Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Hook 'Em Horn

"I'm going to the be the sportswriter for our new school newspaper."

My daughter, Tay, said those words a few minutes ago. Clothes I changed out of at the gym fell from my hands and I started asking questions like she had won a Pulitzer Prize.  Tay wants to be a journalist. I did not realize how quickly she would be one.

I think the name of the newspaper is the Lanier Legacy. Tay is a freshman at Lanier High School in Sugar Hill, Georgia. She will be taking pictures and writing articles about the schools' sporting events. The school nickname is the Longhorns. Her high school is new. Lanier opened for public school business August 12th. The first football game is Thursday against the horrible no goodniks of Mill Creek. I'm sure most of their kids are delinquents. I do not think anyone needs to fact check me.

Like me, Tay writes all the time. Words and stories intrique her. She questions everything and she sings along with the radio. I wouldn't dare look, but I can bet her journal is a heck of a read. Tay seems very interested in making her thoughts meet paper and creating something different and special. I'm sure I'm not putting the cart before the horse when I write, my daughter will change the world with her compositions.

I will report back with the school's online newspaper website address. We can just form the Tay writing fan club on this blog. Until then, Hook 'em horn(s).

Sunday, August 29, 2010

The Cave

There's an area in front of our townhouse that intriques me. It's about a 1000 square feet of open land of tall grass. It eerily familiar of a part of the acreage I grew up on. After a couple of years of imagining the unused space as a breeding ground for vicious snakes and gold ore deposits, my dad and I built a tree house above it. It was awesome. For a couple of years I used the treehouse to write down baseball statistics, plan my career as the next singer for Van Halen, and keep up with the latest Spiderman and Green Lantern comic books. The sheen wore off the place when I accidently stirred up a hornets nest (literally) and got stung 5 times. After that I kind of let the place go. Later on, I officially became a slumlord.

There isn't enough tree line support to put a treehouse on the land next to our home, but I have thought about digging a cave into the large bank. I wouldn't be doing this for my daughters. They have there own getaway places. The cave would be for me.

Aforementioned, my family consists of my wife, three daughters, aged 14, 7, and 6. I also hang out with my sister in law, 8 year old niece, mother in law, and several female friends. As much as I love these amazing women, there are times, where I just need to be with me and my testosterone. Hanging in a Georgia red clayed bank cave would be several levels of radical.

A grill, some red meat, a killer flame, a radio, and my visceral maleness. I'll wait for your laughter to die down.

What I remember the most about the treehouse days was the freedom of my own thoughts and my vivid imagination. I am not nostalgic for anything, just slightly envious of the open space, down time, and creative possibilities uninterrupted by squeals of Justin Bieber love, and who forgot to do what int he bathroom.

I'm not stupid, well I'm not drooling, knuckle dragging stupid. I know what would happen. I'd get the cave, spend  a weekend in it, give in to my girls wanting to hang out and suddenly the cave has Princess posters and silly bands. That one weekend, though, would be epic. Grilled steaks, grunting, long, drawn out debates about college football playoff versus bowl system, and listing your favorite bands based on guitar player coolness.

I think I just figured out this blog post is a shallow, weak, shameless shout out to those lucky dudes who have so called "man-caves" to invite me over because of pity. Football season starts next week.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Game Over

Cold November air chilled the warm sweat streaking his face. Mud caked against his dry skin. Blood trickled from a wound below his right bicep and collected inside his elbow. He looked up, slowly at the scoreboard and saw zeroes. It was over. The roar of three thousand small town high school football fans were muffled by the deafening stark reality that he would never do this again. He went through the motions of shaking hands with his celebrating opponents. Briskly, he walked off the field, and headed up the field house corridor. A football player, no longer.

*blogger's note - This is another 100 word writing competition entry. http://www.velvetverbosity.com/ did this one. The word theme is "corridor". As always, this short story is based on true events.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

A Really Good Page of Really Bad Hemingway

I was shoehorned between two other steel prisons on wheels; positioned deep in the asphalt recesses of the parking area fronting The Hill of Sugar's elementary school. You might call my predicament ironic, as I left grade teaching behind so many years earlier. Now I was here for something even grander than my own education.

There is always a woman. This one was different than most. Smaller, blonder, cuter, and heart capturing; she drew me through suffocating traffic on a hot August day, without asking. It was neither the chocolate milk nor the veggie burger than intoxicated me, but her smile.

I walked in the neat office and put my name on the list. Someone with some kind of medicore authority insisted on knowing I was there to see there beautiful learned one. I dropped the pathetically cheap, probably Walmart purchased, black ink pen in the metal cup and applied my day glo green name tag, then walked towards my prize.

