Archive for the Family Category

The Special Olympics: My Interview with Nancy Brown

Posted in Downtown Bristol, Family, Local, Special Olympics with tags , , , , , , , on March 8, 2011 by Divide By Zero

My deepest apologies go out to Ms. Brown, the Special Olympics, and everyone involved with them.  I was supposed to have this article written about 2 weeks ago, but I just got over the worst bout of the flu I think I’ve ever had.  I also wanted to make it to the Bowling competition that was held this past weekend.

A few weeks ago, I had the distinct honor to interview Ms. Nancy Brown.  She is a wonderful and generous woman who gives a lot of her time, and herself really to supporting the local Special Olympics; a cause that is very near and dear to my heart.  She was so nice that she told me all about the Special Olympics in detail not only once but twice.  Let me explain:

Upon being welcomed into her office, I explained to her that since I didn’t know much about the local Special Olympics, I didn’t really have any interview questions prepared for her.  So she divulged a lot of information to me in detail.  I was amazed at how much was involved with this one organization!  It’s like our entire community backs the Special Olympics, helps out in every aspect, and supports it 100%.  I felt very proud to be a part of this community when I heard all of this, and this article is the very least I can do to show my own personal support, and hopefully to bring other people’s support to the Special Olympics, either in donation or volunteer form.  Like I said, this is a cause very near and dear to my heart.

Once Ms. Brown, was finished telling me about everything involved with this locally, I was in shock.  Then I calmly said: “Could you repeat that for me once I hit the ‘record’ button?”  She kindly obliged.  Here’s what she had to say:

 

Del Dotson:  Okay this week, I’m here with Nancy Brown. She’s going to tell you all a little bit about herself and what she does here at the college and also how she’s affiliated with the Special Olympics, and she’s really just going to take it from here. So here she goes!

Nancy Brown:  Well I’m an Assistant Professor at Virginia Intermont. I teach in the education department, and my specialty is that I make the program for special education teachers. For young people that are going to use special education in their teaching profession. And I help them get into the program that includes their course descriptions, and getting their certification and their endorsement in special ed.

I also teach some psychology with the exception of childrens classes. That goes along with our education program also. Since 1974 I have worked in Special Olympics. And Special Olympics is the sports program for individuals who have intellectual disabilities. It’s really dear to my heart, because it gives all of us an opportunity to provide [sports] programs for those individuals and let them have a successful experience.

I am the coordinator for Area 10’s sports programs which includes all of Southwest Virginia. We’ve got 2 events that are coming up in just a few weeks, actually. March 5th we have our bowling competition at Interstate Lanes. We will have between 70 and 80 athletes that will come in to bowl from all over Southwest Virginia. Our youngest athlete is going to be about 12 to 13, and our oldest one is going to be in their 70’s.

Then in April, we’re going to have our Spring games. We have a Track & Field competition that’s going to be April the 16th. Once again, we’re going to have about 125 athletes from all over Southwest Virginia. They will participate in wheelchair events, they will participate in running events, softball throw, shot-puts, and we will have ages probably 11 through 75. It’s a big day at John Battle [note: a local high-school] because we have a lot of key volunteers that come in to participate and sponsor us. The Knights of Colombus will usually be represented in some form. The Knights of Colombus will help us in our bowling competition. The Veterans of Foreign Wars, the VFW always does the opening ceremonies for our Spring games, and that’s just such a privilege. We have had an athlete do the National Anthem for us for the last 2 or 3 competitions, and that’s just.. it’s a heart-stopper.

Oh, we have some wonderful key volunteers, we have a bunch of colleges that come and help us. Emory & Henry has sent volunteers, King has, my own VI [Virginia Intermont] has. One of my real good friends here on campus actually runs the competition for me. The education department gets involved with us. The photography department here at VI did coverage for us last year. We generally have wonderful media coverage from both WCYB and the Bristol Herald Courier.

We do take donations to run the program. We’re very conscious that we want to run the program for our athletes, so we do take donations that helps pay for state events. We try to make sure that we take our athletes up on Thursday, so they don’t have to travel all day Friday and get really tired. So we do try and raise money so that we can cover a third night of motel bills. Plus covering the rest of the expenses. We usually end up taking between 30 and 40 people to state games. That includes the athletes, coaches, and the volunteers, which is a good group. We try to take the athletes who have done everything that they have needed to do to train and get ready for state games. We want to make sure that we take athletes whose parents are comfortable with letting us take them away for 3 nights. We make sure that they, themselves are comfortable with being gone. We like to take athletes who have trained, and trained hard for what they’re doing.

