Saturday, April 25, 2009

Country Music Marathon--A View From The Row

I woke up at an ungodly hour this morning, made coffee, walked the dog, and headed to the street behind my house for one of my favorite events: the Country Music Marathon. The course runs both ways down famed music row-- 16th and 17th Avenue South. I live right near there so I get to see the runners and walkers twice without moving more than a few feet. They come up 17th Ave. South, wind around the Belmont and 12 South neighborhoods, and then head back on 16th Ave South. on their way back downtown. Bands are located at strategic points along the route, and from my vantage point, I get to hear two. Randy McClellan (warming up above before the marathon started) played this year at the 17th and Wedgewood spot, and Jessica Miller at 16th and Wedgewood. They played great music today, and it wasn't all country music. The tunes included music by Linda Ronstadt, Stevie Wonder, Billy Joel, among others. It was a real party, and I loved it.

This year was the marathon's 10th anniversary, which is awesome because in the early years they had trouble attracting enough participants, and there was a fear it would not continue. But for the last year or so, more than 30,000 people have signed up, the majority running the half marathon.

I donned one of my purple leukemia and lymphoma T-shirts and went out to root for my fellow fundraisers who are helping to stamp out leukemia. When I ran my three marathons for leukemia in the '90s, it meant a lot to me that others wearing the purple shirts were on the sidelines cheering us on, so I always try to reciprocate in my home city. The crowd support near my house gets better every year. I hear the support in the latter miles of the race is not so good---maybe we can work on that in coming years.

I always stake a place on the sidewalk in time to see the frontrunners. They come up 17th Ave. preceded by a police escort and the media truck, and every time it takes my breath away.

Below are the leaders of the pack. There is one other runner ahead of them.

This morning when I walked outside at 7 a.m., it was already warm, and I was comfortable in a sleeveless shirt. I thought to myself that may not be a good sign for the runners and walkers, as usually it is cool enough in the morning to wear a jacket. Even a few degrees difference in temperature can cause problems for marathoners. During the course of the day, the temperature got up into the mid-80s, which is almost 20 degrees hotter than the average temperature on that day. Sure enough, it did take a toll on the runners and walkers, and one man died after finishing the half marathon.

This marathon, like all of them, had its light moments. Some participants dress up in costumes or do funny things. One person was wearing a bear mascot suit, which I am sure was discarded in record time due to the heat. One man was jogging and juggling at the same time. The group above was hulahooping and walking at the same time!

Watching the marathon always puts me in the best mood. Everyone doing a marathon is at some interesting point in their life, and it is inspirational to see them push toward their goal. My dog Stuey really enjoyed it too. He can run like the
wind. He knew that if he could off his leash, he
would be the winner.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Nashville Film Festival

Lordy, lordy, Nashville's Film Festival is 40! That is good news for Nashville as it shows the city remains serious about showcasing quality film. It also means it is the 4th longest running film festival in the U.S.

I have not been able to attend for the last five years, as the festival always hits in April when I was studying for law finals. This year I am done with that and will attend two screenings. One is Girlfriends. When I lived in Knoxville many years ago, and HBO was in its infancy, this film seemed to be about the only movie the channel offered. I must have watched the film a million times, just because nothing else was on. (Why did we pay for HBO in this case then--oh yeah--my roommate was in TV, and we had to "check it out.") I remember it being very good though and starred Melanie Mayron, who later starred in one of my favorite TV shows of all time, Thirtysomething.

(Note: I stayed for director Claudia Weills' talk after the showing last night, and she mentioned something interesting--that Melanie Mayron's character in Thirtysomething was patterned after her character Susan in Girlfriends! I love symmetry!)

The other film I'll see is Big River Man about Martin Strel, a Slovenian man in his 50s, who drinks two bottles of wine a day and has swum some of the longest rivers in the world--the Mississippi, Danube and Yangtze, and now the Amazon--as a way to bring attention to pollution. My kind of film. Watching the film reminded me how much I would love to go to the Amazon. But I would stay inside the boat rather than in the water. The difficult elements really took a toll on Strel and his crew. Boo on the talk show hosts who wouldn't have Martin on their shows.

Between you and me though, I still miss the days when the festival was called Sinking Creek Film Festival. The name was considered provincial by those in the know, but I thought it was unique and wonderful.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Flights From Hell: You're Not Alone

Finally there is a place to vent about our flying travails. Check out It will make you laugh; it will make you cry; it may make you want to stay out of sky! But it is a lot of fun to read and commiserate with others. Not to miss: The post about "Mr. Poopy Pants."

I am a very tolerant traveler, but I do have a couple of hellish stories of my own.

I used to travel quite a bit to Pennsylvania to visit my grandmother. It was cheaper to fly to Detroit on Northwest and take a commuter flight into a town near hers than to fly directly into her small town on another airline. So, over the course of several years, I flew this particular route a lot. The same flight attendant often worked the commuter leg. She was an older, attractive woman who was very pleasant while on the ground. But once we were airborne, she would become, dare I say, wicked witch-like???

She only picked on one traveler each time, and she would become very strident and almost hateful to whomever was in her crosshairs at the moment. One time I was sitting next to a gentleman who became her victim. She started arguing about his coat or something else trivial. She became demanding and obnoxious--I don't remember their exact exchange, but he was in the right and was very taken aback. At one point, he muttered "You have got to be kidding!" I sat there silently enjoying the display and witnessed several others on other flights.

Little did I know I would be caught in her web on a subsequent flight! I had just started law school, and was traveling to visit some other relatives. I had a torts test looming, and my notes and cases in my bag were my lifeblood, so much so that I would have run into a burning building to save them. If I lost those papers, I was sunk. I had a set of notes out to read during the flight, but the rest of my material was in a bag nicely tucked under the seat in front of me. Well, FA didn't think so. She kept trying to take the bag upfront. I told her I really needed to keep the bag with me. She kept on and on and was getting hateful. I showed her that the bag fit fine under the seat. But on and on she kept harassing. I told her that if the bag went up front, do did I. I was not to be separated from that bag! Somehow it wasn't so enjoyable when I was the butt of her problem. She really should not be an FA. I wonder if she is still working.

Another situation: I really don't like it when people ask you to switch seats. For the most part, it is an imposition. I usually book my seat way in advance and choose the seat that I want. I am sorry if you can't sit with your SO, BFF, or whoever else you are traveling with, but that is not my problem. On a flight from Europe a while back a couple didn't have seats together. The man asked if I would change seats so they could sit together. He was asking me to give him my great seat and sit in his awful seat. I said no. Then he asked another passenger, who did agree, but who was going to get a better seat out of the deal. Why did they not ask him to begin with? I would never ask someone to change their seat unless they would get a better seat out of the bargain. And the icing on the cake: The girlfriend glared at me for the entire flight! Grow up!