I am no longer blogging here at Little Nuances, but I would love for you to join me on my author website www.leewarren.info.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Having "It"

I read a Newsday article yesterday in my local newspaper about the "All New Mickey Mouse Club" television show that ran from 1989-1996. The article highlighted how Matt Casella cast people like Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake, Christina Aguilera, Keri Russell, and Ryan Gosling for the show. I was especially drawn to what Casella said about Gosling:

"I found Ryan in Montreal," Casella said. "His singing and dancing were good, but just talking to Ryan, he was such a nice kid. I had him do a comedy scene, and his timing was perfect. It's ironic, since he's known as a great indie actor. He has 'it,' that special something."

The thing about having "it" is--it's subjective. All of us love the music we love, and the movies we love, and the books we love, because they have "it." Most even wait for marriage until they see "it" in a prospective spouse. It can be a sparkle in the eye, a tuck of a strand of hair behind an ear, or an ability to be in the moment. But I think it's deeper than that.

I think the "it" quality is a connection between two human beings. We desperately want to be understood and when we find someone who does, we grasp on. Some people love Bruce Springsteen because of his perceived ability to identify with the common man. Listen to what Stephen Metcalf said about him in an article on the Slate.com website:

"On the cover of Darkness, he looks strangely like the sallower cousin of Pacino's Sonny Wortzik, the already quite sallow anti-hero of Dog Day Afternoon. The message was clear: Springsteen himself was one of the unbeautiful losers, flitting along the ghostly fringes of suburban respectability.

"Thirty years later, and largely thanks to Landau, Springsteen is no longer a musician. He's a belief system."

In Metcalf's mind, Springsteen not only has "it," he is "it."

I prefer John Mellencamp. He's a guy who I'd love to sit down and enjoy a beer with. He moves me with his music. He has this ability to reach into my soul--the place where my memories and hopes and dreams exist in a protected vacuum--and he gently strokes them with the back of his hand as if he to say he understands.

Again, that's the beauty of "it." It's subjective, but it's also real. When someone we respect exhibits an "it" quality, we want everybody else to see it. We blog about it, blab about it, and obsess about it. And oftentimes, it falls on deaf ears because all of us connect with humanity in different ways.

And that's okay.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

The Grand Prairie Herald

My grandparents on my Dad's side grew up in a small town about 45 miles east of Little Rock, Arkansas called Hazen. It's a typical small southern town of about 1,600 people. People are friendly, no matter where you meet them. The pace of life is slow. And everybody seems to have time to stop for conversation.

The downtown area has a set of train tracks running through middle of it, which is sort of a reminder of the way things used. The last time I visited, Hazen had a great cafe on the edge of town that served food home style. And farming is a way of life for most people there. So is fishing and hunting.

Those are thing things I remember from my childhood when my grandparents took my sister and I there to visit during the summer. After we grew up, and after my grandfather died, my grandmother kept in touch with the town by reading their weekly newspaper called "The Grand Prairie Herald." She subscribed to it and read it faithfully even though she lived more than 700 miles away.

I flipped through it sometimes too. I can remember the ads for Rogers Grocery store on the back page. And I always thought it was funny to read newspaper stories about the social activities of regular citizens. You could read articles about who went to visit who after church and who had relatives coming into town. In fact, once the newspaper found out that my grandparents and my sister and I were visiting and they wrote about us, which was quite a thrill for a kid.

I just looked up the website for the newspaper and was surprised to see that they are indeed online. And all of the charm of the old newspaper came rushing back. From the way the columnists refer to readers as "gentle readers" and "dear friends and neighbors" to the way they speak freely about topics like Christmas.

Check out this insight from an editorial called "Most Wonderful Time":  

"I really think Christmas doesn’t (one might even venture to say shouldn’t) happen in department stores, shopping malls, jewelry shops or toy stores. The same goes for Christmas parades, community festivals and musical programs. And I’ll even risk ostracization by saying that Christmas can’t be found in traditional candle-lit church services or contemporary-feel-good-glorified-tent-revivals. These are only reminders, and pale, human reminders at that.

"Christmas happened a couple of millennia ago, in a filthy barn where the creator of the universe, for reasons of his own, chose to give humankind the greatest gift we have ever received. Christmas has a chance, but just a chance, to happen again every second of every day in every human heart. If it doesn’t happen there, and spread outward with every breath we take into everything we say and do to and for the humblest of our fellows, all the reminders in the world mean exactly zilch."

How good is that?