DD: Right.

NB: This is something… We don’t take this lightly! It’s not something that we just throw out there. We really take this very strongly, it’s something that means a lot to all of the people involved. Because we know that our people can succeed, we just have to be there to give them the opportunity.

DD: That’s awesome. And can you.. I mean you mentioned a little bit before [Read: before I started recording the interview.] about the history of the Special Olympics here in Bristol.

NB: Yes. Now we had started, I think in 1974, we had a wonderful special ed teacher here by the name of Ruth Thrash, and a special ed director by the name of Calvin Durting, who saw the need for this to begin here. I was a young teacher, and they let my young legs take care of them. They’re the ones that really got us off to a beginning, and we just held it in place. All of us became involved with Ms. Thrash and Mr. Durting, and they built a strong core, and after all these years we’ve still got a strong core. We’ve got a family here by the name of Jim & Anna Combs, who have been involved as long as I’ve been involved.

DD: Wow.

NB: They started out with me in ’74, and ’75 and they’ve always been there. They go to the state games most of the time and we have got other people that have been involved now for about 20-25 years. We’ve got a lady in Big Stone Gap, her name is Joyce Gilbert who has been involved a loong time. And she brings a strong support group with her from Big Stone Gap. And that’s the neat thing about what you’re doing.. is that these blogs and things that you do, they see them over there where they are.

DD: Right. [I felt really humbled by Ms. Brown telling me this]

NB: And, when you mention certain names like Ms. Gilbert, Darlene Dean in Smith County, there’s a group from Crossroads Point that’s got a really strong coordinator, her name is Melanie. You’ve got a lady by the name of Deb Greene, who’s very strong in Wise County, and you’ve got people in Tazwell.

DD: I think I’ve met Deb Greene, I’ve spent some time out at Uva Wise.

NB: Oh, do you?

DD: Yeah, small world.

NB: She brings her athletes, I think at Uva Wise.

DD: I think so, I think you’re right.

NB: And Deb, she is just a great, great lady. Her church is a big support group, I forgot what the name of it is. They’ve been a big support group, and you’ve got people like Virginia Goodson, you may have heard of Ms. Goodson…

DD: It sounds familiar.

NB: She’s on City Council, no not City Council, on the School Board here. I think she came off last year, but she’s been a big support system for this group. Abingdon Civitan with Ms. Lee Price, I mean there’s just… I go down through and I think about all the people [involved].. You probably know this family, the Campbell family.

DD: That’s ringing a bell, but I can’t place them.

NB: Bill [Campbell] was over the City Bus system for years. Bill and his sister JoAnne, they were the ones that bowling program so strong here in Bristol. You know? When you start looking at it, these people that are involved with us, they’re not fly-by-night people, okay? They’ve become a part of us. Year after year they come back. It’s not like they volunteer one year and then they’re gone. You’ve got Jack Wisenberger who has been involved with us now for a number of years through the Knights of Colombus. That group.. They’re just wonderful people! And without them, I honestly, I probably would have given up a long time ago.

DD: They just make everything so easy?

NB: They do! I almost feel guilty when I’m the one that’s interviewed. It makes me feel so humbled because I know I’m representing them.

DD: Of course.

NB: And without them.. it’s just a big team, we all work together.

DD: Yeah, and like I’ve said before, I didn’t really know anything about all this stuff. And just you mentioning all of those names, and telling me about all of these organizations that support this so strongly, it’s just… it makes it seem like it’s a whole lot bigger to me now, than 10 minutes ago when I came into your office.

NB: Well, what’s so great about it for me as a person is.. I moved here to Bristol in 1969. I’m a farm girl from Middleton. And I love this area because this area gives to it’s people.

DD: Yes.

NB: I came here as a young teacher, and here I am now the old.. OLD teacher. Haha, I don’t like to admit it, but I am! And people still are there for me. I’ve got people that volunteer for us, and with us, year after year after year. I had a group to call me, the Moose Lodge, from Abingdon, called me last week. They chased me down from last week about helping us. It just thrilled me to death because I know organizations have hurt for money the last 2 or 3 years. NHC called me and said they would like to get involved. Well you know, these are groups that, I know a lot of these people but I’ve just never been involved with them over stuff like this. To have those and the other organizations that have backed us, it’s just been a blessing. That’s all I can say is it’s just been a blessing.

