Monday, September 24, 2007

Post #200--Five Questions

This is my 200th blog post. I'm not gonna throw a party or anything, but it does seem to be at least a little bit significant, so I wanted to make the post at least a little bit significant to commemorate the event.

I remembered my friend RevScott's "Five Questions Interview" post, and thought that might be both fun and interesting. And true to form, he came up with some great questions.

I only hope my answers are half as interesting. Here goes:

1. Describe the most memorable sporting event (watched or played in) in your life that has nothing to do with the Nebraska Cornhuskers or the Boston Red Sox.
Hmmm...actually, by far the most memorable sporting event that I can think of not involving those two teams is one that I didn't attend (which, strangely enough, helps make it memorable). I'll explain. It was fall of 1990, my junior year of high school, and football was in the air (as it always is in the fall). We had a team that Garrison Keillor would describe as "Lake Wobegon-esque." It was most decidedly above average. Not great, but not bad either.

On our schedule that season was Creighton Prep. We hated them. They were a private school unencumbered by things like district boundaries and pulled in kids from all over the Omaha area. And they had won the state title three years in a row, going undefeated during that whole span. Jerks. My school, Bellevue West, was made up of probably 90% military kids. The average military family moves every 3 1/2 years. Do you have any idea how hard it is to build any kind of team chemistry when a quarter of your team graduates each year, and another third of your team moves away? Every year?

Did I mention that we had an intense dislike of Creighton Prep?

So, somewhere in the middle of the season, we played Creighton Prep. I was so going to be at that game. My friends and I had plans to paint our faces...the whole school was going to be there. There was a buzz for weeks before.

Problem is, the game was on a Friday night. And I had registered to take the ACT the next morning. And I have good parents who realize that getting a good night's sleep tends to help one do better on college entrance exams.

I wasn't at the game.

I wasn't there when Eric Fleckten, the good looking soccer player-turned-kicker who played first chair trumpet in the band, ended up being valedictorian, went to my church and was an all around nice guy kicked the game winning field goal as time expired to let Bellevue West win and hand Creighton Prep their first loss in almost 4 years.

I wasn't there when all the students rushed the field and carried Eric off.

I wasn't there for the celebrations afterwards, the re-living of the game, the excited comparing of plays.

But I was at the school cafeteria the next morning, where among whispers of "can you believe we won?!?!" I took the ACT.

I got a 32. Never had to take it again.

2. What's your favorite hymn/church song, and why?
I have so many favorites for so many different reasons, and there was a time not so long ago where I would have answered without hesitation "Jesus Christ Is Risen Today" (LBW 151). The last few years, however, I've had a new favorite: "Crown Him With Many Crowns." The tune is gorgeous and soaring, you can totally rock out to it with a big ol' honkin' pipe organ and some trumpets, and the lyrics speak of Christ's triumph and glory while still pointing back to the cross. I've said before that I'm a hymn crier--this one, when done well, can get me going just about every time.

Plus, Lost and Found did a great version of it on one of their albums. =)

3. Ever laughed so hard you snorted milk out your nose or your stomach ached? If so, tell us about that moment.
It was at one of my birthday parties...I would have been a young teenager, maybe 12 or 13. I don't remember what was said that was so funny, but we were about to have cake and I DO remember taking a drink of milk right before whatever the funny comment was. Everyone was laughing, but I was the only one with liquid in his mouth--it was almost instantaneous. Up the nasal passages and out the nose came the milk. All over the table. It was an oddly chilly sensation.

4. What's the best thing about living with Sweetie and Kiddo?
Moments like yesterday evening. Sweetie and I were sitting on the living room floor, balancing the checkbook and paying bills. We have a system set up where I'll read dollar amounts off of receipts and such, and she'll record them...then after we've recorded our transactions, I'll run the calculator while she reads off each recorded dollar amount and how much to subtract or add (usually it's subtraction...), and she'll write down the balances.

Wow, I just re-read that paragraph. It's not nearly as complicated as it sounds.

Anyway, Kiddo likes to help when we're balancing. He has a stack of old offering envelopes that he uses to pay his "bills," and a big calculator where he'll punch numbers and yell out amounts to us in a very businesslike manner. Then he'll ask us how many dollars he should add. We'll give him a random number, and after a few minutes of furious button pushing he'll triumphantly announce "sixteen dollars!"

We enjoy each other's company. We have fun paying the freakin' bills. I love that.

5. Other than Billy Joel, who are your favorite musicians and why?
I tend to go for singer-songwriters. There's a distinction to be made here...there are some folks referred to as "singer-songwriter" that can't really sing all that well. And there's others who sing stuff that others have written for them.

I like singer-songwriters. Ya gotta be able to do both. Write your own music, play your own instruments, tell me a story and sing it well.

In this group, Paul Simon/Simon and Garfunkel and James Taylor are absolutely the two standouts. But I've discovered some younger singer-songwriters that I've grown to love as well: Sonya Kitchell, Teitur, and Joshua Radin are three of my current favorites.

And RevScott would kill me if I didn't mention Storyhill, who he introduced me to and whose music I love as well.

Bonus question: you've been a Cornhusker fan for much of your life. What's your coolest "Big Red" moment, the one that makes you think, "THIS is why I'm a big fan!"?
Disclosure time here--RevScott asked this question already knowing what my answer would be.

