Monday, December 16, 2013

Mouth of the South

About 10 years ago, right after I'd turned 50, my kids were old enough to get in and out of the tub without my help. And given my bride, Tybee, is a teacher, Nate and Rebecca had access to far better help with their homework than their daddy could provide.

Feeling just a bit superfluous around the old hacienda, I began frequenting open mics in Winston looking for places to play my songs. Lo and behold, the music scene in the Twin Cities was far more robust and vibrant than I ever imagined.

Along the way I met and got to know some wonderful musicians who, almost to a person, became even better friends. Two of my best friends in the world, Johnny Hoots and Bubba Spear, have been playing with me off-and-on for about five years now. You saw how good they are if you were at the book launch for ACC Basketball Book of Fame on Sept. 11.

We go by different names. Sometimes we're the Slaves to Fashion, sometimes the Pair-a-Dice Palookas, sometimes the Spudtowne Tuberdours and sometimes, when I'm feeling especially political, we're the Whiny Billionaires. Well when we play the soundtrack to ACC Basketball Book of Fame, we're the All-ACC Hotshots.

We got together over a Bubba's yesterday to sand down the set for a show we have scheduled for Friday, Jan. 3 at Chelsee's Coffee Shop on Trade Street in Winston. Hope you guys can make it, and as an added enticement, we videotaped a version of one of the tunes, Did the Mouth of the South Really Write Porn?

Friday, December 13, 2013

Frosty's Gone

It's been awhile since I've tended to this blog, and I could make an excuse of how I've been busy with my real job, what with basketball season stomping in before football season was over and the resigning of one football coach and hiring of another. But truth is, I've just been lazy.

Also I wanted to give the Hansbrough song a good run at the top of the page. It gained me some traction, which was great to see.

But along the way I've continued to write the soundtrack to my book. I know I come off as a pretty upbeat kind of guy, which is for the most part an accurate description. But life is not all swishes and dunks, and sometimes, even in the toy department world of ACC Basketball, life can suck and death can suck worse.

My latest is a sad one, about the most tragic death the ACC has ever known.

Sunday, November 10, 2013


If the Atlantic Coast Conference really wanted to show some class, it would have a Bard. I'm talking the original definition of the word, a person who travels around memorializing great people and great deeds with verse and song.

I've been writing sports for a daily newspaper since the fall of 1972, and if my public school education doesn't fail me that means I've been at it for going on 42 years. But I won't be writing for a daily newspaper forever. 

So when I'm done with that, I want to be a Bard. The ACC needs to hire me for the job. Once all the other conferences see how awesome it is to have a Bard, they're going to have to have one too. In time, it'll be a whole new industry. And the ACC can always say it had the first -- me.

Here's a sample of my credentials for consideration. Enjoy.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Tough Crowd to Pick a Fight With

So much of what I know about life I learned from the Andy Griffith Show, but only from the black-and-while episodes before Barney had departed Mayberry for Raleigh and his corner room at the Y.

Anyone looking for moral guidance and common-sense advice could do much worse.

Recently I saw the one where the bad kid, Steve Quincy, shows up in town and turns Opie and all his buddies into young hooligans. Opie knew it was wrong to steal apples from Mr. Foley's store, and he knew it's even worse to throw those apples and knock out street lights. But Steve Quincy was bigger than Opie, and Opie, truth be known, was scared of him.

Since this blog began, I've tried to play the role of Steve Quincy. I want to stir something up. It's been way too quiet, too placid, too harmonious for my taste..

Want to fight? Then step across this line.

Really want to fight? Then knock this chip off my shoulder.

Really, really want to fight? Then step inside this circle.

I've been waiting for somebody like Opie to come along and be willing to do all that. I've drawn the line in the sand, I've placed the chip on my shoulder, I've traced out the circle.

I've awarded Tyler Hansbrough more points than David Thompson (even though Thompson was the better player).

I've made no allowances in my formula for players who were eligible for only three seasons, instead of the four available to any player since 1972-73.

I've even shown the temerity to leave one of the all-time great guys to play in the league, Walter "Sweet D" Davis out of my Hall of Fame entirely.

What do I have to do? Steal apples and break out street lights?

From the day I came up with the idea for The ACC Basketball Book of Fame, I was warned of all the grief I would catch from those who disagreed with my method of selection.

