Friday, December 20, 2013

Top 10 Potential New Year's Resolutions

     As we prepare for the cross country trek to Wisconsin I began to look inward.  New Year's Day approaches, and with it there is the annual chance to change the upcoming year with promises of a new attitude or new way of doing things.  Technically, I will be driving back to the Great State of Alabama on New Year's Day so I'm throwing these potential resolutions out there a little early.  Here goes the Top 10 Potential New Year's Resolutions.  By the way my birthday is January 2, and all probable gift givers should be directed to 

#10- Start my own version of the "Daddy Day Care."  I got skillz in this area.

#9- Stop drinking coffee and using all caffeine containing products.  Yea, right.  That ain't happening.  I love Dunkin Donuts coffee too much.

#8- Audition for American Idol or America's got Talent.  Two problems:  I'm too old for American Idol, and I've got no talent.  Maybe I can become one of those "Audition Moms" and make my children become performers.  You have to be careful though, you don't want your kids to end up like Gary Coleman.

#7- To finally defeat my son on an Xbox game.  Any Xbox game will suffice.  My losing streak is epic.  I am a tenacious competitor, but the hand-eye coordination on that boy is disturbing.

#6- I will learn how to style little girl hair, and master the complexities of little girl clothes.  This will happen.  Oh, will!

#5-  Write my memoirs.  They will be entitled, "I Did it my Way:  That was my first mistake."  Look for it at a thrift shop near you!

#4- Pursue my love of professional wrestling, and become either "The Deadly Daddy" or "CJ Golden: History Dude."  It could happen.  Well, probably not, but a boy can dream, can't he?

#3- Drop out, move to a small Caribbean island, and start my own hippy commune/youth sports complex.  It would probably be the first of its kind, and for good reason.

#2- Stop the football madness.  I love me some Alabama football, and sometimes probably too much.  I am actually still on a media blackout from the Auburn loss.  I haven't looked at, read, or listened to anything pertaining to football since the game.  That's nuts.  I blame my father, but no matter how much I try I'll be saying "Roll Tide" till I die.

#1- Work every day to get better at everything I do.  Work hard every day to dominate every opponent and challenge that this life throws at me.  Work to be a better father, husband, friend, neighbor, and human being in general.  Yeah, I think we've found a winner.

     That's all I got before the Holiday season.  I truly love this time of year, and as long as we don't get snowed in somewhere like Manitscold, Indiana all will be well.  Everyone here at the home office in Mt. Olive, Alabama would like to say Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

The Ghosts of Christmas Past

     The other day while I was driving down the road listening to Christmas music a certain nostalgia hit me.  The song was, "The Most Wonderful Time of the Year" by Andy Williams (the best version of the song in my humble opinion- anything by Andy Williams is top notch.)  Memories began to flow.....of my dearly departed Mother and Father, of my sweet niece Patricia who left this world far too soon, and of my childhood and past Christmases in general.  I thought about the first Christmas I spent with my lovely wife, and subsequently met my new family in the Great State of Wisconsin!  My dear sweet mama always used to tell me, "If you marry a woman whose mother doesn't like you then you are in deep trouble.  Make sure she has good parents before you marry her."  Well, Cheryl most definitely had that covered, and a fine extended family to boot.  I also began to think about how fired up my kids get this time of year, just like I used to, and a general "Circle of Life" feeling came over me.  Christmas memories are a good measuring stick on whether you've had a good life I believe, and I sure have some good ones.  There would be no way to share all the great memories of Christmas past, but this post is dedicated to three of them.  The best gift I have ever received is up first, an ode to Christmas lights is on deck, and the "New Perry Family Tradition" is in the hole.  That is the official transition from football to baseball in Ye Olde House of Perry, if you didn't catch the obvious baseball reference.  Here we go!  Merry Christmas to all!!
     What was the best gift that I have ever received?  A Jukebox style disco stereo system complete with light show feature in 1981?  No.  A brand new Honda XR 100 Dirt Bike in 1984?  Getting closer, but still no.  A picture of the 1992 National Championship team autographed by none other than Gene "Bebes" Stallings himself!!  You're are burning up, but as much as I love my Tide, that is still not it.  If I had to choose just one.....Hmmmmm.  It has to be a gift from my lovely wife on one of our first Christmases together.  She gave this old boy a trip to New Orleans.  That's right, an actual trip to New Orleans.  No one had ever given me a "trip" before, more less to one of my favorite cities.  I felt like I had won Wheel of Fortune or something.  Nawlins is my kind of town, and it was quite the trip.  We spent most of our time in The French Quarter during our stay, and I ate some of the best pralines, Crawfish Etouffee, and Beignets (at Café Du Monde of course) while we were there.  I had my fortune told by the famous "Chicken Man," but this was before my Straight Edge lifestyle choice and I don't remember anything the man said.....this was mainly due to the amount of Hurricanes that I consumed at Pat O'Briens.  Cheryl and I had spent the entire afternoon at the Piano Bar in Pat O's.  Those Hurricanes will flat out creep up on you, let me tell you.  Before I knew it I was in a bidding war with a guy from Tennessee over which song the Piano playing lady was going to perform.  For those of you that don't know, you write the name of a song on a napkin and tip the Piano player for your song to be played.  Mr. Tennessee wanted "Rocky Top," and I couldn't have that.  I countered with "Yea, Alabama," then "Sweet Home Alabama," and even threw in "Stars Fell on Alabama" for good measure.  This guy was a sly Big Orange fan, because he backdoored me and tipped the gal 10 bucks.  Wooooooo!  Rocky Top Tennessee!..........I hate that song.  Cheryl decided it was time to leave when I attempted to request a Jimmy Buffet song.  Not just any Jimmy Buffet Song, but the one with the title, "Why Don't We Get Drunk and ****."  I'll leave it at that.  Look it up.  We ended up in a fancy restaurant called, "The Court of Two Sisters."  Actually, we were recruited to go by some guy I couldn't understand.  I spilled a drink all over the white table cloth, dad-gum Hurricanes, I'm glad I don't drink anymore.  All in all it was an awesome trip, and it was by far one of the coolest things anyone has ever done for me!  Thanks Cheryl!
     Christmas lights are some kinda cool, that's a fact.  25,000 Imported Italian twinkle lights!  My brother, Frank, was a firm believer in the Christmas Light Sciences.  I'm sure Alabama Power used to love him every time Christmas light season rolled around.  These lights were an awesome spectacle, and probably only second to those of Elmo Matthews of old-school Fultondale lore.  If you lived in Fultondale at a certain time you know exactly what I'm talking about.  Elmo's lights were legendary.  My brother put on his light show in Graysville, Alabama or as the locals call it, Blossburg.  He had Santa Claus lit up, Reindeer lit up, blue lights, green lights, red lights, lights in the grass, lights on the roof, etc.  Daddy used to say, "I bet that boy put lights on dog poop in the yard."  Only he didn't say poop.  It was a spectacle of the light fantastic- Christmas style.  He was a bit Griswoldesque I must say, and Clark would have sure been proud of these lights.  They would just about blind you as you approached.  To use a biblical term to describe the brightness, it would be a combination between what turned Lot's wife to salt and blinded Paul on the road to Damascus.  Well, that may be a stretch, but it was quite an experience to see these lights.  If you drove by real slow and looked really close, and if the night was very quiet, you could see Frankie out there enjoying his creation of magical lights, and a Budweiser.  Scrooge he was not.
     Every year when Christmas rolls around my clan begins the preparation for the cross country trip to the great white North.  Wisconsin to be exact.  This is our tradition.  Some folks eat turkey, some folks eat ham, some folks sing Christmas carols, and some folks watch It's a Wonderful Life.  We travel across the country to visit the coldest place on earth.  That's how we roll.  Cheryl's people are from Wisconsin, and I'll tell you one thing:  You have to be one tough customer to survive the winter up there.  No doubt about it.  Great place.  Great people.  Awesome food.  Cold as hell.  I'm not kidding at all, trust me.  I'm a good old boy, born and raised in the Heart of Dixie, the great State of Alabama (Roll Tide) and I can handle 99 degrees with 100 percent humidity, but 20 below with snow is not habitable for this guy.  It's quite an impressive sight to see all the snow, and it is beautiful, I will not dispute that, but it's cold.  It's so cold it reminds me of a story I heard once.  It was a funeral.  A lady had passed away, and her husband was overseeing the funeral.  It happened to be extremely cold that day, and the husband leaned over and told the minister presiding over the service, "Get to the part with the dirt."  He said, "I love you baby, but it's cold out here."  That is Wisconsin.  I consider it my second home, but it will make a believer out of you, when it comes to weather.  Our yearly Christmas tradition has introduced us to some sites of interest ("Boobie Bungalow," the Corvette museum, the world's largest peach - no relation to Boobie Bungalow); sand paper sheets outside of Louisville, Kentucky;  and an amazing Windmill farm in Northern Indiana that has to be seen to believed.  Those are only a few things about our annual trek to the Great White North.  This is our family tradition, and to be honest while very cold, it's pretty dang cool.
     Christmas is truly the most wonderful time of the year, just like Andy Williams said it was.  To me Christmas is a pretty magical event all the way around.  The memories that are created will last a lifetime or longer if your traditions live on with children and family.  You should be with folks that you care about this time of year.  My sweet Saint of a Mother used to always tell me, "It's better to give than receive."  I thought she was pretty much full of it back then, but let me tell you....she was right!  Merry Christmas to all!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

