Saturday, October 04, 2008

On tobacco road

Greetings from Kenan Stadium in Chapel Hill. Arrived in town yesterday rather uneventfully. Checked into the hotel (across the street from the Lucky Strike factory...people still smoke Lucky Strikes?), and after finishing stories for today's paper, I was blindsided by a killer migraine. Slept for a few hours, awoken by the sirens of the police escorting the UConn team busses down the street, and was still feeling it a bit. The cure? Ghostbusters was on cable. It's almost 25 years old, but still stands the comedy test of time. Bill Murray at his finest. And the guy who plays Mr. Walter Peck, the angry EPA agent who shuts down the power grid, grew up in my hometown of Orange, Conn. His name is William Atherton, and he made a career out of playing jerks in movies (Die Hard, Real Genius, etc.). Never net him (though I met his mother a while back). Word is he is absolutely nothing like the characters he plays.

Look familiar? He played a villain in every 80s movie ever made.

I'm staying at the same hotel as the UConn football contingent, which is always good for a laugh or two. Things like seeing Jeff Hathaway getting an old-fashioned shoeshine in the lobby or the ridiculous questions guests of the hotel ask the football players. For instance, a middle-aged southern woman, after seeing a cluster of players on an elevator, asked in all seriousness, "Did you guys go out drinking last night? Are you hungover?" Um, doubtful.

At noon, I hopped on the elevator to the lobby with about six other people. We were on the ninth floor. The elevator stopped at just about every floor on the way down, and at each stop more and more football players crammed their way on board. I don't know what the weight limit was, but we had to be pushing it. When Julius Williams squeezed in on the third floor, I thought the mounting pressure might force us civilians to explode out the back of the elevator like a popping zit. Fortunately, the offensive linemen on the second floor decided to wait for the next one. Good call.

The stadium here is nice enough. I was nearly knocked off my feel by the aroma of barbecue upon entering the gates. It's inescapable. The weather is gorgeous. Kendall Reyes didn't make the trip down here because of his ankle. Check back for any other updates, and we'll have the usual post-game notes bonanza.


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