Thursday, November 11, 2010

CMA Awards - Music City's Night to Shine

The annual CMA Awards Show here is to Nashville what the Oscars show is to Hollywood (& by extension L.A.). It's Country Music's and Music City's NIGHT to SHINE.

And shine we did last night, Wednesday, 10 November. Which, BTW, on any calendar year the Tenth of this month could legitimately be called "Vets-e'en" since it's the eve of Veterans Day. Remember, dear reader, to "Thank a Vet" for her/his vigilance in serving our nation in the military and guarding our borders to keep the peace within these United States.

Back to the music. . . .

Wednesday is rehearsal night for the Choir of Eastwood Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), and I haven't paid great attention to nor viewed on TV the CMA and other award shows for some years. But THIS Year of Our Lord Two Thousand Ten is different. A Facebook status notified us that ECC(DC) member and Nashville Bluegrass Band fiddler Stuart Duncan would perform during the show, at two specific times, the first being 9:30 local time. Choir Director Julie Duemler also notified us at rehearsal. So even tho' I'm always reluctant to leave Eastwood right after rehearsal, I did scoot back to Mercury Courts in timely fashion.

Only one resident was watching TV in the community room, and he didn't mind me switching channels to the award show. Just in time! Within only a minute or so they started a segment honoring Loretta Lynn for her 50 years of singing. Miranda Lambert began singing Loretta's signature song "Coal Miner's Daughter", then Cheryl Crow joined her onstage AND THEN Loretta herself came out to make it a trio. I cannot blame the camera crew for focusing on such notable singers of the female persuasion; the instrumentalists got short shrift. I only saw a bit of Stuart over a feminine shoulder now and then.

Just a few minutes later -- naturally after a LONG commercial break -- actress Gwyneth Paltrow played acoustic guitar while singing the title song of her up-coming movie "Country Strong". Vince Gill assisted her up front with electric guitar and his stellar tenor harmony. But blonde and beautiful Paltrow was the star of the moment, as she sounded like a true Country singer! Her performance prompts me to seriously going to see the picture show when it is released.

And on this song the cameras seemed to show more of the instrumental accompanists; I saw much more of Stuart and his deft fiddling. One could hardly call what he does so well "sawin' on a fiddle", you know! He and the other backing musicians were clad nicely in retro suits and ties, in a "men in black" motif.

When Tim McGraw came onstage to announce the final and highest award, he too sported a "men in black" look - only with addition of a sable Stetson! My favorite singer, George Strait, wasn't even nominated this time (he hasn't released a notable song in the past year or so). So I was rooting for Brad Paisley to win Entertainer of the Year. And sure en'uf, Tim said Brad's name as winner! Hooray for Brad Paisley - he's earned it & it's really overdue.

Brad was endearing in his acceptance. When he first walked onto the stage, with a white Stetson, he had sort of a swagger - but quickly it became evident that this was not due to arrogance but rather his being deeply humbled and moved by this honor. First thing he did was quote his hero, Jimmy Dickens, who often says at the end of his performances on the Opry, "If you see a turtle sitting on a fence post, it had help getting up there". He likened himself to that turtle, just as Jimmy does. And in the closing moments of the awards show Brad thanked all those who helped HIM "get up on the fence post". He started with a nod to fans -- and not simply HIS fams but all Country Music fans, calling us "the most amazing, loyal fan base in the world."

Do I need to add that I was very glad I saw that half hour of the CMA Awards Show? Yes, I was very, very glad!


Notice about dating of postings

Dear reader, please don't be misled by the dates on my latest two postings. It used to be that if I composed a posting on, say, a Monday and saved it as a draft, finished it on Tuesday & posted it, it would be dated the Mon. date.

Apparently no more, here on Blogspot. The "Hum-dinger" posting actually was started on Mon. 25 Oct. Then for some reason I didn't get back to finishing it 'til yours truly went to finish up my draft of "Purple". "Hum-dinger" focuses on events of two weeks EARLIER than does "Purple". Which means that if you're reading my postings from the top -- the latest to get "published" -- you're reading the two said posts in REAL chronological order, not the usual order of latest to older.

Hm-m-m-m-m! I kind of like that arrangement. Lover of history & biography that I am, one feature of blogs and other on-line on-going Websites that I've been unhappy about is that as you read down one of these you're going back in time -- reverse history if you will.

Oh, well. . . .

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Hum-dinger Homecoming weekend

The past weekend (Fri. pm 22 to Sun. 24) was quite an eventful one for yours truly. Particularly in the matter of sports and of Homecomings.

First up - on Friday evening my favorite MLB team made history. The Texas Rangers beat the Yankees 6-1 and thus won the ALCS title and their first-ever entry into the World Series. In the franchise's fiftieth year. And in Game Six in Arlington! I was so-o-o-o happy for Nolan Ryan, phenomenal former pitcher who retired as a Ranger (1993) and now is President and co-owner of the team.

All three of my university alma maters played their Homecoming games on Saturday. That's about as rare a Fall Football Saturday for me as is one on which all three teams come up winners. (THIS occurred one of the Saturdays back in September.) I'd have loved to have been able to go to Moscow for Idaho's Homecoming; I always considered the Vandals Homecoming Parade thru little downtown Moscow to be the best of such parades. And the Vandals handily defeated New Mexico State 37-14. Go Vandals!

And in Fort Worth, Texas -- in the same county as Arlington, where the Rangers had just won ALCS, and don't think I wouldn't have wanted to be in Tarrant Country to see BOTH! -- TCU's Horned frogs put the hurt on Air Force Academy. With 30 first downs and their accustomed 500 + total yards, the Purple and White won 38-7. Air Force can get some credit: they're the first team to score a TD on the Frogs in four games!

