North Bend Eagle

 

 

Live from the Election Center

posted 11/07/08 by Nathan Arneal

It was an interesting experience covering the election "live" for northbendeagle.com this past Tuesday. Obviously, with a weekly newspaper I haven't been too worried about getting recent updates in the past. With the website this year, I had a chance to post the most recent counts as the votes were coming in. I stayed in the office and on the phone until midnight Tuesday, when all the returns were in and counted.

Luckily, I notice that some of you were taking advantage of the updates. On a typical day, northbendeagle.com gets about 150-200 views. On Tuesday, election day, we had 380 hits, with many of those coming between 8 p.m. and midnight, when the polls were closed. I believe that's a record, beating the previous record set on the day the website launched.

Then on Wednesday, I checked the numbers about 2 p.m., and we had already broken the previous day's record. We ended up with 791 hits on Wednesday, a record that I'm sure will stand for quite a while.

So thank you to everyone for checking in. It is our pleasure to provide you with timely local information. Please keep coming back and help spread the word. Maybe someday I'll even arrange some advertisers so I can make some money.

OUch.

posted 11/06/08 by Nathan Arneal

Some final thoughts on the Oklahoma game before we get a palate cleansing with a big win against Kansas this Saturday (Knock on wood).

That game was fake. Unrealistic. That many bad things happening so quickly to one team just doesn't happen in the real world. If it would have been a video game, you would have reached for the reset button and started over because the computer obviously wasn't going to let you win the game.

It was 28-0 right off the bat. That doesn't happen unless fate trips you up, places its foot on your neck, and repeatedly pummels you in the face with a fence post. (I would have used another area of the body to pummel, but I wanted women to be able to relate.) Even the TV announcers were saying that they would have been interested to see what kind of game it would have been if Nebraska hadn't gotten off to the worst start in pigskin history. They knew what was happening on the field was representative of reality.

Say in a normal game, where one team isn't wearing a lightning rod atop their helmets to give the football gods a good target, maybe Oklahoma scores seven points in the first five minutes instead of 28. Subtract those extra 21 points from the final score and you end up with a 41-28 game. That's about what kind of game this actually was. Yes, Oklahoma still wins. Yes, Oklahoma is still a much better team, but they are not 62-28 better.

The bad thing is that people will see this score in the future and think that we must be terrible, along the lines of 2007 terrible. I don't think that's the case. After all, our 41-28 loss to Oklahoma shows that we aren't that far away from the big time.

A reminder to enjoy the Good Life

posted 11/01/08 by Nathan Arneal

For those of you who didn't see it, ESPN Gameday ran a feature this morning about Husker safety Ricky Thenarse. Ricky grew up in gang-infested Watts before escaping, barely, to the plains of Nebraska. It reminds us how lucky we are to live in a area where our life is not threatened on a daily basis, and gives us one more reason to root for #3.

Showdown at the goal line

posted 10/29/08 by Nathan Arneal

The video below is a must see for Husker fans. It is a one-on-one dual between Husker strength coach Brandon "The Gunner" Rigoni and Husker wrestling coach Mark "The Mangler" Manning.

The story says that one day manning and a former football coach were teasing each other about who was tougher: football players or wrestlers. The football coach told Manning, "You couldn't even challenge that little guy over there," pointing to Rigoni, who was at the time a 5'6" football walk-on.

Now several years later, Rigoni is no longer a football player (though he's still 5'6") but a strength coach at NU. Neither the Gunner nor the Mangler had forgotten the challenge, so they decided to don football pads and decided things once and for all.

The challenge: Rigoni gets the ball from the 10-yard line, with Manning standing on the goal line. Rigoni has to score on Manning five straight times to win the challenge. If Manning's gets a stop, he wins. With most of the NU athletic department looking on, the "Tussle on the Turf" took place after football practice. Look for appearances from Bo Pelini, Tom Osborne and Husker basketball coach Doc Sadler (who says basketball and wrestling guys can't get along?). Oh, and also watch for "official" Jay Terry, a college buddy of Nathan's now the Husker football team's equipment manager. Enjoy:

A TECHnical loss

posted 10/11/08 by Nathan Arneal

Well, the Nebraska we saw in the Texas Tech game was the Nebraska we expected to see all year long. We knew the defense would struggle, but hoped the offense would be able to carry us. So far this season, the defense has held up to its end of the bargain (by struggling), but the Husker offense has not been consistent enough to keep the defense off the field or to keep scoring enough to keep us within shouting distance. (OK, we were within shouting distance of Virginia Tech, but that Missouri game is still heavy on the mind.)

