Batshit Crazy

I don’t normally use profane language, but I think it’s appropriate in this case.  The whole world has gone batshit crazy since the election was called last night. I was smart enough to deactivate my Facebook account before it turned any uglier.  I’ve already heard how awful it has gotten as the day has progressed.

Yes, I am a Trump supporter.  I have never burned a cross in front of anyone’s yard.  I have never beaten anyone for being a homosexual.  I have never sneered anyone wearing a burka.

Yet today, I am being told I’m a bigot, homophobe, and generally a horrible person (pssst… I’m really a pretty good guy).

I get the pre-election head-butting.  But when the dust has settled, we are supposed to shake hands and congratulate the other side.

When did it become ok to treat each other so terribly just because your chosen candidate lost?   This is worse than the Alabama-Auburn matchup each November.

I’m praying for you, America.  Praying hard.

 

Rented Mule

To the lady sitting behind me at the theatre festival:

I love High School Musical probably more than a 47-year old straight man should, but you, ma’am, have set the bar higher than I thought possible.

First, I want to compliment you on your lung capacity and power. The shrillness of your screams at the end of every song inspired me to duck for cover instead of applaud. I enjoy exercising my 2nd amendment rights and, although I wear hearing protection, it’s inevitable that I fire off a round or two without my ear plugs in. It’s pretty loud. Ma’am, you are infinitely louder than a 9 mm round being fired from my Sig Sauer. Kudos to your lungs. 

But as impressive as that is, it doesn’t hold a candle to your arm strength. When I saw a pom-pom in your hand prior to the show beginning, I didn’t realize you were holding the object of my future nightmares.

You worked that cheer accessory with passion unseen in modern history. The repeated pummeling to the back of my head quickly accelerated my hair loss. I stopped by Marshall Medical on my way home to ensure my pom-pom inflicted concussion won’t have lasting effects.

Lady, you beat me like a rented mule, like the proverbial red-headed step-child, like a drum, like wholesale carpet, like…  I’ll stop.  You get the idea.
I don’t know who your trainer is, but they deserve a medal!

You are truly a fan among fans!

We’re all in this together!

Go Wildcats!

Chris

 

Admit One

Friday nights were magical.  Around the age of eight, my mom would drop me off at our town square with $5 and a promise to pick me up in 2 hours. It was not the age of child abductions to be sure.

I would walk to the window and buy my ticket, sometimes with a cousin or two, but more often without. The posters would tell of next weeks feature but the future held none of my interest, only that moment.

Walking into the Martin Theater, my ticket would be torn and the stub handed back to me, stuffed into my pocket.  There were no names or coupons on the tickets in the mid-seventies, only the generic Admit One.  I would walk to the concession counter, ask for a large suicide and box of Raisinets.

Having only one screen, the only choices were to see the movie or not. I begged my mom’s younger brother to come to accompany me to see Rattlers because I was  afraid to watch it by myself.  Lucky for me, he wanted to see it too. A few minutes into the movie, my feet propped themselves up against the seat in front of me, #becausesnakes.  The usher came by and warned me put my feet down.  A few minutes later, he told me he would remove me from the theater if it happened a third time.  The snakes slithered around my ankles the rest of the movie and I was miserable and it was AWESOME…my first horror movie!

Several months later, Grizzly was playing, and once again, I called upon my uncle to accompany me. I don’t remember much of the plot line, but when the giant bear slapped the horses head clean off, the memory permanently fused some of my neurons together, only to be further imbedded in my mind the following, because it was played a second run.

In May of 1977, a movie called Star Wars (you may have heard of it) was playing. I had not seen anything about it, but that was normally the case.  You rolled the dice every Friday and sometimes ended up with Attack of the Killer Tomatoes.  Not that week.

Even watching Star Wars now, with its antiquated special effects, I’m instantly sitting back in that cool theater with the golden “prop-not-your-feet-upon-these-treasured-seats” watching two hours of science fiction heaven.