The cafe was buzzing with life and glowing with personality. I nodded hello to a  dark complexioned custodian and he politely opened the eating place doors. There she was. A flowing, pink, bowed dress fell impressively over white sneakers. She looked at me pensively. I smiled, desperate to feel her approval. Finally, aching with style, she grinned like a self satisfied feline. I reached out to hug her and she said abruptly, "we have to go over there". I looked up nervously and saw another area of the cafe. A long wooden table, housing other couples. Mostly middle aged mothers with orange and white Hill of Sugar Longhorn school spirit attire eating comfortably with their significant others. Chivalry overtook me and I asked for her tray. A veggie burger, a stick of processed American cheese, a red apple, and that glorious institution, chocolate milk all accompanied by plastic utensils and a napkin. I followed her religiously over to the "parents" table. Her walk was prideful, almost arrogant. She was where she wanted to be. I was just happy to be with her.

*blogger's note - My favorite writer is the late, great Ernest Hemingway. Every year, a contest is held called Internation Imitation Hemingway aka A Really Good Page of Really Bad Hemingway. My bucket list has me entering said writing competition. Today I had lunch with my five year old daughter, known internationally, as The Goose. This is my attempt at bad Hemingway, and honoring my beautiful little girl. I do reccomend the veggie burger and the milk. Her dress was stunning.


Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Love 100

It's just lunch, is the lie I told myself. Salad, conversation; maybe I let her window shop my friendship store. I arrived at the restaurant early; nervous. She walked through the door. Suddenly, it wasn't lunch. She was beautiful. The kind of natural pretty that glows. Her long blonde hair fell over a stunning face full of sun and warmth. Then she smiled and I was sold. The lips moved around the teeth and revealed a spectacular woman. Our banter was effortless. I had no idea what she thought of me, but at that moment, I fell in love.

bloggers note: this is a 100 word story (99 to be exact) about the day I met my wife. It's part of a writing contest/experiment my blogger friend Brian aka @SpinyNorman on twitter is doing on his blog. http://www.chalkboarddad.com/ Exoect more flash fiction aka Nanofiction on my blog. This was fun. Oh and this story is based on a true story.


Monday, August 23, 2010

Almost Famous

I was almost a household name. I was close to being a celebrity. I was on the verge of mass media notoriety. I coulda been a contenda. Yeah, I was nearly that guy, Mike "The Situation" Sorrentino^. I was almost famous.

Well, my abs never looked that good, not even when I was 22 years old. That's when I flirted with reality television. While attending the University of Alabama, and nearing graduation, I was approached by a communications school friend who was interning at MTV. She was recruiting people to try out for the second season of MTV's The Real World. I was working as a reporter and producer for radio and television in Tuscaloosa and Birmingham Alabama, while finishing my degree. I gave my number to the intern and two days later, a producer from MTV called. We did a 30 or so minute interview. It was casual. the questions were predictable and somewhat rediculous. I felt like I was either too normal or too crazy for the producer's vision. A few days later, I got another call. This was before cell phones, so I had several voicemails on my answering machine from another producer. This woman sounded more serious and I think she may have had an office and a bigger title. We talked for quite a while and she wanted to know if I wanted to come to New York City. I was scheduled to go there for an Associated Press convention and the timing matched her schedule. While I was in the City, I went over to the MTV studios, and led to a basement studio. For about two hours, three people talked to me in front of cameras. The cameras then followed us out to get lunch. I think the point was to see if having a someone watch me eat a turkey sandwich would make me nervous. It did, but I acted like I was cool; I'm sure I wasn't.

When you are 22 you make mistakes. Well, I'll be 40 in a couple of weeks and I still make mistakes, just not ones that 22 year olds make. I made a lot of questionable decisions at that age. I got the only tattoo I dislike that year. The one thing I did right in 1992, may have been the one decision I made correctly. The MTV folk called again when I got back from New York. I had been told I was in final consideration for the cast. I later found out that I was probably in the top 20 to 30. While watching the episodes of the first season, I saw the show where Julie and Kevin yell and scream at each other involving some racial argument. I realized that for the rest of their lives people would see them at their most stupid and misunderstood. I never returned the answering machine messages. I never regretted my emotional, knee jerk, 22 year old decision.

The Situation will make over 5 million dollars in endorsements, appearance fees, talk show appearances, television cameos, and possible movie roles this year. He's a gym rat from New York who is 29 years old. His sole income is being part of The Jersey Shore MTV show. He is riding his 15 minutes of fame until there is no wave. Good for him. I watch his show. I laugh at his outrageous behavior and put on personality. It's brain rot, stress relief television for me. I wouldn't have been a "Situation" even had I made The Real World L.A. in 1992/1993. Those kids don't make much money. Few of them have any lasting fame. They do, however have their likenesses broadcast for eternity. They do have the dumb decisions they make at age 22 (or younger) etched onto people's minds forever. The few of you who read this blog and knew me at that age, know that having my early twenties existence broadcasting over and over for 18 years would have been painful for you, me, and whoever watched that channel.

