Taken from the Sydney Harbor Bridge
Rooting for Danica!!!!
So, back in the music saddle again, headed to San Jose for a concert by Lady Antebellum. For those uninvolved, or uninitiated, Lady A is a pop country music group from Nashville. Formed in 2006, the trio includes Hillary Scott (lead and background vocals), Charles Kelley (lead and background vocals), and Dave Haywood (background vocals, keyboard, guitar, and mandolin).
Their debut occurred in 2007 as guest vocalists on Jim Brinkman’s single, “Never Alone”. They signed with Capitol Records Nashville and released “Love Don’t Live Here”, shortly after. By May 2008, they reached Number 3 on the Hot Country Songs Chart. It served as a single to their first album, which went Platinum in the United States.
“I Run to You” was their first number one hit in July 2009, also from their debut album. “Need You Now” was released in August 2009 and was the first single off of their new album released in January 2010. It also became the group’s second number one hit. “American Honey”, the second single from Need You Now became their fourth Top Ten single, as well as their third Number One hit. In September 2011, their third album, “Own the Night” was released.
Lady Antebellum won Top New Duo or Group by the Academy of Country Music, and New Artist of the Year by the Country Music Association in 2008. It is hard to believe their rapid rise on the country and pop music scene. They were nominated for two Grammys in both the 51st and 52nd Grammy Awards. They won the award for best country performance with “I Run to You”. Along came many other awards, topped by “Best Country Album” at the 54th Grammy Awards. Hillary Scott is the daughter of country music singer, Linda Davis. Charles Kelley is the brother of pop and country artist, Josh Kelley. It was Kelley and Haywood writing music, and asking Scott to join them in a band named Lady Antebellum. The name of the group came when the group was photographing antebellum homes. They adopted the name shortly thereafter. On top of it all, Hillary Scott claimed to have been rejected by American Idol twice, not making it past the first round. Just goes to show you what Simon Know-it-all knows.
Fast forward to the present. In May 2011, they released the first single from their upcoming album, “Just A Kiss”. They performed it on the American Idol show on May 5, 2011. Shortly after, they announced the title of their third album, “Own the Night”. They won the Grammy in 2012 for Best Country Album. The San Jose stop is part of the “Own the Night” World Tour 2012 with Darius Rucker (Hootie and the Blowfish fame), and Thompson Square at the HP Pavilion. On April 2, they will perform with Lionel Ritchie at the MGM Grand following the 47th ACM Awards. Now, that would be the place to be, Frank. Also included are Jason Aldean, Tim McGraw, Kenny Chesney, Martina McBryde, and Luke Bryan, among others.
I have seen a few twangers in my day, Glen Campbell, Mac Davis, Johnny Trash, Twavis Twitt, Tammy Wynette, Loretta Lynn, and Oak Ridge Boys. I must have been totally soused, or had to take clients who begged to go. At this point, many of you are wondering how I got interested in a “country music” group. I would say my friend, Sian, has steered me slowly in this direction. Generally, this genre is not my thing, but Lady A seems to crossover into pop and adult contempo quite easily. They are not twangy or syrupy. Nobody lost their horse or their girlfriend. The poor Pa did not lose his farm, and the car did not break down on the way to the hospital.
Here are some of the best, or at least, most interesting. I have always enjoyed the Oregon Duck, whatever his or her name is. They should be called the Oregon Swooshes, after all of the money Nike has given them. Of course, UCLA had a track coach and trainer by the name of (Elwin) Ducky Drake. Is that coincidence or what?
I have enjoyed seeing Ralphie, the huge Colorado Buffalo running around campus and football games. He is probably too big and messy to bring into a gymnasium. Same for Tommy Trojan, the USC mascot, who rides a white horse, named Traveler. I wonder what the Arizona State Sun Devil does inside a huge gymnasium? And the old Roaring Rainbows from the University of Hawaii? Of course, the corniest mascot is the Nebraska Cornhusker. Among the least interesting are the Harvard Crimson and the Standfurd Cardinal. Whoever heard of a mascot named for a lousy color?
Since Duke is always on TV, their Blue Demon is a little bit of a worm. But he is best offset by Wake Forest’s Demon Deacon, with the little hammer he holds behind his back. That must be one of the best college mascots around. Arnold Palmer and Tim Duncan are their most famous grads. Sounds like a gym full of demons in that area of North Carolina.
For sheer folly, the University of California has both the Anteaters from Irvine, and the Banana Slugs from Santa Cruz. Talk about being the “anti-sport!” What is the mascot for the new UC Merced campus? How about the Valley Fevers?
A few others stand out, like the New Mexico Lobos, the Georgetown Hoyas, and the Vanderbilt Commodores. I also like the Creighton Bluejays, the St. Louis Billikens, the UNLV Running Rebels, and the Long Beach State Prospectors. My two other Alma Maters have mascots common and uncommon. UOP has the Tiger, looking much like Tony the Tiger, and the University of North Carolina has the Tar Heels.
Beyond their team nickname, some schools have names for the fool dressed up as the mascot. The Boilermakers from Purdue call their mascot Purdue Pete. The Xavier Musketeers have the best name for their mascot, D’Artagnan. Close behind in second place is the University of Florida Gator, by the name of Albert E. Gator (get it?). In third is a local school, St. Mary’s Gaels, with Gael Force One. Fourth is the Wisconsin Badger named Bucky.
Old D’Art, the fart himself!
Of course, I am partial to Oski, my University of California Golden Bear mascot. His identity is held secret by a group of guys who are all 5 foot, 5 inches tall. It is this mystique, along with his enthusiasm and smile that places him at the top. But when will I see him in the Rose Bowl on January 1? Hopefully, sometime in my lifetime.
Fifty four miles southeast of Seattle is Mt. Rainier. It is considered the most dangerous volcano in the world, at an elevation of 14,411 feet above sea level. Rainier is the highest point in Washington, and the highest mountain in the Cascades. On a clear day, Rainier can be seen from Portland, OR and Victoria, BC. It has 26 glaciers, making it the most glaciated peak in the lower 48 states.
The summit is topped by two volcanic craters, each more than 1000 feet in diameter. The larger east crater overlaps the west crater. And geothermal heat from both craters keep the rims free of ice and snow. As a result, it forms the world’s largest volcanic glacier cave network, within the ice-filled craters with more than two miles of passages. In addition, a small lake occupies the west crater, the highest elevation in North America at 14203 feet.
Rainier is topped by three summits, with the highest called Columbia Crest. Second highest is Point Success, and lowest is Liberty Cap. On the eastern flank is a peak known as Little Tahoma Peak, an eroded remnant of a much higher Mt. Rainier. Rainer’s lava deposits are estimated to be over 840,000 years old. Rainier once stood at 16,000 feet before an avalanche and resulting mud flow about 5000 years ago.
The most recent eruption of Rainier was back between 1830 and 1854. Other eruptive activity was reported in the late 1800s. It is still listed as an active volcano. If Rainier erupted as powerfully as nearby Mt. St. Helens, the cumulative damage would be much greater. Up to 5 earthquakes are recorded monthly on Rainier.
Captain George Vancouver became the first European to see the mountain in May, 1792. John Muir climbed Rainier in 1888. In 1899, President McKinley made Mount Rainier National Park America’s fifth national park. The Washington state quarter features Mt. Rainier and a salmon. Climbing the mountain is difficult, and takes two to three days. Only half the attempts are successful. Just enjoy it from a distance!