No Pain no Gain: 15 Painful Moments that defined my life as a parent

     Last night I was playing with my lovely daughter while attempting to dress her in pajamas.  I have found that the honey attracts the flies, and if the ultimate goal is putting the children to bed so I can watch America Unearthed or Ancient Aliens on the History Channel, then I will do what I have to do to get the job done.  I was playfully pulling Maddie off the couch, and at this exact moment my sole male heir, J-Jam the Genius decided to put me in a chin lock and pull me to the floor.  Unfortunately, I was not expecting this and I pulled Maddie down with me.  Her head flung backwards and struck me directly in the cheek bone.  A very painful moment.  I believe my face is warped now, and I have no hair to cover this flaw.  This put me in mind of some of the most painful moments I have experienced as a parent.  This list contains 15 that I haven't yet blocked from my memory.

#1- Stepping on one of those hard plastic alphabet refrigerator magnets.  This is similar to the pain caused by stepping on a Lego in the middle of the night, but worse in my book.  The letter E is particularly painful, and is a Trident from Hades.  It's kinda like being shot in the foot with a .45.

#2- Line Drive to the Shin.  Jesse can knock the mess out of a baseball, and whether it be Batting Practice or Coach Pitch when he was younger.  I have been able to master my inner Matrix-Keanu Reeves, and I have become adept at dodging these horrible baseball projectiles.  However, sometimes they get me.  Get me good too.

#3- Grabbing the business end of a Hedge-clipper will stick with you.  Don't ever do this.  Pain will follow.  That's a fact.

#4- Also, never allow a "hot" iron to touch any exposed skin.  If you do you will end up with a weird "Shark-fin" brand.  The burn pain is a creeper too.  It doesn't get on you all at once.

#5- A Plastic Shovel strike to the abdomen.  Especially, if this plastic shovel is wielded by a wild-eyed 5 year old girl hell bent on destruction.

#6- The Figure 4 Leg Lock as applied by a 10 year old boy.  Camel Clutch is bad too.  I tapped out.

#7- Having your bare feet stepped on by hard rubber cleats.  Baseball or Football variety.  The pain doesn't discriminate.

#8- The muscles that you are apt to pull by the avoidance of any of the following:  baby food or bottles, potato chips, skittles, vomit, children's body fluids of all types, donuts, Little Debbie cakes, balls of all sizes and shapes, shoes, socks, etc. etc.  I could go on, but you get the point.

#9- An unexpected, perfect form, living room tackle, and subsequent fall.

#10- Below the belt shots of any kind.

#11- The "look" I get from the wife when I have obviously done something that she doesn't like.  Pain will follow.  True dat.

#12- The act of dressing a little girl in little girl clothes.  Vexing.  Brings on a cascade of emotions.

#13- The application of sun screen, and then falling on the slippery hard wood floor after said application.  This pain is not lessened by the child laughing at your broken body.

#14- The changing of a diaper before the bodily function is completely finished.  You have to allow the conclusion of the process.  There is really no way around that.  You must stand your ground....No matter what occurs!

#15- The most painful of all is, without a doubt, seeing those sweet blue eyes (both kids have blue eyes) in any kind of pain.  That by far hurts the worst.

     Well, there they are the 15 painful moments that define my life as a parent.  I'm sure I have many more to look forward to: boys creeping around looking for my daughter, watching Jesse get his heart broken by some evil 8th grade hussy, and countless others.  Pain is part of it, and we must adapt, adjust, improvise, and overcome.  Winning is living.  Victory will be ours!

Monday, December 2, 2013

The Thanksgiving Vacation Story

     This Thanksgiving my clan decided to go all rogue, and change our normal Turkey Day festivities.  We ended up going to lovely Orange Beach, Alabama for the extended Holiday Weekend and eat our turkey on the beach!!  Well, we didn't eat Turkey this year, but it was replaced with Filet Mignon for yours truly, Lunchables with Steak for Jesse, Mac and Cheese Seashells for Maddie, and Hashbrown Casserole, Golden Acorn Squash, and Asparagus for my dear wife, Cheryl.  It was the "Meal of Your Choice" Thanksgiving, and it turned out pretty good to be honest!  We had our share of events on this trip, and I want to hit the high points.  The trip down and back was noteworthy, and sandwiched in between were some interesting happenings involving children's snacks, outlet mall shopping, and a quest for a lottery ticket.  This is my version of the Griswold's Christmas Vacation, and we'll call it the Perry's Thanksgiving Vacation.....we're an imaginative lot around here.
     They say that the journey is the destination or getting there is half the fun...or at least something like that anyway.  Well, they can be right some of the time, but in this case they are wrong.  I spent the first half of our drive down to the beach trying to explain to Jesse that "Brent Muskenburger" did not play quarterback at LSU, and in fact he did not exist at all, as far as I knew.  Jesse was not easily swayed from his tale of "Brent Muskenburger" having a nice touch on the ball and one heck of an arm.  This was a mash up of Brent Musburger and Zach Mettenberger if you haven't guessed that by now.  He gets this type of misunderstanding directly from his mother, and she got it directly from her mother.  It's a vicious cycle of the misunderstood.  In other news from the misunderstood, there was the poor "Pint Size Bowlers" who were lost at sea, that we heard about on the radio as we approached Alabama's Gulf Coast.  It's extremely difficult to accurately absorb the news on the radio in my wife's Prius when you've got the Red Power Ranger taking on a Nighlok in the backseat, and the Clumsy Ninja doing his thing back there too.  Not to mention the Candy Crushin' that is going on right next to me in the passenger seat.  I could have sworn they said, "Pint Size Bowlers."  I pictured a bunch of short people who liked to bowl, but the news actually said, "Capsized Boaters."  Oh, yea.....  That makes a little bit more sense.  This car-chatter did not improve on the drive home, and we had Christmas music competing with Science homework, and a constant buzz of "Mom," repeated over and over.  Tough to think straight with all this going on, that's for sure. 
     Once the natives got restless in the backseat, and the need for gas arose we stopped over in Greenville, Alabama.  One of the few places along the route that has a nice selection of restaurants, gas stations, etc.  When we travel in the Prius the need for gas is limited, and the pit stops are normally only for extreme emergencies.  Like ole' Iron Bladder needing to see a man about a horse or the necessary evil of "snacks."  I may have written about my absolute disdain for "snacks" before.  Goldfish crackers are evil.  Teddy Grahams and Gummy Bears are the crack cocaine of the toddler to tween set.  Once you get started on these things pain will follow, that's a fact!  You cannot escape the wrath of the dreaded "Snack."  Reminds me of a time many years ago when we bought a 2 year old Jesse a video.  The video was a "Baby Einstein" production or something like that, but we soon found out that this programming was baby crack.  Jesse would absolutely throw a fit if you had to turn it off for any reason.  He was a very well behaved child, but whatever subliminal messages those "Baby Einstein" people were sending to him changed him into the kid from "The Omen."  I was scared for my life, and I thought I was going to wake up one night and he would be staring at me like Chucky from those Child's Play movies.  Anyway, back to the snack ordeal.....We stopped in Greenville to get gas and snacks.  I received a message from the wife while I was pumping gas and it said, "Get Jesse Cheetos brand cheese puffs and a water.  Maddie wants rainbow Goldfish crackers and a blue bug juice.  I want regular Chex Mix and a water."  Begrudgingly, I went into the store for these items, and of course they didn't have half this crap.  No bug juice and No Rainbow Goldfish crackers.  I thought about winging it and getting some of the cheap brand "Whales" crackers, and a blue colored drink of some kind, but I knew it would never work.  I asked the lady at the front register, "Do you have a gun back there?"  She looked at me very strangely and said, "Why?"  I responded, "You can go ahead and shoot me with it, and put me out of my misery."  Then she laughed and said, "Going to the beach with your kids for Thanksgiving, huh?"  Sweet lady.  I had to run back out to the car and arrange for some alternate foodstuffs to be purchased before we could leave the metropolis of Greenville.  Once I was back inside the store I received another message from my wife and it read, "While you're in there get me a bottle of cheap wine."  I knew where she was coming from for sure, and if I wasn't Straight-Edge I would have bypassed the wine and went to the liquor store in a heartbeat.  However, my lifestyle choice of not using any substances would prevent me from doing any of that.  We were able to escape without my wife drinking wine, and me having a nervous breakdown.  So, all things considered the trip down was a success.
     There is something special about seeing Christmas lights during the Holiday season, and seeing them at the beach is pretty cool I must say.  That was the first thing we saw as we arrived in Orange Beach, and it was very enjoyable.  While we were at the beach we spent some time at the Outlet Mall and bought some stuff.  Which is usual at these places, but the problem was that I kept setting off those theft detection things.  I was setting these things off when I entered the store, and of course everyone looked at me like I was Charles Manson or something.  I have a Titanium Jaw (long story) and I thought that was what was setting these things off.  My grand entrance to just about every store at the Outlet Mall went something like this...."BEEP" "BEEP" "BEEP" and then I would yell, "It's OK I've got metal in my head!"  The looks I got were priceless.  I only wish I could have gotten some of the responses on video.  You know the snooty women's clothes sales-girls who think they're Princess Diana or something.  I channeled my inner Cousin Eddie with my Metal Plate in my head.  Just don't turn on the Microwave!!  Also, while we were there we bought a lottery ticket.  This is a right of passage on the Florida-Alabama line.  Florida has a lottery, and Alabama doesn't.  Somebody has to win, so why not buy one. However, when you're at the beach in November the idea of "Beach Time" is very evident.  Nothing opens at the beach before 11am in November.  At least that was the experience we got on Saturday while in search of a lottery ticket.  It became a quest to find a ticket, and I was not going to give up.  We went to several places to buy this ticket.  The liquor store by the Flora-Bama was closed.  I couldn't figure it out.  Do the beach going drunk people not buy liquor before 11am on a Saturday in November?  Guess not.  We went to a gas station, and they had no lottery tickets to sell.  I began to think this was a conspiracy to prevent us from becoming Millionaires, and I continued on.  We were finally able to find a ticket deep into Florida.  Well, not really that deep, but it makes the story sound more interesting.  The results were given out late Saturday night, and I went to check our numbers.  Cheryl had the ticket buried in her purse.  The no mans land.  I hate going into her purse.  There are things in there that scare me.  I can never find anything in that pit of confusion.  She told me that the ticket was in her purse, and she knew by the look on my face that I was not pleased with this information.  She said, "It's not like I'm asking you to wade through the depths of Hell to find the lottery ticket."  I answered, "That is the perfect analogy, but I will take on this challenge like any other."  Thankfully, I found the ticket and checked the numbers.....drumroll........and we......Lost.  Oh well.  Maybe next time.
     The trip was a great success, and we may start a brand new tradition of doing this sort of thing every Thanksgiving!  There was some negative things however....As many of you know the Iron Bowl between Alabama and Auburn was played on Saturday.  I am an Alabama fan, and just like the lottery experience....We lost.  Lost in dramatic fashion too.  It was a tough day, but that would be life.  Win some.  Lose some.  That's kinda the idea, I think.  Nothing can be too easy or you won't appreciate the good stuff to begin with, if that makes sense.  The ball bounces funny sometimes, and you just have to pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and get right back after it.  I've been doing that pretty much my whole life.  Been knocked down quite a few times, and I always try to get back up.  That is unless I get knocked down by a child all geeked up on Goldfish crackers or something.  Then I'm down for the count.

