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Once a King was enough for me

King300This is about the time I squared off for about a 20th of a round with boxing promoter Don King in the Las Vegas airport.

At a frozen yogurt stand at the Las Vegas airport to be more exact.

Eight or 10 years ago I was returning from Los Angeles movie star interviews and had a 40 or 50-minute stopover between flights at the Sin City airport.

It only took me five minutes or so to lose $37 in the conveniently located airport slot machines.  That was all I had on me, except for a fiver I kept for emergencies.  So I looked around for another vice to keep me occupied until my flight was called.

"There it is," I said to myself as I wandered away from the ding-ding-ding of the alluring slots.  "Frozen yogurt!"

You know frozen yogurt.  It's that mystery chilled concoction -- neither ice cream nor yogurt, really -- that ice cream-a-holics like me shovel down with slightly less guilt than the full-fledged stuff that comes from the overly contented cows seen in TV commercials slurping down grass outside the Blue Bell ice cream factory in Brenham, TX.

I was looking over the wall menu when I heard some commotion behind me.  I looked around just in time to see Don King and his entourage nudging people in line aside as they plowed their way in unison -- like a well-trained NFL offensive line; No, more like a snowplow disrupting a tranquil neighborhood street full of playful kids -- to get to the counter.

"I don't care if it is Don King.  They'll have to get through me if they want the No. 1 spot in line," I thought as my lips tightened and I prepared for battle.

Well, they got through me without much of a fuss (for them, at least).  I floated out of their path with the slightest wimpy resistance.  Unlike Muhammad Ali, I never quite got around to stinging like a bee.

I was seething and hot under the collar, though.  In fact, I had to order a large to cool down after King and his court were gone.

I say all that to say this.  Somewhere, Don King is celebrating his 81st birthday today.  So, happy birthday, Mr. King.  I hope you're enjoying a celebratory frozen yogurt without having to bluster your way to the front of some line today.

And I apologize for thinking what I wanted you to do with that frozen yogurt (cone and all) back in Vegas.  I've calmed down since then.

Besides, I'm pretty sure that's not even even humanly possible.   

Great to CD you, Ron Young

Ron Young's been pickin' and singin' "Under the Texas Radar" too long.
I have no idea when Ron Young's birthday is.

But know this, the title of Ron's new CD, "Under the Texas Radar," sums up the talented Texas troubadour's plight and fight to claim a place as a Lone Star singer-songwriter to be reckoned with right alongside Willie Nelson (the king, of course), Ray Wylie Hubbard, Joe Ely, Robert Earl Keen, Pat Green, Billy Joe Shaver and The Derailers (a personal favorite).

Ron has pulled off the near-impossible; making the difficult transition from a music critic to a bona fide musician himself.

The first time I met him Ron walked into the San Antonio Light newspaper newsroom in the early 1980s to drop off his weekly music column.  I had just arrived in San Antonio, and was settling in as an entertainment reporter and film critic.

Although his music reviews were concise, informative and fun to read, Ron just had that look.  He was not yet where he was someday going to be.  From this aisle seat, Ron has arrived there with "Under the Texas Radar," a 15-tune declaration of independence and Young's bill of rights.

I'm still humming the catchy, somewhat playful beat of "Done (Stick a Fork in Us)," a tune of remorse over a busted relationship that somehow comes with its own musical fog machine in an attempt to shield the pain.

Young, like so many others with a heart bursting with dreams, a guitar case in hand and a notebook full of songs, made the musician's pilgrimage to Nashville, and has written more than 400 songs by his count.  "A Long Ride" chronicles those years.

What impresses me most is that Young bares his soul between the guitar strums.  That has to be the real test of a singer-songwriter worth his salt and shot of tequila at the end of a long barroom night.  The song that got to me most was "Daddy's Chair," a lament about what really matters in life.

You'll hear a little Bob Dylan, a little Hank Williams and even a little Bob Wills in Young's music.  And perhaps Young's knowledge of his musical peers, perhaps a byproduct of his old music critic days, inspired his request for a little musical mentorship in "Waitin' On Willie."

What makes "Under the Texas Radar" a four-jalapeño listening experience for me, though, are those moments when Ron breaks the bonds of his influences and just sings as himself.

Ron Young doesn't need to wait on Willie any longer.  He has arrived.

An open invitation

I'm very happy to, once again, offer a series of film classes this fall at Richland College as part of the Emeritus plus 50 program.

Things will be a little different this time.  The Movie Clips and Current Conversation series, which runs for four Thursday mornings Sept. 13 through Oct. 4 from 10-11:30 a.m., will feature lively discussion.

It's an opportunity for you, the student, to share your opinions and thoughts on subjects like "Do movies reflect our actions or dictate them?" and "The movies today:  High prices, outrageous snack costs and cell phones," just to cite a couple.

This is a non-credit course with a fee of only $18.  And remember, there is no homework, no outside study and no final exam, just a chance to get out of the house and meet some folks who, like you, have an interest in staying active and maybe even learning a thing or two.

If you'd like to join in the fun, call the Richland College Continuing Education Department at 972-238-6146 or 972-238-6147 and tell them you'd like to sign up for course SRCZ 1000 81911, registration No. 789367.

(Don King photo courtesy:  telegraph.co.uk/Ron Young photo courtesy:  Tana Thomasson/Ronlyoung.com)


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