I just clicked on the subscription page and found out that I too could begin receiving the newspaper, much like my grandmother did for many years, for just $25.00 a year. How could I not subscribe? So I printed the subscription sign up sheet and will be mailing it the next time I send out my bills.

And the tradition will continue.

Monday, October 29, 2007

The South Omaha Sun

Have you ever had a flashback about something you haven't thought about in years and it just warmed your soul? I had one recently.

A friend was telling me about a college football pick 'em contest he entered and won second place in and I instantly flashed back to my childhood when a newspaper called "The South Omaha Sun" had a similar contest every week.

The paper discontinued operations in the 1980s, I believe.

But I can remember waiting for it to show up each week when I was a kid so I could make my college football picks. I think the contest included 20 games and it always included the Nebraska game. And as a tie-breaker, you had to guess the score of the Nebraska game. After completing the form, you had to clip it out and mail it to the newspaper by Thursday.

I have such great memories of sitting around the radio on Saturday afternoons waiting to hear the scores. During halftime of the Nebraska game radio broadcasts, an announcer would break in and run down the scores of every game in the country. I'd cheer or boo, depending upon the way my predictions were going, and then I'd wait for the post-game show to mark a big X next to the games I got right. I never won the contest, but I had so much fun competing that it really didn't seem to matter.

I searched ebay over the weekend and found a copy of the South Omaha Sun from 1949 that someone is selling for $3.00. He allowed me to use the picture of his newspaper for this post.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Friday Free-for-All

--Before I left New Mexico last week for the long drive home to Nebraska, I heard that a snow storm had hit the Denver area. Since I was planning to travel through Denver on my way home, I called a good friend who is a weather guru and he pointed me in the opposite direction. So I drove through the Texas panhandle--staying overnight in Amarillo on Sunday night--and then drove through Oklahoma, Kansas, and part of Nebraska on Monday.

--I've never been to Texas and I've only been in Oklahoma once, so I really enjoyed the drive. I had a lot of time to think and I enjoyed the sights along the way. Texas had two speed limits on the interstate--one for the daytime and one for at night. Oklahoma had giant windmills of some sort on the side of the interstate and I have no idea what their purpose was, but they were quite a sight. In Kansas I took the turnpike and honestly it didn't produce many great sights, but it did provide a quick way to travel. Once I reached the Nebraska border, I took on old highway the final two hundred miles and that was fun. I wouldn't want to travel long distances on highways, but something about stopping in small towns, and seeing hotels and cafes that aren't chains stirs up feelings of nostalgia.

--My cat, the beloved Midnight, has hardly left my side since I got home on Monday night. No amount of promises will convince her that I'm not going leave her for a week again any time soon. She just looks up at me and meows. And if that doesn't get my attention then she maneuvers herself in such a fashion that she is between me and my keyboard. Guess I can't blame her though. I missed her too.

--Can you believe that Christmas is just two months away? I'm already starting to get into the spirit. I was surprised by how many copies of The Experience of Christmas I sold last week at the writer's conference. Speaking of that book, I owe all of you who are subscribers a drawing for a free copy of it--something I should have done back on October 1. I think I'll do two drawings on November 1. So if you aren't already a subscriber, now is the time to place your email address in the box in the upper right hand corner of this page. You'll begin receiving new posts every time I write them and you'll be eligible to win free prizes. How cool is that?

Hope you all have a great weekend. Next week, I'll be back to regularly scheduled posting.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

New Mexico Report

I had a great time at the Glorieta Christian Writers Conference last week. My voice held up as I taught classes and met with conferees. I heard from a lot of people who seemed to be encouraged. And in the process I was encouraged.

One of my favorite parts of the conference though wasn't an official part of the conference. On Friday night I went to an authentic Mexican restaurant in Santa Fe called Castro's Restaurante (wish I'd snapped a photo of the place, but I didn't think of it at the time) with a couple of friends who I haven't seen for a while and we had a great time. Several years ago, the three of us went to this same restaurant after it was recommended to us and we enjoyed it so much that we decided to recreate the magic--something that rarely happens.

But somehow it happened again.

One of the guys lives in Florida and he has this sort of infectious laugh. He is well read and loves conversation. The other guy is a pastor in Michigan who is also well read, who also loves to laugh, and he has a huge heart when it comes to understanding people and their struggles. I don't know how or why I fit in with these guys, but somehow I do. We talk about deadly serious issues and our conversations flow just as easily to the insanely comical. So, we ate a bunch of great food, had a great time catching up with each other, and then we headed to Old Town Santa Fe to do a little exploring.

