Tuesday, February 17, 2009

reaction to reconsideration

i would like to start by thanking the readers of this scribble for stepping it up and really answering the call that i put out there. i had two distinct reactions from close friends with regards to my opening imploration (is that a word?).

kevin wrote (in a comment): "I know that this is only adding to your comments, but I feel the need to reprimand your whining about your friends not leaving comments.You're a shithead. Do the multiple comments make you feel better about yourself? I know they do because they make me feel better about myself. Only, I don't implore my friends to leave them. Wimp."

meanwhile, in a conversation i had with a true friend, i was affirmed in my simple request. brian k, who writes a wonderful blog that you should leave comments on, stated to me over the phone that he understood my desire for comments and that he would have no problem doing the same thing.

it really is simple. i spend a lot of time putting these things together. there's a lot of thoughts swimming around in my head (picture my head as a fish bowl and my thoughts are thousands of little fish). sometimes i can catch one or two of those fish and make a pretty good meal (picture me fishing for trout in my own head and the "meal" representing a solid blog (not log... solid log is something else entirely) that you can consume and enjoy). i try to feed my audience a healthy meal once-a-week (obviously this doesn't always happen, so now i'm dropping the ball).

now a fisherman, a coal miner, a logger, textile worker, chef, artist, etc., expects to be compensated for the product they create. i look at the comments left as ample compensation for my labors. i could charge for this service that i provide (joy), but i don't (could i charge? i should set this up as a member site. i need to look up angelfire or tripod and see if i can do something like that).

some of you may agree with kevin, who apparently sees himself as some sort of enlightened artist who suffers for his work, and though he peruses his blog 14 times per day to see if a comment is left, refuses to implore his friends to take two minutes from their busy lives to think of something clever/charming/critical to say. i'm not even asking for positive comments here. as a matter of fact, i welcome any disparaging comment that you choose to leave. all i ask is that you contribute to the conversation. this is ground-breaking stuff we are doing here over at justin, edward, allen and bragg industries (no its not), and you are in on the ground floor of something big (no you're not).

so returning to the fish analogy, don't be a shark who comes and steals the life of this community. there are plenty of predators out there, and i don't need no haters coming onto my turf and stealing my waves (my analogies have me confused and i have made so many parenthetical comments that i literally don't know if i am writing an aside or actual point from one moment to the next).

i understand that i won't reach double digits with this post in the comment sea. rough waters may be ahead and i understand that many of my friends showed themselves to be just that... friends, and stepped it up when i asked for their contribution. i won't ask again, but it has been a blast this past week to see all of you coming out of the woodwork (what does woodwork mean?) to show some love. i also understand (although i hate to admit it) that some of the fish i put in the frying pan should have been thrown back (interpretation, sometimes the stuff i write isn't funny when it is trying to be, or just misses the mark) so they don't warrant a comment.

*** some unfinished business to address from the comments: ***

* reader comment of the week award goes to billy. we don't even know eac hother in the cyberworld, and rarely in the real world either, but you started things off with a great comment that made me laugh (and grossed me out). well done. come back anytime

* yes heather, it was called pit fall. thank you for pointing that out.

* the award for the comment posted from the furthest distance from my front door step goes to: josh carstensen, all the way from korea. somehow he found a way to type korean and make it look like english. i don't know how you did it, but it's good to have you swimming in my pool. the water is fine.

* if you get a chance, post a comment on kevin's blog. he is too humble and dignified to ask you to, but i think he'd really appreciate it. if you don't know kevin, might i suggest that your comment have something to do with one of the following subjects: brett favre, the get up kids best album, meat products that you enjoy eating, espn football analysts, peyton manning, kanye west, bus and taxi drivers in chicago, hair care, or taking showers after exercising.

* one positive and one negative comment in relation to the pogs subject. i still don't know what to do or what it is.

* thanks for showing your face, duane. on the phone you always tell me that you laugh at my silliness, but it's nice to be recognized in print

* there has been some confusion regarding my comments about reading. i was merely stating that i should revisit some of the books that i have rejected in the past. kevin said it right (even grammatically correct, i'm sure), i have no intention of reading jane austen or the like, i was just thinking of things that i said "no way" to in the past, and whether i should give said things a chance now that i am older and wiser and more sophisticated (insert sarcastic comment here)

* heidi: my wife, the love of my life, my best friend, the best cook in the world, my favorite person in this world - i am sorry if i have made you feel dumb with constant poking fun at myface (aka facebook). you know it is merely because i am jealous. it's like when a 3rd grade girl has a crush on a boy and hits him, trips him in the hall and calls him names to show it.

