Friday, April 30, 2010

A Brief Look at My Wife's Awesomeness

Recently, my wife and I ran a little race called the Country Music Marathon. You may have heard of it or ran in it yourself because seemingly, half the world's population was in attendance. But despite the vast swarms of humanity, we miraculously were able to navigate the course and finish all 13.1 miles.

I suppose broken down to it's most basic level, running isn't something that is inherently specialized. It isn't a finesse thing or a talent that is genetically gifted throughout generations. To be empirical about it, running is essentially a black hole of suckitude.

What would our ancestors think if they could see us now? Where as running was a basic component of their life as they tried to avoid being eaten by basically unchecked predator populations, now we do it to keep from turning into bulbosed human marshmallows. Essentially, we have to go out of our way to schedule or plan physical activity because, by and large, our function in society is predicated more on our minds than it is our physical abilities.

So more than anything, running is more like a lost skill than it is a specialized talent. It's like building a fire or not hyperventilating when you forget your cell phone; things we used to do, but no longer can.

For me, I don't run because I love it. I run so I don't feel so racked with guilt every time I polish off a cheeseburger (bacon optional, but DEFINITELY preferred). But I've been doing it for a while now, so I've worn down the part of my conscience that yelps in frustration when I lace up the Asics.
But this process has been entirely different for my wife. In the strictest sense of the world, she's never really been a runner. That isn't to denigrate her. She's just always been blessed with a teenager's metabolism and a Gandhi-sized appetite. She simply doesn't suffer from Fat Kid's Burden like me, so it has never been a necessity.

But late last year, she became resolute in wanting to run the half-marathon. Why? I'm not exactly sure, because we never really had that exact conversation. There's a handful of possibilities: the health aspect, the accomplishment, the experience. All of those are good and swell things. But I think it was about something bigger.

See, after her 2009, running 13.1 miles would be considered a walk in the park.

Long story short, late in 2008, she gave birth to our beautiful, perfect and wonderful son. We were and are still overjoyed with him. But his birth also brought along some serious physical complications for Ashley.

These were not complications of inconvenience. They were complications of  extreme discomfort and pain. They were the kind of complications that mess with your quality of life and mentally wear you down over time, like any time Heidi Montag speaks.

But she endured these complications and she did so while balancing her duties as a new mom. Impressive, right? RIGHT?

So when she finally regained her health after almost one year of complications, it was as though entering this race was a giant middle finger to 2009 and all the crap (and by "crap" I don't just mean the negligent care she received by her doctor. It also refers to the maddening effect of hopeful prognoses that were followed by more vague bad news. Just in case you were hazy on the specific meaning behind my use of that particular word) she went through.

Recovering wasn't enough of a vanquishing for her. She was going to recover and do something she'd never done before. AND. SHE. DID.

In a race that featured 36,000+ people, we can safely assume that a significant contingent of that number were running for basic purposes. Maybe to beat a specific pace or perhaps to outrun a fellow competitor. These are all worthy reasons.

But a great many runners were there for altogether different reasons: memorializing loved ones, trying to raise money for causes, or just running to promote healthy lifestyles.

Ashley never explicitly said why she was running, but she never really needed to. When you have something taken from you, you desperately want it back. And with interest.

And get it back she did.

If I've learned anything from running, it's this: Sometimes, it's good to be at war with yourself. It's good to throw yourself into unfamiliar territory because often, you will surprise yourself with what you are capable of.

I'm so proud of my wife because her crossing the finish line wasn't the product of a few months of training; it was a looong road spanning a couple of years that were filled with substantial potholes. But she navigated through them all and now has a half-marathon to her credit.

TAKE THAT, incompetent medical care providers.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Starving for Playmakers: Why The Patriots Need More Bacon and Less Fiber

 In the scant few days since the 2010 draftgasm that was, Patriots fans are left with that familiar feeling of dissatisfaction. There are no cigarettes to be had, and no jubilant fist pumps for a draft class that was about as sexy as a big bowl of Raisin Bran.