We couldn't resist stopping by this bookstore:

We walked by a couple of rather bizarre types of coffee shops:

And we stopped to admire a little art along the way:

I don't know when or if the three of us will ever have a chance to get together again, but I couldn't help but think about people who spend their entire lives looking for activities or hobbies or experiences that will bring them happiness, when in reality, having dinner and spending time with friends might be exactly what they are looking for.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007


Made it safely to Glorieta, New Mexico yesterday afternoon. The conference starts later today and I've got quite a bit of work to do before it starts, but I wanted to share a photo I took yesterday in southern Colorado on the drive down.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Trip Time

On Monday, I leave for Albuquerque and I'm busy making my final preparations to teach at the Glorieta Christian Writers Conference there next week. If I get a chance I'll post while I'm there, but I probably won't have a lot of time. Posting will probably be light at best over the next ten days or so. I'll be back soon.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Letters to Iraq

Back in June I wrote a post about a high school buddy named Jim who is in the Navy Reserve. He'd just received a call to let him know that he was headed out for 12 weeks of training and then to Iraq. I've tried to email and call him since he left, but was never able to get through to him. So, I called his wife last week and she gave me his new contact info. He is indeed in Iraq, but of course, we don't know anything more than that.

His wife said that he isn't getting that much mail right now, so he'd be thrilled to get a letter from me. I told her that I plan to send him many letters in the coming months. I then sat down and wrote him a long letter. On Monday, I was working in my home office and my cell phone rang. I didn't recognize the phone number, but I picked it up any way--something I rarely do. It was Jim calling from Iraq.

We had a great conversation. He wanted to know what was going on back at home and I filled him in as best I could. We spoke a little about the "old days." He told me how much his misses his wife and kids already. We talked about his mom and her failing health. I asked him if he needed anything and he said that he really didn't. Apparently, so many people have been sending coffee, snacks, and various other things that he said he doesn't want for anything.

I told him that I'd be writing frequently and he said that's one of the best things I could do. He said that he routinely pesters the mail delivery guy in his unit about hiding packages and letters from him. Yeah, he's just joking with him, but it pretty much tells you how much Jim looks forward to receiving mail from home. And I don't blame him. But I plan to do all that I can to make sure he pesters the mail delivery guy a lot less in the future.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Simplify, Simplify, Simplify

"Our life is frittered away by detail. An honest man has hardly need to count more than his ten fingers, or in extreme cases he may add his ten toes, and lump the rest. Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity! I say, let your affairs be as two or three, and not a hundred or a thousand; instead of a million count half a dozen, and keep your accounts on your thumb-nail!" --Henry David Thoreau from "Walden"

Life often feels like a mighty rushing swollen river just seconds after it has smashed through a weary dam. The pace of the water is so fast and full of debris that nobody in his right mind would ever think of attempting to touch his lips to the surface to get a refreshing drink. Instead, he does everything he can to survive and to keep from being carried too far downstream. But something deep within me feels like life should be more like the small manageable stream that comes out of a water fountain. You might not catch ever ounce of water, but you get most of it.

I have 3,115 songs on my iPod. Many people have a lot more than I do. But even so, my iTunes software calculates that it would take 9.3 days to listen to all of it. I'm guessing that over the course of my lifetime, I've listened to every song in my collection at least once. But that's the problem. You can never really drink deeply from a song that you've only heard just once. I have no idea how many books I have, but I always feel like I'm racing through one just to get to the next one. Same goes for movies. And for writing fiction, and for reading poetry, and for taking walks by a lake.

Real life has real demands and all of us or in different stages of life, but most of us have some free time each day. In our haste though, we live our lives on the surface by attempting to do everything that catches our attention. I think we'd do better and feel more satisfied if we let our affairs be as two or three as Thoreau suggested.

That's not to say we couldn't enjoy other activities in our lives, but they wouldn't be our focus. I've often thought about how uncomplicated life used to be. At least that's my perception. Can you imagine Jesus carrying around a PDA just so he could keep his schedule straight? Or the Apostle Paul?

Speaking of Paul, he told the Corinthian church that God didn't send him to baptize people (although he did perform a few baptisms), but rather to preach the gospel (1 Corinthians 1:17). We also know that he was a tentmaker and a writer. So, he appeared to have three things that he did. He didn't jump from one thing to the next once he figured out what he was supposed to be doing.

