First Time Nutcracker


My wife and I went to the Nashville Ballet’s version of The Nutcracker yesterday.

It was the first time I have seen it and I thought it was pretty awesome.  The costumes and sets were amazing.  It truly felt like Christmas.

Yes, I watched it.  No, I didn’t fall asleep.

If you’ve never been, let me just tell you this.  There aren’t any words or songs.  Dancers act it out with the music.  It’s very different and you need to have your mind ready for it.   

I was ready.  I watched a movie without words.  

The first act was much more interesting to me than the second act.  The second act was more dancing than anything else.  Yes, it is still a ballet show.  

It was a Christmas performance and I was able to escape the world for a couple of hours into a Christmas place.

For many families, it is a tradition to see The Nutcracker every year.  There were a lot of families at this one as well.

The hardest part about watching The Nutcracker was tuning out the people around me.  It is amazing how people can’t seem to sit still during these types of shows.  They also say you can’t bring your own food into the auditorium but people do it anyway.  

Ring pops?  Seriously?

Here are some tips for enjoying The Nutcracker from a first-timer:

  1. Get there early.   You won’t believe how many people go to this.  
  2. Go to the bathroom before you sit down.  There is an intermission but it isn’t enough time to go.
  3. Bring a bottle of water.  I needed it during the second act.
  4. Turn off the smartphone.  Disconnect from the world for a couple of hours.
  5. Watch everything that goes on in the performance.  You really have to pay attention since there are no words.
  6. Tune out the people around you.  People will be buttheads.  You just have to tune them out.
  7. Google the story AFTER you’ve seen it to see if you interpreted the performance correctly.

Whether it is your family tradition or if it is your first experience, it is definitely a worthwhile event to have on your holiday to-do list and one that will put you in the holiday mood.  

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Ugh…It’s Christmas

Don’t think me the Scrooge or Grinch but there are some things about Christmas that I really don’t like.  

I love the season, the lights and the Christmas movies.  I also love being with the people I love.  

The part I don’t like is the impatience of others.   We hear about Christmas cheer but I don’t see much of it out there.  Many forget the cheer or the patience.  The fact is – you are going to wait or be in crowds wherever you go.  

The first dose I got of the season was when we went to see the lights in Opryland Gardens.  It was supposed to be one of those classic Christmas experiences with the family.  It wasn’t.   Sadly the sheer volume of people ruined the expectations.  Instead of Christmas aaahs it was about dodging people and the challenge to avoid being trampled.  

Everybody wants their Christmas experience first.  Ahead of you.  Before you.  Honk their horns and flip you off with Christmas cheer.  

Yep, that’s the ugh part of Christmas.  

And what about the anxiety of finding that “wow” gift for someone?  

Yes, I’m guilty of it too.  I’m on a mission to find the right gift for my wife.  I know she won’t mind at all what I get her but I like to do it anyway.  So I go in the stores to search but I really try to courteous of other shoppers but the irritating part is some others who shop like they are the only ones in the store.  

I had to fuss at one yesterday because they were walking right into me instead of going around me.  Come on.  I’m not invisible here!  We are all in this together. 

We’ve all heard of the hustle and bustle this time of year but I’m really wishing for some less hustle and little bustle.  Slow it down and keep calm.  

The good thing about this time is a break in the routine at work.  Having time off and actually being able to spend more time with the people we work the job for.  

That part takes some of the ugh out of Christmas.  

Spikeball Tournament Coming To Nashville in June 2017

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The governing sport of Spikeball has announced tournament locations and dates for 2017 and Nashville has been designated a date on the tour on June 3, 2017.   The nationals were played in Nashville in 2015.

You didn’t know that?

Me either.

So what is spikeball?

Spikeball is a modified version of 2 on 2 volleyball created in 1989.  Players line up next to each other around a Spikeball net, with the opposing teams lined up directly across from each other.  The object of the game is to hit the ball against the net so that the other team is not able to return it or return it to hit the Spikeball net.  Play continues until the ball is not returned properly.  The game is a combination of volleyball, table tennis and trampoline.

USA Spikeball is the governing body for organizing tournaments, recording scores and rankings.  Teams earn a certain number of points based upon their performance at each tournament and the tournament size.  There are four regions (East, Southeast, Midwest and West) with four stops on the tour and the regional tournament.  The national tournament is hosted in October.

The Chico Spikes from Chico, California are currently the top-ranked team in the USA Spikeball Power Rankings.

Go to  Spikeball.com or usaspikeball.com for more information.

 

 

 

Driving 101: The Best Rule Of All

For the past several weeks, I have been written about various driving rules and laws that many people ignore.  I am not one that will say I am perfect in my driving habits.  I get impatient like everyone else and I will take shortcuts and get angry with other drivers.  While living in Nashville, I have found that most people out there basically will do whatever they want to do.  Forget the rules.  Ignore the fact that Nashville is supposed to be the “friendliest city in the United States” which I wonder if the ones who ranked it had to drive in the traffic.