Some people can give up part of their soul for fame and fortune. It looks like, almost everyone, has some price. I have moved from job to job looking for more money. The difference was, 4 camermen weren't documenting me going from concrete salesman to communications project manager. No one was walking around calling for the libertarian guy who obsesses over music and sports, talks with his hands and needs anxiety pills.

I'm sure one of these days, there will be a reality show about a fairly normal guy who loves his wife, has three awesome kids, trys to be a good friend, has a storm crazy golden retriever and manages his twitter and blog addiction with aplumb. I'll turn those producers down too. You don't want to see what divas my bunch would turn into with television deals, their own clothing lines, and bad pop music albums. Then again, 5 million would buy a lot fake happiness. Where's that MTV phone number, again?

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Where You hang Your Hat

At least once a week, I scoop up my work laptop, grab my gym bag, kiss my wife, a kid or two, grab a banana, and walk out into darkness. By the tim I crank the car, drive through the gate, I realize I have forgotten something important for my day. A check, my work ID, money, or a piece of clothing and I turn around towards home. A few times I have made it all the way to work with brown shoes on and a black belt on. Renee Gork did this the other day. She lost her job.

College football is a cultural phenomenon in the southern United States. People from all walks of life put their emotional well being into what their alma mater, or who they wish was their alma mater, does on a Saturday afternoon. I went to college in such a place; Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Next week will mark 22 years since I set foot on the Capstone for the first time. Before I got there, I saw people turn themselves into knots over the rivalry between Georgia Tech and Georgia. It extended beyond sports. Where you went to school or where you wish you went to school determines your social circle. Forget gangs, the colors of Universities are more embattled.

Last week, sportscaster Renee Gork got her two kids ready for school, ran her errands, forgot to do her hair, and threw on a University of Florida baseball cap. She graduated from the Gainesville, Florida University, fell in love with a man from Arkansas, and moved to Fayetteville and raised a family with him. Gork found work with an Arkansas radio station and on a hot, August, morning she was set to cover a press conference with University of Arkansas head coach Bobby Petrino. She asks the notroiously curt, ill personalitied coach a question. After getting an answer, Petrino shot back to her, "And that will be the last question I answer with that hat on." Gork realized she'd screwed up. Her busy, bad hair day working for a radio station that calls itself Hog Sports Radio (the nickname ofr Arkansas is the Razorbacks, a type of Hog) has just turned into a major problem.

I sympathize with Gork on two levels. If she was working in North Dakota or Colorado or Maine, no one would have probably cared if she was wearing another school's gear. I have made a similar mistake. When I was 20 years old, I overslept, rushed out of the house without a shower, threw on a Georgia Tech sweatshirt and went into my University of Alabama owned and operated radio station to do my sports report and work my morning shift. I got some good natured ribbing, and realized that had I run into an Alabama football player or a rabid, drunk fan, I may have been punched or worse, and kept my Georgia Tech gear in Georgia. Gork, though, has made this mistake before. She also made it in a more public setting. Gork had used her facebook and twitter accounts to profess her love of Florida and her desire to work there again, one day. She has gotten into arguments with other reporters and media types over Florida versus other SEC teams in press boxes. Gork defintely crossed a line. For sake of this blog, we'll concentrate on Hatgate.

The rabid nature of college football fandom and allegience of people to their alma maters is scary but real. Cars are stickered, people factor in season ticket money along with their mortgage and the kids' school bills, weddings are rearranged around football game and basketball game dates. Petrino could have been a little more professional and just ignored Gork's choice of cap. He could have spoken to the mistake prone radio reporter privately. Long ago, I stopped trying to "get" while people are so wound up about their college team. It's part of American culture, especially in the south. What is so profound is how people justify their extreme reactions and subsequent incredible behavior because of their allegiances.

My alma mater, Alabama, won the college football national championship in January. I bragged to a few friends, cheered loudly in my house, and felt some pride. I neither played in the title game nor did I know anyone who did. I react the same way when my other sports teams play well or win something. Then I kiss my kids, go towork, and forget my driver's license or shoes. Renee Gork is unemployed. Bobby Petrino is villified, probably unfairly, and more people will crowd into a college football stadium on a Saturday in a couple of weeks, than voted in my district for Governor. The people who matter the most in this culture are unpaid, student-athletes who will see people twice their age drink themselves into a frenzy wearing their jerseys. There will be internet arguments over who is ranked where. Talk radio will be verbal warfare. When it's all said and done, Alabama will be the national champion in football again, because they're awesome and people from that school are better than anyone from any other school ROOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOLL Tide!

Crap. I did it too, didn't I. Hope Renee Gork finds a job soon. Hope I remember to wear pants to work tomorrow.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Knee Jerk Philosophy

It was a sunny morning, and I was trying to meet a deadline. I had started a new job Three weeks earlier and I was deseperate to inpress my new boss. I had left construction sales behind after unexpectedly losing my job and entered employment with a small design build firm. They were taking a chance on me by training me to become a field construction supervisor and project manager. I was looking over a set of plans for a water drainage construction job and I wasn't really confident in what I was doing. A co-worker entered my office and said "a plane has flown into one of the World Trade Center Buildings, it might be a terrorist thing." I was numb. Not in our country, I thought. I became angry, scared, and uncertain. I got the same feeling a few weeks ago when I heard that a Mosque was being considered for construction near Ground Zero. Several weeks later, I am proud to admit, I don't feel the same emotion.

