Tag Archives: Disney World

Things I Think While Kayaking

22 Jun

Several weeks ago, my wife and I hiked some trails around the Harpeth River. As we walked, we saw people kayaking, and she has been wanting to kayak ever since. Yesterday, we decided to spend some family time on the water, so my wife, my stepdaughter and I headed out for a day of outdoor adventure. Unfortunately, there are no pictures for this post because we were afraid out phones would get wet. I only have this emblem from the kayak company to break the monotony of words.Foggy Bottom

Luckily, we called ahead to Foggy Bottom, the kayak renting place, because it was packed with people on a waiting list. Within a few minutes of arriving, we were on a van filled with anticipation. When we arrived at the put in spot, I helped the driver take kayaks to the water while my wife and stepdaughter stood on the bank arguing over who was going to get the cool one that they saw. That is when a guy told them that they could stop arguing because it was his personal kayak.

The driver told us that we would get out at the bridge, and, with that information, we shoved off into the great unknown with a ton of other people. We paddled for a while. We floating for a while. It was all very relaxing, and, when I get relaxed, I start to think. That is why I do my best thinking when I first get into bed.

The first thing to hit me was a song.

“Rock the Boat” by The Hues Corporation

When that one came to mind, they started flooding in.

“Proud Mary” by Ike and Tina Turner. It is better than the CCR version.

“Big River” by Johnny Cash

“Old Man River” by Paul Robeson

Somewhere Down the Crazy River” by Robbie Robertson. I wrote a terrible post about it.

“Take Me to the River” by Al Green but made famous by that mounted fish.

“We Shall Gather at the River” by various people in almost every John Ford movie.

I was having so much fun that I started to sing a few of them. My wife looked at me warily. When I wondered aloud about how many songs are about rivers, she looked at me like I was crazy.

My thoughts were interrupted when we hit our first rapids. Well, they were not really rapids. It was more like water running over some rocks. Embarrassingly, I got spun around. More embarrassingly, it happened each time we hit a little rapids. My wife and stepdaughter were a lot better with the wild and raging waters.

It was during one of these spins that I started thinking about Native Americans. I teach about how many of the tribes lived along the rivers and how those waterways were their interstates. In all of those lectures, I never realized how hard that would have been. I am sure they used the Harpeth, but they also used rivers a lot bigger and wilder than this one.

Then, it happened. The clouds began to build up, and we heard thunder. Not long after, we saw lightning in the distance. Around the same time, we hit another small rapids, and I got stuck. My wife and stepdaughter, in an attempt to outrun the storm, took off. Once I got myself unstuck, I was paddling alone as the clouds darkened.

There I was. Clouds darkening overhead. Lightning flashing all around. Me sitting on a little boat in the middle of the water. I decided not to worry about it because there was nowhere to go. Lightning would probably strike the tallest thing around, and that would be some tree. If I stayed in the middle, then a falling tree would not hit me. Certainly, this is the plan that a Native American in a canoe would have followed.

It started to rain, but I was already wet. I made the decision to paddle until I caught up with the rest of my family. That took a while.

Eventually, the rain went away; I caught up; and I began to ponder some of the things that we had seen.

Along the way, there were several places where people could stop their boats and get out. We did not do that because my stepdaughter was focused on getting to that bridge. However, I watched the people as we floated by.

They skipped rocks.

They fished.

They drank beer. Actually, it must have been a lot of beer by the looks of some of the bellies on the guys.

There was one couple making out on a log where they thought they could not be seen.

Where there was a road access, people pulled up in their pickup trucks.

That is when it hit me. We had been floating through one of those Country songs that you hear on the radio all of the time. It was almost like the Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Disney World, where you ride a boat and watch the animatronic pirates attack a town. The pirate song plays as you go from spot to spot.

This was the Country song version of that with real people on the banks. When those guys get in their tight jeans and jump around on stage, this is what they are singing about. However, it looked different from I imagine when I hear one of the songs on the radio.

When the guy sings about riding to the river in his pickup truck and the girl has her bare feet on the dashboard, I picture a good-looking girl that you might see in the video. Yesterday, I did not see her.

