Sunday, September 15, 2013

Getting back on track!


Okay...I'm back, had to get some things straight in my head, not saying they are, but nevertheless I'm back.
I am ready to assume my role as the Captain of the U.S.S. Blogonnia again.

In the world, Nobama got punked by Putin, my first week of fantasy football was AWESOME with a last minute win thanks to my flex player, (Owen Daniels TE, Texans), college football is in full swing and Alabama came back and beat Johnny Football and Texas A & M 49-42 in a barn burner that I didn't get to see! Oh well, thank God for Youtube highlights!

We spent a long overdue evening with some good friends and got to finally unwind for the first time in a while, which was very therapeutic. I have an immense admiration/love for the Miller family that have been a constant in my life in one way or another for almost 20 years. There's nothing like real friends to bring life into focus during times of uncertainty.  I still believe that quality time with true friends is the cure to almost any ailment known to man.

The fact is, if it weren't for friends, (my wife Leslie included, because obviously she's my best friend), and my big brother Bryan, I would've probably thrown in the towel a LONG time ago! I've made a couple of new friends in my new  job lately that have become an integral part of my everyday life. One fellow almost close to my age that is as laid back as they come, (Johnsie), a younger female version of me that's cooler than the other side of the pillow, (Jenny), and a crazy-as-hell-keep-it-real-ALL-the-time-dude, (Jason), have unknowingly helped me center myself into my everyday life. Good people, all the way around.

I know I ramble about friendship probably more than anything else, but to me, next to my immediate family, (wife/kids), there's nothing more important. Throughout my life, if it weren't for one friend or another, I would've been devastated several times.

I'm trying desperately to transition to "adulthood" as seamlessly as possible, but I hit snags along the way. Most of which are personality quirks, and personal convictions that I hold tight to for better or worse.  I wish someone would've written a handbook on how to do this responsibly and as painlessly as possible, but I'm afraid there's no such thing. Maybe that's how I should make my first million dollars, I'll write a "how-to" book on growing up...I made myself laugh on that one!

There's SO much to find happiness in as an adult though, when I allow myself to see it, especially in my own home. The smile of my 15 month old baby when she's playing, or watching something she enjoys, or wants a little "daddy time".  The insistence of my 9 year old girl wanting to show me her latest dance routine she's worked out with her friend, or my 14 year old trying to act all grown up with his knowledge of firearms and things he knows I like. Let's not forget Leslie, my anchor, my beacon of light. Pretty much anything she does is pure awesomeness. She puts up with my moody bullshit, lets me be me, allows me to have a life that a lot of other married guys can only dream of. Oh, and she's one of the best cooks I've EVER known!  Basically, life is REALLY good and I should be ashamed of my sometime self-loathing and private pity-parties.

I have a little thing that I say before I go to sleep, no matter what time of day it is, or what kind of shape I'm in, I NEVER go to sleep without saying this one simple phrase to myself and God in my head- "I love my wife, and I love my life, thank you God for my wife and thank you God for my life!"  I've been fall-down drunk or exhausted from hours of work or whatever, but I always say this one phrase to myself and the big guy before I fall out without fail!

I hope this marks a return of

D-mans Blog of Useless Rantings and Ravings, or Possible Pearls of Wisdom

and can help some other weary, troubled, or just bored travellers along their journey of life.

So just for no other reason other than the fact that sometimes we all need to cut loose and just kick up our heels and let our "Irish" out, I'll leave you with one of my favorites from Flogging Molly.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gr46RJs0ixE

Friday, July 26, 2013

Don't Follow

Hello Bloggonia.  To anyone who may have wondered where I may have been for the past several months, I have been in a tumultuous battle with my sanity and better judgement.  If it were a story, it would read something like this:

"I am lost.  I am hopelessly lost.  My only redeeming quality is that I'm lucky enough to have married the perfect woman and to have produced three of the most wonderful offspring anyone could hope to have, but alas, I am nothing.

I can say that the only accomplishments that I have ever achieved are blurry, hazy memories now long gone, that would only be pertinent to someone that was as hopeless as I .  Drunken, drug-infused foolishness that drowns in the muddy, stagnant waters of "glory days" memories.

I have been a  bullshit artist that pedaled  my trade on any unsuspecting soul that may be as lost as I am, and tried to convince them that it's okay to be mediocre, and pull them into my pit of self-destruction and despair. I have had no infinite wisdom, I have had no inner knowledge to share, I have had only pseudo-enlightening rubbish that is of no real value to anyone. 

I have, in my darker days, mocked and blasphemed God, and dared him to do anything about it.  I blamed Him for the way my life had been and for the pain I had to endure in my youth. I did my best to turn others away from Him, and ridicule those who sought to live by God's law, and challenged their faith in hopes of separating them from their faith. 

I have somehow survived while so many dear, more deserving friends died in the prime of their young lives, and learned nothing from their mistakes,  except stories to tell at their wakes, and pitiful anecdotes of false hope to bestow upon their grieving loved ones.  

I once thought that I communed with God, I once thought I had a destiny that would make a difference to me and mankind alike, but delusion is not only for the elderly, and feeble minded, but thrown upon those who think they have an eternity to right the wrongs of their troubled past. Time is indeed a friend to no one, and a bitter enemy to most.

I have nothing to offer to the betterment of society or even myself.  I am no one of any importance, and am becoming more irrelevant by the day.  I no longer even have the ability to pray, and when I try it is interrupted by a song, or a voice from my past, or a feeling that no one is even listening on the other end, like a dropped call from a crappy phone. I have lost perspective of all that's important and good, and I long ago abandoned God and now he has returned the favor."

These are the thoughts that I do battle with on a daily basis, the doubts and fears that I suppress to present the "well-rounded, personable" guy that everyone thinks I am.  Oh, don't fret for me, I'm sure I'll snap out of it soon enough and all will be well in my world and Bloggonia as well, but until then the best I can do is leave you with a bit of advice from Alice in Chains that I believe suits the frame of mind I'm in, and have tried to shake for the better part of 20 years now. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I6kFgzMGN0I Don't Follow!







Thursday, June 28, 2012

Battle of the Bulge

Greetings and Salutations guys and gals!  Once again I apologize for the time between posts, but between 3rd shift work, a new baby at home, and trying to get into the gym here and there, spare time is very scarce.  I'm starting to wonder if I'm not wasting my time in the gym, I can't seem to shed the baby weight I put on with my wife.  I didn't intentionally put it on, mind you, it just happens EVERY time my wife gets pregnant!

I cracked my fibula in my left leg getting a ladder knocked out from under me on the job when I used to do commercial/industrial heating and air over two years ago and in the time that I was on "injured reserve" so-to-speak, I gained up to 285lbs., actually that's how much I weighed after I'd been working out two-three weeks, so I was probably really closer to 290-295lbs.  After I got let go from that company a little while later, I started helping some friends of ours operate a gym here in town where I live and I lost back down to 240-245lbs, depending on how many Miller Lites I had partaken in the previous weekend.  

Although I shed 40+ lbs in a little over two months, I still couldn't get my stomach and "love handle", (or "muffin tops" as they are referred to nowadays), area to lose down to where I wanted it to be.  I was SO proud of shedding the weight, but frustrated at the same time about still having the gut chub going on.  Then Leslie got pregnant and I started putting the weight back on.  I honestly think some of it is fluid weight, because my leg still swells from the injury two years after the fact, but mostly I'm just getting to be a fat body again.  I'm not back to the 285lbs., but I'm a very hefty 265lbs..  It almost all settles right in my gut and butt, which is already big enough, even when I'm not overweight. For some reason God saw fit to give me a woman butt.   Most people tell me that they can't tell I'm that big because I'm tall, but I honestly think they are just trying not to hurt my feelings.  

