Author Archives: D Grant Smith

Thanksgiving Day Programming on KACU

We hope that your celebration of Thanksgiving this year is wonderful, and we hope that our special programming provides a great addition to your day.  With the exceptions of Morning Edition and All Things Considered, as well as Exploring Music with Bill McGlaughlin this evening, our complete selection of programming today is special in honor of the holiday.  Below you will find program information on all of the special programs and music heard today on 89.7 KACU-FM.

 

9AM–A Thanksgiving Celebration with Garrison Keillor 2011

From American Public Media, a broadcast of “Gratitude, Gravy & Garrison,” VocalEssence’s celebration of all things Thanksgiving. Keillor performs his signature monologue and contributes comic new lyrics to familiar songs and hymns.

10 AM-Noon-Giving Thanks with John Birge

From American Public Media, with music and stories for Thanksgiving, host John Birge creates a thoughtful, contemporary reflection on the meaning of the holiday. For listeners in the kitchen, on the road, or relaxing after the feast, Giving Thanks provides the perfect atmosphere for Thanksgiving: the warmth of great music, and truly memorable words.

Noon-Thanksgiving with Cantus 2011

From American Public Media, Alison Young is joined by Cantus, one of America’s best all-male ensembles, for singing and story telling about gratitude and what it is to be thankful.

1PM-A Thanksgiving Celebration with Garrison Keillor 2011 (repeated)

 

2PM-Special Daytime Music Mix

   Song/Artist/Album

Lean Into The Light/Iron & Wine/Kiss Each Other Clean

Sound of the Bells/Jill Andrews/The Mirror

1234/Feist/The Reminder

Please Stay/Mindy Smith/Long Island Shores

**Earth & Sky**

What If The World Stops Turning?/Mindy Smith/Long Island Shores

Fly Away/Rosi Golan/Lean Balloon

Bittersweet Melodies/Feist/Metals

Looking Out/Brandi Carlile/Live At Benaroyal Hall

Before It Breaks/Brandi Carlile/Live At Benaroyal Hall

Angel/Dave Matthews Band/Everyday

Nothing At All/Madi Diaz/1% For The Planet-The Music Vol. 1

Let’s Go/Madi Diaz/Far From Things That We Know

Looking For You Again/Matthew Perryman Jones/(Single)

Come Monday Night/God Help The Girl/God Help The Girl

Mat Kearny/Where Do We Go From Here/Nothing Left To Loose

 

3PM-Special Daytime Music Mix

 Song/Artist/Album

Winter Song/Sara Bareilles and Ingrid Michaelson/The Hotel Cafe Presents Winter Songs

Someone To Love You/Matt Morris/When Everything Breaks Open

Lungs Speed, Lungs Sped/Brooke Waggoner/Heal For The Honey

**This Week In Abilene**

Turn em Loose/Bigfoot Wallace/Malleable

Turn Of The Season/Amber Oak/Your Missing Piece

How Sweet/Leona Naess/Leona Naess

White Winter Hymnal/Fleet Foxes/Fleet Foxes

What You See In Her/Trent Dabbs/Noisemakers Sampler

Will You Be/Folk Of Flight/(Single)

It May Be Late/Harper Blynn/Loneliest Generation

**Star Date**

Rare Triumphs of Love and Fortune/The Rocketboys/20,000 Ghosts

Stella The Artist/David Gray/Draw The Line

Happier/A Fine Frenzy/Bomb In A Birdcage

Walking Far From Home/Iron & Wine/Kiss Each Other Clean

 

7PM-9PM-Paul Winter Solstice 2011

The holiday tradition continues with Paul Winter’s Winter Solstice Celebration. A dynamic musical celebration in the extraordinary acoustics of the worlds largest Gothic cathedral – New York’s Cathedral of St. John the Divine.  Hear a unique exploration of the solstice tradition in cultures near and far. The Paul Winter Consort is joined by musicians from all over the world, including Russia’s Dimitri Pokrovsky Ensemble and gospel singer Theresa Thomasson. John Schaefer hosts the production from Living Music and Murray Street.

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Wall Street vs. The NBA

As it’s been reported for the past several weeks, people are pissed at Wall Street.  Or at least that’s the perception.  The claim is that the Wall St protestors are angry at the wealth injustice in America and how people in the financial sector continue to give themselves raises, increase profits and benefit from others’ hard work while at the same time cutting back their work-force, laying people off, or not hiring new employees even after their companies produce profits in the millions and billions.  There’s merit to that, no question.

One thing I have continued to ask myself and my circle of friends since earlier this year is, why do we point the finger in anger at only some people in American society who are wealthy and not the more prominent people?  I’m namely referring to politicians and professional athletes.  In the spring, the NFL went into a lockout where multi-millionaire owners and players argued over who would cash in on TV contracts worth $9 billion.  Yeah that’s a lot of money.  Did anyone offer to give that money away, contribute it to the unemployed, create jobs for the jobless, or any endeavor to better our damaged economy?  No, they argued over who deserved what, what richness could be added to the already rich.  Where was the upset there?  I (sort of) hate to pick on the Dallas Cowboys but Jerry Jones is one of the wealthiest men in America (a billionaire I believe).  While he may be a stock-holder who has some investment on Wall Street, he also has pretty deep pockets and makes tons more money than the average individual, employed or unemployed.  Who stood outside his corporate office this off-season and protested the incredible amount of money he and his company (team) has made in a down economy?  Not to mention a third string player on his team who makes more money in one month than most of us have made before taxes in the last 2-5 years.  Where’s the protest?

This August the NFL players and owners came to some sort of agreement and they started their season on time.  So maybe that’s why there weren’t protests.  We now have pro football every Sunday.  I do know that whole sha-bang upset a few sports fans who were on the fence about whether they’d tune in for games this season. But I still see sold out arenas, people spending $90 for a Romo jersey (and after last week, last season, the season before that…I have to ask “Why?”), and fantasy football being played all over the place.  The lockout didn’t lose the NFL fanbase.  It’s alive and strong.  And each of those guys we cheer for makes more money than most of the people on Wall Street who are being terrorized by protestors daily.  I don’t want to necessarily defend the Wall Street people.  There’s a lot of greed, selfish ambition, and bad ethics going on there worth talking about.  I do want a more just form of protest.  If we’re going to cry out for equal pay for people in the work world, what about returning professional athletes to a pay scale similar to the 1950s and 1960s, where players on teams made an average wage versus the GDP of most 3rd world countries?

