Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Things I don't understand #51...

...The sports miracle that is Josh Hamilton.

It's baseball again. And you almost got this last week but, well...stuff happens...I was busy...and sick...and lazy. Anyway, you should probably just go read the cover story in SI this week, but I'll try to give you the Cliff's Notes version. Josh Hamilton is the new center fielder for the Texas Rangers. Acquired in an off-season trade with the Reds, he is now the story of Major League Baseball(thus the cover story).

Nine years ago, out of high-school, he was the top pick in the MLB draft. He was the ultimate 5-tool player (hit for average, hit for power, good glove, good arm, can run like the wind) in a 6"4', 225 lbs. frame. A pure athlete and a natural at the game. Oh, and since he was known to unleash a fastball upwards of 95 mph, he could have also been a pitcher if he wanted to. He was also considered the antithesis of a troubled kid. All was going well until a dump truck smashed the car he was in as his mom drove. The time off because of injury was the impetus for a downward spiral of epic proportions. Coke binges then became the new norm, and by the time he had cleaned up he had been out of baseball for a couple of years.

Josh found a renewed faith in God and an understanding that he's lucky to be alive. He also refuses to carry more than $20 in his wallet at any given time to ensure any temptation doesn't turn into something more. What's miraculous is that it's seems he's lost nothing in his return. After playing only about have the season last year, his numbers this year are staggering(considering he's also making the sometimes difficult transition to another league). His name is found in the same sentence as the phrase "Triple Crown" (leader in HR's, RBI, and Avg.). He's already had several highlight reel catches and he's been compared to Mickey Mantle (that never happens). Did I mention he's on the cover of Sports Illustrated(first Ranger in almost 10 years)? I also got to personally witness one of Hamilton's majestic blasts. It went out into the concourse of the second level(that doesn't happen either). And then after Tuesday's game I read this in the paper about Josh's eighth inning game clinching grand slam:
"I've been having trouble seeing here, and it's been kind of frustrating," said Hamilton, who broke a season-long RBI drought of four games with five RBIs. "I saw the ball leave his hand. It looked like a sinker. I closed my eyes and swung hard. When I opened them back up, it was heading towards the seats."

So apparently not only is he a stud athlete, but he's a Jedi. Not fair! Hitting home runs with your eyes closed should not be allowed. I'm just glad he plays for my team for once. Ah yes, the force is strong with this one.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Things I don't understand #50...

...Why no one talks like my grandfather anymore. (Well, except for my grandfather...and you know, all those like him.)

I could've spent this post celebrating the amazing feat of making it to 50 things, but I won't (you should, but I won't). Instead, I thought I'd reminisce about the sounds of my youth and home. Even though I've removed almost every verbal indicator that I originated not only from Texas(I still use y'all and howdy, but that's about it), but small town Texas (Gainesville by way of Paducah), I still enjoy going home and listening to certain family members talk. And sometimes I just miss hearing the vernacular of my rural upbringing. I think that may be partly do to the fact that I live in the "big city"(Dallas) and find myself constantly surrounded by city slickers, Yankees, or a combo of the two. Conversely, my grandfather(or Pappaw as some might call him) arrived in Texas as a small child in a covered wagon(and yes, he's one of those grandfathers who's nice to pretty much everyone and can fix pretty much anything).

Despite the fact that we were related, all throughout my childhood and youth it seemed I was always being confronted with the notion that we just talked differently. At times it lead to down right confusion. The first one I really remember is the word "battries". Yes, I know it's not a word. But my grandfather used it all the time. Everything probably just needed new "battries". I was sure I was supposed to know what these were. My only hunch was that he meant batteries, but he was definitely not saying that. I finally got up the nerve to ask my mom, at which point she laughed and confirmed they were, indeed, batteries. I think that only cost me about two years of tension.