DD: It sounds like it!

NB: They call and.. there’s some people that call and say “Don’t. Forget. To call us. You’re getting ready to have Spring games…” I can’t say enough for the people that are involved. This is not an organization that… you don’t get burnt out. I don’t know what it is.

DD: I know what you mean.

NB: I have got athletes that are in their 50’s and 60’s now, that started out as young kids with me.

DD: Wow.

NB: And this young man that’s in this wheelchair [Ms. Brown has a poster of a past special olympics event hanging up by her desk, she pointed to it]… I started out working with him when he could walk and run just like you and I. And he was not much bigger… I could pick him up and throw him over my shoulder.

DD: See, that’s incredible.

NB: And to watch him today, and still, I can maybe not even see him for years and walk in to where they’re training, and they’ll holler at me and say: “HOW YOU DOIN’ MS. BROWN?!” You realize, Yes(!), you’ve made an impact on their lives because they still remember your name.

DD: Exactly.

NB: I do.. It’s in my blood, and I’ll probably stay in it until the day I die.

DD: That’s inspiring. Well God bless you. I know if it weren’t for people like you, and the people you’ve mentioned, none of this stuff would be possible.

NB: that’s true.

DD: I’ve worked with people with disabilities before, I’ve been fortunate enough to do that and it is, it’s really rewarding. It’s more rewarding than just giving money to a charity, or donating clothes to the Salvation Army, or something like that. You develop a really special bond, and it’s one of the quickest ways to see rewards, and it makes them feel worthwhile. And it makes us feel worthwhile.

NB: It does, and you know, there’s a lot of things that I think you see that they really get out of it. It’s that they are just so appreciative.

DD: Yeah.

NB: Whatever you do, OUR Special Olympians, and they’re representative of all individuals with intellectual disabilities, they do appreciate.

DD: Yes.

NB: And they let you know. They have a warmth about them. I know that the Kennedy family established this because of their sister Rosemary, I know that’s when they saw the need. But they stuck with it. I remember last year, when I was introduced to Timothy Shriver, who I guess is now the President/CEO, of Special Olympics, because I think he took over for his dad Sarge & Mrs. Shriver, and I looked at him and I thought of how humbled he seemed to be as a young man following in their footsteps. I’ve had an occasion with my involvement in Special Olympics to be around some of the Kennedy family in the Special Olympics arena. Never with the politics and things that they have been into, but they have been to games and things where I have been, and that was the impression that I got of all of them. That they were genuine, and they did love that aspect of their lives.

DD: Yeah. And they were sincere about it?

NB: They were sincere about it. That’s what I read out of him [Mr. Shriver], just like the rest of them. I remember the first time, I guess it was, that I ever saw part of that family was at an international game in New York. And then, here all these years later I see him and it’s just like you’re looking in the face of where you looked at them 30 years ago. Good feeling. Good feeling.

DD: Oh man. Well, I think that about covers everything

NB: Okay.

DD: Thank you very much for your time!

NB: I’m glad you came by!

 

I’m really glad I got to interview Nancy.  After typing all of that up, I really don’t think there’s anything I can say that could sum any of that up, or even supplement it.  I personally thank everyone involved with this cause and anyone who donates money to the people at the Special Olympics.  I think it’s good ot end on that note, and with this:

If you’d like to donate to the local Special Olympics here’s the information:

Area 10 Special Olympics

C/O Nancy Brown

35 Timber Ridge Rd.

Bristol, VA  24201

I really urge anyone to donate, because there’s a world of people that are going to benefit from it.

I hope I was able to get people more involved!

The Jester.

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Nerdy Monday 20: Transformers (2007)

Posted in 1980's, 2000's, Family, Modern, movies, Retro, Robots, T.V. shows, Transformers on February 25, 2011 by Divide By Zero

I’ve been thinking about how to set up this nerdy Monday post for a while now.  I batted it around, chewed it up, all that jazz, but I think I’m just going to dive right in.

