Saturday, December 21, 2013

Death, taxes, and Santa Claus

I love Christmas music.

Silent Night.  Last Christmas.  Trans-Siberian Orchestra.  Walkin' 'Round in Women's Underwear.  You name it, I'm all about it.  (Wait, what?)

But there is one Christmas song that absolutely terrified me as a child, one yuletide tale of doom that kept me up nights, and to be honest, still makes me a little uncomfortable today.

The creepy carol I'm speaking of: Santa Claus is Coming to Town.

Maybe it's because when I was a kid, getting a bag of switches underneath the tree always seemed like a very real possibility to me.  That was the supposed consequence if you were deemed to have been naughty during the year.  And I was always quite confident I had NOT been nice.

(Yes, I'm aware many children were threatened with a lump of coal.  I would have given anything for a lump of coal instead!)

Today, let's examine just a few of the lyrics from this longtime holiday standard.  I think you'll see it's not all rooty-toot-toots and rummy-tum-tums.

You better watch out
You better not cry
You better not pout 

What?!?!  I'm EIGHT.  I'm probably never gonna be a Congressman.  When else am I supposed to pout?

I'm telling you why
Santa Claus is coming to town

It's so definite.  So final.  There's no chance he won't come.  All you can do is hope you survive it.

He's making a list
Checking it twice

See, if he only checked it once, maybe I could slide by.  This was the reasoning of my eight-year-old brain.  But he's checking it twice???  There's no way I make it.

He sees you when you're sleeping
He knows when you're awake

Um, in our neighborhood, we called that a Peeping Tom.  And he lived across the street and two houses down and all us kids were forbidden to go in his yard.  But seriously, a little stalkerish, Santa.

He knows if you've been bad or good 

Who is this guy?  God?!?!  What chance did I have?

So basically,  Santa Claus coming to town was like having judgment day every single year.  At a time in my life when I should have been dreaming of Larry Bird, the Dukes of Hazzard, and Smurfette, I was instead having cold sweats about a brown paper bag full of switches.  (I'm not sure why, but when I pictured them they were always in a brown paper bag, never anything nice like a book satchel or burlap sack.)

I would try to sleep, I would!  Close my eyes and pretend to sleep, but the words kept haunting me... He knows when you're awake.  Eventually, it all just got to be too much and I would get out of bed and run into the den in my Dallas Cowboy pajamas and tearfully confess all my sins to mom and dad.

"I'M the one who broke the window!  I'M the one who took the clothes off all the Barbie dolls!  And I'M the one who put the neighbor girl in the washing machine!"  (What?  I'm sure all of us have locked a child inside a large household appliance at some point in our lives.)

There was just so much pressure.  It's a wonder I didn't take up smoking.

Of course, there were toys under the tree again that year instead of switches.  And I would think to myself, "Wow, Santa must have made some mistake."

But somehow, I managed to squeak by every year.

And somehow, I still do.

"In the office there's a guy named Melvin / He'll pretend that I am Murphy Brown..."

Monday, December 16, 2013

Man discovers innovative new way to improve life, career, relationships

(This is my second post for, a website that exists only in my mind.)

Harry Pitts has lived much of his life like most people -- giving effort only when it is absolutely required, and not really caring all that much otherwise.

But recently, Harry discovered what he says could be the secret to life -- trying.

"I've found that by actually trying, you can often do amazing things."

Pitts, 47, said the discovery hit him like a ton of bricks.

"I was home alone one day, and the heat didn't seem to be working.  So I was going to check the furnace, but dad has like a ton of bricks stacked in the basement, so I couldn't get to it.  Normally, I would have just waited for him or mom to get home, but I was cold.  So I told myself, I can move these bricks.  And golly gee, one by one, I did!"

Did he fix the heater?

"Well, no.  I'm not even sure that was the furnace I was looking at, but that's beside the point."

Though no scientific proof exists, Pitts claims his groundbreaking idea works in virtually all phases of life.

"Weight loss, career, you name it.  Even relationships.  Heck, I have a girlfriend for the first time in twelve years, all because I decided to walk up to a girl and ask her out."