Another point of confusion cropped up much later. I worked with my grandfather on a couple of summers off during college. This was also when I discovered my Pappaw liked to talk a lot more when Mammaw(my grandmother) wasn't around, but let's try to keep that between us. Anyway, as he would regale me with tales during our lunch hour, there seemed to be many occasions where someone needed to or should be trying to "get shut of" something. I think it took me approximately one month to first get through the southern twang to verify the words of this phrase and then figure out what it meant. What? Oh, it means to rid yourself of that particular item. But you have no idea how often I sat there repeating(or trying to repeat) that phrase over and over to myself trying to crack the code. It was a great day and quite a relief when I finally did "get shut of" that confoundedness.

Just in case you want to feed my nostalgia(maybe in celebration of 50 affiliated posts? I don't know) I thought I'd give you a list of some other words and phrases that I used to hear quite often, but now hardly ever hear (unless I'm trying to be funny or ironic). I'll also try to give a definition or maybe an example in case you're a Yankee so confused by my southern ways.
"Betcha a coke" - I was always confused about why we had to bet a coke to settle a disagreement(and no, coke should not be capitalized, because that meant any soft drink)

Directly - with out delay. Ex. "He found out his wife was home waitin' on him and got out of there directly."

Ornery - stubborn with a touch grouchiness. Ex. "I tried to get Jason whatever he wanted to eat, but he was mad and got ornery and down right refused to touch his food."

Piddlin'- doing nothing in particular, wasting time. Ex. "I told him to have the yard done by the time I got back; but when I did, he was just out there roaming around picking up rocks...just piddlin."

Plumb - completely. Ex. "I meant to bring you the tickets, but I plumb forgot."

Reckon - guess, figure, estimate. Ex. "When I left he wasn't there, I reckon he'll make it home o.k."

Everwhichway - in any or all directions or methods. Ex. "That firecracker went off behind him, and he went everwhichway at once."

Gully washer - extended storm or downpour. Ex. "The weatherman said it wouldn't rain, but instead it came a gully washer."

Light out - move quickly, leave with haste. Ex. "That tomcat heard that dog bark and he lit out of there like he was on fire."

Now if I just had some cream gravy...

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Things I don't understand #49...

...How this guy helped produce a perfectly beautiful baby girl.

Seriously. Look at him. How did he ever pass the qualification tests to be allowed to sire offspring? What's that? There's not a test? That is a problem. So once again the government can't be trusted. What's new? So where was God? Isn't there some sort of angelic monitoring system in place? I imagine some being with wings and a halo standing in the background with a ticker-tape, reading off different world events while God listens as He does His other godly stuff. "Johnny stole a bike, oil went up again, Barb stopped a fight, flood in Tunisia, Hillary actually thinks she'll be President, Yankees lost, Bryan's going to be a father..." Shouldn't that have caused His Heavenly Father to raise an omnipotent eyebrow and say, "Could you repeat that last one?" And then immediately get the accountants ready for an internal audit of the earthly oversight department?

But alas, what's done is done. And it's nothing short of a miracle. Truly, first he got a girl much more attractive than himself to marry him. Ensuring not only that his progeny would not be saddled with his, ahem, striking looks; but that there would be at least one capable parent in the household. So we're all thankful for that. But the need for prayers has really just begun. And know that this is obviously a joke...for the most part. I really don't know what the baby's going to think when that face keeps trying to comfort her at night. After a while he might actually succeed, and I'm sure she'll be ok. But that doesn't mean that as I sat there today holding 7 pound, 2 ounce Hayden a mere 13 hours after she was born that I didn't find myself looking at her, then looking at her dad and shaking my head as I thought, "He had a hand in this." It must really mean that anything is possible. And that there are miracles. And some things you just don't need to understand.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Things I don't understand #48...

...Why I don't recycle more.

You might take from that first sentence that I'm about to regale you with regrets about not taking proper care of our dear Mother Earth. This ain't that. I'm not saying I probably don't need to do it, it's just not happening today. What this is is just an excuse for me to basically reprint an old post (Don't make that face). Luckily, I've decided to revisit what is most likely my most popular post ever. I guess I could just provide a link, but I know most of you are too lazy and wouldn't read it if you actually had to leave this page, thus the reprint. Plus, if you've joined us in the subsequent 2 years since it's original posting this re-run will be brand new to you. Either way, I think it's worth another reading (of course I do, it's my blog).

