iTunes ranks among the strongest apps to reach the hands of computer users for the ridiculous price of free.
With this musical database, you and I have the pleasure of storing our personal favorite tunes where they can be organized, played and modified to fit our whim. They can be transferred to music players, CDs, DVDs and shared.
What I enjoy best about iTunes is its enormous appetite for music from any genre, any generation and any artist.
Several years ago, my great friend Scott Pederson presented me a single DVD, which proved to change my relationship with iTunes forever.
The DVD in question contained a gift I hope all music historians receive while they are able to play it and dance to it. He sent me the Billboard Top 100 songs annual list from 1970-2005. In 35 years of rock’n’roll, pop, country, dance, hip-hop and various other styles, Scott has given me a way to re-live both my brightest moments and my darkest days.
In June 1973, the Carter family left its Michigan abode and commenced an epic, 4-week vacation driving from Lake Michigan to Arkansas, then Armarillo, Flagstaff and finally Southern California where my grandparents lived.
On the way back, my dad chose a northerly route through Las Vegas, Denver and Chicago. And during the entire trip — sometimes several times each day — Karen Carpenter joined us with her melodic rendition of “Yesterday Once More.”
I know I memorized the lyrics after hearing the song seven more times in Oklahoma on one of our famous 600-mile jogs. Some members of the family are now nauseous when the Carpenters are mentioned at the dinner the dinner table.
But I can still name that tune in two notes.

Three years later, we moved from Michigan to Mississippi. To prepare, three boys had the time of their lives painting a roomy, 1-story home. 1976 was the summer of America’s Bi-Centennial and Elton John and Kiki Dee’s duet, Don’t Go Breaking My Heart.”
I do not intend for you to believe that these songs owned the charts, but they did well. And now the memories of an 8-year-old exploring the Grand Canyon, Meteor Crater and the Rocky Mountains and painting his gigantic home are easily retrieved with an iTunes search for 1973 or 1976.

Seven seasons later, I entered my senior year in high school in Texas. It was 1983, and Michael Jackson owned the Billboard charts with huge hits like Billie Jean, Beat It, PYT, Thriller and more. While the music set an unprecedented standard for excellence, I have to say that after 30 years, the Billie Jean, Beat It and Thriller videos are among my strongest visual memories from that year.

While I never found his tunes on the Billboard Top 100, Star Search champion Sam Harris, who later worked his magic on Broadway, stole the hearts of my future wife and I in 1986 with his version of Somewhere Over The Rainbow.
In recent years, my search for musical talent seemed struggle. Even so, the journey has revealed the likes of John Legend, Whitney Houston, Sugarland, MercyMe, Lady Antebellum, Adele, Josh Groban and Michael Buble among others.
It has been a continuing search for the immense talent the 1960s and 1970s that brought fans to their feet. Groups like Elvis, Eagles, ELO, Willie Nelson/Waylon Jennings/Johnny Paycheck/Johnny Cash, The Beatles,Pat Benatar, Gordon Lightfoot and many more legends.

Just tonight my youngest child, now 19, and her boyfriend were toying around with iTunes. Sensing some tension in the room, I asked Connor to pick a happy song, and almost immediately to The Beach Boys’ Little Deuce Coupe. Now there is a young man I can identify with.
I freely admit my iTunes music collection contains about 15,000 songs, and I don’t love all of them. So you take your chances when you push “Shuffle” around here.
Although the odds are perhaps working against me, I’ve always been an optimist, believing that God sends subtle messages to each of us with his song choices. It’s a bit like an answered prayer when the perfect song comes on the radio or the right artist grabs the mike as you enter the room.
Am I suggesting God and Steve Jobs worked on the invention of iTunes together? No. I believe Apple’s software wizards created a path for the all music lovers to get what songs they want and when they want them.
No more driving to the mall for an album purchase when only two songs are significant. No it’s much better.
And God’s role may appear non-existent to some, I choose to believe He plays a role in every aspect of my life. Without God’s input and the timely invitation of my parents, I may never have been introduced to Alfie Boe, a vocalist who has the chops to sing the most demanding roles on Broadway or the London stage. His lead role in the 25th anniversary of Les Miserables ranks as astounding and became a powerful prayer in a time of need in 2012.