Sound too good to be true?  Well, it just may be.

"There is but one downfall to my program.  Trying, as it turns out, takes quite a lot of effort.  So it may not be for everyone.  For example, now my girlfriend wants me to buy her gifts for certain occasions, and like, think of things for us to do all on my own!  She even suggested I move out of my parents' house.  I was like, 'Whoa, let's not get crazy here.  Don't you think we're moving a little too fast?'"

While it remains to be seen if trying is sustainable, brief spurts of effort do seem to help a little.  Keep in mind the sample size is very small, and trying may lead to other unwanted and unforeseen consequences, such as added responsibility and worst of all, expectations.

So for now, try at your own risk.

"I turned my microwave on and I cooked my chicken ravioli / The last ten years of my life I've been feeling kind of lonely..."

Sunday, December 08, 2013

And they shall call his name...

I figure one of the most important decisions I will ever make is what to name my kids.

Right now, my life is all Frosted Flakes or Apple Jacks, NCIS reruns or Golf Channel, and take out the trash or see just how much more I can stack on top of the can without it falling.  (FYI, my record is 2 ft. 4 inches above the rim, wall-aided.)

But someday that will, in theory, change.  My decisions will begin to mean more, have more lasting consequences.  And I gotta tell ya, that freaks me out a little.

I'm pretty sure they hand out manuals at the hospital that give you tips on how to raise your kids.  But no one tells you how to name your kids.  

Oh sure, there's the Big Book of 60,000 Baby Names, but that's got like a thousand names.  Who among us can choose just one?  I have enough trouble trying to decide what kind of cereal to have.

So today I am relieved to be able to say I have made this important decision.  I have picked out names for my kids.  And I will reveal those to you now, with the understanding that you agree to sign a non-compete agreement at the end of this post stating that you will not steal my names.

If it is a boy, they shall call his name.... Luke.

Pros: It's Biblical.  It's one of the Dukes of Hazzard.  Also, easy to spell if he's not very studious.  And for every day of his life, I can (and will) say in a Darth Vader voice, "Luke.... I am your father."

Cons: There are no cons.

OK, I have to admit I stole that idea from Facebook.  But my girl name I came up with all by myself, as I'm sure you will have no trouble believing.

If it is a girl, they shall call her name.... Adrian.

Pros: About once a week when I'm letting her out at school, I'll purposely hide her lunch or a book or something, so that she "forgets" it.  Then just as she's almost to the door, in the midst of all her peers, I'll roll down the window and yell in my best Sylvester Stallone voice, "Yo, Adriaaaaaaaan!!!!!  You forgot your protractor."

Talk about years and years of fun.

Cons: Again, there are no cons.  For me, anyway.

I'm so thankful to have this major life decision behind me.  Now all I have to do is get their mother to go along with this.

But today, that seed has been planted.

Actually, that's probably a poor choice of words.

"Some gal would giggle and I'd get red / And some guy'd laugh and I'd bust his head / I tell you, life ain't easy for a boy named Sue..."

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

The real meaning of NoShavember

Thirty days had NoShavember.  I made it through eleven.  It just got too itchy. (That's what she said?)

There shall be no pictures because, well, that would only serve to embarrass myself, as well as possibly some of my family.  Also, I did not take any.  That's a lie.  I took a couple, but the hair wasn't showing up to my satisfaction, so I deleted them.  Must've been bad lighting.

However, the entire experience has given me a new-found respect for the guys in ZZ Top, Duck Dynasty, and my uncle Carl.

I saw that many of the people participating in NoShavember were doing so to raise awareness for some charity or cause.  This sounded like an excellent idea.  So I dedicated my NoShavember to raising awareness of my own laziness, which was, ironically, the main reason I was even participating in the first place!

But it wasn't the only reason.

Once in a while a guy just needs to grow some hair on his face.  Amiright, guys?  Just to prove he can, or maybe for no reason at all. 

You see, those fertile facial fields are the last bastion of male expression and self-experimentation.  Sure, we still have the toilet, but no one gets to see what we do in there.  (FYI, it's mostly reading and pondering our how our life turned out like this.  Maybe an occasional nap.)