And what about politicians?  The GOP wants to have a debate every 2 weeks so a group of 8-10 people can tell you why they deserve to be the President of the USA a whole 13 months or more before the election takes place.  Is that healthy for the economy?  These people aren’t currently working for anyone.  Unless you count their campaign contributors.  But where’s the cry out for justice there?  Sarah Palin, whatever job she might have, is basically a political Snooki or Kim Kardashian, with her road trip around the country in the name of conservative politics.  Is she doing a documentary on how the average American is trying to budget themselves through this economic turmoil?  Is she doing research from business owners on what actual businesses need now to survive instead of what our political leaders have instituted that’s hurt the economy?  I don’t think so.  Is Rick Perry the current governor of Texas?  Doesn’t Texas have a budget deficit that needs fixing, hence the cuts of $400,000 to arts funding in Tx schools?  Should he be working to fix the state’s current problems before he tries to be an expert at solving the nation’s issues?  And not to only pick on the Republican/Conservatives as being guilty of this.  Last time I checked Barack Obama is the current President.  So why does he need to campaign for a job he already has?  Shouldn’t he be working more on fixing the country’s problems and (trying to) work with Congress on solutions to our current issues.  I know that takes time, energy, and patience.  It doesn’t take campaigning.  These people live off of someone else’s money.  They supposedly represent us, the people.  When was the last 9-5 job they had?  Who was the last boss they had who put real job expectations on them that they had to meet or else face getting cut (like you and I have)?  Yet politicians are some of the wealthiest people in the world, let alone in the country.  Where’s the protest?

Let’s just be fair.  We as Americans are constantly crying out for fairness, even if fairness is a concept that can’t be made into a reality in all situations.  We still want it.  If we the people really want an equal playing field, then why aren’t we there people lined up in front of the enormous houses of NBA players like Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard, and Lebron James?  Why aren’t we constantly demanding owners of these teams to do more for communities and participate in the betterment of our country more than just being ridiculously wealthy?  And let’s still be upset at the NFL players and owners.  Just because they solved their $9 billion squabble doesn’t mean that they’re suddenly immune to public scrutiny, especially in the realm of fairness for pay.  If I had the chance to work for 8 months out of the year and have a 2 month off-season that included holidays, all for the guaranteed salary of over $1 million for 1 year, or a multi-year deal worth tens of millions, I think that’d be a pretty good deal.  However, I get about 2 weeks vacation with my job and roughly $30K/year.  I’m not complaining, I enjoy my job and the role I play in the community.  But the pay scale and the perks aren’t in different worlds compared to pro athletes and owners and politicians, they’re in different universes.  In the name of fairness, I’d like to see some of these Wall Street protestors walk to a different street and demand that maybe Lebron James and Michael Vick are incredible athletes, but they make too much money.  And let fairness speak to that real issue.

Predictions For NFL Season Pt 2

Funny how less than a week goes by and a slew of changes take place, and the NFL season hasn’t even started yet. But that’s the nature of this season, as I said before.

In the previous post I gave my take on the NFC for the 2011-12 season, who I think will do great, who could be sleeper picks for the playoffs, and also why I believe a few teams will do very poorly this year. In this post, I want to cover the AFC, give my predictions for who’s going all the way to the big game, playoff locks, sleepers for the postseason, and who is certainly not going to fair well.

First, I’ll start at the top. The Patriots have been one of the best teams in football for over a decade. This year marks the 10 year anniversary of 9/11 as well as the 10 year mark of one of their biggest Super Bowl wins. In the offseason (just after the lockout ended) they landed some controversial players, namely Albert Haynesworth. Haynesworth’s bad attitude during his tenure with the Redskins and disrespect of coaches made him a big enemy of most observant franchises, regardless of his talent level. The preseason seemed to indicate that the attitude was still there, that little had changed. This is something getting a little press here and there, on top of the signing of former Bengals receiver Ochocinco. You know, I don’t think either athlete is going to be the difference maker this season. I pick the Patriots to have a good year and go to the playoffs yet again, but only make it all the way to the Super Bowl if they can jive well on offense and get some better protection for Brady. And defensively they will have to play more like the Steelers to really have a chance.

James Harrison attacks offenses

Speaking of Pittsburgh, they’re another lock for the playoffs, barring an injury to Rothlesburger or something similar. They have had the components for championship runs for the past 5 years or more and I think they’ll continue to be a wrecking ball in the AFC. Plus, James Harrison has an even bigger chip on his shoulder than normal, with having to answer the constant questions of the media about his defense being “too old.” I think that label will make him a more ferocious player and probably lead to some other sanctions by the NFL for hard hits and maybe even some punches thrown during games. Harrison is a fairly dirty player anyway, so who knows.

The other AFC team who has been solid for the last decade is the Colts, led by one of the all-time greats Peyton Manning. This year, however, will be a very bad year for them. As ESPN’s Colin Cowherd said yesterday on his radio program, this is a poorly managed team built entirely around Manning. Without Manning they might win 4-5 games in a season. With him, they win 11-12. He’s the difference between a great season and a horrible one. They had 2 backups that coaches didn’t have any confidence in so they go out and hire a 16 year vet (Kerry Collins) with little understanding of their playbook and their offense. And he’ll start Sunday against Houston. I’m actually very glad they aren’t starting Manning this Sunday. Houston’s 3-4 attack with Mario Williams at LB would put Manning out for the rest of the year, leading to a 1-3 win season for the Colts. This way, Manning gets maybe 2 games to rest and recover and then come back week 4 at the latest and save the day. But still, they lack the offensive and defensive weapons to be true contenders in the postseason.

Manning and Joseph at their press conference after signing with the Texans

Houston will go to the playoffs for the first time in franchise history this year. There I said it. They should have gone last year but they couldn’t finish a game. They’d build a 2 score lead and blow it in the 4th quarter. Not this year. Again, that rebuilt defense will get better and better as the season goes on. Their D-line and LB core should be scary in weeks 1-4 and terrifying by week 5. JJ Watt, Demeco Ryans, Mario Williams, Brian Cushing, and the other guys in the box will wreck havoc on O-lines this season, starting with the Colts. The secondary is much improved from last season with the addition of Jonathan Joseph at CB and Danieal Manning at FS. I predict Manning will have a Pro-Bowl year. And let’s not forget the offense, led by Schaub, who has some excellent targets in TE Owen Danieals, Jacoby Jones and Andre Johnson, arguably THE best WR in the AFC. Oh yeah, and they have Arian Foster at RB. Their starting lineup is a fantasy football owner’s dream.