My answer is about Turner Gill.

Being the son of an Air Force officer, I wasn't born in Nebraska, but my family moved to Nebraska in December of 1983 when my dad was stationed at Offutt Air Force Base. The very first Husker game I ever remember watching was the 1984 Orange Bowl for the national championship against Miami. I rooted for the Huskers, but only since they were the team of my new homestate rather than any particular emotional investment. At the end of the game, Nebraska scored a late touchdown--if they had kicked the extra point, it would have tied the game and Nebraska would likely have been named national champions (Miami was ranked #4 at the time). Instead they decided to go for two points and the outright win. Turner Gill was Nebraska's quarterback, and I remember his pass being tipped away at the last moment. The Huskers lost the game, and Miami was crowned national champs. What I remember more is the dignity and class Turner showed in the days and weeks following the loss. It was then that I really became a Husker fan.

Fast forward 21 years. Turner Gill, after a numebr of years as a Husker assistant coach, announced his resignation from the Husker football program in December of 2004. I was a semi-regular poster on a website and message board called, and like many others, wished that there was something I could do to express all that Turner Gill had meant to me and to the Husker program in all his years here. I set up a Yahoo email address and posted a request on Huskerpedia to have people send thank-you emails to Turner at this address. My plan was to print them out and send them through the mail to Turner. In about a week and a half, I received 761 emails. After a TON of cutting, pasting, and formatting, I was able to fit them all on to 137 pages. I printed them out and sent them to Turner's home in Lincoln (his address was in the phone book) with a cover letter from me. (I'll reprint some of the responses in another post.)

About a week later, when I got home from work, there was a message on my answering machine. It was Turner Gill, saying thank you for the work I had done and telling me that he'd try calling back again because he didn't want to just leave a message. Remember now that during this time he was interviewing for a new position in Green Bay. He tried calling again a few days later, and left his number telling me to call him. I called, and his wife answered and said he was out, but that if I told her a good time to try the next day he'd call me then. Sure enough, he did. We talked for a good 15 minutes about life, faith, and football. At the end of our conversation, he invited me OVER TO HIS HOUSE the next day so that he could give me a thank you note and autographed football for all my trouble.

When I got to his house the next day, Turner greeted me at the door wearing a Husker shirt. By this time he had accepted a player development position with the Green Bay Packers, and was getting ready to move. The house was in that "in-between" stage...lots of half-filled boxes scattered around the living room and kitchen. Both he and his wife apologized for the condition of the house. He grabbed the football and note off his kitchen counter and handed it to me, and he and his wife both thanked me again for the email project. Turner said he had gotten a chance to read through a lot of it on his way to and from Green Bay, and he was really touched. I asked if it would be all right if I had a picture taken with him, and he immediately agreed. His wife was worried about all the boxes laying around, but decided that the best place would be in front of the fireplace. She took a framed picture off the floor and propped it up on the mantel so there would be something behind our heads, then snapped a picture with my camera.

That was Turner Gill to me in a nutshell. I tried to do something nice for him, to show how much he was appreciated by Husker fans everywhere, and he turned it around and ended up going out of his way to do something incredibly nice for me. He will always be a hero of mine, not because he was a great player or coach, but because he is an incredible human being who wants nothing but the best for those around him. He is a man of faith who sees helping others as his calling from God, and he's just grateful to have the platform of football to be able to help him achieve that calling.

Yours Truly and Turner Gill, in his living room

Now, here's the rest of the deal:

1. If you are interested in being interviewed, leave me a comment saying “Interview me."

2. I will respond by posting five questions for you. I get to pick the questions.

3. You will update your blog with a post containing your answers to the questions.

4. You will include this explanation and an offer to interview someone else in the same post.

5. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them five questions.



Rev Scott said...

Oh, I forgot to mention that I'll be coming to you for post #500.

David said...

Some great answers. I love the high school football story. I think I would have snuck out and gotten in big trouble. You made the wise choice.

Hot Cup Lutheran said...

OMG you would just about pee your pants if Billy Joel ever sang the national anthem at a Husker game... not sure you could handle all the excitement LH... and then if Taylor Hicks were to perform at halftime...

Creighton Prep... their name says it all doesn't it? geesh

RuthRE said...

hmm, interview me :)

(visualizing kids at recess, picking sides for kickball...pick me! pick me!)

mompriest said...

wow, great play!

Lawyer Mama said...

Too funny. We went to high school together. It's amazing the people you run into in the Blogosphere.

LutheranHusker said...

Lawyer realize that now you've reduced me to poring over yearbooks, comparing pictures, trying to do some low-tech detective work to figure out which one of my classmates posted on my blog!!! =)

On the other hand, what fun to check out hairstyles from 1989-92!!!


Daveysbrew said...

Enjoyed your comments on Turner Gill. This man is a living desciple of our Savior. What an incredible witness. When he could have been doing nothing but gushing over his MAC Championship win, the first words out of his mouth, once he could speak, were to thank his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
My wife taught at a Lutheran school for 23 years until it closed unexpectedly (yes, some still don't understand the cost of good ministry). Her ministry is now teamed up with Turner's as she is now his administrative assistant.