Oh how I long for the days where I could eat and drink whatever I want, and never put on a pound.  Up until I was 26 years old, when I quit smoking cigarettes, I was between 200lbs. and 210lbs., and you could see every muscle in my stomach, but immediately after I quit smoking I put on 20lbs., you could still see my abs, but I was noticeably "thicker".   I stayed at 220lbs. though for three years or so, until my wife got pregnant with our first child.  I gained up to 270lbs, but lost it pretty fast when I started a 3rd shift warehouse job, and was working out with a friend 3 days a week also.  I put on weight with my second child also, but not quite as much, and again lost back down to my 220lbs. within a couple of months.  

I don't know what the difference is this time, unless it's age.  I have actually continued to put on weight even though I'm still working out. I'm dumbfounded, and just about to hang it up and eat and do whatever I want, and not worry about it anymore.  I know one factor is that we've eaten out a lot more since Leslie had the baby and has been recuperating from her "c-section" and getting her tubes tied at the same time.  She hasn't been able to stay on her feet for long periods of time to cook much, although she has probably more than she should.  It's hard to keep her down, even when she's supposed to take it easy, she's a super-trooper!

I am going to give it another last ditch effort and try to do it right, and hopefully shed some of this unwanted chunkiness.  I was on a tuna kick when I lost all the weight before, so I guess I'll stock back up, and TRY to make it into the gym more than once or twice every couple of weeks.  After 12 hour shifts, it's rough working out and on days off there seems to be so much other crap going on, but I'm going to drop the excuses and give it one last genuine effort. 

I'm going to state it publicly that way I can't back out, I have an obligation to get my priorities in order for my health if no other reason, not to mention the psychological aspect of being tired of feeling like a fat slob.  I have three kids who I want to be able to play and be active with.  I don't want to be the old, fat dad, I want to be the old, healthy dad that all the kids want to hang with.  I can't do anything about the "old", but I sincerely hope that with a little work I can accomplish the "healthy" part.  

I didn't intend for this to be a rant on my fatness, but when I finally get a chance to sit and write, my mind just goes on it's own path and my fingers follow.  Hopefully in the future I'll have some positive weight updates to post in with my regular, more interesting ravings, but until then send those positive vibes my way, because I'm going to need all the help I can get!



Thursday, June 14, 2012

This one's for the Fakers!

Hello folks! I finally made it back to Bloggonia, it's been a while, but I have been very productive in my time away.  I brought a new baby girl into the world, well...with the help of my wife, a doctor and a few nurses, okay, I just watched and gave words of encouragement and motivation, but I was darn good at it!

Ila was born on Friday morning at/around 7:43am, and weighed 6 pounds, 8 ounces and was 20 1/2 inches long.  Everything went very smoothly and both baby and mommy are at home getting much needed rest and relaxation.  As I had figured would happen she stole my heart as soon as I held her in my arms in the delivery room.  It's a good thing I have such a big heart, because now I have four people with a hold on it.  Three babies and the my wife who was the first one to snatch it, as the Psalm says, "my cup runneth over"!

As I was pondering on what to ramble about tonight, my mind took me back to a couple of days ago when I went to the local Wal-Mart pharmacy to pick up some medication for my wife to help her with the "after baby pain" of the c-section, and when I was pulling out of the parking spot I was nearly ran over by a group of late teen, early twenty something characters in a brand new Cadillac who glared at me under their lowered ball caps trying to look menacing and tough.  I couldn't help but visibly laugh at them, mainly because they were trying to present themselves as what I could only guess to be thugs, yet they were all white as the driven snow, wearing designer jeans, thirty dollar ball caps, and driving their mom and dads Cadillac Escalade.

Don't get me wrong, I've known some thugs in my life of partying, bad living and mischief and even consider many to be friends of mine and I have to say these guys were no thugs.  I think the old 90's terminology for these youngsters would be either "posers" or "wannabes".   I am reminded of a time when I was riding around in Winston-Salem with a friend of mine and at that time I just happened to have the Wu-Tang Clan playing in my Honda's tape deck and a similar looking group of young black kids pulled up next to us at a light "mean-mugging" us.  My friend was nervous and went to turn the music down and I laughed and assured him that those kids were not who he had to worry about.  It's the ones with nothing to lose that you have to watch.  The ones who have truly had to live hard and have never had anything flashy and expensive to flaunt. I really don't want that to come off sounding like stereotyping, but the reality is that there is a messed up world out there where it's easy for some to see no positive future and feel they have to resort to any means necessary to "get theirs".   This rant isn't about these folks though.  This is about the fakers.

Religious fakes are some of the worse.  I'm sure we all know at least one.  I abhor people who try to present a front of self-righteousness while in all actuality they're judgmental, spiteful, deceitful, hatemongers.  In today's world this is a rampant problem.  I am a pretty spiritual person and I know that I should really strive to live  a little better most times, but I have to be honest these religious fakers have been a key factor in me not really finding a church to attend.  It seems that church is a fashion show, or a dog and pony show where everyone puts on their best appearance and counts the seconds until it's over so they can go back into the world feeling better about themselves but go on living their lives of lies.  Don't get me started on the preachers behind the pulpits of many of these so called houses of God.  They hem-haw through their prepared rhetoric  telling the congregation what they think they want to hear so that they'll come back next Sunday and put money in the offering plate to help fatten their wallets.  These fakers will get theirs in the end though when they have to answer to a higher power.

Then there are the characters who go to great lengths to appear to be of a different social status. Let's call them "Social Fakers". Now this goes both ways, in addition to the people that try to make themselves fit into an upscale social scene when they are broke as convicts, there are surprisingly those that come from well-to-do  homes that try to appear like they've had a hard row to hoe to gain some sort of respect or "street cred".  These individuals take it further than the wannabes I discussed earlier, these  people will purposefully sabotage their lives to appear to be down trodden and hopeless.  I knew one of these guys personally and he had every advantage anyone would ever want growing up but chose to sink into an abyss of self destruction simply to seem hardened and tough.   Me being from a poor family growing up, that didn't have a whole lot of anything as a kid, just couldn't get my head around the idea of living that way when he could've been anything he wanted to be and done anything he wanted to do with his life. This is truly a shame and a waste of the worst kind.

Basically, fakers of all kinds annoy me to no end.  If there is one thing that I hope people remember about me when I'm dead and gone, is that I was true to me and didn't try to be something or somebody that I wasn't.  Although, there WAS that brief period of my life that I tried to embrace the skater lifestyle, and would've succeeded if I would've been a better skater!   I wouldn't really say I was a "poser" at skating, I was just more of a failure at it, and I have the scars to prove it!

In closing, I'll leave you with a song that I used to really like back in the good ol' 90's about a social faker.  It's by Pulp and it's called "Common People".   Until next time, I'm out!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lWaHnlt2I3U&list=PL57109841B90F1A6A&index=48&feature=plpp_video

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Love at First Sight

Hello again Bloggers and Bloggettes!  Hope all is well with you!  Things are getting ready to get really hectic in my little corner of the world.  Baby Ila will be here in two weeks, if not sooner, and I'll have to shift gears back into baby mode again after eight years.  This should prove to be interesting.  Anyone that has infants or has had an infant knows what I mean.

I wouldn't trade it for anything, but it is definitely a job for the first few months.  I'm sure it will really be now, eight years after my last baby.   Lucky for me I married Super Mom, but I always do try to help as much as I can and give her the breaks she needs.  Maybe I'll lose some of the 20+ pounds I put on during her pregnancy!  It happens every time she gets pregnant, I put on more weight than she does.  It never fails!

We were very fortunate with our first two children as far as the sleep part, both of them slept almost all through the night.  I'm afraid that this baby is going to be different, I mean what are the chances of three babies that sleep through the night, I'm guessing not that great.

With my first, my son, I would get up and help in the middle of the night if she needed me to, some times we would alternate who got up.  With my second, she pretty much let me snooze and she did almost all the getting up.  I'm curious what kind of system we'll have for Ila now that I'm on night shifts.

If the pregnancy is any indication of how the baby is going to be, we need to get all the rest we can now!  This baby has been so much more active than our last two during her pregnancy.   I hope that's not a sign that she's going to be wide open all night when she gets here!  Truthfully though, as long as she gets here safe and sound, with no problems and all of her little fingers and toes, I will be overjoyed.