I’m reading online that the Jaguars cutting of David Gerrard guarantees a solid year for Houston. No, I don’t think so. An improved defense, and an offense that continues to put up points guarantees a good year for Houston. Cutting Gerrard only guarantees a rough 2-4 weeks for Jacksonville, a team that already didn’t have much going for it. Sure Gerrard is inconsistent, but in October and November he does well, he wins games, and that’s something the Jags should prize. I think they’ll have at best an 8-8 season. They just don’t have the personnel to do any better.

Another big item in the press is the Chris Johnson contract deal, which he finally got last week. Congrats. Now I hope he can manage to not get injured in the first 3 games and actually do something. The offense is on his shoulders anyways. They had one of the best WR in the history of football last season and didn’t utilize him. Yes, I’m talking about Randy Moss. Johnson will get 20-30 carries a game and if his body isn’t ready for that kind of work, watch out. That contract won’t be sweet for anyone in TN if he can’t stay healthy. I see the Titans at best winning 7-8 games, which could put them in the playoffs, but only if some other big AFC teams do really bad.

Like the Chiefs. Matt Cassel was great with the Patriots as the fill-in for an injured Brady, winning 10 games and making him a star. Last season with the Chiefs, not so much. He does have a great WR in Bowe, and an solid run game. Their defense could be great or mediocre. We’ll have to see. I’m thinking that they make the postseason only through the wild-card race and then bow out in the first week of the playoffs. But that’s if they play without drive and heart, which it seemed they did towards the end of last year. If they turn around and play with a fire in their chests, they could be a great team this year.

Oakland will be horrible again. You knew that whether you watched the preseason or not. Whoever thought Jason Campbell would ever be a game changer wasn’t watching real life football. He has a good game every once in a while. The rest are bad. Very bad. Their running game has to be the saving grace and that defense has to look like something more akin to the Steelers than what they have. I place them at the bottom of the AFC bin.

Colt McCoy

The Chargers, the Jets, and the Ravens will have good seasons, and be playoff contenders. That’s a given. What isn’t a given is the Browns. I pick these guys as sleepers. Colt McCoy is the real deal and he’s going to lead this team to great things. Plus, their other intangibles at RB and especially on defense make this team a solid choice this year.

However, on the other side of the state, the Bengals will continue to be bad……really bad. Another very poorly managed franchise as evidenced by the decision-making of the front office. We can start with Cedric Benson, who has the potential to be a great RB. But off the field he enjoys driving under the influence, repeatedly, and punching old roommates in the face. He also seems to enjoy doing this in the same place each time (in TX). The Bengals have depth at RB with Bernard Scott, who really should be given the starting job. With limited carries he’s done a considerably great job moving the ball. Plus Brian Leonard and Larry Johnson give them a consistent attack on the ground. But then there’s also the issue with not trading Carson Palmer. Trading him would have opened up the bank more to spend on areas of the team that need depth, like WR and TE, or on defense. But they didn’t. So instead they settled for a young QB with limited experience who looked very bad in the preseason. The Bengals will spend this season in the gutter unless their run game makes them shine, which is still a possibility. But on defense they won’t be able to hang with the power players of the league.

Lastly in the AFC east, the Bills and the Dolphins should go either .500 or worse. I say worse more for Miami than for Buffalo. Fitzpatrick and Jackson will lead the offense to some big wins. In Miami, the lack of a steady QB will limit them early. But if they can jell together by week 5, they could become a sleeper team by midseason. I just don’t think they have the intangibles to pull off a playoff birth. And Reggie Bush will be a bust wherever he is. He’ll have a good fantasy game here and there but he is NOT the playmaker he was billed as in the 06 draft.

Oh, and one note about my NFC predictions post, anyone catch the further developments in Chicago with Lance Briggs wanting out of Chicago, and Matt Forte not happy with his contract. Upset and angry players have a tough time producing on the field, especially when they’re your stars. Management should take note. And Seattle should great Gerrard while he’s available. They don’t have a better player at QB.

Predictions For The 2011-2012 NFL Season Pt. 1

It was probably the most unique off-season we’ve experienced in 20 years with the lockout. Teams and players didn’t start working out together, let alone figure out their free agency stuff until about a month ago. Usually everyone starts figuring free agency out in May, camps and OTAs start in late May or early June. The preseason is just a tune-up for starters (who are pretty much figured out by preseason game 2) and essentially auditions for rookies and walk-ons. This year, it’s preseason game 4 where starting positions are still up for grabs for a lot of teams. That’s uncommon and it’s going to produce some different football this year than we’ve had for a couple of decades.

On top of that, free agent signings have totally altered a lot of lineups for teams. Decent teams last year are really good (at least on paper) because of some big signings. A few teams that were playoff contenders last year could be Super Bowl contenders this year. One of them is the Eagles. Michael Vick at QB made these guys great last season. They kept Machlin and Jackson at WR, both playmakers and game changers. Vince Young’s the backup (I’m still not sold on this guy though) and their O line seems pretty solid. The defense got a big boost with CB Nnamdi Asomugha, arguably the best in the game last season. Add to that Asante Samuel on the other side of the field and you now have a defense that, if it can stop the run, should be a shut-down unit all around. That could be the make or break point for these guys to be in the big game at the end of the year. I predict that if they stay healthy, will be a force to be reckoned with in the NFC this season.

Speaking of free agency and team makeovers, what about the Vikings? These guys made one big change and that was at QB. Thank goodness that (at least with one game left in the preseason) Brett Favre is actually done. The Vikings recognized last season that Tavarus Jackson really isn’t an NFL quarterback. He can’t hack it. Mark my words, Seattle will have an abysmal year this season. So Minnesota picks up Donovan McNabb. Last year McNabb looked bad, most of that because the Redskins have a pretty awful management and administrative office. Their coaches don’t really have much cohesion. Remember last year when McNabb was promised to be the starter by coach Shanahan, only to be replaced the next day by Rex Grossman? That was a lot of confusion for an organization that was pretty chaotic to begin with. So you put McNabb in an organization with some solid receivers like Bernard Berian and Devin Arishamadou (both former Bears receivers), and you include Adrian Peterson in the backfield, that’s going to be one powerful offense in the NFC.

Green Bay didn’t change much in the free agency, but why would they? These guys didn’t lose really anyone to free agency and they were the best team in all of football last year. I expect them to be solid this season too. Detroit ended last year looking good after being pretty horrible the year before (the season they finished with zero wins). They have a QB that’s slowly becoming a solid starter in Matthew Stafford. Their RB Javid Best will have another solid fantasy season and hopefully be a cause of some wins. And their defense continues to improve. They could be a sleeper pick for the playoffs come December.