Several hundred years ago, thousands of outcasts began coming to a New World in search of better lives. Lives free of monarchial rule that took so much fo their livelihood. Lives free of religious persecution that took so much faith from their Faith. Building this mosque near Ground Zero would be the symbol on and of what this country was founded, tolerance.

Is it the sensitive thing to do? No, not even close. I think it is sound, reasonable thought to ask that it not be built. Yet, if the answer is no, then it should be built. Then, each of us should think hard about why it's ok. I have railed for years about the culture of the offended. Everyone gets bent out of shape over the smallest and largest of things. One could argue that walking on eggshells over the Islamic religion is fruit of that tree. The problem is, the United States isn't Saudi Arabia. We are not about iron fists and hard, inflexible principles. Our own Constitution encourages tolerance.

I believe it's fine to be upset about a mosque being built near Ground Zero. It rubs me the wrong way and I am far from a politically correct. What so many Americans don't realize is near Pearl Harbor, another dark mark in our nation's history, are two, not one, but two Shintoist Temples that have never been argued about and many Hawaiians visit them every day.

No where in this post have you seen the words Republican, Democrat, politics, left, right, or the names of politicians including our President. To me, the Ground Zero Mosque isn't a political issue (yes I realize the irony and the naivete) but a cultural one. We can not claim to be the greatest nation on the planet and live in fear. We can not gloat that we are the beacon of light in a dark time and dark world if we don't let symbols of religious tolerance live and breath.

I've tried to avoid the soapbox. I hope I have injected reason. I love a good debate and so far regarding the mosque I haven't heard much more than name calling and rhetoric. Maybe those of you who give me a minute or two of day to read what I write can find a way to discuss this better than the "experts".I will admit that my knee jerk emotion in 2001 and three or so weeks ago was natural. What I will not do is fall in line with knee jerk philosophy. Build it, and they will come.

Monday, August 16, 2010


Epiphanies happen in really strange surroundings. I had one today in the most unlikely place. Walking into the place is eye catching. Tattoo parlor ads, band flyers, and beer posters greet you with attitude and an energy. White collar and blue collar eat and drink in the same place. Cops, nurses, bikers, teachers, tech geeks, and students mix beer, burger and tater tots with aggressive music (usually). Lured by tattoos and the best restaurant burger I have ever tasted, I met a friend for lunch. It's a place I have gone for over 15 years.

I sat at a small, square wooden table across from my friend Juan Samuel (not the ballplayer) talking about our lives. To the left of me was a smaller table of two women, They were blond, each around 40 years old. They were humming and lightly singing to a Dinosaur Jr. song from the early nineties. My sarcastic nature started to produce ridicule aimed at the 2 "middleaged" women. My head was producing this line; "Check out these two 40 year olds rocking the grunge". Then I realized. In three weeks, I'll be their age. I'm a 40 year old rocking grunge, blogging , tweeting, and carrying on like someone younger.

As I sat there, I realized that the tattooed waitresses, PG 13 or rated worse approach of my favorite burger place looked lame to the twenty somethings or younger that were dining with us. My friend Juan, is 10 years younger than me. When I leaned over to tell him my epiphany, he laughed. It wasn't a hearty laugh. It was pity laugh, like the one you give your parents when they tell a corny joke. For some reason, I was ok with the epiphany and the laugh.

The Vortex is a terrific place to eat. The waitresses are heavily tattooed, they play good music, the beer selection (if you choose to drink) has over 300 selections, and they serve tater tots with their amazing burgers. The coolest part of the place is the clientale. All ages, all walks of life, all people enjoying their coolness or desperately holding on to their faded coolness. Today, it was different for me. While, I'm tattooed (six and getting more) and I enjoy alternative attitudes and music, I realized, strangely, that I was getting older. Forty has become more than a number, it has become a benchmark. Now, I have to deal with it. The vortex of energy around me today along with the self awareness I had obviously been avoiding, set me on course for the rest of my life. The life where I'm a 40 year old.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Too Much Happy

I have few fears. Snakes, motorcycles and redheads; that has been the list for many years now. I have decided to add another. Before i reveal the fear, let me show you a scenario. You walk into a "convenience" store, you grab a drink out of the cooler, maybe a muffin, then walk over to the check out area. In front of you is an 83 year old woman with terrible eyesight, a speaking manner that is slower than a snail sprint, and a love of paying with nickels and dimes. You think, ok, whatever, she's nearly 100 years in age, let her buy her lottery tickets with 6 bucks in change, her husband won the war, she deserves some respect. The problem is the dude or dudette taking her coin. His lifelong goal of having a Comedy Central standup special is far away. He or she is testing their material on Nickel Nellie and you. After 13 puns on the word morning and 11 inexplicable combinations of soda and muffin, you want to grab a .357 magnum and go Clint Eastwood on the punk or punkette. Not getting the picture, yet? Imagine yourself in a aurplane, trapped like a wild bear in a steel trap. Flighty Fifi and Blabby Bobby are your flight attendant and they love themselves a lot. They joke, they do bad impressions of Sonny and Cher, and by the end of the flight you want to open the side door and jump with no parachute. Some people have too much happy.