Monday, November 25, 2013

The Epic of Giftamesh

     On Saturday the family and I went to Target.  The reason for this trip to Target was for the kids to sort of get an idea what they wanted for Christmas.  You have to provide a list for Santa Claus, at least that is what I was told.  The old bearded fat man in the red suit needs us parents to supply him with gift ideas, and I totally understand.  Who am I to question good old Saint Nick?  I've got stuff that I want for Christmas too, and I don't want the jolly fat man to get ticked at me.  We had to do the gift search this weekend, because we are about to head to the beach for Thanksgiving.  Fired up about that for sure, but before we can go I have to tie up some loose ends on my Capstone History Project.  Doing research and a subsequent paper and presentation is taxing, but rewarding in the end.  However, I went through quite a few potential topics before one was chosen.  So this edition is dedicated to the Epic journey of the fam in Target on a Saturday, and some of the rejected history Capstone project ideas.  Counting down to some Holiday fun around here, and I've got the Christmas music cranking.  I'm definitely in the mood for some Turducken and Pumpkin Pie.  I LOVE this time of year!  Bells will be ringing......
     So the morning started off well enough with a nice cup of coffee, and a good episode of Bat Masterson on the Western channel.  Then an hour or so spent in my dungeon, where I go to do my bidding.  Pushing, Pulling, and Throwing some iron, as part of my continuing; working every day to dominate philosophy.  All was going pretty dang good, until...right in the middle of "Round and Round" by RATT (on my iPod), while I was turned upside down doing inverted Dumbell Presses, a blonde ghost scared the ever living heck out of me.  Yep, it was Maddie.  Who came out of nowhere, and she looked like one of those ghost babies from a horror show.  Kind of like Gage from Pet Semetary or something.  I screamed and almost dropped two 60 pound dumbbells on my chest.  This would have produced an early exit from this plane of existence, but I was able to keep my composure long enough to stop my demise from occurring so soon. (The rumors of my demise have been greatly exaggerated)  I took off my headphones, and asked Maddie, "What's all the hubbub, bub?"  She told me, "Mama is ready for you to go now."  The "go now" part was a reference to the Target adventure that awaited us.  I quickly finished my last few sets, and went to get ready for the day.  We left in the Prius listening to Big Time Rush early on Saturday morning.  We arrived at Target and I was immediately attracted to all the dollar stuff at the front of the store.  I found some really cool "Airheads," and threw them in the buggy.  We continued on until Cheryl and Maddie decided to shop for shoes.  I can't shop for shoes, especially little girls shoes.  That is almost as bad as shopping for women's clothes, and you have to prop yourself up on one of those metal racks and fight sleep.  It's like a sedative.  So I decided to implement my escape plan.  I took Jesse to "look" for other gifts, although I knew that our destination would be in the electronic isle.  TV's, iPads, headphones, video games, awesome had it all!  Jesse wants one of those new XBOX things, and I want it all!  In fact I believe I said, "I want it all, and I want it now!"  That's my inner 10 year old, but unfortunately my inner 10 year old does not have an "in" with Santa Claus.  My only hope is that Jesse will get some of these wonderful toys and share them with me.  Eventually the girls located us and directed the herd to the little girl toys isle.  Yawn......Little girls toys are not fun.  Jesse made his escape by making something up about, "a video game I want to see."  He's a player, and he plays the game so well.  I followed his lead, and went to "assist" him, but I really went to read magazines.  The magazine isle is a great place to hide.  Not only can you hide effectively from those that seek you out, but you've got stuff to read while you're there.  I decided that I wanted my cake and eat it too, so to speak, and I grabbed up a book on "Embarrassing Family Photo's" and headed to the candy isle.  Now you're talking books and candy.  That's right, I got it going on.  Then the long arm of the law (my wife) pulled one for the ages (or the blog.)  As I was standing in the candy isle with Skittles and reading material in hand I got a phone call.  It's one of those times when you look at your phone and know exactly who it is, but you are unsure whether or not to answer it.  I debated for a moment or two, but then I realized that Jesse could have lost a finger in the video game isle or something, so I answered.  I said "Hello" in a weak soft voice, and then I got the response, "You need to get out of the candy isle and come help me!"  How in the heck did she know where I was?  That's not cool.  She's got like ESP or something.  Some kind of Sixth Mom Sense.  It's really not fair, because I don't have a Sixth Sense, heck I don't have much sense at all.  I left my comfortable home in the candy isle and went to help the others.  Basically, I ended up toting Maddie around Target as she yelled, "Pick me up again Daddy!!"  Such is the life that I have, and am thankful for it!  If you were in Target Saturday and saw a guy with a little girl picked up over his head, a 10 year old boy executing a perfect form tackle on him at the same time, and a pretty lady walking behind all of them shaking her head, then you saw us there!
     I know I have mentioned before that I am a 42 year old college senior that studies History in my spare time from my Uber Dad duties.  This semester, amongst the other classes on my schedule, I had to top off my History curriculum with a Capstone project.  This is an independent study where you perform research present a proposal, write a rough draft and a final paper of said research, and finally perform an oral presentation.  I finally settled on "Ancient Helike: Plato's Inspiration?" as my topic.  The idea being that the disaster at Helike inspired Plato's story of Atlantis that he wrote about in his dialogues Timaeus and Critias, but the really interesting part of all this was the topics that were rejected.  I have compiled a Top Ten List of Rejected History Project Topics, and they are as follows:
#10- Mark Antony coined the term, "Don't Hate the Player hate the game."