These little beard and moustache excursions?  This is all we have. 

We understand women are ultimately going to get their way in pretty much every other decision.  (I'm sorry my future son that I hope to have, if you're reading this, but it's true.)  We know your little ploys.  We know you got rid of our favorite shirt from 1987 and then pretended to be all dismayed and you "don't know WHAT could have possibly happened to it."

But somewhere along the way, a deal must have been struck, perhaps a line drawn.   Men said, "Enough!" 

You can put your frilly rugs and decorative lamps and froufrou throw pillows all over the house.  You can throw away our twenty-year-old clothes when we're at work.  You can even force us to begrudgingly pose for pictures and post them to your precious Facebook wall.  But this -- *admiringly rubbing my chin* -- this is where it ends.

So next time you see a guy sporting facial hair, no matter how hideous or 1970's-porn-star-ish it may be -- and it will be -- perhaps you'll have a little more compassion, maybe even a modicum of respect for those amber waves of keratin. 

Remember, he's just exercising his right to be a man.  In the only way that he knows.  The only way that he has.  Putting his manhood on display for all the world to see.

"They come runnin' just as fast as they can / 'Cause every girl crazy 'bout a sharp-dressed man..."

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Music Monday: The smell of hospitals in winter

Second jobs and time spent in waiting rooms have kept me away.

There was a hiking accident, then a three-and-a-half hour drive wondering if a loved one was OK and how bad she would be injured when I arrived.  (She was OK, mostly.  A kindly family of hiking Mennonites stopped to comfort her while waiting for emergency personnel.  A three-hour rescue operation followed, and yada yada yada, she'll be walking again in 8 to 12 weeks.)

There have been new and scary concerns about Nephew Bone.  Thankfully, an EEG and MRI -- two months apart -- were both deemed normal.  We have prayed for the best while fearing things unspoken.

Somewhere in the midst of it all was a stretch of seven days in a row spent in some hospital, doctor's office, ER, or other medical facility. I guess the worry and stress must have piled up on me, because I developed a cold sore for the first time in my life, then ran a fever for three days after.

There was a bit of good news, as I landed my first-ever paid writing gig.  It's nothing grand, but is exciting for me.  And it probably would have gotten its very own post but for everything else going on, so celebrating seemed out of place.

Oh, and if all that wasn't enough, I overflowed the toilet, flooded the bathroom, then came downstairs to find water pouring through the ceiling.  Long story short, if you ever come to my place and have a choice, don't sit in the recliner.

I have a confession.  It's really hard for me to focus on anything else right now because... herpes!  I have herpes!  And according to something I googled, it could have been lying dormant inside my body for years without me knowing!  With my swingin' lifestyle, I could have infected as many as five, yea, six girls over the past decade.  How can I live with myself?!?!

Unfortunately -- or perhaps very fortunately -- I could find no songs about herpes to feature on this week's Music Monday.  So instead, I have called upon an old friend.  (No, not Tone Loc, though that would have been super cool.  And how did you even know he and I were homies?)

I first heard Nate Ruess when he was lead singer of The Format.  For a while, their "She Doesn't Get It" held the coveted title of most played song on my iTunes.  After they broke up, I figured I'd never hear from him again.  Like an ex-girlfriend you long for wistfully who says she wants to stay friends but never answers her phone when you call.... as an example, I mean.

And then...

One glorious day two or three years later, I heard that unmistakable voice again.  "That sounds like the guy from The Format," I thought.  And it was.

He'd started a new band called Fun.  It was good to know that he had moved on and I.... well, he had moved on.

The Format never really became a huge mainstream band, so it's been kinda cool to see Ruess enjoy much success with Fun, even as my own success has remained almost eerily unchanged.

I like this acoustic version of "Carry On."

I would like to dedicate this song to all of us afflicted with herpes, the silent killer....... what?  What is carbon monoxide......

Oh my God!  I may never fall asleep again!

"The smell of hospitals in winter, and the feeling that it's all a lot of oysters, but no pearls..."