Four times I watched it.  It played for a month and I saw it every Friday and almost cried the week it was replaced. That 28-day run was the longest of any movie at the original, one-screen theater before it closed and the Martin Triple opened a few miles away.

Jaws kept me out of the ocean for 2 years and after a legitimate shark bite 3 years ago, I’m retiring my swim fins and goggles. Superman inspired me to save the world, even if I had to make the planet spin backwards. Halloween taught me it’s possible to watch a movie with my eyes shut. George Burns demonstrated God’s sense of humor.

Before it was the Martin, it was the Ritz, and it has since reopened as a music venue, taking on it’s historic Ritz name. But sadly, the Martin Triple is closed, leaving the people of my hometown without a place to hatch their own movie memories.

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The Pier

The memory of the wooden pier has grown dim.  The gray planks that I walked across almost daily for 5 years of my life could tell hundreds of stories of teenage joy and angst. My mind gets older and the details are fading.

On a crumbling paved road in Talladega County, my mom and step-dad built a house on Logan-Martin Lake when I was twelve years old. To help contain my excitement, I refused to go see the progress until we were only weeks from moving in. It was worth the wait.

Like most boys teetering between child and man, I loved swimming and fishing. With my “help” (I use that term loosely), my step-dad built a pier that stretched twenty feet into the water. The creosote from the support posts left 2nd degree burns on my skin, but the pain faded with time.  Even though the water was down to it’s winter level, I walked out on the pier every morning before leaving for school, willing the water level to rise.

And rise it did.  After the spring rains, the water level submerged MY pier 2 feet under water.  I’m sure I understood what Noah felt like as I would daily walk to the water’s edge, praying to catch a glimpse of dry wood.

By early May, the waters would recede and I would grab my fishing gear and make the 30 yard walk with my Irish Setter, Zeke.  He would sit with coiled enthusiasm until I’d pull out a catfish or bream. It was his greatest joy to dance around with my freshly caught prize in his mouth.  More than once, I had to remove a hook from his lip as well as the fish’s.

I buried Zeke as close to the pier as I could when he died my senior year of high school.

One spring Saturday, after the water had gone down, we noticed a foul stench in the air. My step-dad and I went to investigate and as we got closer to the end of the slough, the smell became almost overpowering.  Then we saw it.

A very dead, very bloated cow.

As I was emptying my breakfast on the ground, he yelled for me to get back.  I looked over to where he was running from and saw several Water Moccasins coming out of the carcass.  Dry heaving and running are NOT a good combination.  That’s the one memory I would be fine with losing.

We returned with lighter fluid and matches.  He was able to stand at a safe distance and squirt almost the entire container over the body, forming a liquid trail to his perch.  He lit a match and I watched as flames slowly consumed the dead bovine.  I thought it might smell like a cookout.  My thinking was flawed.  He returned a few more times over the next week to continue the process.  I didn’t have the stomach to accompany him.

My love of the night sky was born on that pier.  At sunset, I would grab a sleeping bag and lay on top of it and watch the sky fade as the stars and planets would gradually come into view. I’d tell myself I wouldn’t go inside until I saw a shooting star, and then just more.  And another two more.  Without the lights of the city or close neighbors, it was almost too easy some nights.  And covered with dew, I’d reluctantly make my way back inside.

The house was sold shortly after I graduated high-school.

I drove by the house after my mom passed and the memories were so thick I couldn’t see the road to drive.  There were new houses but none of the names I remember on the mailboxes. As much as I wanted to knock on the door and ask if I could walk down to MY pier (it’s still there), I couldn’t muster the same courage that Miranda Lambert has in her song The House That Build Me.

“And I bet you didn’t know under that live oak
my favorite dog is buried in the yard.”

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Return of the Awkward

It was decided, through the process of my own apathy, to let my other blog page expire, losing 2 years of writing in the process.  Some of my older, less refined thoughts are still captured, like a box of memories stuffed in a closet that you look through every two years.  I’m leaving them for you to shuffle through (if you dare).