Having been stuck in traffic, frustrated by those who disregard the right-of-way rules and impatience of others who do whatever they want, I can tell you that the best rule of all that should be followed can be summed up in this:

DO WHAT YOU ARE SUPPOSED TO DO

Simple.  The lines and signs are put on the roads for a reason.  Instruments are on our vehicles for a purpose in traveling on the public roadways.

  • Do what you are supposed to do…..USE YOUR TURN SIGNAL.
  • Do what you are supposed to do…..YIELD TO TRAFFIC WHEN YOU HAVE A YIELD SIGN.
  • Do what you are supposed to do…..TAKE YOUR TURN AT THE 4-WAY STOP.
  • Do what you are supposed to do…..YIELD TO PEDESTRIANS.
  • Do what you are supposed to do….PULL OVER AND STOP FOR EMERGENCY VEHICLES.
  • Do what you are supposed to do….STOP WHEN YOU HAVE THE RED LIGHT.
  • Do what you are supposed to do….SLOW DOWN WHEN IT IS RAINING.

I am sure there are others you can add to this list but these are the most common things I see everyday driving in and around the Music City.  I have lived in three cities over the past ten years and each one had their own issues.   In Macon, Georgia, drivers were notorious for tailgating,  in Tampa, Florida, they were impatient and in Nashville, they do whatever they want to do.    I guess it’s that country/renegade/rebel mentality.

I don’t know what’s happening with the “25-year plan” we heard about to improve traffic in Nashville but the fact is that Nashville is growing rapidly and the currently infrastructure for traffic is going to be a growing problem.   Instead of golf carts scampering around town or other non-standard forms of transportation, the city really needs a good plan for moving around the city.  There are too many cars and not enough space for them all.

In the meantime, drivers need to just simply do what they are supposed to do.

 

 

 

 

Seattle (Penalty) Kicks Their Way To The Title


The Seattle Sounders of Major League Soccer (MLS) captured their first MLS Cup title Saturday with a grueling win over Toronto FC in Toronto.  After Justin Morrow’s penalty kick attempt hit the underside of the crossbar on Toronto’s sixth attempt, Seattle’s Roman Torres booted the cup winner past Toronto goalkeeper Clint Irwin.

Seattle won the title in spite of only registering three shots on goal in the game and in extra-time.  Seattle goalkeeper Stefan Frei came back to haunt his former team.  Frei kept the Sounders with a tremendous save in extra time on Toronto’s best shot.

The championship game was the latest ever in MLS history.  The cold weather in Toronto did not deter a record capacity crowd of 36,045 at BMO Field although most went home disappointed in the outcome.

The Sounders were near the bottom of the league standings in mid-July but rallied to become the 11th team in league history to win the cup.  Seattle defeated Sporting Kansas City, FC Dallas and Colorado in the playoffs to get to the MLS cup.  They entered the league in 2009 as the third Sounders team to play professional soccer in Seattle.    

MY OPINION ABOUT PENALTY KICKS

I will admit that I am not an avid soccer fan.  I watch it occasionally but I tuned in for the end of this game since it was the championship game.  I watched both teams battle through an exhausting and physical overtime period.  Then I watched it go to penalty kicks which created another level of drama but I felt like it cheapened it some.  I have never liked games going to this method of determining a winner.  I thought about it and came up with a few suggestions to settle ties:

  • Replace penalty kicks with corner kicks.  Teams would get alternating corner kicks until a goal is scored.  After a corner kick, the ball would be in play until the defending team could clear the ball out of the box.  This would still engage the entire team instead of a one-on-one contest with the goalkeeper.
  • If the game is still tied after extra-time, the team with the most shots on goal in the overtime period would be the winner.  This would encourage shots being taken.
  • Even go back to the old North American Soccer League (NASL) shootout.  This method was a much better competition between shooter and goalkeeper.  The offensive player gets the ball at the 35 yard line and five seconds to score.  The goalkeeper does not have to remain on his goal line but can come out to challenge the offensive player.

Georgia High School Football Review: State Champions Crowned

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The last Georgia High School Association (GHSA) state championship games were played in the Georgia Dome over the weekend.  Two teams repeated as state champions (Cartersville and Eagle’s Landing Christian Academy) and two teams (Rome and Cedar Grove) won their first title in school history.

Here is a recap of what happened:

Class 7A – Grayson 23, Roswell 20 (ot)

Roswell led until 1:04 left  when Grayson quarterback Chase Brice connected with Jaquavius Lane for a 35-yard touchdown pass.  They made a two-point conversion to take a 20-13 lead.  Roswell drove down the field and with five seconds left, Malik Willis hit Kentrell Barber on a 20-yard pass and the extra point sent the game into overtime.  On Grayson’s first possession of the overtime, they scored on a 25-yard field goal by Will VanPamelen.  Roswell was unable to answer the Grayson score as they missed on a field goal attempt giving Grayson the first Class 7A title and their second overall.

