Saturday, February 27, 2010

Get Into The Groove

I have now been accused of having a mid-life crisis. Why? Because two weekends in a row, my bride and I found ourselves "out on the town," in actual night clubs where dancing broke out.
The truth is, we are on a secret mission with regard to one particular band, but since it's a secret that story will wait for another day.
Despite the pseudo-businesslike nature of our excursions, we actually had fun. Last night, we stumbled into an "80's night" party and it was a kick in the pants. Considering we met, fell in love and got married in the 80's,the music and the evening were evocative of a wonderful time in our lives. For a few minutes, I could close my eyes and be 25 years old again (When I suppose I avoided a quarter-life crisis).
And yes, for the second time in six days, we danced in public. Truly, we don't get out much and we are certainly not into the club scene. So, we were a little surprised at the number of people we actually knew at the one venue we visited. A few of these folks were actual friends who know well our fuddy-duddy natures. I have to be honest, I've enjoyed seeing surprise register on the faces of those people who have never seen us on a dance floor. On both occasions, people starting snapping photos with their iPhones and we were sent multimedia messages with the images and captions like "Gotcha!"
I'm glad we were so entertaining. We had a good time and we might just do something like this again soon. It IS mid-life. If you don't live it now, the chance will be gone forever. I suppose the theme for this newfound philosophy of "getting out there" can be summed up by one of the songs the band played on 80's night: "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough."

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Sunday, February 21, 2010

Dancin' Fool

A couple of decades ago, I went to a party where everyone except me was drinking. I watched people dance. Then, I declared to my wife, "If I look anything like that when I'm drinking and dancing, I'm not dancing any more." I've pretty much stuck to that, except for the obilgatory slow dance at a wedding or other such event.
Last night, we got all dressed up and went to an awards ceremony at a downtown venue. A project I led last year was nominated and we had an inkling it might do well. So, being cool and all, we went diva on everybody.
With the possible exception of the moment my name was mentioned in conjunction with the project actually winning(!), the event was, shall we say, slow-paced.
So, I took to drinking rum and Coke.
Our group found a way to extricate itself from the proceedings with reasonable discretion, then made a decision to go find some live music. As it happened, someone we know who fronts a band was performing nearby. So, emboldened by my friend Captain Morgan, off we went.
Our friend the singer is very persuasive. From her spotlight, she demanded time and again that we dance. And so we did. I fast-danced to a Prince song. This was unheard of, a monumental event. There are photos, but I refuse to share them. Instead, there is a grainy cell phone photo of my wife putting me in a death grip during a slow dance. It was like she couldn't believe what she was seeing: me, dancing with her in public. She wanted to hang onto the moment with everything she had! And she should, because it might be a couple more decades before something like this happens again.
Or, who knows? It could happen again Friday night. You only live once. I guess you can dance.

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Monday, February 15, 2010

It Was Twenty Years Ago Today

My son is twenty years old today. Let that sink in a moment.
He was a gorgeous kid with bright blue eyes and fine blonde hair. He struggled as a baby, hospitalized nine times before he was two years old. He had dibilitating asthma that at times required round-the-clock breathing treatments. There was at least one moment when I feared for his life.
He persevered and now we can legitimately say he's a man. My father pronounced him so on this occasion, saying "I wondered for a lot of years if I would live to see him as a man. I guess I made it."
Twenty. It seems so much different from nineteen. We watch him mostly from afar these days. He will come around when he needs groceries, but he lives his own life. Work and school, plus his long-time love interest, eat up his time.
To celebrate this day, he joined his immediate family for dinner at his favorite restaurant. His mother and I were there, along with his sister, my father and my wife's mother. He read his cards, opened his gifts, had his dinner and thanked everyone. Then, he politely moved on. He was having people over to his place, a little low-key birthday party. That's the way he likes it, I guess.
So, Happy Birthday, My Man. Come see us if you need something.

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Friday, February 12, 2010

Sneaux Day!