It brought to mind a story I once heard. This guy was telling his friend about when he first got married. His wife had a butterfly tattoo on her butt. He asked his friend if he would like to see it. Then, he yelled to his wife, “Come here and show us that Screamin’ Eagle on your ass!”

‘Merica

To the relief of my stepdaughter, we made it to the bridge and a throng of people trying to get on vans. We thought it was going to be a struggle, but we made it out rather quickly. My wife and stepdaughter crammed into a space for one, and I hopped in with the coolers in back.

We made it back home but were worn out and sore. I picked up a pizza, and we spent the rest of the night trying not to move. I cannot wait to go back again. Kayaking was really fun. Next time, I want to stop at one of those spots and see what it is like to take part in a Country song. That good-looking girl I imagine will be with me because I married her.

 

 

Picture This – The OK Corral

15 Nov

Arizona 2013 008

A few weeks ago, Necole and I spent some time in Arizona, and that provided us with the opportunity to travel to Tombstone. I had been there several times, but this was Necole’s first trip. It was about time that she experience “The Town Too Tough To Die.”

Like everyone else, we had to take a look at the OK Corral. To do that, we had to make our way through a souvenir shop that sold everything with OK Corral written on it. That wasn’t surprising. The fact that there was a movie about the history of Tombstone in the next room was also not surprising. However, discovery that Vincent Price was the narrator of the movie caught me off guard. Of all people chosen to narrate a movie about a western town, Vincent Price would not have been my first choice.

Anyway, we paid our money and walk out the back door to the OK Corral. There was some blacksmith stuff going on, and there was a carriage for a photo opportunity. However, there wasn’t anything about the gunfight that made the OK Corral and Tombstone famous. There have been movies about the Gunfight at the Ok Corral. There have been books written about the Gunfight at the OK Corral. Unfortunately, the gunfight did not take place in the OK Corral. It took place in a vacant lot around back.

It seems that the Gunfight at the OK Corral sounds more interesting that the Gunfight at the Vacant Lot.

We followed the path of Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday and the gang and found ourselves staring at Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday and the gang. As you can see from the above image, they looked very realistic. I thought Disney World was the only place with animatronic figures. In fact, Tombstone has them, too.

Necole noticed that their boots had curled up from long exposure to the elements. She also noticed that they were standing close together. That’s because the combatants we standing close together. At least, that’s what Wyatt Earp said. The problem is that a lot of things Wyatt Earp said have turned out to not be true.

As we stood pondering these thoughts, a booming voice came over the loud-speaker, and the figures began to move. The Gunfight at the OK Corral was happening all over again. It was not very action packed, but the most disappointing aspect was that the booming voice did not belong to Vincent Price.

Listeria – Singers of Country and Western Songs

5 Nov

Man, magazines sure like their lists. To be honest, I like them, too. American Cowboy put out a special edition about the 50 greatest Country & Western singers. As I read over the list, I began to think that many of them don’t fit on the list. When I hear Country & Western, I think about cowboy songs, and there are a bunch of people on the list that never sang a song about punching cattle or being in a showdown.Four Way Shootout

I am thinking that the genre name confuses me because I don’t consider it a modern description. There is Country music and there is Western music, which isn’t as popular. I think that in the old days Country and Western went together because they were considered rural in origin. Was it a derogatory term? I don’t know, but I don’t believe they fit together anymore.

With that in mind, I am going to pare down the list and report the ones who I think are true singers of Western songs. It is American Cowboy, after all. Here they are – the ones on the list who have sung about the West. I may link a few examples along the way.

Johnny Cash – I’ve written about him before. Johnny sang a variety of tunes, but he also sang about the West. Personally, I like the one about Johnny Yuma.

Roy Rogers and Dale Evans – What can I say? Roy was the ultimate cowboy for an entire generation of kids. Dale was by his side the whole time. Nothing beats their signature song.

George Strait – George can sing Country and Western. In fact, he is a true legend of both. I could listen to “Amarillo by Morning” every day. Every time I go through Amarillo, I sing it.

Chris LeDoux – I don’t know much about Chris, but how can you leave a real cowboy off the list?