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Kids, it's not that difficult

As my blog has evolved, I have gone from posting at near Twitter-speed anytime a thought wafted through my mind, to posting a day or two after an event happened, and now to this.  "This" being some sort of massive blog slowdown wherein I am just now getting around to blogging about Nephew Bone's birthday party.  Which took place in August.  Of 2012.

OK, 2013.  But still.

Is evolved the right word?

Devolved?  Decomposed?

Nephew Bone turned five this year.  Ah, five...  I don't actually remember much about being five.  I think that may have been the year I got my Starsky & Hutch matchbox car.  Nephew Bone had a Duck Dynasty party.

Boy, this post really isn't going anywhere.  I think I will instead make this a general info post on how to throw a proper birthday party for a child under seven.  Yes, that's what I shall do.  I decided that just now, on the fly.

Bone: Making virtually every life decision on the fly since 1980-something.  This explains oh so much.

I know what you're thinking: Bone, you don't even have any kids that we know of.  How would you know anything about throwing a birthday party for one?

Exhibit A: I, Bone, have attended somewhere around EIGHT of these little germ fests over the past five years, so... yeah.

Exhibit B: One of my sister's favorite sayings is "I can't wait 'til you have kids."  I can only take this to mean she knows what an excellent rearer of children I will be and she is anxiously awaiting it, probably in much the same way Houdini's sister anxiously awaited his escape the first time she buried him alive.

(I also wrote a post several years ago wherein I may have poked a little fun at the time-out method of discipline and a couple of people took it to mean I was advocating spanking children.  Yeah, that cost me about half my readers at that time, so I no longer include it on my parenting resume.  I was even reprimanded by the World Order of Mommy Bloggers, aka WOMB.  Ironically, my punishment wound up being, you guessed it, a 15-minute time-out.  Oh well, live and learn.  Or, in my case, just live.  Not all of this paragraph is factual, but probably more than you think.)

Now that we've established my credentials, let's get this party started... in a manner of speaking.

The first thing you're gonna want to do is minimize the number of kids you invite to this party.  This is because of Bone's Theorem of Kids and Fun, which states:  The number of kids at the party is inversely proportional to the amount of fun your child's "adult" friends will have at said party.  And really, what's more important than that?

Chances are your child isn't going to remember this party anyway.  I mean, how many of your birthday parties before the age of seven do you remember?  And besides, are these really your child's friends?  Or are they, more likely, children of your friends whom you have forced upon your child in some sort of medieval-esque arranged friendship.  Hmm?

Mmhmm, stepping on some toes now, am I?

Now personally, I prefer a 1:1 child-to-parent ratio.  I wouldn't go any higher than 2:1.  If someone shows up with more than two kids, I recommend scolding their child in front of them.  It has been my experience that they will leave fairly soon after that.

The second ingredient for a successful children's party is renting one of those cool, inflatable water slides.  Nephew Bone had one of these at his party.  Actually, he's had an inflatable slide at two of his parties, and those were two of the funnest days of my admittedly not-all-that-exciting life.

Going down an inflatable water slide at 40-years-old dressed as Uncle Si from Duck Dynasty... I'm just not sure where else my life has to go after that.

Now, there is one danger of which you should be aware with these inflatable slides.  Inevitably, one of the smaller kids winds up getting hurt by one of the bigger kids and starts crying.  This also happened at Nephew Bone's party.  And no, the "bigger kid" in this instance wasn't me, thankyouverymuch.

Although I did make two kids cry on the trampoline.

But it's not my fault!  I have to do my high jumps!  It's family tradition.

And that's it.  Two simple steps to hosting a successful kids birthday party, from a guy who's never even hosted one. 

If I could proffer one final piece of advice, it would be this:  No one's perfect.  Actually, that's not really advice, is it?

Hmph.  Let's try something else.

Kids are a crapshoot.  We're all gonna make mistakes.  (Well, you're gonna make mistakes. As stated earlier I've not had kids yet, so...)  They're resilient.  They'll adjust.

