Category Archives: A Pocket of Resistance

Good Day; Good Snippets From Living

My dear cousin, Margaret Faulkner, pointed out there is an error below. The Vandy boys swept Ole Miss in their SEC opening series, not Mississippi State who was being swept by Kentucky. Thanks, Margaret.

i have a bunch of stuff i promised myself to post on a regular basis that are woefully behind. i have a lot of tasks to carry out undone.

But after today, i am veering off as only i can veer. i am going to write what i feel like writing. i’m sure i won’t finish tonight. i don’t plug ahead like i used to pulling my all nighters, sleeping for a couple of hours, and starting all over again — oh, those incredible ship at sea days where such a routine was a norm and it seemed like Maslow’s level of self-actualization was the norm. So this is likely to be finished tomorrow…or later. i now have a proclivity for procrastination, which has proceeded to epic proportions since i’ve attained an older age, and, guess what, i don’t have to do things on time if i don’t want to. Hah. My excuse is this winter in the Southwest corner.

You see this has been one of the dreariest winters i can recall happening here — and i shamefully call it bad when it’s rained more than usual (but much less nasty than any place back east) and our highs have reached the low 60’s and a on a few days actually not reached that mark. But yesterday. Ah, yesterday.

It began with problems. Vanderbilt was playing Michigan in the National Invitational Tournament. San Diego State was playing Furman in the NCAA tournament, and Vanderbilt was playing last year’s College World Series champion, Mississippi State, in the opening of the SEC baseball season. All were at 9:00 a.m. PDT. To further complicate matters for the reemerging sports writer in me. The Padres, back to full strength and the usual adoring local press announcing they could win it all, were playing a Cactus League game at noon, and there were several other college basketball games.

And magic rolled into the day like a happy puppy. The new world of taping allowed me to watch them all. The Commodores took down the Wolverines, once again calling on the magic of Memorial Gymnasium to come from behind in the last minute. The Aztecs blew out Furman to advance to the “Sweet 16.” The Vandy Boys swept the Bulldogs in impressive fashion. And the Padres showed the potential by blowing past a big Brewer lead to win going away. i must confess a couple of friends gave away the Vandy Boys victory so i only watched the really good innings of that contest. It was a glorious day for the old sports writer.

It got better.

Southwest corner weather as i know it rolled in between the drear and we had a 67 degree, cloudless wonder day like what i like. Perfect. Even with my full dance card of athletics and my old sports writer frothing at the mouth, when Maureen suggested we go to La Mesa, to La Mesa we did go. We hit the old section, which is unique shopping and good eating. We spent a long time poring through the used book store, Maxwell’s House of Books, discovering old classics with the smell of books, real books without a kindle in sight, a delight. We checked out Re-Antimated Records, old LPs, CD’s, cassettes even, but no 45 RPMs. We investigated a local mattress store because our mattress is beginning to sag a bit. And we had an afternoon snack at the new Casa Gabriella restaurant, partaking of the Jalapeño-Cilantro Tempura Cauliflower along with a a tequila, mezcal thing with cilantro and other things (Maureen), and i, against my normal operating procedure had a tequila old fashioned, unusual but surprisingly good.

It was a spectacular day for us.

And somewhere in the middle of all this, i had snippets of good things past popping into my head:

The feel of my bat’s sweet spot cracking a fast ball and already knowing it would be for extra bases.

The pleasure of making an open field tackle, popping the runner in the midsection with my shoulder and carrying him backwards to the ground.

Letting go what is now a three-point shot from the corner and watching it sail through the goal without touching only the net, or better yet, driving through the lane against taller folks and rolling one off the backboard for a layup.

Finally figuring out i could ski better by pretending i was going to my right and reaching across to back hand a grounder at shortstop and then shifting to the left and picking up a grounder on my left side, and finding i could nail the double-blue diamond slopes with this maneuver.

Eating the homemade peach ice cream in the backyard on a late summer afternoon after grinding away on the old ice cream bucket wrapped with piles of dry ice and covered with blankets.

Kissing a girl for the first time at her door when we said good-night.

Driving up the switchbacks of California 74 from Palm Desert to the Paradise Valley Cafe, turning left through the farming land on the high mesa and then hitting the switchbacks again en route to Temicula on CA 79S.

Those snippets keep on coming, almost non-stop, but that’s enough for now. You see, i did take another day to finish this. It’s Sunday afternoon, and being Sunday afternoon, i must take a nap…oh, wait a minute, i say that every day.

A Short Happy Time in Academia, Part 2

This began about a month ago, the second of three posts on my time at Middle Tennessee. It is meant to point out professors who helped me along the way, and some high and low points of those times.