Well, today the offense stepped up and did its part. We ran the ball consistently for the first time all season. We kept our defense off the field. The defense also did a good job of keeping itself off the field by allowing the Red Raiders to score so quickly, but they got just enough stops to give us a chance at the end. Unfortunately, Joe Ganz, who played brilliantly otherwise, had his Achilles' heel come up to bite him: the ill advised interception right to the defense.

Oh, and for all you people that have complained for years that our defensive backs don't turn around and look for the ball, leading to easy would-be interceptions bouncing off the back of their helmet, you saw what happens when you play the other way. On the fourth and four play with Tech at its own 35 or so, Armando Murillo was caught looking back for the ball. While he was doing this, Michael Crabtree got a few strides behind him. If Murillo is keeping his eyes on Crabtree, he would be able to stay stride for stride with him. When you take your eyes off the receiver, its much easier to lose contact with him. Yes, you might pick off a few more passes, but how many Husker fans would take that pass bouncing harmlessly off the back of Murillo's helmet right about now?

 

Master debaters they are not...

posted 10/10/08 by Nathan Arneal

As I wrote in my "Banks of Maple Creek" column a while back, I was looking forward to the election season. After enjoying the primary season, I was looking forward to debates where the participants actually had major disagreements on issues. Now that we're 3/4 of the way done with the debate season, I've been disappointed so far.

I watched the presidential debate earlier this week and I took nothing away from it. Each time a candidate tells about his ideas on a particular issue, I think "That sounds pretty good." Then the other guys says something like "Yes, but what he's not telling you is that his plan will raise taxes on the homeless and will outlaw all ice cream flavors except black licorice," and I think, oh, that's a terrible idea.

That's the pattern. One side will make an idea sound like the best idea since seedless grapes, then the other side will make the same idea sound it will bring the downfall of western civilization. Who do you believe?

It gets worse when they try to talk about each other's record or plans. One side will say "He said this and wants to do this" then the other candidate will respond by saying "That's simply not true."

The worst is when the bring the TV networks bring on the "campaign spokesman" on afterwards to say "Our guy did absolutely fantastic. The American people are getting tired of (the other guy's) twisting of the facts and outright lies and I'm sure they will see right through it." Then they talk to someone from the other campaign and he/she says the same exact thing.

It's enough to make your head ache. I'm going to find some aspirin.

Hokieness coming to town;
North Bend's official yell

posted 9/24/08 by Nathan Arneal

The big game this weekend pits our beloved Huskers against the Virginia Tech Hokies. That's right, the Hokies. One of the all-time peculiar mascots, the meaning of the Hokie might cause one to scratch one's head, if one were so inclined. Through my meticulous research, I found that the Virginia Tech's athletic teams were more commonly know as the "Gobblers" until the Hokie took over in popularity in the '80s. (Hence the quasi-Turkey like mascot.) Here's the Hokie explanation I found at the school's official website, www.vt.edu:

 

Here is the answer to that oft-posed question, "What's a Hokie?" and an explanation of other Tech traditions.

What is a Hokie? The origin of the word "Hokie" has nothing to do with a turkey. It was coined by O. M. Stull (class of 1896), who used it in a spirit yell he wrote for a competition.

Here's how that competition came to be held. Virginia Tech was founded in 1872 as a land-grant institution and was named Virginia Agricultural and Mechanical College. In 1896, the Virginia General Assembly officially changed the college's name to Virginia Agricultural and Mechanical College and Polytechnic Institute, a name so long that citizens shortened it in popular usage to VPI. The original college cheer, which made reference to the original name of the institution, was no longer suitable. Thus, a contest was held to select a new spirit yell, and Stull won the $5 top prize for his cheer, now known as Old Hokie:

Hoki, Hoki, Hoki, Hy.
Techs, Techs, V.P.I.
Sola-Rex, Sola-Rah.
Polytechs - Vir-gin-ia.
Rae, Ri, V.P.I.