That isn't to say that the 2010 draft class wasn't good. It was. And it was needed. Extending the Raisin Bran analogy, this draft needed to create depth so that the fecal matter could be flushed from the depths of the roster's irritable bowels. And by fecal matter, I obviously mean Adalius Thomas.

But lately EVERY personnel process comes with the faint taste of Mueslix. This roster is good on fiber; it needs a little Pollo Loco or Shrimp Fried Rice. If history has taught us anything, it's that while championship runs require a well-balanced roster, they also need the verve and panache of difference makers. Think Tiramisu.

Click Here to Continue reading....

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The Masters

So I went to the Masters and two really weird things happened. I'll start with the second weird thing.

Thanks to the genius behind Random Fowler, I was able to procure a ticket. Predictably, it was awesome and mainly because it will go down as one of the most highly anticipated sporting events of my lifetime. And if you're subconsciously accusing me of hyperbole, DO NOT.

Believe me; I know hyperbole. We're fond acquaintances. If hyperbole and his wife had a baby, there's a good chance that I would be it's godfather or a really, really preferred uncle. So trust me when I say that the previous paragraph is devoid of hyperbolicy.

If you're one of those people who refuses to acknowledge the relevancy of sports, understand this: Tiger Woods isn't just one of the most popular athletes in the world. He's one of the most popular PEOPLE on the planet. He's more popular than Ashton Kutcher's Twitter feed, the POTUS, or even Caesar freaking Milan.

More specifically to sports, before last Thanksgiving, Tiger Woods was the most dominant and transcendent athlete of our generation. He was a squeaky clean Michael Jordan who built a brand based around his squeaky cleanness.

But that's all changed now. Unless you've had your head in Farmville for the last 5 months, you should be well-aware of his rapid descent into the doldrums of public perception due to a problem with remembering who is his wife and who isn't his wife.

In sports history, there has NEVER been anything remotely close to an athlete of Tiger's stature falling so fast and graphically. This would be like the Vatican being embroiled in some kind of sex scandal. Crap... I mean...wait...

You get the point.

Understanding the scope of this, you can see how much more intensely everyone watched him at the Masters. He's already the biggest deal on the PGA tour by a WIIIDE margin.

Don't get me wrong: people love them some Phil Mickelson. When Phil approached the 15th green where we had camped out, he received a hero's welcome very similar to a reception Rob Pattinson would get when interacting with middle aged women: raucous, loud, and robust.

But when Tiger approached, the feeling was different. If Phil was received like Superman, then Tiger was received like Lex Luthor. The interest in his presence transcended golf because all of us were privy to the tawdry and sordid details of his prodigious infidelity. This additional layer added a really bizarre dynamic to the atmosphere.

There was a murmur of applause, but really it was just ominously quiet. He could obviously see all of us, but he didn't look at anyone nor did he interact with any fans.

And maybe it's strange, but in that moment, I felt really, really sad for him.

I know he has a Scrooge McDuck level of money and fame and success like you and I will never remotely approach. But, even with all that, he has to feel such a deep and profound loneliness. I'm not defending what he did by any stretch of the imagination. It was completely and utter wrong. I mean even the morally vacant people on Jersey Shore were offended by what all he did.

But to have all your misdeeds laid out before the entire world? That's some pretty gnarly stuff to deal with. If I were to serially forget who my wife was, beyond being brutally murdered, a relatively small amount of people would be interested.

But when the entire world is enthralled by your every step (and misstep), your pitfalls are that much greater.

Still though, as surreal and weird as seeing Tiger like that was, it still wasn't the most bizarre thing that happened during the trip.

The #1 weirdest moment honor goes to a certain coupling of dogs whom we interrupted having midnight relations in the middle of a rural Georgia road. Not exactly bizarre by stray dog standards, I know.

But the weirdness is how they made us feel like WE were the ones intruding. Staring, judging, refusing to make way for our car. Very disturbing altogether.

But I suppose it was befitting the Masters because as they say, it's a tradition unlike any other.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Beautiful Struggle

Sometimes, I so understand why Christians are despised.

Lately, I've been trying to make sense of some big decisions Ashley and I are in the process of making. Are they bad decisions? No. Essentially, they are very good decisions, but they come packed with change and the subsequent consequential action of change. Really, the issue isn't with the actual decisions. It's how we've arrived there.