It Snowed! My Daughter, like so many others, was a little kid again for most of the morning.In other parts of the country, this kind of snowfall is a non-event, but here: it's the kind of thing you get up early to see and celebrate, because it only happens about once a decade.
This was such a treat and people were cramming in slow-related activities as best they could. Time and again, I heard of the "Holy Trinity" of rare snowfall: Snowball fights, snow angles and snowmen.
As snowfalls go, this one was almost perfect. Most of it fell overnight, limiting disruption and accidents on the roads, while allowing us to wake up to a winter wonderland. Flurries continued throughout the morning before giving way to the occasional break in the clouds.
By mid-day, temperatures were well above freezing, which meant that most of the fluffy blanket melted away. While schools were closed, roads were mostly passable. So, this was a pleasant event for almost everyone.
Certainly, there are exceptions. The Best Dog Ever needed her nose for news to relentlessly search for the morning paper. She had to dig it out of the snow. She didn't appear to like it very much, but she accomplished her mission.
An invigorating snow day is good for the spirits every once in a while. There was excitement around town as people swapped their snow stories.
There was no school today, even at the university level. Most young people didn't hang around the house. Friends gathered and turned the weather into an all-morning party. Maybe it won't be another ten years before something like this happens again. It's uplifting, just for a little while, to just go outside and play! Couldn't we all use a few more days like that?

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Monday, February 08, 2010

Dat Sky Was Friendly Today

(Somewhere up in the air) - A 767 filled with Saints fans the day after their beloved team won the Super Bowl is a happy place. The faithful were wearing their black and gold gear, sporting smiles as wide as Lake Pontchartrain and still carrying signs.All corners of the state were represented. In addition to my seatmates from Monroe, I spoke to folks from Lafayette, Lake Charles, Shreveport, Hammond, Houma, Ruston and Pickering. Certainly the City of New Orleans filled its share of seats. Saints cornerback Malcolm Jenkins was in first class, happily signing autographs. New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin was leading "Who Dat?" cheers in coach. It was a party in the sky!
Despite all this star power, God help me, for a few moments I became the center of attention.You see, I am still suffering the emotional scars of having my roll-aboard taken from me and lost by the airline on the trip to Miami. This time, I made sure to board as early as I was allowed and stashed my precious bag into one of the overhead bins. People came along after me and put their things in there,too. After everyone was seated, I noticed the flight attendant couldn't close the door to the compartment. My bag was the obstruction. She said, "We will need to check this. It won't fit." I said, "Hold on a minute. This is the bag I always travel with. Trust me. It fits." She said, "Give it a try. I'll give you a couple of minutes."
I started shoving the bag back into the bin, then a wheel would pop out or a handle would snag. After a couple of minutes of wriggling it around, I snapped the door shut and it latched! To my shock and amazement, the people around me on the plane broke into a round of applause. They're ready to celebrate anything, it seems.
I turned and saw smiling eyes staring at me. Literally everyone in my view was wearing some kind of Saints paraphernalia. So, as the clapping subsided, I just raised my arms and said, "Who Dat?" In unison, they shouted back, "Who Dat!"
Caught up in the moment, I responded "Who Dat say dat bag won't fit?"
I got my laugh and took my seat.
I had hoped to bury myself in my book for a quiet trip home, but it was not to be. I was surrounded by chatter about the game. People are living it over and over again, and who can blame them? It's like they have to ask themselves time and again if their lifelong dreams of a Super Bowl championship have really come true.
True Dat, Who Dat.

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Sunday, February 07, 2010

True Believers Rewarded. Saints Win!

(Miami) – For all the Saints who on this earth do dwell, there is unbridled joy. Nothing this side of The Rapture itself could elicit such euphoria. The New Orleans Saints are Super Bowl champions.
The team, in existence since 1967, rewarded its long-suffering fans with redemption and reward. Grown men wept with joy following the Saints’ tremendous come-from-behind 31-17 victory over the Indianapolis Colts.
What a transcendent event for New Orleans. Less than five years ago, the city itself was left for dead following Hurricane Katrina’s devastating landfall and the resulting floods. Now, instead of rancid water clogging the city’s consciousness, there is the freshness of life anew. The Saints are champions and they are carrying a region on their shoulders.
Cornerback Tracy Porter, who sealed the victory with a 74-yard 4th quarter interception for a touchdown, was reduced to understatement, saying simply “Words can’t describe what this means for New Orleans. I am a Louisiana native, and this is real big.”
Louisiana football fans have kept the faith for more than forty years, wandering in an emotional wasteland, hoping for someone to lead them to this Promised Land. Head Coach Sean Payton and quarterback Drew Brees were up to the challenge, never losing faith in their abilities or the determination of those who supported them along the way.
Since September, Saints’ faithful have discussed “destiny” in a way only true believers can. If any fan base ever deserved a championship, it’s this one. Louisiana, so often derided for corruption in politics and socioeconomic shortcomings, is the home of the best football team in America, the Super Bowl Champions.
Professions of faith are coming from unlikely sources, like Saints tight end Jeremy Shockey, who said he had been praying “all day and all night” for this outcome.
The true impact of all this will not be realized for some time, but Louisianans have to believe. The Saints, an enduring symbol of futility for more than four decades, have emerged from the muck of mediocrity. Louisiana can do more than persevere, it can excel. If the Saints can do it, anyone can. Yes, a football team can inspire greatness, particularly this one. So much of New Orleans’ identity has been tied to the Saints: The “Who Dat?” cheer emerged from the unique accent that makes so many Crescent City natives instantly identifiable. During those losing seasons, all those losing seasons, fans mockingly hid their identities by covering their heads with paper bags. A city that is famous for its ability to host a party while turning a blind eye to rampant debauchery, in the view of some, was appropriately represented by a perennial loser.
Now, deliverance is at hand. The Saints are redefined. The jubilation in the streets, businesses and homes all across the region is just beginning to resonate. Faith, belief, joy; Success, happiness, hope: all ideals modeled for us by saints throughout history. Finally, maybe the football team in New Orleans is appropriately named.
Now, resplendent in victory, the Saints rightfully claim a title, one that our state hasn’t earned until now: Champions.
Photo credits: US Presswire/Jeff Hanisch,Getty Images/Jed Jacobsohn, Associated Press/ Chuck Burton and Mark J. Terrell, and of course, Darrell Rebouche:

