Super Bowl Memories

6 Feb

Super Bowl 50 is here, and it is special enough to abandon the Roman Numerals. Honestly, I wish they would leave them off forever. The Super Bowl is everywhere. Radio ads. Television ads. Lists of the greatest games. Lists of the greatest players. Millions are getting ready to watch the Super Bowl.

It is during this time of year that I realize how lucky I have been to attend two Super Bowls and that they rank as two of the best.23

Super Bowl XXIII pitted the San Francisco 49ers against the Cincinnati Bengals. The 49ers had Joe Montana, and the Bengals had the Icky Shuffle. My dad took me to the game, and I can remember trying to take in every detail. Unfortunately, a lot of those details have faded away.

The game was played in Miami, at what was then called Joe Robbie Stadium. White tents filled with corporate parties were everywhere. We sat in the corner of the upper deck with Bengals fans. That was good because I was cheering for Cincinnati. Tim McGee, a Bengals receiver, played for the University of Tennessee, and I had to be for him. Besides that, the rise of the 49ers began by beating the Dallas Cowboys, my favorite childhood team. I could never forgive that.

The Bengals led for most of the game, but Joe Montana got the ball with a few minutes left. He drove the 49ers down the field and threw a go ahead touchdown with only a few seconds left. The San Francisco 49ers beat the Cincinnati Bengals by a score of 20-16.34

Super Bowl XXXIV was important for this part of the country. The Tennessee Titans had a miracle run through the playoffs and made it to the final game. For the second time that year, they would play the St. Louis Rams. The first game was a Titans victory.

A bunch of us took a luxury bus to Atlanta to see the game in the Georgia Dome. It was a good thing that the Super Bowl was inside because an ice storm hit the city. Unlike my first Super Bowl, we did not have any tickets and had to find some for an entire bus full of people.

The tickets that we got were scattered throughout the stadium. Club Level. Front Row. Upper Deck. We all paid the same but had to decide who would get what. Someone suggested cutting cards to choose tickets. I cut the wrong card and ended up on the last row of the upper deck. I could almost touch the ceiling.

I remember that Tina Turner performed at the game. I can always say that I have heard Tina in person. However, I have not seen her in person. That is all I remember about the entertainment because the game was the important thing. We were not there as casual observers. We had a stake in the outcome.

The Titans fell behind but made a gallant comeback to tie the game with 2 minutes to go. Then, Kurt Warner hit a bomb for a touchdown. The events that followed have gone down in Super Bowl lore.

Steve McNair led the Titans down the field. On one play, he broke a tackle to complete a pass near the end zone. Timeout was called to set the last play. McNair dropped back and hit Kevin Dyson on a slant across the middle. He was running into the end zone when he was tackled from behind. He stretched out the ball but was stopped one yard short of the first overtime in Super Bowl history.

It was a stunning ending. As Titans players laid on the field, confetti rained from the ceiling. The Rams fans next to me were celebrating as we stood in silence.

We were not upset on the ride home. This was our first NFL season, and we did not realize how it worked. We went to the Super Bowl once and figured it would happen again. However, it has not happened again. In fact, the Titans are not the worst team in the league.

Hopefully, I will get to another Super Bowl, and it would be awesome if my team was in it. That is doubtful, but, without a doubt, it would not be as dramatic as the two I have seen.

Live and In Person

31 Jan

Listening to music is one of my favorite pastimes. Cranking of the radio and letting the sound fill the air is a great pleasure. It is truly pleasurable when that music is of the Rock variety. However, listening to live music is more enjoyable. I have been lucky enough to attend many concerts, and there is nothing like being in a room filled with people and hearing a performer sing a great song.image-6

The other day, I was at the magazine rack when I spotted something called 101 Greatest American Rock Songs. With a title like that, how could I not buy it? The magazine offers an interesting list with stories about each one. As I read through it, a question entered my mind.