Class 6A -Valdosta 17, Tucker 7

It was back-to-the-future as the Valdosta Wildcats finally won their first state title since 1998 as the Wildcats built a 17-0 lead at halftime and held on to beat Tucker.  The Wildcats’ defense frustrated Tucker’s comeback attempt.  After Tucker scored with 2:30 left in the third quarter, the Tigers could not get in the end zone the rest of the way.  The win for Valdosta is their 25th title in school history.

Class 5A – Rome 16, Buford 7

In the “battle of wolves” as we heard all game long from the announcers, Rome overcame an early 7-0 deficit just minutes into the game when Buford’s Anthony Grant returned the opening kickoff 95 yards which set up a 1-yard touchdown run by T.D. Roof.  After that score, the Rome defense took over to hold Buford scoreless the rest of the game.  Knox Kadum scored on a 28-yard run in the third quarter to give Rome their first lead in the game.  The win give Rome their first state title in school history.

Class 4A -Cartersville 58, Thomson 7

Carterville’s Trey Creamer scored to first quarter touchdowns along with a 20-yard touchdown pass from Trevor Lawrence to open the second quarter as the Purple Hurricanes cruised to a convincing win.   Cartersville repeated as state champions and back-to-back 15-0 seasons.

Class 3A – Cedar Grove 30, Greater Atlanta Christian 19

The tone for this game was set early when Greater Atlanta Christian quarterback Davis Mills was taken out from a forearm of a Cedar Grove defender on the first drive of the game.  Surprisingly there was no penalty or ejection for the hit.  Mills never returned.  Cedar Grove took a 23-3 lead before the end of the half but GAC stormed back in the fourth to close the lead to 23-19 on a 32-yard field goal by Sean Henderson.  Cedar Grove delivered the final blow scored on a 17-yard touchdown pass from Jelani Woods to Dennis Bell with 2:16 left for their first state title.

Class 2A – Benedictine 49, Fitzgerald 26

Fitzgerald scored first on a 36-yard touchdown run by J.D. King to take the early lead but Benedictine scored the next 35 points to take a 35-6 lead in the second quarter.  The Purple Hurricanes mounted a comeback in the third quarter as they closed the gap to 35-26, but the Cadets answered with a 7-yard run by Tyleek Collins then the defense closed it out with a 43-yard interception return for a score with 1:36 left.

Class 1A (Public) – Macon County 35, McIntosh County Academy 0

Macon County outgained McIntosh County Academy 346-159 in total yardage and forced four fumbles in the game.  A 21-point fourth quarter put the game away as Macon County quarterback K’Hari Lane had four touchdown passes in the game which broke Huston Mason’s record of 54 touchdown passes in a season.

Class 1A (Private) – Eagle’s Landing Christian Academy 34, Fellowship Christian 24 (ot)

Josh Mays scored on a 1-yard run to give ELCA the lead in overtime.  On fourth down, Fellowship Christian’s Jack Hardin was forced out of the pocket and unable to complete the pass which gave the Chargers their second consecutive state title.  Fellowship Christian had taken the lead when Merrick Haigler scored with 2:08 left but the Chargers drove down the field and set up Alex Usry with a 34-yard field goal with six second left to send the game into overtime.

 

 

Friday Flashback: Georgia Dome hosting State Championships (2008)

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This weekend is the last time Georgia high school football state championships will be played in the Georgia Dome.  The dome has hosted the championship games in all classifications since 2008.  Prior to that season, semifinal games were played in the dome and championship games were played at the host school.

Personally I have never been a fan of playing the championship games in the dome.  I have always felt that the games lost a little of their magic taking it away from the communities that have supported their teams the entire season.  The only state championship game I attended at the Georgia Dome was when Clinch County defeated Savannah Christian in 2010.

In the first title games played in the dome in 2008, the results were:

  • Wesleyan 33, Emanuel County Institute 21
  • Buford 45, Calhoun 21
  • Cairo 28, Flowery Branch 14
  • Tucker 15, Marist 3
  • Camden County 21, Peachtree Ridge 14

There were five classifications in 2008.  Today there are eight with a new classification (7A) added this season.

Like the 2008 games, both Buford and Tucker are playing for state titles this season.   Grayson coach Jeff Herron was the coach for Camden County in 2008.

The games may move to the new Mercedes Benz Stadium next season but no plans have been finalized.  If the Georgia High School Association (GHSA) is intent on playing the championship games at a centrally-located, neutral site, they should consider Mercer University’s football stadium in Macon, Georgia.

When the final game has been played and the lights go out in the Georgia Dome, eight state champions will be crowned and in the end it will not matter where they played the game.