I’ve missed writing. Not the daily “Notes” I post, but the REAL writing where I can explore the creative valleys and peaks that I can see from a distance, but never dared traverse for fear of what I might find.

At least a dozen times daily, that internal alarm sounds, reminding me that this life is temporary and I’d best get off my ass and do something to express myself with the moments that remain. If not, the consequences are liable to become dangerous.

Failure is temporary, but regret is down-right ugly.

Welcome back, Chris.

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Who Made Who?

“Video games she play me
Face it on the level but it take you every time on a one on one
Feel it runnin’ down your spine
Nothin’ gonna save your one last dime
’cause it own you
Through and through”

In 1986, Stephen King adapted his short story, Trucks, into a B grade movie called Maximum Overdrive. It only rated 2 1/2 out of 5 star and it was one of the 7,000 movies Emilio Estevez starred in during the great 80’s.  Although it didn’t get great ratings, I loved it.  SPOILER ALERT:  How cool would it be to fight all our motorized and electric appliances that had been possessed by aliens?  It would make the zombie apocalypse look like a day at the spa.  What was even better than the movie was the hard rockin’ sound of AC/DC belting out a killer soundtrack.  Ahhh…the ’80s!  (I do NOT miss them…maybe the hair…)

IMDB labels the movie as American action-disaster-horror-science fiction film.  Note the word “FICTION”

“The data bank know my number
Says I gotta pay
’cause I made the grade last year
Feel it when I turn the screw
Kick you round the world
There ain’t a thing that it can’t do
Do to you, yeah”

I was at lunch yesterday with my step-son (after church boys day out), and was in the middle of sending a text to my daughter when our food arrived.  I said “just a sec” and kept on pecking away.  He cleared his throat, once, twice, then asked me politely to look at him.  He was waiting to say the blessing.  WOW…did I feel like a horses behind!  So I put my phone on airplane mode (easier that cycling off and on), and we prayed.  I spent the rest of lunch fully engaged with him and we laughed and cut up.  All my kids are AWESOME!

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As we left the restaurant, I really looked around.  It amazed me at the number of people with their heads down, completely absorbed in their smart phones.  Entire families were heads down stumbling through the shopping plaza.  

“Who made who, who made you
Who made who
Ain’t nobody told you
Who made who, who made you
If you made them and they made you
Who pick up the bill and who made who
Who made who
Who turned the screw
Yeah”

 

It’s not fiction, people.  Technology now OWNS us.  We really have built our own “prisons of the mind”.  Technology is a fabulous thing that was suppose to make our lives better. (I’m still waiting on the hover car).  Instead we’ve become a slave to convenience.  I’m the first one to admit I’m guilty of this.  Saturday night, I’m watching a movie with my wife, and I keep refreshing ESPN.com on my phone to get the latest score.  I “sacrificed” football to watch a movie with her, but did I really sacrifice?  

I’m carrying my phone in my hand 18 hours a day to make sure I don’t miss an email from my boss.  I can’t even have lunch with a 10 year old, uninterrupted by the call of instant access to everyone and EVERYTHING!

The question is, what do we do about it?

“Satellite send me picture
Get it in the eye
Take it to the wire
Spinnin’ like a dynamo
Feel it goin’ round and round
Runnin’ outta chips
You got no line in an eight bit town
So don’t look down, no”

It’s easy to say, just unplug!  It’s like telling an overweight person, just eat less, or an alcoholic, don’t drink any more.  It’s not simple.  The demon was insidious, slowly creeping on us over the last few years.  Invasion of the Body Snatchers has NOTHING on iOS!   If I even forget my phone, even for a quick run to the store to get gas for the mower, I get twitchy and start feeling phantom vibrations on my hip.  When I do a training run, I do it with my phone in my hand.  It’s flat out an addiction.  