I was chatting with a friend earlier and he asked if I was excited about the impending arrival and I told him that I was more nervous than anything.  I was that way with both my other babies too.  I just thought that this being the third, I'd be a little less nervous and anxious, but I was wrong.  I guess my mind will only be at ease when the bring her back from the little examination room after delivery and they've done their initial inspection of our new baby girl.

I have to admit, that initially I wasn't as "into" the whole pregnancy this time like I was the other two, and it bothered me and I actually felt guilty about it like maybe I was a bad person because I wasn't feeling the excitement I had experienced the other two times.  I remember when I found out we were having our second I worried about being able to love her as much as I did our first born, but found that to be no problem at all.  I began having that feeling again with this one and couldn't shake it.  I think part of it is that I haven't been able to go to as many appointments like I did with the others because of my night shift work schedule.  

I think what helped me the most was when we went for the ultra-sound and they told us that every thing looked normal, that it was definitely a little girl, and getting to see her all balled up in her cozy little fetal position.  The second thing that got me back in the baby frame of mind is when we named her.  Now this tiny little being had a name, Ila, after my Grandma who used to spoil the crap out of me as a child.

I still wonder sometimes how in the world I will be able to love this baby as much as the other two, but as the day to delivery has gotten nearer, I know that I am capable of loving Ila with all my heart, just like I do her brother Andrew and her sister Cara. I am once again looking forward to holding the new born baby and experiencing the feelings of pride, joy and overwhelming love when I get to meet the newest edition to our little clan for the first time.

There is a scene in the movie "Where the Heart Is", (yeah, I know, it's a chick-flick-sue me!), where Natalie Portman is holding her new baby and says something to the effect of "how can it be possible to love someone so much that you just met", but that is exactly what it's like, or at least it was for me.  They stole my heart from the first moment that I laid eyes on them and held their tiny little hospital blanket covered bodies in my arms.  Guess what?  Now I get to relive that feeling all over again!  Love at first sight!



Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Lucky # 13

Welcome back friends and neighbors!  Running on very little sleep and a mild case of the "writers block", or rather "writers indecision", because I can think of several things to rant about, but sadly most of them would probably only make sense in my warped little mind.

I will mention that we are on week 5 until the baby arrives!  (If she holds out that long!)  Also, this coming Sunday will mark thirteen years that I've been happily married to my wonderful wife, Leslie.  I'm feeling pretty psyched about thirteen years, I can tell you that!  By today's standards that's like forty years, of course I would have to attribute a great deal of our success to Leslie's incredible patience and understanding.  Heaven knows I'm not the easiest person to live with at times!

She does have one major flaw though, that I cannot seem to get her to change.  I always tell her if anything ever happens to us it will be because of this terrible stain on her otherwise perfect character.  The unfortunate blemish I'm referring to is the fact that she can never go anywhere with me without harassing me about my driving!

I know that this may seem trivial to most, but it is something that has caused us many an argument on road trips, vacations, or just coming home from the grocery store.  "You're riding the white line", "You're gonna' miss the exit",  "You're too close to the yellow line", "Slow down and set your cruise control!", and my personal favorite "I'm just going to go to sleep, I can't watch"(while covering her eyes with her hand).

I was born and raised in Wilkes County, North Carolina, as I've mentioned before, the home of Nascar.  Driving fast is in our blood, it can't be helped.  "Set the cruise control", I bet Junior Johnson never set his cruise control!  I have had a few minor speeding tickets, but they're off my record by now, (I think).  I'm an exemplary driver, never mind that I've only had two cars in roughly twenty-five years of driving that I HAVEN'T wrecked, but they weren't ALL my fault!  All of those tickets and accidents served as building blocks to create the Master Driver that I have become today.

I am not alone in this plight, I can remember my poor Grandpa Hanks literally being screamed at by my Grandma Hanks when they were driving to town on Fridays.  She used to be on him from the time we left the house until we arrived back from our trek to town.  Sure he ran a car through the wall of the old First Union Bank when he was trying to park, but hey we all make mistakes.  Who puts a building so close to the sidewalk anyway?

On the comment "You're gonna' miss the exit", well maybe if you knew your rights from lefts and didn't wait until I was right at the exit, three lanes over before you reminded me, maybe we wouldn't be lost in the roughest neighborhood in the city.  It never fails, if I get lost, it's always in the shadiest part of whatever city or town I happen to be in.  I can't be responsible for driving and being the navigator, I have to focus on the traffic, the co-pilot is supposed to keep me on course.  (You know I can't blame MYSELF for missing a turn, that's just foolishness!)

Pray for us, so that we may work through this area of our relationship!

Of course I'm MOSTLY kidding.  We do tend to work on one another's nerves when we're on the open road, but like the old folks used to say "if that's the worst thing that happens to me, I'll live to be an old man".  I have always loved that quote, and use it frequently.  I honestly couldn't ask for a better marriage, at least from my perspective it's pretty darn sweet!

I have a wife who is an awesome mom to our kids, a loving spouse to an often times undeserving husband, and the rock that the foundation of our happy home is built on!  I'm not going to get all mushy and sentimental today, I've waxed poetic on the wonders of Leslie many times, but I will leave this weeks blog with a song that I really love and makes me reflect on how good I really have it.  "Just Breathe" by Pearl Jam, pretty much says it all!

"...Did I say that I need you?
Did I say that I want you?
Oh if I didn't I'm a fool you see,
No one knows this more than me,
as I come clean.."

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y0mhrqfeFjQ

Enjoy, and until next time, love one another and every thing else will work itself out!




Saturday, May 5, 2012

Let the Games Begin!!

Welcome back fellow Bloggonians!  All is well in my little corner of the world and I hope the same can be said for you.  Six more weeks until my new edition to our family arrives, so we're all pumped about that around our house!

I don't know if I've ever mentioned the fact that I consider myself  a "gamer", not on a professional level but a really intense amateur.  I am also the proud father of a son who is one heck of a gamer and an eight year old daughter who is an aspiring gamer herself.

I can hear the criticism now..."those kids need to be more active", "those games will rot their brains", and my favorite, "all the violence in video games will make your kids violent adults".

First of all, my kids do other things too, although I will say my sons favorite form of entertainment is easily video games.  In general kids do need to be more active, this is true, but that's why it's our jobs as parents to make sure they unglue themselves from the games occasionally and do something physical.    My kids are partial to the trampoline, going to the park to shoot basketball, swing, (which I still enjoy immensely also), or just walk the walking trail.  Honestly I think my kids probably get a healthy amount of excercise just running through the house being insane from time to time.

Secondly, the idea that video games are detrimental to the mental growth of children is just not true.  Again, if kids or people in general are just sitting for days on end in front of the game it may have some effects on their social lives and ability to focus on what's going on in the real world, but with some realistic limits and moderation, video games have been proven to actually boost kids self confidence and improve things like reaction time and hand/eye coordination.  It also gives kids who don't have the greatest physical abilities to be athletes or whatever to have a niche they fit into, something they can brag about being good at with their friends which helps build their self esteem and self confidence.  I know my son has all kinds of swagger when he tells of his latest conquest, milestone, or accomplishment.    Video games aren't just for kids and "nerds" anymore.  Literally all ages play.  I played World of Warcraft for a couple of years and I was in a group with a 68 year old woman one day, and she was the toughest one in the crowd!

Finally the one that irks me the most is the idea that video game violence is making our kids violent. I actually let my son play games that are above his age sometimes, like "shooters", but he is the kindest, least violent kid I know, maybe have ever known, which goes to show that theory is plain old foolishness.  Poor parenting and not explaining to kids the difference between a game and reality is what makes kids violent.  Discipline is almost non-existent in so many homes these days.  Parents are either afraid they'll be punished by the government for "abuse", or they feel like they have to be "buddies" with their kids first, then a mom or dad next.  If people will get discipline back into their homes, you would see a big difference in the way young folks grow up.  I'm not talking about beating the snot out of a kid, but definitely having consequences when they do something they shouldn't.  But I digress, I'm getting side tracked, I get long-winded on things that I feel strongly about.

