Musings on music, sports, life in general from Quincy, Illinois.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007


From Rev. Tim White of Trinity United Church of Christ, Quincy.

It is that time of year when thoughts turn to raking leaves, turkey dinners, vibrant fall colors and the sentimental, “perfect” lives that none of us have. It is easy to become disillusioned and cynical about things when bills are stacking up, people you care about are struggling, and the upcoming holidays are just another reminder that your life hasn’t turned out the way you wanted it to turn out. As the November winds bring a chill to the air it also brings a chill to many hearts.

I had a conversation with a neighbor recently who told me her Thanksgiving was ruined because her whole family wasn’t going to be together. She told me her children didn’t like each other and there just wasn’t anything to be thankful for. I listened mostly and didn’t say much, but I thought “You and your husband have enjoyed almost 40 years together, your children and grandchildren are healthy and talented and productive and you have nothing to be thankful for because your children don’t want to gather at your beautiful home and pretend that they are “The Waltons” how sad you think like that.

Thanksgiving is in no way about what we have. It doesn’t matter if you sit down at a beautiful table that belongs on the cover of Bon Appetite or if you sit at a table made out of a couple of saw horses and wooden planks and eat chili. When we make Thanksgiving about celebrating all that we have, we make it into a “food sacrifice” to the “gods” who have smiled down and given us all that is on our “wish list of life”.

Thanksgiving is not a day of the year. Thanksgiving is not dependant on a menu with turkey and dressing. Thanksgiving is not predicated on having all your family get along one day a year. Thanksgiving is a condition of the heart that transcends the circumstances of life. Thanksgiving that doesn’t grow out of deep gratitude for God isn’t Thanksgiving after all!

Monday, October 29, 2007

Not Fair

Took my daughter to the doctor today. An old woman in a wheelchair hooked up to oxygen came in. She was talking to herself and obviously unaware of her surroundings.

She looked at me for a second from across the room and I saw resignation mixed with pain. She's hanging on for life, but something about her made it seem like she wanted to go, to fall asleep and pass on in peace.

In another part of the county, a young mother grieves because her husband won't be coming home. Their two young children will ask about their father, and God knows what she will tell them.

Gone, just like that, with the promise of life ahead.

It just doesn't seem fair.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Go Blue!

First and foremost, thank you Bill and Chip for the tickets.

I can't believe how easily we got in and out. Arrived about 4:45 p.m., found one of the last parking spots in the Brown Lot, had a leisurely tailgate dinner, saw my buddy Andrew and his impressive road crew from Chicago/Michigan, soaked it all in.

Strolled across the street into the stadium and saw two drunk fans get into it right off the bat. "That's how fights start," Chris Durst said. Morons.

Massive renovations to Memorial Stadium. Congrats to Illinois for getting it right. The north end zone is now enclosed and the brick grandstand looks like it's been there all along. They put the students in the north seats and boy, were they LOUD.

Fantastic seats, west side, lower level, 10-yard line about 30 rows up. Memorial Stadium is a grand place, despite the dust.

Two fighter jets roared over the stadium just before kickoff and shook the place to the chore. The students were chanting "USA! USA!" Chris says, "This beats pro football, that's for sure."

Illinois started strong and eventually simply shot itself in the foot. The crowd moaned about all the penalties, but when you drag a guy down by his face mask, whack him out of bounds, run him over without turning around while playing pass defense ... and when you drop punts and can't throw a pass down the middle with the game on the line .... well.

Michigan helped too. Ryan Mallett fumbled once and tossed a goal line interception too. No Mike Hart, either. I think Jake Long (77) is as big as Marblehead, no secret Michigan runs left, left and left.

The flea flicker touchdown pass unfolded right in front of us and was a great call. Much-maligned coach Lloyd Carr deserves some credit.

Again, one or two idiots in the crowd by us, but I enjoyed the good natured bantering with the guys behind us and it was all good.

Left with 2 minutes to play, and took only about half an hour to get out of town. The traffic on Kirby moved well, and we were northbound on Prospect but stopped dead in traffic when Chris suggested we cut west through the neighborhood. It probably saved us 15 to 20 minutes.

Got home at 2 a.m., stayed awake in part with a phone conversation from Tookie at 1 a.m. He's happy about Elephant Ears.

Thanks for the garage signs, Christy!

Sleep is waaaaayyyyyy overrated .....