“Who made who, who made you
Who made who
Ain’t nobody told you
Who made who, who made you
If you made them and they made you
Who pick up the bill and who made who
Ain’t nobody told you
Who made who
Who made you
Who made who
Who made who
Yeah
Nobody told you”

Getting emails 24/7 was suppose to HELP us, not dominate us.   And it’s getting worse.  Now we have smart glasses and smart watches.  Pretty soon I’ll be getting a pair of smart underwear with 25 distinctive notification sounds.  

My generation remembers a life without “smart” technology.  I got my first computer as a senior in high school…TRASH 80.  (who remembers that one?).  But my kids have never known a life without being connected to the information grid.  They’ve never touched an encyclopedia.  

But I have hope.

I asked my lunch partner yesterday, who has more than his share of gadgets, how he is able to avoid the temptation of his games while we are out.

He said he loves spending time with me more than playing Minecraft.  Ouch!

I think I’ll just take a(nother) lesson from a 10 year old.  

 

*Lyrics from AC/DC “Who Made Who” – Writer(s): Brian Johnson, Malcolm Mitchell Young, Angus Young, Malcolm Young, Angus Mckinnon Young

Copyright: J Albert And Son Pty Ltd.

 

 

 

15 Tips for Flying

I’ve learned several lessons about airline travel in the past few years.  My job requires me to travel, not extensively, but enough that I have gotten quite good at the process.  In no particular order:

  1. If the cost to upgrade to first class is $50 or less, and the flight is over 90 minutes (and you can afford it), DO IT!  The extra leg and butt room make it a small price to pay.
  2. Check your main bag if you are travelling for more than one day.  There’s nothing worse than trying to navigate through a crowded airport with a bag in tow.  I tried it both ways and I prefer not to deal with keeping up with it.  Plus, you can bring gallons and gallons of hair care projects instead of 3 oz.
  3. Make sure you ID has not expired!!!!  It’s not impossible to get through security with an expired license, but it’s much easier when it’s still valid.
  4. Unless you are going directly to a meeting, dress comfortably.  I’m all about wearing flip-flops, shorts, and a T-shirt.  I look more like an overweight homeless beach bum than a business person.
  5. Before you go through security, empty your pockets.  I put all my change and keys in my backpack as soon as I get out of my vehicle.  I also wear slip on/off shoes and keep my belt in my backpack until I get past security.  I’m all about the hassle we are put through by TSA, to keep our flights safe.  Be extra nice to these folks.
  6. Bring a backpack or other SMALL carry-on that will fit underneath the seat in front of you.  Requirement – an actual book made of paper (instead of glass, plastic, and electronic components).  It takes 10-15 minutes to get in the air and the same to get down, when use of portable electronic devices, including cell phones, pagers (pagers?), laptops, iPads, iPods, portable televisions, electronic readers, blenders, remote control helicopters, is prohibited.   That’s too much time to sit idle.  I also suggest you bring a notebook and a writing tool.  Great ideas strike in high altitude.  Wet wipes, tissue, magazines, pain relievers, are some other items you might consider.
  7. Don’t recline your seat.  It only feels like 1/8th of an inch to you, but like 2 feet to the person behind you.
  8. EARPLUGS are a must.  If there’s a crying baby on the plane, he WILL be sitting behind you.  Nothing against crying babies.  I am one from time to time.
  9. Use the bathroom every chance you get in the airport.  The john on the plane is only large enough for children under 5.
  10. If you’re staying in a hotel, don’t pack shampoo, conditioner, or soap.  I have my preferred brands, but even the cheaper hotels include those in the rooms, and I can survive a few days using Breck.
  11. Granola is my friend.  Airport food is not as expensive as theme park food, but it’s not the best value.  I keep a few granola bars in my backpack.
  12. Keep and frequently use hand sanitizer.  You can’t help but brush against surfaces that 1,000’s of hands have touched within the last hour.  I’m don’t suffer from mysophobia, but I am a proponent of good hygiene.
  13. Pack light.  Often you can wear the same pair of pants or socks twice.  Extra under garments are fine.
  14. Don’t get an airport massage.  That’s all I’ve got to say about that.
  15. Be extra courteous to EVERYONE you meet.  The person standing at the gate isn’t responsible for a flight cancellation. I’ve watched people get U-G-L-Y with these people.  At the check-in desk in Phoenix, a customer service person was apologizing for the long lines.  I told her it was no problem at all.  She looked up and smiled at my wife and I.  She then told us of a man earlier in the day, that yelled at her because he was going to miss his flight.  He said he was a surgeon and if she were on his table, he’d let her die.  WHAT?  I was dumbfounded.  She said it’s like that every day.  WOW.  What’s the deal with that?   Since she told me, there’s a special place in my heart for people that work in the airline industry.  I can understand why some seem a little callous, but that doesn’t stop me from showing my appreciation.

