Saturday Morning Ramble

25 Oct

I was going to write about our trip to Hilton Head, but, frankly, I am not ready to write about that. The post needs to be as fun as the trip, and that feeling is still working its way through my mind.

Everyone has left the house, which means that the only sounds are the keys of the laptop and the neighbor cutting the grass. Most of the lights are off, which means all of the light is filtering through the windows. My desk is a disaster, which means that I need to, once again, straighten it up. It is amazing how much stuff can collect on top of desk.

One of the things that cannot get thrown away is an answer sheet for an assignment that I assigned. It will be coming back to me in a few days, and the trusty purple pen will be put back to work. It was put to great use when we returned from Hilton Head. As soon as we got home, I was heading to campus to grab a stack of tests.

Speaking of tests, my nephew is taking the SAT this morning. I am certain that he will do well, but it must be tense to take a test that higher academics takes that seriously. When I was in school, it was not that big of a deal. They told us that we would be taking a test in a couple of weeks. When the day arrived, the put us in the cafeteria and let us work. It turned out that we were taking the ACT.

These days, kids are put into courses to prepare them for the test, and they also take it several times. My stepdaughter is taking it in December, and she is in the seventh grade. I know that we must have some measurement for college acceptance, but, to me, this seems to be a lot of stress at a young age. They will have enough stress in their lives. Do they really need this?Stress

Speaking of stress, I will have plenty of the self-made kind by the end of the day. In a few hours, we are driving to Knoxville to watch the University of Tennessee play football against the University of Alabama. I have already written about this rivalry, but, honestly, it is not much of a rivalry at this time. My team, Tennessee, is going through one of the worst times in its history. Alabama is going through one of its best. That does not make for a good game or a good rivalry. It may be crazy, but watching my team struggle stresses me out. However, it is not just me. I know a lot of people who cannot wait for better days.

Writing about stress makes me think about our trip to Hilton Head, a time of relaxation. Now that I am getting the inspiration to write about that, the next post will be about our South Carolina adventures.

Hilton Head – Driving Down the Musical Highway

23 Oct

We got a late start on our trip to Hilton Head because I had a midday meeting. This meant that we would be driving through the late afternoon and into the night. On top of that, we had to hit five different interstates to get there.

Whenever I am on a long drive, my mind starts to entertain itself. This means that useless trivia moves from the back of my brain and dominates my mind. It is a good way to stay awake and a good way to go crazy. On this drive, music was the category of choice, and it all started as we made our way over Monteagle.

For those who do not know, Monteagle is a ridge that has to be crossed just north of Chattanooga. The grade is steep and trucks have a hard time making their way up one side and down the other. Each time I drive over Monteagle, I think about the opening song of Smokey and the Bandit and start singing it under my breath.

In case you do not remember the opening to one of the greatest movies in cinema history, the song recounts how the Bandit became famous in the truck driving world. I wrote an entire post about it, but, simply, it talks about how he lost control of his rig on Monteagle. With heroic driving skills, he was able to make it to the bottom.

(Brief Interlude: While writing that post, I looked up the lyrics of the song. All of the sites had him crossing something called Montvale. It is not Montvale. One of my life’s goals is to get those lyrics corrected and give Monteagle is rightful place in Smokey and the Bandit history.)

Of course, driving through Chattanooga brought to mind “Chattanooga Choo Choo”, but the route through north Georgia made my mind go musically dead. Atlanta played a big role in that. It does not matter what time you drive through Atlanta. The traffic is always bad, and your focus needs to be on the road. However, I still heard Ronnie Van Zant telling Billy Powell to “play it pretty for Atlanta.”

Eventually, we made our way to Macon and hit a desolate stretch of road toward Savannah. It was getting later. It was getting darker. That is when I saw a sign for Statesboro, Georgia, the subject of “Statesboro Blues” by the Allman Brothers. That meant that the next several miles were filled with an internal soundtrack of their tunes.

After several days in Hilton Head, which I will write about in the next post, we retraced our journey. This time, the excitement of a vacation was behind us, and we were making that long, tired drive toward home. That does not mean that the musical journey was over. As the miles passed, I tried to think of songs that have Georgia in their titles.Georgia

I ended up with the following.

“Sweet Georgia Brown” (I can see Curly Neal dribbling around Meadowlark Lemon.)

“The Devil Went Down to Georgia” (Charlie D. lives not too far down the road.)

“The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia” (Yep, Vicki Lawrence can sing, too.)

“Midnight Train to Georgia” (The Pips make this song stand out.)

“Rainy Night in Georgia” (The Tony Joe White version is the best.)

“Georgia on My Mind” (It is hard to beat Ray Charles.)