#9- I should have kept my Big Mouth Shut- The Patrick Henry Story (He said Give me Liberty of Give me Death, FYI)

#8- Rasputin was really the first person to bring "Sexy Back."

#7- Hitler's mama's got a wooden leg with a kick stand. (Part of a Making Fun of Hitler idea, that didn't pan out, kind of modeled on the Messing with Sasquatch commercials)

#6-  Rick Springfield is really the love child of Dusty and Buffalo.  (Wait for it.....)

#5- Xerxes was really a soft and cuddly guy who liked puppies and daisies.

#4- Aliens didn't build the Pyramids.  It was Bigfoot.

#3- The Krispy Kreme Donut is the greatest thing to ever happen to Western Civilization.

#2- If there were no Ancient Aliens, then how did they build all that stuff.  I'm not saying it was Aliens, but it was Aliens.

#1- I am the Walrus.  OOO KOO KA CHOO!

Well there you go, the Top 10 rejected history project ideas, and thank goodness they were rejected.  I think I made the right choice with the topic that I have.  That's all I got for today, and I hope everyone has a fantastic Thanksgiving.  I know my clan will!  To put everyone in the spirit of the Holiday season I have a Maddie original, the "Christmas" song, as recorded by that great director Jesse Christopher Perry.  Happy Thanksgiving and Merry Christmas!


Monday, November 18, 2013

The Curious Story of the Runaway Juror Who Loved Indian Food

     So what have I been up to lately?  Quite a bit, let me tell you.  I received a summons for Jury Duty, and had quite the adventure trying to get out of it.  I also had an awesome excursion with the "History Guys" on a quest for Indian Food (Taj India to be specific, I could just about live there.)  Then I had an occasion to be a forager.  Yep, a forager.  It was me and my fellow History Guy, Tim.  We were a team of foragers for an experiment in our Environmental Science Lab.  I could add some more events, but I think the attempted escape from Jury Duty, Indian Food, and Chris and Tim the foragers should provide plenty of material for this particular post.  To describe this I'm going to mash-up a Winston Churchill quote with one of mine.  "We shall defend our Indian food, whatever the cost may be, although it is normally $7.50 for the buffet, we shall fight the Jury Duty summons, we shall fight the heartburn, we shall fight skinned knees from foraging, we shall fight all those who oppose any of these things.  We shall never surrender, unless of course there is some Gulab Jamun in it for me."  On to the story.
     I have been called for Jury Duty several times over the years, and I have never once served on a Jury.  Normally, they don't pick me due to my background in Law Enforcement.  I've had pretty good luck getting excused, and when I received a summons recently I figured that I could do the same.  I was mistaken.  Sadly mistaken.  They just don't let you out of Jury Duty like they used to in the good old days.  No matter how many fake maladies you try to invent.  It doesn't matter.  I suppose you have to say, "The Voices told me to be here, so I came" to get out of it, or talk about how much you loved that book on "Anarchy."  I was able to get it delayed once, but then I had to appear.  I spent about a week letting everyone know that I had jury duty.  I assumed that I had all my bases covered, but you know what happens when you assume, right?  Sure enough, the one thing that I forgot to fix was my duties as the Uber Dad.  Yep, in all that arranging and notifying, I totally forgot about my kids' welfare.  Come Monday, the first day of Jury Duty, I had absolutely no child care set up for my children.  Now, this caused me quite a bit of stress, but then I thought to myself, "Hey, you know what?  This is an excuse to be dismissed!  That's right, they can't deny my stay at home dad needs, now can they."  I thought that I had it all figured out, and my horrible mistake had led to quite the silver lining in the proverbial dark cloud.  I arrived at the Jury room that morning pretty confident.  While I was waiting for the judges to give directions I overheard the people behind me talking about, "Uncle Moses" and his "Bad Prostrate."  Didn't need to know any of that.  Then a lady wearing what looked like fish net stockings and leg warmers sat beside me.  She asked, "Sweetie, you don't mind me sitting here do you?"  I responded, "No," but then she began to tell me her life story.  Which is cool and all.  Heck, I'm quite a talker too, so I don't mind it all that much.  However, this lady not only had questionable fashion choices, but she smelled like pickles.  Hard core vinegar pickles.  Kind of like those that Granny used to can back in the day and keep in the basement.  Pickle girl told me that she had recently had surgery on her pinky toe, and that had left her incapacitated.  She put her hands in the air and started waving them exclaiming, "Thank you Jesus for them Lortabs."  I began to wonder if she wasn't still under the influence of opiates at the moment.  Finally, the judges arrived and began to give their pep talk about how important Jury Duty is.  I realize that in a free society, and under the umbrella of democracy that Jury trials are very important.  We should all understand how important this service is, and I don't dispute that at all.  However, there is quite a bit of time wasted in this process, and the one judge even wanted us to waive our $10 jury fee.  I thought, "Heck, I'll pay you 20 if you let me go."  At the end of the pep talk they always give the prospective jurors a chance to come up with any last chance excuses to be dismissed.  I left pickle girl, and she really seemed saddened by this, but I had to go and tell one of the judges that my daddy duties called.  I waited in my line to speak with the Judge, and she seemed a bit gruff to say the least.  I walked up to her and said, "I'm sorry, but I am a Stay-at-home dad, and I am my children's sole provider during the day.  I have had an issue with child care, and I have no one to care for my kids today or the rest of the week."  I began to walk toward the dismissal area, but she stopped me and said, "Well, that's no reason to be excused."  I said, "In all due respect Judge, I truly have NO ONE to pick up my kids.  I can't just turn them out to the wilds of North Jefferson County."  She reiterated, "That's just not good enough.  You have had ample time to take care of this."  I was getting a little miffed with Miss Crusty Judge by this time, and I said, "Look, I understand what you're saying, but I don't have a lot of options.  Trust me, and my Saint of a wife cannot change her entire schedule for Jury Duty.  I'm really sorry, but she can't.  Furthermore, my kids have nowhere to go this afternoon, and that's the main point of this whole thing."  She didn't like that.  She told me go and stand in the corner and wait.  Seriously.  Now, I have never been discriminated against in my life, at least not that I was aware of, however I got the distinct impression that if I would have been a woman this would have gone more smoothly.  I can't be 100% sure, but it seemed that this was the case from the other interactions I saw on this day.  Let me say this, that was not a good feeling, not a good feeling at all.  I stayed in my corner until the Judge finally dismissed me, and put the well-being of my children ahead of whatever court case they wouldn't have put me on in the first place.  Once she released me I waved goodbye to the pickle girl and got the heck out of a hurry, just in case she changed her mind!
     Well, the History guys were able to eat some awesome Indian food at good old Taj India last week.  Awesome food all the way around.  This time, like every other time, we all crammed into my Nissan Xterra and drove down to the restaurant.  However, we had a couple of new additions to the group on this day.  In addition to Sir Tim, Kerry Wallace-Reagan, Carl the Conqueror, and Cristos the Spartan (that's me) we had none other than the Tyrant of the Athens game: George the Great.  I expect great things out of young George.  He could very easily be a fine politician, maybe even President one day.  He could also make a fine Shakespearean actor if he would so choose.  Now the other addition, and a drumroll would be in order..........(pretend that the periods are a drumroll).........(still drumroll)...........The Man who will forever be known as the reincarnated Gaius Julius Caesar or Pericles ghost, and the King of all things Greek or Roman.  The Man with the Iron Beard, and you definitely need to fear the beard.  Dr. Walter Ward!  The man, the myth, the legend, joined us History guys for some fine Indian cuisine.  FYI, he did not ride in my Xterra.  My wife has forbidden any person with letters behind their name to ride in my Xterra.  She is ashamed of the inside of my vehicle, but hey old French fries, Dora Dolls, and Baseball/Football equipement add character to an interior.  Fun was had by all, and many important topics were discussed.  Like, "Who Really Killed Kennedy," "Alcibiades is Awesome," "Tim descending from Othello," (if that's possible, I think that Othello is a fictional character, but I'm not sure) and "Phrases that are misunderstood in other countries and could lead to some very uncomfortable moments."  Just don't ever say "Animaniacs" in Jordan.  Like ever.  Trust me.
     I'm going to close it out with a little foraging.  My main man Tim and I were a part of a foraging experiment where we actually had to do some searching for tiny food stuffs, kinda like birds or something.  Not to ruin the story, but we died.  Died rather quickly, at least in the last two experiments.  It's kind of hard to look cool while you're on your hands and knees searching for macaroni and kidney beans in thick grass outside of Campbell Hall.  I did my best though, and in true Cristos the Spartan form I left with bloody knees from the sheer discipline and determination shown in the foraging exercise.  Or was it stupidity... tough call.  Needless to say, I will never look at kidney beans the same way again.  We had one exercise where we were supposed to harass the foragers any way we could, and this was pretty fun.  Hootin and Hollerin running around waving my arms and stomping like a Wildman.  A very unusual sight, unless of course you happen to be in Mt. Olive on a Saturday when the Crimson Tide is on TV.  Then that's a regular occurrence.  I also tried to play Spandau Ballet to harass my fellow foragers, but I couldn't get it pulled up in time.  I had to settle for "Cult of Personality" which was already queued up on the ole iPhone.  Unfortunately, this song fired up the surviving foragers and my plan backfired.  Oh well, live and learn.  It was real.  It was fun.  But it wasn't real fun.  That's all I got.  By the way, if you are ever on the Southside of Birmingham and are looking for a fine meal, stop by Taj India.  Get the Saag, it's like heaven on a plate.  I'm going back tomorrow, and I'm going to try not to tick off any Judges along the way.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Saturday at the Chuck and The Funeral Story