Which leaves the Chicago Bears in the NFC North. I’ve spent the past 5 seasons as fans of this franchise, and have a pretty deep knowledge of their rosters over the past few seasons. Though I started following the team after they drafted Danieal Manning in 2006, I have subsequently moved a lot of my loyalty to Houston following Manning’s signing with them this off-season. Call it fickle if you want, but Manning was the reason I liked the Bears in the first place. But they still have another ACU alumni Johnny Knox, so they still have some of my allegiance.

They don’t, however, have much of my faith in a good season this year. My prediction for the Bears in 2011-12 is bottom of the NFC North Division. Last season they excelled in offense when Matt Forte was given carries. The first several games when the the run/pass ratio favored the pass, the Bears couldn’t drive and couldn’t score. Their scoring drives ended in FGs due to great field position from the kick-off returns of Manning and Hester. Once they balanced the play calling, Forte and Taylor led them down the field along with some good passing attacks. But that came later in the year. The O-line was bad from the beginning. The only steady and consistent presence was veteran center Olin Kreutz. This off-season they refused to give him a solid deal so he left. He was the only bright spot on the O-line.

Last season I really questioned Jerry Angelo’s management and Lovie Smith’s coaching. This off-season proved to me (and to many others) that these guys may have been good a few years ago, but they really can’t make solid management decisions. Add to that the constant moving of Manning 2 years ago from FS to SS to nickel back. He didn’t get a chance to solidify his position, so his play suffered. Last season he had his best year at FS alongside Chris Harris. The defense last season was a shutdown lineup. This year I think they will have a hard time stopping the pass, mostly because Urlacher is not in the form he was a few years back and there’s no noticeable sign of cohesion in the secondary. Their D-line will be solid again, but the secondary makes or breaks your defense. Look for the Bears to hold most teams to under 21 points, but not have the offense to put up numbers to win games.

Caleb Hanie, Bears #2 QB

Here’s why: Jay Cutler is not a winner. Going back to the mention of poor management from the front office and coaches, these are the same guys who chose to start Rex Grossman after seeing what Kyle Orton could do. These are the guys who chose to trade Orton for Cutler, a QB who (while he was in Denver) didn’t have a lot of defensive challengers in pass defense and did pretty well. He also had Brandon Marshall. Then he comes to a team with no all-star receiver (until Johnny Knox of course) and a slew of defensive powerhouses all in the same division. Cutler plays like a young Favre, a gunslinger who will throw pick after pick and then josh about it on the sideline, and do so in a championship game. Caleb Hannie proved in the NFC title game last year that he not only has the skills, the knowledge of the playbook, but also the raw fire and leadership to be the starter. But all of us TV viewers must have been watching a different game than the coaches and management, because Cutler will start and lose games this year. Hester and Knox are the bright spots on the offense. Roy Williams will be just as bad as he was in Dallas and Sam Hurd will end up being a name like Juaquin Iglasius, a great player who everyone had high hopes for but just couldn’t hack it.

Without going into too much other detail, I also predict in the NFC that Carolina will have a decent year, going about 8-8. Cam Newton looks like the real deal, DeAngelo Williams is solid, and Greg Olsen will be another point to my contention that the Bears can’t see talent while it’s on their roster, so they have to see it when the talent goes elsewhere. He’ll have a breakout year. Tampa Bay will do the same. The Falcons and the Saints are playoff contenders, as are the Giants and the Cardinals. Kevin Kobb in Arizona with Larry Fitzgerald is a match made in heaven. It will look like Kurt Warner came back in a different body. Dallas will be at the bottom of the rung again, due like Chicago to poor management and lack of insight into talent. Romo might have a decent game here and there, but without adequate protection and against solid defenses, they won’t be able to hang. The Rams and the 49ers could go either way, good or really bad. Time will have to tell.

Pt. 2 is coming soon with my predictions for the AFC.

The Power Of TEAM

The day after the conclusion of the 2011 NBA Finals has people obsessing over two different things: 1). Lebron James not living up to his own high opinion of his skills and talents, and 2). Dirk and Dallas finally achieving a world championship. There are many points that can be and have been made on both of these aspects. I don’t want to reiterate those points, some things are said more than they necessarily need to be.

While I never bought into the “Lebron is the greatest player” hype, I did think that he had more class before the finals. He revealed something in his character that is really lacking, and that is class and maturity. I felt Scottie Pippen’s remarks a few weeks ago that he was better than Michael Jordan verged on blaspheme. I know I wasn’t alone. Many in and out of the sport got into the dialogue and spoke up that there is no comparison to MJ, at least not while a career is currently going. We can’t even say with full confidence that Kobe stands toe to toe with MJ. So how could Lebron possibly be better after 8 years in the pros and no championships?

On the flip side, more focus needs to be going to the Mavs. Not only are these guys full of class, maturity, heart, and perseverance, there are countless stories of inspiration within the overall story of their success that we could all spend the next month telling each other. There’s the amazing story behind Dirk who has played his entire career in Dallas, not leaving to go elsewhere to win a champ (a-la Lebron last year). There’s the facet about him staying at the arena and continuing to work on aspects of his game after he’s already played a full game (regular season, playoffs and finals) with his German basketball coach to improve on what he lacked during the game. Is there a player in basketball (or other sports for that matter) with that kind of dedication to excellence? There’s Jason Kidd who now has a championship after 17 years in the league. There’s Jason Terry who got a tattoo of the NBA championship trophy on his bicep and guaranteed a Finals championship well before he earned it. These are but the tip of the iceberg.

There are two underlying points I’d like to make briefly here concerning the Lebron side of the game, and the Mavs side of the game, and both have everything to do with you culture and lessons we can pass on to our children and young people. Let’s start with Lebron. Here’s a guy who excels at basketball so much that he gets drafted without ever having stepped on a court of higher pedigree than teenagers in a gymnasium. That by itself will jack up your ego. He leads a Cavalier team through 8 seasons almost single-handedly, once to the Finals. Knowing that the team’s success was largely due to his contributions, that also must have affected his ego. Then he makes a big deal about moving his place of work to a town with 2 other superstar players and guarantees endless championships will be the result. After a convincing win over Boston, then Chicago, the Mavs must have seemed to be another stop on the bus tour to victory. But it didn’t work out that way.