“Marching Through Georgia” (I only know this one because it was mentioned in a John Wayne movie.)

“Walkin’ Back to Georgia” (One of Jim Croce’s lesser known songs.)

Before I knew it, we were back at Monteagle, but it was not before I thought of something else. Does anyone remember a television show called Carter Country?




My iPod Has Issues – Heading to Hilton Head

16 Oct

It has been a busy week, and I have not been able to spend as much time blogging as I would like. The posts have been few and far between. That trend is going to continue because we are heading to Hilton Head, South Carolina over the weekend. Certainly, there will be some good stuff to write about when we return.Hilton Head

In the meantime, here are some selections from the old iPod.

“Ole Slewfoot” by BR-549

“I Won’t Mention It Again” by Ray Price

“Hello Darlin'” by Conway Twitty

“Good Times” by Chic

“In the Still of the Night” by The Five Satins

“Sweet Sixteen” by Big Joe Turner

“Miss You” by The Rolling Stones

“Baby Get Lost” by B.B. King

“You Left a Long, Long Time Ago” by Willie Nelson

“Heartbeat” by Red 7

“Children Go Where I Send Thee” by The Fairfield Four

“Steamroller Blues” by Elvis Presley

“Jezzebella” by Vintage Trouble

“I Ain’t the One” by Waylon Jennings and Jessi Colter

“Baby Let’s Play House” by Arthur Gunter

“Tears in Heaven” by Eric Clapton

“Too Close” by Clair Marlo

“Sirius” by The Alan Parsons Project

“Fat Albert Theme” by Dig

“Enter Sandman” by Metallica

As a famous general once said, “I shall return.”

The Future Preacher and the Bomb Threat

15 Oct

This weekend, we went to a wedding, and, as we made our way through the celebration, a blog post worked its way through my mind. It was about how women love weddings and get excited about every aspect of them, but men would just as soon be somewhere else. It was going to continue with the idea that weddings are to women like football games are to men.

For example, I have never understood why someone would get married in the Fall because it is in the middle of football season. Even if it is on a weekend when your team is not playing, your team might be playing on a future anniversary. Why cause that future conflict when there are tons of other weekends to get married on?

When I say that, my wife looks at me like I am insane. How can anyone place a football game over a wedding? It is because women and men view things differently. Football only takes place on certain dates at a certain time of year. People can get married on any day.

Anyway, I decided not to write that post because it would probably be stereotypical, sexist, not funny and argument-inducing. Instead, I am going to write about the preacher at the wedding.

The preacher and I went to high school together, and, although he was a class or two behind me, we worked in the principal’s office together. During our free period, we hung out in the office to answer the phone, run errands and do whatever else needed doing.

One afternoon, the office was packed with people. Parents were there to get kids out of school. Students were there because they had gotten sent to the principal’s office for getting in trouble. The phone was ringing off the hook. The future preacher was working the counter, and I was answering the phone. That is when I heard a voice say:

Bomb threat.

What did you say?

Bomb threat.

Then, he hung up.Bomb

There was a protocol when something like this happened. First, we were not supposed to say anything in front of other people. That is especially true when there is an office full of them. Second, we are supposed to immediately tell the principal. However, there was a problem. The principal was in a high level meeting with his assistants and members of the school board. One assistant principal, who in another life would have been an evil witch queen, made it clear that they were not to be interrupted. This was my chance to interrupt them.

I went to the office and knocked on the door before opening it. The assistant principal glared at me and asked:

What are you doing in here?

I ignored her and spoke straight to the principal. I explained that there had been a bomb threat. He told me to go back out and that he would take care of it. I am certain his plan was to wait until near the end of the class period. That way less class time would be interrupted. This was in the days before bomb threats were deemed all that serious, and it was probably a student playing a prank.

I shut the door and walked back to the main office. That is when I saw the future preacher with the phone in his hand and a shocked look on his face. Before I could stop him, he blurted out:

Bomb threat.

Apparently, the guy called back. Everyone in the office started scurrying around. The parents were freaking out, and the students were joining in.

I just turned around and went back to the meeting. I knocked on the door and opened it. The assistant principal glared at me and asked:

What are you doing here?

I ignored her and spoke straight to the principal. I explained that there had been another call, and everyone in the main office knew about it. He rolled his eyes and got on the loud-speaker. A few minutes later, everyone in the school was walking to the football field.

The story had a happy ending. The school did not blow up. People were able to get out of class for a few minutes. I got the chance to bother the assistant principal. A lot of that was made possible by the future preacher who performed the wedding this weekend. That would be the same wedding that made a lot of women excited. You would have thought it was a football game or something.