I’m going to be talking about the first Transformers move directed by Michael Bay.  Before the movie came out in 2007, the only other Transformers movie there was, was the full-length animated 1984 installment entitled Transformers: The Movie.

I remember the opening day of the movie.  I went to the midnight sneak preview of the movie here in town.  And let me just be clear about this, in my small corner of the world, movie theatres are never ever at risk of selling every seat in the house.  But this night, it was a packed house.  I had to get there more than an hour early to get a mediocre seat.  I don’t know how to explain it, but in the theatre that night, the air was electric.  Everyone was dressed up somehow in a Transformer’s tee-shirt, a few of them brought some action figures, one guy had boots on that looked like Optimus Prime’s feet!

I remember vividly the shock and awe, and the uncontrollable yelling and applause when Optimus first came on the screen.  I remember the same thing happening when all the transformers, and the 2 main characters of the movie gathered in that alley and all of the Transformers started changing into their robot-form.  It looked awesome, it looked detailed, and it looked like it could be real.  It could have been happening right in front of us in real life, and we (the audience)  couldn’t be more excited!

As I looked around the room, I noticed that everyone was right around my age.  I was born less than one year after the pilot episode of the Transformers aired.  So I literally grew up with all the characters from that show.  I wish I still had all of the toys, comic books, and VHS tapes I recorded the show onto.  It would be a treasure trove of awesome nostalgic memorabilia.  And we all (I know I was) had been waiting for this movie to be made for a long time.

That same feeling came back to me when that movie was released on DVD/Blu-Ray and put on the Wal-Mart shelves.  Again, I showed up at midnight, and waited eagerly for the stock boy to bring the palate jack out with the Transformers movie display on it.  I waited along side 2 or 3 dozen other people all wearing Transformers shirts.. and the guy with the Optimus boots was there too.  It was odd, I know, but it’s the truth.

Michael Bay is looked down upon by a few critics, but I think he did an awesome job with this movie.  He knew how sentimental the fan base was, and did not disappoint.  I don’t care that everyone says he has too many explosions in his movies.  Or how he has too many jump-cuts to different scenes, or the whole Armageddon fiasco he was made fun of for.  He took the Transformers and made something cool, even cooler.  Bay even received an award from the man who created the Transformers AND the CEO of Hasbro (the company that makes/licenses the Transformer toys) for being humble, noble, and staying true to the morals upheld By the Transformers.  Yes, he was that serious.  [If you bought the special edition DVD with the bonus features on it, you’d know that already].

So not only did this pretty much make Michael Bay a pop culture icon, as well as a household name, it launched Megan Fox’s career.

Thank you Transformers. And Michael Bay.

 

Sure she’s done some crappy movies in between the filming of the Transformers/Bay movie franchise.  Seriously, what was that whole Jennifer’s Body supposed to be?  But no one is watching her for.. well, I think we all know what people watch her movies for.

Shia Lebeouf is also in the movie, he’s the star, or something.  I don’t know, I think the people who did the voices of the robots should have been cast about Shia.  Don’t get me wrong, I like Shia.. I actually watched him back in the day when he was on the Disney Channel show, Even Stevens. I think he’s hilarious!  It just seemed a little off to me when he was cast as Sam Witwicky in Transformers, only because it’s a more dramatic role.  It was different at first, and he did an okay job.  I think he developed his character towards the end of the first movie.  He just seemed more comfortable in the role, and it showed.

Who knew this kid would grow into his nose and be the guy a new generation of Transformer fans would want to be.

Oh and he made out with Megan Fox!

Overall, I am very pleased with the way these movies are unfolding.  And the next one is being filmed in Washington D.C.!  That’s my old stomping grounds!  I was born and raised not too far from there.  It sucks that they had an on set accident with one of the BumbleBee cars:

But with all the money involved in this franchise, I’m sure they have more than one of everything.

This movie is overly satisfying, nostalgic, clever, and just plain old awesome.  It’s funny in the right spots, and very reminiscent of the old cartoons/comics.  The only thing that irked me a little bit, was that GM plugged an entire line of cars to be used for the movies.  I think they could have diversified the line up a little, just to make it more exciting.  But I have to give them credit for making BumbleBee a Camaro, because in the old cartoons he was a VW Beetle.  Or more commonly referred to as “the bug”.  I can see how that’s a cool play on words, but for real, no one today would think of BumbleBee as an intimidating “Guardian” alien robot as a Bug.

