UT, Part 2: Football and Birthday

(note: this is part 2 of a two-part entry about my residency at the University of Texas at Austin. Read part one here.)

Sorry for the delay in the posting of “UT: Part 2,” but Mr. Unger’s comments just destroyed me. I found myself unable to even think about food, let alone look at photos of it. I cried myself to sleep for days, and dreamt of my embarrassing blog while echoes of my occasionally interesting/clever music looped in my martini-clouded head. I wondered, Should I retire the blog to appease Mr. Unger? Then I realized that perhaps Mr. Unger should bite me.

The morning of Saturday, September 30, I received a call from my buddy Danny Prado. Danny Prado is awesome. You know those people whom you can only call by their full name? Danny Prado is one of those guys. I guess one could call him “Prado,” but “Danny” just doesn’t suffice.

Danny Prado called and offered to take me out to lunch. He, his wife, and his daughter (a member of the UT marching band) picked me up at the hotel, and we went for pizza. Tasty, brick oven pizza. Mine, by my own doing, had a bit too much garlic, and I was relieved that AEJ wasn’t around to be subjected to my breath.

A few hours later, Jerry Junkin picked me up and took me to the game — UT vs. Sam Houston State. The afternoon started with the President’s Reception at Bass Hall — all-you-can-eat tastiness, plus an appearance by the UT marching band. Ya know what I like? Individual chocolate pecan pies. Fortunately, there were about eleventy-seven thousand of them.

Here’s the band — from three levels up.

After a few minutes of fight songs and such, Jerry and I headed to the stadium. This must be what stadiums look like in heaven. That, or my camera needed some major color correction.

Hanging with Jerry — and having a press pass — is the ultimate way to experience a game at UT. Jerry can get you anywhere on game day. We went through the VIP entrance, directly onto the field.

Fred Velez, who conducted “Redline Tango” at TMEA last year, had just started a new job at Sam Houston State. Fred was at the UT game, and it was good to see him again. Here are Fred and Jerry, catching up.

Fred introduced me to the Sam Houston State marching band. They were very nice. (It helped that Fred told them my birthday was the next day.)

This is the crazy new HD screen at Texas Stadium — the biggest screen in the US. That shot of the bull, by the way, is live. The bull was off to the side. (See below in a few pics.)

And here comes the band!

Junkin conducts the national anthem.

It was just crazy being on the sideline of a major college game. Just before the game, I caught this shot of the kicker taking a few practice shots.

Here I am with the cow. The cow does not seem impressed.

With the game in action, Jerry and I headed to the press box. Check out the guy in front of me. Love the hat. If I were a reporter, I’d totally wear one, too, ’cause that is totally not cliched.

Another shot of the press box.

Halftime, and the marching band did their show. Good stuff. Any band that spells things is impressive in my book. I’m a terrible speller.

Oh no! The word fell down!

More free food — this time, in the press box. Nachos, my friend. Nachos.

For the third quarter, Jerry and I headed back down to the sidelines. Here’s the mascot — I think. What’s down those stairs?

It’s tough to describe how close I was to the action. This shot — using no zoom — gives a good idea. (I was actually so close that a few plays later, I had to hop out of the way to avoid being nailed by a bad pass. That’s just what my self-image needs — to be hit by a ball in front of 60,000 people and a TV audience of millions. I’d have totally flashed back to high school gym class, and may never have recovered from the humiliation.)

This guy got nailed.

We left early in the 4th quarter. As you can see, the score was not close.

That night, I met up with Sarah for drinks after the game. (Sarah wrote about it extensively in her own blog entry.) Good times.

The next day — in addition to being my birthday — was the big concert. It was fantastic. Great program, including this weird Hindemith piece — “Kammermusik Number 7 for organ and chamber orchestra.” Really cool, and… weird. AEJ would have loved it. (She, inexplicably, is a big Hindemith fan. Me, not so much.) The program closed with “Redline Tango.” Jerry told the audience (great crowd, by the way) that it was my birthday, and when I spoke to them to introduce the piece, I told them that all I wanted for my birthday was a lot of applause. The performance was just fantastic — not surprisingly, one of the best I’ve ever heard.

After the concert, the gang headed to dinner at Shoreline Grill. I started with a martini. For the sake of Mr. Unger, I won’t tell you how I had it. But I’ll tell you it was Grey Goose. With olives. And it was dirty. And up.

There were tasty appetizers all around. Here are the crab cakes with chipotle mango sauce. Damn tasty.

For my entree, I had the seared sea scallops with pistachio goat cheese polenta and garlic dijon butter sauce.

True to form, the UT gang made a to-do about my birthday. It meant a lot, as this was the first birthday I’ve spent on the road — and the first time I’ve been away from AEJ on my birthday since we’ve been together — so I was definitely feeling homesick. These UT folk are a special group.

My sincere thanks to Jerry Junkin and everybody at UT for showing me an amazing five days in Austin. They’re commissioning my sax concerto for next fall, so I’ll be back there in about a year. I can’t wait.


Connie says

If you could just include "Smellovision", this would truly become a "Blog of Note"! I love it!
ConnieMiller, Austin

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