Tag Archive: Stephen F. Austin State University

??????????Thinking while driving is something of which I am excessively guilty. But it is completely legal. In fact, I wish more drivers were guilty of that. Unfortunately, they insist on doing everything they can to avoid actually paying attention to the road and the vehicles around them. Not to mention the drivers who consider traffic signs, such as “left lane for passing only,” mere suggestions and therefore they do not apply to them.

I drove to Nacogdoches last week to pick up our youngest son, J.D., from SFA. On the drive out there, I recalled a trip I made to Nashville in the late 70’s. Joel Nichols and I had just begun playing music together. Joel was going to school in Nashville and I moved out there while he finished his last year and we played music. I had to drive out to SFA and back on the same day. It wore me down. I remembered that Joel and I did not think anything about driving back and forth from Nashville – even though it’s a twelve hour drive.

The first time we drove to Nashville – Joel to return and I to move – I was following Joel in my Comet. My tailpipe had come loose and Joel rigged it with a piece of wire if I remember correctly. It was not too long into the drive before the tailpipe fell loose. Fortunately, the wire kept it from falling off completely.

I would signal Joel and pull over to the side of the road. He would pull over behind me. Then he would grab a towel he had in his car, run up, lay down under my car, shove the pipe back in and tighten the wire. I waited for Joel to get back in his car before we hit the road again.

I would be listening to my 8-track player and cruising right along. Eventually, the tailpipe would come loose again. I would turn the volume up as loud as I could. I would speed up, then slow down so I could hear the radio. When I could not stand the sound anymore, I would signal Joel. Then we would go through the process all over again.

At one point in the journey, we pulled over again as was becoming frequent. When Joel walked up to my car, he was grinning. I asked him what was funny. Joel had been listening to the CB radio in his car. I was driving the truck drivers crazy, speeding up and slowing down. I didn’t think it was so funny at the time. As far as I was concerned, I was doing what I had to do to hear the music.

We went through the process numerous times, but finally made it to Nashville. The reason we didn’t think anything about driving back and forth long distances was because we were young enough to not have anything to worry about but getting to where we were going. I was still concerned about getting where I was going when I was picking J.D. up, but I wasn’t nearly as relaxed as I was driving to Nashville that day. I enjoyed the solitary confinement in the car because it gave me time to think, but it also gave me time to think about problems and worry.

What is the point, you ask, besides just the story? And that is a legitimate question. I was wondering myself for a while. But I think I have the answer. Driving back and forth from Nacogdoches, I was thinking about what I could be doing and what I had to do. When I was driving back and forth from Nashville -as I said earlier – all I had to worry about was getting there and wondering what would happen when I got there.

Sometimes I wish the times could be like they were when Joel and I drove to Nashville. Then I wonder if anything has really changed. Then I think about what has changed. Then I think I might not really wish that at all. Then I get to where I’m going.

Peace be you.

Mark-Twain-Tonight-006-240x300 Cyndy and I had tickets to see Hal Holbrook’s “Mark Twain Tonight” performance at Bass Hall in Fort Worth last night. Unfortunately, we had to miss J.D.’s last game in the Fall baseball tournament at the Ballfields at Craig Ranch in McKinney. He plays on the Stephen F. Austin State University Baseball Club Team. They won the game Friday afternoon, but lost the two games Saturday, so they did not advance. But, with the exception of the game they won, the scores had only a one or two run differential. I was able to see the Friday game. Cyndy, Cameron, and I went to the 2 p.m. game yesterday in which he played more than in the other two games.

The game went a little past the time it was “supposed” to end, so Cyndy and I did not have time to eat before getting to Fort Worth. We parked in the free (on weekends and for Bass Hall events during the week) parking garage next door. This was the first time we have been to Bass Hall. We went to see Brewer and Shipley in a smaller building run by Bass Hall. Which was why I received the email from them during the summer offering a pre-sale ticket price to see Hal Holbrook at something like half-price. With that deal, I figured, what the hell, “go for the gusto,” and I got seats in the orchestra pit. I knew we were close to the stage, but having never been there, I did not know how close.

I showed the woman at the door our tickets so she could scan them. We had a little time so we just wandered around. We came upon a bar and got a couple of beers. A lady came up to us and asked if we wanted to order and pay for our drinks for intermission then and have them waiting at intermission, bypassing the lines. Well, yeah!

When we finished our beers, it was about time to head on into the hall. I asked an usher in the hallway where our tickets were.

“Oh, you’re in the second row. Right down this way.”

We walked to an entrance of the hall and asked if we were in the right place.

“Yes, you’re on the second row. You’re on the other side and you might want to go through the seats where no one is sitting yet to get across.”

Which is what we did. We got to the other side and found that our seats were indeed in the second row. At which time I took a picture of the stage ( since pictures were forbidden during the performance). I posted to Facebook saying I was waiting for the show to start from the second row.

Before the show began, an usher walked up and asked if she could see my tickets. I said “sure” and showed them to her. Then I turned them right side up so she could actually read them.

“You’re in the wrong seats. You’re up here.”

We were in row BBB, seats one and two. According to the seats across the aisle, we were on the right row. But our section was lacking row AAA. Our seats were on the front row! Granted it was only a row difference, but I didn’t know we were that close anyway, and how often do you get to say you were on the front row? And that was not the best part!

We have seen Hal Holbrook’s performance on television and I have wanted to see the show for years. As a writer, humorist, and songwriter myself, he and Mark Twain were two of my mentors, so to speak. Although to be honest, I don’t think either one of them ever wrote a song, but you get my point. Hal Holbrook is also a terrific actor – I like every role I have seen him play (maybe not the character he played, but the way he acted the part).

He did not disappoint us, even though we were not expecting him to. Holbrook’s performance was precisely as good as I was expecting. Being on the front row really, really helped. There were only a very few times when we could not understand a word or two – which was another bonus. I do not know about the people in the back of the hall.

This is the actor’s 60th year doing Mark Twain. I am here to tell you that he puts as much into his performance and loves being Mark Twain as much as he has since he conceived of the idea in 1954. At 89 years old this year, he added three new “numbers,” adding another hour to the repertoire of material. It said in the program that Holbrook will not tell a venue what numbers he will do because he does not want to be limited. He often decides what is next during the performance.

Holbrook made eye contact with us – and others on the front few rows. I have been told that I am a good audience. As a performer myself, I try to watch everyone I see perform as I would want them to watch me. I rarely look away and I look intently – did I say I was a writer?

Cyndy and I popped up when they turned the lights on for intermission. We went to the east side of the building and, sure enough, our beers were waiting for us. The second half of the show was as excellent as the first. When he came out during the applause, he made eye contact with us again. Which I must say was not only thrilling, but the perfect end to a fine performance and a pleasant, intimate evening. And we finally got to eat when we got home.

Peace be with you.

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