Monday, July 29, 2013

Let's Play some Football!

     The great Coach Paul "Bear" Bryant said, "If you believe in yourself and have dedication and pride and never quit, You'll be a winner.  The Price of Victory is High but so are the rewards."  This is Football.  This is why the game is so great.  Hard work, dedication, mental and physical toughness, true teamwork, blood, sweat, tears, and leaving it all on the field.  Football, in my humble opinion, is the greatest sport in the world and can really show a person exactly what they're made of and possibly prepare them a little bit for the toughest and most brutal game ever...Life.  Well, there you go, it should be pretty obvious what my feelings for the game of football are.  Luckily, it appears that both my children have an affection for the game, although one seems to have more of one than the other.  Young Jesse Perry has embraced the game, and loves to play.  I am aware of his passion for baseball, and he may actually choose a bat and glove over a helmet and shoulder pads, but we've still got a few years to change that.  The following short stories are all football related:  Jesse the Madman, Flashback to 1989, and I'm officially Old are teed up and ready to kick.  I'll segue into the story part of this post and leave you with the words of Vince Lombardi, "The Harder you Work, the Harder it is to Surrender."  That's right, Football is here.
     Yesterday, I had an occasion to attend a football coaches meeting in lovely Morris, Alabama.  The Morris Blue Devils have a top-notch football program, and Jesse has played there the last two years.  I am a happy fella to say the least, because I'm back helping to coach football again.  I was involved with Jesse's football the first two years he played, and was head coach one of those years, but then the baseball bug really bit and we took a year off to play baseball.  I know what your thinking, "You did what?"  Yea, we took a year off from football to play baseball year round.  But we've come to our senses and been back in the game for the last two years, and I even get to help out this year.  Jesse came to the meeting with me, and it didn't take him long to get bored.  The meeting went like meetings normally go and like normal, a ten year old boy can only handle so much talking.  At one point he came over to me and just stood there looking at me.  I told him,"Jesse, either go sit down or go outside and find something to do."  He said, "Ok, but can I use your phone."  Begrudgingly, I approved this and gave him my phone.  He has several games on my phone and at the very least this would give him something to do.  He sat over in the corner while the meeting was going on playing on my phone.  Well, after a while I kept hearing Jesse talking to someone.  I looked over at him, and no one was there.  I thought I must be imagining stuff, but then I heard him babbling and carrying on again.  The boy was talking to himself about one of the games he was playing.  Now, I have been known to speak long dialogues with only me as a direct participant, because I have to speak with someone intelligent during the day.  However, I don't want folks thinking that Jesse is crazy.  I tried to get his attention, but he was so wrapped up in his conversation with himself, he didn't see me.  He was really carrying on, and eventually I got up to go to the bathroom, and got him to chill a bit.  I see people on the streets of Birmingham on occasion that are obviously dealing with mental issues, and they tend to talk to themselves or people who aren't there.  I don't want that for Jesse.  He comes from good stock on my Wife's side, but my people are kinda nuts.  I've got plenty of crazy, and I have to try and mute the Crazy in the children.  A little crazy is ok, but once folks have caught on that you ain't right, they tend to treat you different.  We'll try and work on that.  It works well on the football field, though.
     Flashback to 1989.  Two games in particular I would like to mention.  First, Fultondale vs. Tarrant the channel 6 game of the week that almost didn't happen, because of a hurricane.  I can't remember the name of the hurricane, but I remember the field being a swamp and we had to perform the coin flip in the gym at Tarrant High School.  I was a captain for this game, and one of the best quotes of that football season happened when we (The Captains) were introduced during the Friday pep-rally.  My fellow captain went by the nickname, "Hawgtosser" and he was possibly one of the strongest people I have ever met.  He was naturally strong and was one of those guys that didn't really have to work out to have that kind of strength.  State champion Wrestler too, Thus the name "Hawgtosser."  Well he stood up at the pep rally, and addressed the hurricane situation and said, "You've seen Hurricanes and You've seen Tornadoes, but you ain't never seen nothing like what's gonna hit Tarrant City tonight!"  Gotta give it Daniel Lee (that's his real name) that was a great quote.  We ended up beating Tarrant that night, and I even got on TV.  During the Channel 6 coverage, I was shown sacking the Quarterback.  Game #2 took place in Pleasant Grove, Alabama, and I had one of the most memorable moments of my brief football career (There wasn't much need for a 6'1 185 lb. Defensive End/Tight End with minimal skills at the next level.)  I picked up a fumble and returned it 50 yards for a touchdown en route to a 28-6 victory.  It was the spark that ignited the victory.  It was the catalyst for an awesome win.  It was really cool, to tell you the truth.  I don't really have a funny story to go along with the touchdown run unfortunately, but I wanted to find a way to get that in one of my blog posts.  I'm not above self-promotion.  To quote Bruce Springsteen, "Glory Days, They'll pass you by, Glory Days, In the wink of a young girl's eye."  You've always got the stories though, and they stay with you forever.
     I have tried to instill the love of football in my children, and it's had mixed results.  Maddie will sort of watch some Alabama games with us, but she would much rather watch Big Time Rush or Dora the Explorer.  She's tough though, and she loves to hit and wrestle.  You put her and Jesse together and they are one formidable entity for sure.  There was an occasion where we were playing a pseudo-football game in the house one day, and they both performed perfectly executed form tackles on me in the middle of the living room.  As I lay on my living room floor racked with pain, staring up at the ceiling, and not being able to move, the thought went through my head, "Well, I reckon this is that point that you realize that it's all over for sure.  You are a has-been and never will be again."  That is assuming, that you were "an ever were" in the first place...If that makes sense?  I can still bench press more than they can, and eat more hot dogs.  I still got a little game left.  I just have to pick the right game.  Candyland anyone?
     Well that's it for the football edition.  I won't bore you with an inspirational speech or my philosophy on football and life, but I will give you a fine Nick Saban quote that occurred in Death Valley, Baton Rouge, Louisiana a few years ago, right before the Crimson Tide defeated the Bayou Bengals at the Red Stick, "So I want everybody to think here for a second, how much does this game mean to you?  'Cause if it means something to you, you can't stand still.  You understand?  You play fast!  You play strong!  You go out there and dominate the man you're playing against, and you make his ass quit!  That's our trademark!  That's our M.O. as a team!  That's what people know us as!"  I couldn't have said it better myself.  Are you ready for some Football?