In the span of only a few days, we've changed course 3 times and, in doing so, I've convinced myself that God and I are in accord on each change. Stupid. I have this bad habit of bursting through walls like the Kool-Aid guy and then trying to figure out if God wanted this (unlikely) or Knox wanted this (93% likely).

And this is where I can see how non-Christians get annoyed. As Christians, we feel like we have some divine right towards answers and clarity and happiness and rainbows. But. We. Don't. Maybe it has something to do with our culture's deliberate emphasis on the individual, but whatever the reasoning, it's true.

To us, the idea of struggling is almost taboo. I get violently pissed if my DVR misses a show and you DON'T want to know what happens if Panera ever leaves out my french baguette. Why? It's because my life is comprised of this delicate balance of everything I want. I'm spiritually OCD and if things don't proceed a certain way, I get violent. I assume that I have offended God and now he's enacting the wrath of Sodom and Gomorrah on me.

But couldn't it just be that sometimes life is inconvenient? When Non-Christians hear us apply the devil to everything, ("The Devil must be in Starbucks today, because they left off my caramel drizzle") it just sounds ridiculous and self-aggrandizing.

Strangely enough, there's a comforting notion in thinking that tripping over a curb isn't my own clumsiness, rather it's small instance of spiritual warfare. But it's not. Satan needn't be bothered with me, because left on my own, I will trip over a great many curbs without provocation.

I guess what I'm really saying is that I think struggling is an organic part of life. There doesn't have to be a label or tag on it categorizing it as a spiritual thing. It's just one of the consequences of living in the world that we do. I don't think that's bad, either. A pure and complete struggle is a beautiful thing because it authenticates our resolve. What is there to appreciate if things always go swimmingly?

The funny thing about all this is that Ashley and I have our answer now. It is clear and loud and resounding. What's also clear is the lesson I've learned throughout this process, which is: by and large, we are the authors of our own struggles.

Monday, April 19, 2010

What We Talk About When We Talk About French Fries

Do you remember a couple of years ago when Burger King proclaimed that they had the best french fries? They threw some random passers-by in a taste test and when these random strangers chose Burger King, it was obviously some kind of resounding commentary as a representative sample.

I, for one, was offended. Anyone with any sense WHATSOEVER knows that McDonald's fries are the benchmark of french fries. For Burger King to even declare that was offensive on several levels and I think the fact that people saw that commercial and thought, "Meh," is enough of an indictment on the ridiculousness of the claim. It would be like Justin Bieber saying that he's more of a sex symbol than Brad Pitt.

You know Burger King should be known for? The amount of used prophylactics found in their parking lot. Seriously. If the tide of life ever pushes you into a BK parking lot, look around. It's like a burial ground for latex.

I started thinking of this french fry firestorm recently when I picked up lunch for my son at Chick-fil-A. The food-snooties out there may point out that scientists aren't even sure that french fries are even a food, and you know what? I can't really defend that point. But when I go to one of these fast food joints, I don't go for the organic menu. I'm indulging. So back off and go get some sea kelp at Panera or something.

As soon as we enter the drive-thru line, he's giggling and it doesn't stop until I get the feed bag from the window. At that point, giggling becomes shrieking because ROWE WANT FOOD.

Specifically, he wants the waffle-cut deliciousness.

So this got me thinking: where does Chick-fil-A sit among the preeminent purveyors of french fries? In due course, I present this top 5 list. But not just ANY top-5 list. I compare the various french fry offerings to their logical equivalents: Characters from TGIF.

5) Wendy's - Mr. Feeney
Mr. Feeney was the straitlaced authority figure needed in the Boy Meets World universe. He liked stupid things like reading, classical music, and tweed jackets (I'm presuming). By no means was he any kind of a heavyweight in the show like, say, Cory or Shawn, but he was a good change of pace. Just like Wendy's fries.

Listen, when our civilization is wiped away by the apocalypse, aliens, or Oprah, there will be no vestige of Wendy's fries. No hieroglyphics will be found praising the gloriousness of a Biggie-sized order of Wendy's french fries. The Baconator? Maybe. But definitely not the fries.