The service industry has too many people who think servicing others means feeding their own ego. I appeciate a hello and smile. I even enjoy some brief, pithy banter about the weather or the local sports team. After that, shut it and take my money or, well, service me. The unfunny and too happy just scare me. I fear they'll go off at any moment and my kids won't have me around any more.

I admit I have been that person before. You know, the dude at the party who thinks because one person laughed at their joke or pun or impression, thus everyone should laugh. I have showed off, been over the top, and worn obnoxious like a bad toupee. The thing is, I figured it out and used my self awareness to not be that person anymore.

My theory is unfunny too happy person is a dormant volcano os bad childhood or messed up personality waiting for their outside coating to wear off and some alien lifeform released that takes us all.

I suffer fools a lot more than I used to. Five years ago, goofy, bad humor guy or girl would have sent me into a cynical whirling dervish of nasty. I'm much cooler about it these days. In a public setting where my money, time and energy are being exchanged, I expect some awareness and a lot less cheekiness. Being funny is an art. It's like being a good parent or lover or student. Either you are or you aren't. It's ok if you are lame and not humorous. We need the unfunny in our lives just as much as the gutbuster. Clint Eastwood once said "a man needs to know his limitations". It's time QT checkout boy or airline attendant girl know theirs.

Friday, August 13, 2010


I looked around in awe. I was on the same stage Bob Dylan would be on in a couple of hours. A lighting technician yells at me, "Hey dumb (blank)! If you are going to stand there with your (blank) in your hand at least run that cord over to me!" I was proud to help this fine trademan. Then a stage hand tells me to get backstage before I get my blanking head cracked open. I was still smiling. As I walk I look down at the guitars against the wall and idn't notice the small middle aged woman coming toward me. Suddenly I bump into her and her face hits my chest. She glares at me with venomous eyes. It's the great singer-songwriter Joni Mitchell; she's opening for Dylan. "Hi, Ms. Mitchell" my voice sounds like Peter Brady on the Brady Bunch, cracking and whining, "Sorry, I, uh, am such a fan. Can't wait for your show." She takes a few notches off the glare and barks "Do you have a light?" I answer, "No, sorry, I don't smoke." She counters "well, you're just blanking worthless aren't you?" . She walks away. That was an amazing experience.

I don't curse. It's just not my thing. Yes, I attend church, read my Bible, and try to live virtuously but that's not even the reason. I was a straight lacer with the vocabulary before I went back to church 4 and a half years ago. I think is sound like a foolish little kid when I use words that my parents and preacher wouldn't be proud of. others I know, and I won't use names that sound like Lamy or Meth or Wobina, use some words that can be called colorful and they actually sound cool sometimes. Again, I just can't get away with any. I also implore my kids to be kind and pure with their talk. The little ones like to say freaking, butt, suck and a couple of other borderline bad words and I am often correcting. The teenager is really pushing boundaries sometimes and I pick my battles with her talk. My wife and I decided to rid our cable box of the movies channels and other uncensored programming just to set an example. We are far from perfect or restrictive.

Hard Knocks, a training camp special about one of my favorite teams, The New York Jets, premiered this week on HBO. I don't have that channel, because of some of the issues mentioned, so I kept up with the reviews of the show on twitter and youtube. The big "news" about the show wasn't the Darrelle Revis contract squabble, the acquisition of future Hall of Fame running back LaDanian Tomlinson or the buzz aroudn the team's Super Bowl projections, it was head coach Rex Ryan foul mouth. I didn't count them, nor did I hear them all, but apparently he used the F word around 70 or so times. He also used many other words. The day after the show, his mother scolded him, and Ryan apologized. To me, this is paying attention to the wrong thing. Ryan is a blowhard. He loves talking and hearing himself talk. he's also an outstanding football coach because he believes in himself, his players, and his system. As a former football player, I love that about the man in charge of leading my team. Do I wish Rex Ryan could be more professional with his vocabulary? Sure. I also know that football is testosterone fueled, emotion charged game and profession.

