Saturday, July 28, 2012

Lesson 172: Silver Medalist, Tim McGraw Song

Eloise's Concert Countdown 
Silver Medalist Song
Last Dollar (Fly Away)

Eloise chose Last Dollar as the Number 2 Song on her Country Concert Countdown Chart for a couple of reasons---illustrated so nicely by Sam.  The kid is obsessed with money.  He has almost every last dime that someone gave him for a gift, saved up over five years of holidays and birthdays.  He once splurged on a set of WWE wrestlers, four in a boxed set.  Other than that, Mr. Tightwad has it all.  The money that he is given, he keeps.  The money that he earns in his Chore Jar, soon becomes Restitution for all the dirty deeds he's done throughout the day.  Sam is a ball breaker who, when you take the good with the bad, winds up breaking even most days.  That is just about how I feel after a day of parenting him.

I posted the video below from my archives.  It was one I made last year.  The video itself is a crazy story.  Last summer I was rather new at experimenting with slide shows, and I cleverly named the thing My Movie (????).  On it you'll see Kenyan,  a friend, and I heading out to a Tim McGraw concert in Darien Lake.  I had never seen Tim McGraw in concert before.  I was familiar with some of his songs like the theme to Monday Night NFL Football (I Like It, I Love It), and Indian Outlaw (which I didn't like).  Kenyan insisted that we go (and that I drive).  And then it was nothing but a case of love at first sight.  I've never been the same since.

Also included on the slide show was the photo story of some little birds that nested in a wreath on my front door.  I took a picture of them every day as they developed and eventually flew away, in all of about three weeks.  The bird story fit the song I loved so perfectly, I just had to use them.

Fast forward to 13 months later to the present day.  That Fly Away blog post has the most hits of any blog I have written thus far.  Wouldn't it be a dream come true if Handsome himself, saw this?  Here are my recent stats:

Jun 27, 2011
Apr 27, 2012

I see that only 14 more people are interested in Pinterest than Sam's potty training mishap.  Gross is a recent post I wrote about autism statistics.  If you're curious about any of the top four posts, just click on the lesson and the link will take you directly to that blog post.

The song Last Dollar, more commonly known as Fly Away, was written by Big Kenny from the country duo Big & Rich.  The song has an interesting history which I am going to swipe from Wikipedia because it is worded pretty well.  Consider this your Tim McGraw Fact of the Day:

William Kenneth Alphin, otherwise known as Big Kenny, one-half of country rock duo Big & Rich, wrote "Last Dollar" after a disastrous night of gambling in Las Vegas on New Year's Eve in 2002.
He and his manager were in the city as part of the Alabama farewell tour. Alphin had $200 to his name and $140,000 in credit card debt, and in hopes of increasing his cash on hand, he went to the blackjack tables. At one point, he had won nearly $1,000, but instead of stopping, he continued to play. Eventually, he lost all but $21. He gave the dealer a $20 tip, leaving Alphin with literally his last dollar. "That night as I looked down at the sole breaking off of my shoe it hit me like a ton of bricks," Alphin said. "But with that realization came the freedom of knowing that I also had nothing to lose."[1]
From that point, Alphin's career took off, both as a songwriter and as part of the duo Big & Rich. Several years after the incident, he played some of his songs for McGraw. "I'll never forget the day I played him the song," Alphin said. "We were at Blackbird Studio and Tim was making a new album. As we sat together in my truck, I played him a couple of the songs that I was recording. The second song I played was "Last Dollar." He looked over at me and said, "Are you gonna let me record that?"[1]

As a sap for anything including children, I really like the ending chorus of the song, which gets cut to fade in my video I posted below.  The song ends with children singing.  They are Tim McGraw's daughters.  Here is what the people's encyclopedia Wikipedia had to say about that:

McGraw's daughters, Gracie, Maggie, and Audrey, sing on the song's final chorus. When Alphin heard McGraw's final version, with the children joining in at the end, "I nearly lost it," he said. "That moment of reflection in Las Vegas all that time ago gave me the hope to keep going and now five years later, that hope is a hit song for my friend Tim McGraw."[

Hope is a good thing.  Never let go of it, Dear Readers.  Here's some more on some people who wouldn't let go of their dreams:

Eloise is going to be busy for the next couple of weeks.  Not only am I headed to see Handsome on Sunday, but also this will be occupying much of my time:

Eloise is a fan.  Along with my life's dream of being a Today Show Anchor Person, I also had dreams of being an Olympian.  But by the time I was already five feet tall in first grade, I had to put Gymnast and Pairs Figure Skater dreams aside.  I have no athletic ability, am a klutz, and pretty much afraid of speed.  I had to mentally retreat from the sidelines back into the stadium where I guess I belong. Ever the fan, never the player, Eloise.