Now that I've gotten all that out of the way, I'd like to journey down the history of my gaming experience and maybe even do a top 10 list of MY personal favorites from 20+ years of gaming.  The first games I remember of course were the Atari games like Pong.  We were a poor family and didn't have video games, but I remember seeing Pong at my step-aunts house I believe the first time in the early to mid 80's.  When I was probably 16 or so, or maybe 17 we got a Nintendo Entertainment System, (NES), in our house.  We had Duck Hunt and Mario Brothers, because that's what came with it.  We got to play it on a very limited basis as our dad commandeered it most of the time.  After I left home I moved in with some friends and they had SO many games it just blew me away.  I think my favorite at the time would have to be Mike Tysons Punch Out, though they changed the name later when he got into legal trouble to just "Punch Out".  You played as Little Mac and had to work your way up to Mike Tyson.

When I was stationed in Korea, they had an area sectioned off in the recreation building and had two NESes where you had to sign in and got to play for an hour at a time if I recall correctly, the game then I remember the most was Top Gun.  You were a fighter pilot and it played they theme song from the movie  in digital music at the beginning.  What I really remember about that was how hard it was to land the plane on the carriers.

In the year or two after I got out of the service video games just exploded and development  of new systems was everywhere.  Sega Genesis was up and coming and had a lot of good titles too, but I was always more of a die-hard Nintendo guy.  There was one really fun fighting game on the Sega that Nintendo didn't have called Eternal Champions, and they had the Sonic franchise as well, other that though I was all about the Nintendo.  In the early to mid 90's my friends and I were hard core into the first Madden games, NBA Jams, ("He's on FIRE!!"), and the one that we played the absolute most was Mortal Kombat.  Specifically Mortal Kombat 3.  We knew every code for every fatality and and every code for secret menus. I can still remember some of the ones for the hidden menus almost 20 years later!  There would be a smokey room full of grown 20 something guys battling for the right to be the champion of the day.  We had a rule that I still use with my kids today...loser passes the "stick", the stick being the controller of course.

Playstation came along somewhere along the way in the early to mid 90's when I wasn't looking and really started giving Nintendo a run for their money.  I still think Playstation coming on the scene was what put Sega out of the console making business.  Before Playstation everything was cartridge based and they came along with the disk based systems and shook it all up.  Sega had some attempts at disk based systems, my favorite being Dreamcast.  If it would've had internet capability, it could still be a player I believe, but that's just my opinion.  The NFL 2k games on the Dreamcast were flawless, and the Dead or Alive fighting franchise was also very good.

I would be remiss if I didn't mention the Nintendo 64, (N64), which came along in 1996.  I immediately bought one, because I was determined not to jump on the ever growing Playstation bandwagon.  I was a hard core Nintendo man, and I wasn't going down without a fight.  The N64 had a lot of really good titles, one of which I would have to say it still one of the best games EVER, Goldeneye 007.  It really pioneered the shooter genre and for the first time up to four people could chase each other around and battle each other simultaneously.  Super Mario 64 was the first game I ever saw with "3D" movement, and was an outstanding game itself.  Another good title that comes to mind was Battle Tanx, where you drove around cities and on a split screen could play against 3 other players and blow the crap out of one another with tanks. WCWvs.NWO, Turok: Dinosaur Hunter, Resident Evil 2, Killer Instinct, and Duke Nukem 64 were some other good titles the N64 offered.  But alas, it was cartridge based, so it was expensive to make, and  had memory limitations, so a lot of developers just quit making games for the system.  Many of my gaming friends, and myself also still consider the N64 to be one of the best platforms ever made.

Then along came the Xbox.  Nintendo was pushed even further back out of the forefront of the gaming industry, and with the exception of the Wii and the handheld systems the DS, DS lite, and 3DS, haven't really had a major impact since. (Wii did revolutionize gaming in a way with the motion playing that has now been copied and improved upon by both Xbox and Playstation.)  I eventually got an Xbox and went through two or three of them before I finally broke down and purchased my first and only Playstation 2 system.  I say only because it's still kicking.  It's in my daughters room now and works as well as it did 8-10 years ago when I bought it.  I liked the controller for the original Xbox better and they did have a good library of games, but the blasted things would just quit working after 3 years or so.

We come to the present where I am all modernized with my Playstation 3, (my son has the Xbox 360), and I've seen the gaming industry and the games themselves change so dramatically over the last 20 + years of playing.  I am mostly a sports gamer and first person shooter, although I did take a trek into the pc gaming of World of Warcraft, (WoW), for a while, thanks to my friend Travis who was literally addicted to the game.  It was a unique gaming experience, but I wasn't able to get as serious about it as a lot of the other people on there were.  I did make some friends on there I wouldn't normally have met otherwise.  If you want to meet a hardcore gamer, then play WoW!  Those guys take the game too seriously at times.  They will kick you from a raid or a dungeon group in a second if they think your gear is too low or your skills too poor.  There are people that literally live for that game.  I haven't played it in a while, over a year probably, it got to be too much like a job.

In closing, since I have rambled entirely too long once again, I'll try to summarize my favorite games over several different systems over my 20 years of gaming.  These are all graded by replay value, originality, and just how many hours I personally spent on them myself.

#10:  Ghengis Khan:Clan of the Grey Wolf, (later led me to Romance of the Three Kingdoms) (SNES)

#9:  NBA Jams-hours of good times rockin' the rims! (SNES)

#8:  Shattered Union-post world war 3 strategy game (Xbox)

#7:  Resident Evil-game creeped me out playing by myself(Playstation)

#6:  World of Warcraft-it's just a whole other kind of experience!(pc)

#5:  Any of the NFL 2k series, they were superb!!(Dreamcast)

#4:  Battlefield 3-just a kick ass shooter, took me away from the Call of Duty games!(PS3)

#3:  A tie between Super Mario Kart 64 and Snow Board Kids- they are a lot alike, race games where you get to  throw stuff at your enemies, spent countless amounts of time on both with friends (both on N64)

#2:  Goldeneye:007-  Really started the first person shooter, multi-player genre, and just hours of fun on
       campaign mode!(N64)

#1:  Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3-Still hands down the most time I've spent and the most fun fighting game
       ever.  Lots of characters to choose from, hidden menus to unlock one button fatalities, the run trigger  
       button, just too much to mention.(SNES)


I hope you've enjoyed my ranting on one of my favorite subjects and remember, these are all just my opinion, but it's my blog, so it's the only one that counts, hehehe, I kid! Until next time, I'm out!!

Monday, April 23, 2012

G.W.T.W F.T.W.!!!

Hello all!  I hope all is well and good in the lives of my fellow Bloggonians this fine morning.  I've been getting more and more slack lately about keeping up with my little blog, things are fine in my world, just got lots going on and crazy work hours make it hard to keep up with the days.  I looked at my last post and realized that it was ten days ago, I couldn't believe that many days had passed so quickly!!

We are T-minus 8 weeks and counting on the arrival of baby Ila and we've been making preparations for that and moving our oldest into his new room and making room for the baby and what-not.  It's been eight years since we  had our youngest and this is almost going to be like starting from scratch!  We've got two older siblings now though that can help, so this should be a piece of cake.

The topic I want to ramble about today is one that is near and dear to my heart.  It won't win me any points on my "man" card, and I've been given a hard time by some of my friends and peers over the years about it.  The fact that I believe "Gone With the Wind" is the greatest movie ever to hit the silver screen!

Although I have mentioned "Gone With the Wind" on a couple of occasions, I have avoided seriously discussing it on my blog because I thought, and still think,  I wouldn't be able to do this epic tale justice with my babbling about it.  Nonetheless I'm going to give it a shot.

"Gone With the Wind" is based on the book with the same title by Margaret Mitchell, which sadly I've never read in it's entirety.  I attempted once when I was young, but it was just too overwhelming for my age, I mean, for real, the paper back version has almost 1,000 pages and the hardback is well over 1,000.  That's just too much for a 13-14 year old boy to tackle at one time.