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Sun Splashed Saturday

Beautiful Day in Q-Town. God smiles at Octoberfest for the marching bands, at the Tin Dusters, at the Sammy Fund walk early this morning.

Much fun at the Elks last night. Good energy, if nothing else. The people at the Elks are great, just wish a few more would show up and party with us. Playing with Pat on drums and Chris on guitar worked well, we'll only get better with a few more practices and gigs. Rock A Bye on slide and the incomparable Jack Inghram on sax were on fire again, as usual.

There were a few times when I felt we were just another bad bar band .... but the few original songs we did play got great reactions. Gotta work on the new stuff!

We may be playing Friday, Nov. 23, at Turner Hall with a bunch of other bands.

Heading to Champaign for the big game tonight .... Dr. Brei and his neighbor's brother in tow. GO BLUE!

Back probably around 3 a.m., up before the sun for the Sammy Fund golf event tomorrow.

If I was in town, I'd be at the Octoberfest thing tonight at Flinn Stadium (parade on Maine Street starts at 2 p.m., we'll catch the beginning). Or go down the river for the Exchange Club's Smoke on the Water and to watch the Cheeseburgers.

Whatever you do this weekend, enjoy!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Busy Weekend

All kinds of stuff going on this weekend. Tin Dusters and the Exchange Club's Smoke on the River Saturday with The Cheeseburgers.

A while back The Cheeseburgers were playing at the church parking lot down the street late on Saturday night as part of an annual event. I had my window open and I could hear Burt Shackelton singing "Comfortably Numb" as I drifted to sleep .... Geesh!

Friday night we are playing at the Elks, 7:30 p.m. We had a really good practice with drummer Pat Cornwell the other night and this should be a lot of fun.

Saturday morning is the Sammy Fund run/walk at Madison Park. Saturday is also Quincy Marching Band's Octoberfest, with the huge parade down Maine Street in the afternoon. Hopefully they have good weather this year.

Heading to Champaign with Dr. Brei and JJ Manager of Doom for the Michigan at Illinois game Saturday night. Sunday is the Sammy Fund golf and dinner/auction event.

Might have to take Monday off to recover!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

End of Experiment

I am teetering precauriously on the brink of falling off the wagon. It will happen soon.

So I will choose the place and time willingly.

There's a gathering this afternoon to celebrate Bosses Day and I'll simply avoid the temptation. Woodland Cemetery and the Shuffle beckon, and I'll be better off for it.

However ...

Practice tonight, gig Friday at the Elks.

Michigan at Illinois in Champaign Saturday night.

Sammy Fund all day Sunday.

So, for no reason at all, I will probably tip one or two Wednesday night, in Good Company, and call it a grand experiment. I will also do it again.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Baseball Woes

With apologies to my sister in Denver and brother in Phoenix, baseball sucks.

Nobody, and I mean nobody, cares about the Rockies and D'backs. Last year's World Series was the least-viewed ever, and this year's might have even less viewership due to the NL representative.

In the AL, at least you have the team you love to hate, now known as the Boston Red Sox. I hate the Red Sox. I hate Manny Ramirez, who looks like the alien predator in the awesomely bad Arnold-Jesse movie from back in the day. I hate David Ortiz, who looks like he's waddling after a pizza when turning a triple into a single. I hate Curt Schilling baffling hitters and using his AARP card at the same time. I hate all the other bald guys who look like Stone Cold Steve Austin. And I hate JD Drew, who represents everything wrong about the game, way overpaid and underproductive.

Saturday night I'm getting ready for the Funions gig at about 7 p.m. and the Indians-Sox game is starting. I come home at 12:15 exhausted from playing and tearing down AND THE GAME IS STILL ON. Extra innings or not, it's a classic example of slow-ball and watching paint dry.

Last night I flip to the NL game and they are playing in a freezing rain and it's 4-1 in the sixth .... I watched for 10 seconds, and never flipped back.

Sorry, Major League Baseball. You haven't won me back. You never will.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Two Good Posts

Two good blog posts today by fellow Web Warriors Tookie Don't Care and UMR Blog. Access them at the links on the right side.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Fall Winter Schedule

The Funions are playing this Saturday at the QND 10-year reunion. A week from Friday we're at the Elks.

We have some cool gigs possibly coming up in November, December and January. Look for an announcement soon.

