The World Changers #4-The Overarching Think Tank

Our group has been out of pocket as of late, what with vacations and travel not to mention the leveling of the meeting place.  That’s right.  Our meeting place has been demolished to make way for the rebuilding of a brand new McDonald’s.  Temporary quarters across the street just don’t feel right, not to mention the emotional trauma experienced by two of us as we watched the dinosaur-looking jaws of a huge machine take bites out of the old building and cart off the remains.

The temporary “new” place gives free senior coffee, not just a discount, and no doubt in hopes of permanently snagging the wandering transplants.  I asked the cashier if she would be glad when the new McDonald’s is completed and the crowds would be gone, which are considerable from their normal business.  She said, “No, then I’ll be all by myself.”  If I were the owner I would be trying everything possible to steal these people permanently.  This fast-food place has closed up once because McDonald’s has all the customers.  Now’s their chance.  Maybe free coffee and breakfast?  We might make that suggestion.

One of our members, retired professor, recently made a trip to Italy, with a music choral group, for a series of performances.  Our local university arranged for current students and alumni to make the trip, consisting of seventy-nine participants.  They performed in Venice at St. Mark’s Cathedral; the Vatican at St. Peter’s Basilica, also in Florence and Rome.  The repertoire consisted of music from the Renaissance to American spirituals and folksongs.  They were well received.

The local university professor of music and choral director (with his musician wife) who led the tour is one of the finest in the field.  I have often advised people to attend every performance possible since professionals of such quality often are eventually enticed away to bigger and better institutions.  It is rare in a small city of not great renown (which is one of its positives), to find one such as he who has the ability, sensitivity and skill to interpret and elicit from the singers quality that is heard only in the most prestigious of choral institutions and settings.  People probably don’t believe me when I say, “Listen carefully, you may never hear this again.”

To change the topic somewhat, the following account happened several weeks back and seemed like the kind of information that would segue smoothly into the above.

We were advised by one of our members, that he would be traveling to his birthplace in Oklahoma this week to participate in the annual events of the “Cow Chip Toss Capital of the World.”  Decades ago this event was featured on the Johnny Carson Show.  In addition to the competition of tossing cow chips, there are a variety of activities including a parade and other events.  This is a very much-anticipated gathering of town folk as well as former citizens who travel back to join in the fun.

We asked if there was any distinction between “fresh” and “non-fresh” cow chips and if someone has to truck in the supply or was there plenty just laying around.  There seems to be a handy supply always available.

The technique of tossing cow chips seems as varied as the people so I guess it could include basic “chunking” and maybe a young college athlete using a “discus” style.  There are no restrictions.  I’m not sure if there are separate categories for age and gender, however there is one special division for politicians.  No doubt everyone would be at a disadvantage competing against this group.

Apparently  “Cow Chip Toss” celebrations are now held all over the country as well as in other countries.  It was noted that an event was even held in Great Britain.  That led to imagining how it might be handled, so to speak, with the mannerly Britons.  Surely Downton Abby could take a break from fox hunting to stage a sort of royal “Bovine Excrement Launching.”  I can picture Robert, Earl of Grantham, stepping up and being brought a “missile” on a serving tray by the white-gloved Mr. Carson.  Of course all would be dressed in proper attire.

The tie in to these two seemingly disparate topics is to encourage someone out there to write a serious piece of choral music consisting of chip tossing lyrics set to the tune of, say, “Home on the Range.” It must be serious though, something that would make Monteverdi proud.



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