The movie, however was a different story.  I can't really remember how old I was the first time I saw it, but they used to play it on regular television every so often a couple of times a year when I was a kid.  I recall sitting glued to the screen for the entirety of the approximately four hours of cinematic wonder.  I talked my brother-in-law into watching it once and he has a severe issue with his attention span, to put it mildly, but he watched it from beginning  to end and didn't get up once except during the intermission when we had to change video tapes.

The story begins in Georgia in 1861, pre-Civil War, or as we Southerners like to say sometimes, "the War of Northern Aggression", and illustrates the Old South for better or worse in all its former glory, and takes us through the horrors of war and the pain of defeat and all that comes along with it, and then finally the Reconstruction, and the sacrifices and turmoils endured by the characters to try to get back on their feet. I personally think that this is one of the most accurate historical depictions of that era on film then or now.  The Civil War was barely 70 years past when this movie was being made and a lot of history hadn't been manipulated and misrepresented as it often is these days.

So many genres are represented in this movie, and are intermingled to perfection to keep you entertained throughout no matter what your liking.  There's definitely drama, some romance, plenty of action, even touches of comedy to lighten the story from time-to-time.  A little something for everyone, as I like to say, and put together in a story that moves along flawlessly from the beginning where Scarlett O'Hara toys with two suitors on her porch and gets fussed at by Mammy for not having "no more manners than a field hand", to the ending scene where Scarlett realized she's lost Rhett Butler possibly for good and after breaking down, pulls her self together and says "...I'll think of some way to get him back.  After all, tomorrow is another day."

Now, I know my macho-manliness is being scrutinized right about now, but if you are a dude and you haven't seen this movie, you are missing one of the greatest cinematic achievements of it's time, quite possibley ever.  You have to remember, the movie was released in 1939 and over 4 million dollars were spent making it, which was an unheard of amount at that time.  Some of the scenes where Sherman is taking Atlanta, and the make shift hospital on the rail road tracks in Atlanta when the camera pans out to an ocean of wounded and dying Confederate soldiers, it just makes you appreciate the amount of extras alone that it took to shoot scenes like that.  There are several good action scenes to appease the manly side of any red-blooded male.  The scenes where Scarlett, Rhett, Melanie and Prissy flee Atlanta, another where Scarlett gets attacked in a shanty town, and one of my favorites when Scarlett defends Tara from a straggling Union soldier there to pillage the remains of the plantation. There are others, but those come to mind the quickest for me.

For anyone who appreciates a comical relief in a drama, this one has plenty stashed here and there during the whole movie.  From Rhetts first meeting with Scarlett in the parlor after she threw a vase and smashed it in a tantrum, or Mammy's constant nagging, one of my favorite examples being when she tells Scarlett that she doesn't need to go to Atlanta where Ashley Wilkes is going to be coming home and her "waiting there for him, just like a spider!!"   Hilarious! Then there's  Aunt Pitty Patt and her fainting spells every time Scarlett  does something scandalous, or Mammy again when Rhett Butler gives her the fancy red petticoat, and of course the line immortalized by Prissy when Melanie Hamilton is about to give birth..."Lawzy, we gonna' have to have a doctor, I don't know nothin' 'bout birthin babies" and then says " I don't know what would make me tell such a lie", classic!

Basically the heroine, Scarlett, overcomes tragedy, loss of epic proportions, (I would mention ALL of her losses, but I'm afraid someone may decide to watch it that hasn't seen it and I would be a "spoiler"), the destruction of her entire way of life, and despite all of her character flaws of which there are a few, she never lets herself be defeated.  She always manages to pick herself up and by any means necessary get her life back in order. You always hear people say "it's a tale of the triumph of the human spirit", well this is indeed the case here.  The spirit is nearly broken on several occasions but it always triumphs in the end.  This is certainly something that everyone can get some inspiration from in these tough times.

I hope that folks don't take anything out of context and assume that I approve of slavery and all that crap, it's just a part of our history that we can't ignore and can learn from.  As George Santayana said, "Those who cannot remember their past are condemned to repeat it". I'll leave you with this bit of scripting that scrolled up on the beginning of the movie after the credits right before the first scene, that I've always liked:


There was a land of
Cavaliers and Cotton Fields
called the Old South...
Here in this pretty world
Gallantry took its last bow...
Here was the last ever to
be seen of Knights and their
Ladies Fair, of Master and of
Slave.
Look for it only in books,
for it is no more than a
dream remembered.
A Civilization gone with
the wind...



As an added bonus here's roughly 6 minutes of the opening scenes that I found on Google search to lure you in...hehehe!!


Gone With The Wind (1939) -- movie clip part 1 | Facebook

Friday, April 13, 2012

Friendship

friend  (frÉ›nd) 
— n
1.a person known well to another and regarded with liking,affection, and loyalty; an intimate
2.an acquaintance or associate
3.an ally in a fight or cause; supporter
4.a fellow member of a party, society, etc
5.a patron or supporter: a friend of the opera
6.be friends  to be friendly (with)
7.make friends  to become friendly (with)

Hola bloggonia!!  Happy Friday the 13th...watch your backs!! I kid, I kid!  I've been away a little longer than normal, but maybe I can make up for it tonight to you guys with a little something from my heart!  I thought tonight that I'd delve into the realm of friendship and all that comes along with it.  As anyone who knows me personally can tell you, friends are the most important thing to me in the WORLD next to my wife and kids.  In fact my friends were all I had for the first 29 years of my life before I started my little tribe.

Those that know me can attest that I am fiercely loyal to my friends, as I am my family.  I have a small core of "real" friends that I would fight for, die for and if necessary kill for.  I know to lots of folks that may seem extreme, but to me it's the natural order of things.

For most of my life, I've not had what you would call a good 'family support network'.  With the exception of my older brother Bryan Hanks, I haven't had a constant family presence in my life in 20 + years.  But I digress, because this is not a pity party for my life, but a tribute to one of the true blessings in our mortal roamings on this earth.  That being friendship.

I should probably start with one of my first true friends, although I'd had several buddies growing up that I hung with at school, church or VERY occasionally would slip over to my house when the parents weren't around, he was the one that opened my eyes to the real world and showed me that I didn't have to live in a hostile environment, that I could change my destiny, and for that I am FOREVER grateful!  We haven't been as close as I'd like over the last 15 years or so, because of mutual differences, he went into law enforcement, and after my Army stint, I went in the totally other direction, but we've as late talked and I think all is well, but we're still not as close as I'd like.  I'm an outlaw at heart, and honestly, he helped plant that seed!  But the past is the past, and hopefully we'll embark on a whole new journey in our friendship.  Detective Eric Byrd, you will always have a special place in my heart!!

The next friend that I absolutely cannot omit is my only long lasting Army buddy that I retained over the years.  To an 18 year old homesick Wilkes County, North Carolina boy, he was always there when I needed a swift kick in the ass or a friendly ear to whine to.  We got into more crap, (well I did, he always managed to dodge the bullet, even though we were ALWAYS together), had more laughs, and messed with more people than two people should be allowed!! From fighting off the skin head infantrymen in the Dragon Club, downtown Tongduchon, to drinking every available Korean alcoholic beverage within reach, to kicking it with the Korean soldiers augmented to the U.S. Army, we ran our little corner of Camp Casey, Korea for a good 18 months at LEAST!!   Jamie Wynder was my rock in Korea and for a while after I got out.  We both have different lives and families now, but we manage to stay in contact and still have what I would consider a very healthy friendship.

After I was discharged from our glorious military, I took up residence in Greensboro, North Carolina in a boarding house with one of the most singular characters of my 42 years.  He was from my home county of Wilkes, and had been introduced to me by my step-brother, who I used to count as a dear friend, but for some reason has disappeared off the face of the earth.  Anyhoooo...I don't know if I've ever immediately connected to ANYONE the way I did this fellow.  The first night we roomed together, we stayed up telling one another all the sorted crap from each others lives until the sun came up.  We ended up getting a job together, and would ride back to our old stomping ground, along with his brother, every weekend in search of hotties in the greater Surry/Wilkes County area.  We were literally inseparable, I am pretty sure most of that was due to the fact that he took pity on me and dragged me along with him, and I am eternally grateful for that!  I would've been lost without him and his friendship in Greensboro all by myself.  He and his family would end up being the center of my friend base up until this day, with a few breaks in between, but pretty much for the last 20 years, he's been my constant homey.  Chris Sykes was my ticket out of a depressed, alcohol soaked, downward spiral that I was headed into after I hit the "real world" after the Army.  I have nothing but love for him and all of his family!!