Personally, I feel like there's a couple of things that I must do before I die. Accomplishing them will take a long time and neither seems to fit into my schedule right now. But when I take a step back and look at the many things I'm already doing that I don't necessarily have to do, then I realize that I do have the time. I'm just allowing the rushing river of life to push me and beat me up, rather than grabbing onto a lifeline, climbing out of the river and finding a couple of water fountains.

Can you relate?

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Just Write

I read an article on the About.com website recently called "Choosing a Writing Space" by Ginny Wiehardt. I'm always curious to know what other writers do to produce their best work and one thing that some writers point to is a specific writing space or place. Maybe it's a spare bedroom turned into an office. Maybe it's a table in the corner of the living room. Or maybe it's the fantasy of most writers--a cabin on a lake.

I've never felt like I needed a specific place to produce. The idea of having a spacious cabin on a lake with a fire going seems about as far fetched and unrealistic to me as actually being able to afford such a place. The real world of writing demands that a writer produce nearly any where, any time.

Wiehardt says this in her article: "The first year I worked on my novel, I wrote on the subway ride home because I had a roommate and couldn't afford to go to a coffee shop every evening. Something about the anonymity of the subway and the set period of time must have inspired me. As I edited the novel a few years later, I noticed that some of the best writing in the book was done on that ride home."

When I was writing The Experience of Christmas, I had a tight deadline. I took my laptop with me one night when I met some friends at a local Borders. While they browsed books, music, and magazines, I wrote the entire introduction of the book before they grabbed a coffee and sat down with me. I made do in a Borders coffee shop and it worked out just fine.

I just reached over and grabbed a copy of the book. Here's the first couple of paragraphs from the intro I wrote that night:

"Every year the Christmas season seems to come and go more quickly. In spite of our best intentions and deepest longings, any hope of slowing down to enjoy the real meaning of the season fades with each pressing commitment. We have presents to buy, Christmas parties to attend, food to prepare, and Christmas cards to address.

"While we may dream about sitting down with the family in the living room to enjoy beautiful Christmas music while gazing at the tree, in truth, year after year we starve our souls. As Christians, our souls long to drink deeper of the things of Christ--and still we yield to the other demands for our time. In short, we are missing the essence of Christmas.

"This year can be different."

It won't win a Pulitzer Prize, but it captures what I was thinking as I wrote the book.

If you've been waiting for the perfect time to write, or the perfect place to write, or the perfect fill in the blank--stop waiting. Just write. Writing during a study hall, or a coffee break, or in a waiting room at your doctor's office. Write on the subway, write in a cab, or write during halftime of Monday Night Football.

You might be surprised by what you produce if you stop waiting for perfection and simply get to the task of actually writing.

Monday, October 08, 2007


One day last week, as I was visiting someone I knew in the hospital, I had a few minutes to kill. So, I took some time to gaze out the window in the lobby to do a little people-watching. I saw an elderly man who was in one of those scooter contraptions you see advertised sometimes that allows people with physical challenges to be mobile.

It didn't look like the man could move his arms or legs very well, but he could move one of his arms well enough to operate the scooter. His ride showed up and he rolled across the pick up zone to the car. A woman, about the same age as the man, presumably his wife, sat in the driver's side seat while the man maneuvered the scooter close to the passenger side car door. It took him a couple of minutes to do that, and when he finally had the car door open, he slowly lifted the armrests and then moved one leg over to the side of the scooter, followed by the other leg. He aided his second leg with one of his arms. Then, with what looked like every ounce of energy he contained, he struggled to his feet, backed his way into the car and plopped down in the seat.

The woman got out of the car and into scooter. She maneuvered it around to the back of the car and popped the trunk open. She disassembled the scooter into two or three pieces and then used a hoist that was attached to the underside of the trunk to raise the scooter into the trunk. I watched the man as the woman handled his scooter. He kept fidgeting with his baseball cap and watching her in the passenger side mirror. I'm totally guessing here, but I kept thinking that he must have been agonizing over the fact that he needed help with such things.

And if he thought that, I can understand why, but I, on the other hand, saw a courageous man and woman who are dealing with the life God has given them. And I was moved by it. Surely it's a routine that they go through every time they leave the house or apartment together. And that makes what I saw even more sacred; two people who are totally committed to each other, doing whatever it takes to get from Point A to Point B.

I have a niece who has been wheelchair bound most of her life. Maybe that's why I notice such things. But we all know that life can change in an instant--a stroke, a car accident, a mugging, a sports injury, an unexpected spill, but until it actually happens to us, or to someone we love, we somehow think we are above it all. As if it couldn't happen to us. But it can, and at some point, it probably will.