Ignore the whole thing with Dwayne Wade where the two of them mocked Dirk’s sickness on camera. Ignore the comment made post game last night that all his haters still had to wake up tomorrow and live their same old lives. Ignore that he bolted immediately after the game and didn’t stick around to congratulate the winning team (Wade did that to his credit). All of these things and the myriad of others I think have a lot more to do with the lack of leadership and guidance he’s had in life, which is more of a tragedy than and place of blame. His mother must have had a hard time raising a man-child on her own. Come on, the kid is 18 and 6 foot 5? That didn’t happen over night. I can only assume that trying to put restrictions or discipline in place during his teenage years must have been hellish to say the least. Who were his father figures? Who were the men that brought him direction, accountability, and taught him the realities of life? I’d argue that based on his behavior, they either didn’t have much of an impact on him or they didn’t exist.

This is why we’ll never really be able to compare Lebron to Jordan. Jordan’s father James Jordan was an integral part of MJ’s life, his success in sports, and the man he became. One can only assume that James taught Michael that if he wanted to win at the highest level, his dedication to being the best could only be met by him. That’s why when Michael talked about trying out for a team in college, he only refers to himself as the best competition for himself. Lebron might be convinced that he’s the greatest, but he hasn’t proved that because there isn’t a father in his life to really push him, one that he respects as a man and will not just massage his ego all the time. Want further proof? Who was Mike Tyson before Cuss D’Amato? He was a punk kid that was in and out of juvenile detention. After Cuss he was the youngest champion in boxing history. After Cuss he never could put the pieces together.

Instead of hating on Lebron, or criticizing him, which I admit to having both done a bit of and also find it easier to do, we should be hoping and praying that someone with the maturity and character to lead him to become the man and athlete he has the potential to be, will step forward into that place. Until then, the best Lebron will ever become is a talented child who doesn’t play well with champions.

The other side of the subject is what we can all gain from the Mavs, high school and younger sports coaches in particular. Rick Carlisle made key changes in his lineup to give his team the advantage against the Heat. The players went along with his starting lineup. This meant key guys who normally started didn’t. They were ok with it, because in the end the team was more important than the individual. On the other team, you couldn’t say the same thing. Any coach who has ever tried to convince a ragtag group of kids to play together instead of against each other, tried to get one player to share the ball or the responsibility, or tried to work on teamwork now has a poster-child for such an endeavor. Has there been in the last decade (with the possible exception of the Boston Celtics a few years ago) a better example of team work versus individuals with talent where team work won? It’s hard to do. But this is the real deal, and that’s the best story from last night’s win. Teams win championships, individuals go home.

Shaq and Real Legacies

I know there’s a ton of other news going on right now, but the retirement of one of the NBA’s best players this week is something that’s been on my mind.  In between analysis of tonight’s Game 2 Final matchup of the Heat and the Mavericks, sports talk has been limited to the legacy of Shaquille O’Neal and where he stands in terms of the best players of all-time.  Some say he’s one of the 5 best centers of all-time, others that he’s one of the 5 best PLAYERS of all-time.  I’m not a sports analyst but certainly a sports fan, so here’s my take on Shaq, his legacy, and the legacy of athletes at the top of their game. It might seem like I’m trying to besmerch the career of one of the best players in NBA history in the following comments.  That’s not the case.  Shaq is one of the best entertainers the game has experienced, both on and off the court.  He prowess was unmatched during the peak of his career and he was almost impossible to guard.  That’s a dominant player.  But I want to add to the conversation taking place now in the sports realm about what is greatness, and where the road to establishing your legacy can take you in the eyes of different people.

Shaq played with over 5 teams during his 16 year career.  Sixteen years is a long time to play professional sports, especially basketball.  It’s a long time to be one of the best in the game as well.  But we honestly can’t say that Shaq was one of the dominant centers in basketball for all 16 years can we?  Do many people even consider this past season a part of that greatness when he spent most of the season on the bench for the Celtics?  What about his brief stint before that in Cleveland?  I honestly had forgotten that he played along side Lebron James.  Most people have too, because his performance then wasn’t memorable, it wasn’t great.

But during the years of his greatness, obviously his time with the Lakers from 1996-2004, he won 4 championships and a number of MVP awards.  He also had Kobe Bryant, arguably one of the greatest players of all-time.  That’s part of the reason why some feel that he wouldn’t have been able to acquire those championship titles had the weight of winning been exclusively on his shoulders as a dominant player.  Even Jordan had Pippen, Kerr, BJ Armstrong, and others to help bring championships to Chicago.

There wasn’t a place or time in the career of O’Neal when it came down to Shaq alone for the NBA finals to be won.  Actually that’s not true, there was one point but it was early in his career, during his tenure with the Orlando Magic.  I remember this mainly because the team they faced were my beloved Houston Rockets.  Shaq was the main attraction, everyone had been talking him up on every sports outlet in the country.  The Rockets had played great ball, and their center Hakeem Olajuwon, had dominated everyone in the playoffs leading to a repeat shot in the finals.  What happened in that series?  The Rockets swept the Magic, Shaq learned quickly that power is good, but sweetness is better and there is no defense against the Dream Shake (anyone remember that other than me?).  Had O’Neal been older, had more reps and experience under his belt and been able to adjust quickly to what Houston threw at him, the outcome might have been different.  Perhaps Shaq wouldn’t have been swept in 4 games.  But I think ultimately the finals would have ended the same.  He was a dominant, powerful athlete on the court, one that was nearly impossible to guard or defend.  But look at the stats, the numbers, the team mates, and the other power players of his era and you’ll see what I see: a great player limited by his own concept of greatness.

He one of the NBA’s all-time scorers.  Leader in rebounds and blocks.  That’s great.  But as <a href=”http://espn.go.com/espnradio/show?showId=douggottlieb”>Doug Gottlieb</a> has said these past few days, he’s not a good as he could have been, and that’s tarnishes his legacy, at least in the eyes of some people.  Because he didn’t keep himself in shape, he rode the bench during most of the last years of his career due to injuries.  He was a nonfactor this year and last year.  Some sports fans thought he retired years ago.  That says something.