Later, the phrase "Team! Team! Team!" was added at the end, and an "e" was added to "Hoki."

Stull later said that he made up the word as an attention-grabber. Though he may not have known it, "Hokie" (in its various forms) has been around at least since 1842. According to Johann Norstedt, now a retired Virginia Tech English professor, "[Hokie was] a word that people used to express feeling, approval, excitement, surprise. Hokie, then, is a word like 'hooray,' or 'yeah,' or 'rah.'" Whatever its original meaning, the word in the popular cheer did, as Stull wanted, grab attention and has been a part of Virginia Tech tradition ever since.

Since the university had a new name and a new yell, new college colors seemed to be a desirable next step. During 1896, a committee was formed to find a suitable combination of colors to replace the original colors of black and gray, which appeared in stripes on athletic uniforms and presented an image resembling prison uniforms.

The committee selected burnt orange and Chicago maroon after discovering that no other college utilized this particular combination of colors. Burnt orange and Chicago maroon were officially adopted and were first worn during a football game versus nearby Roanoke College on Oct. 26, 1896.

 

My favorite part about that has to be the cheer. Can you imagine fans at a football game today chanting that? But I have gathered that chants and official yells were once a much bigger part of sports fandom that they are now, and North Bend is no exception. Unveiled right here for the first time in cyberspace, is North Bend's official "High School Yell":

"Rickity Rackity zip boom bah,
North Bend High School, rah, rah, rah,
Rickity rackity zip, boom, bah,
North Bend, Nebraska!"

I've never heard the cheer out loud (except for the spirited reenactment I just did in my office five minutes ago), but I am guessing the final "Nebraska" is supposed to be pronounced so that it rhymes with "bah." If you think I'm making this up, you can just check the March 28, 1901 North Bend Eagle for yourself. I don't know how long this yell was popular, but its what turn-of-the-last-century NBHS fans (we wouldn't be the Tigers for another 28 years) were cheering.

(On a side note, how weird is it that the phrase "turn-of-the-century" can now apply to just eight years ago?)

Missing the point...

posted 9/16/08 by Nathan Arneal

In the earliest forms of football, the only way to score was by kicking the PAT (Point After Touchdown). The touchdowns themselves didn't score anything, but simply gave the team an opportunity to score by kicking the PAT. If that were still the case, North Bend and Schuyler would have tied last Friday by a score of 1-1. The Warriors missed two PAT kicks and failed on two two-point tries. North Bend also failed on a two-point try after one of its touchdowns, meaning there were only two successful PAT tries in a game with seven touchdowns. Unfortunately for NBC Friday, at some point they made touchdowns worth six points and the Tigers lost to Schuy High 32-14.

Picture this

posted 9/5/08 by Nathan Arneal

With high school sports back in full swing, it's time for me to knock the rust off the ol' trigger finger. Of course, I mean the camera trigger.

At Thursdays night's volleyball games in Wisner, I was reminded just how difficult it is to take volleyball pictures. Timing is so important. A split second too late and you get a girl following through and landing. A hair too soon and you get her eyes looking up at an unseen ball, which doesn't make for a great shot. If you have the timing down, you have to worry about focus, which is made tougher than usual because you often have a net between you and the subject. So sometimes you get a really sharp picture of a net with a blurry player behind it. Volleyball is definitely the most challenging sport to photograph.

One good thing about Thursday is that it was at Wisner-Pilger, one of two gyms I've been too that are bright enough to take pictures without a flash. (The other one is Midland College.) This makes it a lot easier because then I can take multiple frames at a time. Usually this is not possible because unless you have brand new batteries, it takes the flash a few seconds to recharge.

The only football field I've found bright enough to not use flash is Memorial Stadium in Columbus, where North Bend does not play this year. These early season games are good because you usually have sunlight for a quarter or more, again allowing multiple frame shots. The problem is that I think North Bend has had the sun to its back in every game where the sun is still out. It's almost useless taking pictures facing toward the sun. At the Battle Creek game, I was excited because for the first time ever, North Bend lined up to take a kickoff looking into the sun. (Or at least for the first time since I've been shooting games. I heard legends of a game in 1986 where NBC went into the sun, but that may be just a myth.) But then before kickoff, the refs switched the teams so NBC had its back to the sun. Foiled again.