That's not to say that we should dread such times. God has taught me much during my own difficulties and I suspect he's done the same for you. Instead, I think we ought to simply be more aware of the struggles of people around us. By all means, if we can help someone along the way, we ought to. But even if we can't help, just observing people as they attempt to slay their own dragons can be inspiring.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Friday Free-for-All

--I joined the texting revolution this week. It almost seems like an underhanded way of communicating with people when you shouldn't though. I can't tell you how many restaurants and other businesses I've walked into only to see a clerk with his or her head down, punching away on a text message. I still don't really understand the craze, but it if means communicating with my niece more frequently, then I'm all for it. Now I just have to make sure she isn't doing it during her classes at school.

--The regular baseball season is over and it feels weird not watching or listening to my beloved Royals each night. But I've already read more since the season ended, and that's a good thing.

--I completed a moleskine notebook recently, and that means I got to start a new one. I love thinking about the possibilities as I tear off the plastic wrap of a new moleskine. I've already jotted down the following quotes this week: "Ain't no cure and that's a fact, for a reminiscing heart attack" (a line from an old Banshee song that has been running through my head lately). "Peace is not a sign of health--graveyards are peaceful" (my pastor said this during a recent sermon). "Writing isn't a disease, it's the cure" (a commenter named wandererchronicles on a recent post at the moleskinerie.com flickr page).

--Ron Benson wrote a post called "Church" a couple of days for his blog, Grace Clinic, that is hysterical, thought-provoking, and dreadfully serious. While I should highlight the dreadfully serious part, I almost died laughing when I read this paragraph: "My brother and I used to crawl under the pews while the church pianist practiced and the room was dark. She suffered from delusions, and believed she was a former Communist, now a U.S. spy, and she knew that her previous employers would eventually hunt her down. Robert and I would sneak around making creaking noises on the floors, popping up every now and then, and trying to cough like Communists, to watch her jump from the piano bench." I love the "trying to cough like Communists" line. Too funny.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, October 04, 2007

The 2007 Weblog Awards

Last year, I was honored when Little Nuances was chosen as a finalist in the 2006 Weblog Awards in the "Best of the Rest Category." It's that time of year again. The 2007 Weblog Awards website is now accepting nominations and will continue to accept them through October 15.

If you've been reading a blog every day for the past year and want to show the writer how much his or her words means to you, nominate the blog for an award by clicking on the awards button (or by clicking here). Select the proper category and leave a comment with the blog's URL and RSS feed. Blogs can be nominated in more than one category. If the blog has already been nominated, then click on the "+" icon as a way of saying you like the nomination.

Finalists will be selected in late October and after that everyone will have a chance to vote for his or her favorite blog in each category. This year there are 49 categories--six more than last year. If you need help in figuring out which categories to nominate your favorite blog in, don't be shy. Ask the blogger. He or she will be glad to help.

If you are interested in nominating Little Nuances, it could probably fit into the following categories:

--Best Individual Blogger

--Best Religious Blog

--Best Culture Blog

--Best Diarist

--Best of the Rest of the Blogs (8751+)

The URL to use when nominating Little Nuances is: http://littlenuances.blogspot.com

The RSS feed is: http://littlenuances.blogspot.com/atom.xml

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Alternate Endings and Commentaries

I watched the alternate ending of Rocky Balboa on DVD when it first came out and it bugged me. I'd already fallen for the real ending, and it was so much better. The idea of Rocky winning the fight against Mason Dixon (as the alternate ending depicted) was a bit ridiculous and Rocky's motivation had nothing to do with winning anyway. It was about respect and it was about doing the thing that had been left undone. Thankfully, Sly Stallone chose the right ending. 

I told you last Friday that something about alternate endings and commentaries at the end of DVD's bugs me. It didn't used to, but the more I watch of them, the more I'm bothered by them. I used to like the fact that they gave me special insight into the making of a movie, but I no longer think the tradeoff is worth it. I already know it's a fictional world, but I don't want the writers and producers to remove the curtain that shields us from reality so we can see them at work. 

I don't want to know that a particular scene was shot in Los Angeles if the fictional world is supposed to be set in New York. I don't want to know that someone had to add an extra window in a room so they could get better lighting. I don't want to know that props needed to be added to make a scene look more realistic. If I'm into the movie, and if my mind is already in the story line, then I've already bought the illusions. And I like it that way.