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The Super Bowl is Here

(Miami) - Game on.
The Saints won the toss. Ran three plays and punted. Drew Brees overthrew a wide open receiver. The Colts got a field goal with their first possession.
The Colts fans are in full voice as Peyton Manning leads the team to scores on its first two possessions. The touchdown resulted from the longest drive in Super Bowl history: 96 yards on eleven plays. 10-0 Indianapolis at the end of the first quarter.
The Saints kept the ball out of Manning's hands with a long, time-consuming drive. They were stopped at the goal line on fourth down, forced the Colts to punt and got another field goal on the last play of the half. 10-6 going to the locker rooms.
Halftime: The Who!
I've now seen U2, Paul McCartney and The Who at Super Bowls. This is indescribable. I knew every word to every song.
Colts get the ball to start the second half...
No they don't! The Saints pulled off a successful on-side kick and marched down the field for their first-ever Super Bowl touchdown. The honor goes to running back Pierre Thomas. Saints got the ball, the momentum and the lead, 13-10.
Of course this meant the Saints had to actually kick the ball to the Colts. Peyton Manning marched his team right down the field and answered with a touchdown, regaining the lead, 17-13. They scored right in front of the largest collection of their fans in the stadium. For the first time possibly ever, the people in blue are louder than those in black and gold...
The Saints responded with another field goal and the third quarter ended with the Colts leading, 17-16.
The Saints marched 51 yards in nine plays followed a missed Colts field goal attempt. Drew Brees connected with Jeremy Shockey for a touchdown. A two-point conversion gives the Saints a seven-point fourth-quarter lead!
Then, Tracy Porter picked off a Peyton manning pass and was off to ther races! A 74-yard interception return for a touchdown gave New Orleans a 31-17 lead.
And the Colts would not score again. The Saints are the best team in pro football, The Super Bowl champions. This lights the fuse on a celebration that likely will be unlike anything football fans have seen.

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Who Dat Fraid O' Dem Automatic Weapons?

(Miami) - How crazy are these people? Ear-splitting "Who Dat?" chants are now filling the concourses. Security forces, replete with body armor and automatic weapons, were surrounded by Saints fans and bullied into submission. The people WOULD NOT LEAVE THEM ALONE until at least one of them responded with a "Who Dat?" of his own. The guy with the gun meekly muttered a "Who Dat?" and he was met with a raucous ovation. Then, the crowd moved on.
It's Carnival season, and a Black and Gold version of Mardi Gras is spreading across the place. People are simply taking leave of their senses. I ran into my boy Jay from Bossier City. This man is a highly-respected surgeon, but this week, he's simply a fan.
From his seat, he can stare right into the CBS Sports broadcast position. He's thrilled to be here.
Meantime, the teams are coming onto the field for pregame warm-ups and Colts fans are finding their voice. "Let's Go, Colts!" is their chant. Somehow, it's missing a a little character.
Now, let me take these beads off and get ready for the Super Bowl.

