Wednesday, May 25, 2011

rain, rain, stay away...

a few of the regulars were gathered at the life center for our regular noon time "run" yesterday.   some were gathered around the tv's watching commentary on the devastation wrought in joplin, mo.  someone commented on how dry it is is this part of the world.  there's been just over 1/2 inch of moisture recorded at the weather station since the first of the year.  i agreed that we need rain, but was moved to opine "if an f-anything tornado is what it takes to get some rain here about, i think i'd just as soon stay dry."

with temps into the 90's and winds sustained at 30-40 and gusting higher the new sod we had rolled out last fall is looking a little worse for the wear. still i'll take that hit and anything else the dry weather wants to deal my way.

all these huge tornadoes, first in tuscaloosa, then joplin and last night in oklahoma, kansas and arkansas have me a tad bit antsy. we need rain, that's true, but if a tornado of any size is the price for getting it,  i say thanks-- but no thank you. 

i think i'll just take up cactus farming. aio                                                                                                                                            

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

a little too sensitive, perhaps...

i received an e-mail from one of the guest artists at ASO's season finale, recently. she took exception to my comments re: her physical appearance that evening, going on to school me as to the timbre of Mahler 2, making note as to how lucky the ASO was to have procured the other guest artist for these last performances.

i went back and read again the piece titled, Resurrection.  granted the comments in question are a bit snarky but please, ma'am, it's not like i berated your instrument. perhaps you should choose your dress more carefully and maybe get a hair cut and style.  you looked nothing like your head shot that evening.

in her response, she made note of mahler 2 as being a somber piece and not appropriate to be wearing "over the top formals and bling."   i will cede that point, still one could dress to fit the mood of the piece without wearing something that looked like it might have been sewn from the sun faded sheers taken down when new drapes were hung. something like your co-guest artist was wearing perhaps.

i may be wrong about this and maybe i have a chip on my shoulder but in my mind certain artists and companies, consciously or not, have a tendency to "phone in" their performances, being of the mind that "amarillo is lucky to get" their services. that's bullshit.  whether performing in amarillo, or on broadway, the audience is your pay check and as such deserve a best effort, not some mealy mouthed excuse in the "amarillo, texas-- where the hell is that?" vein.

that's imho. aio

Friday, May 13, 2011

american idol, final four...

wednesday night i watched performances by american idol's final four 2011.  each of the four gave amazing performances.  i had no idea which of the four would be eliminated.

thursday night, one of the four learns if he/she get's the axe.  would it be lauren alaina, hailey rinehart, james drubin or scotty mccreery.  as the evening progressed first lauren and then hailey was announced as being safe and part of the final three.
that left scotty and james, one of the two would survive to sing another night.  for the other, the journey toward a dream come true would come to a gut wrenching, horribly disappointing end.  as the two stood, each with an arm across the other's shoulder, each hoping against hope that it would be he chosen to go on, each hoping against hope that he would not be the one leaving, i knew.

in the moments before the announcement i somehow knew it would be james going home.  james with the hard rock creds.  james who didn't have one bad performance in all his appearances. it would be him going home and i think i know why.  of the remaining four he is the only one without a smile flashing perfect teeth, his ears are "funny looking", he wears a dangly feather ear ring in the left ear and although not a bad looking guy, he is perhaps not the best looking guy this season. that said, believe this-- damn, that boy can sing.

the other three, with perfect teeth, perfect smiles, perfectly "good looks" got more votes.  whether that was a conscious or an unconscious decision on the part of the voters, i can't say.  i hope it's not the case but it appears to me to be a case of prettiness prejudice. james received fewer votes because he is less a looker than the other remaining three.

admittedly it's just a theory on my part.  i have faith that, though he did not win the 2011 american idol title, he will be offered a recording contract. randy, jennifer and or steven will see that he gets a deal.  i have to beleive that. 

that leaves my favorite for this season, scotty mccreery still in the hunt. go, scotty! aio

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

dry, dry, dry...

watching the weather guys every night has become a case of same song, second verse, and third and fourth, and on and on ad nauseum. "no chance for rain during the seven day forecast".  "the dry line is setting up in the eastern panhandle".  leaving us mere mortals to wonder if it will ever rain again. 

all this dryness in the face of the folks being flooded out along the mississippi, as it rolls along to a record high crest.  thousands are being driven from their homes.

so here we sit, in panhandle of texas, high and dry. it was without a thought of rain that we went to bed last night.  we've been sleeping with some windows open to combat the high temps we've been having around these parts.  it was about 2 a.m. that we were awakened by the wind picking up to the 40-50 mph range.  I went around the house putting the windows down when i saw a flash of light. "what was that" asked my wife?  i don't know, you saw it too?  it was then we heard a huge clap of thunder.  what? thunder? that prompted me to check the radar on  and guess what, there were some storms barreling up from the south.  there was even some red on the return indicating some severity. 