     It's been quite a busy week around the old homestead, and it doesn't look like it's going to let up anytime soon.  Cheryl has been down in Nawlins, that's New Orleans to any of you yankee folk, and me and the kids have been holding down the fort.  Well, at least a valiant effort in attempting to hold down the fort anyway.  There's been a few issues of late involving amongst other things, fashion choices, food service, and marker involved picture drawing.  We're all gonna make it to the next Episode I feel sure.  However, that is not the reason for this particular post.  The reason for this post involves the Chuck.  The Chuck is the term I use to describe that "Hell on Earth" called Chuck E. Cheese.  Where a kid can be a kid, and where good parents go to lose their minds.  That would be the Chuck.  We had an occasion to attend a birthday party at the home of snotty ill-mannered children and lousy pizza over the weekend.  Saturday night to be specific.  It was a night that will live in infamy....well, not really, but it was bad.  At least I got to see BAMA win after surviving my latest stand off with the ole money grubbing rat.  Also, in addition to the tale of horrid conditions at Chuck E. Cheese, I've got a story that I want to share.  They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and this would qualify.  I heard this story second hand, and it is a good one.  I couldn't have come up with a better one.  It involves a funeral, and that's all I'm going to say for now, I don't want to spoil it.  Sit back and relax, things are going to get bumpy from here.
     Saturday at the Chuck, I think I want to lose my mind.....duh, duh, duh.  This particular trip to the home of the giant rat and his lousy pizza was due to one of Maddie's friends having a birthday party.  This is the young man that truly believes that I am Batman in the flesh, so I had to make an appearance.  Keep the people happy, you know.  So, I forced Jesse to go with us, because I'm the Despot around here, and that's how I roll.  If I was going to suffer on a football Saturday then I wanted my best and brightest to suffer with me.  Bad, I know, but it's the truth.  Plus, I needed his support so I wouldn't punch somebody in the throat or something.  Hey, you never know at the Chuck.  We arrived at Chuck E. Cheese's place, and it was packed.  I could not believe they could fit that many people into one place.  Unbelievable, I tell you.  Standing room only.  This was Saturday evening for goodness sake.  There's football on television people, why in the world are you at Chuck E. Cheese??  Same reason I was there, I suppose.  Well, we met up with our party and the journey began.  Tokens, soggy pizza, a man in a rat suit, and wild eyed kids running everywhere.  It was on.  In the first fifteen minutes a little girl stole some of my tokens, a little boy, whom I did not know, took food off my plate, and I almost had to choke slam a very aggressive and hefty grandmother.  She should be warned that I have put many an unsuspecting grandmother into the wall at go-cart tracks from Alabama to Wisconsin, and I ain't afraid to go squirrely at the Chuck!  This was a minor disagreement that involved her grandson pushing my sweet Miss Madison, and I voiced my displeasure to her.  She didn't like my tone I guess, but if you come to this place and let your kids go wild without any hint of manners or raising, then I'm just the guy to call you out on it.  It was settled with no blood shed, but I can go from zero to redneck crazy in about 2 seconds, so be careful Granny.  Maddie spent most of her time on one of those climbing, slide things.  This thing was shaking from the shear weight of all the kids that were going in and out.  Those things must be reinforced with some kind of serious steel to withstand the onslaught of these children of the Chuck.  Jesse was collecting all those stupid tickets just so I would have to stand in line behind the slowest people known to man, and be rewarded with 10 cents worth of crap.  As I was standing there I began to look around at the people in this place, and I felt really good about myself.  No offense, but the clientele at the ole Chuck is less than stellar.  I've always felt like the kind of guy that is pretty straight forward, and what you see is what you get.  These folks...I really hope that was not the case.  You had the non-parents over there, who didn't care at all what their kids were doing.  On the other side of the room you had the parents who looked like their dog just died, and they probably wondered what they had done to be in a place like this on a Saturday night.  Sounds familiar.  Then there is all sizes and shapes of kids.  Good kids, bad kids, clean kids, dirty kids, smelly kids, sweaty kids, sticky kids, and pizza sauce wearing kids.  They're everywhere.  We had an incident with sans-culottes kiddie revolutionaries or in plain English:  kids without pants who wouldn't listen to their parents.  Which is the point, but you must be on your toes, because things get hairy in this place.  Whether it be snotty little kid hands or unidentified fluids in the air and on the floor, the Chuck is not for the faint of heart.  Long story short, the birthday party went well.  The pizza still sucked, but Chuck E. himself sang to Maddie's little buddy.  Well, really it was a recording and the guy in the rat suit, but that's how they roll at the Chuck.  We escaped unharmed, at least physically.  The mental damage will not really be known for years to come.
      This next story was told to me second or third hand, I can't remember.  I'm probably taking a little poetic license here, but truth is stranger than fiction, to be sure.  The story starts with an obituary.  This obituary was read by a friend of the deceased, and the friend decided to pay final respects to the dearly departed.  Upon arrival at the service the friend noticed that there were many people at this celebration of life, and many of the faces were not familiar.  The friend expected to see many of the members of the church that they attended together, but did not see any.  This was odd, but the friend went to pay personal respects and pray over the body.  The friend was struck with the not so-good appearance of the deceased, and immediately felt remorse for what stress must have occurred in the final days of life.  Then the friend spoke with many of those who attended, and told stories of what a fabulous life was lived by this fine person.  This went on for quite a while, because there was many in attendance on this day.  The friend left the funeral pleased with the service, and felt positive for the new journey that awaited the dearly departed.  The following Sunday the friend attended church services as usual, and expected to hear a fitting tribute to the life of the one that was lost.  While walking into the church the friend came face to face with....the dearly departed.  The shock of seeing the "Walking Dead" so to speak, was significant.  Immediately, the friend asked, "Are you alright?"  Mainly, because the right thing to say to someone who is supposed to be dead was hard to find.  After some small talk, the friend realized that the obituary must have been misread or the name very similar to that of the now alive friend.  Then the thought occurred, "I went to some random funeral, and said who knows what to people I don't know."  Goodness gracious, this was a predicament for sure.  A wise man once said, "Death smiles at us all, all a man can do is smile back."  One thing is for sure, the departed was definitely smiling, because they were no doubt still alive.  The moral of the story;  Obituaries should be read very carefully.
     Well there is my story, and one that I stole.  Stole it fair and square, but it was theft to be sure.  So it goes for a guy in my shoes.  The Uber Dad.  I've been the one that has laid in a Dora the Explorer bed, and watched an episode of Little Einsteins on my iPhone to make a 4 year old girl go to sleep.  I've cleaned cheese sauce off my 50 inch flat screen Samsung Smart TV.  Point is, I've paid my dues, and I should be exempt from being charged with story theft.  Anyway, gotta go.  Jesse just said he's feeling funny, because "he's all geeked up on Airheads."  That's all I got.  I'm out.