Saturday, July 27, 2013

15 Reasons the 80s Were Better than Today (Special Edition)

This is a special edition of the Uber Dad Chronicles because this post has nothing at all to do with being an Uber Dad or parenting, kids, or life in general.  Unless that life was led in the 80s.  I had an interesting conversation recently concerning the subject of whether or not the 80s were better than today.  My thesis is, "The decade of the 1980s was extremely awesome, had awesome people, and was just better than most other decades.  Mainly if this was a boxing match, the 80s would knock today out in the first round."  The contention of this post is to prove this idea, and I believe this list sums it up well.  15 reasons the 80s were better than today:

#15- American Idol ain't got nothing on Star Search

#14- They don't make movies like "Porky's" anymore

#13- Tom Cruise was actually cool in the 80s (see Top Gun), and not nearly as creepy

#12- MTV actually played videos, not "I'm a Pregnant Teenage Hoochie Mama"

#11- The Dukes of Hazzard, The Cosby Show, Charles in Charge, The A-Team, Magnum PI, Alf, Knight Rider, Cheers, The Facts of Life, Fraggle Rock....All 80s TV Shows

#10- You had to work for food:  In the 80s you had a Hungry Man Meat Loaf w/Tomato Sauce TV Dinner covered in tin foil that took 2 hours to cook in the oven.  Today Mac and Cheese is done in 2 minutes in the Microwave.  You don't appreciate the meal

#9- Joe Montana > Tom Brady

#8- The Super Friends would kick the crap out of Spongebob Squarepants

#7- You had to be tough to drink TAB

#6- Not a Kardashian in Sight

#5- I Had Really Cool Hair.  Hairstyles were just better.  Big Hair rules. That is all

#4- You Decide- Justin Bieber or Prince...easy one

#3- You had to be a real man to wear Parachute Pants

#2- Better Vampires and Werewolves (They've got Edward and Jacob..yawn.  We had Kiefer Sutherland and Michael J. Fox)...They got us beat on Zombies though

#1- Two Words- "Totally Awesome"

Now to be fair the world today has:  Duck Dynasty, iPhones, iPads, iPods (and iLoveEm), the Internet, Quentin Tarantino (although he's an 80s guy), The Walking Dead, PlayStation and XBox, and The Hangover Movies just to name a few.  I would still take the 80s, but I would like to take my iPhone with me if that's cool.  

