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Christmas, Football, and Antiques 

I'm a happy man

Having lived in some pretty small apartments over the years, I've never quite felt the time was right to buy a Christmas tree of my own. When in doubt, I'd just go to my parents' house, as they still buy me the lion's share of schwag I receive anyway.

I've decided this year will be different. This year, I shall kill a tree in the name of Old Saint Nick! I shall fill my house with the unmistakable scent of coniferous tree! I shall find pine needles stuck in every nook, cranny and crevice in my house for the next 12 months!

Emboldened, I headed down to NoDa's monthly Gallery Crawl on Friday to check out their offerings, as A) I like to shop in the "neighborhood" as often as possible B) I wanted to see what a holiday "crawl" was like, and C) Who's kidding who? The tree lot is right beside a vintage clothing store!

I couldn't quite settle on a tree, though I did have a certain fondness for a lopsided little number -- no doubt a result of having seen A Charlie Brown Christmas one too many times. I was going to get it, but noticed I had no room in my car, nor any twine or rope with which to affix it to the roof. "Good grief," I thought, smoothing out my zig-zag sweater.(Not really).

What I did see on this weather-tempered evening (check the picture for an idea of the evening's rather Scrooge-like crowd) was ol' St. Nick, a gentleman who looked disconcertingly like the guy who played Dudley "Booger" Dawson in Revenge of the Nerds. Hoping that wasn't the ghost of my Christmas future, I high-tailed it out of there to...

...Go see the number one high school team in the land (the United States, to you "states' righters"), the Independence Patriots! You want world class? How about number numero uno out of some 27,000 high schools nationwide? You want winning streaks? How about 76 straight victories?Being somewhat embarrassed that I had yet to see the high school version of the Indianapolis Colts' high-powered offense, I plunked down eight bucks to watch the 13-0 Patriots take on the as-yet-undefeated 14-0 Richmond County Raiders -- who have been second to the Patriots in statewide football polls every week for the past three years -- at downtown's Memorial Stadium. The winner of this game, more or less, would be rubber-stamped "state champions," with only a meaningless tilt with Hope Mills South View left on the schedule.

Seeing as my high school, Sun Valley, never ran anything much more complicated than a "quarterback keeper," it was a thrill to watch the Patriots make mincemeat of the Raiders, going on 65-, 43-, and 82-yard scoring drives in the first quarter alone. In fact, I decided to become a frontrunner myself, adopting the team as my own. And why not? Richmond County was said to have brought over 12,000 fans of their own to this game, and they were loud. The kind of Capital-L Loud you can only aspire to when following your high school football team around is, well, all you aspire to.

Score one for the city boys, now looking for their fifth straight state title. It might not be pro sports, but you'd be hard-pressed to see a better-run sports organization anywhere in the state.

The Charlotte Antique and Collectibles Show was held again at the Metrolina Fairgrounds this weekend, providing a nice respite for all those housewives and househusbands overdosing from one too many Ultimate Home Makeover reruns. Yes, here was real stuff -- real, old stuff -- available for the purchase, as well as a nice assortment of Christmas-themed items. As part of the regular Antique and Collectibles guest speaker program, a man named Charles Tovar was on hand to speak on the idea of "art as an investment." Now, call me ornery, but isn't that idea sort of obvious? Isn't any sort of art purchase an investment, whether you're speaking aesthetically or financially? Isn't any purchase at all an investment, when you get down to it?

I soon decided my crankiness came from what my father used to call the "champagne taste/beer budget" syndrome. Evidently, my tastes far exceed my means, as every painting, vintage photograph, or piece of folk art I inquired about would have set me back about what I make in a week.

Then again, if I took that money out of my actual beer budget, I could be in business. Hmmmm...

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