How many of these songs have I heard in a live setting? In Nashville, we hear a bunch of songs being covered by bar bands. My real question was trickier. How many of these songs have I heard performed by their actual performers in a live setting?

Here is the answer.

98. “When Doves Cry” by Prince

97. “Legs” by ZZ Top

95. “All Shook Up” by Elvis Presley

94. “Lay, Lady, Lay” by Bob Dylan

92. “Paradise By the Dashboard Light” by Meatloaf

84. “Jackie Brown” by John Mellencamp

82. “Black Magic Woman” by Santana

72. “Blowin’ in the Wind” by Bob Dylan

64. “School’s Out” by Alice Cooper

62. “Rock and Roll All Nite” by Kiss

60. “Tangled Up in Blue” by Bob Dylan

51. “Sweet Child O’ Mine” by Guns N’ Roses

48. “Bye Bye Love” by The Everly Brothers

46. “Dream On” by Aerosmith

36. “Heartbreaker” by Pat Benatar

32. “All Along the Watchtower” by Bob Dylan

31. “One of These Nights” by The Eagles

29. “Ohio” by Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young

27. “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door” by Bob Dylan

24. “Free Bird” by Lynyrd Skynyrd

23. “Enter Sandman” by Metallica

22. “Atlantic City” by Bruce Springsteen

18. “Walk This Way” by Aerosmith

10. “In the Ghetto” by Elvis Presley

9. “Hotel California” by The Eagles

5. “Sweet Home Alabama” by Lynyrd Skynyrd

3. “Born to Run” by Bruce Springsteen

2. “Like a Rolling Stone” by Bob Dylan

I have been lucky enough to hear 28 out of 101 in a live setting, and, by looking at the list, I am afraid that I will not be able to add many more.

The Great Phoenix Debate

29 Jan

A few years ago, I wrote a couple of posts about Cumberland University, the place where I work and where I have received a couple of degrees. The first post related my opinion that our mascot should be changed from the Bulldog to the Phoenix. The second post explained the importance of the mythical Phoenix in our history.

I must have been clairvoyant because, a few weeks ago, the leadership of Cumberland University decided to emphasize the Phoenix as our mascot and deemphasize the Bulldog. If you read the link to my first post, then you will realize that I have long thought there should be a change. If you read the link to the second post, then you will realize that I have long thought there should be a change because the Phoenix has been the soul of the university since the 1860s. Unfortunately, several people did not agree.Phoenix 2

As word of the decision spread, alumni voiced their frustration on Facebook. Former athletes wrote about how they were Bulldogs and would always be Bulldogs. They disparaged the Phoenix as something to which they had no connection.

People in the community contacted me to ask about the change. They were surprised that the change was made and did not understand why we would go with the Phoenix.

One person who attended school in the 1980s ask me a simple question – what is up with the chicken? Obviously, she did not think much of the decision.

For those who are not happy with the decision to emphasize the Phoenix, there are several points I would like to make.

  1. The Bulldog came from a pet that hung around the law school for a few years. That is the same law school that had to be sold to Samford University several decades ago. In other words, the dog has no connection to the university that remains. Heck, we do not even know where they buried that dog.
  2. On the other hand, the Phoenix has been a symbol of the university for 150 years. When the campus was burned during the Civil War, the university rose from the ashes as the Phoenix rises from the ashes.
  3. Some former athletes may think that Bulldog sounds tougher than Phoenix. However, that is not the case. The Bulldog died. The Phoenix is too tough to kill.
  4. Our athletic teams have had the Phoenix emblem on their uniforms for as long as I can remember. It is on baseball caps and football helmets. In fact, opposing teams often ask why it is displayed that prominently. In other words, the Phoenix as a mascot already exists.
  5. There is nothing wrong with having more than one mascot. Alabama has an elephant as a mascot but is known as the Crimson Tide. Auburn is known as the Tigers and the Plainsmen, and they run around yelling War Eagle. Ole Miss is called the Rebels and have a bear stalking the sidelines. Georgia Tech is called the Yellow Jackets and come unto the field behind a car called the Rambling Wreck.
  6. There are a ton of universities who have the Bulldog as a mascot, and Cumberland University just blends in. Being the Phoenix makes our school unique.
  7. When we all received our diplomas, those diplomas said that we graduated from Cumberland University. They did not say Bulldog University. When the baseball team won its three national championships, the trophies said Cumberland University. They did not say Bulldogs. In other words, the Bulldog mascot should not matter. We are not Bulldogs. We are members of the Cumberland University family.
  8. People should not be concerned if we are the Bulldogs, the Phoenix or the Chickens. They should be proud that we have a bright future, and that future is represented by a mythical creature that is the symbol of survival and rebirth. Cumberland University is a strong institution and its graduates are doing great work throughout the world. I believe that strength and work is best represented by a symbol that is recognized around the world rather than a pet that hung around campus for a few years.