My response was always "I hope so.''

And here I am, a good six weeks after the publication of my book, still hoping.

Surely by now you've read something in the book that got your blood a'boiling. Surely by now you've got a bone to pick.

Surely by now you just have to give me the what-for about something.

That's what I'm here for. That's what the blog is here for.

Where are you?

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Tracking the Worthies Worthy Enough

A problem I confronted in writing a book on an ACC Basketball Hall of Fame was how to extend the possibility of enshrinement in said august body past the publication date.

When other players comes along to collect enough awards points for induction, as they surely will, I knew I wasn't going to be able to publish a new edition just to include them.

Of course when The ACC Basketball Book of Fame is in its 15th printing, having been translated into five dozen languages, such problems will take care of themselves.

Until then. . .

As good a reason as any for the blog you're reading is to keep the Hall of Fame dynamic -- and not let it become static. This way, when a worthy (James or otherwise) becomes worthy enough, I'll make a big deal about it on this blog. I can even do a bit of research and whip up a chapter on the player and include him alongside his fellow Hall of Famers here until the next edition comes out.

Better yet, we can all, together, track the progress and prospects of every ACC Player toward the ultimate reward of being included in my book. To assist such endeavors, I've posted the Awards Points Formula used to determine admission to the Hall of Fame in the railing of this blog. Just scroll to the right and down, and there it is -- right below the list of Hall of Famers I've recently added as well.

A cursory check of the qualifications of current ACC players suggests I'm not going to have to worry about any of this anytime soon. The guy who has made it further than anybody down the path through the Portico of Prominence toward the Golden Threshold of the Hall of Fame is Joe Harris of Virginia, who picked up 325 points last season as the fourth-leading vote-getter for first-team All-ACC. But because he'll be a senior, Harris is going to have to have a monster year to make it all the way.

It's certainly not outside the realm of possibilities. By being named ACC Player of the Year (200 points) and getting the most votes for All-ACC (400 points), Harris would be in range for induction with 925 points. That way, he'd only need to be named first-team All-ACC Tournament to make the cut. And if he made second-team consensus All-America along the way, he'd be in without a sweat.

Harris should not despair. The ACC Book of Fame is full of players (Tyler Zeller, Nolan Smith, Jared Dudley and Josh Howard just in the last decade) who barged their way into the Hall of Fame with monster final seasons.

James Michael McAdoo has not been the mega-star for North Carolina many predicted he would be, but he did make second-team All-ACC last season with the 10th most votes, for 175 points. And he does have two seasons remaining, if he chooses to take them.

The smarter money may be on Olivier Hanlan of Boston College, who collected 150 points last season as a freshman. Hanlan was the ACC Rookie of the Year (100 points) and second-team All-Tournament (50 points). And the fact he has three years remaining -- if he chooses to take them -- gives him far more time than Harris.

The smartest money yet may be on a freshman entering the ACC this season, say a Jabari Parker at Duke or an Isaiah Hicks at North Carolina. But the prospects for Parker, Hicks or any member of the incoming class would be contingent on a) being as good as advertised and, b) being willing to hang around college basketball long enough to accrue enough awards and accolades.

All of this is something I'll be keeping my eye on as the 2013-14 ACC season unfolds. I wouldn't mind you keeping track as well.

Let's keep track together.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Keep the Beer on Ice Joe, Be Home Soon

The hometown boy is heading home.

By dark tonight I'll be off down I-40 to the west, over Black Mountain into Asheville and snaking my way southwest deeper and deeper into the mountains until I finally reach my home of Franklin. Returning to where I spent the first 17 years of my life is always a great joy, made all the more so by the opportunity to catch up with my brother Joe, his bride Pam, their daughter Sara Frances and whatever assorted critters and ne-er do wells that might be around.

I've never been home to Franklin that I didn't have a grand, rollicking time, so you can see why I'm looking forward to the trip with such great anticipation.

I'll be uptown (and if you've ever been to Franklin, you'll know why it's called that) at Books Unlimited Saturday (Oct. 13) by 10:30, and plan to hang around as long as they need me. If you're a Franklinite reading this, sure hope you can make it on by. We'll have us a time.