Recently, as I listened to commentary about a television series that I'm working my way through on DVD, a couple of the actors made all sorts of mistakes about what their characters did and didn't do. The series has been off the air for a while, so I'm guessing that the actors are on to other projects and I understand that, but hearing them mangle their character's story lines didn't do the series much justice in my opinion. 

So, the obvious answer for me is to stop watching all of the special features, and that's what I'm going to do. Anybody else feel this way or do the special features add to your experience?

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

NASCAR Photos from Kansas

My friend took much better photos at the Kansas Speedway this past weekend than I did. Here are a few of them...

This is just a small sample of what I was talking about in my last post about the parking lot being a sea of flags and banners:

A view from outside the speedway:

Here's a neat close up of Jamie McMurray's car:

Lined up for Busch qualifying:

Happy Hour for the Nextel Cup guys:

My NASCAR Experience

My friend and I left for the Kansas Speedway on Saturday at 6:00 am. We arrived shortly after 9:00 and we were awestruck by what we saw. The parking lot, which was really a parking field, was a sea of flags and banners supporting various different drivers. It was obvious that many had set up camp at least a day early to take in qualifying the day before. Many of them had RV's and far more of them had tents and most seemed to have lawn chairs and grills.

As my friend and I got close to the speedway, we heard a loud roar and we both looked at each other, thinking, "Is that not the loudest thing you've ever heard...and can you just imagine what it's going to sound like from Row 5?"

We made the long trek toward the speedway and were pleasantly surprised by how fan friendly the set up was. Most drivers had trailers where you could purchase merchandise, and some even posted schedules to let fans know when the driver would be appearing at his trailer to sign autographs. Several mock cars were spread across the campus and fans could have their pictures taken with the cars. My friend and I walked through the maze of NASCAR memorabilia for three hours. Sometimes you'd get a head nod or wave from a fan who was wearing the gear of your favorite driver.

My friend and I caught the final half of the Busch Series qualifying. The closer we got to our seats the louder the cars were. As a car approached you could feel the rumble, and you could smell...well, I don't know what the smell was, but something off the car. After a car passed you, your right eardrum felt like it was going to explode. It didn't take my friend and I long before we protected our ears with earplugs and/or headphones. The cars were so much faster than they look on television. And it made me appreciate the drivers' talent even more. Driving a car 200 miles per hour into four turns without wiping out is an incredible feat.

After Busch qualifying, we watched Happy Hour (which is the final practice for the Nextel Cup series). That was a load of fun. I tuned into Mark Martin's radio transmission and listened as he told his crew chief about the adjustments he needed to make. Mark's car was too tight to stay on the bottom of the track so he had to move to the high groove--not something he likes to do, and you could hear the frustration in his voice. He'd bring the car into the garage for adjustments and then drive it back onto the track, only to find that the adjustments hadn't worked. It was a little disheartening for me to hear since I had high hopes he'd run well there, but being so close to the action was an experience unlike any I've had with any other sport.

Five hours after we arrived, the Busch race started. Here is a photo I took of the cars during their initial pace laps:

Here's a video I took of the start of the race:

I was rooting for Carl Edwards, who is my second favorite driver, and he got off to a great start, but the handling on his car started to fade. Nearly half way into the race, my right leg (which I've had blood clot issues with in the past after surgery to repair my ruptured Achilles tendon) started to hurt quite a bit. We were packed into the stands so tightly that I couldn't move my leg and I know that I can't stay that way for long. So, I took a walk, got some refreshments and my leg didn't feel much better. I guess I overdid things in my zeal and I never was able to go back down to our seats. I watched from one of the doorways and ended up meeting a nice elderly gentleman who is also a Mark Martin fan. We talked for a long time. He's been into NASCAR since 1970. He travels to many of the dirt tracks in the Midwest. And, as you might imagine, he knew his NASCAR. But he asked me my opinion about a lot of things, which was nice.

By the time my friend and I made it back to our hotel room, I was exhausted. We decided that we weren't going to get to the track so early the next day for the Nextel Cup race and that we weren't going to walk around as much. Then we heard that a thunderstorm would probably hit during the race and the thought of taking on such another day didn't seem like so much fun--especially considering the issues with my leg. We arrived at the track not knowing if we'd attend the race or not. Eventually, we decided to sell our tickets. We did that and made one more pass at the souvenirs before heading home. We watched the race on television and gladly fast forwarded through two rain delays.

All in all, it was a great experience. One that I'm glad I had because it gave me perspective that I wouldn't have had in any other way. But I'll be just as glad to watch the races next week at Talladega on television with my leg propped up in my recliner and the air-conditioning set to the temperature of my liking.


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