here at the house we got little more than the sidewalk wetted, but it just goes to show, the weather guys don't always know.  someone should tell them, they can go on with their pronostication, but in the end a higher power is in charge of all things, including the weather. some folks around got more than a taste of rain, maybe even enough to need a rain gauge. official rainfall at the nws was .006, all that excitement for next to nothing.

after last night, in spite of what the weather guys have to say, we can always hope. aio

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Mother's Day 2011

On this Mother's Day, the 34th celebration of the day since the mother of my children said she would, I reflect on the gifts she's given me in those years. The first, outside her pledge of undying love, must be the trust implied that I might be of some assistance in raising her first born son. She continues to aver, from time to time, that he is the real reason I asked her to marry me.  Not true.

Soon after we married, she blessed me with another son to love and guide and shortly thereafter a daughter.  Children, full of the promise of things to come. Witnessing, cherishing, all the little moments as they grew. The first smiles, the first tooth coming in and the first tooth given up to the tooth fairy. The first day of kindergarten, of first grade, of middle school, graduation from high school, university and the school of hard knocks. Grown and gone on to construct a life and memories of their own.

Countless memories, each one a treasure, given to me with an unfailing grace, a love and devotion I still find unbelievable.  Me, little old me, product of humble beginnings.  With infinite patience and an unerring, guiding hand she has transformed this small town, dry land cotton farmer's son into the man I am today.  The years have flown, come October we will celebrate our 35th anniversary.

The road behind us is long but we face forward, heads held high, pressing on toward new memories waiting for us just a bit further on down our road together.

Happy Mother's Day, skeetnose. I love you. aio  


Saturday, May 7, 2011

7th annual Mister Mister 5 mile...

Saturday, May 7th, saw the 7th annual running of the Mike Roberts Memorial Run, or more familiarly, the Mister Mister 5 miler.  The day dawned cool, the winds calm.  Closer to gun time the winds had picked up but temps remained temperate.

Numbers were down by half from last year. First across the finish line was Monte Wells in a respectable 34:34.  Particularly respectable in that he and a handful of others ran the course prior to the start of the race "as a warm up" and the "measurement" being a tad long.

Scott Boyd, and others of the Family Life Center Staff,  put together yet another excellent event this year.  As is becoming usual for this run, the t-shirts were of extra high quality, not the 100% cotton number handed out at many races. That and the traditional post race breakfast burritos and sport drink make this run a bargain by any stretch of the imgination. 

Thanks go to the always excellent finish line crew--  the ever steady Rick Gauna, Johnny McNabb, and Mike Sherrer.  Karen Roberts and Christy Shortino made short work of tabulating age group results.  Thanks to Kevin McClish and the Lone Star Runners Club for providing the finish line chute and timing equipment.

For the seventh year Mike's family, some his closest friends-- Rod Wilhite, Robert Mauldin, Monte Wells and others, fellow members of Red's Raiders-- aka the finish line crew and me, folks who knew Mike and many who didn't, gathered to stage this run along the five miles of his favorite training course.  Those who knew and loved him hold his memory close and shared a smile and a laugh in the retelling of favorite Mike stories.  

Mike, your influence still holds sway.  Most weekdays there is still a crew of 2 or 3 and some days up to 8 or 10 who gather at noon at the FLC to run all, or part, of "your course".  Some are greyer, some are slower but still they gather. Some are training for that next marathon or half, some just hope to make it out and back in one day.  And so it will be until...

Hope to see you all next May at the 8th annual Mister Mister 5 miler. Until then...

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

At last...

with apologies to Etta James...

at last....
Osama's death has come along
his breathing days are over
now we all can sing a song
yeah, at last...

Growing up on that dry land cotton farm, I had occasion to kill things from time to time.  I've wrung chicken's necks and watched them flop around, their life's blood spilling onto the dry ground.   I've shot my share of birds and rabbits and I guess I was a pretty fair country shot, knocking off more than a few house sparrows from 40-50 yards using my granpa Mc's semi-automatic .22 rifle.  I gave them to my granma's old, gray, tabby cat-- Tom.

Maybe the biggest thing I've ever shot was a red tailed hawk.  I still feel bad about doing that.  Hawks are themselves good hunters, keeping down the varmint population, thus they are a farmer's friend.  I've killed my share of snakes, the last one I remember was because one of my aunties insisted.  Snakes can be a pest, like when one gets into the hen house and helps himself to the eggs. Still most snakes do more good than harm; they too help keep the rodent population down.