As a reminder, a few notes.
#1) I used to go to a singles only Sunday School class.
#2) When I say 'Gay', I don't mean homo-sexual. I just mean...well...stuff like this. Things that make others question your manhood. That's why it could never apply to women.
#3) This is an actual email.
#4) Yes, I know I'm still mean.
I occasionally get email from my old Sunday school class. Most of them get deleted. Some get read just enough to see there's no reason not to delete them immediately. Some...some go down in the "You really need a blog hall of fame". This particular one marries that feat (rock me!) with an entry into the "Gayest e-mail hall of fame". So, as you can see I'm about to do something very mean. I am about to make fun of an e-mail sent to me via my Sunday School class. But, as I said previously, God should not allow me to be tempted in such ways. I will always fail. I will try to point out all the ways that this email is gay, which is kind of ironic considering the subject of the email. Without further delay, here's the email with the subject of "I'm engaged" (names have been changed in a feeble and half-arsed attempt to protect the innocent).
Hey folks! I'm in Illinois right now, kind of hanging out with my parents for a week or two while I pound madly away at my dissertation all day. Anyway, I'm engaged!!!!
Sending an email announcing your engagement: GAY
Last Saturday was the SPECIAL day. I had picked FEMALE up from Indiana University in Bloomington the weekend before, and we'd spent the week, her spring break, rather quietly, hanging out with my parents (this was HER idea--she loves my parents). Finally Saturday arrived, which I'd told her would be special. She suspected something was up, but she didn't know much more than that.

It was destined to be a star-filled day.
That sentence: GAY
In the morning, I took her to Chicago's Adler Planetarium, which overlooks Lake Michigan. On the way there, we read from my field guide to the constellations. The cover of the book features a depiction of Ursa Major, the big bear. Her nickname for me is "Bear," so we had a little laugh about that.
Cute nickname talk: GAY
The planetarium was SO much fun.
SO much? : GAY
It's located on Lake Michigan, so it has a breathtaking vista which we really enjoyed. And because we're both museum lovers, we soaked in learning the whole day. For us, an ideal day!
Ending sentences with exclamation marks: GAY

The museum closed at 4:30, and as it was closing, the cafe area began hosting a wedding reception. So love was already in the air. :)
That sentence: VERY GAY
Use of emoticons: GAY
I then took her to this incredibly deluxe restaurant located on the top floor of the Hancock Building, one of Chicago's tallest skyscrapers. The reservations were for 5:30pm, so we were there in time to see the sunset blazing on Chicago's skyline as we enjoyed some EXTREMELY gourmet fare. I also had a bag of Godiva Chocolates with me, which I'd picked up from Northpark Mall.
Describing not only the brand of chocolate, but where it was purchased: GAY.
A week ago, I told her I had a surprise for her, but I wanted to throw her off the scent by telling her she could EAT the surprise (so she'd thing it wasn't a ring). The bag was part of the ruse. She didn't know there was a ring stashed in the bottom.
Thinking your fiance is actually falling for the "ruse": GAY