* keith (the commish) and heather both used "in this economy..." in their comments... extra points for you two!

i'd just like to point out that i was feeling guilty for not posting an entry, and that i simply aimed to begin with a quick remark on my friend kevin's bemoaning my comment currency system. i didn't mean it to turn into this.

Friday, February 6, 2009


my readers are really dropping the ball when it comes to posting comments on these entries. heidi and kevin are solid and reliable for a snarky statement every time, but the rest of you are inconsistent at best. i thought my readership was expanding, but the past two posts have yielded merely 5 comments between the two of them. with all this being said, and my feelings hurt, i move on to another quest into the abyss that is my mind.

for years i had no interest in watching american idol. for years i prided myself as one of the only americans to never see a minute of this show. i knew who kelly clarkson was, and that the barry manilow guy was gay. i knew ruben was fat, and the asian guy couldn't sing. but i long stood firm in my resolution to not watch the show.

well a couple of weeks ago i got sucked in (i feel validated in admitting this now that i have heard bill simmons comment that he too has been sucked in this year. if the sports guy does it, then why can't i?). i could give you the excuses, but i'm not sure i have to defend this decision. it's a pretty compelling show. i'm not obsessed (i didn't watch this week), but i enjoy the drama. the bad acts are horribly awesome. the good singers are talented and entertaining. simon demands your attention. he's kinda sweet in that "he's such an a.hole-i wish i could be that brutally honest" kind of way. i wish i could hire randy as my alarm clock: "yo dog. it's time to get up. i like you. you got something going on that i like man. get up. you're gonna have a great day..." will i watch every week (apparently it shows a couple nights per week - too much of a television commitment from me... what with wednesday night devoted to the real world and thurdsday night devoted to the office... i can't become one of those people who "has" to watch a particular show every night)? probably not. but i was entertained, and in this economy one can't pass up an opportunity for free entertainment.

watching (and yes, enjoying) american idol got me thinking about revisiting some other things that i have either tried, or refused to try in the past. keep in mind that i have been vehemently opposed to myspace, harry potter, the oc, "IM-ing," text messaging, etc... only to later enjoy these things greatly. i make overly-generalized and hyperbolic statements all the time. for example: peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are the greatest food ever! joe montana is the greatest quarterback ever! i'm never going to shave my beard again! hot tamales are the best candy! i could swim across this lake in 15 minutes! (oh wait, that was kenny) this soup is the best soup i have ever had! me and 14 friends could take down a t-rex! the 2008 bengals were the worst football team ever! (that one might be true)

pogs. for some reason pogs have been discussed by people i know several times in the last few weeks. i don't know what pogs are. i was too old when they came on the scene. i do know that there a device called a "slammer" and that sounds awesome, so maybe it's time to give pogs a try. if any reader has any pogs in their possession, please consider joining my pog league (and explain to me what pogs actually are)

lost. yeah, i know, "best show ever..." whatever. i've never watched it. i saw 5 minutes once and realized that the people had houses and modern conveniences. i was always under the impression that this show was set on a remote deserted island and that the people were roughing it like robinson crusoe. i suppose i need to start from the beginning, but once the hype reaches this level of huge-ness, i lose interest.

animal collective. kevin swears to me that the new album is fantastic. i've heard the past couple of animal collective albums and they were boring and never held my attention. i have loads of AC songs on my ipod that get no play. but kevin is right when he tells me that he doesn't steer me wrong on music recommendations. so i will get the new one and give this band another shot.

white creamy substances. if you know me, then it is well-known that i hate all white, creamy substances in the food realm. mayonnaise, ranch, sour cream, cream of anything soup. in the past i could not eat cream cheese, but i enjoy that now. at one point i stopped eating vanilla ice cream for an entire year just to be consistent. the thing that sucks about being utterly disgusted by these substances, is that they are on/in everything. i can't order a sandwich at a deli without making my order special. i love mexican food, and for some reason sour cream is always dollop-ed on top, staring at me and saying, "what are you going to do about it? scrape me off? suffer through it? ask the server to take it back?" damn you, sour cream - why are you so cruel! if i can make progress with the white stuff, i may also look to reverse my disdain of onions, olives and ketchup.