The Mysteries of WordPress

10 Oct

I have read a lot of posts about the inner workings of WordPress and the issues that bloggers have with them. You guys know what I am talking about. However, I have never had any problems with the platform. It is annoying to get accustomed to something and have it change, but, overall, WordPress has worked well for me.

With all of that being said, I have noticed something strange about WordPress and am wondering if other people have noticed the same thing.

Like many of you, I follow a lot of bloggers. Some of them post occasionally, and others post all of the time. When someone who writes all of the time suddenly stops, several ideas run through my mind. They could be traveling. They could be sick. They could be focused on their non-blogging lives. Heck, it could be anything. However, I never think that some mysterious WordPress force has made me stop following them.Mystery

That is exactly what I have been noticing in the past several weeks. I wonder what is happening with a blog that has not popped up in a while, and I go over to see what is happening. That is when I discover that I am no longer following them. I did not unfollow them and do not understand how they suddenly got clicked. I can only think that something inside of WordPress did it.

Also, it has happened with some of my favorites. Serendipity. Have Bag Will Travel. There are plenty of examples.

My questions are the following:

Has this happened to you?

What mysterious WordPress force is causing it?

The Moon and the Moody Blues

9 Oct

Over the past few nights, the moon has been full and bright to the point that it causes slight shadows. A few times, I have gone out and just looked at it. I took out the trash and spent a few extra moments in the driveway. I also walked onto the deck just to stare at the sky. The moonlight was almost blinding, and, both nights, low clouds floated by to give it that haunted look.

The moon has always fascinated me, and I have often taken time to look at it. Of course, the face is there. However, it is more than that. It is the closest celestial body, and it stands guard over the night. There are times when it makes the night darker and more mysterious. There are times, like the past few nights, when it makes the night lighter and brings clarity to a time of hiding.

Each time I study the moon, the same words make their way through my mind. They are not words that I put together. They are not words from some dusty poetry book. They are words from an album that I first heard a long time ago. The Moody Blues created Days of Future Passed and included the following verses.Moody Blues

The album begins with:

Cold hearted orb that rules the night,
Removes the colours from our sight,
Red is gray and yellow white,
But we decide which is right.
And which is an illusion?
Pinprick holes in a colourless sky,
Let insipid figures of light pass by,
The mighty light of ten thousand suns,
Challenges infinity and is soon gone.
Night time, to some a brief interlude,
To others the fear of solitude.
Brave Helios wake up your steeds,
Bring the warmth the countryside needs.

The album closes with:

Breathe deep the gathering gloom,
Watch lights fade from every room.
Bedsitter people look back and lament,
Another day’s useless energy spent.
Impassioned lovers wrestle as one,
Lonely man cries for love and has none.
New mother picks up and suckles her son,
Senior citizens wish they were young.
Cold hearted orb that rules the night,
Removes the colours from our sight.
Red is grey and yellow white.
But we decide which is right.
And which is an illusion?

I am not sure when I first heard the album, but these words have been with me since. There are other poems and songs about the moon, but that full and bright moon always brings these verses from the back of my mind. Like the night, the moon illuminates them and brings them from the hidden recesses of my memory.

My iPod Has Issues – Or Maybe Not

8 Oct

This History of American Music course that I am teaching has me digging deeper into my iPod than I ever have. I knew there was a bunch of stuff in there. Heck, I downloaded it all. However, I did not realize that depths of its knowledge. When I want to play a sample for the class, I find it on my iPod. It makes me realize that the iPod does not have any issues at all. It is simply steeped in music history.iPod

In honor of this newfound respect for the iPod, I have decided to explore its inner workings and see what is there. Besides, I cannot think of anything else to write about.

“Ruby, Don’t Take Your Love to Town” by Kenny Rogers and the First Edition

“Night Train” by Alvino Rey

“Wild World” by Cat Stevens

“America” by Neil Diamond

“Fast Car” by Tracy Chapman

“Luck Be a Lady” by Michael Civisca

“You Really Got Me” by The Kinks

“John Barleycorn” by Traffic

“Changes” by David Bowie

“When I Can Afford to Lose” by Will Hoge

“Save the Last Dance for Me” by The Drifters

“Sweet Tennessee” by Judah and the Lion

“The Road to Hell” by Chris Rea

“High Fever Blues” by Bukka White

“Don’t Cry” by Guns N’ Roses

“My Sweet Lord” by George Harrison

“All the Young Dudes” by Mott the Hoople

“Elevation” by Television

“Still” by The Commodores

“Jack and Diane” by John Mellencamp

Yeah, maybe my iPod is not as crazy as everyone thinks.



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