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The Lines

     I was looking in the mirror the other day, because I do that from time to time.  I know some folks close to me would say, "He's never met a mirror he didn't like.", and while there is some truth to that statement, it's not completely accurate.  I began to notice all these lines and wrinkles on my face, and there would have been a time in the not so distant past where this type of discovery would have caused concern for me (like when I was around 21 or so, and began to notice that my hair line was disappearing at a rapid rate), but not this time.  I looked closely at all these crags and crevices that line my face, and I realized that each one of these glorious lines have a pretty good story to tell.  These lines could tell the story of the time I flunked Algebra in the 8th grade and considered becoming a hobo, the first time a young lady captured my heart and subsequently broke it all to pieces, a few scrapes I got into on the football field, in the parking lot, and later as a young Police Officer.  I could go on and on, but this blog is entitled, "The Uber Dad Chronicles" so I will concentrate on some of the line causing stories concerning my children.  I have to say that I'm glad I have all these lines on my face, I suppose they've come from a life that has been lived and a lifetime of smiles.  I guess that means I'm a rich man.
     The Stress probably began with the arrival of my main dawg "J-Jam" or as the state of Alabama calls him, Jesse Christopher Perry.  You see, Jesse was born about 2 months premature.  The night that we realized that Jesse was indeed on his way, so to speak, was surreal to say the least.  Cheryl's Mom and Sister were visiting from Wisconsin for baby preparation stuff, and we really had no reason to believe anything out of the ordinary was going to happen.  The pregnancy had been completely normal up until that night in early May 2003, and I should have known something had to give cause the word "Normal" has never really jived with the Perry clan.  We first noticed something was amiss when Cheryl's water broke, let's say quite a bit earlier than it was supposed to.  We spent the next several minutes trying to convince ourselves that this was probably normal, and we shouldn't worry.  Unfortunately, we didn't have the services of the Magical and Mystical iPhone back in them days. (It feels funny saying, "Back in them Days."  Sounds like something my Daddy would say)  If we would have had those fine Apple products we would have known that the fact of the matter was that Cheryl was in full labor. There is no such thing as a "False-Water Break" or "Pre-Mature Breaking of Water."  The bottom line became pretty apparent, once the water goes....It's On!  The Labor has commenced.  If you've ever seen the movie "Nine Months" with Hugh Grant and Julianne Moore and remember the labor/journey to the hospital scene, then you've got a pretty good picture of the chaos that follows.  This was running into doors time, and the amount of anxious/stressful moments was off the charts.  The drive to the hospital was not really my finest hour or most shining moment, and the quote "I'm driving this Boat!" most likely originated from this event.  Long story short, baby Jesse was born during the Dr. Phil show at Brookwood Hospital in Birmingham, Alabama the next day May 12, 2003.  He spent a month in the NICU, and he was a little over 3 lbs. at birth.  If you've ever seen him on the Baseball Diamond or the Football field then you know that he suffered no ill effects.  He was just ready to come into this world, and he's a stubborn little fellow.  Still is to this day.
     While I'm on medical related stressors, how bout those 5 year old shots?  That is some Medieval type torture stuff if I've ever seen it, and when I was holding Jesse down for this horrible event I felt like I needed that black bag or mask that the executioners of old once wore.  I was shaking like a leaf on a tree or at least like an Eddie Money song (Ba Dump Dump/Drumroll for a joke).  Maddie will be due her 5 year old torture very soon, and I just don't know how I feel about that.  I had a hard enough time when the Doctor put a Q-Tip to far down in her ear, and she gave me that lamb being led to slaughter look.  I said, "Is all that really necessary Doc?"  It was really necessary, and our Pediatrician is top notch, by the way, one of the best around.  Maddie has got wise to this whole Doctor thing anyway, and every time she sits on that crinkly paper on the patients table she gets that look of defiance and goes all Squirrely.  I won't even try and explain the wrinkles and loss of what hair I had left that occurred with the "catheter" incident with a two-month old little Jesse at Children's Hospital.  If there has every been a moment where I almost climbed a clock tower with an assault rifle it was that one.  Poor little fella.  I still cringe when I think about that one.
     I'm going to close this area of thought and examination with the one that started it all.  My furry first born baby dog Smokey.  Smokey may very well have been the best friend I have ever had outside of Cheryl and the kids.  Cheryl and the kids give me too much grief anyway (just kidding, sort of), and no one has ever been as loyal as my trusty German Shepherd Dog friend Smokey.  Outside of tricking me to move out of my La-Z-Boy and then stealing it or maybe opening doors by herself and going places she shouldn't, she was spot on loyal.  She was my dog.  I saved her at the Humane Society, and she knew I had her back.  Through thick and thin that dog was with me.  She left us entirely too early, and we sure do miss her.  I remember the first medical issue the young pup had (or at least so I thought).  She had an alien obstruction of the ear, it appeared.  Smokey and Cheryl's dog Abby (Whom in fairness was equally important to me, and I have written about her before) were down in the backyard and Smokey came up shaking her head and favoring her ear.  As a new Doggy Daddy I immediately thought the worst, and I remember thinking, "Who knows, she could have picked up some kind of horrible backyard parasite."  I reacted with my normal cat-like reflexes and the focus of a Ninja.  The sense of urgency I had would have made Alabama Head Coach Nick Saban proud. (Nick is the man, by the way..Roll Tide)  I rounded up Smokey and put her in my old blue truck and called Cheryl on the way to the emergency vet.  It became apparent that Smokey was fine before we arrived at the vet, and that was a good thing because the emergency vet was only open at nights and on weekends and this was time was neither of those.  Cheryl said the sight of my truck pulling up with Smokey sitting in the middle with ears perked up was precious.  I would agree.  We would do anything for our kids.  Even the furry ones.
     Lines and wrinkles are not near as bad as some folks make them out to be. I've told stories about my father before, and his face was worn with hard work , raising a family, and life in general.  He had some really good lines, and I bet I had something to do with a few of those wrinkles.  To me those lines mean something, and I know if they could talk they cold tell me a thing or two.  Cheryl has told me similar stories about her Grandma Kabama in Wisconsin.  She had a face like my father's, and it had a lot of character.  She told me that she used to love to look at her face, and she thought how "Beautiful" it was wrinkles and all.  It goes to show you, I suppose, these lines aren't flaws there more like proof that you have done some living.  Some good, some bad, but definitely, living and taking what life deals you.  I love my lines.  They're kind of like scratches on a pick-up truck, They add character.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Maddie and Twinkle the Wonder Horse