Just like Feeney, they're ok in moderation, but not exactly memorable. In the same way, could you imagine an entire Boy Meets World episode built around his Feeniness? DOES NOT WANT.

4). Krystal's - Cody Lambert
Krystal's Fries are decent. Make no mistake about that. But they're just that - decent. A step beyond Wendy's fries, but not quite into the upper echelon and this is reminiscient of the resonance Cody had.

In Step by Step, he was cast as Frank's goofy nephew who lived in a van in the driveway, but like the show, it was just a second-rate iteration of the bizarre relative character. He had funny moments, but just never seemed to be able to build any momentum. Late in the show's run, if he did have any momentum, it crashed with the domestic abuse allegations that were filed against him by his wife, of which he was later exonerated. In a nutshell, that's where Krystal's fries are; unable to get out from under the sullied gut-bomb rep of the other foods.

3). Arby's - Steve Urkel
Curly Fries are the wild card of the fry world in how they are all shaped like a roller coaster and what not. Who WOULDN'T want to eat them? But curly fries are something of a novelty like cotton candy or mall massages; cool every now and then but you can't live like that.

Urkel operated in a similar fashion. Family Matters evolved to build each episode around his nerdy hijinks, but in doing so, they also boxed themselves in by keeping all the supporting characters static. This strategy became a self-fulfilling prophecy which left Eddie, Laura, and even Carl as soul-crushingly boring characters. Urkel's schtick may have been entertaining, but ultimately it made the show one dimensional. Just like Arby's Curly Fries.

2). Chick-fil-A - Uncle Joey Gladstone
Uncle Joey was a fantastic character who can now be considered a relic because in today's age, an uncle who uses funny voices and plays with dolls is usually not welcomed in most households. But during Full House's run, he was a noble and wonderful character who generously helped raise the Tanner girls. The only negative against him was that he wasn't Uncle Jesse.

Let me say this: Chick-fil-A fries are legit. There are few things better than pulling out a waffle fry that's bigger than your face. For this reason, if I ever meet Truett Cathy, I'll give him an uncomfortably long hug.

But there is a dark underbelly of Chick-fil-A's fries that warrants mentioning: If you get a fry with the potato skin still on, it can taste like you're eating a crustacean's slimy exterior and NOBODY wants that. Most of the time, these fries show up maybe once per order, but they DO show up and for the prize of Best in Show fry rankings, it's a deal breaker.

1). McDonald's - Uncle Jesse Katsopolis
Like I even need to explain why Uncle Jesse was awesome.
1) He jammed with the Beach Boys.
2) He said things like "Have Mercy" a lot.
3) He landed Rebecca Donaldson of "Wake Up, San Francisco" fame.
4) He was Greek.
5) He loved Elvis.

Joey was cool and all, but Jesse was the indisputable king of TGIF characters.

Likewise, McDonald's fries is the monarch of all fries with an unquestionable divine right to it's supremacy. No matter how incompetent the employees are, the fries are always good. Do you understand what that means? Their goodness is idiot-proof. It is transcendent and above human-error.

I found this article about why McDonald's fries taste so good, but I refuse to read it. Why? Because I'm 93% sure that whatever I read is going to be a mental terrorist attack on my desire for those fries and I WILL NOT ALLOW IT.

Ignorance, as they say, is bliss.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Things That Piss Me Off #62

"Things That Piss Me Off" (An Ongoing Series) Volume 62

*When someone places a phone call to you and is subsequently confused when you answer.*

NOTHING is more frustrating than being at work and answering the phone to someone who says, "What?" or "Huh?" or "Hello?"

It wouldn't be so bad if it was a face-to-face interaction because sometimes those deviate wildly. Approaches can vary drastically. But with a phone conversation, no one launches right into a conversation. That would be disorienting, because there is no visual element aiding the process of recognition. It relies specifically on speaking and listening, so when your phone partner can't get the first foot in front of the other, it's provocatively frustrating for a few reasons.