I’ve love to hear YOUR flying tips!

Cowards

This morning I posted about a personal experience with domestic violence.  When I posted, I made the disclaimer I would remove the post in a few hours because of both the personal nature and the people involved.  I don’t claim to be much of a writer, so when the blog recorded 497 views in 2 hours, I was more than shocked.  Is there really that much violence out there?

I’ve already written that I grew up in a violent home.  Each incident was preceded by copious amounts of alcohol.  I heard from my aunt that my grandfather was occasionally abusive toward my grandmother, but he changed after they had grandchildren.

Even though I have a horrible temper, I’ve never come close to hitting a woman.  My mom told me countless times growing up that I was NEVER EVER EVER to lay hands on a woman.  As I child, I asked if I could defend myself if a girl hit me first, and I was adamantly told “NO!”  Those words have stayed with me and are ingrained into my fiber.  Thank you, mom.

When Christy and I married, she got to witness a few of my anger episodes, which consisted of yelling and throwing things.  I can’t remember what sparked any of them, but I do remember the day she drew the line in the sand.  She said “If this keeps on, we will not be married.”  My wife is the love of my life.  I took her words seriously and sat down with a counselor to talk about my anger.  

If I loved my wife, more than I love myself, as I claimed, I had to sacrifice my right to be angry.  It was that simple.  When I looked at it from that standpoint, it was an easy choice.   And it is a sacrifice I gladly make, every single day.  But as bad as my anger was, it was neither physical, nor verbally, abusive toward her.  I had a fail-safe switch, that forced me to get in the car and drive to the church down the road whenever I felt I was losing control.  There’s something about sitting at a house of worship, even in the parking lot, that grounded my emotions.  

I can only look at the world from one perspective, and that’s mine.  I haven’t had the experiences or influences of other people.  I had a tough childhood, but I didn’t bring the baggage with me.  Anger is something I grasp.  Violence is not.

I do not, nor will I ever, understand a man hitting a woman.  It is wrong on every level.  A man should protect his wife from all harm.  Domestic violence is that insidious demon lurking behind closed doors.  It’s something no one likes to talk about.  It’s embarrassing for the woman who doesn’t want the world to know that man she loves is hurting her.  It goes unreported and unchecked.

I wish I had answers.  I only have questions.

One in four women have experience domestic abuse in their lifetime according to The Domestic Violence Resource Center.   One in four.  I don’t understand.  The more I read about the topic, the more I believe that number is low. 

A friend of mine sent me this video from Pastor Mark Driscoll and he screams “How dare you!!!” multiple times.  I agree.

There is no provocation or excuse that justifies the cowardly act of domestic violence.

Guys, if you’re doing this, seek help…http://www.4angertherapy.com.  Admitting you need help makes you more of a man.  I’d rather my wife think I’m her “Knight in Shining Armor” than the dragon any day.

Ladies, if this is happening to you, seek help…National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or http://www.womenslaw.org.  

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