     This weekend so far has been spent wishing my lovely wife, Cheryl, a happy birthday.  We try and do it up right around here for birthdays.  This originally was going to be a birthday dominated post, but there has been a certain young lady providing so much material lately that she could not be ignored.  My basic writing style and material for this blog draws heavily on storytelling and events in my life.  The last few days Miss Madison Leigh Perry (Maddie to all who know her well) has become a shining star of this page, and the following is a re-cap of her recent adventures.
     I had an outstanding idea for a birthday gift for my lovely wife.  I'm not trying to toot my own horn here, but Toot!  Toot!  My idea revolved around the fact that none of us really knew what exactly to get her for a birthday present, because she can be notoriously hard to shop for.  I decided to bring her the "World", but I wasn't exactly sure how I was going to pull off this grand idea.  I had an unexpected flash of genius, and everything became clear.  To bring my dear wife the world I would find items from all over the world and place in them in a basket for a proper presentation.  You may ask, "Where are you going to find all these worldly items Chris?"  Well let me tell you...I wasn't really sure, but the light bulb went off with a trip to Dick's sporting goods to get Jesse some football cleats.  Next door to Dick's was a place called, "World Market"..boom!  There it was, the answer.  I kinda felt like Moses hanging out by the burning bush, only my burning bush was a really cool store with all kinds of items from all around the world.  I got items like Couscous, Falafel, Risotto, Creme Brulee, Hummus, Marzipan, Belgian Chocolate with a very high cocoa content, Tikka Masala Curry sauce, Scottish Strawberry/Champagne Preserves, and Real Sangria from Spain- Just to name a few!  I put all them bad boys in a basket and wallah!  Pretty good gift if I may say so myself.  Well, Maddie and Jesse were involved in this process, but outside of signing a card the involvement wasn't that significant until, Jesse decided he wanted to buy his mother a Mars bar and he said, "We can say we got this candy bar from Mars."  Great idea, but he doesn't really know a lot about Mars bars and what the Mars really means.  Maddie, the star of our show, had the grand slam of ideas for a birthday present.  She was consuming a Tootsie-Roll sucker when an idea hit her (she works better under the influence of sugar), and she said, "I've got Mama something for her Birfday."  She then proceeded to remove the sucker from her mouth, and put the original wrapper back on.  She said, "I'm gonna give this to Mama for her Birfday, you give it to her daddy."  This was the ultimate show of love, and while maybe not the most sanitary of gifts it showed just how much Maddie loves her Mama.
     Yesterday was supposed to be a day to do the things Cheryl enjoys doing, and we tooled around town going to yard sales, thrift shops, Tannehill State Park Trade Days, and eventually eating at one of Cheryl's favorite restaurants Costa's Mediterranean (If you're reading this and work for Costa's Mediterranean send endorsement fee to the home office in Mount Olive, Alabama.)  Maddie was not the most well behaved child on our adventure and we had a few issues along the way.  I discovered that a 4 year old throwing a fit in a thrift-store is not really all that unusual or noteworthy in any way but it was not all fun for yours truly.  While eating at Costa's Mediterranean (Endorsement #2-Send to Mount Olive, Al.) Maddie lost her balance while trying to put butter on cheesesticks (Don't ask) and almost fell.  I said, "Maddie, that's Karma if I have ever seen it."  Her response was, "I don't like Caramel Daddy, and I don't want any!"  On the way home Cheryl's Toyota Prius was filled with the sounds of a frightened Maddie (who all of a sudden was scared of Thunder) screaming "Thunder!" after every Thunderclap, Jesse singing whatever it is he sings, Me talking about the bad things the "Voices" were telling me to do, and Cheryl playing Candy Crush on my beloved iPhone- All while driving in a Monsoon!  Happy Birthday!
     Finally, I would like to mention the stories, "Maddie and Twinkle the Wonder Horse" and "Maddie and the Lizard Monster."  These are part of a series of bedtimes stories that include the classics "Maddie and the Cotton Candy Monster" and "M2:  Judgement of Cotton Candy Day."  Well, in a nutshell "Maddie and Twinkle the Wonder Horse" is the story of Maddie and her trusty steed Twinkle saving the neighborhood from a renegade tornado.  Maddie was able to lasso this rogue tornado, a-la Pecos Bill, yep I was listening in Elementary School.  Maddie and Twinkle saved the lives of the entire neighborhood including preventing the demise of her father, Best in The World and brother Jesse, both are recurring characters in these stories.  They always seem to end up in some kind of trouble it seems.  Maddie had the quote of the week during the telling of "Maddie and the Lizard Monster" around the time of the introduction of the Lizard Monster, a scary-mean monster who liked to eat little girls.  Maddie asked, "Why does he eat little girls?"  I said, "He's hungry, I guess."  She then said, "He should eat Lizard Food instead."  Makes sense to me.
     I would like to move away from the exploits of the Amazing Miss Madino for a moment to finish with a huge "Happy Birthday!" for my wife and best friend Dr./Mrs. Cheryl Perry.  She's a great lady and I truly appreciate that she chose to spend quite a few of those precious years of life with me.  In closing I would like to sing Happy Birthday to Cheryl in a heavy breathing, sexy, Marilyn Monroe voice....Happpy Birthhhhday...Missus Chhheryl.....  Well it's a good thing this is a written blog and not one with a video!  That's all.  Watch out for rogue tornados and Lizard Monsters.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