Pictured: Definitely not a badass intimidating Guardian alien robot with a heard of gold.

I can’t wait for the next one to come out.

Fun Fact #1:  Did you know the voice of Megatron was the same guy who played Agent Smith in the Matrix movies?

Fun Fact #2:  And the guy who did the voice of Jazz (The Pontiac Solstice) is the guy who played Eddie Winslow (Steve Urkel’s friend) in Family Matters?

That’s it for now, see you in the ticket line for the next installment.

The Jester.

 

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Another “Things You Learn When…”

Posted in 2000's, Downtown Bristol, Family, Gourmet, Grocery Stores, Local, Modern on February 17, 2011 by Divide By Zero

A lot of the things I do for money are part-time.  One of those jobs is working in the seafood department of a grocery store.  There are a lot of things you pick up that they don’t tell you in orientation.  As with any job, some of the things you learn are good to know, and will help you become a better salesperson because you’re getting to know your customer base.  Other things you learn are completely useless.  Here are some of those things:

Things you learn while working in a grocery store in Southwest Virginia:

  • Old people shop between 7am and 9pm.
  • You [obviously] sell more seafood and milk [for some reason] during Lent than any other time of the year.  Aside from Christmas.
  • In this part of the country when you’re nice to a customer, (shockingly!) they are nice to you back.
  • A lot of people prefer “krab meat” as opposed to crab meat.  For those that don’t work in a seafood department, when “crab” is spelled with a “k”, that means it’s imitation.  And the  customers will argue with you when you tell them “it’s actually a fish”.
  • I think there may be a mathematical relationship between a persons favorite NASCAR driver, and what kind of fish they buy most often.
  • Some people want to complain because they are bitter people.  EXAMPLE 1:  There is a brand of egg rolls called “Chung’s” it’s made in the U.S.A. and distributed in the Mid-West.  There are customers that won’t buy it because they think it’s from China, and won’t change their mind.  Example 2:  People will complain about the price of salmon (or   whatever fish they want) going up and up and up!  Even if it has been the same for months on end.
  • There are customers out there that actually try to hurt employees feelings/make it their fault that they don’t like a particular type of fish.
  • It doesn’t matter how good or bad your uniform looks–how subtle or flamboyant it is–people will still ask “Do you work here?” before they ask you the question they want to ask.
  • A lot of customers come in regularly because let’s face it, people need groceries a lot.  Some of them are good, and a pleasure to talk to, and you remember them.  There are also some customers that are a pain in the ass.  You remember them too.
  • People will come up to you and ask where something is, and get upset when you don’t know.
  • You might be buying shrimp and imitation krab meat, but chances are you’re paying the all shrimp price.
  • There are more kinds of paper towels than you can imagine.
  • For grocery store employees, there is one size extension cord they can use should they need it.  It’s 150 feet.  It doesn’t matter if you need it for 8 inches, you get 150 feet.
  • Customers who have their hair dyed radical colors (blue, purple, green, etc.) are generally more fun and interesting to talk to.
  • Pepsi delivery men seem to be happier, and more cooperative than their Coca-Cola counterparts.
  • Men with mustaches generally shop later than everyone else.  The bigger/longer the mustache, the later they shop!
  • After about 10:30pm, just about any and every teenager in the store is inebriated in some way, shape, or form.
  • [This is the way it should be everywhere] At a grocery store, if you’re on time, you’re late.  If you’re early, you’re on time.
  • Little kids don’t care where they vomit, or who is watching them.
  • The amount of catfish a grocery store sells is directly related to how far south of the Mason-Dixon line that particular store is located.
  • Apparently craw fish are the same deal, and they are sold in “even 17.5 lb. bags.”
  • After a few days, you can tell what people do for a living by what kind of clothes they wear [e.g. painter, drywaller, manager, computer programmer]
  • In that same vein, there is no shame in wearing a tool belt to go grocery shopping.
  • If you work in an older building almost none of your freezer/cooler case thermometers work.  Always trust your temperature gun!
  • Also, if you work in an older building, you won’t have hot water after about 6:00 pm.  It doesn’t matter if you close your department at 9.
  • Male employees are supposed to shave every day.  No matter what the customer base  looks like.
  • None of the clocks, not even your cell phone, are right.  None of them except the time clock.
  • Working with seafood, it’s possible to burn yourself at the exact moment you cut yourself.
  • Two things parents should never be allowed to do:
  1. Buy their annoying 4 year old kid a harmonica.
  2. Let that kid run around a grocery store unsupervised with said harmonica.
  • For grocery store employees:  Every customer thinks that every employee knows where every item on every shelf is.  No matter what department you work in.
  • People get their food stamps at midnight on the first of the month.  Grocery stores know this and stay open until 2am on those days, because by 11:50pm [read: 10 minutes before they get their stamps] they are loading up their carts to spend all of their food stamps by 12:15am.
  • On Saturdays, tweens/teens buy out all solo cups and tang.
  • It’s estimated that 83% of all grocery store employees are part-time.
  • There is more drama between grocery store employees than there was in my middle school.
  • One good thing about working in a meat/seafood department is that it’s like working in a restaurant, without ever hitting a dinner rush.
  • I would be willing to bet good money that at least 90% of all the customers that ask a minimum of 15 questions to a clerk–walk away without buying the product at the end of their questionnaire.
  • I would also bet that at least half of all people who partake in free samples, wait until the employee giving them out turns their back , so they can take more without the employee noticing.  Why?  I don’t know.
  • There’s always one customer that comes around about once or twice a month just to poke their finger through anything shrink wrapped.
  • Cleanliness really is next to Godliness.
  • Common sense is next to impossible to find.