In my book, the all-time greatest centers are Wilt Chamberlain, Bill Russell, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Hakeem Olajuwon, and Shaquille O’Neal (top 5 if you will).  David Robinson, Patrick Ewing, George Mikan, Bill Walton and Robert Parish round out the top 10, but these guys had everything, especially when you break down the numbers.  Chamberlain, Russell, and Abdul-Jabbar need no explanation.  Olajuwon though is a player that doesn’t get the respect I feel he deserves in the memory of all-time greats.  Here’s why, he only had 2 championships.  Shaq had 5, one of them with the Heat.  Ultimately, it’s the number of rings you have that determines for most people what your legacy is as an athlete, and then that’s the measuring stick for where you stand on the all-time greatest list.  The Dream (Olajuwon’s nickname for those who didn’t know) played his entire career in Houston, where he won his championships and frustrated players and coaches with his smooth and graceful playing style and shooting ability, as well as his keen defensive instincts.  He was an amazing rebounder and shot blocker.  He’s on the all-time list in those two categories.  For those following stats, you would know his name, but those who only follow championship rings might not recognize him.  He also didn’t have an all-star cast around him during the championship years, not to say that Kenny Smith and Robert Horry were not integral parts of the team in ’94 for the championship.  But they hadn’t peaked in their careers yet.  Smith was certainly not Kobe Bryant in his prime, nor Dwayne Wade. Clyde Drexler was a big part of the following season’s championship, not to take anything away from him or Sam Cassel.  But much of the load for the title was on the Dream.

So had Olajuwon chased after championship rings to further establish his legacy as one of the greatest players, he probably would have signed in free agency with the Spurs and set up a center/power-forward tandem with Robinson similar to what the Pistons did years back with Ben Wallace and Rasheed Wallace.  But he wasn’t chasing championships, he wasn’t trying to prove to be one of the greatest players.  He was more interested in playing with his team, more interested in continuing to invest in the players and coaches he’d been with (though he did finish the last year of his career in Toronto which was more of the franchise screwing him than him wanting to leave), and the city that he called home (where he still lives I think).  For people who consider a great legacy to be something that deals more with your character than the number of championship rings you have, you won’t find as much stock in Shaq or Kobe as you might with Olajuwon.

Or maybe that’s just me. But probably not, since the greatest player of all-time Michael Jordan said in his mind, Olajuwon was the best center of all-time.

If you want to see for yourself, check this out

Abilene’s Best Of Broadway

The following is a piece “In Review” by Anthony Mincer. It’s of “Abilene’s Best of Broadway – Aluminum Show” from January 25, 2011

Enjoy.

The spotlights were moving quickly across the audience changing from
red to blue and as each light passed over my head I was blinded in
that moment. But I remained poised, hands held high to catch or punch
or give some kind of karate chop to the flying silver. Well, I’ll call
it a pillow. These flying silver pillows, at least five feet in
length, were bouncing around the crowd like a beach ball at a football
stadium. I’m estimating that at least forty were set free with the
unspoken challenge of reaching the back of the Abilene Civic Center.
Thirty minutes later in the show, I courteously urged an enormous
growing silver worm over my head to the awaiting hands of my new
friend in the row behind me. This worm made from industrial strength
aluminum air conditioning ducting was being inflated from massive
machines located somewhere off stage. My shiny vivacious tubular
friend then suddenly shrank violently back toward stage as the
machines changed their directions.

I will certainly never look at aluminum ducting the same ever again;
nor will my fellow audience members that attended The Aluminum Show at
the Abilene Civic Center. In fact I have high hopes for their
imaginative ideas in regard to industrial strength materials, but more
on that later. The latest Broadway venture to journey across west
Texas is the brain child of Israeli dancer Ilan Azriel. Ilan made a
name for himself as a contemporary dancer in Tel Aviv. Soon he
branched into puppetry and started choreographing shows that combined
both dance and puppetry. One day, on a routine trip to the hardware
store, he noted that a small piece of ducting could be used as a
puppet. That’s when he had the vision to use ducting large enough for
a grown man to fit inside.

Aluminum is the 13th element in the periodic table (AI). Aluminum is
strong, light, abundantly available (the most abundant metal in the
earth’s crust), and corrosion resistant. It’s also inexpensive. The
metal is used in building construction, computers, cars, aircraft, and
fighter ejection seats. The metal is perfect for ducting.

During The Aluminum Show, imagination and the suspension of disbelief
are required. The short summary of the show goes something like this.
Two large slinky objects become attracted to one another and fall in
love. They have a little slinky baby. Slinky baby becomes lost from
her parents. Slinky parents and slinky baby try to find one another
while meeting a wide variety of other creatures (all made from
aluminum inflatables or ducting). Finally after a great deal of
puppetry, dancing, music, crowd interaction, and acrobatics, the
reunion of the family is heartfelt. Mind you, the show is
approximately two hours long so that simple plot is carried along by
lots of visual theater and humor.

Ilan Azriel’s production first debuted in Jerusalem in 2003. In 2005,
they performed their first international production in Istanbul,
Turkey. Since then they’ve covered the planet with shiny distractions
worthy of attracting all the Dory’s of the world (reference Finding
Nemo).

Other than punching silver pillows or passing mechanical earthworms,
some of my highlights from the show were the “factory scenes”. The
cast inflated a number of large pillows for five minutes of the
production with no apparent rhyme or reason. Then they attached these
pillows to a massive silver giant who then walked amongst the crowd
via the help of steel poles and four talented puppeteers. Later, I
was envious of the lucky audience member who had the pleasure of being
pulled onto stage and eaten by one of the slinky creatures. Sacrifice
for science, I say. The Aluminum team included a group of robotics
experts who controlled the baby slinky’s movements around stage. The
only awkward moments of the production was when one of the male cast
members paraded shirtless on stilts wearing an aluminum skirt. I still
have no idea what that was all about. Judging from the silence from
the crowd, I think we all missed that punch line.

After the show, the dancers came into the lobby with the robotic baby
slinky and a variety of aluminum ducting that was used as dance props.
Children and adults alike had the pleasure of interacting with the
industrial materials just as the dancers had done during the
performance. Ilan has made a fortune, gained fame, and traveled the
world off his creativity with an everyday household item. The
production Stomp became world famous with their artistic use of
garbage cans. So, what’s next on the list of common household items to
be used in a famous Broadway production? Hmmm, what about something
with garbage bags? Ceiling fans? What about step ladders? Maybe you
will discover the next great household item sensation. Until I see you
on Broadway, I hope to see you at the next traveling Broadway
production,
Beauty and the Beast, gracing our beautiful city on February 21 & 22.

The Road Pt 2

This is a continuation of the story of my trek back to Abilene last Wednesday on I-20.  If you haven’t read the first part, you can do so here.