i have mentioned before in this space that i take great pride in having never seen this. but it's to a point now that this pride is rather meaningless. what would happen if i watched titanic? really? would my head implode? would my heart turn to stone? would the war in iraq end? to tell you the truth, i would probably be slightly bored and slightly intrigued throughout the entire movie, which isn't too far from my experience with most movies.

something fashionable.
i'm thinking here of making some fashion change. maybe i should go back to silvertab jeans and no fear shirts. perhaps i should start wearing a baseball cap again. i've considered going back to trying hard to have some sort of fasion sense. i tried the other day, but still ended up walking out of the house in a pair of jeans, a plain cotton tee and a hoodie. maybe it's time to go jewelry. or get into really cool sneakers. i could do something. make some sort of statement.

read a book. i'm not sure which book it should be. over the years i have picked up and put down a lot of books. hemmingway comes to mind. i read "the old man and the sea" and was yawning the entire time. but everyone speaks so highly of hemmingway, perhaps i need to give him another try. i love drunken, miserable, self-loathing authors. why should i steer clear of him? or maybe i should delve into shakespeare, or jane austen. i'm not sure. but i know that i am very particular about the books i choose to read, and it's time to give some of those previously-rejected authors another chance.

video games.
i grew up without video games. we never had them (except a commodore 64 which had sweet games like spy hunter, mission impossible, dig dug, and some game where you swung on vines). i got my first nintendo when my friend got the super nintendo and his mom made him give me his old nintendo. i've never purchased a video game console. i've never been too obsessed with any game for longer than one week. the reason for this is because i have always been inferior in all video games. while my friends ethan, taylor and brian were spending hours in the dark living room playing halo and saying things like, "sweet dude. i just killed you with my rocket launcher..." i was trying to get my guy out of some dark corner and waiting to be shot it the back of the head with some laser blaster gun or even worse, hit in the face repeatedly by the butt of an opponents rifle and not being able to do a thing about it. so humiliating. i used to like the madden football games. maybe i could try that again. maybe its just time to break out that old nintendo and challenge my friends to a game of rbi baseball, knowing full well that nobody can beat me at that.

let me close by telling you something that i will not give a shot to enter my life: facebook. that's right. i'm going on record. the sad thing is that i have made fun of heidi so much about facebook, that i can never get on it now, even though i keep getting comments from friends like, 'why are you not on facebook? i would talk to you a lot more if you were on facebook.' i did this same thing with myspace when i first learned of it's existence. myspace was intricately involved in allowing heidi and i to get together in the first place, so i dont' regret getting on myspace. but here i am again... at a crossroads. do i jump in and just enjoy what is sure to be something that will allow me to communicate with friends and family in a more consistent and convenient way? or do i allow my pride to rule and refuse to give in, just because i won't be able to handle my wife's pleasure in the giving in? any reader support and advice would be welcomed here as well. wouldn't the act of me giving in and joining facebook force my wife to think less of me for not being a man of my word? don't i have to continue to refuse to join? these are the thoughts that haunt me.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

father knows best

dads are really cool. dads are awesome. i love my dad. i love my wife's dad. if i've met your dad, chances are i love him. dads are the easiest people in the world to talk to (robo ken being the exception... that man frightens me. when i met him, i could have swore that he was going to look at me and say "you're fired." "from what, sir?" would have been my reply. "from being my son's friend. you're a dirty hippie and i want you out of my house.")

when you meet a dad it's guaranteed that you can talk about at least one of the following subjects for a considerable amount of time: the weather, sports, occupation, travel times between various destinations and attractions in any given location across the country. outside of those universal topics, there are many other topics that can be addressed with a father, depending upon their interest: fishing, hunting, politics, cars, real estate, religion, movies, classic rock, etc.

kevin and i have talked several times about how we are great with dads, and how proud we are of this. heidi may never have married me if her dad didn't love me so much. i have mentioned in this blog before how he was the one who asked me to marry his daughter. i win.

coates is going to be a dad soon. coates will be a good dad (you get a shout out in my blog if i find out that you actually read it). why all of this talk about dads? it's pretty simple: dads are really important. moms are important too, but i'll never be a mom, so i don't really care about them. mom is stuck with whatever offspring falls from her uterus; no matter how stupid, sloppy, rude, crazy, etc. that kid is. mom gets stuck with the bill. moms are heroes. they really are.