Lessons From Snowmageddon

22 Jan

We are currently experiencing our worst snowstorm in 13 years. I realize that it pales in comparison to the experiences of our northern neighbors, but it is a big deal for a place that is not prepared for the worst snowstorm in 13 years.image-5

During this time of being cooped up in the house, I have learned a few things. Here is a list.

Some people actually like this stuff.

Everything is closed. Schools. Businesses. Government offices. The list goes on and on. However, our local Chamber of Commerce decided to continue with their scheduled meeting. This freaked out my wife because she is on the Chamber board and was afraid she was going to miss something. They ended up getting her on a conference call because they were one short of a quorum. What did I learn from that? Half of the folks at our Chamber of Commerce are willing to put their lives on the line to support local businesses.

By the way, whenever I hear the words Chamber of Commerce, I think of The Ghost and Mr. Chicken, a movie that stars Don Knotts. There is a guard at the Chamber of Commerce picnic. If you are not C. of C., then you do not get in. Atta boy, Luther.

If Leonardo DiCaprio wins an Oscar for trouncing through the snow and not saying anything in The Revenant, then I should win an Oscar for trouncing through the snow and not saying anything while taking out the trash.

It pays to have a gas fireplace, but it does not pay to stub your toe on said fireplace. I think I am going to have to stick my foot in the snow to numb it.

Friends stole the body of Gram Parsons from the airport and tried to cremate it in Joshua Tree National Park. I learned this from my wife, who is working on an article about Nudie. If you do not know about Nudie, then you need to look him up.

Hanging around the house all day leads one to eat a lot. I need to get on the treadmill, but I have to wait until my foot stops hurting.

There are different Rummy rules for different people.

If you think you have Man of Steel, then you had better make sure before the worst snowstorm in 13 years. That will be the time that you want to watch and discover that you do not have it.

Anyway, that is what I have learned during our worst snowstorm in 13 years. In a few hours, I will not be able to learn anything because I will have lost my mind from cabin fever.

 

 

 

An Open Letter To Madonna

20 Jan

Dear Madonna,

Last night, we attended your concert in Nashville. Actually, we attended part of your concert in Nashville. The announced starting time was 8:00, and you did not take the stage until 10:30. As someone who has attended numerous concerts, I understand that 8:00 does not mean 8:00. However, it does not usually mean a two-and-a-half hour wait.

Justin Timberlake started at a reasonable time, and he is one of the biggest stars on the planet.

Taylor Swift started at a reasonable time, and she is one of the biggest stars on the planet.

The Rolling Stones started at a reasonable time, and they are one of the greatest Rock bands of all time.

U2 started at a reasonable time, and they are one of the greatest Rock bands of all time.

Elvis, another one of those performers who everyone knows by one name, started at a reasonable time. You call yourself the queen, but everyone called him the King.Rebel Heart

You should understand that it is no longer the 1980s. Your fans are not teenagers. There were a few people wearing leashes, but most of the people in my section looked to be in their 40s and 50s. Most assuredly, they had to get to work the next day. They wanted to have a good time, but they would have liked to have gotten home at a decent time.