Texas Football Rules

If you love high school football, you no doubt love your local pigskin regardless of what state you live.
Big cities and big football states brag of artificial turf and stadiums seating more than 5,000 raucous fans. But they don’t get to witness mud bowls like some smaller towns.
Every state has its pinnacle programs, its standard bearers and grand traditions. I salute your team whether you play football in Alaska, Alabama, Rhode Island or any of the three states listed below:
Texas, California and Florida
These three states send the most athletes to Division I-A college football programs for justified reasons. Numbers, talent, work ethic and coaching are a well-oiled machine in many states. Among football players from 2013,
In these three, those ingredients work together to generate a Bugatti Veyron, the fastest street-legal car
Katy Tiger football (15-1 state finalist in 2013) is back as head coach Gary Joseph continues to amass the best winning percentage in the history of Texas varsity coaches with 100 wins or more.
Joseph is very modest about his accomplishments at Katy. He has never been a varsity head coach previous to 2004.
Joseph worked as defensive coordinator under Katy’s dynasty builder Mike Johnston since the early 1980s. Johnston battled numerous disappointing seasons before generating the Tigers’ first state final run under his watch in 1994.
Now 138-12 in 10 seasons, Joseph’s teams average almost 14 wins and barely one loss per season. Only one team in the nation has defeated the Katy Tigers twice under Joseph’s watch since he took over in 2004 — The Woodlands Highlanders.
In a 16-game season — if your team reaches the state championship game — Katy averages 15 contests each year. If the Tigers reached the state finals each December for 10 consecutive years, Katy could only have played in 160 games — give or take a bye-week/week zero bonus battle.
Standard bearer for detailed prep football coverage Dave Campbell’s Texas Football usually ranks the top teams in Texas at the end of each decade by listing how many wins schools accumulated in 10 seasons.
The Texas state title contenders year in and year out usually have 95 victories or more. Few collect 100 or more, and the best I recall seeing from the 1990s or 2000s was perhaps 112 or 114 wins from the true elite among all 1,400 Texas teams.
Compared to those numbers, Katy’s last decade sets a gold standard that won’t likely be surpassed.
And the Tigers are again forecast to win a state championship — this time at the newly created 6A level. The previous six arrived in 5A ball (1997, 2000, 2003, 2007, 2008, 2012), and the school’s first state title arrived in 1959.
Only teams I recall that have challenged or beaten Katy’s 138-win decade would be, perhaps:
—— Southlake Carroll (79-1 at the height of a 3-championship run). The Dragon’s lone loss was a 16-15 defeat to Katy in 2003 during Johnston’s coaching finale.
—— Also don’t forget the 151-game winning streak by California’s De La Salle, which did not drop a game from 1992-2005. Thirteen seasons without a loss is hard to beat — even for a stalwart like Katy.
—— Texas powerhouses Allen, Converse Judson, Midland Lee, Odessa Permian and Celina are serious Honorable Mentions.


Happy Birthday, Davey

My brother Dave is a special guy in many ways. And today we meet to celebrate his Aug. 1 birthday.
Dave has always led the league in humorous anecdotes and keen (aka awkward observations). He sees humor in nearly every event and lowers the tension in nearly any situation.
Dave is the middle brother of three sons my parents introduced and mentored on this planet. As the middle boy, you know he’s been through some crap in his life. He used to tease me, and I responded by knocking his front tooth out — not a very kind gesture, I must admit.
Dave also had a streak of bad luck when he was about 12. He slid into third base in our expansive back yard and broke the basement window with his big foot.
Shortly after that he pured a 5-iron through the Mr. and Mrs. Sobotta’s plate glass window surrounding their indoor swimming pool. Nice shot Dave. Mr. Sobotta kindly retrieved the TopFlite golf ball — from the bottom of his 10-foot deep pool.
Dave also had he misfortune to turn on a light switch in the middle of the night, only to find the suspended light above the bathroom sink fall into the sink and shatter it.
Beyond all of that, Dave has been a great man, a great brother, a great dad and far less trouble than I imagined when I was only 10 years old.
He has been a blessing in my life and many others. Thank you, Davey, for being my brother and for encouraging me to never give up.
Sorry about your back, the diabetes, all of the toes scars from Pancho the killer Chihuahua and for that hooked fairway wood that almost sliced you in half.
You have done great things, and from what I see, life continues to be improving daily for you and Charlene.20140803-131848-47928756.jpg20140803-152648-55608347.jpg