That's certainly what we had last night at Park Road Books in Charlotte, where a healthy gathering turned out to sing Sail With the Pilot and talk ACC Basketball. As always I met some new friends, but it sure was great seeing some old ones like Ron Morris, the esteemed columnist for The State newspaper of Columbia, and author of the invaluable ACC Basketball: An Illustrated History, and John DeLong, my close friend and running buddy for years and years with the Winston-Salem Journal.

And just when the festivities started to flag, in roars the one and only John Dunlap, a proud denizen of Spudtowne, with his family, which I was so happy to finally meet. John had a few stories as well, and we laughed until our ribs were sore.

I'm sure we'll do the same tomorrow at Books Unlimited. It's an occasion you don't want to miss.

And to get myself in the traveling mood, I'm posting the newest song to be included in my soundtrack for ACC Basketball Book of Fame. It's a blues tune about a basketball program, Wake Forest, that has experienced its share of the blues in recent seasons.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Every Book Needs a Soundtrack

Just lately I've been cranking out one song after another on players and coaches in ACC Basketball Book of Fame. I know, I know. No one writes a soundtrack to a book.

Maybe not, but what's that got to do with me?

Some of this energy has to come from the company I'm keeping at our book signings. Met a bunch of great new friends, but it's the juice I'm getting from the Spuds that are showing up, my best friends in the world from a long time back, that has recharged the batteries. We were all living in Chapel Hill in the 70s, all single and all up for anything and everything. And we had us a time.

Keeping that kind of headlong pursuit of kicks, kicks, kicks, year after year after year, requires the kind of stamina I can no longer sustain. But I can still rally to the occasion on occasion, especially when I look up a see the likes of Robert T. "Bobby D" Donnan walk through the door over at the Barnes and Noble in Durham last week..

I hadn't seen Bobby D in way too long. Back in Spudtowne, we wrote a lot of songs together. Never really co-wrote, we just wrote side by side and helped each other along. I'm not sure it's such a good idea to start telling you too much about Bobby D because I wouldn't know where to stop.

But I will say that Bobby D's take on life is not always one I would have thought of, but I'm always mighty glad somebody did.

Bobby D is a busy man these days. He's so busy he says he can't take the time to write a song, at least not the way anyone other than Bobby D might write a song. He said he's willing to download one, if any are available. And he said that it's the damnest thing, but from time to time some are. He writes his songs in one torrent. He downloads them. I might have to try that some time.

I'm nudging Bobby D to help me write the soundtrack to my book. I figure I need a few more tunes, and any written by Bobby D would be one less on me. Maybe he'll download a couple and we'll have our road show out on the road by spring.

The photo at the bottom of this post is actually one of inestimable Bobby D taken by our long-time Spud pal Laura J Toler. It's fitting you only get to see a slice of his profile, for Bobby D always was the L'Angelo Misterioso of Spudtowne.

But in the meantime I'm making my rounds around North Carolina this week. The fun can be had in Cary Tuesday at the Barnes and Noble at 760 SE Maynard Road at 7, and in Charlotte Thursday at Park Road Books at 4139 Park Road. That signing also starts at 7. Then this weekend I'm heading home to Franklin for Saturday's book signing uptown at Books Unlimited at 60 East Main. I believe we're starting in the morning, around 10:30 and we'll be there as long as they need me.

I got to warn you. I will have my guitar. And I will be insisting you raise your voice in a rousing rendition of Sail With the Pilot. And if you really beg me, I might even play version of my latest called:
(Think real greasy blues riff going on with harmonica)

Rodney, Randolph and Tim

The Deacons had descended
To the bottom of the ACC once again
They had 5-3 Muggsy Bogues and Mark Cline
And the personnel quickly got real thin
Dr. Hooks brought in Dave Odom
To get the program back up and running again
Which is what Dave proceeded to do
With Rodney, Randolph and Tim.