a dad should be his son or daughter's hero #1. sadly, dads don't always stick around. when stuff gets bad, dads can take off. and far too often, dads do take off. perhaps because the kid didn't spend nine months in his body, he feels less of an attachment. perhaps because he doesn't lactate milk he doesn't feel as essential and necessary to the whole process. and perhaps he "fell out of love," "wasn't ready to be a dad" or "ran off with the 19 year-old down the street." excuses... nothing makes me more upset.

disclaimer of sorts: i'm passionate about this stuff. it really gets me going. if you didn't have a dad, or your dad never was to you what he should have been, that's not on you. i'm not saying that boys and girls can't grow up to be good people without a dad, but i do think that it's really hard. so if this topic hits a sensitive nerve with you, then i am truly sorry, but my hope is not to make you feel like hell about the lack of a father in your life, but rather to celebrate sweet dads and encourage you to become one (if you are not already)

i work with kids. i work with poor kids who are diagnosed with some sort of mental health disorder. my current caseload is 33 children, and 32 of them are boys (the one is the sister of one of my boys, so i gotta keep her). i ran the stats, and 29/33 of the children i see on a weekly basis are growing up without a father in their life.

some dads are alcoholics and live on the other side of town but have no interest in seeing their sons. some dads are in prison. some dads pay child support and some do not. some dads died, and some do not know where their family is because he chose to beat his wife/girlfriend and/or children.

sometimes the dad still is in the house, but sadly, it does not make much of a difference. i visit homes where 'father of the year' is playing 'call of duty 4' and 'grand theft auto' while mom is yelling at the kids to stop hitting each other, clean up their rooms, stop talking back and take a timeout. dad is playing his video game. he's there, and that's a step in the right direction, but it's not enough.

it's really pretty simple. a kid should have a dad. i realize that this is not always possible, but we can't explain away the trends of destruction experienced by a growing majority of boys and girls simply because we are not comfortable with the conclusion. i'm not sexist. if the stats showed that kids were growing up in homes with a single dad, then we could talk about that, but it's just not the case. there is an epidemic and it really is tragic.

there are countless examples, especially in the sports world (the only world i really know anything about): what do vince young, pacman jones, randy moss, terrell owens, allen iverson and almost 70 percent of black professional athletes have in common? you guessed it, no dad in the picture (2 out of 3 black children grow up in a single-parent home). now anytime a middle-class white dude even mentions race, things get uncomfortable and tense. therefore, i won't make any sweeping generalizations or precise comments. i will tell you to read this article and probably countless other examples that can be seen in society and the media.

so where is this going? what's the point? the big picture?

barak obama will not change the country. i know everybody is hopeful and excited and that's great. and perhaps mr. obama can inspire deadbeat dads to grow up and take some initiative in their lives and do the hard thing. i don't know. i'm really not sure what the job description of the president is, but he makes nice speeches and if someone has a his ear, perhaps you can suggest that he addresses this in one of those fancy 'state of the union' speeches.

but until that happens (and even if it did, who would really listen and take it to heart?) we are in dire need of a plan. it's time to take a step in the right direction.

i'm extremely fortunate to be a part of a church that gets it. week after week i listen to a pastor (a devoted husband and father of 5) tell men to grow up and take some responsibility. as with all things in life, the charge begins with "grow up... work harder, pay attention, do good..." but it goes beyond that. the bible says that we have a Father, and he is God. that's a pretty remarkable thing to say. i have a great father, but i have an even greater Father that has adopted me and brought me into his family. why am i a christian? why do i go to church, read the bible, pray, try to love people and be honest and love and honor my wife? it's not because i'm a good dude. it's not because i think that if i try really hard and if my good stuff outweighs my bad stuff then i might get a shot to escape the flames of hell. the reason, the cause, the thing that compels me is the grace i have received and a simple desire to experience the joy of that grace every day of my life.

one of these days i'm going to be a dad. my friend nate downey is a great dad of two (soon to be three) little ones. my friend duane is a devoted father who will do everything possible to provide for, love, teach, protect, etc., his little daughter. these are just two examples of guys i know that i look up to. i can't wait to be a dad. it scares the hell out of me, but i couldn't be more excited about future. when my kid is playing the piano and guitar, playing football/basketball/baseball, raising his hand in sunday school to answer whatever question is asked with "Jesus," bringing home the best art projects of his whole class, and reading 19th century german lit in the 4th grade, i will beam with pride and joy (i have great expectations for my children). as much as i have promised heidi that i will never take off, that i will never leave her or treat her poorly, i promise to make that same commitment to whatever little ones are added to our family someday.