (who has since married and moved permanently to Eugene). I’d met Jeff and Anne a couple times before, but we didn’t know them all that well and they were incredibly kind and gracious to us.

Monday came: Gameday. We navigated public transportation to Pasadena, which was surprisingly easy. As we exited the Metrolink train we rode from Santa Clarita to downtown LA, the train operator issued the usual warning to remember your personal belongings but added, “and no offense to anyone, but go Oregon.” We cheered.

There’s really nothing I can say about the game that hasn’t already been said. All I have to add is how excited I am to know that I was there. Even in the excitement of the moment, we acknowledged that this was a game for the ages. When DAT’s 91-yard run is played on the Autzen jumbotron years from now, I can tell my kids, “I was there! I saw that!” That fumble recovery? I was there! Heck, I bet I’ll even drop that line with regards to Montee Ball (who, despite Wisconsin’s loss, is a beast).

If there was any way to experience your final Oregon football game as an actual Oregon student, this was it. BCS redemption. California sunshine. History made on a number of fronts. Geez, it’s fun to be a Duck.

The view of the field from our end zone seats (unfortunately, we didn't have the luxury of depth perception).

The classic Rose Bowl trip photo.

My Converse stand among a post-win sea of confetti and pom-poms.

What a wonderful day.

Just for kicks, a few other fun trip anecdotes:

  • We left early Saturday morning, and it was pretty darn cold. So cold, we couldn’t get the doors of Lauren’s Ford Escape to open. We poured water over the openings and yanked on the trunk door. Then we realized the doors were locked.
  • The concierge at our hotel in San Francisco warned us to layer up before we headed into the city for NYE. “Everyone says it’s freezing,” she said. Knowing that San Francisco can be chilly, we ran back to fetch our coats. Then proceeded to peel off layer after layer as we walked through town – apparently that city is warmer in December than June.
  • Before we left, I called LA’s MTA and mapped out a pretty legit route to the stadium. Jeff, one of our hosts, told us about the faster Metrolink train we could take downtown, but none of us thought about the return trip. When we arrived downtown after the game, we learned that the day’s service to Santa Clarita had ended…meaning we were stranded. Jeff and Anne get a gold star in heaven for driving to North Hollywood and picking up our helpless trio.
  • The hardest part of being a college football fan is enduring the endless Chick-fil-A ads, after it was mercilessly removed from Oregon several years ago. (I love Chick-fil-A, but Lindsay, whose family hails from Georgia, is an even bigger fan.) Thankfully they still exist in LA, so we were able to get our fix.
  • We stayed in Redding on the way home, and as we walked out of the hotel, a CHP officer was walking in. Noticing our Oregon attire, the first thing out of his mouth: “Have fun in Pasadena?” Even the fruit inspection people at the California border asked us if we were headed for the game.

Oh, one final thought. If you’re looking for a classy but not-too-expensive place to dine in LA, head for Bottega Louie. My roommate at the UO is from the area, and she and her mom treated us to a fabulous lunch on Tuesday, complete with mini desserts. Aside from major family meals like Thanksgiving and Christmas, I don’t know the last time I’ve seen so much quality food on one table.

Pastas and pizza galore, fried calamari, caprese, asparagus, some sort of delicious beet dish. Food coma.

CHOCOLATE RASPBERRY TART.

Coffee, of course. And the most beautiful take-out boxes known to mankind.

I have a bunch of other pictures – most notably, of Bottega Louie’s insane macaroon trees – but you get the idea. Amazing restaurant, great company. (And drinking iced coffee in January.) One of the greatest afternoons on record.

A dark, rainy winter is ahead, but I feel lucky to have had four days in the sun with my friends and my Ducks.

Last real home game as a student. Pass the tissues.

As a born-and-raised Oregonian, the Civil War football game has played an important role in my life. My dad is an OSU grad, and he took my sister and me to a few Civil War games growing up. Most were at Reser Stadium in Corvallis, but he took us to one at Autzen (2003, I believe) – the picture of Hope and me decked out in OSU gear with Autzen in the background is ironically hilarious now that I’m a UO fanatic.