They never played together,
Now ain't that a shame
But from the day Rodney and Randolph showed up
Til the day Tim Duncan played his final college game
The Deacons could take on any team in the country
And on the right night with the right breaks
The Deacons could win 
(spoken: With the possible exemption of Kentucky).
It was a Golden Age at Wake Forest
With Rodney, Randolph and Tim

From the day he walked on campus
Rodney Rogers was a man
When you take the court with Rodney as your teammate
You know just where you stand
He poured in 35 points in Cameron
In front of his family and friends.
It was a Golden Age at Wake Forest
With Rodney, Randolph and Tim

Sitting in the locker room with Randolph
Who was always as forthcoming as he could be
He said I can't imagine anyone having more confidence in themselves
And if I could it wouldn't say very much about me
Yeah he left Jeff McInnis a sprawling

While he motioned for him to get up
And drained another three on him
It was a Golden Age at Wake Forest
With Rodney, Randolph and Tim

Tim Duncan was from a different planet
At least he wasn't from around here
Never saw a human show less anxiety
Never saw a human show less fear
Now Tim was going to be Tim
You just had to know that about him
It was a Golden Age at Wake Forest
With Rodney, Randolph and Tim

Hope to see you this week.

                                                         (Photo by Laura J Toler)

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Verga at the Stallion Club

Appearing at book signings across the state have been a blast. I love meeting people and I love talking ACC Basketball. So I'm really looking forward to heading off to Durham for Thursday, Oct. 3 signing at Barnes and Noble at New Hope Commons.

The festivities will commence at 7 sharp with another rousing rendition of Sail With the Pilot.

But before I took off for the Bull City, I felt compelled to upload my latest musical effort, in honor of a player who played his college basketball there, Bob Verga of Duke. And Verga played it so well he was named first-team consensus All-America, plus first-team All-ACC all three years he was eligible.

But it was where Verga headed after practice and after games that led me to write the song.

Hope you enjoy it, and I hope to see everybody tonight in Durham.

Monday, September 30, 2013

My Homage to the Great David Thompson

It has come to my attention that there are quite a few fans at N.C. State giving me the what-for these days for my formula that awarded Tyler Hansbrough more points toward enshrinement in the ACC Basketball Book of Fame than the great David Thompson.

There are flaws to the formula, which I readily admit throughout my book. As I wrote, it's the worst way of coming up with a threshold for admittance to a Hall of Fame, except for all the others that have been tried.

To my mind, the formula is far better for determining who should be in the Hall of Fame than it is for judging the best against the best. And by playing all four years, and for receiving decorations and accolades pretty much from the day he arrived, Hansbrough did end up with more points than DT.

If Thompson had been able to play as a freshman, when he probably was the best player in the league, he'd have blown the top off my formula. And I would have loved that.

The reason I didn't, in the end, adjust the formula to reflect the advantage a four-year player had over those who came before was that freshman eligibility came along just about the same time blacks were becoming a real force in the league. Art Heyman and Len Chappell were greats, but it's hard to tell how great because they never played against the likes of Len Bias or Michael Jordan or, that's right, David Thompson.

So as a peace offering to the Wolfpack faithful, and to ask that they read the book before the pass too harsh a judgment on it, I'm uploading my song about David Thompson. Hope you enjoy.

Bulls City Bound

My day job, which is just as likely to be a night job, has kept me hopping these past couple of weeks, what with trips to such far-flung (and disparate) destinations as West Point, NY, and Clemson, S.C. So it's about dern time I got back on here to tell everybody how much I appreciated seeing them last week at our signing at Quail Ridge Books and Music in Raleigh.

Also I'd like to mention that I'll back up in the Triangle this week for Thursday's (Oct. 3) signing at the Barnes and Noble in New Hope Commons in Durham. We'll start the night off with a rousing rendition of Sail With the Pilot at 7 sharp, so you know you don't want to be late.

The signing at Quail Ridge was by far my best ever. Not only is it one fabulous store, but a standing-room only crowd showed up for the occasion. Or at least it was standing room once my F&Fs (Friends and Family) drank that last round of beer in the T.K. Tripps across the parking lot and made it on over.

Saw some old friends and met some new ones and, as promised, we all had us a time.

Meanwhile some old buddies in the business are coming through, as I knew they would. Just a couple of days after Luke DeCock wrote that bang-up column about ACC Basketball Book of Fame for the News and Observer, the one and only Al Featherston chimed in with this review for that excellent website devoted to Blue Devil athletics, the Duke Basketball Report.

It's been interesting to see how much focus there has been on the formula I devised to select which players should be enshrined in my Hall of Fame, but I suspected that would be the case. What I really liked about Feather's piece is that he recognized that the real heart, the real essence, of the book is found in the stories about the various players I came up with. Many are them are stories I first heard from Feather and other sportswriting buddies as we sat around hospitality suites drinking free adult beverages and winding down from making (hopefully) another deadline at the ACC Tournament.