The plan was to eat our after-dinner chocolates somewhere special--that's all she knew. Well the FULL plan was to walk a block away to Watertower Place, where a horse-drawn carriage awaited us. Imagine my shock to find that it was physically impossible to cross the street to our carriage--an anti-war parade was blocking the way! On the spur of the moment, I whisked her into WaterTower Mall. Thankfully, a few minutes later, the parade had passed.
Getting all worked over a possible minor departure of plans: GAY
However, there was another hitch in the plan. I had arranged to have the carriage bring us to Navy Pier, which is right on Lake Michigan. (Navy Pier is like a cross between an old-school theme park and a high-tech entertainment venue that hosts plays, etc.)
Navy Pier (despite the name): GAY
However, though the parade had passed, the street itself was still virtually closed! And it stood between us and the Pier. I quickly suggested that we spend some time looking at books in a really deluxe Borders Bookstore
Overuse of the word deluxe, especially describing a chain bookstore: GAY
that's right on Michigan Avenue. (Sidenote: Michigan Avenue, a.k.a. the Magnificent Mile, is Chicago's version of 5th Avenue in New York.)
Sidenotes: GAY
Finally I slipped away from FEMALE in the bookstore, discovered that the street was now clear, and arranged to have the carriage take us down. Then I returned to FEMALE. She thought we were headed home. Instead, I brought her inside a beautiful horse-drawn carriage! Clop-clop-clop went the horse as we headed toward our mystery destination.
Onomatopoeic description of carriage ride: GAY
Gradually our goal was revealed to her: Navy Pier, where we'd had so much fun together last summer!
Did I mention the exclamation marks? : Still GAY
We enjoyed the lights, but primarily we headed to a secluded sandy beach just north of the Pier that we had enjoyed some months ago. As we approached the lapping waves of Lake Michigan, we looked up at the stars we had studied earlier in the day. Again I pointed out Ursa Major, the great bear. I then gave her a special chocolate from the bag, and as she was taking it out of its special container, I held her and said, "FEMALE, you can see that the sky has a bear... but you don't! FEMALE, could I be your bear??
Do you really need me to tell you? : Super GAY
FEMALE [getting down on one knee and opening up the case with the ring], would you marry me??" Angels appeared overhead and rejoiced (I think, kind of fuzzy after this) as FEMALE wept and we held each other!
The phrase "we held each other": GAY
A long, romantic ride back in the carriage followed, and our drive back to Morris. As we neared home, we opened a box of Godiva Chocolates. As FEMALE bit into the first one, I began playing a CD I'd burned while still home in Dallas. It was a compilation of "our songs," first Sinatra's "I've Got You Under My Skin," then Louis Armstrong's "Only You," and finally Judy Garland singing, "Somewhere Over the Rainbow."
The compilation: GAY
Judy Garland: Very GAY
I'd been singing these songs to her all week, so it was the culmination of days of preparation.
A week of those songs...being sung: GAY

It was too magical to go back home right away, so we went to a nearby park which is situated right on the Illinois river.
"Too magical"?: GAY
It was deserted and romantic. We opened the doors of the car, cranked up the music, and danced there in the dark next to the river, to the lilting rhythms of Sinatra.
Erroneously ascribing "rhythms" to Sinatra: GAY
The evening's finale came after we got home. I decided to wash FEMALE's feet. (Thanks for the idea, Alana!) I sat her down on her bed, brought in a special bowl and towel, and washed her feet, as an emblem of the life of service I would live for her, loving her as Christ loved the church!
My faith in God precludes me from commenting on the washing of feet thing

I think we did some kissing after that. Anyway, the bottom line is... I popped the question, and FEMALE said Yes!!! :)
Triple exclamation, emoticon : GAY and GAY

You're welcome and I'm sorry...again.

...and again. But not that sorry.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Things I don't understand #47...

...How anyone could watch this and keep a straight face...Or how anyone ever takes this station's "news" seriously...Or why this "reporter" would ever be willing to show his face in public again...

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Things I don't understand #46...

...What good shaving cream is actually serving.

Let me first say, I hate shaving. I mean I really hate it. Of course--you might reply--is there anyone who actually likes it? Probably not. Men hate it. Women hate it. I still remember a disagreement I had with a girl in college where she posited that shaving for women was worse (i.e. legs) because of the additional surface area. My rebuttal was, "I'm putting a blade up to my face!" Her subsequent points were all met with the same reply, "It's my face," as I pointed to my mug. After the third time she finally said, "O.k., maybe you're right." No amount of PowerGlide blades or comfort guards or soothing strips will ever make it an enjoyable experience. Have I mentioned I hate shaving? So much that even at my advanced age, I still don't shave everyday. Since I've been blessed with slow-growing facial hair that is of a lighter shade I assume that some people might think I just have early-onset-five-o'clock-shadow on days that I don't shave. For those of you out there that might have thought that...HA! Joke's on you, sucker! Anyway, back to me.