Anyway, the Civil War is always a special game, especially when you’ve grown up in the state and have bragging rights on the line.

Today also marked my last official game as a UO student – the Pac-12 championship game, which I will attend, doesn’t really count in my mind – and it’s causing me to freak out a little.

Honestly, going to football games and following the team has been my favorite part of college. The memories created inside Autzen – falling in love with college football when GameDay came in ’09; storming the field after securing a Rose Bowl bid in the 2009 Civil War; going crazy during last year’s Stanford contest; yelling, “It never rains in Autzen Stadium” before every game; clapping along with the fight song – will stay with me forever.

When college begins, you never really think it will end. Up until now, life and education have come in manageable four-year chunks. Now, it’s off into the great unknown. (“Fears for the future” could be a post in and of itself, but you get the idea.) Who knows if I’ll be at all the games next fall? Who knows if I’ll even make it to one? Will I ever watch games from the same angle again? (Literally; I can’t imagine looking at Autzen from a different perspective after sitting in the student section for four years.)

Of course, I know I should be happy that the biggest problem facing me at the moment is how I’ll handle myself without a student ticket to Duck games. But it’s a strange feeling, knowing that I’ll never have quite the same relationship with the Oregon football team.

All nervousness aside, it was a beeea-u-tiful day in Eugene and the Civil War was a blast. I’ll let the pictures do the rest of the talking:

My roommates Shannon, Katy and me on the walk into the stadium. (Yeah, this is Instagram'd. Judge me.)

This isn't a great angle, but the UO and OSU marching bands played the national anthem together. The UO band formed an "O" and the OSU formed an "OS," like their logo.

Celebrating a Duck victory with friends. Won the day.

Flowers, Football and a Wedding. Saturday.

Fall Saturdays make the greatest days.

Mine began at 8:30 a.m., when I took my pillow and blanket into the living room and posted up on the couch for the final 30 minutes of College GameDay.

On this particular Saturday, several friends were in town because an old housemate was getting married. By the time GameDay was over, our house was buzzing and coffee was brewing.

My roommate and I took an impromptu trip to the Eugene farmer’s market and swung by HomeGoods to pick up a wedding gift (even classier than buying the gift day-of: writing and signing the card in the car en route to the event).

Until we left for the wedding, I had one eye on football games and one on getting ready. It was held at the Mt. Pisgah Arboretum, just outside of Eugene. The wedding was perfect: short but meaningful ceremony, great dance playlist and Cafe Yumm! bowls for lunch. (If you’re not from Eugene, Corvallis or Portland, you don’t know what you’re missing. Yumm bowls are my kryptonite.)

If you’re a college football fan, I know what you’re thinking: Who gets married on a fall Saturday? Well, neither the bride nor the groom are huge football fans, and we made it back during the first quarter of Alabama-LSU. Not bad at all. By the time all the evening’s action was in full swing – there was frantic remote-control flipping between ‘Bama/LSU, OK State/K-State and Oregon/UW – we were out of our fancy wedding attire and back on the couch to take in the night games (including a Duck win over UW. Nice try, Chris Polk!).

Fun farmer’s market trip. Beautiful wedding. Solid Ducks victory.

Not a bad Saturday.

Just to humor myself, a few photos from the day (Yeah, I used Instagram. Judge me all you want.):

Unfortunately, I didn't bring any of these bouquets home, but they're a lot prettier than the beets and broccoli I bought.

Yumm bowls and beer. Can't go wrong. (For the uninitiated, Yumm bowls are made with brown rice, black beans, a to-die-for sauce called Yumm sauce, tomatoes, olives, cilantro and sour cream. There are other variations - for example, some people like guacamole or salsa with their bowls - but I've perfected my Yumm preferences.)

A few of the friends with whom I enjoyed the ceremony, Yumm bowls and dancing. From left: Lauren, Miranda, me and Brad.

GameDay Overtakes the Quad

Awesome = College GameDay setting up on the campus quad today.

Not awesome (from a school standpoint) = My inability to focus on anything besides Saturday.

A view of the GameDay set from the Knight Library. At this point, the "O" hanging from Lillis was only half-completed.