So if volleyball is the toughest sports to shoot, what's the easiest? Probably wrestling. The subjects don't move much. Timings not really important. You just keep the lens trained on the wrestlers until you see a face, then 'snap.' Track is easy as well, mainly because it's outdoors during the day with enough light to take multiple frames. Plus all the different events give you plenty of variety. Football and basketball are semi-easy. Timing's not as crucial as volleyball, but you have lighting issues to work with. Cross country and golf, again because of outdoor lighting, are easy to get good shots of, but they're harder to get great shots of, because well, there's not a lot of action.

Baseball and softball are pretty good during the day. With a lot of the action taking place across the field, flash is not really an option. With Legion games starting at 8 this summer, you only have a couple of innings to work with. Softball is pretty easy, but a little harder than baseball because the field is smaller and more compact, giving the photographer fewer options on where to locate himself. This is especially true at North Bend's main softball field, where there is only one gate onto the field, and it's beyond first base. Other softball fields that have gates on either end of the dugout let you get a better angle on the action.

Well that's that about sports photography. I now have to go whirlpool and tape my finger in preparation for the football game tonight.

Live from the Toilet Seat in China

posted 8/20/08 by Nathan Arneal

A few Olympic thoughts to pass along:

• It's a good thing they were so quick to nickname China's Olympic stadium "the bird's nest" because every time I see an aerial image of it, I think "that looks like a giant toilet seat." Now I've ruined that for you. Sorry.

Explanation of this week's Eagle tag line: This may become a regular feature here in the Eagle Web Log. For those of you too cheap to subscribe to the Eagle, each week we put a little line/slogan/statement right under the main flag at the top of the print Eagle's front page. Sometimes it relates to current events or pop culture. Sometimes it is totally random. This tagline has gotten more positive comments since I've taken over the Eagle than just about any other feature. I've had countless people tell me it's the first thing they look for when they get the Eagle, which I guess makes sense since it's at the top of page one. Just in case you don't understand the weekly tagline, which probably happens quite often, I'll explain it here.

This week's tagline said "We may look young, but our passport says we're 16." This is a reference to the gold medal winning Chinese women's gymnastics team. Or perhaps we should say "little girls" gymnastics team. While several of the members are clearly around 13 years old, the Chinese government insists they're 16, the minimum age required to compete in Olympic gymnastics. Telling a Chinese gymnast's "official" age is simple: if it's their first Olympics, then they're 16. If it's their second, then they're 20.

• Anyone hear how Michael Phelps is doing at these Games? I've looked for information, but he's just not getting much media attention. Maybe he hasn't swum yet.

Crazy 8's in China

posted 8/9/08 by Nathan Arneal

We have let the games begin. With a $300,000,000 (yes, that's three hundred million) extravaganza that put even the Old Settlers fireworks display to shame, the 2008 Beijing Olympics are under way.

As I've written before, the Olympics usually sneak up on me, but then I get into watching the TV coverage, become absorbed in all the storylines, and I end up really enjoying the Games. This year they did not sneak up on me. I am actively looking forward to watching them. So does that mean they will end up being a total disappointment? I guess we'll see.

So Friday night, 8/8/08, I plunked down to watch the opening ceremonies. NBC (this is one of those rare times on this site when those initials will actually refer to the National Broadcasting Company) showed a stirring introduction, complete with inspirational music, shots of athletes, and views of the Chinese countryside. It was really good. Unfortunately NBC did not post the footage on its website and shuts down anyone who tried to post in to youtube. Too bad. It was really good. Hope you saw it.

Early on they showed President Bush walking down the stadium steps and settling into his aisle seat to watch the show. A few seconds later, he had to stand up to let some guy seated inside him pass by on his way to the bathroom.

Did I mention that this ceremony cost $300 million? The announcers said that was 10 times as much as the opening of the Athens games in 2004, which, off the top of my head, cost around $30 million. I can only assume that not all of the increase was due to higher gas prices. They even had air pumped through the flag poles, which came out in little vents near the flag in order to make it look like the flag was always blowing in a strong wind.