Moving was a big thing, after sitting still in a car for 3 hours.  We had managed to exit the interstate, get on an icy feeder road, maneuver past dozens of stalled semi trailer rigs and get back on the interstate.  Traffic was moving, slowly, but movement was so much better than not.  At 5 mph it seemed like we were traveling much faster.  Anxiety was high.  Neither my wife nor I had ever driven through conditions like this before.  I’d driven in snow and ice a few times, but always in town and always within distance of a business or friend to be able to walk to if my car got stranded.  I’d never been on the highway in an ice storm 10 miles outside of town at night where there was no way anyone could get to us.  I tried not to think about that.  I kept my mind focused on the road, finding the patches of concrete so that the tires could keep some kind of grip on the turf and not spin out.  I kept saying, “It’s ok, we’re fine,” to my wife who was more nervous than usual.  She doesn’t like car rides in the first place.  Add to it the 3 hours we’d spent moving a total of 2 miles and the insane road conditions.  It was enough to put a sane man in the asylum.

We called my boss and friend John Best.  He’d told me as we had arrived in Merkel that I-20 was backed up for miles in both directions in Abilene at highway 351.  He said to take the first exit into Abilene and come into town that way.  We asked him if we could stay at his house for the night because there would be no way for us to get home to Clyde.  It was approaching 9PM.  The first exit into Abilene is Business 20/South 1st.  He had suggested we take that road into town and figure a way through the conditions to get to his house on the north side of town.  In the back of my mind I kept thinking about how treacherous South 1st is in normal driving conditions.  Add snow, ice, black ice and desolation to that.  Not a promising situation.

The exit came.  I maintained the same speed, moving as best I could up the ramp and onto the bridge.  There was little light.  The entire bridge was iced over.  There was no concrete to be seen.  I couldn’t tell where the lanes were, if I was in the going or on-coming lane.  I could barely tell where we were.  I kept saying “It’s ok, we’re going to be fine.”  I firmly believed it and didn’t allow myself to focus on the danger we were in, how incredibly insane it was to be on the road at that time, or what could happen to us if we stalled.  My wife called some friends and family to ask that they pray for us.  Their prayers were more valuable than gold.

My eyes were glued to the road. I put the headlights on bright.  There were few if any other cars on the road.  One vehicle was a few hundred yards ahead of us.  In my rear view mirror there were distant headlights.  My foot hovered over the brake pedal.  We stayed steady at 5 mph.  Any faster seemed too risky.  There was little surface for the tires to grip.  We had purchased the car we were in over the Thanksgiving holiday from my father.  It was over a decade old, but well kept.  He had just put new Michelin tires on it.  How thankful I was he didn’t go the cheap road on the tires.  The road was black, even the ice didn’t have a whiteness to it.  There were no lights.  A few reflectors on a bridge indicated we were crossing something.  We wondered when we’d come to the Sam’s Club and be near loop 322.  In the distance I saw headlights moving across a bridge, like a domed horizon.  That must be the loop.  I looked to the right, there was a sign for Sam’s.  We were in town.  That was a relief.  It was short lived.

We approached the traffic light at the loop.  Not being from a place where wintry conditions happen very often, I don’t have a ton of practice driving through icy roads.  I do know that you shouldn’t let the tires come to a complete stop, especially if there’s little to no surface for the tires to grip.  I decided that unless there were no other option, I wouldn’t stop at a traffic light, regardless of whether it was red or not.  Fortunately there were no cars coming and the light was green.  South 1st was lit up, yet spooky in presentation.  The lights of the businesses and street lights made it easier to see how incredibly close to disaster and terror we were.  Maybe driving through all that ice in the dark wasn’t so bad after all.  Now seeing it clearly sent more chills up my spine.  I kept repeating the same line of being ok and alright.  Now I was trying to convince myself more than my wife.

To our right we passed K-Mart.  The parking lot was like a giant ice-skating rink.  It was crystallized and thick.  There were even people trying to move around down there.  We couldn’t tell if they were homeless, stranded or just out trying to enjoy themselves.  It seemed perilous either way.  We pressed onward.  I kept trying to figure out which road we would turn left on to get to the north side.  No option seemed like a plausible idea.  We approached Pioneer.  I looked over the tracks and saw only white and no cars.  I saw the same at Willis, Sayles, and then a turn with no light.  This was our chance.  Slowly and carefully we pulled into the turn lane.  A car approached from the other direction.  There wasn’t time to wait for it to pass, otherwise we’d have to stop.  I turned and crossed the tracks, and was on North 1st.  You know, there was no difference in North and South 1st.  Actually North 1st might have been worse.  There was less traction on the road, I couldn’t see where the lanes were or if I was in the on-coming or going.  As we came into downtown, a car approached from Grape street traveling south.  I had to nearly stop so it could pass.  The light was red.  I kept going.

Now I’m trying to figure out how to get to North 10th, which will take us to John’s street.  Again, there’s no feasible answers.  Pine street looks more chaotic than any of the roads we’ve been on.  It’s either Treadaway or Judge Ely.  I’d heard Ely was just a block of ice.  Plus we would have to make a left hand turn.  As we came around Pioneer Texas the street lights were out.  Two hauling trucks passed in the other direction.  We approached the light.  It was red.  There were cars traveling on Treadaway in both directions but no one approaching in the opposite direction on 1st.  I slowed enough to take the turn and kept going.  Under the street lights I saw only concrete.  I breathed a huge sigh of relief.  “I guess they take care of Treadaway when weather like this happens,” I said.  50 yards later it was just ice again.  The 2 or 3 cars in front of us moved slowly from lane to lane to keep on the ground and avoid the ice.  We’d been in Abilene for nearly an hour.  We’d traveled maybe 8 or 10 miles.  We were less than a mile away.

The street in front of John's house. We had been too nervous and cautious to take pictures up to this point

We approached North 10th.  The light was red.  On 10th a white Toyota Tercel was struggling to move in the ice.  It approached the light at the same time as we did.  The tires skid numerous times as the driver tried to push the car through the ice.  We slowed.  I couldn’t tell if the driver wasn’t prepared for the drive or if the car wasn’t or both.  The Tercel slowed as the truck in front of us approached the light.  It seemed like the two vehicles might collide.  I slowed more and the Toyota hit the gas and skid forward past us.  We got on 10th safely.  I couldn’t tell when we crossed the train tracks.  There’s usually a bump you feel going over them.  No bump this time.  Several times the Tercel and the truck started to fishtail in front of us.  I tried to keep enough distance between our cars so that should they spin out we wouldn’t hit them.  Going down the hill my foot hovered over the brake.  I didn’t want to build up too much speed, and yet at the same time I would need speed and momentum to get us up the hill at Washington.  A little controlled gas did that.