But alas! it wasn't such a sweet Homecoming Game here in Music City out on West End Avenue. After being tied 7-up with South Carolina at the half and well into third quarter, the Vanderbilt Commodores fell , 21-7. Small consolation for we who bleed Black and Gold: at least the 'Dores showed up for the game. They were glaringly "absent" a week earlier in Athens, Georgia, in losing to the Bulldogs 43-0. Which was Georgia's Homecoming game by the way.

However, I didn't attend the game but rather a little of the pre-game Homecoming activities. Already being in the Vandy neighborhood on an errand, I chose to then drive over and check out open house (or "tailgate" party) at Lambda Chi Alpha. Kensington Ave. was blocked off, so I parked in the alley behind the chapter house. First, I was surprised to find nobody in the back yard, and upon entering almost nobody inside. This was disconcerting; I almost always enter by the front door. However, I was quickly apprised that the Brothers for the most part were on the front lawn. Shortly after joining them out there I noticed that several golf carts were lined up on Kensington, some already decorated to participate in the parade. And straight across the street stood tables from which freebies were being given out. I sauntered over and received a Chik-Fil-A sandwich (still hot), a bottle of water (still cold) and a plastic lei (Black and Gold). Later I also acquired a necklace of gold beads and one of black.

While enjoying this impromptu free lunch (or "tailgate" party, if you will) and casual chatting with Brothers and their dates, I kept an eye out for other alumni. Indeed I saw Bro. Robb Bigelow, with his two kids. Bro. Robb was one of the first Lanbda Chis at Vandy when National chose to revive the long-dormant Gamma-Delta Zeta. As an alumnus he served as High Pi (Alumni Advisor) for a few years; he works as a lawyer here.

The Homecoming Parade consisted of the VU Marching Band leading a series of golf carts decorated in somewhat float fashion. Lanbda Chi Alpha entered one, with Hawaiian or tropical adornment. The use of golf carts amused me: it was so typical of a "rich kids' school". You see, Alamo Heights High School, where I substitute taught and which serves an "old-rich" area of Bexar County (San Antonio), used golf carts to convey the Homecoming Court onto the field of Orem Stadium. Now AHHS is a public school and has a mixed student body as far as fiscal status goes. But there are plenty of students from the "old-rich" families, which I suspect fosters a stereotype in neighboring school districts that AHHS is a "rich kids' school".

In the same way, although Vanderbilt students cover a spectrum of family income (e.g., my wife as an undergrad at VU came from a rather modest home in Tampa), ask anybody and they'll voice the opinion that most Vandy students are wealthy. So the golf carts struck me as fitting. Fitting the stereotype, that is!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Purple invasion!

Saturday afternoon (6 Nov.) yours truly witnessed sort of an invasion of Nashville by an unexpected horde of Purple People Eaters. Yeah, there were plenty of blue & orange Gators fans in town, watching Florida chomp down on Vandy's Commodores, over there off West End Ave.

But no, I didn't attend VU v. UF. I was off 21st Ave. So. on the opposite side of the campus. The locale was a small old building behind San Antonio Taco Co. (the original café), housing a new business, bbq beach bar & grill (their lowercase spelling). I went there because I'd discovered (thanks to a sister at church) that there was to be a special TCU area alumni gathering there Saturday afternoon to watch the TCU Horned Frogs football team - #3 in BCS poll - play #5 Utah Utes in Salt Lake City. Gathering was to begin about 2 PM, with kick-off at 2:30.

Well, I walked in right about kick-off time. Two fellows wearing purple sat at the counter in the small front room of bbq beach. But I quickly noticed that down a short stairway in the back (or lower) room was quite a crowd, and lots of purple. Indeed, when I entered I might have been the only TCU alum or supporter who DIDN'T sport any purple garb!

But I doubt anybody out-roared me as we happily watched our Purple & White horde eat the Utes for lunch!

For being ranked #5 the home team certainly didn't show much offense or defense. Meanwhile the Horned Frogs scored a TD on their first possession, and led 20-0 at close of the first period, and 23-0 at the half. This was the Utes' first suffering of a first-half shut-out!

Several visual details kept leaping out at me as I watched. First, the Utah team's uniforms were U-U-UGLY-Y-Y! ! ! Apparently school colors are black and red; the uniforms had very little red, lots of black and LOTS of a species of cammo. To go along with the cammo, the back shoulder area didn't have the player's name but a characteristic, such as "DUTY" "HONOR" "COUNTRY or "COURAGE". Kin of militaristic, eh!

The black motif or school color filled the stadium bleachers, too, as msot Utah students and many others in the crowd soprted black shirts and other midnight apparel. Apparently the Utes had called for a "Blackout Day" to boost their spirits against the visiting Texans.

And yes, there WAS a contingent of Texans in the stands. Seated in a section tucked away in a corner of the stadium. Ah! but the TV cameras swept that section a lot in the final quarter, as it was obvious that the visitors would be victors. Even after the Utes managed to score a TD. For six straight games no team has scored more than a TD against TCU!

And so final tally was TCU 47 and Utah 7.

While the Horned Frogs were handily putting a stop to Utah's home winning streak at 21, I was happily mingling with the purple-clad "horde" here in bbq beach. Even tho' nobody among Nashvillians whom I knew to be TCU alumni attended the party, not everybody present was a stranger to yours truly. Why, Ryan, a friend of Michael Lehman's whom I had met a while back (Michael's ordination, probably) greeted me by name. And one of our interns at Eastwood CC(DC), Andrew entered the festivites along with his girlfriend Allison. Andrew wasn't wearing purple either, which made me feel better about my lack of the school color. Of course he isn't an alumnus of TCU. . .