You might want to think about this on a more personal level. You are no longer a spring chicken. Plastic surgery and makeup are wonderful things, but I think you could use some beauty sleep.

The part of the concert that we saw was well done. Your band was solid. The stage and props were cool. Your dancers were awesome. You sang and danced well for someone at this point in your career. However, I am not sure you realize what point that is.

You are no longer a cutting edge performer. Except for a few collaborations, you are no longer a hit-making machine. Your success comes from people who buy tickets to your concerts to hear the songs of their youth. This means that they want to hear those songs in their original formats. Elton John calls it the jukebox, and I have heard him say that he is happy to play them. You should take note from Sir Elton and his ability to connect with his fans.

Before the concert, we read that you had some problems in Louisville. You started three hours late, and many people thought you were drunk on stage. After a situation like that, I assumed that you would want to make amends at our show. I was wrong in that assumption. You chose to be unprofessional and start late once again.

Here is a suggestion. If you are not going to play until 10:30, then announce that the concert will start at 9:30. That will prepare everyone for what will happen.

I will give you credit on one thing. You were not drunk on stage. No one could go through that type of choreography and be toasted at the same time. However, I understand why the people in Louisville came to that conclusion. The part of the concert where you banter with the crowd was odd.

You spoke with a fake southern accent, which was worse than your fake British accent. On top of that, it was condescending to your audience. I understand that we are not from a cultured place like Detroit, but we are not hillbillies. We wear shoes, and they sometimes match our leashes. We have teeth, and we do not marry our cousins that often.

You also talked about how you usually wear little clothing and mentioned something about how everyone wants to see you naked. People have not wanted to see you naked since the Reagan administration. Although, I understand that sexuality is part of your act.

Here is another suggestion. Leave the sensuality up to your dancers. They oozed it during the stripping nun routine. While I am on the subject of stripping nuns, I need to say something about your need to have a shock factor.

The bed routine was a nice touch. Having same-sex couples and a topless dancer was interesting. However, it was far from the most shocking thing I have ever seen at a concert. This is a family blog, and I will not go into details. Just know that you need to talk to Nikki Sixx, Tommy Lee and the rest of Motley Crue. They know how to shock, and they know how to do it at a decent hour.

You also talked about how your job is to create art and change the world. Actually, that is not true. If you want to use your fortune for great causes, then that is commendable. However, your job is to entertain. In my mind, you, like a great many other performers, are well-paid organ grinder monkeys. Your job is to make the audience happy, and I assure you that many in your audience were not happy.

We left not long after your speech, but we were far from the first ones to leave. That does not count the man behind us who was asleep. Even the drunkest revelers and your biggest fans were fading away.

Odds are that you will never read this, but one of your staff members may stumble upon it while looking for concert reactions. In case that happens, I have a final suggestion.

Respect your audience. During your banter, you mentioned that you are famous. It took a lot of hard work to get where you are, but you are famous because the audience deems you to be. That means that we deserve your respect and should not have to wait for hours to bask in your presence.

In closing, you are a star, but you are not as big a star as you were. You were Madonna. Now, you are Prima Donna. There will come a time when you are just Donna.

I have attended dozens of memorable concerts. Several of those performers I have seen more than once. Rest assured, your concert will be memorable for all the wrong reasons, and I will not be seeing you a second time. For someone with your wealth that probably does not matter. However, that wealth relies heavily on ticket sales. If enough people go away angered, then it may begin to matter.

Sincerely,

Rick

The American West Coming Through My Speakers

14 Jan

After lunch, I was driving back to work with my iPod cranked up. The sun was shining and masked the coldness of the air. Before turning onto campus, one of my favorite songs came through the speakers.