That’s about it.  That’s what I’ve learned in my few short months of working at a grocery store.  I don’t know if it’s the same all over the country, but that’s how it goes down here.  For better or for worse, that’s how it goes down here.

See you from behind the counter.

The jester.

The Funniest Man in America

Posted in Downtown Bristol, Family, Jeremy Dotson, Local, Stand Up Comedy with tags on February 7, 2011 by Divide By Zero

This past Friday, I was fortunate enough to attend a performance held by Mr. James Gregory.. the self-proclaimed, and widely agreed with.. funniest man in America.  It was held at the beautiful and prestigious Paramount theatre.  Let me be the first to tell you, he did not disappoint.

Before I tell you the story about Friday night, I want to tell you another story to make this hit a little closer to home:

When I was growing up in Northern Virginia with my father, a true Good Ole Boy, my sister gave my daddy a cassette tape of James Gregory.  After work, if no one else was home, he loved to listen to that tape.  He would sit at the kitchen table and listen to it… I honestly couldn’t tell you how many times.  Enough times that my 9 year old brain would have it memorized in just a few months.

That was also right around the time that I was teaching myself to imitate voices.  Back in my hay day, my whole voice repertoire consisted of Bugs Bunny, Sylvester, Ace Ventura, this Chinese guy that worked at the 7-11 closest to my house, and James Gregory.  I used to be able to imitate his voice fairly well.

Some of my fondest childhood memories revolved around the hilarious wisdom recorded on that tape.  My mother, bless her heart, almost without exception worked nights the whole time she was raising my brother and I.  She would put my brother to bed, tuck him in, and kiss him goodnight.  Then she’d do the same for me.  We’d hear her head downstairs, and the door would shut, the car would start up, and pull out of our little cul de sac.  Not 5 minutes later, my daddy would come get Jeremy and I out of bed, bring us downstairs, and we’d listen to James Gregory until we could no longer keep our eyes open.  And when we were passed out with our heads down on the kitchen table, daddy would throw us both over his shoulders, and throw us back in bed.  We were told to keep it a secret from mom, but she knew.  I knew she knew, but the whole thing was just so fun!  And it was like this big old secret between the “boys of the house”.  It felt good, and it gives me the warm-fuzzies every time I think about it.

Back to the story at hand!  I was walking my puppies down state street about a week and a half before the day I wrote this.  I saw on the marquee at the Paramount that James Gregory would be doing a show, Feb. 4.  How excited did I get?  Well, I didn’t know whether I should cry tears of joy, or pee myself a little bit.  I’m not going to tell you which one happened, but there was some saturation in an unnecessary place.

Jeremy ended up coming into town and we both decided that there was going to be no way in the world we were going to miss this show.  We ended up getting tickets in the second to last row, and didn’t care in the least.

The house was packed.  And that’s saying something for a man who has been doing stand-up comedy for 20 years or more.