Ian Tyson – This is another singer who I don’t know much about. It is also another singer who was a real cowboy.

Gene Autry – Another cowboy legend who a generation of kids looked up to. Ironically, his most enduring song is about a deer.

Red Steagall – Texas Swing is a great subgenre of Country & Western music, and Red is one of the all time greats.

Willie Nelson – He couldn’t make it when he first came to Nashville. That’s when Willie went back to Texas and got famous. Personally, I like “My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys.”

Michael Martin Murphey – When I was a kid, I was fascinated by “Wildfire.” I think it was more the ghostly element than the cowboy element.

Don Edwards – I didn’t know anything about Don until I heard one of his songs in a movie. “Coyotes” was that song.

Patsy Montana – The other day Necole and I took my parents to the Country Music Hall of Fame. The section on Patsy Montana was very interesting.

Merle Haggard – He sings about prisoners and laborers. Merle also sings about cowboys. He greatest song is “Pancho and Lefty” with Willie Nelson. He also had a song in Chisum, a John Wayne movie.

Marty Robbins – I wrote about some of Marty’s songs a while back. He touched on a variety of topics in his music, but cowboys were right at the top.

Rex Allen – Another great cowboy star, I remember the tractor commercials he always did during the National Finals Rodeo.

Sons of the Pioneers – I guess Roy Rogers is in here twice because he was also in this group. I watched a fascinating documentary about “Tumbling Tumbleweeds“, so I will make that my favorite. I also like “The Searchers” theme.

Bob Wills – Remember what I said about Texas Swing? Bob Wills was the king of it.

Waylon Jennings – An Outlaw with Willie Nelson and others, Waylon often sang about cowboys. I always liked “Slow Movin’ Outlaw.”

Riders in the Sky – I always considered them a parody. I guess their stage costumes led me to think that. Riders in the Sky are included in the American Cowboy list, so I will put them in mine.

R.W. Hampton – I don’t know his work, but, from what I read, his contemporaries think a lot of R.W.

Joni Harms – Another artist that is new to me, Joni has won numerous awards for her work in the Western genre.

Tom Russell – Dang, I don’t know many of these people. I need to do more research. I definitely need to do more listening to this song.

Wylie & the Wild West – Actually, I know about Wylie. I just don’t know much about his music.

Corb Lund – They list lyrics of some of the artists. Corb’s lyrics struck a chord with me, so I looked up this song.

Garth Brooks – He looked like a cowboy, and he sang about cowboys. Personally, I think Garth ruined Country music.

Kris Kristofferson – Anyone who played Billy the Kid in a movie has to be put on the list. I am just not sure if he ever sang about cowboys.

Belinda Gail – Belinda won the WIll Rogers Cowboy Award. That means she should be on the list.

Brenn Hill – The magazine doesn’t say much about him, but it says that he sings cowboy songs.

Gary McMahan – They list “The Old Double Diamond” as his most prominent song. I looked it up, and it’s good.

Sons of San Joaquin – It’s all in the family. According to the magazine, Roy Rogers compared the Sons of Joaquin to the Sons of the Pioneers. That’s enough for me.

Let’s add this up. Out of 50 on the original list, we have 30 left. I don’t who how many others could have been on it, but I can’t believe Tex Ritter didn’t make it. He sang the iconic theme to High Noon and sang a song that is played daily at Disney World – “Blood on the Saddle.” Can you guess where it’s played?

Brought to You By the Number 20

7 Feb

Count von Count makes his return on a milestone day in the world of “Surrounded by Imbeciles”, as of this moment 20 people are following the blog. I realize that’s not a great amount in comparison to many of the blogs out there, but that’s around 19 more than I thought would ever click the follow button. What makes it more special is the fact that no one in my non-internet life knows this blog exists. So, I appreciate everyone who follows this blog. With that in mind, here is a tribute to the number 20 HA HA HA HA!