The Time is Now

     The most important word that I've used lately is, "Now."  We are not promised tomorrow so the most important time in all our lives is "Now." I'm bad about looking ahead and trying to achieve personal goals that I have set for myself or my family and forgetting to appreciate the here and now.  This point was made clear to me this week at The University of Alabama-Birmingham's annual Father and Son baseball camp that Jesse and I attended.  I wanted to cherish every moment, and I really did not want this time to come to an end.  Soon Jesse will be some famous baseball player or President of  the United States or maybe a doctor or a lawyer and my "lil partner" will be gone.  I truly believe that the most important thing that we'll ever do is affecting the lives of our children in a positive way.  This experience was top notch, and even all the running and drills were fun.  It was nostalgic too, because it reminded me of my practice days nearly a quarter of a century ago.  I like to think that I've got a little game left, but I sure ain't no spring chicken anymore.  During an outfield "tracking fly balls" drill that involved continuous sprinting one of the coaches noticed my labored breathing and asked, "Mr. Perry, are you OK?"  Double Whammy- First, that whole "Mr. Perry" thing again, and second- no matter how hard I try to stay in shape and work hard to be the best I can physically, Father Time has his own plans.  I told the coach, "I know plenty of women and probably some men that would pay you top dollar for this kinda torture, and you could make a mint."  I've always been more of a weight room junkie anyway, and although I do perform cardio exercises the very idea of too much aerobic type stuff is not really my thing.  This whole experience reminded me of a few exercise related incidents that have happened over the years.  My goal is to live life now, not in the future or the past, but right now.  The most important time is now.  Makes sense when you think about it.
     When I used to work out in old Gardendale Civic Center or Fultondale High School weight room or wherever I could find weights, one of my favorite "motivating" type things to do was to rub Icy-Hot or Ben Gay on my weight lifting gloves and forearms.  The whole point was to get a little bit of a burn and have that glorious liniment smell.  Everybody has their own thing, and that was one of mine.  It seems like these products were stronger when I was in high school than they are now, and they would really burn.  Now, the one "Cardinal Rule' that could not be broken when performing activities with this stuff is to always wash your hands really well after you use it.  Never and I mean never go to the restroom before your hands are thoroughly washed and the hot stuff is dispersed. Obviously, there are parts of the body that you do not want Icy-Hot or Ben Gay to get on.  On one particular day, I got to talking, as I am prone to do, and forgot all about the "Cardinal Rule."  I went to the restroom, and let me tell you I was hopping a bit after that.  You sort of just have to let go, and accept your fate because not much is gonna cut this burn.  This same type of experience happened to me again in the Police Academy some years later when the Pepper Spray instructor told me right before she sprayed me in the face with the horrible stuff, "Whatever you do, don't stand straight up, you don't want this stuff finding it's way to your nether regions."  Well guess what I did, yep, stood straight up.  The only way I can describe being sprayed with pepper spray is, "Bobbing for French Fries."  That stuff is hot, and I spent all night sitting on top of an air-conditioner in the dorms we were staying in.  Horrible night, and by the way if you have enough of the stuff on you it reactivates every time you shower for a few days.  Just be careful with Icy-Hot and Pepper Spray that's my PSA for the day.
     I had a class in my first semester of college at Jefferson State Community College, or as we called it "Harvard on the Hill" that was like my version of Basket Weaving.  The class was Weight Training 101, and it was learning how to work out.  It was an easy credit, and most of the stuff I already knew.  I ended up taking several of these kind of classes.  I took Introduction to Aerobics, Beginning Jogging, and Archery for Beginners.  I figured the longer I could stay away from English and Math the better off I would be.  For a guy whose true major was beer and girls this was par for the course anyway.  The instructor of my Weight Training 101 class was serious about his instructing, and we had plenty of lecture time.  There is a science to pushing and pulling weight it appeared, and this guy was going to teach it vigorously.  On one occasion he was speaking about the importance of aerobic exercise as a complement to anaerobic activity.  He began to talk about a woman he knew that ran marathons and did those Iron Man deals.  He continued to speak to the importance of all this running and stuff, but as an 18 year old gym rat I wasn't buying it.  Right in the middle of his speech about the greatness of cardio, and this woman who had mastered it, I expressed my philosophy by saying, "Sir, I get that this girl can run and all, but How much can she Bench?"  I thought I was being witty, and for a guy that thought this was a legitimate question and your "Max" was a number of extreme importance, I didn't understand why I got the negative feedback.  Well, I did learn how to make a "C" in Weight Training 101.
     Well that's all I've got time for today, cause I've got to get after it and do my "Now" thing.  I'm going to go out and dominate this life.  I want to have the confidence and feel good attitude like the guy I saw at Maddie and Jesse's dentist yesterday.  This young man was no more than 15, and was a patient.  The dental hygienist came out and said, "James are you ready?"  He nodded confidently.  She went on to say, "Do you go by James?"  He looked her in the eye and said confidently, "I go by Brick." Brick is the man.  Not only did he embrace the fact that he wants to be called "Brick", heck he even said it out loud.  I want to have as much confidence as young Brick.  Maybe I can start calling myself Concrete or even Black Top.  Food for thought.  Our time is Now!

Sunday, July 14, 2013

The Wildman of Hamburger Heaven

     Sometimes an event or a single story can take on a life of its own.  This happened recently to Jesse and I in an event that occurred at Hamburger Heaven.  I was going to add a few other stories similar to this one, but I believe the Wildman of Hamburger Heaven should stand alone.  This will not be near as entertaining as the scratch n sniff episode of "Honey Boo Boo," but I do the best I can.
     The journey starts with a phone call.  A phone call from my wife, Cheryl, telling me that she would like to go to Sam's over her lunch hour and she wants Jesse and I to come pick her up.  Jesse and I had not yet eaten lunch, and I'm no Bobby Flay so Hamburger Heaven was chosen as a stop over point for lunch.  Hamburger Heaven is a wonderful place that serves some of the best hamburgers in the great state of Alabama, and the corn balls are something to behold indeed.  I have shared my love of all things Hamburger with my son, and it was actually him who suggested our trip to the Hamburger Mecca of Central Alabama.  Upon arrival at around 11:30 in the AM the place was already rockin' with business, as always is the case at the Gardendale location around lunch time.  We chose the Drive-thru, even though the Drive-thru is my mortal enemy and I have waged many wars in its clutches.  This go round with the Drive thru started out innocently enough, and I even told Jesse stories of my youth and how this place was once a Burger King and all the young people of North Jefferson County would congregate here every Friday and Saturday night.  This particular Drive-thru has a unique design, and it prevents escape.  Two concrete curbs on each side lock the victim into place, and unless you have a all-terrain truck with a lift kit or have an adventurous sense of things...you cannot escape.  You are stuck right here until the transaction is done, and I have to give it to the architect of this vehicle for quick fast food..."There is no changing of the mind..You're in it for the long haul."  We finally were able to order our food after the two guys in front of us ordered the whole darn store it seemed like, and I got my usual, Holy Cow combo and corn balls and Jesse got a bacon double cheeseburger and corn balls.  We like the corn balls, I'm telling you.  All went surprisingly well, until we reached the drive thru window.  I paid for our $30 lunch (whatever happened to the 25 cent hamburger stand), and then the fun began.  The nice lady in the drive through handed me our food and drinks.  I set the food by Jesse and attempted to put the drinks in the cup-holders of my trusty Xterra.  At this exact moment, a rogue straw punctured the Sprite Jesse had ordered, and a river of sugary beverage began to flow into my vehicle.  My front console began to fill up with this stuff, and my dear iPhone was in the path of destruction.  Now, if you know me then you know that I dearly love my iPhone, and I will not tolerate it being messed with.  Well, I panicked and began to scream unintelligible gibberish at this inanimate object.  Jesse, the quick thinker on this day, grabbed my phone away from the never ending flow of lemon/lime soda.  I attacked the cup, pulling it up from it's location, like a snake wrangler grabbing a snake.  I turned to look at the bewildered drive thru employees, and grunted a bit.  Then I floored my old Xterra, who I will call "Trigger" from this day forward.  During my hasty exit, I realized that I had to get rid of the cup, that was still leaking Sprite on me and the vehicle, and at this moment I screamed what was probably a profanity of some sort and hurled the demon beverage out of my vehicle.  The cup skidded across the drive thru path, and made a horrendous sound upon impact.  I can only imagine what the poor Hamburger Heaven personnel thought was happening here, and the people behind me may have been second guessing their decision to eat there.  Well, we finally escaped and I drove around the back of the CVS in the adjoining parking lot to gather my self.  I then realized that I may never be able to return to my beloved Hamburger Heaven, and they probably have posters up saying, "Don't serve this man, call police immediately, Wildman of Hamburger Heaven."  A day in my life.  Sam's went good though.
     My life, its seems is never really boring.  There is always stuff happening around here, and there's never a dull moment.  Someone asked me the other day, "How do you come up with all this stuff, that you write about?"  I can answer that question with one word, "Life."  Yep, life happens and the hijinks ensue.  Tune in next time, and I will tell the story of my brother Frankie the ostrich hunter.  I could have titled that one, "The Wildman of Graysville with an Ostrich too."  Just to be clear, there really wasn't an ostrich, it was one of those emu things.  There were adult beverages involved too, I believe.  Another time.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Songs I Don't Know by Heart