My first English course was with Dr. Ballew. It was the summer of ’64. The students were high school seniors getting a leg up on college, several students who had failed the course in the regular sessions and moi. Dr. Ballew introduced me to Carson McCullers and The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter. i was enthralled.

In my first spring semester, i took Southern Literature. Mr. Evins was the professor. He assigned us So Red the Rose by Stark Young. If there ever was the model for an antebellum novel about plantation life in the South, this was it.

One of my favorite professors was Mr. T.C. Porter. He taught Speech and Spanish. In his speech class, i had to present the opening introduction of Tennessee Williams’ “The Glass Menagerie,” as spoken by the main character, Tom Wingfield. i still think it was one of the finest presentations i ever did.

i was required to minor in a foreign language and chose Spanish. It required two years of courses. Mr. Porter did his best, and i essentially learned how to say, “Chile Relleno, por favor.” My Spanish has not greatly improved since then.

I was in a unique and in many ways a strange situation. i had to take general science even though i had taken eight hours of back-breaking, pre-med weed out chemistry and the equally difficult eight hours of physics at Vanderbilt in the civil engineering regimen. i didn’t flunk them, but all of my grades were “D” and did not transfer. It wasn’t bad in that the professor noted my knowledge level and made his lab assistant. This allowed me to help a number of good-looking coeds with their lab work.

And even though i had 16 hours of engineering calculus at Vandy, they too had been “D”s.” In May of my penultimate semester, i was looking forward to courses i had planned, especially Literature and Philosophy under Dr. Bill Holland — He is the subject of the third and last post in this series.

i didn’t foresee any problems. After all with all of the D’s that didn’t transfer from VU and what i had to take to fulfill the BA requirements, i would graduate with 196 semester hours.

But then when they reviewed my requirements for graduation, they discovered the lack of math since the calculus did not transfer. i quickly covered the problem by signing up for trigonometry, a course i had taken under Colonel Brown at Castle Heights and earned A’s.

i went to my first class at MTSU in June of ’67. The teacher was a high school teacher. The students were either high school seniors seeking a leg up on college and those who previously failed the course. The teacher, a nice lady, laid out the requirements to attend all of the classes and turn in the daily homework on time, without fail.

i had other things to do, like spend time with Dr. Holland. When the first two-week exam came in trig, i turned in two weeks of homework that day and aced the exam. When our grades were passed out, the teacher asked me to see her after class.

i went to her office and explained my situation. She nodded understanding but was adamant about attending class and turning in the homework. Somehow, the discussion turned toward other things. She revealed she was a Methodist. i showed honest admiration, told her my family was Methodist in Lebanon, how my great-grandfather had been a circuit rider and a bishop in the church, and how my brother was the president of the state Methodist Youth Fellowship.

i was cleared, didn’t attend class, turned in homework with the exams, aced all of them including the final, and received an “A.”

As noted, it was a unique situation. i was paying my own way, vowing not to cost my parents anymore money as they had dished out a lot for my Vanderbilt foray. i worked as a Nashville Banner county news and sports correspondent, at Jimmy Hankins men’s clothing store, and in the evenings as the FM disc jockey and on the weekends as an AM top forty disc jockey as well as the FM announcer.

It was one of the best two years of my life. And it was all worth it just to have experienced Dr. Peck and Dr. Holland.

To be concluded.

The Curmudgeon Admonition

i am earthy
i am raw
i am a man
who comes from working stock
i reek practical
get it done
knock off the nonsense
deal with reality
deal with it
get it done.

do not bother me
with your whines
about being called names
i have been called names as bad
dealt with it.

do not bother me
with having to work hard
in difficult circumstances
i have worked harder
in worse circumstances
dealt with it.

do not bother me
blaming history, people of the past
for today’s ills
you weren’t there
they were in a different world
where they dealt with it
never perfectly
just like us
i do not condone their imperfections
i do not judge
i wasn’t there
dealt with it.

do not bother me
with being offended by
what people say
what people read
what people worship
i have heard
what people say
what people read
what people worship
laugh about it
make jokes
you would find offensive
dealt with it

don’t bother me
deal with it.

Not Quite As Good a Night

i am sitting here contemplating yesterday’s events in basketball, college basketball.

My thoughts:

There is not a team in this world that will ever beat a good defensive team that shoots 70%. Ever. And the Aggies took a lot of shots that were not open but went in. They were the better team today. i think Sara Yahola, one of the more positive Vandy fans i know, best captured my thoughts when she wrote, “Vandy scared them coming back from 27 down to 12. They didn’t have time to get even, but they gave it a go.” They did, and i give them a lot of credit for that.