1. I'm already mildly perturbed that I'm having to use my formal tone of voice. But you're making me do it AGAIN?! BAD FORM!

2. Can't you make a reasonable assumption about how I probably answered the phone? Do you really need to act like I spontaneously tried explain the political climate in Mozambique? ODDS ARE GOOD THAT I PROBABLY GREETED YOU VERBALLY. RESPOND IN KIND AND WE'LL PROBABLY GET THROUGH THIS.

3. It starts the conversation off on an awkward footing. I'm forced to either repeat myself and choke down my frustration, or I can also say, "What?" and tumble the conversation into a wormhole of stupid confusion.

People who frequently find themselves disquieted when placing a phone call should review the first few seasons of Reading Rainbow and brush up on context clues.

Location on the Frustration Scale: (1 being when I accidentally select Diet Mountain Dew when I wanted regular Mountain Dew and 10 being when my DVR doesn't record LOST)

A solid 4.3 rating.

May all your phone callers have the gift of logic.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Clash of the Titans: A Lesson in Regret

Clash of the Titans sucked. That may not be articulate, but the movie wasn't either so I don't feel like I should devote any extensive thoughts to a movie that was so underwhelming that my favorite part was walking out of it early. With that in mind, I must concede, that I can't speak to the entire scope of the movie.

But let me put it like this: I've been in public restrooms before where horrific sounds were occurring in some of the stalls. Did I need to enter those stalls to see the culmination of these horrific sounds? No, I did not. I could pretty much put it together.

Same with CoT. I didn't need to see the end because it was crappy enough on the front end (pun INTENDED.)

I'll accept part of the blame. I definitely had some high hopes. Seemingly, it was a can't miss project. The sum of it's parts were: Greek mythology, a cult-classic original, 2010 special effects, LIAM FREAKING NEESON, Sam Worthington, and the ubiquitous phrase "RELEASE THE KRAKEN!"

But with all those elements, the first hour went about as fast as a day at the DMV. The plot got underway and never really established why we should care about the main characters. Sure, they were caricatures of heroes we've seen before, but there was no development or relevance. Just action sequences followed by inane dialogue.

Essentially, CoT had all the feel of an awesome movie, but it delivered no awesomeness. In fact, it was like a black hole that got too close to Galaxy Awesome and just imploded the entire galaxy.

More specifically, it acted like a movie that was much more important and well-written than it actually was. It may perform well at the box office, but so did Transformers 2 and Pirates of the Caribbean 2 & 3.

The lesson? Liam Neeson and a Kraken can cover up a lot, but I'd rather eat suppositories than see that movie again.

Monday, April 12, 2010

So maybe I lied a little...

Just like Britney, I did it again. I played with your heart and changed web addresses. I might remember saying at some point that I wouldn't change again...but I did.

Here's the long and short of it (if you really care): in my eternal flippy-floppiness, I must have confused the blogging authorities, because every time someone tried frequenting my blog, this smirking girl greeted them...

REAL COOL. Do you know what she's smirking at? The fact that my domain,, lapsed for ONE DAY, and some domain squatter swiped it from me.

That's just a guess, but why else would she be so smug? She obviously knows NOTHING about parenthood coming along. She can't be a day past 19 and she looks like she's on her way to Western Civ 101 on Pepperdine's campus in Malibu.

At any rate, the address ambiguity was too much. I had to think of the readers. All six of them. The blog location confusion, the smug coed, the sunny locale...I think we've all suffered enough.

So I changed the address to my name. Self-indulgent? Maybe. But really, I switched because A.) I'm lazy and my name is easy to type and B.) I'm fairly certain that there is very little interest in scooping up my name as a web address. That is what we call a WIN/WIN.

If you follow me, feel free to update with the new link. Or face the reality of staring down a smug undergrad who probably relies entirely on acronyms as a means of communicating her condition any time you try to look me up. It's totally up to you, though.

So to recap, now and forevermore (hopefully), you can find my blog here at,,,,,

That's the plan at least.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Nosing Around

So I went to the nose doctor today. But not just any doctor. This guy was a doctor who says hello by dousing your nose with numbing spray so he can jam a camera up your nose and telephoto your entire sinus situation. THAT KIND OF DOCTOR.