Friday, November 8, 2013

The Facebook Cult of Personality

     I'm a student of History, and I know propaganda when I see it.  Figures throughout history have portrayed themselves in a more than positive light.  Joseph Stalin's Cult of Personality, Louis XIV's Sun King aesthetic, and Xerxes and Alexander the Great viewing themselves as deities, just to name a few.  However, you can see this type of thing every day and much more frequently with modern technology.  With the advent of the internet, social media, and smart phones that allow us to always be connected, people tend to glamorize their lives to a sometimes ridiculous extent.  This is the "Facebook Cult," and it can be quite a study in perception.  Not only does a certain propaganda exist on Facebook, but as it turns out it is a culture all its own.  An almost Cyber-Civilization that has norms and morals that are unlike any this world has ever seen.  So, I want to take this idea and expound on it.  The Facebook Cult of Personality is worthy of further examination, and unless I die from not re-posting one of those chain status things, then I will do just that!  So, if your excitement level is peaked when those little red bubbles with numbers pop up in the top of the screen or your heart goes all aflutter when a new friend request comes in- This post is for you!
     My background is in Law Enforcement, Uber Parenting, and History.  My Facebook personality has had the following job titles:  Love Machine, Domestic God @ Jesse and Maddie Inc., Burden on Society, Entrepreneur, and Uber Dad Extraordinaire, just to name a few.  The thing about Facebook is there are no rules.  You can put what you want out there, and like most folks you kind of sweeten the deal when you do.  You want people to think, "Yep, I'm awesome. I've got an awesome life.  My kids are awesome.  You should really believe I'm awesome."  Now, I know that you're really not a CEO of a Fortune 500 company, because I saw you at the Dollar General buying 2 dollar wine the other day.  I also know that you didn't marry a Supermodel, because I saw her in the Ice Cream isle at the Wal-Mart.  However, you like to put this alternate reality version of life on Facebook, and that's OK!  Heck, that's kind of the idea.  Everybody does it.  If you saw my page, you may think that I'm a kinda cool guy, but the honest truth is that I believe that any given day is a success if I get through without puke or other body fluids on my person.  CEO, I'm not, P-S-Y-C-H-O maybe.  I got plenty of Crazy, but folks don't need to know that.  They don't need to know that the tag team of Jesse and Maddie have pinned my shoulders to the canvass many times, and I have submitted to the very will of wife and kids.  This is all par for the course in Facebook land!
      Some other issues that I have found with Facebook are as follows:  Game Requests, undoubtedly make people go nuts.  These people have such an adverse reaction to people wanting them to play games that it appears that they want to do them bodily harm, and potentially hack them into little pieces for that Candy Crush request.  God forbid, you get one of those imaginary farm assistance requests from the infamous Farmville.  I too have fell victim to the charms of the imaginary farm, and to this day I cannot tell you why.  I don't know.  I had a fine farm.  With fine little animals and crops, but one day I began to contemplate all the things I could be doing with this time I spent harvesting non-existent crops.  Like writing a blog?  Why is it that someone could write a Robert Frost like poem or another version of War and Peace and receive a tepid response, and someone else could post a fart joke to the tune of 1,000 likes.  It's a mystery.  Facebook is like ancient Rome, and is a mob.  Win the Mob.  Win Rome...or Facebook in this analogy.  Even if you're posting crap.
     Finally, there always seems to be a conspiracy that Facebook plans to sell my information, and use my personal pictures to take over the world.  Could be?  Who knows?  Zuckerberg is really a space Alien, and has plans on world domination.  To quote that great seeker of Knowledge Giorgio Tsoukolous of "Ancient Aliens" fame, "I'm not saying it was Aliens, but It was Aliens."  What's the deal with the abbreviation deals.  The LOL's of the world.  I literally thought that LOL meant "Lots of Love" for quite some time, and my messages would go, "I'm so sorry to hear about the passing of your mother, I am very sorry for your loss.  LOL."  Obviously, this caused some issues.  Also, what the heck is up with this bathroom mirror/ duck face stuff?  For the Love of Pat Sajak, I can't figure that one out.  Ok, I've done it too....but honestly I don't know why!!  I can't stop!  It's a sickness.  Facebook be the end of civilization as we know it!!!
     Well, that's all I've go time for today.  I've got to go wish the guy I haven't seen in 30 years a "Happy Birthday!"  At least this Facebook thing makes things interesting.  If you don't think so, let the WiFi go out or lose Cell Service, and then tell me everything is OK.  We live in a constantly connected/immediate gratification society and we may as well get used to it!  For better or worse, It is what it is!  Personally, I think Facebook is a great way to stay connected, and I do enjoy keeping up with the people I've encountered at different stages of my life.  That is a cool thing.  Just don't try to tell me that you were once a Ninja Assassin, and now you're producing movies in Hollywood.  The Facebook Cult of Personality is here to stay....whether we like it or not!

Sunday, November 3, 2013

The History Guys take on Korean BBQ

     I know that I have mentioned many times that I am a student of History.  I am a forty-two year old college senior, and I am a self-admitted History geek.  True story, no doubt.  Since my most recent life journey began at the University of Alabama at Birmingham I have been very fortunate with the people that I have met.  In addition to awesome Professors (shout out to Drs. Ward, Demshuk, Keitt, Jefferson, and Corley), I have been accepted into an exclusive club of History aficionado's and all around great guys.  I will refer to this group simply as "The History Guys."  There has been many a great time spent with these fine fellows, and I would like to introduce everyone to them.  First off there is Carl.  Carl is of Irish descent and let's just say he has an extreme fondness for Asian culture.  He quite possibly is the most free-spirited guy I have met in quite some time.  Positive outlook from the jump, and very colorful to say the least.  It has been inspiring to know a guy like Carl.  He reminds a person not to sweat the small stuff.  He has been quoted as saying, "Don't worry, C's get degrees."  Next would be my partner in crime, fighting those Environmental Sciences, the man who was once a Friar in Spain, in addition to his stint as an ancient Greek historian who wrote the history of the Second Trial of Socrates, and a well known Satisfry Revolutionary, my main man Tim.  Tim is about 7 foot tall, and could have had a great career as a professional wrestler if he would have chosen to do so.  However, Tim is a gentle giant and it is my pleasure to call him friend.  Next would be the President of the George Wallace fan club.  The man who believes that Ronald Reagan should receive sainthood, and who is on a first name basis with half the professors in the History Department, Kerry.  Kerry was the first person that I befriended in my journey as a student in Dr. Corley's New South class last fall.  Great guy, and he was my main adversary in the Athens vs. Sparta reacting to the past game.  He played the role of a Dirty Oligarch to perfection.  Last, but certainly not least, is Charles.  Charles may just be the smartest one of the whole lot.  He has been an extremely convincing Socratic, and a leading member of the Spanish Audiencia.  Quite accomplished.  I truly expect to see Charles on the cover of "Fortune" magazine one day.  He's also the man with the plan when it comes to the ladies in the front row.  You know it's true Charles!  It was a dark and STORMY night (Inside joke, sorry, Charles will get it though.)  Ok, enough with the introductions, it's time for our story.  Recently, the History guys and I have been on a culinary adventure.  We've had Indian food several times, breakfast and lunch at the Commons on the Green, Five Guys Burgers and Fries, and most recently an excursion into the unknown......Korean BBQ.  Pray for our safe return.
     We finished up an epic discussion about the Grachii and Sulla coming along and putting the Roman Republic in the toilet, so to speak, in Dr. Ward's Rome class.  We have been talking about doing this Korean BBQ thing for a while, but it just hasn't happened.  However, on this day, for better or worse it was going to go down.  We arrived at the restaurant, and I immediately noticed that this place doubled as a video store/grocery store/health food vendor, and who knows what else.  The eating area was empty, and this always concerns me.  We were seated abruptly by our hostess, and given menus.  The menus were in a different language, Korean I would guess, but thankfully an English description of the food was underneath each item.  The funny part was listening to Kerry attempt to actually pronounce these food items, upon ordering.  I didn't try to say the name, I just pointed to what I wanted.  I do that at Chinese restaurants too.  I always say, "I'll have the #13."  When I pointed to my selection, the lady said, "No.  You can't have that."  I looked at her and said, "Well, give me the one that I can have."  She did.  We sat there and talked for a while, and then a funny sounding music started.  I don't know how to say this, but it sounded like a Bow Chica Wow Korean.  I felt a little uncomfortable, because I've heard stories about these kinds of things.  Eventually, food was brought to the table.  Appetizers, I guess.  Green stuff.  Mushroom thingies.  Some red stuff.  And other stuff I couldn't identify.  That wasn't the biggest problem.  There was not a fork to be found at the table.  Only chopsticks.  I don't do chopsticks.  Carl tried to give me a remedial lesson in Chopstick Science 101, but I failed.  It's also hard to stab food with a slender piece of wood.  I was able to locate a spoon, and I used that.  Next, the lady came out and plugged up what looked like a Wok right beside me.  She said, "You cook your food."  This came as a surprise, because I can't cook American food, much less any type of foreign cuisine.  This fact didn't seem to matter though, because she told me I could have into this Wok thing, gave me the food, and handed me some tongs.  Yep, here I was...hanging with my crew The History Guys, and cooking Korean Pork....I think it was pork.  I hope it was pork.  The look on my face must have expressed my incompetence, and the lady helped me through the cooking process.  I was still worried about botulism, but I was strong.  I wondered how exactly I was going to eat this stuff, but I need not worry!  She brought me some lettuce and some rice with some brown sauce of unknown origin.  She showed me how to build these lettuce sandwiches, and I did the best I could.  You are supposed to use chopsticks, but I used my hands.  They must not have forks everywhere in the world.  I have to say, though, the food was wonderful.  Awesome even.  Really good stuff.  All my History brothers enjoyed their food also, and we had discussions about Life, Philosophy, The Greatness of Sparta, and Charles' allergic reaction to dark and STORMY nights. (Inside joke, again, sorry.). We finally finished and went to pay, and I think I got to hear a guy curse in Korean when his wife, our lovely hostess, went off on him at the checkout.  All in all it was an awesome culinary adventure.  Eat your heart out Anthony Bourdain or even the Bizarre Foods guy, because there were ox tails on the menu.  I don't do ox tails, sorry.
     Since I have introduced these guys I wanted to share one other experience that happened on Friday.  Kerry and I had told Carl that there was a young lady we wanted him to meet.  We had seen her many times, and she looked to be exactly Carl's type.  Carl and I had eaten breakfast that morning, and we met up with Kerry at our home away from home, Heritage Hall, and sure enough the young lady appeared as if it was fate or something.  This day she walked straight up to me, and said, "Do you want a cupcake?"  Without missing a beat I responded, "No, but I bet this guy right here would like one"...pointing to Carl.  Carl who is diabetic, responded, "No, I can't eat sweets."  She left rejected still with cupcake in hand.  What are the odds?  That's how it goes I guess.  Matchmaker I'm not, although she did fit with Carl's affinity for Asian culture.  I kind of feel like the Pater Familias when it comes to my friends The History Guys, because I am about 20 years their senior.  Maybe, next time we can find a Greek restaurant and invite the cupcake girl to come with us.  I've got vision and the rest of the world wears bifocals.
     Well, there you go.  The adventures of the History Guys!  At least one of the adventures.  I have a feeling this may be a recurring theme on the ole Blog.  There are always some interesting things going on with History Folk.  In fact, Carl is currently trying to get a job in Japan teaching, Tim is looking at graduate school and continuing his expertise in 15th Century England or was it 14th Century, Kerry wants to head up the upcoming campaign to elect Hillary Clinton President.  Just kidding.  He wants Dr. Corley's office in the History Department.  Charles was actually looking at getting into Law Enforcement, and he would me make a fine Officer.  That's one area that I know extremely well.  Let's hope he doesn't run into any dark and STORMY nights while on patrol. (Sorry, couldn't help myself.)  That's all I got. 


Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Happy Birthday to The Diabolical Dr. Up!

     Today is a very special day!  No, not because I'm a huge fan of ghosts and goblins, but because this was the day when my little "Witchy Woman" was born 5 years ago.  My special little girl is 5, and boy how has that time flown by....It sure has been one heckuva ride!  If young Jesse is my pride and joy and my retirement plan (The 401-J) then Miss Maddie is most definitely the "Apple of my eye!"  This little girl entered our lives and changed all of us in such a positive way.  Her very existence is the truest form of a miracle that I've ever seen, and I've seen a few.  Each day that we've had the privilege of being her family has been better than the next.  She is an amazing little girl, and I thank the Good Lord everyday that I get to see her beautiful smile every morning.  To celebrate the birthday of my "best girl" I've got a few stories to tell about the fabulous Miss Madison Leigh Perry!
     She goes by many monikers, Princess Madino, The Diabolical Dr. Up, Mad Dog Maddie Meanness, the owner and partner of the famous Twinkle the Wonder Horse.  She's got it all!  However it could probably be argued that her greatest job is keeping her poor old daddy straight.  Whether it has been deflecting my ire at folks trying to bypass the system in the Elementary School Pick Up Line by asking me a question about princesses right about the time that I was going to go all redneck up there or telling me to "calm down" when all those idiot drivers seem to appear while we are in the middle of yet another adventure.  She keeps me straight by giving me those million dollar hugs, and keeps me honest by questioning just about everything.  You got to be on your toes around Madino.   One incident in particular occurred at my favorite place on earth.  Wal-Mart.  This day was like any other in the life of the Uber Dad, and I had both kids with me at Sam Walton's house of horrors.  I like to say it is a Tree of Woe, like the one that Arnold Schwarzenegger got hung on in Conan the Barbarian.  But that's another story for another time.  We were shopping for the normal necessities, Ice Cream, Doritos, and Dora Stickers, but young Jesse, ole 401-J himself, decided to pull a disappearing act.  Like most parents, it scares the daylights out of me when one of my children are all of a sudden out of my line of sight.  It happened on this day, and just like that..."Poof"....Jesse was gone!  I was pushing the buggy and Maddie was riding in the front part.  I turned and did not see Jesse.  Obviously, your heart drops when this happens, and I'm an excitable guy anyway.  Needless to say I was fit to be tied!  I backed away from the buggy and began looking in every direction, North, South, East, and West- and no Jesse.  I began to yell, Jesse!  Jesse!  No answer.  I was pretty upset by this time, and Maddie was giving me the strangest look.  Kind of like, "Dad, you're being an idiot."  She said with a flip of the hair with some fierceness that some only dream of, "Jesse's right behind you."  Sure enough, that little S,H,I, you can fill in the rest, had got right behind me, and stayed out of sight during the entire episode.  He is lightning quick, and very fleet of foot so he was able to move on a dime and stay close enough that I didn't know that he was behind me.  However, my lovely Miss Maddie saved the day!  Jesse got his later.
      Shortly after Maddie was born she began to have breathing problems.  This concerned Cheryl so much that she eventually rushed Maddie to the Emergency room at Children's Hospital.  As it turns out she made the right call, she gets lucky like that with decisions every now and then.  Maddie was diagnosed with RSV which is a major cause of respiratory illness in young children.  This was a big enough problem for Maddie to be admitted.  Eventually, Jesse and I were able to go to the hospital.  Upon arrival, I moved quickly, because I don't like hospitals, doctors, or hospitals with doctors in them.  I finally was able to locate the room that Maddie was supposed to be in.  I was shocked to see the door.  It was covered with huge red tape in the shape of an X that read, "Contaminated:  DO NOT ENTER."  I turned to Jesse and said, "Hold up.  What the heck is going on here." To be honest, I'm not sure I said "Heck."  I thought for a moment that Maddie must have contracted the Black Death or Monkey Pox or Both!  I tracked down some medical personnel, and you know it had to be a big deal for a guy who doesn't like medical personnel to actually go find some medical personnel.  I said, "Hey Doc!  What's up with all this warning red tape stuff.  Is this like a doomsday deal or what?"  He explained to me that RSV was very contagious, and they had to take the precautions.  He went on to say that we were in no danger.  I wasn't buying it.  I told him we probably needed some Hazmat suits to go in there, huh?  He again assured me that we were fine.  Hopefully he was right, and I'm not a carrier for some flesh eating virus or something.  Anyway, Maddie ended up fine.  Some early breathing issues, but mostly fine.  I guess if we don't die of the Plague later on, we came out pretty good on the Contamination deal.
     Now I'm going to close this Ode to Maddie post out with a little poem I wrote just for my sweet Miss Madison.  Maybe one day she can look back on this and smile.  I hope so.

When you came around we didn't know,
That there was one thing we needed to grow;

Your big blue eyes and smile so sweet,
Lit up our lives and made us complete;

You've grown so much since that day,
You'll always be my little girl and in my heart you'll always stay;

My beautiful daughter you make me so proud,
With you I always see the sky full of sun with not one cloud;

When I'm with you I see love infinitely,
You, Jesse, and your mom mean everything to me.

I know now, for sure, that there is nothing more important than the love of Family;

Happy Birthday to you Madison Leigh,
You are my heart, my life, and I love you completely. 

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Hey! Watch This!