So of all the people I'd want to like and appreciate the book, it would be the guys who have been in the trenches with me covering ACC Basketball over the years.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Big Doings at Quail Ridge

Fair warning to Spudtowne and other assorted locales in the Greater Triangle. Your fair-haired (what there is left of it) boy is coming back to his old stomping grounds for Wednesday night's gala book signing at Quail Ridge Books and Music at 3522 Wade Avenue in Raleigh. The fun, replete with trivia, prizes, music and all forms of mindless frivolity, will commence sharply at 7:30 with a rousing rendition of a timeless gem from days gone by, Sail with the Pilot..

I'm happy to say that Luke DeCock, a compadre of mine over many an ACC mile, is writing a piece for Wednesday's News and Observer leading into tonight's occasion. Please check it out and be sure to email Luke and tell him what a hell of a guy he is for doing his buddy a solid.

Another friend named David Neugent brought up a line today that I warned him I was going to steal, that in ACC Country back in the 1960s and 70s, every child learned three songs. The first was The ABC Song, the second Jesus Loves Me.

And of course the third was Sail With the Pilot.

Sail With the Pilot All the Way,
And Get on Board that Pilot Ship today.

So don't be late if you want to lend your voice in song.

The occasion will also serve as a bon voyage, of sorts, to another fair-haired (again, what there is left of it) boy from Spudtowne. Crag T. Perry, along with his bride Tammy, are hell bent on the next chapter of their lives being written in the wilds of Houston, Tex. I'm sure there are plenty of folks out there who want to wish Crag T.and Tammy well and maybe a handful just as anxious to see that he's actually leaving.

I, for one, will miss them. But it consoles me to know he'll be able to join forces from time to time with another old Spud living down there named John Branch (who you may know from his Spudtowne Tatler fame as Bif Fazlo) in pursuit of good ground to play Cozmik Croquet (Houston is flat, so there should be possibilities) and a place to watch the Tar Heels on TV.

Maybe we'll sell enough books down in Houston that I can come down and join you for a weekend.

In the meantime, hope to see everyone out tonight in Ralphtown for the one event you would hate yourself til time immemorial for missing.

                                   (How about a great big hand for the artist who rendered this fabulous photo, my sister-in-law Kimberly T. Hawks).

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Here's Where You Come In

Now that all the jollification, merriment and unbridled revelry has at long last abated from Wednesday's gala book launch party -- and before I begin using this space to promote upcoming events such as Wednesday, Sept. 18 at Barnes and Noble in Winston and Thursday, Sept. 19 at B&N in Greensboro -- it's time to get down to what I meant this blog to be all about.

Let the brouhaha begin..

From the day I first hit a key stroke in the writing of ACC Basketball Book of Fame, I recognized full well what a mess I would be stirring up by selecting certain players for this noble honor while snubbing others. I could already hear the howls of anguish welling up from those whose heroes had been done downright dirty by Country Dan.

It's true the focus of the book evolved in the writing and editing. What began as a homage to Bill James (and his objective, calculated, statistics-based approach to assigning accomplishments and accolades) actually became first and foremost a history of the greatest college basketball conference through its greatest players. The stories are truly the heart of the book.

That said, I choose to take complete ownership of my formula, embrace it even, if for no other reason than the controversy certain to ensue. Controversy is marketable. Each Ka-ching of the cash register is one more board bought for Tybee's dream house at the beach.

What else I recognized from day one, or maybe it was the next day, was that by devising the criterion for admission the way I did, through an awards points system based on All-ACC voting and other accolades, the players would be enshrined not necessarily for how good they were but how good they were perceived to be those who watched them play. They would be decorated again for how lavishly they were decorated while they played, or else snubbed again because they were originally snubbed while they played.

And in doing so, I'd be doing certain players dirty. Downright dirty. I tried to make it up somewhat with the Portico of Promise included the ACC Basketball Book of Fame, but that's weak sauce for those parties as thoroughly aggrieved as a Dennis Scott, Elton Brand or Horace Grant. All were better players, I feel quite safe in saying, than some who are members in good standing of my ACC Basketball Book of Fame.

But as I write in the introduction, I never meant for my book to be the last word on who belongs in the ACC Basketball Hall of Fame.

I want it to be the first.