Imagine this patriot's dismay when I heard the news about our  US Olympic team uniforms.  I actually was looking them up on my own, wanting to see what style of hat the athletes would be wearing (although the winter games always have the best hats).  I found this and thought to myself classic, yet kind of boring.  

Then the news broke about the manufacturing of the clothes was in China.  Then pictures like this started popping up:

And this (yikes, says Eloise):

This reminds me of the book I just read.  It is a teen book titled The Selection by Kiera Cass.  It is a nice story that I think 'tween and teen girls would like.  The book is "The Bachelor" meets "Hunger Games."  It is about a contest where 35 young girls are selected to compete for the love of the Handsome Prince Maxon.  The setting is "future America," and that was probably the most disturbing.  So much so that I can't get what the futuristic picture the author painted for us with her words, out of my head.

What we know as the United States of America does not exist (book does not specify, but it believe it is about 70 years in the future).  Our country is now named Illea after it signed it's massive peace treaty with China after the Third World War.  From page 4:  ...when Illea made the massive peace treaty with China, the New Year came in January or February, depending on the moon.  All of the individual celebrations of thankfulness and independence from our part of the world were simply the Grateful Feast.  That came in the summer.  It was a time to celebrate the forming of Illea, to rejoice in the fact that we were still here.  

This set the stage early in the story, and left me wondering what actually happened during the war.  Kiera Cass answered those questions for us in Chapter 17.  The girls taking part in The Selection were given history lessons.  Prince Maxon had a preference for intelligent girls.  From pages 208 and 209:

"Who was the President of the United States during the Third World War?"

Amy raised her hand and answered, "President Wallis."

"Correct.  President Wallis was the president before the Chinese assault and continued leading the United States throughout the war," Silvia confirmed.
"What was their motivation for invading?  Celeste?"

She smiled.  "Money.  The Americans owed them a lot of money and couldn't pay them back."

"Excellent, Celeste.  When the United States couldn't repay their massive debt, the Chinese invaded.  Unfortunately for them, this didn't get them any money, as the United States was beyond bankruptcy. However, it did gain them American labor.  And when the Chinese took over, what did they rename the United States?"

"The American State of China."

"Yes.  The American State of China had the appearance of its original country, but was merely a facade.  The Chinese were pulling strings behind the scenes, influencing any major political happenings, and steering legislation in their favor."  Silvia wheeled through the desks slowly.  I felt like a mouse in the sights of a hawk that was circling ever closer.

The chapter continues on with more futuristic history and how the United States debt to China changed Europe, Russia, and the like.  Even after I finished reading the book a few days later, I found myself going back to those pages to reread.  Eloise felt like the mouse and kept picturing myself looking up at that red hawk with a big gold star on its belly.

That got Eloise a thinkin' 'bout money.  I thought about the money generated from those Olympic games, the winning athletes, faces plastered all over Wheaties boxes and TV commercials.  I thought about how our ties and alliances to people are forged through money.

I spent a little time here, recently:

I checked out the real deal suits on Wall Street on an ordinary July Monday while on a trip with a couple of my friends.  A day to snap these pictures for me was just business as usual for the folks who stood outside of this building on the way to get lunch.  This is the New York Stock Exchange.  You could feel its pulse as you stood in front of it.

This is the sculpture by John Quincy Adams Ward on the front of it.  I found it somewhat tongue in cheek that he titled the work, Integrity Protecting the Works of Man.

This got Eloise a-thinkin' again.  Money.  United States.  China.  Integrity.  Alliances.  Indebtedness.