     Well this weekend saw those Morris Blue Devils finish out the regular season 8-0, and gain some momentum heading into the playoffs with a 26-6 win over Cleveland.  That would be Cleveland, Alabama not Cleveland, Ohio, but those Blue Devils could maybe give those Browns a run for their money!  Cleveland was also the site of the quote of the week.  I was asked about the motivational status of those fine young men playing football, and what measures I was going to take to increase said motivation by a concerned parent. (Who also happens to be the mother of our Quarterback and wife of the Offensive Coordinator/Assistant Head Coach-Michelle Peters)  I said, "I fired them up over there in the end zone a minute ago."  She responded, "Fire 'em up again!"  I went on to say, "You know all that hootin' and hollerin' only lasts a minute or two on the field."  The conversation ended with the statement, "I know! and I blame you Chris Perry!"  Wait for it comes, the quote of the week.  It came from Greg Rogers, and immediately after the above conversation he said, "Go and Blog about that!"  This was all in good natured fun, and the quotes were priceless!  Thanks guys for the material!  Also, the mighty Crimson Tide smashed ole Rocky Flop 45-10 this weekend.  Roll Tide!  For this chronicle of the old Uber Dad I'm going to write about two things, #1- Why it's always my fault. and #2- The question, "You used to be a cop didn't you?" and the unusual conversations that follow.  It's almost as bad as what follows the statement, "Hey!  Watch This!" or the even worse, "Hey!  Hold my beer.  Watch this!"  Here we go.
     Why is everything always my fault?  The short answer is, I don't know.  I get blamed for things that are completely not my fault, and can in no way be linked to me.  For example, Global warming, the Government shut down, rain (not even acid rain.....just rain), the fact that they killed off Shane on the Walking Dead a few seasons ago (Now, I liked Shane.  Probably my favorite character.  Dude would do what had to be done.  I respect that, but I digress).  Dad, why don't I have my favorite shorts?  Dad, Why can't you put on the Wizard of Oz right now?  Dad, I'm not happy.  All of these are my fault.  Well, I'll take the blame.  Go ahead and put it squarely on my shoulders.  I'll hold it up like Atlas.  Just recently I had a day of writing papers about Ancient Helike as the inspiration for Plato's story of Atlantis in his dialogues Timaeus and Critias, The Cleansing of the Collective memory in France and Algiers after the War in Algiers, and one on The American Solar Energy Society.  Not to mention research on an upcoming paper on The Punic Wars.  Then I had to pick up Jesse, work out, and it was off to football practice.  Finally,  I came home to a little girl who had thrown dear old dad under the bus.  In fact she not only threw me under, she also backed the bus up over my body, and then ran over me again for good measure.  My sweet Miss Madino told everyone that I was the cause of her constant falls on this evening.  Undoubtedly, she had fallen repeatedly while Jesse and I were at football practice and it appears that I was blamed for each and every one of these falls "In absentia."  When I came home to my castle in lovely Mt. Olive, Alabama, I arrived to a kangaroo court who had already tried and convicted me for Maddie's unexplained falling spells.  Maddie's testimony was read back to me and it said, "It's Daddy's fault."  She said it again, "It's Daddy's fault, because he put me in Slippery Socks."  Well there you go!  It's on me.  No doubt about it.  Hang me now.  Next, they will be burning me in effigy to prevent the "Slippery Socks" from returning.  It's hard work being me.  By the way, I have no control over the weather or politics.  Sometimes I feel Omnipresent or is it Umizoomi, I forget.   No matter!  I didn't do it!  I'm innocent!  Who are you going to believe?  Me? Or your lying eyes?
     I get this question all the time, "Hey, you used be a cop didn't you?"  Then stuff goes haywire.  The fact that I once was a Law Enforcement Officer brings mostly legal questions, which I can normally answer, but sometimes the questions can bring about an issue or two.  Just yesterday I was asked, "Does it really matter that she's only sixteen?"  You bet your "soon to be kicked in the head by her daddy" sweet tail it does.  To heck with the law.  Guns don't kill people.  Daddy's with daughters kill people, and are glad to do it.  That's a fact!  Most people seem to think that cops in general are either mostly crooked or corrupt, or possess amazing powers like a cross between a Ninja and a Fortune Teller.  Well, I'm neither.  Jedi maybe.  Batman definitely (Shhh.  don't tell), but Ninja/Fortune Teller, No.  I probably can't get you out of that ticket (As far as you know), I don't know who shot Kennedy, I haven't "beat" a confession out of a "perp" like Andy Sipcowicz on NYPD Blue, and No I'm not going to help you find someone to "solve" the problem with your neighbor.  All that being said, I really don't mind helping out with information when I can.  However, the next time somebody asks, "You used to be a cop didn't you?"  I'm going to say, "Yes.  Now I'm Black Ops, and I'm trying to raise an army of hostile aliens, but the voices keep telling me to lead a Revolution with the Monkeys.  The band.  Not the animals."  That might work, but then again, maybe they could relate.
     That's all I got for today, but I thought I would leave you with some words of wisdom from my late father, God rest his soul.  Daddy always used to say, "Dammit Boy!"  I can hear him now.  That's it, just "Dammit Boy!"  Usually this statement was proceeded by me being blamed for something, because everything was my fault.  Wait a minute.....There's a pattern here.  Wasn't me.


Wednesday, October 23, 2013

CJP and The Time Machine

     This is a story about a normal guy, caught up in an extraordinary series of events.  This normal guy, let's say, is in his early 40s, married father of two, and well-liked by all.  Well, almost all.  The hero of our story was on a mission to procure a USA Today newspaper for his mother-in-law.  I'm sure many of you have been in this type of situation before or at least something similiar. This normal guy was "Rockin" in his wife's Toyota Prius while on this fantastic voyage.  The music was provided by Bon Jovi- and this is where normalcy ceases to exist.  Our hero was bellowing the line, "I'll be the water when you get thirsty baby!  When you get drunk, I'll be the wine!!" from the 1988 monster hit I'll be There for You.  Then whether it was a combination of stress from the task of locating this elusive paper, and a desire to escape this mundane existence, something magical happened.  The Prius became a time machine.  Yep, you heard that right.  Straight out of Marty McFly and "Doc" Brown's playbook, although our story has a Toyota instead of a DeLorean.  All of a sudden we're in 1988!  Stuff is about to get real!
     All of a sudden the Prius was transformed into a 1985 Mustang LX blue in color, with some sweet white letter Grand Am Radial GT tires and some chrome modular mag wheels!  Now, I know that most folks think I would fit in an old beat up Chevy Chevelle as a vehicle, the Mustang was my vehicle of choice in my formative years.  Instantly, the treble box which was the radio in the Prius was replaced with 2- 15 inch sub woofers and an Alpine powered stereo system that would make your brain rattle!  Cause after all, "We like the cars...the cars that go BOOM!"  Consequently, due to this time transformation the clothes and appearance began to change.  Hair grows long in the back, and cropped nicely on the sides and front.  "Business in the front, party in the back!"  Stonewashed or was it Acid-washed, Levi's appear.  Funny looking 80s boots (cross between a pirate and a musketeer) are worn outside of the jeans.  Then of course, the purple shirt with wierd paisley shapes and some that look like Vincent Van Gogh had designed the apparel.  Suddenly we've got the 80s ride, clothes, hairstyle, and music!!  For the love of Prince and the Revolution!  What is going on here?
     The car was suddenly filled with the music of INXS (I need you tonight), then The Flame by Cheap Trick.  I changed the station when Debbie Gibson came on.  I switched from 95 Rock to Kicks 106 (Folks in Birmingham will remember that)- I ran across some Def Leppard, Aerosmith, and even The Bangles version of "Hazy Shade of Winter."  It was at this point that I realized that I was outside of the old BAMA 6 in good ole Center Point, Alabama.  This was a destination for cruising par excellance, back in the day.  The Posse was always on the Parkway!! (Center Point Park Way that is)-  I looked up at the marquee, and Beetlejuice, Rain Man, Coming to America, A Fish Called Wanda, and Rambo III were available for your viewing pleasure.  You could get in for about 4 bucks too!  Things were looking up for this Long Haired Country Boy, and his 80s Revivial!  I noticed the fashion choices on the sidewalk outside consisted of some "REALLY" Big Hair, Puffy Pirate Looking Shirts, Rolled up "Tight Roll" Jeans with Boat Shoes, Z Cavaricci's, and MC Hammer Pants.  Just to name a few.  
     With all this 80s Awesomeness overwhelming Our Hero- He Began to Speak as if possessed by the Enlightenment of the 1980s, or lack thereof, depending on which way the wind blew!

Last Night I dreamed I went back to the 80s, Oh What a beautiful sight!
Ronald Reagan came up to me, and said "Well Chris, who do you want to see", and I began to think.
I said why don't you call up ole Jon Bon Jovi, and see if he's free, cause ole Jon was rockin the hair back in the day, and he could play Livin on a Prayer like a Boss I'd have to say....Oh Yea!!!
While I was in the 80s, I saw Madonna, Tony Danza, and Axl Rose too, and I even saw Tom Cruise back when he was cool!
Then out of nowhere came this long skinny arm, connected to an alien with his big eyes on me!
Suddenly I realized that I was looking at E.T.!
E.T. said, "What Brings you Here?" So I began to think,  I said, "E.T. you've seen it all.  You've seen the 80s rise, and you've seen the 80s fall."  Tell me why it is sir, that I like to reminisce.  Why is it that I still like Prince!
Then I began to tremble and I began to shake, I knew I was dreaming, but I couldn't get awake.  I cried out, "Holy Parachute Pants Batman," then as soon as it began it was over.

     The Radio was playing when I woke up in the Prius, and it sure wasn't Bon Jovi.  It was one of them new fangled pop songs by Kanye Kardahian, ( I ain't saying she's a gold-digger)  I was parked directly in front of a USA Today paper machine, and I realized that I was back in the year 2013.  Oh well, it was fun while it lasted.  The box was out of papers, though.  Bugger.