I work in a similar field; communication system construction. We don't run into each other with 4.4 speed but we do work in a male dominated vocation where manners, civility, and speech are often less than ideal. As a result of my demeanor, I am often apologized to when profanity is spewed about me. My response is always the same. "You don't bother me with your speech shortcoming and it's not me you have to apologize to." The people I work with have seen the Bible in my car. they know I have rescheduled work around church and family activities. While I neither preach nor engage them in civility discussions I also ask them to be respectful and professional as much as possible. Only twice in my career have I actually gotten onto anyone for their poor vocabulary or profane nature. Those were extreme situations quickly delt with.

I believe in people, individually. Being the father of three and husband of one, I find that generalizing anyone or having an across the board standard for anyone's behavior is foolish. Just because I don't curse doesn't mean I find that behavior indicative of some horrible character flaw that will find them sucked into a hole of fire for eternity. Is it sinful? Sure. So are a lot of things. I know people whose mouths are vile at times but their actions and heart are excellent. I excuse no one's behavior. Everyone eventually has to be judged. That judgement comes from someone much smarter, more qualified, and greater in wisdom that myself.

I hope my kids' know that speaking respectfully will gain them more attention than following the crowd and using lazy, profane language. I have had numerous discussions with friends and relatives about the music I listen too. Some of it is made by artists with little to moral compass that espouse political rhetoric that is unfortunate and language that is quite salty. As I tell them, I compartmentalize. Does the song have artistic value? Does the music move and entertain? is it made by someone other than the 10 bands I listed as terrible in an earlier blog? If the answer is yes to some or all of those questions, then I can live with the point of view and delivery. Music snobbery is an art form of it's own.

Some of my favorite comedians, actors, and rock stars have been known for their foul mouths. As I mentioned, I have people I love and trust that aren't always beautiful with the tongue. It's doesn't make them incapable of having great hearts. We should focus less on bad words and more on good actions or great performance.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

I Think I'll Die My Hair Blue

Words are important. I don't think many of us realize the value of our speech. The reason I blog, write, tweet, email, and phone call is to have my true voice conveyed. Recently, my house had a family meeting; or conference, as my grandfather would say. The agenda was highlighted by the revelation that no one felt like they were being communicated to appropriately. If there is one thing I want to make sure I teach my kids is they should never fail to tell the people most important in their lives how much they mean to them. It's a lofty goal but it's a goal germane to our family. The problem is with the rest of you.

The internet circulated story about flight attendant Steven Slater taking over the PA system, cursing out everyone, grabbing two beers, hitting the slide chute and essentially quitting his job is grand style is whitewashing the main point and central problem. Poor communication between an rude airline passenger and a self absorbed, immature air steward led to lives being endangered and inconvenienced. Imagine the words not used in that confrontation that could have saved Slater and the other people on that plane some stressful moments.

I am proclaiming my hypocrisy right here, right now. I graduated from the University of Alabama with a BA in communications. I work as a project manager for a Fortune 500 communications company. I write in a three ring binder every other night, and I maintain a twitter account and this blog. Yet, I fail, often, at communicating myself properly, appropriately and respectfully to the people I care about the most. My actions and my words rarely match. Then again, even if I ahd a P.h.D. in communications I still wouldn;t know to communicate with women.

The video I posted at the beginning of this blog is a 1981 new wave song by Missing Persons called Words. The lyrics were written over 30 years ago by Dale Bozzio but they read like something from a frustrated technology strung out writer in 2010. http://www.lyricsfreak.com/m/missing+persons/words_20346503.html
About 3 minutes into the song the line "I'll think I'll die my hair blue" is dropped. It's subtle. It's beautiful placed. It's poignancy is because anyone can relate to that feeling of speaking to someone, everything is going through one ear and out the other, and you feel like saying "time to set myself on fire" "I'm going to walk around naked" or "the aliens abducted me last night" just to get their attention. I think I'll die my hair blue is perfect.

My wife and kids make fun of me when I say "let's talk" or "take responsibility for what you say". Not because they are bad talkers or they're irresponsible but because I place such a priority on words, vocabulary and speech. How each of us communicate is important. Twitter limits you to 140 characters and tracking down the right hash tag to convey sarcasm isn't the easiest thing or quickest thing to do. Offline, real life, in person communication has no limits. Your only real world has tag should be truth.

I long for the band Missing Persons. Not only did they make us think with "Words" but dance with "Destination Unknown" and "Walking in L.A.". Now, if I could convince my wife to dress like Terry Bozzio for Halloween, or some random Saturday night, I would, without reservation; die my hair blue. Do you hear me, do you care?

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The Block

Over the last four days I have started blogging and one word or one paragraph in, I hit delete. Nothing sounds good. Nothing looks good. This blog is the menu, I'm nugry, and I just can't decide, soup, sandwich or salad. Cake is all I can think about eating, and we all know that would go right to my hips. Cake would be some sports rant, or a list, or, Lord forbid, something political. I need steak and eggs but I don't see it on the laminate. I don't think I officially have writer's block. I have been writing. I have a notebook with a story begun; several page down. it's a fictional story, dependent on allegories and metaphors, with the truth of my life as it's foundation. I'm afraid to share any of  it right now.

