Email Tag Lines

Lately I’ve noticed an increase in email “tag lines.”  At least, that’s what I call them.  They are the little quotes that some people have added to their email communications.  They appear at the end of every email, as part of the writer’s signature stamp.  Like “An unexamined life is not worth living. — Socrates” or “All you need is love. — John Lennon and Paul McCartney” or “When the going gets tough, the tough get going. — Knute Rockne.

quote-live-fast-die-young-leave-a-good-looking-corpse-james-dean-47-99-73Email tag lines are kind of strange (not to mention pretentious and presumptuous) when you think about it.  It’s hard to imagine that one quote, no matter what it is, could provide an appropriate coda to every different kind of email that a person might send.  “Live fast, die young, and leave a good-looking corpse. — James Dean” might go well with an email planning a trip to Las Vegas, but it doesn’t really fit with an email expressing concern about a colleague’s illness or sorrow about the death of an aged relative.  Similarly, a tag line like “The truest wisdom is a resolute determination. — Napoleon Bonaparte” seems jarring when it appears at the end of a email passing along some bad jokes.

When I get emails from somebody who uses one of those tag lines, I always wonder about their motivation and how they came to add the quote to their email in the first place.  Did they just stumble across a quote from somebody that they thought was so true to the very core of their being that it just has to be included as a matter of course in every communication they send to people on any subject?  Or, did they first conclude that their email communications needed a little extra kick, and would be empty without some kind of concluding intellectual, political, or social statement from Descartes, John F. Kennedy, or Martin Luther King?

The bottom line, though, is that an email tag line, even when it does fit with the subject of the communication, can’t save you from yourself or mask your true nature.  Intellectual quotes can’t salvage an email filled with typos, poor grammar, and incorrect word use, and tag lines about love and peace won’t change the tone of a message establishing that the writer is an angry, unprincipled jerk.

In the end, content speaks louder than tag lines.

Notre Dame, Back On Top

It’s been an interesting college football season, and last night made it even more so.  With Oregon and Kansas State falling, there are two undefeated major college teams:  Ohio State and Notre Dame.  Ohio State is ineligible due to NCAA sanctions, and Notre Dame will likely be the new number 1.

Getting back to number 1 has been a long, rough road for the Fighting Irish.  Since the early ’90s, the once-vaunted program has fallen on very hard times — hiring coaches who just didn’t fit with the school and its mighty traditions, who somehow couldn’t recruit athletes to the school that boasts of Knute Rockne, The Four Horsemen, “Win one for the Gipper,” Touchdown Jesus, and Rudy as part of its football lore, and who led the team down the road to irrelevancy.  But now, Notre Dame is back, rising to the top behind a defense that is the best in the land at preventing opponents from scoring.  The Golden Domers have one more game to go — next Saturday, against the USC Trojans — and if they win, they will play in the BCS National Championship game.

I’m glad to see Notre Dame back in the picture as one of the elite college football programs in the country.  Unlike some of my friends, I’m not an ND hater.  I think the sport is better off if the storied school in South Bend is part of the mix.  I’m hoping the Irish win on Saturday and make it to the championship game.

Notre Dame, like Ohio State, has an incredibly loyal fan base.  It’s been kind of pathetic talking football with ND fans in recent years; they’ve been beaten down by uninspired play and repeated dismal seasons.  This year, the Domers have their swagger back.  When you’re a college football fan, it doesn’t take much to go from the depths to the heights — and sometimes right back down again.

Worst Trophy Ever

College football features lots of weird trophies that are steeped in tradition, like old oaken buckets and wooden turtles and long axes, among others.  It would be hard to say which of the many trophies is the weirdest or the worst — until now.

A few days ago the Iowa Corn Growers Association unveiled the Cy-Hawk Trophy that will be given to the winner of the annual game between the Iowa State Cyclones and the Iowa Hawkeyes.  (Cyclones and Hawkeyes = Cy-Hawk.  Pretty creative, eh?)  The trophy features a farmer kneeling next to a basket of corn, presenting an ear to a young boy wearing a baseball cap while a woman holding a young child looks on.  What it has to do with sports generally, or football specifically, is anybody’s guess.  The CEO of Iowa Corn says, however, that the trophy represents “the people and characteristics that are uniquely Iowan.”

Perhaps — that is, if Iowans are slow-witted corn cultists.  The farmer seems to be amazed that corn has sprung from the ground and is ready to perform some kind of ritual to celebrate its arrival.  The kid in the baseball cap, the girl, and their Mom, on the other hand, presumably have lived on the farm long enough to have seen an ear of corn before and don’t find it to be a particularly awesome object, no matter what weird old Dad might believe.  Seriously, what kind of bizarre life must these people lead if they are regularly kneeling around the family corn basket?  How many people in Iowa even have a corn basket, anyway?  And what’s with the trophy name?  “Cy-Hawk” sounds like something somebody with a phlegm problem might do to clear their clogged airways.

If you were a football player, would you even want to win this trophy?  Would anyone stand up and make an impassioned Knute Rockne-type speech about the need to win back the treasured Cy-Hawk?  And if your team did prevail, would your school want to prominently display it anywhere that it could be seen by, say, potential recruits who don’t happen to worship the Mighty Corn God?