“I Guess He’d Rather Be in Colorado” was recorded by John Denver, and that is the version on my iPod. However, that is not the version that I first heard and made the song hit me in my soul.

Merle Haggard sang the song in the last scene of Centennial, a 1970s miniseries about the American West. I have already written about that movie and will not repeat myself. That scene is on YouTube, and I urge you to watch it. You will probably recognize some of the actors, and there is a great message. It gets me every time.

When I hear the song, I am reminded of my love for the American West. Its history. Its land. There is nothing better than climbing the dunes at the Great Sand Dunes National Park. Mesa Verde National Park brings back the echoes of the ancient peoples. The streets of Durango harken to the days of yesteryear, and the train in Durango will take you on a great ride to Silverton.Durango

The song is about Colorado, but, to me, it is about the entirety of the West. The mountains. The plains. The deserts. Life the way it was, and life the way it is. This song takes my mind to New Mexico, Arizona, Montana, Wyoming, South Dakota and all of the others states that make up that region. The song says Colorado, but it means everything. To me, the song means relaxation, peace of mind and wide open spaces.

The words go like this.

I guess he’d rather be in Colorado.
He’d rather spend his time out where the sky looks like a pearl after the rain.
Once again I see him walking, once again I hear him talking
to the stars he makes and asking them the bus fare.

I guess he’d rather be in Colorado.
He’d rather play his banjo in the morning when the moon is scarcely gone.
In the dawn the subway’s coming, in the dawn I hear him humming
some old song he wrote of love in Boulder Canyon. I guess he’d rather be in Colorado.

I guess he’d rather be in Colorado.
I guess he’d rather work out where the only thing you earn is what you spend.
In the end up in his office, in the end a quiet cough is all he has to show,
he lives in New York City. I guess he’d rather be in Colorado.

Cumberland Nomenclature

6 Jan

I work at Cumberland University. A few blocks away sits a Cumberland Presbyterian Church. Around town, there are numerous businesses named Cumberland, including Cumberland Animal Hospital. Just north of town flows the Cumberland River. A geological formation called the Cumberland Plateau is east of here. Cumberland County is on top of the Cumberland Plateau. In Knoxville, the students at the University of Tennessee hang out on Cumberland Avenue. Lake Cumberland is a recreational area in Kentucky. Pioneers, including Daniel Boone, made their way through the Appalachian Mountains at the Cumberland Gap.

In other words, there is a lot of stuff in this area named Cumberland. It is a word that people in these parts use on a daily basis. However, I have a question that I have never heard anyone ask.

What is Cumberland?

It turns out that there used to be a county in northwest England known as Cumberland. It came into existence in the 12th Century and was abolished in 1974. Interestingly, Graham and Bell were the most common surnames of the area. The Bell name is of particular importance to me. Also, I wonder if Alexander Graham Bell had relations in Cumberland County.

Despite the great names, I would be surprised if all of the stuff in this area was named after a defunct county in England. There must be something else. Lo and behold, more search engining proves that to be the case.

In 1644, the title Duke of Cumberland was created and named after the county from the prior paragraph. Several men held this title, and things in America tended to be named in honor of titled folks. Therefore, it stands to reason that things began to be called Cumberland for that reason. However, that leads to another question. Which Duke of Cumberland has his name all over this area?

More search engining led me to Prince William Augustus, grandson of King George I; son of King George II; and uncle of King George III. He fought in the War of Austrian Succession and in the Seven Years’ War. The Cumberland River and the Cumberland Gap were named in his honor, and, one would assume, the rest of the Cumberland named places and things followed from those.

Prince William, Duke of Cumberland received many honors in his lifetime. However, one posthumous recognition stands out. In 2005, BBC History Magazine named him the worst Briton of the 18th Century. Presumably, this was for his role in the Battle of Culloden. It was after this battle that many of his contemporaries began calling him The Butcher.

Yep, the common use of Cumberland in these parts is derived from this guy.Duke

My thirst for knowledge has been quenched.

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