The first man to come out was there to introduce Mr. Gregory, and his opener, Mr. Steve Mingola.  He was definitely a great ice-breaker.  He and the entire audience joined in a few big rounds of applause for the workers of the Paramount, the volunteers, the organist, and everyone who made the show possible.  The first funny thing to happen was when he began with the cell phone speech.  You know how it is, they tell you to turn off your cell phones, or at least put them on silent, or something.  He then continued with: “…and if you have a beeper… you really need to get with the times and get a cell phone, then come here for a show and turn it off.”  There was a little slip up though when he followed that up with: “If there’s anyone here from Grundy, Lebanon, or ‘Hay-see [sic]’…”  and before he could go any further, the audience corrected him with a big “IT’S HAYSI!!!” pronounced correctly, of course.  The introducer (and sir if you read this, I apologize right now for not remembering your name), undeterred and unembarassed, finished strong with: “Oh is that how you say it?  Well if you’re from one of those places, the CB-radio check in is in the back corner.”  Already on a roll, and the show hadn’t even started.  Fantastic!

The opener, a Mr. Steve Mingola was pure entertainment.  I have never been to a show, whether it be a comedy act, or play, or concert, or anything where the opener was very good.  But this time, I could not stop laughing!  It was as if he had a direct line to the funny-bone of everyone in the audience.  He talked about himself (an Italian guy) being married to a Southern woman.  Hilarity at its finest.  I’m not going to tell you any of his jokes, because you’d have a better time just going to see him perform, and I don’t want to take away from that.  At one point, I swear to you , I turned to my brother, and could barely keep my eyes open because I was laughing so hard, and Jeremy was wiping tears off of his face.  He was doubled over and could barely breathe.  It was just a good time.  We were halfway through just the opening act, and already I felt as if I underpaid for my ticket.  You are a very funny man Mr. Mingola, and I hope you come back to visit Bristol very, very soon!

I had never seen what James Gregory looked like before this past Friday, so I didn’t know what to expect.  But I tell you what, he did not disappoint anyone.  The tape of him I used to listen to with daddy and Jeremy was given to us somewhere around 1994.  It was probably 5 years old at that time.  And while I was sitting in his audience, and he came out on stage and uttered his first words, I immediately recognized his voice.. it hadn’t changed from what was on daddy’s tape in the least bit.  It made me nostalgic, it made me sentimental, and I couldn’t have been happier.

His performance was phenomenal.  If you’re looking for some of his jokes, you won’t find them here.  Look him up on youtube, he is awesome.  I will tell you though, that he is as comfortable a performer as you will ever find, down here, New York, L.A., anywhere, I don’t care.  He made me feel as if I were sitting in his living room, just shooting the breeze.

Jeremy and I figured on about an hour, more or less for the man himself.. but Ol’ James was on stage for 2 hours and 15 minutes by himself!  And it was joke after joke after joke!  Back to back like that.  There was not too many pauses between bursts of laughter.  I really couldn’t believe the energy, stamina, and persona he had.  It made it one of the best comedy shows I’ve been to (and I’ve been to a few in my short time here on Earth), and it was definitely the most enjoyable.

Mr. Gregory, from the bottom of my heart, and from my family to yours, thank you for stopping by our little piece of America.  Thank you for bringing laughter and joy into our lives, and please come back at your earliest convenience.

To the readers:  Go see his show.  Stop reading my article right now, and book a flight, buy tickets, or whatever you have to do.

I’ll see you at the concession stand.

The Jester.

Merry Christmas!

Posted in Alcohol Involved, Annual, Christmas, Family, Holidays, Modern on December 23, 2010 by Divide By Zero

I know I’ve been slacking with the new posts and everything.  I know they’re supposed to be posted on a certain day, and I’ve rarely been getting to them on time lately.  But with the Holidays being upon us as they are, I wanted to take the time to let everyone knot that I’m going to be taking a hiatus from the blog.  Don’t cry, I mean a partial hiatus.  Between working my full time jobs, shopping, spending time with family, taking care of my puppies, and cooking/eating, not to mention playing video games, I don’t have time to write the blog.  Don’t worry though, I’ll be back.  Let us all cool the jets, shift back to neutral, and let our batteries recharge.  I will be back early, 2011.

(I’ll still be doing my local Friday posts, as usual.)

Merry Christmas to all!

The Jester.