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Chasing The American Dream

April 16, 2007


photo courtesy of Alan Kim, Roanoke Times

It’s often been said that our country changed forever on 9/11/01. There is little argument to that statement. Terrorists made our country unsafe. But there was Columbine before that and since then, the Malvo/Muhammed sniper shootings, Nickel Mines amish school shootings, numerous workplace shootings, mall shootings, and now the Virginia Tech massacre. Where does it end? I really don’t think it does. I guess perhaps the better question is, where does it begin? How does one’s life go so wrong that it ultimately results in unspeakable violence. How do we, as a nation, minimize the risk of these senseless acts from happening? A million questions, few answers, and a nation safe no more.


April 15, 2007


I’ve written before about my love for express lanes. Tonight I revisited the scene of the crime for more insanity. I got to the check out area and noticed there were only two lanes open; one of which was the “only 10 items or less” express lane. I guess the express lane had the night off because there were people in that line with cartful of items plucking them out one-by-one onto the conveyer belt. Disgusted, I was actually ready to walk out of the store when I got what I thought was a great idea. The old secret weapon. The often ignored ‘Customer Service’ area. There were only two people over there so I decided I’d give it a shot.

In position number one was a lady with a receipt and no items. Behind her was a guy with only one item so I figured I’d be in and out of there. I figured wrong. I couldn’t figure out exactly what that lady was up to with her receipt but her argument took a good ten minutes to resolve and she ended up getting five dollars back. I was frustrated for not leaving the store as I had originally planned. Fortunately, the guy in front of me only took a minute with his one item. Ahhh. Finally, my turn right? That’s what I thought until some guy just walked right past me and asked the clerk for a box on the floor that was apparently his. I was stunned that he just zorched right ahead of me. I didn’t say anything because I figured he would take his box and go. Once again I figured wrong. The clerk began ringing him up for what was apparently a 12-pack of beer. I was so steamed at this guy who had an incredible nerve to just cut in line and completely ignore me. I couldn’t’ take it anymore. As he began to pay I asked him if it was his custom to just ignore people and rudely cut in front of them. He looked at me and smiled, showing his lovely blackened teeth. He claimed he was there before me. I told him I’d been standing there for 10 minutes and he was nowhere to be found until he walked right up ahead of me. “Buddy you have your head up your wazoo,” he told me. I corrected him and told him that he never even looked at me before walking right up to the front. Even worse, I told him, was his failure to admit he’d made a mistake and to do the decent thing and apologize. He began another sentence with “Buddy” but I didn’t hear it. As I walked out of the store, I told him it was a shame that he had such poor manners and I’d hoped his daughter, who was standing next to him, didn’t learn any of his bad habits.

Yeah I know; don’t sweat the small stuff. I try; but sometimes, I swear, people like that kill me and I can no longer sit there and take it. I’m taking it upon myself to point out their rudeness so maybe, just maybe, they’ll think twice the next time.


April 09, 2007


I'd first heard Augustana about a year ago when iTunes offered “Stars and Boulevards” as the free single of the week. I checked out the rest of the CD and fell in love with the piano-based ballad, “Boston.” It was Dan Layus' piano and vocals that attracted me. I don’t know why it took so long for these guys to make it big, but here it is a year later and now the band has finally come into its own.

Right away, I knew this would be a different show than the Joshua Radin concert. There was a line a mile long to get in and once I was finally able to get into the Culture Room, it was literally standing room only. No nice up-close overhead view this time. Instead I was crammed in on the show floor elbow-to-elbow with hundreds of energetic, boisterous and most definitely young Augustana fans.

Wearing the basic white t-shirt and jeans, Layus and company hit the stage to a raucous ovation. The band displayed creative flexibility during the hour-long set. The songs consisted of a mixture of ballads and up-tempo rock songs off their “All the Stars and Boulevards” CD and a selection of new songs they’re working on for their new CD. Ballads such as Mayfield, Hotel Roosevelt, Wasteland and Coffee and Cigarettes were clear and emotional. You can really hear and feel Layus’ angst and passion in his vocals. I also enjoyed the varied instrumentation from lead guitarist Chris Satchleben as he added a mandolin and slide guitar to the standard electric guitar. The band rocked the house during favorites Bullets, Stars and Boulevards and closed the set with Boston (click youtube). As anticipated, Boston was one big sing-a-long between Layus and the crowd.

During the show, there wasn’t much interaction. Layus didn’t say much and what he did say was pretty much inaudible. He’s very low-key and humble. The band’s music pretty much spoke for itself. Once again, Augustana is another example of just how much great music is being created today. The $10 price tag was an incredible bargain. Great music, an up close and personal view, and extraordinarily cheap. What more could one ask for?

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April 03, 2007


06 champs

06 football champs

07 champs

What can I say? I'm proud of my Gators who made history. Two straight NCAA basketball championships and one NCAA football national title. I'm not sure if it will ever be done again. Thanks to an amazing group of kids who shunned big dollars and tourning pro for returning to school for the love of the game and each other. Congrats Gators and coach Donovan. Please stay, coach Billy!