Category Archives: Music


I saw a gigantic, bright green bullfrog hopping across 33rd this afternoon as I was heading to lunch. I hope it got across the road in one piece. It didn’t seem to be in any particular hurry as cars slowed down to avoid it.

The rainy weather we’ve had lately (it’s rained every day for the past week and a half or so) has really brought the frogs out. They were singing again when I came out of church last night.

I forgot to mention it the other day, but I saw an absolutely gorgeous bird flying across Route 66 somewhere between Bristow and Kellyville as I was coming back from dinner Tuesday night. It was pretty big and had a bright yellow underside. It was moving fast, so I didn’t get a really good look at it, but I think it was a meadowlark. Very striking, whatever it was. I never knew what meadowlarks looked like until just a minute ago. They always make me think about that pretty Stephen Schwartz song from the musical The Baker’s Wife.

I have a cute story about a mosquito (you didn’t know that was possible, did you?) but am too tired to post it right now, so I’ll save it for later.


Concert etiquette

We went to see a fabulous concert Thursday evening at the Mabee Center: Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard, and Ray Price, with Asleep at the Wheel as the backing band. Lots of Western swing, and everybody sounded great. And Asleep at the Wheel did a great cover of “Get Your Kicks on Route 66,” which of course Ron and I enjoyed immensely. What a fun way to spend the evening.

That said, I have a couple of complaints/suggestions to improve the concert experience at the Mabee Center:

1. Note to the ushers: Seat latecomers between — not during — songs. The constant parade of people chattering back and forth with the ushers, climbing over us, and walking in front of us for the first hour of the show was very disruptive, very unprofessional, and completely avoidable. At the Fox Theatre in St. Louis, you have two choices: Show up on time, or wait until a break in the show (which sometimes doesn’t occur until intermission!) to be seated. I like this policy a lot.

2. Note to the guy who spent half of Ray Price’s set talking on his cell phone in a voice you could have heard in Kellyville: SHUT YOUR PIEHOLE. If I wanted to listen to people talk on the phone, I’d go to the office.

This is the second time I’ve been to an arena concert that was marred by obnoxious behavior from ill-mannered people. But it’s the first time I’ve watched ushers tolerate — and sometimes even participate in — the disruptions.

We watched security guards pick up a guy and literally carry him out of a Neil Diamond concert in Dallas a couple of years ago because he couldn’t shut up. (Can you imagine copping to that later? I mean, I can see getting a little carried away at, say, a Black Sabbath concert, or maybe AC/DC, or perhaps even Ted Nugent … but Neil Diamond?) The ushers didn’t even ask people to quiet down at this show.

Good manners would appear to be a dying art when people can’t behave themselves at a Ray Price concert in an alcohol-free venue on a Christian college campus. Sad.

Mercifully, Cell Phone Guy finally hung up, and all the seats in our row finally filled, and by the time Merle Haggard got two or three songs into his set, things quieted down so we could enjoy the rest of the show. But I would strongly encourage ORU to give the Mabee Center ushers some more training. It’s a nice venue. It would be a pity to let ill-mannered concertgoers ruin it.



As promised, here are a few photos from my weekend trip to Illinois:


Mom has a bunch of birdfeeders that she keeps filled all winter. Her efforts are rewarded with visits from every imaginable kind of seed-eating bird: grackles (like the gorgeous creature above), cardinals, bluejays, titmice, wrens, juncos, and I don’t know what all else. At our old house, Dad built Mom a birdfeeder and put it right outside our dining-room windows so we could watch the birds all winter. When we were kids, we’d sit there and try to keep still and watch the birds until one of us got fidgety and moved too fast and scared them off.


Mom wouldn’t mind scaring these sticky-fingered visitors. Some of the pictures aren’t terribly clear, because I was shooting through a window and didn’t have a zoom lens, but I couldn’t resist getting a few images of Mom’s little thieves.


Look closely and you’ll see the squirrel on the side of the tree, stretching out his little paw to reach into the so-called “squirrel-proof” feeder and swipe a handful of seed. Mom said half the time, the squirrels just climb on top of the feeder, pull the lid off, and take what they want.


The cardinals don’t seem to mind sharing their seed with the squirrels.


Here we have a fuzzy but nonetheless endearing shot of a cardinal and a young squirrel (notice the short tail) sharing a meal under an arbor near the west window.


Here’s the real reason I spent 18 hours on the road this weekend. ‘Scuse the blurriness — the lighting was a bit dicey, so we had to slow the shutter waaaaaaaay down.


Love the newsboy hat — and the thoughtful expression.


Here’s Dezi, giving me the skunk eye to make sure I understand that I had better behave myself if I want to be permitted to play with his baby. Grace said Dezi will patrol the house, checking all the baby monitors to make sure Jamie is OK, and if he has to leave the room while Jamie is sleeping, he will bring his favorite stuffed dog toy, “Moocow,” into the nursery and leave it next to the crib. I’m not sure whether he’s trying to offer Jamie a companion or assigning Moocow to keep an eye on his baby while he’s out.