     Music has always played a large role in my life, although the kind of music I listen to has changed over the years.  I've went from Heavy Metal Hair Bands in high school to Frank Sinatra in my early 20s. I've always been a fan of the likes of Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, and Willie Nelson, and I've even learned to accept children's music like The Wiggles, The Doodlebops, and my personal favorite: Laurie Berkner.  I really did not have much of a choice in liking the kids stuff, because if they want to go see "Dora the Musical", we end up going to see "Dora the Musical", and I end up humming "Isa take the Wheel" all day long.  These days I'm all over the map, and I normally end up listening to the music the kids like anyway, but I always seem to get the lyrics wrong.  I have discovered that this phenomena is not limited to song lyrics, and I remember very well being asked to say the blessing before a meal and getting the "God is Great" prayer incorrect.  It went something like, "God is Great, God is Good, thank you for the Food, Food, Food."  Lyrics or words are good though, because without them you've got Kenny G.
     I really began to be a fan of music with Grease, Mary Poppins, or Kiss, and the exact correct origin is up for debate.  Spoon Full of Sugar, Greased Lightning, and seeing the original make-up clad Kiss at 6 years old were all quite an influence.  Later on I did several "lip-syncing" performances of Grease that originated from my "Chris Travolta" days in Elementary School P.E. square dancing class, and this eventually led to the group, "Chris Perry and the Flames" which had a one-time performance in Mrs. King's class around 1983-84.  The playlist was limited to one song, "Centerfold" by the J. Geils Band.  This love of performing eventually led to the formation of a three-man Rock group called, "Phantom" that me and a couple of buddies put together in high school.  I was a singer/songwriter, but our biggest obstacle was a lack of musical knowledge, talent, or the ability to play any instruments.  I wrote several songs (More like words on paper, due to above mentioned lack of talent) like one called, "Skullcrusher."  This song contained the line, "The Skullcrusher comes out and then you die."  We were cutting edge and kind of a big deal.  Phantom had a cult following of at least half a dozen people, but we never really caught on, go figure.  My lack of musical success led me to the other way I knew how to attract girls, Football....but that's another story.
     Today's lyrics throw me quite a bit, and I just don't really understand most of them.  I've had many issues understanding lyrics.  Just the other day I thought a song was saying, "Britney" likes "Or- E - O - E--- Oreos", and this prompted Maddie to say, "I want some Oreos." from the backseat.  Jesse informed me that the song was "Scream and Shout" by some guy named William and Britney Spears.  While I'm glad to see that Britney has gotten her crap together, these folks can't really write lyrics.  This comes from a former songwriter, well word writer.  There's Justin Timberlake, who I actually like, and his "Pocket Full of Soap", and some guy singing about holding a Coelancanth.  The Coelancanth was a fish that they thought was extinct, but then some guy caught one.  I thought it was really a sweet ode to this presumed dead forever fish, but Jesse again corrected me.  The lyrics are actually, "Pocket full of soul" and "The Ceiling can't hold us" respectively.  I do try and keep up with the Popular Music today, but I feel a little out of place.  Where's some Motley Crue or RATT when you need it.
     Finally, I would like to mention a few misheard song lyrics that I or someone I know have gotten wrong over the years.  Like, "Excuse me while I Kiss this Guy" from the Jimi Hendrix classic Purple Haze which really says, "Kiss the sky."  Cheryl's favorite is, "The Ants are my friends, They're Blowin in the Wind" from Blowin' in the Wind by Bob Dylan which really says, "The Answer my friends."  Here are a few more:  The first lyrics are incorrect, followed by song title and correct lyrics
"Olive the other Reindeer"- Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer "All of the other Reindeer"
"The Girl with Colitis walks by"- Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds "The girl with Kaleidoscope eyes"
"He is a Woman"- Evil Woman "Evil Woman"
"Secret Asian Man" -Secret Agent Man - "Secret Agent Man"
"Take me Down to the Very Last City" -Paradise City- "Take me down to the Paradise City."
I could go on, but I think you've got the idea.  I won't even try and tell you what I thought they were saying in the songs, "Addicted to Love" and "Hollaback Girl", I try and keep this blog family friendly.
     Well I guess it's pretty clear that song lyrics can be hard to understand and sing correctly.  My children are not exempt from this either, and we've had our own lyrics to Bon Jovi's "Bad Medicine" called "Bad Madison."  Jesse has had his issues with Bon Jovi also, "Shoppin' my heart and you're too lame."  That's from "You Give Love a Bad Name" by the way, the "Shot through the heart, and You're to blame."  Well that just about does it, and I'm sorry for throwing Jesse and Maddie under the bus, and I'm sure Jesse is somewhere saying, "Why you gotta be so......Mean?"  He's been known to do that.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

