Saturday, January 29, 2011


Mary Poppins isn't the only thing that I love.

Last week, a friend forwarded me an incredible article about another of my great loves. Chuck Hayes is my all-time favorite Kentucky Wildcat.

I first noticed him his freshman year. My family and I had followed the Cats to Athens, and this newbie initially caught my attention for the "44" on his jersey. Since childhood, I had HATED Kentucky 44s. I'm sorry, Dan Issel. Forgive me, Cotton Nash. You fellas were fantastic, but to my generation, the most immediate associations with "44" were Gimel "Scissorhands" Martinez and, God save us all, Rob Lock. I was 10 years old when Lock first put on his jersey. That was 23 years ago, and I still seethe with disdain when I think about him and his disgusting propensity to foul - early and often.

Then came Chuck Hayes. Like Lock, he hails from sunny CA. Thankfully, though, the similarities end there. In that first outing in Athens, Chuck was everywhere you'd want him to be - pulling down rebounds, chasing after loose balls, scoring the odd Whitaker Bank Shot. He did it all, and I took notice.

"Daddy," I said. "No more will I hate 44! That kid's gonna redeem his number!"

And did he ever.

In four years at UK, Chuck became everybody's favorite. He also became the player who had the highest win percentage in college basketball.

Now a Houston Rocket (alongside fellow Cat Patrick Patterson), Chuck is doing big things in the NBA. By "big things," I mean backing up Yao Ming and holding Blake Griffin (John Wall's stiffest competition for Rookie of the Year) to 5 for 16 from the field. Sean Pendergast wrote a great post about this feat:

"Stingy defense," he wrote, "tireless effort, relentless rebounding...what kind of NBA player are you, Chuck? Please, on behalf of those of us who are still too shallow to fully appreciate the things that you do, stop trying so damn hard, Chuck Hayes."

In both the Richard Justice posting and in Pendergast's more recent rant "against" my Sweet Baby Hayes, the Houston press is waking up to what us Kentuckians have known about Chuck for a long time:

"All he does is win."

Friday, January 28, 2011

"Take some sound advice, and don't forget it ...

This is why I don't make New Year's Resolutions.

On 12/31/10, a friend and I sat at a restaurant in Nashville, discussing the year gone by and anticipating the one ahead. Amidst eating, laughing, and uncovering the reasons why our waiter, a native Jayhawk, was actually a Buckeye fan (huh?!), I mentioned to him the one change I'd most like to make in 2011:

"I'd like to blog more."

Well, we can all see how well that's going for me. There are 3000 excuses that I could make for my 26-day hiatus. Unfortunately, however, none of them involve international travel or an invitation to tour as the title role in Thoroughly Modern Millie. I haven't been feeding the hungry, housing the homeless, or developing strategies for achieving elusive peace in the Middle East. Nope. In the immortal words of David Wooderson, I have just been "l-i-v-i-n'."

Well, I've been l-i-v-i-n' and w-r-i-t-i-n' and t-a-k-i-n' my 11 year-old nephew to watch the Wildcats in Columbia. With Cam & Aunta in the stands, the Big Blue brought home their first SEC road win of the season. This is probably not a coincidence. In fact, I'm in the middle of negotiating with my sister to get her to allow me to take him to each remaining away contest; otherwise, this may not be the year we win Number Eight. Right now, she's all, like, "He's gotta go to school," and I'm all, like, "Yeah, well, the last time I checked, there's isn't any 'fifth grade is more important' in TEAM."

Parents just don't understand.

The other supremely exciting thing to happen this month is this: I ordered my cap & gown. You know what that means. That means that I'm graduating in May. The dissertation is nearly done. The tuition is completely paid, and the only thing between me and a degree is one more Wildcat sweep of the SEC Tournament. Oh, and the "small" matter of a dissertation defense.

Another friend called me while I was on the phone ordering. As soon as the order was placed, I called him back and immediately exploded into unexpected tears. "I think I'm just shocked and so relieved that this day is finally here," I tried to explain myself. "I just can't believe it."

I really can't. A PhD in Musical Theatre History was my very own "impossible dream." It took three years of rejected applications (speaking OF Buckeyes ...), two years of 2,000 miles a week, and a lifetime of lots-of-prayers to get it done, yet here I sit, standing on the precipice of glorious completion.

"To God be the glory! Great things He has done!"

During the very emotional phone call, I remembered a moment from when Cam and I were driving home from Columbia last weekend. There are only about 60 songs on my iPod that his mother will allow him to listen to. Knowing that, I was, of course, careful about what I played (though I did slip in a little Black Eyed Peas - SORRY, SISSY!). The way there, it was all Television's Greatest Hits - theme songs to shows like Hogan's Heroes, Gomer Pyle, and, Cam's favorite, F-Troop. On the way back, when not celebrating the fact that we'd eaten corn dogs, nachos, and Twizzlers for dinner, we listened to some of the Mary Poppins cast recording.

You may not know this about me, but I love the movie Mary Poppins. I'm less in love with the stage version, but it still contains one of my all-time favorite musical theatre numbers: "Anything can Happen." It's one of those songs that I have never once listened to without crying. Not one time. Saturday nite was no exception. I think I first lost it while singing "Take some sound advice, and don't forget it: Anything can happen, if you let it." I know I was completely inconsolable, though, by the time we got to "Go and chase your dreams! You won't regret it! Anything can happen, if you let it."

"Aunta," Cam asked. "Why are you crying?"

"Because, Buddy. That's true. If there is something you love, and you really want to do, you should do it, no matter how hard it might seem. If you have a dream, you should go after it; there is no greater feeling that being totally in love with your life."

I'm not sure my attempt at wisdom fully resonated with my favorite adolescent. To be honest, I'm not really sure it fully resonated with me, either - until that phone call a few days later. The tears came, bringing with them a realization: by the grace of God and through His strength - and with the irreplaceable support of an incredible family, I am one of the lucky ones. I have been blessed far beyond what I deserved and given the chance to "Go and chase my dreams."

And you know what? Mary was right. "I don't regret it."

I am living proof that "... anything (including an eighth National Championship, Wildcat fans!) can happen, if you let it."

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Oh, Baby, Baby, it's a WILD world!

Turns out, I may not have to write my "Best of" blog after all. As you can probably imagine, much of it would've centered on UK basketball, anyway, so I figure why reinvent the big blue wheel? Instead, I'll just post what Drew Franklin (of Kentucky Sports Radio) came up with. It's a video of those Wildcats we said "Goodbye" to in 2010. I've already watched this more times than my sister watched her wedding video.

KSR: In Memoriam 2010 from Drew Franklin on Vimeo.

Also on any Wildcat's "Best of 2010" list would be the fact that UK defeated our arch-rival "Loserville" (thanks, Dad, for THAT clever little play on words) Cardinals no fewer than three times this year - once in football and twice in basketball, including during their first meeting in UL's tastily-named "Yum Center." That, of course, makes me want to get in his face and shout, "SUCK IT, RICK PITINO."

I'd do it, too, if I weren't afraid he'd take me seriously.


In the spirit of Kentucky's Big Blue domination of its "little brother," though, I give you Ryan Parker's interpretation of last Friday's win. In fact, now that this entry is done, I can FINALLY get back to re-watching my DVR'ed broadcast of the game.

Make your 2011 as BIG as the BLUE!

"... it's not very long."

If I can find the time to get to it before, say, Valentine's Day, I'd really like to write a "Best of" blog to commemorate the highs and lows of 2010. Until then, I'll leave it to the Four I Adore to herald the changing of the calendar from one year to the next.