I spent two years in the army, was trained to take out the enemy in any number of ways including the M-14 rifle.  The fates never put me in a position to take another human life and I'm not sorry about that.

It's been years since I've fired a rifle of any kind.  Still, had I found the evil snake that was Osama Bin Laden in my sights, I hope that I wouldn't have hesitated to pull the trigger.

The hurt visited upon our great nation, and the world, by this evil man and his minions has at last seen some small semblance of closure.

OBL's death will not bring back those loved ones who died in the twin towers, at the Pentagon and and on flight 93. It won't bring back the men and women killed in combat in Afghanistan and Iraq in the war against terrorism.  Our country and the world may be no more safe than it was in the almost 10 years since that September day but I pray that with his removal those families, this country and the world at large can at least for a moment rest easy in knowledge that he cannot do harm again.

Terrorism is still a very real threat to this country and our friends and allies around the world.  Still, it gives me some comfort that this man, standard bearer to all those who would follow him and do his bidding, has finally drawn his last. aio                                                                                                                                                                              

Monday, May 2, 2011



The bottom half of ASO's season ending performance on Saturday, Gutav Mahler's Symphony No. 2 in C minor, demonstrated the length, breadth and depth of growth our small town symphony has seen under the deft baton of Maestro Kimbo Ishi-Eto.

While the performances of guest artists Jeanine Thames, soprano and Marietta Simpson, mezzo-soprano, were most probably quite able, Ms. Thames looked more the frumpy housewife out for a night of karaoke than a guest artist and Ms. Simpson's mouth looked as if she had a bad taste in it she couldn't wait to spit out.  The evening for me would have been no less appealing had they stayed home.

The preparation and performance of the Amarillo Master Chorale and the West Texas A&M University Choirs was up to their ususal standard of excellence.

Maestro Kimbo's careful grooming of our ASO musicians becomes more evident with each succeeding concert. I would have been just as happy had there not been the vocalists or choirs.  His conduction and the orchestra's performance of the Mahler piece was the "pi'ece de re'sistance" of a wonderful 86th season.

No matter what some elitist, metroplex snob might have to stay about our band of players, their fearless leader and our grand hall, remember his is one man's opinion and it's the local patrons you are aiming to please. From the reaction of those in attendance on this Saturday past, you are doing a right fine job. Keep up the good works.

I'm looking forward to an even more exciting 2011-2012 season. We can depend on the Maestro to bring to us guest artists playing a variety of unusual instruments (at least in the symphony context-- think erhu) delivering scintillating performances with our ASO players as the cherry on top.

See you at the symphony! aio


Sunday, May 1, 2011

fastest fingers in the west....

last night we took in the last amarillo symphony orchestra concert of the 2010-2011 season. guest artist for the top half of the program was the very gifted, davide cabassi, (a winner of the van cliburn competition in 2005) performing beethoven's piano concerto no. 1 in c major, opus 15.

i'm not sure what your image of a concert pianist is, but in my mind he would be whippet thin with very long, spidery fingers. cabassi is anything but, however, don't let his appearance fool you, the man can play. he made his entrance on stage dressed in something less than a conventional tuxedo, the jacket down to his knees and squared off at the bottom.  his beard was trimmed to a pencil thin line along his jaw. cabassi's fingers flew masterfully through the piece, however the opus being some 36 minutes long, and somewhat repetitious, my mind wandered.

in reverie I pictured cabassi in an 1880's saloon, seated at an old upright piano, hair pulled back behind his ears. a black string tie dangled away from his starched white shirt as he leaned into the piece.  clenched in his mouth a long, black cheroot, the blue smoke from it rising lazily to the ceiling.  playing as though his life depended on it, beethoven's concerto no. 1 oozed tinnily into the haze at the top of the room. 

cowhands gathered on this saturday night to ease the pain of riding the range called a steady chorus of boos in his direction.  "play buffalo gal", yelled from the far corner; a beer  bottle hurtled in the direction of the pianist's head. cabassi leaned to the side, not missing a note as the bottle crashed into the piano at the spot the player's head had been a moment before.  beer ran down the piano's face and onto the keys. cabassi played on, ignoring the boos.

back in the now, there were no boos for cabassi in this place, on this night. when at last the piece ended, the symphony crowd stood (imagine that), showering cabassi with a well deserved  ovation and a robust round of bravos.

i cannot name the encore piece cabassi played but i can say the notes from the grand piano and cabassi's magic fingers came to me at warp speed, his playing faster than would seem humanly possible. in a word, astounding.

in all, a very entertaining evening from the man with the fastest fingers in the west, no matter which hall you happen to be sitting in.

davide cabassi, you rock. aio