If you are a male and are reading this and still find yourself unclear on this scenario, it's like a yearly physical but instead of clammy hands on your secrets and coughing twice, it's a camera (that probably costs more than Ryan Seacrest) scraping alongside your brain, while you try not to sneeze or gag.

At any rate, it was this procedure that provided our meet cute. But there was nothing nice or lighthearted about it. Basically, I have some nasal shenanigans that will most assuredly translate to massive financial repercussions. Joy.

But such is life. Just as you gain a little money traction, something breaks, something needs buying or you find out that you have a nose with the structural integrity of Owen Wilson's schnoz.

But here's where the frustration comes in: why do doctors act like everyone has graduated from Harvard Medical School? Just because you pin up an Xray of my face to a bright light board doesn't mean that I can make like Dr. Derek Shepard and deduce my diagnosis. Make no mistake: my degree in English is SUPER useful. I can usually spot typos and I can totally tell you some freaky stuff about Oscar Wilde, so....there's that. But the point is, I'M NOT HOUSE M.D.. TRY TO EXPLAIN THE PROBLEM USING SMALL WORDS.

When he snapped a couple of pictures with his brain-scraper camera and let me see those, I still was at a loss. YES, DOC, I SEE THAT MY INNER NOSE LOOKS LIKE A BLOODIED SPONGEBOB SQUAREPANTS. NOW CAN YOU TELL ME WHY?

But no. I'm left with vague descriptions filled with medicalese and a REALLY big payment.

At the end of the day though, if he figures out the problem, I won't care what kind of bedside manner he has. He could spray my eyes with the numbing stuff and make me watch a So You Think You Can Dance marathon. I'm just principled like that.

And just so you know, I was this close to putting the pictures of my nose as bloody SpongeBob at the top of this post. I suppose I'm mellowing in my old age, though. Your appetites can feel free to carry on unmolested....for now.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Crib-bound and down...

Sometimes, no matter how clever you think you are, your child has a way of putting you in your place...

Daddy - The funniest videos are a click away

Saturday, April 3, 2010

The BluePrint #2: Wishing and Hoping

I have an awful tendency to compartmentalize my life. Not exactly a grass is always greener thing, but sort of a "life will be good when (x) happens" kind of thing. I do not like this about myself.

This flawed idea hinges on the idea that my life is leading up to this moment where my dreams will converge with reality. Only then will I be uniformly happy. Magically, I will be doing what I love to do. Donuts will be as nutritional as Raisin Bran and siestas will gain traction as socially acceptable workplace policies.These are my hopeful aspirations.

There are a few things wrong with this line of thinking: First, I would imagine that eating donuts every day would get old fast. That may seem sacreligious in terms of donut devotion, but I think the wonderment and glory of a donut is in it's rarity. There's a novelty in having a donut in a similar way that Christmas or Memorial Day is awesome. If we had Christmas once a week, dealing with all the wreaths and tree lights would just get obnoxious, AM I RIGHT?

But more to the larger point, my hopes beg the questioning of this murky point of tangibly living the dream. As much as I would love to be able to cross some finish line and just coast through life to never again be burdened with stress or trials, it simply doesn't work like that. I want it to, but it doesn't.

But there's something refreshing in that. Life isn't broken into compartments of enjoyment and endurance. It's one long string of experiences. Some are good, some are bad, and some involve raisin bran. All of the separate elements exist to comprise the same singular thing.

So for the Boy's blueprint, I want him embracing every part of life. I don't want him holding out until all the conditions are perfect, because life is short enough as is.

Below is my favorite quote from The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. I can't read it and not think of my son because it encapsulates everything I want him to know.

"For what it's worth: it's never too late or, in my case, too early to be whoever you want to be. There's no time limit, stop whenever you want. You can change or stay the same, there are no rules to this thing. We can make the best or the worst of it. I hope you make the best of it. And I hope you see things that startle you. I hope you feel things you never felt before. I hope you meet people with a different point of view. I hope you live a life you're proud of. If you find that you're not, I hope you have the strength to start all over again."
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