When I emerged from class an hour later, the “O” was finished.
A view from the other side of the set, where the fans will stand.
I have my doubts about how visible the “O” will be on TV Saturday, but it’s going to look awesome on campus for the next few days.

Third Time’s a Charm

From a football standpoint, I couldn’t have picked a better four-year span in which to attend the University of Oregon. Aside from trips to the Rose Bowl and BCS title game, ESPN’s College GameDay came to Eugene not once, not twice, but THREE TIMES in my four-year career. (Or at least, it will have come three times after Saturday.)

In what amounts to a pretty slow college football weekend, the GameDay crew will come to Eugene on the heels of Saturday night’s Oregon-Arizona State matchup. Will it carry the “must-win” atmosphere of last year when they came before the Stanford game? No. (Even though this could be a Pac-12 championship preview, neither team comes in undefeated like the Ducks and Cardinal did last year.) But it’ll still be wildly exciting.

Probably the best part about all of this? It’s pretty much happening in my backyard. While the setting from the past two years – near the Casanova Center with Autzen Stadium in the background – was picturesque and exciting, construction in that area has forced GameDay to our Memorial Quad on campus. It’s just a few blocks from my house, and I couldn’t be happier to avoid an early-morning trek to Autzen. (Sidenote: I’ve never once heard someone refer to our quad as “memorial.” It’s always been ” the quad” to me. Am I the only one who thinks this?)

GameDay host Chris Fowler tweeted a picture of the setting this evening (the tweet was wordless, consisting only of a link to the picture):

Watch College GameDay on Saturday and that’s what you’ll see (minus that white tent). That’s Lillis Business Complex in the back; the hosts will face Knight Library at the opposite end of the quad. (Fowler later tweeted an explanation of the photo for his non-UO fans.)

What astounds me is how the center of the college football universe will be just a few steps away from me on Saturday morning. Is it the world’s most exciting matchup? No. Will most of the country still pronounce it “Ora-gone” at the end of the day? Probably. But for a few hours, college football nation will be focused on rainy little Eugene, Oregon. They’ll see the campus we call home and learn more about the team we cheer for. And all I have to do to be a part of it is roll out of bed and walk two blocks east. That’s pretty awesome.

Is it Saturday yet?

College Football Weekend Recap (Week 3): “Go Army!” Edition

After a weekend spent between Portland and Eugene (with one trip down I-5 remaining in my moving process), I didn’t have a chance to sit in front of my computer and read as much as I wanted. Additionally, much of that reading dealt with realignment: a topic that makes my brain hurt. The way I see it (which probably isn’t a good indicator of how most people see it), this is all going to shake out in the next couple weeks, and it won’t matter whether I stayed on top of every rumor. That’s no excuse to be uninformed, but at some point I just can’t read any more words about the Longhorn Network.

On a lighter note, since my sister is in her “plebe” (freshman) year as a West Point cadet, I’ve taken an interest in Army football. I don’t know a ton about the team, but quarterback Trent Steelman is getting some national attention, and they beat Northwestern at home on Saturday. Greg Laughlin from The Wiz of Odds blog took in the game and posted some great photos. West Point’s beautiful campus was really feeling the Twitter love on Saturday; it even got a shout-out from the Twitter god himself, Darren Rovell.

Speaking of shout-outs, it’s not often that you see the Seattle Mariners mentioned in a college football blog. I guess it wasn’t technically a shout-out, but Paul Myerberg from Pre-Snap Read contrasted Washington and Nebraska with the Mariners and Royals, saying it was common for the latter two teams to meet three times in a year, but not so common for the former to do so. This has no real significance, but I was glad to see my Mariners written up in a post that had nothing to do with how much they stink.

Lastly, I’m not the only one tired of realignment talk. Chip Kelly is, too. His quote in this story by The Oregonian’s Lindsay Schnell is classic Chip: “I checked my voicemail, and no one’s calling and asking my opinion (on expansion).” He’s focused on preparing for the Arizona Wildcats, whom the Ducks play Saturday in Tucson. Chip, I wish that’s all we had to focus on, too.

There are a host of other realignment-related news items I could include, but as I said…I’m not smart enough to understand it all. What were your favorite reads from the weekend?