A special thanks to Mark Brei, the heart and soul of the Funions, who refuses to let this band die and has stubbornly kept us going, through thick and thin.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

(Loud) Friday Night Lights

Kudos the Quincy High football team, which refused to quit and battled Alleman to the end Friday night.

Another huge crowd was on hand for senior night. Alleman went up 14-0 just like that, but QHS battled back and trailed 28-21 at the half. The Blue Devils made some big plays on offense and a couple of defensive stands early in the second half, but it wasn't enough in a 42-21 loss.

I left after Alleman scored in the second half, in part because of the dreadful PA announcer. Don't tell me if the guy is running off tackle, or how far downfield he is, or if Vonderhaar is under center, or if the clock keeps running. DON'T DO PLAY BY PLAY from the PA. His enthusiasm is appreciated and I'm sure he's a nice guy, whoever he is, but it's overbearing and distracting from watching the game.

That's right. WATCHING the game. If we want to listen, we'll bring our radios and headphones. I didn't see a single person do that Friday night.

It's much better at Quincy Notre Dame (Frank Cash) and QU (Bill Shuler, Steve Looten). They are professional and to the point and don't scream into the microphone.

The QHS marching band also did a nice job, as always. Good luck to them in Kahoka, Mo., today.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Getting Ready

The Funions practiced last night and learned six or seven songs .... we're getting ready for an Oct. 13 gig, a reunion. We also have an Oct. 19 show at The Elks.

And, coming down the pipe, HUGE news .... a private party show Jan. 12 in Quincy. You won't believe who it is for.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Alexis Runs

I walked my customary South Park route yesterday in the beautiful fall weather. Heading back north along 12th, I noticed the Quincy Notre Dame cross country team coming the other way.

Up the street came a familiar figure, still a whispy willow of a thing, still slightly hunched forward with her face glazed in concentration.

Alexis Coleman.

She played on my daughter's Quinsippi Soccer League Tiramisu team that David Adam and I coached. She was whispy back then, could run like the wind, and we put her at back or in the midfield, or if we needed a goal at forward.

Alexis had the hardest shot of any girl in the league. When she wound up the other players would scatter. They knew. She'd usually injure a hapless teammate or two in practice. You never knew quite where it was going to go, but it was always a bullet.

Those are good memories, car bumper pool in the Paul Dennis parking lot, Sunday afternoons in the late summer sun or huddled in the fall cold.

So here she came, and I could hear us yelling, "CLEAR IT ALEX! OUTSIDE! TO THE OUTSIDE!"

She passed and recognized me and I gave her an "Atta girl Alex" and she grinned that beautiful shy smile.

And she was gone, steadily and surely down 12th Street.

It's funny how seeing a face brings back memories.

I miss the days of little girls and soccer, of Silver Shoes and showdowns with the really good Knapheide team and, of course, the only thing that really mattered. After the game, the chorus was unanimous .... "Who brought treats?"

Thank you, Alexis, for bringing it back, and good luck in your running.

Monday, October 01, 2007

To Drink Or Not To Drink

So I made it through September (actually starting Sept. 3) without drinking alcohol.

It was a frustrating yet rewarding experience. I missed having a beer a lot. Saturday night at Frankie's benefit the beer was flowing and people were laughing in that beer buzz way and I had to sip my water and sort of grin and bear it.

This was an event where you paid to get in and drank all the beer you wanted. Normally for me that means sucking down a bunch of beer after getting there, then cooling down because I had to drive (especially in Chicago).

Sunday morning I got up kind of wiped out from the whole thing but really feeling physically fine. And it occurred to me if I'd been drinking, I would have felt a whole lot worse, not really hungover, but just .... run over.

The main thing people always ask me when I tell them I've stopped is simply .... "Why?"

That's a hard question to answer. Maybe to just see if I could do it. Maybe to see if I actually have discipline (believe me, I was sorely tempted on several occasions). Maybe it's to have an excuse to avoid certain situations and establishments.

Maybe to save money .... it's like any vice, you don't really realize how much it costs until you stop. This past summer I estimate I probably drank an average of three beers a day. Many days, especially on the beach, I drank more, and many days I didn't drink at all. Mix in the usual Coors Light with the higher end Goose Island, and that's probably close to $100 a month.

So today is Oct. 1 and I'm faced with the big decision .... stay on the wagon or drop off?

It's really hard to decide, but I'm leaning toward staying on.