I have been reading a  lot of blogs. Some are really good. I don't want to be a niche blog writer. That's why I have ventured away from sports writing. I wrote about music for 4 posts in a row, but I've done that before, years ago, when myspace wasn't the crackden backalley of the internet.

Randomly, here's what's on my mind.

1) Darrelle Revis' contract dispute with my New York Jets is frustrating me. The superstar cornerback is their best player. The Jets have a Super Bowl contending team, yet, they need "Revis Island. I think they should pay him, leave the distraction behind, and deal with the labor fall out next year.

That's sports, appeals to only a few, is a millionaire (Revis) conflicting with a billionaire (Woody Johnson, Jets' owner) and it's argumentative.

2) It seems like everyone is suing for sexual harassment or is sexualing harassing. I don't get either. HP's CEO had something going on with an actress/reality show star and now he's without his job. Actor Casey Affleck is getting sued for the offense. Brett Favre has been sending naughty pictures on his phone. I'm afraid to say hello to anyone of the opposite sex.

That's a weird subject. Involves the word sex a lot. After two jokes and maybe two paragraphs, I start sounding creepish writing about it.

3) My kids have started school. Our schedules are changing. Our house is crazy right now, in a good way.

I have written about this stuff a lot lately and there's no real new news to report. Girls are great. They like their schools, teachers, and stuff.

I am considering changing the blog a bit and posting some fiction. Serialize it, so that; hopefully; you all will want to know what's coming next. Yet, it's risky. I don't want just 4 of you sticking around. I'd like a lot more than that.

Feedback would be great. Use the comment button. Maybe, I'll come up with something in the interim. Heck, I may write something today. Let me know what you think.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Houston, we have a problem....

Six and a half years ago I said something I now regret. The room was huge. The chair was comfortable. The video screen showing me how cool the company was and what a career with them could be was more than impressive. The second question the eight men in the room asked me during my second interview was straight forward; "can you relocate if the the job requires you to do so". I said yes. Today, over half a decade later, I wish I had said something different.

In February 2004, I was not married to the same person I am now, my daughter, (Lyla) Bug was 5 1/2 months old and easy to carry from one place to another. I thought this job I was interviewing for was really cool. I could end up being a six figure communications project manager, who cares where I live. Then, the rest of my life happened. My nose went to the grindstone. I worked hard. I built a reputation with my company. Most of my gigs were in the southeast or a few days at a time out of town. I saw Los Angeles, New York, Michigan, Texas, Florida, and a few other places. I also "stayed" at home.

The last 3 1/2 years I have been doing the same thing. I do it really well. It's time to move into something more challenging. I have begun project management traning. I have been asked and interviewed for a huge project in southern Maryland, beginning in October. As of last week, I accepted the position. It will be more money, responsibility, prestige, and a solid future for my family. It will change everything.

In the meantime I will be helping another project manager in Houston, Texas build communication sites for 911 public safety systems. I leave Sunday night for the Lone Star State. I will be home Wednesday night. I don't want to go, personally. Professionally, it will be awesome. I don;t sleep in motels. I am miserable away from my wife and kids.

Two years ago, I met and married my wife and expanded my previously blogged about blended family by 4 people. They don't do well when I'm gone either. This is a good thing. Houston will be the test for us. If we can adjust to things, Maryland will go easier. By spring of next year, we may be moving to that state. Until then, we have to learn my crazy new schedule. I think a lot about the words I said to my bosses in 2004. Everytime I lecture my kids on responsibility and my wife on planning, I am struck with a hand of hypocrisy and I now realize I only saw a cool job with a comfortable chair and some impressive dudes with audiovisual equipment.

I love my job. I actually have a career. I plan on retiring with this company. I just wish I has planned instead of reacted. I already miss Bo and the girls and I haven't even left. Packing that bag Sunday night will feel like yardwork or laundry or cleaning the kitchen. I hope they know it isn't money I'm chasing, but our future. Hopefully they'll remember to walk the dog and garbage day is Monday. Houston, don't expect me to be a good mood.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

20s Workout

I interrupt the usual scheduled blogging to post something really cool. Last February a great friend named Doug W. gave me a workout called the 20s. He started doing it 20 years ago and has since fitness competition wife Tracy doing it to get "cut" and lean". It's very challenging but also very versatile to men and women and different age groups. It's the best workout I've ever done. I did it this spring for about 7 weeks and dropped a few pounds and got bigger in the chest, arms, biceps, and thinner in the waist. Then I got lazy this summer. I restarting the workout this week.

Here it is, I apologize for the length of post:

Whichever is best for you choose a leg exercise from Squats, HackSquat or Leg press

Bent Over Rows

Flat Bench Press with dumbells or barbell

that's 3 exercises incorporating legs, back, and chest

Use a weight you can do 20 reps of. The 20th rep should be very difficult to achieve.