The Return

     So our glorious summer vacation had to come to an end, but the laborious journey home still laid ahead, like a dreaded deadline.  The normal setting for these adventures involve yours truly, "Driving this boat." (That's a popular quote I use often), the better half candy-crushin' in the passenger seat, a young lady, with an extremely effective screech similar to a banshee or one of those sirens that make you crash your boat on a bunch of rocks, behind me watching the Power Rangers on her DVD deal, and finally #22 or #7 (depending on which sport you speak of) on the field #1 in your heart, the king brooder, the master of teen angst (even though he's not a teen yet) doing whatever it is that he does, I'm never really sure.  With all these ingredients, many interesting events are likely to occur.  Now....The Return.
     First of all, traffic on the Sunday after the 4th of July is completely insane.  I believe that vigilante justice should be the norm on the roads during days like this.  When there is a long string of cars in the fast lane and the same is present in the slow lane the following offenders should face immediate execution or at least some sort of humiliating public punishment:  #1) Those people who attempt to pass the long string of cars in the fast lane to move up a couple of car links should be drawn and quartered, and if you are one of those people; please come see me, and I will dispatch of you properly.  #2)  Those drivers who insist on driving in the fast lane slowly, and have no intention of following proper traffic laws or etiquette- and in some cases cause the above mentioned long string of cars.  These folks should be subject to a public flogging.  Unless, of course, these people are elderly.  I was raised to respect my elders, but they should not have a license to drive an automobile if their skills to do so are let's say, slipping a bit.  #3)  Anyone who cannot multi-task enough to talk on the phone and drive at the same time.  Please remember, You're not in the kitchen talking on the old cordless phone here.  Get off the road or face imprisonment.  That's just how I feel about this kind of stuff, and I believe if we were to follow this sort of code of conduct things would be much better.  This comes from a guy who once enforced traffic laws, so I have at least some standing in this matter.
     On a lighter note, I would absolutely love to meet the guy who invented "snacks" or "snack time" or whatever one calls it.  I would love to run across "John Q. Snackwell" so I could punch him in the throat.  The words, "Mom, can I have a snack?" are so common on the cross-country trip that I would hazard a guess that they occur every couple minutes or so.  I always use my standard answer, "No.", but my wife is more sensitive to the plight of these snack seekers.  She packs many different kinds of snacks, and is prepared to dole them out at the drop of a hat.  Now, I'm a big fan of the Skittle, and I absolutely love some sour gummy worms but this incessant pursuit of a snack needs to stop with the quickness.  These children of mine are addicted to the snack, and I for one believe it's time for an intervention.  I want them all to admit that they are powerless over the snack and begin to say the Serenity Prayer upon request.  Who am I kidding, as I sit here and type this out, I'm craving Raisinets.  They've won.  When in Rome.
     The overnight hotel stay is always interesting for the family (See Seymour Snorefest 2013)  We stopped just South of Indianapolis, Indiana this time at a Holiday Inn Express.  We have to stop somewhere that has a pool, and this is a prerequisite for my wife.  She wants the children to swim to have fun on the way home.  I'm opposed to this, because these same children have given me absolute H-E double hockey sticks from the backseat all day while I'm. "Driving this boat!"  But as is the case with these kind of things, my lovely wife wins out in the end.  So we all have to go swimming at the pool.  Luckily, we were behind schedule and food had to be obtained quickly due to being in the Eastern time zone, and we didn't stay in the pool for hours on end.  However, we didn't get out before I was goaded into a jumping football catch into the pool by my sole male heir.  This action produced water in my ear that wouldn't come out, and stopped up my ear canal.  I am prone to this happening, and also to "Swimmer's Ear."  This is probably the result of swimming in good ole "Fultondale Pool" every day during the summer growing up, but that's another story.  Well, I spent the rest of the night trying to get this water out of my ear, but again my wife the Boy Scout was prepared.  She brought some of that ear drying drop stuff.  Two good things happened from this malady, I finally understand what twerking is thanks to Miley Cyrus (that visual will never leave my head) and the hotel room television, and I avoided a "Just South of Indianapolis Snorefest 2013", because my one ear was stopped up and I laid on the one that was working properly.  I couldn't hear much of anything, and that was a good thing.
     Coming home to the Great State of Alabama is always sweet for me, but this time it was a little bit bitter-sweet because we all had so much fun in Wisconsin that we really didn't want to leave.  The water works from my youngest (Maddie), and Grandma made for an emotional goodbye, but the memories we made will last a lifetime.  I've said it before, but I feel a certain kinship with folks from Wisconsin, it's like they are my sister or brother from another mother.  Now it's back to the grind of child care, home upkeep, youth sports, higher education, graduate school exams, History Capstone Project research, math, science, blah, blah, but with the exception of math and science I like all those things a whole lot.  I reckon I'm a lucky fellow, even if I have issues with idiots driving, swimming just South of Indianapolis, twerking, and John Q. Snackwell.  It's good to be home.  Roll Tide.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Life's Been Good to Me