So that's where you guys come in. If you take even the least bit of umbrage over any of my selections, let me hear it. That's what this blog is here for. Make your case for Scott or Chris Paul or Walter Davis or anybody you feel should be immortalized in my book, then I'll be more than happy to hear it. Make it long and well enough and I'll post your essay or arguments and give you full credit as a Guest Poster.

I like Guest Posters.

The more you write, the less I'll have to.

But I really do want to hear from you, good or bad. Let me have it on my ol' bearded Scots-Irish jaw. I can take it. I relish it.

Because what else I wrote in the introduction was that I never spent 40 days and 40 nights on Mount Sinai to bring my Awards Points Formula down on two stone tablets.

I would really hate for anyone to think I was taking myself that seriously.

                                                           In Your Face Country Dan Collins

Friday, September 13, 2013

A Night I'll Never Forget

For a full day and most of another now I've been utterly remiss in not coming back on here and thanking everyone for showing up at the ACC Basketball Book of Fame launch party down at the Community Arts Cafe Wednesday night. And I hate, above almost all things, being remiss, especially utterly remiss.

I have to admit I was stressing a bit by the time I woke up Wednesday, but what put my mind to rest was knowing that those at the party would be the people who have been behind me for so long, most of them long before I ever got around to writing this book. I knew with them/you there for me, as they/you have always been, we'd have a time to remember.

And I was right.

If I start thanking individual people I know I'd leave someone out, and have to be utterly remiss once again. And nobody wants that.

But I will make an exception for family, and we had plenty of it there. I always have to start with my blushing (often for good reason) bride Tybee, and quickly get to the best daughter a man could have, Rebecca. And it's always a party with the other two Collins' boys in the house, and it meant so much that Tom was there with his bride Jenny from Raleigh and Joe made the long haul all the way up from Franklin with his bride Pam. Mayhem has been known to ensue when this crowd gets together, and some did, indeed, ensue Wednesday night.

Tybee's side of the family was also well-represented with her sisters Kim and Brenda up from the Triangle, along with Brenda's hubby Watts Ward and their two talented sons, Matt and Michael. Matt is so talented he brought his black Gibson Hummingbird and joined the All-ACC Hotshots on stage, and Michael is so talented it videoed the whole uproarious set. I've been too swamped to check out the results of Michael's handiwork yet, but if it's good stuff, which I imagine it is, I'll upload some songs onto the blog.

We really don't have that many occasions we know for absolute certain that we'll remember for the rest of our lives, but I experienced one Wednesday.

And to all that made it the special occasion that it was, thanks.

As an extra special treat from this blog, here's some photos of the grand occasion taken by Shannon Pierce of the good folks at Blair Publishing.

            (L-R Trisina Dickerson of Blair in the bad company of the Collins boys Dan, Tom and Joe)

                           The All-ACC Hotshots (L-R Johnny Hoots, Bubba Spear, Country Dan and Matt Ward: drummer Ed Snider was hiding behind the tom tom.)

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Come One, Come All

Whether or not you've ever been to a Book Launch party, I can safely guarantee you've never experienced one like Blair Publishing is throwing for ACC Basketball Book of Fame at the Community Arts Cafe (Fourth and Spruce) in downtown Winston tonight. We're cranking it up at 5:30 and partying all the way to the wee hour of 7 p.m.

There will be fun and prizes, a trivia challenge, free adult beverages for the first 50 to show up and a cash bar thereafter, as well as the Shirley Temple type punch for those who don't imbibe.

And of course there will be music galore by the inimitable Twin City Buskers and well as the maiden performance of Country Dan Collins and the All-ACC Hotshots. Heath Combs and the Buskers will get the festivities off and roaring at 5:30 and the set for the Hotshots is scheduled to begin at 6.

If you're looking for one musical happening not to be missed this week in the Triad, forget Taylor Swift (please) at the Greensboro Coliseum tomorrow. The Community Arts Cafe tonight will be the place to be.

Really hope to see you all down there. We'll have us a time.