Now, i wait to see if they will be invited to the big dance. If they don’t get selected…Holy moly, the sports promoters have a show for the selection announcement. What a goofball idea. And folks are going to watch. Not me. i will see the filled in brackets for the ridiculous number of teams when i read about it later, and yes, i will fill out a bracket…and i won’t watch the Oscars today, especially since the only movies i saw last year were some old ones on television and “Elvis.” My wife, a movie aficionado along with our two daughters, will attend an Oscar watching party at a friend’s home. i plan to pull out a set of 10 DVDs and watch as many as i can until Maureen gets home. The set? 44 movies claiming to be the “Best Westerns.” Nearly all of my early heroes will be on what was once a silver screen. i mean, how can you miss “King of the Cowboys,” “The Fighting Westerner,” “Springtime in the Rockies,” “The Outlaw,” and even “One-Eyed Jacks” and “The Over the Hill Gang.”

i will not be upset if Vanderbilt is not one of those 68 teams selected to the NCAA tourney. The process is subjective no matter how they crunch the numbers. It’s an opinion. Period. If not, i will watch more of the NIT, begun in 1938, one year before the NCCA tourney and the premier post season play for years. i am okay with that.

Regardless of which of the two tournaments, the Commodores are playing, i will watch. i am proud, proud of them for taking me former Commodore fans a half-century ago back, apparently along with and a whole bunch of current students, into “Memorial Magic.”

Thank you, Jerry Stackhouse, for making my ‘Dores competitive at the highest level once again. And along with Vice-Chancellor Candice Lee, it means so much more that you are doing it the right way, the Vandy way (as David Williams was so fond of saying).

Later yesterday afternoon, i watched the Aztecs squeeze out a win over Utah State to claim the Mountain West Championship. Unlike Vandy, SDSU is automatically in the big show. Utah State, with one of the highest percentages for field goals in the regular season shot 10% lower in the finals. Both these Aggies and the Commodores had tough games, the last ones played the previous evenings. After playing a demanding four consecutive days. i wonder if the teams that played earlier the previous day (A&M and the Aztecs) have a significant advantage with time to rebound from the previous day, a problem by having too many games. My usual curmudgeon whining applies.

It has been a fun run and hopefully will remain so for another week or so.

It’s time for baseball.

Pretty Good Night

Despite rain up the gump stump added to more rain up the gump stump to be followed by more rain up the gump stump next week in the Southwest corner (mild compared to the deluges north of us), i was feeling pretty good when i went to bed last night.

Here are some thoughts as to why:

One…and far away the top number one reason for my feeling good, Vanderbilt beat Kentucky. Better yet, Vanderbilt quieted Kentucky fanatics with fanatics of their own. i’m sure the Wildcat fans feel the opposite, but the Commodores handled the Cats’ massive center, Oscar Tshiebwe, in spite of some very favorable calls in his favor when, it appeared to me, he was the culprit not the victim. As my really good friend who i don’t see enough, Bob Davis, noted, the television talking heads were fawning over the fabled Kentucky, but had flipped mightily by the end of the game.

Certainly i hope the Commodores take down the Aggies, my second allegiance to SEC teams, and if so, i am terribly pessimistic about their chances against Alabama. But i’ve been pretty much pessimistic until the final buzzer of almost every game so far this season.

It was good, very good. And when it was over, my dominant thought was i wish my parents and Mike Dixon were here to have seen it. Perhaps they were,

Two, the San Diego State Aztecs easily handled the San Jose State Spartans to reach the finals of the Mountain West conference today. For me, the comparison between the two games was intriguing. San Diego State is the deepest talented college basketball team i’ve ever watched. But they are terribly sporadic.The Mountain West is very competitive. It’s a very different game, again to me, than the SEC game. i think the competitiveness, the intensity in the SEC is greater, and i would give the edge to Vandy in a head-to-head matchup. It will be fun to watch the different conferences with their different ways of playing the game, especially the big boys, go at it in the tournament.

i am rolling. i am in a good place. Sports and sports writing are good for me. And folks, i cut my teeth in sports reporting under Fred Russell at The Nashville Banner when Vanderbilt had many of my friends Clyde Lee, Snake Grace, John Ed Miller, Keith Thomas, Kenny Gibbs, and Jerry Southwood, and goodness let’s not forget Roger Schurig, on the team. The vibes, even though it is a much, much different game today, were similar to the vibes of the current Commodores.

Go ‘Dores.