I spent three days in New York City and what drew me back twice in my short stay?  Little Italy.  I got a great affordable meal there and wanted to go back for some cookies to bring back to my family before I left.  I liked the atmosphere and the people and I wanted a second helping, literally and figuratively.  

This is Eloise's street view of current Little Italy in New York City.

The pint sized duo I traveled with seems to be purse obsessed.  We also had to go back to Canal Street for a second helping as well.  Chinatown is right around the corner from Little Italy.

Eloise has little to no sense of direction on city streets, although I can find my way out of the woods just fine.  I kept getting confused.  "Where are we," I would ask, "Little Italy or Chinatown?"  The part where the two cultural areas merged was somewhat vague.  An Italian bakery would be next to a shop with a jade statue of Budda in the window.

Look what I found with just a little research:

Little Italy, Manhattan

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Current status

Much of the neighborhood has been absorbed and engulfed by Chinatown, as immigrants from China moved to the area. What was once Little Italy has essentially shrunk into a single street which serves as a restaurant area but which has few Italian residents.   Today, the section of Mulberry Street between Broome and Canal Streets is all that is left of the old Italian neighborhood. The street is lined with some two-dozen Italian restaurants popular with tourists and locals. Unlike Chinatown, which continues to expand in all directions with newer Chinese immigrants, little remains of the original Little Italy.

Can you see the connections in all of my paragraphs now?  Have we become more interested in buying a knock off purse in Chinatown than supporting Luigi in his Italian bakery?

Is money the root of all evil?  So the Bible says in Timothy, Chapter 6.  6:10--For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil.  And some people, craving money, have wandered from the true faith and pierced themselves with many sorrows.

I guess my guy is in trouble!

Yet, maybe he'll take a lesson from his Momma.  Sam, when you can read here in just a little while, I hope you visit this post someday.  I hope it is before America as we know it evaporates into a vast sea of debt and much worse, indebtedness.  Having to keep an alliance with someone just to stay financially afloat is a very bad thing.  

Sam, my advice to you as you enter Kindergarten in a month, is this:  Study hard.  An education is the most valuable thing you could ever receive.  This country provides you an excellent one, for free.  However, it is up to you to take full advantage of it.  Teachers don't give you your grades--you EARN them.  Don't wait for that winning lottery ticket or your big break on the WWE Wrestling mats.  You'll be far better off persistently studying, working hard, saving your money, and spending it only when you have enough in your little blue wallet to pay for what you want.  Cash.  No credit.  When you receive credit, you owe someone something.  You don't want to go through life owing everyone and their brother (or in your case, your sisters).

Adult readers, if the 'tween book The Selection doesn't seem to trip your trigger, try this one:

It's an old book (1957) about government and people and minds and thinking.  It is a thinking person's big book.  There was a 2011 movie adaptation made but it bombed in the box office.  Some great works are hard to replicate in film.  From Atlas Shrugged:

 So you think that money is the root of all evil? … Have you ever asked what is the root of money? Money is a tool of exchange, which can't exist unless there are goods produced and men able to produce them. 

Wealth is the product of man's capacity to think. Then is money made by the man who invents a motor at the expense of those who did not invent it? Is money made by the intelligent at the expense of the fools? 

Read the book and you will find that you can't answer the questions.  You'll just ask yourself "Who is John Galt?"  If you get the book and end up not liking it, at least it has a naked guy on the cover.  Always a plus.

Kind of like this naked guy. Don't click your tongue at me.  He's mooning all of Wall Street.  Yell at the dead guy--John Quincy Adams Ward.  He sculpted it.  I just photographed it.

Are you down to your last dollar, Readers?  Do you think Wall street is filled with a bunch of sharp suit wearing asses?  The good book tells us that money is the root of all evil, but it sure does make our world go round.  

Lots of lessons for today, Friends, so I'll summarize:
  • Work hard. 
  • Save for a rainy day.  
  • Spend wisely.  
  • Cheer for your team.
  • Read something.
  • Challenge your mind.
  • Remember:  Wealth is the product of the capacity to think.  (Thanks, Ayn Rand).
The capacity to think.  Tim McGraw sings Oh you've given me,  a beautiful set of wings.  The ability to think is what really earns you those beautiful wings.  Take flight with that advice today, Readers.

Enjoy your song and photos posted below,

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