That was the scariest end of it.  We made it through Judge Ely, to John’s house and into his front door.  I was so excited to have arrived! I gave him a big hug as we came through the door.  I hadn’t allowed myself to think too much about it but everything we’d been through in the past 4 hours was traumatic and frightening.  To be honest with you, I think my heart rate is high right now just recalling it all.  I’m so glad that we made it through the ice hell of the road conditions.  We had no idea when we left El Paso that morning that things were so bad in Abilene.  We had arrived in Sweetwater at 5P and expected to be at home in Clyde with our cats at 6.  Four hours later we’d traveled through terror and arrived at a friend’s home.  We were treated to incredible hospitality and a warm place to sleep.  We were thankful for faithful friends and for God’s hand which definitely had taken us through everything that night.

The road would await us again in the morning.  But this time it wouldn’t be the same.  There would be light.  There would be movement on the interstate.  We would travel at speeds of 25 mph (which seemed like 90 compared to the night before).  It would take roughly 30 minutes to get to Clyde.  We would be home, defrost our house, get cozy with our cats and figure out the rest of the weekend.  The road would be a memory and a story to tell.

The Road Pt.1 (revised)

If you’ve seen the film starring Viggo Mortensen or read the book by Cormac McCarthy, The Road is a wrenching tale of a father and son trying to trek across the barren post-apocalyptic America.  There’s abandoned cars and desolation every where.  That was about 6 hours of my wife and I’s life yesterday.  Just outside of Tye, Texas we slowed to a stop on I-20.  We sat there for about 2 hours.  It was about the place on the map where we had 1 hour of driving left.  We thought we’d be home by 6P.  We never made it that far.

I-20 was a standstill from Ranger Hill all the way back west to Merkel.  Tons and tons of semi-trucks were either t-boned on the road, abandoned, or stalled.  We’d move 100 yards at a walking pace in our car, then stop for 45 minutes with no movement.  Then repeat the process at 150 yards.  It was agony and insanity.  Our bodies were aching.  We had 1/2 a tank of gas left.  We would put the car in park, sit for over an hour and then put it in 2nd (low) gear to drive.  There’s a level of calm that takes over when you realize there’s nothing you can do to change your circumstances.  All you can do is sit and wait for something to change.

That calm dissipated after 30 minutes of silent and motionless sitting.  Both of us were tapping our legs, nervous that we’d be stuck on the road over night, have to abandon our car to seek lodging, or worse, run out of gas and be stuck out there for more than a day.  We had provisions to last a few hours.  Beyond that was was hindsight would tell us later that we needed more.  We needed water.  We needed food.  We had warmth, but would the gas last.  Should we take the first exit we see and rough it on the access road?  As we sat at mile marker 272, any possibility of movement seemed like the best idea.

I called a friend to check it we should try an access road.  Suddenly the semi in front of us pulled forward.  I followed, not even able to take my foot completely off the brake.  We moved roughly 200 yards.  We decided not to take the exit at 272 because the access road was white with ice.  Chancing that could put us in a ditch or worse yet, stranded and alone.  At least if we stalled here there’s tons of people who might help us.  We sat for more than 30 minutes.  My friend said we should exit in Tye, take the access road to the Business 20/ South 1st exit and take that into Abilene.

Finally we were able to exit just outside of Tye.  It was after dark.  There was a semi truck 2 cars in front of us and an SUV in front of us.  As the road veered to the right, I noticed that I-20 was moving to the left and we weren’t parallel to it anymore.  As we approached a left turn, I slowly turned the car and avoided an oncoming vehicle and another car who was trying to make a U-turn.  We ventured back onto the feeder road.  On both sides of the lane were parked/stalled semi trucks.  Some had their engines off.  Some were still running.

As we continued on the feeder road, slow patches of 1-2 mph grew to 5 mph at times.  That was the fastest we sped.  The road turned and twisted, our line of a few cars veering carefully around stalled semis on the sides of both sides of the road.  Then there was a line in the middle of the road.  Were they stalled or moving?  We couldn’t tell.  The cars in front veered to the right and started moving around them.  We followed about 20 feet behind.  As we started to pass the first truck in the middle of the road, the truck in front of it lunged forward to try and move back on the road.  We hit the brakes and tried not to fishtail.  Cursing, we made it passed the truck angry that someone who could see such treacherous conditions all around us would risk our lives as well as his.  I didn’t look in the rearview mirror to see if he made it out.

My eyes were fixed to the road, the patches of concrete becoming fewer and fewer amongst the long stripes of ice and white.  The rear-wheel drive car kept moving forward, the steering wheel clutched in my fists and the suspension squeaking at every bump, which was happening every 2-3 seconds.  The car in front made a slow turn onto the interstate.  The road beyond the access point was pitch black and frightening.  I couldn’t tell if any of it was clear or if it would keep going at all.  Reluctantly, I followed the car onto I-20.  There was a large space to pull into and I made it on the highway without problem.  We were traveling 20 mph, which seemed like lightspeed at this point.  As we neared the exit for Business 20/83/South 1st in Abilene, a nagging fear began echoing in my mind: “You know this road is scary and dangerous during normal driving conditions, don’t you?  This could be the most dangerous and hazardous choice you’ve made don’t you?”

I pressed on to the ramp.  What would lie ahead would not only confirm the fear, but test me more than nearly anything I’ve every experienced before.  And yet I would see something few people have the opportunity to see and taste.

Read Part 2 here.

A Tropical Heatwave

If you’ve seen the movie Grumpy Old Men, there’s a song that plays through the beginning and Walter Matthou sings it a bit: “We’re having a heatwave, a tropical heatwave.”  I have no idea who did the song, but it’s playing while the camera is showing shots of Minnesota in the winter time, groups of people in the snow and ice fishing.  It’s irony, or comedy in ironic portions.

Abilene got something similar to that this week.  “A Tropical Heatwave” might describe the exact opposite of what blew in.  I missed all of it, though.  I went to New Mexico to see family and while I was gone, the snow blew in and brought its whole family.  I read that the town shut down and so did the regional areas.  DFW is also out for a while.  You all who lived through this, please comment and tell me your experiences.

While it was frozen in Abilene yesterday, it was just starting to get cold in El Paso.  Last night the arctic blast blew in and today it’s 4 degrees with some snow.  El Paso is shut down now, the mountains are covered and they’re warning of rolling blackouts.  I keep checking the weather map and it’s much of the same across Texas. 

We’re going to try and leave out of here in a few hours, take I-10/I-20 back home and hopefully rejoin the force tomorrow or Friday.  What a wild week for all this to happen.   I know I missed a lot being gone, so please share your experiences and let me know what I missed.