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Emotion Building On The Concourse

(Miami)-Saints fans are starting to pour into the stadium. I've seen a lot of football games, but rarely have I seen a collective consciousness like this. These people are ebullient. At the risk of overextending a Saints metaphor, it's like they've died and gone to Heaven. A communion of Saints, convinced at this moment that theirs is a team of destiny.
The quietly confident Colts fans are wandering around in Blue-clad packs, watching all this with wide-eyed wonder. They are not calling attention to themselves at all. The Super Bowl experience is not new to them, whether their fandom is confined to the team's Indiana tenure or if it dates back to ancient Baltimore days.
In the two weeks since the Saints won the NFC championship, I have been envious of Saints fans' euphoria. I've been happy for them, but I just wasnt feeling it. Now, as kickoff approaches, I have to admit my skin is tingling. There's tremendous excitement in the concourses, and soon it will all funnel into a giant south Florida bowl known as Sun Life Stadium.
While wandering around the place, I ran into my friend Fletcher, known to loyal Daddy D readers as Frequent Traveling Companion. I hadn't seen his since, well...lunch. But it was good to see him, anyway.
The sign says a storm is coming. I can hear the thunder already.

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The Streets are Crowded and So Is the Sky

(Miami) - We have arrived at the facility formerly known as Joe Robbie Stadium four and a half hours before kickoff. Fortunately, a big bus brought a gaggle of us here and dropped us off near the security checkpoint. Ah, Security. It is thorough. I have been patted down, wanded, inspected and eyeballed. This was to be expected and is the major reason we chose to arrive so early.
I would hate to be an air traffic controller in south Florida today. There are blimps and airplanes circling the stadium. There are also intimidating black military helicopters.My perch is not near my TV friends, but I was on the bus with Roy Lang from the local newspaper and we had time for a pre-game buddy photo:
Naturally, the streets around the stadium are clogging quickly. People are starting to stream into the parking lots. For the first time, we saw more Colts fans than Saints fans, but I suspect that's temporary. Each team got an identical number of tickets, but it wold be a safe bet to believe Saints fans have been willing to pay a higher price on the secondary market to witness history being made.
Adrenaline is starting to build. Looking forward to watching this place fill up.

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Saints Alive! It's Super Bowl Sunday!

(Ft. Lauderdale, FL) - You couldn't ask for a better day. Even if the events planned for later this afternoon didn't have the potential to be life-changing for people who love the New Orleans Saints, the morning would still be spectacular. Sunrise over the Atlantic, waves, sand, an ocean breeze: Sunday morning at its February finest. There is a pause in the party as fans begin to realize that the game is upon us. For the football teams, a championship hangs in the balance. For the people of New Orleans, there is a shot at redemption, recovery and deliverance. Having spent time in close quarters with them, I can assure you that is not an overstatement.
My day started early, filling souvenir orders from family. The women back home had specific demands. I hope I didn't let them down.
Then, breakfast by the ocean again with Frequent Traveling Companion. Interestingly, we are not on this trip together. Our hotels are less than a half-mile apart, though, so it's easy to hang out.
This is my first visit to South Florida, and I can tell you it is not oversold. The photos, the stories, the scenery you hear about, it's all here. Now, if the game delivers that will put a nice ribbon around what has already been a tremendous weekend.

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Saturday, February 06, 2010

Black and Gold Thunder

(Miami Beach) - Bourbon Street has come to South Beach. New Orleans Saints fans have taken over. On this, the night before their beloved team's first-ever Super Bowl, they joyfully squeezed Indianapolis Colts fans off of Ocean Drive with their sheer numbers and unbridled enthusiasm. The Colts are favored to win the game, but they aren't in the same league with the party. There's enough rock and hip-hop to give Miami Beach a thunderous thump-thump on a regular Saturday night, but with Saints fans in charge you can add drums, horns and spontaneous parades...
When you think Bourbon Street, certain things come to mind. For instance, people elbow to elbow in the street, partying with purpose. Check: You also think of massive alcohol consumption. Check.
Oh, and women wearing alarmingly little clothing. Um, check:
Bourbon Street has been known to feature a little burlesque along the way. Check: I felt it was vital to document this rampant debauchery so that we may properly disapprove of it. Clearly, French Quarter sensibilities have stormed this beach with a blitzkrieg of Who Dat Juju.
What reminds us that we are not, in fact, in New Orleans is the beach itself. Having just one full day here before the Super Bowl, making my way to the sand and surf was a priority. It was late in the afternoon when I arrived with the traveling party and most of the beautiful people had moved inland to brace for the storm of Saints faithful. This actually worked to our advantage because we were able to hang out for a while without getting in anyone's way or working up a sweat.
The parties will pause tomorrow because this particular Sunday is about the business of football. That's what worries me for Saints fans. The Colts and their followers have been businesslike in their approach to all this. Meantime, for the fleur-de-lis folks, it's all about the festivities. Having spent a couple of days embedded with them, I'm really pulling for their team to win. It would simply mean so much to them. If they do indeed become Super Bowl champs, in terms of a party, we ain't seen nothin' yet. Who Dat?

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