I promise.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

A Big Day Upon Me

A day I've had my sights on for some time now is upon me.
Up and out early to High Point for 7:15 plug at WGHP.
Dave Glenn, a buddy for years, is calling at 1. Always great being on with Dave. We'll have fun talking ACC Basketball. We've swapped a few stories over the years -- which is what this book is really all about -- and I imagine we'll swap some more tomorrow.
By 5 I'll be down at Fourth and Spruce for the gala ACC Basketball Book of Fame Launch Party the good folks at Blair Publishing are throwing at the Community Arts Cafe. We're cranking up the good times at 5:30 p.m. and roaring all the way to the wee hour of 7 p.m. And like Robert Earl Keen might (and did) sing we'll be painting the town beige.
Speaking of Robert Earl Keen, he's not on the bill. But we will have the next best thing or two with an appearance by the one and only Twin City Buskers sure to have the toes a tapping and the knees a slapping. When Heath Combs is in the house, the good times are sure to be rolling.
Or as the late great Sam Cooke sang it best:

Come on and let the good times roll,
We're going to stay here til we soothe our soul,
If it takes all night long.

Well in this case we're going to have to get it all done by 7 p.m., but might as well set our sights as high as we can.
And after Heath and Bubba Spear and Johnny Hoots and Ed Snider have reduced the crowd to a mass of quivering protoplasm, and they can bear no more, it'll be time for the much-ballyhooed debuting of Country Dan Collins and the All-ACC Hotshots laying out five tunes, all of them original except for the lid-lifting arrangement of the heart-rendering theme song of Saturday afternoons gone by Sail With the Pilot

Sail With the Pilot
At the Wheel
On a Ship Sturdy 
From It's Mast to Its Keel

Guides You Through Storm and Wave
Insures You While You Save

Sail with the Pilot
All the Way
So Get on Board that Pilot Ship Today.

Even while recognizing I could never as much as approach such a musical masterpiece, I felt strangely compelled to try. My efforts produced a couple of songs about giants who played leading roles in my book. The first was the coach who was the biggest name of the conference when it was coming into being back in 1954 and thankfully was on hand to help get it off right. He was the coach at N.C. State and his name was Everett Case. He's known to history as the Old Gray Fox, and he was quite the character. What convinced me that a song needed to be written about the Old Gray Fox was hearing how he was a bachelor who lived over in Cameron Village about the distance of a deep 3-pointer (which they didn't have back in his day) from the State College campus and how after games, he'd have everybody over to his house to wind down from the high. And by everybody I mean his players, sportswriters, referees, assorted acquaintances and guys from around town and, best of all, even the coaches for the team he'd just beaten. Tim Peeler at N.C. State has written some fabulous accounts of how Case would hold court in his den by the wet bar and how his players knew Coach liked his Imperial Whiskey over the rocks chased with water. And if the players wanted their own bit of libation, that was something that stayed over at 611 Daniels Street. To me there was a song in there and I had to write it.
The other tune is about the greatest ACC Player of All Time, the incomparable David Thompson. Seeings how I began writing sports as a college junior in 1972, the Great DT was where I came in. And I'm proud of it as I express repeatedly in the tune.
So almost 40 years later I'm headed to bed to get my good rest for a big day, a day I've had my sights on for some time. Hope to see you all at the grand occasion.
We'll have us a time.

Monday, September 9, 2013

For 31 years, four months and seven days I've basked in the rapture of marital bliss, a state of ecstasy interrupted only every day or so by a not-always-so-gentle reminder from my bride about a promise I purportedly made before our wedding.

I don't really remember promising her a house at the beach, but Tybee swears on everything she finds holy (which is virtually everything) that I did. And looking back, she's probably right. You know, whatever it took. . .

All of which is why I wrote the book I'm pushing with the blog. If enough of you guys buy ACC Basketball Book of Fame I can get Tybee her house at the beach and maybe, just maybe, at long last get her off my back. Buy three or four of them, and we'll even invite you down for the weekend.

Just don't expect to see Tybee unless you go down to the surf. She parks herself there at the break of dawn and has to be dragged kicking and screaming back to the house after the sun's gone down.

My real dream is to buy a beautiful seaside cottage at Emerald Isle, maybe even next door to one owned by Dave and Lynn Odom. And if Coach Odom gets fed up with all the racket emanating from our place at all hours of the day and night, he'll have himself at least partially to blame.

He wrote the foreword to my book.

Hope to see everyone down at the book launch party Blair Publishing is throwing downtown at the Community Arts Cafe (4th and Spruce) this Wednesday. The fun starts at 5:30 and roars til 7, in plenty of time for us old folks to get our proper rest.