It would be a sin for me to not mention the friends that didn't make it along the way.  If you've read any of my blogs so far, then you're certainly aware of Mike Holyfield, the funniest little fat man that ever lived!!  He brought so much joy to everyone that ever knew him, and to me for over 10 years.  He was definitely one of a kind who will never be replaced in my mind by anyone.  I can't even begin to relate the impact his death had on me and our group of friends!  There are others that didn't make it in this journey of life that I have to at least recognize...A dear friend that I parted ways with that fell on bad days with addiction, and I was not there like I should've been because of a past meaningless squabble.  He turned me on to a lot of the music that I still rock to, and taught me that life is about now, that we're never promised tomorrow years before his untimely death.  His is the one friendship that I wish I would've had a chance to recultivate.  We saw each other a couple of times over the years, but the relationship wasn't as honest and pure as it was in the beginning.  He is the reason that I tell my kids to this day not to go to bed mad at someone, because you never know what tomorrow holds!  Bo Roberts, you were one of my true friends, and I'll go to my grave wishing that I'd made things right between us.  Another passing that I regret, although I regret them all this one maybe the worst, is because he was SUCH a young man that idolized me and Mike Holyfield and wanted to spend every waking hour with us, and considered me his "brother", as he told me more times than I can count.  The thing you don't count on is being awakened at 4am by his father telling you that he's been thrown through his sunroof and killed after leaving your house and wanting to know if you'll be a pallbearer.  Ricky Newman, at 19 years old, you truly died MUCH too soon and I would give ANYTHING to be able to rewind and make you hang with us the night you decided to leave abruptly for whatever reason.  I have visited all of your graves regularly and wept openly and begged for all of your forgiveness for being a shitty friend.

I see kids and their friends these days and as soon as they're out of earshot they're cutting each other up, and putting each other down.  Friendship is precious, possibly one of the most precious gifts that is given to us by God, or whatever deity you choose to believe in.  In a time when "families" are a thing of the past and marriages last as long as a high school dating  experience, true friendship should be valued above all else, except your own personal immediate family infrastructure.  I know I've left out many buddies and homeys along the way in my hurry to wrap this up, but you are all immortalized in my heart!  I honestly think I've represented the ones that impacted my life the most over the longest period of time, and the ones that I wanted to bring to the forefront because of my past failings as a friend.  Much too late for some, I might add.

To all my friends that remain that I've mentioned, and a lot that I haven't, I love each and every one of you and my life is enriched by every tiny experience that each of you have introduced me to.  I wouldn't nearly be the well-rounded person that I am if it weren't for the influences that all of you have opened me up to. 



 The most special of all in my recent years  of struggling and strife, in the years when I didn't have anything but the clothes on my back when we first met, and they opened up a door to self-improvement and a better life would be the Miller family in Dobson, North Carolina.  I know they have no idea of the gratitude and loyalty and love I have for them, but they were more of a family to me over the last 20 years, (good or bad), than my own.  They are a special breed of people that are selfless and are willing to give a dead-end drunk, wannabe-thug, a second chance, and make him feel like he really belongs somewhere.  I love all you guys for that!!

That concludes my rambling and ranting for tonight, I hope I reminded you guys, and maybe enlightened some of you as to what is really important and real in this crazy mixed up world.  Until next time Fellow Bloggonians here's a little tune that was one of mine and my buddy Mike's favorites that to me speaks about the briefness of life and the illumination of it's temporary stars.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-gjiBwF0K64 I can't confirm it, but to me it sounds a whole lot like he's singing to his deceased old pal Kurt Cobain, at least in my mind that's what I get out of it.

 I hope each and every one of you, and all of your true friends have a long, memorable, and truly unforgettable life together!!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Musical Memories

Welcome back peoples of Bloggonia!  Here's hoping the world is treating you and yours well.  Short summary of current events:  My Tarheels are out of the NCAA tournament, so I no longer care who wins, tick season is early this year, so check those little 'uns heads when they come in, gas prices are expected to go to an all time high over the summer, so I hope wherever you take your vacation, it's not too far away and finally we as a nation get one step closer to being a socialist system if Obamas universal health care "reform" is signed into the law of the land.

When I think of this administration, as well as the last I can't help but think of the song by NOFX, "the Idiots
Are Taking Over"!  Which brings me to what I'd like to rant on tonight, no, not politics, but music.

If you've read even one of my blogs, you've probably notice I usually make some reference to some era of music or group, or leave you with a nugget of musical goodness via youtube.com.  Music is something that I am very passionate about, I have always said, as much as I love music it's amazing that I've never learned to play an instrument.  I used to love to sing when I was younger, and still do from time-to-time, especially when someone breaks out the Rock Band video game!  At one time when I was a youngster, I could actually read both shaped notes, like they had in our church hymnals, and the regular music they taught us in school.  Like anything else though, if you don't use it, you loose it.  I did, however, buy myself a Fender Starcaster to try and learn guitar on last year, but somehow or another, I never seem to find the time to try anymore.

Like everyone else in the world, I can literally think of a song for any and all of the major experiences, instances and events in my life.  There are the old standby hanging out, partying songs, the break-up songs, the celebrating a small victory in life songs, songs that make you want to fight, and from time-to-time even dance, (very rarely for me, because I can't dance at ALL!).  There is music to worship with, music to meditate and get lost in, even music to make love to.  It can be peaceful enough to calm the savage beast or charged with enough energy to incite a riot in a stadium, and pandemonium in the streets. 

I personally believe in having a broad range of musical interests to truly appreciate all that music can bring to someones life.  My iPod currently has 90's music of course, and lots of it, rap, metal, bluegrass, classic rock, a little bit of country, mainly Johnny Cash, and a healthy dose of punk.

It amazes me how that now sometimes I can hear a song and it will instantly take me back to a place in time, so completely sometimes that I find myself almost lost in the moment.  There are so many good memories I can associate with a song, from using shoe boxes to play "drums" along with my dads 8-track of Creedence Clearwater  Revival singing "Bad Moon Rising", or taking turns with my brother and step-brother, using an old acoustic junior guitar with no strings and lip singing to the Purple Rain album, writing short stories in my childhood bedroom while listening to the Miami Vice soundtrack, or cruising downtown Elkin, North Carolina, when it was still permitted, with so many car stereos blaring everything from Motley Crue, to Wu Tang, to the point that they all  blended together, or finding out that I was going to be a father with Creeds "With Arms Wide Open" playing, or most recently just riding around with some friends in the rain for hours singing along with the radio.

Music is one of the greatest gifts that God ever gave us mere mortals, and the ability to make music is an even more amazing gift.  I would love to have that talent that some make look so effortless, and be able to pass it on to my children.  Both of my kids love music now, but I hope that my kids are more musically inclined than I was, and are able to learn to play an instrument.  I saw a bumper sticker the other day that pretty much sums it all up and puts it into perspective and it's what I'll leave you with, it simply said "Music is what feelings sound like".  Words of wisdom indeed!