     I may get hit by a truck tomorrow, but It's All Good!  My life has been kinda similar to a fishing trip my brother Frankie and I went on many years ago.  We were fishing in some back waters of Smith Lake near "Whispering Pines" were Frankie once lived.  I swear to you that we completely filled up a fish basket with Crappie, Bass, and Bream.  Nice fish, not any little baby fish in the lot...that is the truth as I know it.  Then I hooked a whale with my Rooster Tail!  When that thing broke the water it was a thing of beauty, and my eyes got as big as saucers.  I just prayed to myself that I could get this monster to the boat, because outside of a Red-Snapper I hooked once in Florida this was the biggest fish this then 16 year old had ever caught!  I was able to get the Godzilla fish in the boat, and we put him in the fish basket with all the other fish we had caught up to that point.  We fished a little while longer, but I really wanted to show off my fish.  My brother fetched the basket from the water, and guess what?  Yes sir, the basket was completely empty.  No fish to be found.  They had just vanished. This seemed like a case for Scully and Mulder, but what had happened was the "Hoss" that I caught had busted out the bottom of the fish basket.  This action had allowed all the fish to escape.  We knew that no one would believe us, and folks would call this a "Fish Story."  We decided to keep going and continue to fish, and with the first cast I caught a very nice Crappie.  That would be the last fish caught on this day, however.  The point is that there's gonna be ups and downs, highs and lows in life, and you're gonna fill up the ole fish basket of life some days and that sucker is gonna be empty on others.  The secret is to keep casting and continue to fish no matter what!  All that matters is the next cast, the next catch, the next "Monster" Bass, and even if the evil fish of life busts up your perfect fishing day- you get right back after it.  That's just my philosophy, but I've been on a fishing kick of late.  Oh yea, by the way, nobody believed us.  I will tell you the truth right here and now, it wasn't just a "Fish Story," it happened...That's a fact, Jack!
     I was put in this "Life is Good" mode as I've looked back on our Awesome vacation adventures this summer.  We are preparing for the drive home, and I have to say this has been one fine trip.  We've seen Miller Park in Milwaukee, Lambeau Field in Green Bay, the second highest peak in Wisconsin at Rib Mountain in Wausau, and we've been able to enjoy so many other great things on this trip too numerous to mention.  We've been able to go fishing on several occasions, and since this post has a "Fishing as Life Essence" feel to it- That's a good thing!  We've eaten fried cheese curds, frozen custard, and butter burgers.  We've been able to go to the 4th of July fair in town, and outside of a disagreement with Todd the disgruntled Carny working the Merry go Round, It's been a blast!  We've had great company and my wife's family are some really good folks, and I truly appreciate the time we've been able to spend up here in Packer Land!  To quote Cheryl, we're "Biting at the Chomp" to do it all over again!  She gets stuff backwards from time to time, but she gets it honest- her mother does the same thing....did I just say that out loud.  But like Cheryl says, "That's why I've got letters behind my name."
     I'm gonna cut this one a little short, because we are preparing for a cross-country trip back home.  Sweet Home Alabama awaits!  We may have to stop by and see the Turtle-Man in Kentucky for one last hurrah!  Come tomorrow we will be driving South.  Bring on the Heat, Humidity, Sweet smell of Magnolia, Cornbread and Sweet Tea, Biscuits and Gravy, and College Football Supremacy!  We Gone!  Roll Tide!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Top 15 Most Memorable Quotes from my Summer Vacation...So far

The following quotes are from our journey so far, and I believe these are funny even if you don't know the people who are quoted.  I had to expand the list to 15, because there were so many great quotes! I hope it brings a smile to your face, as it has mine!

#15.)  "Yea, that's Phyllis the Diller." -Grandma when asked a question concerning Phyllis Diller after consuming a Blackberry Margarita at TGI Friday's.

#14.)  "No One is as loud as you." -Grandpa in response to a Phyllis Diller/Grandma comparison.  The Blackberry Margarita was still present.

#13.)  "Why in the Hell are all these Moose pictures on my phone." -Me after Cheryl took my phone at the Milwaukee Zoo.

#12.)  "Well I used to wake the morning, before the rooster crowed.  Searching for Soda Bottles to get myself some dough!" -Jesse singing while working on the computer one morning.  Yes that is "The Ballad of Curtis Loew" by Lynyrd Skynyrd, and yes I am very proud.

#11.)  "I wanna go in a Warm Tub, not a Hot Tub." -Maddie explaining her desire to enter the hot tub that wasn't too hot at Aunt Donna and Uncle Scott's house in Milwaukee.

#10.)  "I'm not putting my thumb in a Fish's mouth, He could bite it off...Couldn't he?" -Cousin Logan after catching a "Monster" bass, and being coaxed by me to remove said fish from the hook.

#9.)  "Woooo!  Ric Flair!" -Cousin Justin referring to the legendary wrestler Ric Flair.  I should mention that Justin is not really a wrestling fan, but I was able to educate him.  You're welcome!

#8.)  "Call Him Scott Squibbles."  Cousin Emily speaking with Siri, and telling her how to refer to Uncle Scott from now on.

#7.)  "Hello, Scott Squibbles." -Siri

#6.)  "I don't think you can hurt him, he's been through a lot." -Jesse referring to me and a proposed piggy back ride by Cousin Emily.

#5.)  "Unintelligible.......I'm a volunteer." -Lou the Tour Guide at Miller Park.  A very kind and gracious 137 year old man who who was our tour guide.  He's kind of a Low Talker.  Extremely nice man, but very hard to hear.

#4.)  "Did you get any of that?" -Aunt Donna referring to Lou

#3.)  "Not a Word." -Me still speaking about good ole Lou

#2.)  "Oh my gosh!  That thing came out of nowhere!" -Cousin Justin after being accosted by a rogue duck at the fishing pond.

#1.)  "That's a good one for the blog." -Cheryl