The parade of athletes is usually done in alphabetical order, except for Greece always being first and the host always being last. In an interesting twist, it turns out that Chinese has no alphabet, therefore no alphabetical order. So the countries marched in order according to the number of strokes required to make that country's Chinese symbol.

I was all excited to see who the mystery torch lighter was going to be, but it turns out it was just some Chinese dude. Kind of a downer.

The rock it man

posted 8/5/08 by Nathan Arneal

In my Aug. 6 "From the Banks of Maple Creek" column in the print edition, we did an in-depth analysis of the '80s phenomena of cheesy science fiction lyrics in songs such as "Mr. Roboto" by the ever-greatful Styx and "Final Countdown" by the Venus-bound Europe. We went even further back and learned that Mars isn't a good place to raise children (In fact, it's cold as hell) from Elton John in "Rocket Man." We eventually traced this trend back to David Bowie and his aptly named "Space Oddity" (Ground control to Major Tom).

But if you take cheese, add in a little over-acting, a touch of over-the-topness and smother it in science fiction, what do you get? William Shatner, of course. After there was Captain Kirk, and long before Boston Legal or the Priceline Negotiator, you have William Shatner at the 1978 Science Fiction Film awards doing his version of "Rocket Man." For those of you who are a bit younger and Elton John's "Rocket Man" doesn't pop up quickly in your memory banks, you may recognize this from Family Guy when Stewie does his version of Shatner's performance. Let's get to it:

Is that stale sweat I smell?

posted 7/29/08 by Nathan Arneal

It all started a couple of weeks ago when I was deleting some shows off my DVR. I noticed I still had the last year's Nebraska-Kansas State game on there, and pressed play to watch a bit.

Yes, last year was a disaster for the Huskers, but in the K-State game, Joe Ganz's second game as starter, we looked like a million cents. We were up 38-10 at half and led 64-17 before settling on a final score of 73-31. We became the first team to score 70 points a week after giving up 70 (in a 76-39 loss to Kansas). That's how screwy of a season it was.

Anyway, the Husker offense was moving up and down the field with ease, making the KSU defense look like, well, our defense against everyone else last year. But seeing the Huskers dominate got me in the mood for football.

A few days later, my dad and I went to Columbus where Nebraska Sports Nightly was doing a live broadcast and talking about nothing but Husker football. A week or so later, it was the annual preseason Big 12 media days. We had officially shifted from "the middle of summer" to "fall and football season is right around the corner." I have officially put away the Grand Theft Auto IV game on my PS3 and gone back to playing NCAA Football 08.

Nebraska starts practice Monday (Aug. 4). North Bend starts practice the week after that. Let the pad crunching begin.

Wecome to the "Web Log"

by Nathan Arneal
posted 7/22/08

We're breaking new electronic ground today on northbendeagle.com. Ever since we started this website, I've been pondering a page where I can post random thoughts whenever they come to me. If only there was some kind of term for such a thing, but since I am obviously the first person to ever come up with such an idea, I knew I would have to invent my own term.

So today I unveil to you the Eagle "Web Log." It will be a sort of an online column exclusive to the readers of northbendeagle.com. I will not repost my "From the banks of Maple Creek" columns from the print edition in this space, but try and give you something new, whether they are ideas that couldn't be developed into a full column, or web links that you need to know about to live a fulfilling life or... or something else.

In this week's print Eagle (July 23, 2008) I wrote about the ESPYs and several moments that won awards on the show. Since I couldn't figure out how to link the videos directly to the newspaper, I have posted them below.

The greatest comeback of all time

This video of a 1994 Texas high school football playoff between Plano East and John Tyler is simply amazing. Plano East trails 41-17 with 2:42 left in the game. Not only is the football remarkable, but half the fun is listening to the announcers. This won the 1995 Showstopper of the Year ESPY. Enjoy:

Sportsmanship at its finest

Here's the story about the softball players that won this year's Best Moment ESPY:

Time to shine

I didn't talk about this one in the column, but this is also a must see. Jason McElwain was an autistic student manager of a high school team in New York. On senior night, his coach let him suit up with the team. With a few minutes left and his team up big, he got into the game. What happened next won the 2006 Best Moment ESPY. Watch for yourself:


That's all I got. Have an above average week.

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