Traveling in East Texas yesterday afternoon, I “enjoyed” the Cowboys vs. Deadskins game on the car radio.
The game was expected to make my afternoon drive more pleasant. Oops. It was like listening to a three-hour train wreck.
However, I will say that bad games are less boring on radio than on TV. Theater of the mind is a powerful thing.
For instance, Howard Stern’s radio show was a favorite of mine back in the 1990s. I’d enjoy listening to his hijinks every morning. I’d imagine what his guests looked like. I’d wonder if there really were two lesbians making out on the station floor, or if Crackhead Bob was a real guy. I imagined what the studio looked like.
And then I started getting the Stern show on cable TV, watched all the shenanigans for real, and was sorely disappointed. The magic was gone.
So, with that in mind, I enjoyed the Cowboys game. On radio it sounded like a tough game with lots of setbacks, perseverance, and a last-minute victory by the boys in silver and blue.
With December just around the corner — the month when Tony Romo and Cowboys traditionally collapse — maybe we all should start listening to the games on radio from now on.
Big Jimbo, my football fanatic friend from East Texas, wasn’t spared the agony. He watched the game on TV. He saw with his own two eyes what was happening and, apparently, it was gruesome.
Once again, wide receiver Roy Williams received most of Jimbo’s vitriol.
“Romo’s accuracy left him; it may have been because of the injury to his backside early in the game but he was throwing high and away most of the day,” he said. “Having said that, our boy Roy should have caught everything thrown to him, even though a couple would have been tough catches. But again, key drops by our boy Roy. In fact for the rest of the year he’s going to be simply OBR.”
The defense earned Jimbo’s praise yet again.
“Keith Brookings continues to be the heart and soul of this team,” he said. “The team found a way to win a game they had to win. Great final drive by the offense and subsequent interception by the defense.”
Radio broadcasters Brad Sham and Babe Laufenberg did their usual stellar job of describing the game. However, late in the game, Laufenberg predicted the Cowboys would pull out a victory because 1970s pop star B.J. Thomas had sung “The Star-Spangled Banner” before the kickoff.
The Dallas Stars win every time Grammy Award-winning (and Arlington resident) Thomas sings the national anthem, Laufenberg proclaimed.
About 10 years ago I was a general assignment reporter at Fort Worth Star-Telegram and was told to write a fun story about the Dallas Stars during the Stanley Cup Finals week. Somebody mentioned the Stars were unbeaten whenever Thomas sang the national anthem. Voila! I had my story idea.
I called up Thomas, who had a No. 1 hit in 1970 with “Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head.” He lives in Arlington and is a big sports fan. His wife answered. I introduced myself and told her about the story I was writing. She laughed and said it sounded like a fun story and went to fetch Thomas. But he wouldn’t come to the phone. Speaking through his wife, he said that talking about the winning streak before he sang the anthem might jinx it.
“My story won’t be printed until the day after the game so it shouldn’t have any effect on the…uh…karma…or whatever,” I pleaded.
Nope, Thomas said (through his wife), he wouldn’t talk to me.
That night he sang the national anthem…and the Stars lost.
I reveled in the fact that Thomas’s streak was broken, partly because he was a dipwad for refusing to talk to me on the phone — but mostly because he’d dissed me once before (although he would never remember it).
I’m a musician, and several years earlier I’d been booked to open for
Thomas at a private party at Caravan of Dreams, Ed Bass’ nightclub in downtown Fort Worth.
The gig Thomas and I were playing was to raise money for an Arlington woman who was in a coma after being physically assaulted in a street crime.
The afternoon of the show, I was midway through my sound check when several members of Thomas’ band strolled into the theater. I was performing a medley of traditional gospel tunes. Afterward, the band members complimented my set. I asked them if they’d like to perform with me. They enthusiastically agreed. We were running through a quick rehearsal when Thomas walked in, asked the bandleader what was going on, and then forbade his band from playing with me.
I thought it was a jerky thing to do since this was a benefit after all, and also because Thomas paints himself as a born-again holy roller. But anyway, I decided to blow it off. Thomas didn’t know me. He was paying the musicians to back him, not me. No harm, no foul.
I’d been a fan of Thomas’ music since I was a kid and so I decided to ask for his autograph. I had a guitar covered in signatures by the many different musicians I’d shared stages with over the years, and I was hoping B.J. would add his John Hancock as well.
I knocked on the backstage dressing room where Thomas, his wife, and some of his posse were hanging out. His wife answered the door.
I was booked on the bill; I had just as much right to the dressing room as Thomas did, but I was giving the star and his entourage their space.
Now imagine this scene: The dressing room door opens. Mrs. Thomas is standing in the doorway. I can see B.J. Thomas standing inside the room, looking intently into a mirror, fluffing his long hair with his fingers.
“I was wondering if B.J. could autograph my guitar?” I said.
Thomas is standing 10 feet away and can hear everything I say, but he doesn’t turn around to talk to me or acknowledge my presence. Instead, he tells his wife to tell me to leave the guitar and he’ll sign it later. Not once does he turn his head away from the mirror.
After the show that night, I returned to the dressing room to get my guitar. Thomas and his posse were gone, but there was my guitar leaning against the wall next to the door.
Thomas never signed it. I’m glad he didn’t.
Here’s a kid playing “Raindrops” on his guitar. And look, B.J., somebody took the time to sign the kid’s guitar. Wasn’t that nice of them?