Here we go:

Mon Wed Fri -

15 to 20 minute cardio warmup (get a solid sweat going)

3 sets of 30 straight crunches then 3 sets of 30 reverse crunches

3 sets of 20 squats (or whatever leg exercise u choose) 30 seconds in between sets

rest one minute before next exercise

3 sets of bent over rows, 30 secs rest in between sets

rest one minute

3 sets of bench press, 30 sec rest between sets

rest 2 min then repeat

rest 2 minutes then repeat

so u go thru the entire workout in 3 times, that 9 sets of 20 reps.


Most people only make it through one set the first week, two sets the 2nd week, then do all 3 sets the 3rd week. It took me 4 1/2 weeks to get 3 sets. then i rested less and added weight.

Tuesday Thursday Saturday just do 45 to 60 minutes of killer cardio. Drink a gallon of water every day. It should take you about an hour to do the Mon Wed Fri workouts including cardio.

Eat well. Nothing heavy after 7pm.

 Also see my boy Doug and his wife Tracy at Body Heat Tan Studio in Loganville Georgia 770 554 6618

They're awesome and so is this workout.

Late, Lance (cake)

Tuesday, August 3, 2010


Everyone has a fatal flaw. Some flaws cause fatalities like, fear of water makes you drown. Some flaws weaken a person severely like Krytonite with Superman. My Kryptonite is my superhero complex. The irony shouldn't be lost on you, either. By birthright, I am a people pleaser. If it were up to me, most of us would get along and I would be the reason you and everyone around you were unbelieveably happy. This doesn't explain my fascination with punk and hard rock music but it does shine light on why I have so many women in my life. It's natural for a people pleaser to want to make women happy. They smell nice, look pretty, and have soft skin. Why not? The only problem with this, in my life, is I am terrible at trying to make other people happy, Having a superhero complex has messed up almost every relationship I have ever had. Most folks don't want their problems solved or be saved like a damsel regardless of their distress.

I am going through a personality change with my wife and children. Instead of wearing a cape and trying my bad stand up comedy act every day to make them happy, I am listening to them more, acting out less, and being more of what they say they need, not what I think they need. I am terrible at this, but; I am getting better.

Ever notice how superheroes, especially Batman, Superman and Spiderman are always alone, brooding, and so mind numbingly complex that even therapists hate them? Well, I started noticing this only recently. I never said I was brilliant. No one wants to be saved  by someone else. No one wants to have their problems solved all the time. Most people want you to be your screwed up self, let them be their screwed up self, and have things just happen naturally without any buildings being leaped in a single bound or any web slung.

Earlier today, I was struck with a 25 year old memory. My personality allowed me to be friends with 3 or 4 different groups of people in high school. I was like social conduit to unique cliques. At one point, for some reason I don't recall, a couple of these social outlets began fueding. As I tried to be peacemaker to suburban Hatfields and McCoys, I got really frustrated and dropped this bit of science; "I should just change my name to cake, because everyone likes cake." For a while the name stuck. Later when I was in college, I worked with a girl whose last name was Cake. I asked her if that was an icebreaker with people; having such a unique last name. Her response was eerily similar to my high school punchline; "you know, everyone likes cake, so they just start talking, you know, about cake."

As I learn to get along better with everyone in my life;I mean it's time to finally grow up; I think I'll incorporate the cake name gimmick. I need all the help I can get. I am researching how much money, time, energy, and lawyering is involved with changing my name. For now, I want to write to all of you reading this that each of you are beautiful, talented, special, and marvelous; like cake.

By the way, my top five favorite types of cake are red velvet, chocolate, strawberry, angel, and pineapple. My birthday is September 10th. Cash and cake in lieu of gifts, please.

Lance errrr, um Cake

Sunday, August 1, 2010

MTV LAUNCH FIRST DAY SATURDAY 12:01 am AUGUST 1st , 1981 1st hour Part 11

MTV Launch First day, Saturday, 12:01am August 1st, 1981 1st 10 minutes

That's what you are watching. Twenty nine years ago, the entertainment industry changed. At the time, I was a month away from my 11th birthday, living Grayson, Georgia; a suburb of Atlanta, without cable tv (we got it a few months later) and with no knowledge of The Buggles or Martha Quinn. MTV would come into my life about six months later and by then it had reached full phenomenon. At the time MTV was really cool, hip and interesting. The channel played videos, talked about bands, interviewed rock stars and provided a soundtrack to kids' lives. I know this is impossible to comprehend to my teenage daughter and her generation who think MTV is The Real World, Teenaged Moms, and Jersey Shore. I hate coming across like a bitter old man, here's what MTV looked like the first 10 years:


My memories of running home from school to catch the latest Def Leppard or Van Halen video and carry on my crush of Belinda Carlisle have faded.

 The criticisms of MTv then and now are spot on. For a few years between the ages of 11 and 19, I really enjoyed something on television, then it changed.

Here are some more videos, enjoy or amke fun of me. I'm cool with either.