As a final note, I'd like to mention the passing of a musical pioneer Earl Scruggs, who helped found and bring to national prominence the bluegrass genre.  I came to listen to bluegrass through my wife, who grew up listening to it her whole life.  I was reluctant at first because I had never really been exposed to it a great deal even though I grew up in an area that was famous for it.  I remember I swiped one of my wifes cd's and kept it for like a year before I finally admitted that I liked bluegrass.  I wouldn't say that I listen to it exclusively by any means, but I take spells where I'll listen to it for a week or two at a time.  There's also a local radio station that plays Knee Deep In Bluegrass with Cindy Baucom after 6pm, and I'll tune into it while driving from time-to-time.  For all the haters and skeptics, give it shot, what could it hurt?  You may just find a new type of musical interest, even if you have to hide it from your wife and friends!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z_Y3mnj-8lA  I'll let Mr. Scruggs and Mr. Flatts take it home with a little Foggy Mountain Breakdown.  You're welcome!!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

In a Southern State of Mind

Hello Bloggonians!  Howdy y'all as we often say in my native North Carolina.  Just a little birthday edition, (I turned the big 42 on the 20th), to entertain and inform you this fine morning.  Peyton Manning is officially a Denver Bronco now, I suppose.  At least if the Broncos beat my Steelers in the playoffs again,  we won't get "Tebowed"!  The NCAA tournament is down to the Sweet 16, and my beloved Tarheels are still in it, although two of our starting lineup are a bit banged up with wrist injuries.  "The Hunger Games" will be opening in theaters on the 23rd also, me and my family have been anxiously awaiting this movie every since we heard they were making it.  We've read the three books, and they are outstanding.  I literally had to pry myself away from them, I wanted to sit and read them all in one sitting, but alas sometimes I do have to work, or eat, or shower...seriously they are very well written books that keep you on your toes the whole series.  Luckily I read all three of them recently in succession, because I don't think I would've been able to wait on the next ones to be written, they're that good.

Enough of the fluff and stuff.  I have been debating over a couple of different things I wanted to rant on today, and it came down to why I think "Gone With the Wind" is the best movie EVER, or how unhinged I become sometimes with the way movies and television, (and the majority of the world at large), portray Southern people.  Although I can make a very good case for the first, I think I'll go with the latter.

I especially despise fake Southern accents that some actors use, the over-emphasized twang and way too long drawn out drawl is like nails on a chalk board to me. I often wonder if some of the actors/actresses have ever even been to the South or done any kind of research on dialects and what-not.  I usually automatically assume it's going to be a crappy, low-budget movie if they can't even afford to hire a true Southern actor/actress for the role.  It's not like there's not plenty of them out there;  Sandra Bullock, Matthew McConaughey, Julia Roberts, Reese Witherspoon, Luke and Owen Wilson, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Billy Bob Thorton, Kim Basinger, Dakota Fanning, and Zach Galiafinakis (who hails from my native Wilkes County, North Carolina), just to name a few.The South has produced a multitude of respectable, intelligent actors/actresses over the years.

Which brings me to the next item, intelligence.  It seems that a great deal of the rest of the world automatically deducts 100 IQ points when someone is from the South, especially if you're a rural Southerner like I was raised.  Country people may live simpler and at a slower pace, but let me assure you they are just as sharp as anyone else, and a whole lot sharper than a lot of non-Southerners I can think of.  Many of the products and services we enjoy were invented, or perfected by Southern men and/or women.  Herman Lay and the Frito Lay Company, Pleasant Hanes and the Hanes Corporation, Caleb Bradham and Pepsi Cola, and T.W. Garner and Texas Pete were all just from my home state of North Carolina alone!

The most disturbing to me and the one that infuriates me to no end is the stereotype of Southerners as uneducated hillbillies, hicks, racists, and  poor barefoot, ridge running, collard green eating, rednecks.  This doesn't even represent 1/1000th of true Southerners.  The rural Southerners I grew up around were hard working, confident, Faith based people who looked after one another for the most part and helped out neighbors and people in the community in times of need.  I know that there are elements of Southerners that do fall under some of the negative stereotypes, but to say we're all that way is like saying everyone who lives in L.A. is in a street gang, or that all Italian people are in the Mafia, it's just simply not true.  Maybe I'll start a Southern Cultural Outreach Program to enlighten all the poor misguided souls as to our lifestyles and heritage.   I chuckle...

On a parting note, I'll leave you with some of the Southerners who've given us some great music over the years.  So many people say "Southern Rock" when they refer to so many bands from the South,  but the fact is that Rock and Roll was born in the south, the bastard child of Jazz, Blues with a touch of Country.   I believe it was Greg Allman who said that calling it Southern Rock was redundant like saying Rock, Rock.   Besides the obvious "Southern Rock" bands like ZZ Top, Lynerd Skynerd, Allman Brothers, and the Marshall Tucker Band there are also the likes of REM, and the B-52's, and heavy hitters like the metal band  Pantera, just to name a few.  In the last decade the Southern Rap scene has exploded with the likes of Goodie Mobb, Outkast, Ludacris, Lil' Wayne, and too many others to name.

Here's a nice thick slab of Southern Goodness, Allman Brothers "Whipping Post", one of my personal favorites.  Dig those 70's duds and hair styles also, good stuff.  I chuckle again...
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C6up076lSH8

Until next time "Y'all come back now, here?", sorry, I couldn't resist!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Some Truth and a Whole Lot of Lies

Hello fellow Bloggonians!  I don't have any pressing issues that are on my mind, so I'll just share a little of what's been going on in my world as of late.  My beloved Carolina Tarheels fell to the Florida State Seminoles in the ACC tournament, Peyton Manning is still window shopping for his next team, Randy Moss is going to be a Forty-Niner, politicians are cranking out the promises and lies, and I'm roughly thirteen weeks away from being a dad again!  I did, however exercise my right to a little mid-life crisis tomfoolery by getting my first tattoo.  It was a good experience, but I'm not sure if it's addictive as everyone says, or maybe I just started too late.  I think compared to some of the things I've seen men, (as well as women), do in their mid-lives, that a tattoo is pretty mild, especially these days when everyone and their brother has one.

There is one topic out there now in "current events" that troubles me somewhat.  The whole "Kony 2012" craze that's sweeping the internet and world at large under the guise of human rights activism.  For anyone who may have not heard, a video went viral on Youtube a couple of  weeks ago, NGO Invisible Children's Kony 2012  tells of Joseph Kony a devious Ugandan warlord who is notorious for kidnapping children and forcing them to serve in his Lord's Resistance Army (LRC).  

The unfortunate fact is that Kony hasn't been in Uganda for at least 5 years and is believed by many to be dead.  So why would one exiled, possibly dead, evil warlord suddenly be cast into the forefront of media attention and is now being compared to Hitler and Osama Bin Laden, and being called on by the usual array of "humanitarian" celebrities demanding that our government intervene and become involved in yet another conflict when there are still numerous warlords in Uganda that are very easily found operating in the same way that Kony has?  Is it possible he is the new "smoking gun" that will never be found, like the WMD's in Iraq?

Could it be that the land he's supposedly still in control of is rich in oil and "blood diamonds", or that it is a good central-command jumping off point for the re-colonization of Africa.  I guess I can hope against hope that there is a legitimate effort going on in this situation, but it smells a whole lot like Iraq, Bosnia, Serbia, Libya, etc.etc..  

In closing I'll leave you with an article from my favorite news outlet, infowars.com which has several other very informative links attached on the subject and ask that you, the free-thinking Bloggonians at least read it with an open mind and not the mind that has been force-fed by the government controlled media for so long. 

Also, here's a little Tool with a song that I believe is relevant with this topic, "Right In Two" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gzB9XCrwvMk&feature=related

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Fare Thee Well Mr. Manning!!

I actually got the idea for my little rant tonight from a Facebook post by one of my friends saying that he believes that the Colts are "traitors" for letting Peyton Manning go in order to get Andrew Luck in the draft.  I'm not a sports writer, that's my brother Bryans  niche and he's more qualified to comment, but I believe my friend to be correct in his outrage.

Personally I sincerely hope that Luck ends up being a lame duck like Ryan Leaf, (no personal offense to either individual), and that Peyton goes on to bigger and better things with a more appreciative franchise.  From  what I've heard several people have came back from that same neck surgery that he's returning from and gone on to have many years of productive play.  Who and when I can't recall, again that's not my area.