Every girl’s crazy ’bout a sharp-dressed man….

The next three pictures are part of the Magic of Willie collection. Jamie absolutely adores Willie Nelson’s Stardust album. He can be screaming his head off, but as soon as he realizes Grandpa has put Willie on the turntable, he calms down and begins conducting with his arms and doing a funny little cradle dance with his legs. It’s beyond cute.




You have no idea how proud I am of this child. Two months old, and already he’s got a healthy appreciation for Willie on vinyl. We’re going to see Willie in concert in a couple of weeks. If they make infant-sized concert T-shirts, I know a young fan who will be getting one.

Speaking of baby fashion, I would like to direct your attention to the hilarious onesie Jamie is wearing in the above photos. Also notice the little friend he is holding in the last two pictures. That’s “Bog,” a very soft blankie/stuffed animal hybrid who got his name from the fact that he has the ears of a bear and the face of a puppy. No one is sure what he is, so Geoff and Grace just call him Bog. (And no, Jamie doesn’t have jaundice. For some reason, every time I shut off the strobe and rely on ambient light from CFLs, the camera picks up a lot of yellow. I was too lazy to adjust the color in Photoshop this evening.)

Incidentally, there is a lot of love — and a lot of family history — in those three pictures. Jamie is lying in a cradle that his grandpa built for me before I was born, on top of a sheet his grandma made, under an afghan his Great-Aunt Jean crocheted for him for Christmas … which is exactly what you’d expect of a kid who’s part of the fourth generation to be born while a doting daddy used my great-grandma’s watch to time a young mother’s contractions.


This is my four-legged nephew Clyde, a miniature doxie, demonstrating his latest trick. Ashley has taught him to shake hands, roll over, and sit up and beg. Clyde is a ridiculous animal who seems to be every bit as smart and as ornery as Scout. Earthdogs are amazing creatures: smart, independent, tenacious, and way too clever for their own good.


Oliver cooked lunch for everybody on Sunday. I have no idea when, where, or why he acquired this skill, but he cooks better than I do … and he doesn’t cheat and stick to easy stuff like lasagna or stroganoff, either. On Sunday, he fixed fried chicken and real mashed potatoes, with homemade lemon ice cream and strawberry pie for dessert. (I think Ashley might have made the pie, but I’m not entirely sure. In any case, it was stellar.) I wish he and Ashley would move to Tulsa and open a restaurant. I’d eat there twice a day.

Hope your weekend was full of unbelievable cuteness and wonderful food.


The real reason

I hadn’t heard this song in a while. I’d forgotten how beautiful and how sad it is.

‘Scuse my tinfoil hat, but I find it not at all coincidental that corporate radio stopped playing “Travelin’ Soldier” as soon as the war started.

Natalie Maines might have given them an excuse, but I think it’s naive to pretend that this song’s sweet, heart-wrenching message — which evokes, without a trace of political bias, the actual human cost of war — didn’t factor strongly into the efforts to silence the band in the early days of the Iraq war.

Music is a powerful tool for effecting change. And the Chicks’ opponents know it.


Buy this CD.

My mom sent me a link to a newspaper article about one of the kids I used to babysit when I was in junior high. Jaimee Paul’s parents used to hire me to come over and hang out with Jaimee and her little sister, Kyle. (WARNING: Music starts automatically.)

They called it “babysitting,” but Jaimee is only a couple of years younger than I am, so I think I was really just there to serve as a neutral third party in case a dispute arose.

The first time I was there, one of the girls thought she heard a noise in a back bedroom. They proceeded to convince themselves that a burglar had sneaked in, so I had to go and check all the bedrooms and closets to make sure nobody was there. In retrospect, I have no idea what any of us thought I was going to do about it if somebody had come in. At the time, I might have weighed all of 85 pounds soaking wet, and I was still 15 years away from my first karate lesson … but since the doors had been locked all night and I hadn’t heard anything, I felt pretty safe in assuming (correctly, as it turned out) that the mysterious sound was just a figment of somebody’s overactive imagination.

In any case, Jaimee was very impressed that I was willing to risk tangling with an imaginary burglar on her behalf, and she decided that this act of bravery merited some combat pay. When her parents got home, she went to great lengths to tell her dad all about it at least three times, embellishing the story with each retelling, and emphasizing that this had been a really, really scary noise, and I had really risked my butt for her and Kyle.

Funny kid. Now she’s all grown up, with a fiance and a CD and a gig singing jazz in a Nashville nightclub and a lengthy resume that includes singing backup for Barry Manilow.

Go check out her Web site. And buy her album. She’s a great singer (OK, so I’m a little bit partial, but look: You can listen to sound samples on the Web site if you don’t believe me), and besides … she scored me a few extra bucks on a babysitting job one night in 1988, so I really ought to return the favor. 😉