20/20 – Obviously, this is the measurement for perfect vision, which is something I do not have. It is also the basis for the old saying, “Hindsight is 20/20.” However, this represents the television newsmagazine 20/20. Actually, I should narrow it further. This represents 20/20 in its original form with Hugh Downs as the host and reporters such as Geraldo Rivera and John Stossel. When I was a kid, I thought it was a cross between 60 Minutes and Real People. Looking back, I may not have been too wrong. Just remember, “I am Hugh Downs, and this is… 20/20.”

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea – The book? I have never read it. The movie? James Mason is cool, but Kirk Douglas is miscast. I am talking about the old ride at the Magic Kingdom in Disney World. It could have been the lamest ride ever. At least with “It’s a Small World” you know what you are going to get. “20,000 Leagues” faked you out with these cool looking submarines sitting in a lagoon. Once you climbed in there were these uncomfortable benches and the distinct smell of a locker room. Then, you look out of the windows at fake looking fish and plants. I changed my mind. It was the lamest ride ever.

$20 – This denomination honors Andrew Jackson, who lived down the road from my town. We hear a lot about “Old Hickory” in these parts, and I teach with a couple of Jacksonian historians. Jackson is a controversial figure of presidential history due to his policies toward Native Americans. In fact, the 20 is not a welcome denomination on many reservations. So, take some other money if you ever find yourself on one. There is some irony to Jackson’s portrait. He hated paper currency and shut down the national bank that issued it.

20 Questions – People say this is a fun game, but I have never had the patience for it. Once I get past “is it bigger than a breadbasket” I am throwing guesses out there.

20th Century Fox – The movie studio came into existence in 1935 with the merger of (surprise) 20th Century Pictures and Fox Film Corporation. It produced classic musicals such as The King and I and The Sound of Music. It got in trouble when management offered Elizabeth Taylor $1 million to star in Cleopatra, and she took it. However, there was a rebound in Science Fiction with Fantastic Voyage and Planet of the Apes. Of course, the studio reached Sci-Fi perfection in the 1970s with Star Wars. As a major studio, there are too many movies to list.

1920 – A big year in history, the 19th Amendment was ratified and gave women the right to vote, an event that my state played a major role in. Warren G. Harding was elected president of the United States. Bill Cullen, the host of more game shows than anyone in history, was born. George Gipp, the football player immortalized on film by Ronald Reagan, passed away.

There you have it. In honor of the 20 blog followers, a short dedication to the number 20.

For the Birds

14 Jan

Over the holidays, my brother took his family to Orlando to visit the various theme parks. They hit all of the Disney ones – Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios. Then, they headed over to Universal to experience the Islands of Adventure in general and the Wizarding World of Harry Potter specifically. They experienced thrills and chills; waited in long lines because it was the busiest week of the year; and, saw plenty of muggles dressed like wizards. However, they all agreed (except for one) that the funniest thing happened at a concession stand.

To set up the story, I need to explain my brother’s family. It is the statistical norm with the parents and two kids. The oldest son is 17 and reminds every one of Sheldon on “The Big Bang Theory”. I realize that it sounds like bragging, but he honestly is the smartest person I know. He aces all of his classes and is line for the Ivy League. His brother is 14 and is as much a smart ass as his older brother is smart. The young one is always making wisecracks and thinks that he has a way with the women. In short, he is full of himself. With this dynamic, these two are on each other all the time.

So, there they are roaming around Universal and heading toward Harry Potter World when they spy a concession serving cinnamon and sugar on a stick. I have no idea what it looks like, but it has to taste awesome. Of course, both of them want one. They mosey up to the bar; order their sticks; and, turn to walk away. That’s when a huge bird swoops down from behind; grabs the youngest one’s stick; and, before he realizes it, is munching on the stick in the top of a tree. My nephew stands there stunned as dozens of people, including muggles dressed as wizards, burst out laughing. One kid with a wand starts saying, “No refunds! No refunds!” My brother, his wife and my other nephew all agreed that it was the highlight of the trip.

Amazingly, the concession stand workers say that was the fourth time it had happened that day. Birds hang around all of the time and steal people’s food. Despite the claims of the wand-kid, they gave him another stick which he crouched over and protected like gold. Perhaps, they should get Harry and the gang to put a spell on the birds and make them like broccoli or some other unfun food.