I just think that free agency has pretty much ruined sports today, especially my beloved football.  I can't count the times that I've shook my head in disbelief at some of the people my personal favorites, the Pittsburgh Steelers, have let go over the years for salary cap or whatever  reasons.  Greg Lloyd, Kevin Greene in the 90's as well as Rod Woodson.  Don't get me started on how they did Kordell Stewart, who I still think created the modern mold for the mobile quarterback, but I AM biased.  Most recently the decision to release three older players, Hines Ward, Aaron Smith, and James Farrior, who were all relatively still productive.  There seems to be a lot more player loyalty toward the team than the other way around.

I understand that it is a business and the powers that be in the organizations have to make decisions based on what they believe to be the best for the team, but I think if a player is willing to take a salary cut just to finish his career with the team that he's fought, and bled for for years, then arrangements surely could be made.   If a player has been injured and makes a full recovery and is deemed playable by all the right medical authorities, such as Peyton Manning, then he ought to be at least given a chance to compete for his job with a rookie, if need be.  I'm no expert, but I personally believe he's got at LEAST 3-4 good, productive years left in him.  Colts fans should be disgusted and angry at the ownership's decision.

Teams owners expect results and success immediately, that's why they can't wait to see if a returning legend is capable of playing at his former level, and why coaches tenures are shorter and shorter.  It takes more that a year, even two for a system to develop, in most cases.  Their are times where newcomers like Jim Harbaugh, and even my Steelers Mike Tomlin, come in and hit the ground running and have success, but usually there is a core team there either on defense, offense, or both that make that possible.  Although I'm not a NFC fan, after the Steelers got "Tebowed" in the playoffs, I was glad to see Tom Coughlin and the Giants take the Super Bowl.  One of, if not the main reason, was that earlier in the season, all you heard was Tom Coughlin is done in New York, blah, blah, blah!  It did my heart good to see someone with a tenure of almost 10 years and a team that has had it's share of ups and downs with pretty much the same core of veterans get it done and take it all.

I suppose we as sports fans will just have to deal with decisions of our teams owners and management no matter how much it ticks us off, because as I said, it is a business and nowadays everything is determined by businessmen.  If it's not profitable, they get rid of it, players are products nowadays in the purest sense of the word.   We'll continue watching, however, as always no matter what foolishness they do, because we are the epitome of  loyalty, we are the fans.

I'll leave you with a little musical goodness of Pink Floyd at Madison Square Gardens in 1987 singing about what makes it all go 'round...Money!  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6MGzVVI-onE&feature=related



Sunday, March 4, 2012

The Gift of Youth

Of all the promises that I said that I would keep in my life, I think the one that I've lived up to the most, (sometimes maybe a little too much), is the promise that no matter how old I get that I would remember how it feels to be young.  I entered my 40's, (kicking and screaming against my will), almost 2 years ago but I can still remember some of the events, experiences, emotions of my late teens and 20's.

I'm not going to pretend that I was the smartest or most responsible person in my youth, but I will say that I lived it to the fullest.  I cannot bear to see young people these days living like shut-ins glued to the "boob-tube", video games, and what-not and never get out and experience the joys of being young outdoors.   Even when I was a full-time party machine, we would spend countless hours of the day playing basketball, going to the mountains, or some sort of outdoor activity.  Society is getting more and more geared to being indoors anchored to the computer, television and video game.  There are still the fun-loving adventurous souls who brave the big bad world and experience more than the inside living side of life, but they are getting  much more scarce.

Some more young folks that trouble me are "the angry-for-the-purpose-of-being-angry" kind of people.  I am aware that every generation has had the teenage angst and rebellion to deal with, but it seems that it has evolved/devolved into a pure rage, and hatred of anything positive or good.  I was a huge fan of punk as well as rap in my youth, not the r&b rap crap, or the commercialized, manufactured punk of today, and both were teeming with rebellion against a system that was unsatisfactory and is not any better nowadays, but even those had undertones of unity and a desire to make things better.   It's as though there has been a wedge driven between the young and anyone over 25.

The youth that upset me the most though, are the ones I see that seem to have no drive for anything, and that is coming from a pioneer in the Slacker Generation.   The pseudo-emo-ultra-depressed kids are the ones that break my heart.  All that the world has out there to enjoy, all the experiences of youth and being young in general being ignored in favor of self loathing and social detachment.  Get out and meet a girl/guy, join band, go on a road trip, just do SOMETHING!   I just don't get it.  I fear that in modern times the old quote from George Bernard Shaw rings true, "Youth is wasted on the young".

As I stated in the beginning, I'm not directing this to all the young people, because there are some that do tend to break the mold and do their own thing.  I'm not saying for young people to become the conformity minded masses that I see every day either, because the death of individualism is the greatest tragedy of them all.  I'm just trying to make a point that life is entirely too short, and being young is just a fraction of that, so live each day fully, and create those memories that you can look back on and smile and reminisce when you're an old fart like me!

Until next time, here's a newer song from one of my favorite bands of my 20's.  "Sunset in July" by 311.  I have found that it is LITERALLY impossible to be angry or in a bad mood when listening to 311, so smack those blues, foul moods or general anger away and enjoy:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hkKy3E5Rx2c&feature=related


Friday, February 24, 2012

What's up in a "Nutshell"

I have 'returneded', (reference to John Leguizamos movie "the Pest" in case no one caught that).  It seems that I have returned empty handed though.  I am afraid I have no pearls of wisdom to offer as of late.  I have been in a state of self-reflection for the last couple of weeks and I have to say that I am not completely happy with myself on several areas.  Although this does not make interesting reading for the happy folks of Bloggonia, it is nevertheless the turmoil of my battered mind.  I have for years maintained a steady grip on sanity, "sobriety", and adulthood, however at times I stare into the dismal face of reality and all that it entails with a little less than the acceptable level of responsibility.

Basically I am a moody bastard from time to time.  I'm sure it's something that most of us can relate to.  We struggle and abide lifes challenges and troubles, then we eventually reap the happiness of the good days that are peppered in with the garbage.  I'm an eternal optimist most days, but then there will be periods of a week or so, where I bathe in the misery of the world and contemplate the greater meaning of it all with little or no satisfaction.  I'm positive there's a medical word for my dilemma, but I just chalk it up as life.  It can't be Sunny all the time!  People that are happy all the time, without exception, worry me and I honestly don't trust them for the most part.

I think that I require a certain amount of wallowing to balance my  mind and soul...to truly appreciate the goodness in life, sometimes you have to visit the darker, less appealing things in our world.

Let me say right away, that I have every reason to be happy and content, and as I've stated, normally I am.  I have a wonderful wife, who is the center of my universe along with my two unbelievable kids, with another on the way, I have a job in a time when so many don't, and am in relatively good shape/health.

All these things however, don't keep me from slipping into my inexplicable chasm of moodiness and melancholy from time to time.  I used to write poetry and short stories in my younger years and all I had to base them on up until that period in my life was misery, disappointment, and sadness.  I produced a lot of writing that my friends and companions, and peers said were "outstanding" and "impressive".

But alas, I'm NOT hopelessly depressed, and downtrodden as I was in those days, so the motivation for my most creative and provocative writing died.  I wonder at times if that isn't what drives so many artists, (not that I'm an artist of any caliber), to untimely demises.  They build a career on a certain persona, or image, then when they attempt to convert to another lifestyle, although it may be a more positive and rewarding one, if it isn't just too much to endure, having to create a whole new personality.  Like their true creative selves have died, so there is nothing "real" to cling to.

Anyway, I am truly ranting tonight and really need to round it up!  I will be back, with a little more pep in my step and hopefully a little sunnier disposition.

Until then, I'll leave you with the musical farewell of one of the true tortured souls of my time.  Layne Staley of Alice in Chains singing "Nutshell" on MTV's Unplugged.  It was one of, if not his last live performance.  His body was obviously ravaged by drug addiction, and when he would talk between songs, his voice was shaky and broken, but in song he was perfection.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rbpS2LfoTKU&feature=related

Good night to all, and as Scarlett O'Hara said in my favorite movie of all time, (which is an entire blog in itself), "Tomorrow is another day"!  Sweet Dreams fellow Bloggonians!!