In any case, for all those years (at least on the days I actually conceded to shaving) I used some sort of shaving cream or gel. Obviously, early on it was the classic type that's pictured above. But then there were supposed advances in shaving technology, and we had the option of the gel that turned into a frothy cream when friction was applied (Let it go). I said 'used' because a couple of weeks ago I ran out and didn't, for whatever reason, buy a new can of shaving gel. I just used regular old soap. And you know what? I didn't notice a difference. Not one. Not even a little bit. I went along in my ignorance and contentedness until a couple of days ago when out of no where a free can of not just gel, but HydraGel, shows up in my mailbox. Plus, it was ultra-sensitive with aloe and vitamin E. Because after all, who needs sensitive gel more than a sensitive guy like me? I took this as a sign from God that maybe I did need to be using some sort of specific-purpose-type-shaving-product on my face when shaving and starting using it. It was then that I realized there was a noticeable difference when I used a cream and when I didn't. And that was when I did, my face felt sort of dry and sore all day. And it made me thirsty (Yes, I know I'm weird. This is not a news flash.) At least on days when I used the soap, I didn't feel like every drop of moisture had been sucked from my face. The only possible enhancement I can think of from using the shaving gel is that maybe it makes my face smell better (Not that anyone probably gets close enough to notice). So unless I get barraged by women saying that they can't live without guys walking around with the faint aroma of shaving product emitting from their faces, my days of dropping coin on the stuff may be over. I've heard that shaving cream's lack of efficacy is because most creams and gels are composed mainly of alcohol or some similar component, and that a more effective product would be made with large amounts of glycerin. That may be true, but I'm starting to think that the only way to get your face not to feel like you've just run a sharp(hopefully) blade over it is not actually run a blade over it.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Things I don't understand #45...

...How you're supposed to stop watching Braveheart once you start.

Sorry for my temporary absence...I was...uh...busy. Yeah, let's go with that. I would say I'll make it up to you, but who are we kidding? We both know I'll just disappoint you. So day last week, after watching the requisite number of sporting events, I'm laying on the couch telling myself I'm tired and it's time to go to bed (both of which were true). But unfortunately, I was also giving the channels one last tour before turning in. And what do I find? No, not the sex lady...or the magic bullet infomercial...or ONE...MILLION...DOLLARS...(you're not taking this seriously, remember the first line?). Yes, it was Braveheart, just 10 minutes in and in beautiful HD (Mwuh, I love you HD). Because I'm quite familiar with the movie, missing the first few minutes was no problem. Me looking at the clock and adding 2 and half hours to it to find when I would make it to bed if I stayed to the end should have been. But William Wallace had just walked back into the village and been challenged to a rock throwing contest by his boyhood friend and then walked up to his first and only true love, Murron. I had no choice. I was screwed.

What followed was movie greatness(obviously). I mean, how can you not love the crazy Irishman who talks to God? "The Almighty tells me he can get me out of this mess, but he's pretty sure you're f***ed." Or that one old man that gets wounded in every possible way (including the loss of his left hand) but just won't die? The great battle scenes. Wallace picking fights with bigger armies; "Here are Scotland's terms. Lower your flags, and march straight back to England, stopping at every home you pass by to beg forgiveness for 100 years of theft, rape, and murder. Do that and your men shall live. Do it not, and every one of you will die today." The maxims like, "Every man dies. Not every man truly lives," and all those great speeches about freedom:
Aye, fight and you may die. Run and you'll live -- at least a while. And dying in your beds many years from now, would you be willing to trade all the days from this day to that for one chance, just one chance to come back here and tell our enemies that they may take our lives, but they'll never take our freedom!!!

Everyone saying, "Aye," instead of 'yeah' (What? Did I lose a little momentum there?). Yeah...well...

Another thing I don't understand about this movie is how it got branded as a guy movie. I think chicks should dig it because it's the ultimate love story. Think about it. He returns to a village to find his childhood sweetheart, marries her (in secret); and when she is uselessly murdered, his reaction is not just to go all "William Wallace" on the person(s) immediately responsible(think death). No, he starts a freaking war! And not just any old war, one that results in him not only defeating the armies of a more powerful nation, but invading one of the great military empires in history. And that goes well enough that he ultimately wins the freedom of his own country from the imperialistic empire as his own country is united. I mean, if that's not love, I don't know what love is. So as you ponder the best and quickest way to see Braveheart again(Don't tell me you haven't seen it), I leave you with this word...