And if they question you, respond as my Dad always did to me: "Because I said so."  (Bonus side note:  This works OK with kids.  Not as well with girls you may be dating.)

Besides, your kids have most likely figured out by now that you control the flow of Goldfish and juice in the household.  And once that pecking order has been established, what could go possibly go wrong?  And if they're still getting on your nerves, just send them up to bed early.  Problem solved.

Wow, if I already have this much knowledge about kids, once I get a couple years of actual experience, I'm gonna be a scary good parent.

No wonder my sister can't wait.

"Do you think for one minute that this is it / Your party is bogus, yo, it ain't legit / You better put on the Hammer and you will be rewarded / My beat is ever boomin' and you know I get it started..."

Monday, September 23, 2013

Music Monday: This time of year

It comes at first in bits and pieces.  Hinting at itself with a single crisp morning, only to be swallowed up by the heat of a midday Sun.  Then a week later, perhaps two, you get an entire day of it, the oppressive humidity removed and replaced by a feeling so familiar yet not fully describable, so that it can only be called "fall."

September seems to arrive on a gentle breeze.  At first it's just a breeze, stirring the still warm air.  But after some days, it begins to turn and to chill.  Soon here the cotton will be dried and full, ready for picking.  Then the leaves begin their spectacular but all-too-brief magic show, as the sun begins to set on the year.

For me, fall will always be a Friday afternoon in 1989.   It's high school, and a pep rally.  The students have long since mailed it in for the week, and most of the teachers have done the same.  It's intentionally accidentally bumping into the girl I've wanted to ask out since the first day of Physics after school, then not quite getting up the courage to.  But still smiling because I got to talk to her.  And besides, there would always be next week.

It's those few perfect days where no heat and no AC are needed.  It's driving with the windows down and singing at the top of my lungs to my "Unchained Melody" cassette single because Bill Medley and Bobby Hatfield knew just how I felt.

Fall is a reminder -- of itself, of other falls gone before, and of so many other things you hadn't even planned on remembering.  But damn that breeze and all it conjures up...

Taking advantage of the change in weather, we ventured down to the Clarkson Covered Bridge Sunday afternoon.  I have included some iPhone photos for your ocular delight.  The scenery is God's (and the Alabama Historical Commission's).  The captions are mine.

As covered bridges go, she seemed like a long one.

Historical markers: The original Wikipedia

"I don't ever wanna feeeeeel, like I did that day.  Take me to the place I looooove..."

I like to call this one "Tree on Side of Hill, Hashtag Nature."

I did everything I could to save this dog, but as it turns out he actually was not dead in the first place.

And it being Monday and all, I know it's a little out-of-character for me to do a Music Monday.  But what the heck.  I haven't blogged in a month.  May as well throw everything I've got out there at once.

I had a couple of songs in mind.  One was "This Time of Year" by Better Than Ezra, but it's really hard to find decent live versions of songs and I couldn't find an official video for that one.  The other song isn't anything all that remarkable.  But it was written by a guy from my home county, and a couple of the people mentioned in the song are real people who do or did exist, and I'm pretty sure the gin is still there.  So in that sense, I guess it is pretty cool.  It's called "Sweet Southern Comfort."  And again for lack of a decent live version, this is the video for the song.  Try and ignore the cheesy phone call bit at the start. 

"Well, there's a feeling in the air / Just like a Friday afternoon / Yeah, you can go there if you want / Though it fades too soon..."

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

Man perplexed by friends' lack of Zynga games activity


Mr. Cy Berstocker thinks he has uncovered something quite alarming about the world in which we live.  After suffering through a two-hour-plus period of a workday during which none of his friends played a single move in Words With Friends, the Alabama man began to wonder what was happening.

"I've got forty-seven games of Words With Friends currently in progress," Berstocker confessed as he showed off his sparkling career 25.1 points-per-word average.  "Now, I could see twelve or fifteen of these people having plans or just getting sick of playing, and losing.  Maybe even twenty or thirty.  But every single one?  It didn't seem likely."

That's when Berstocker began reading the premillennial book series, Left Behind.

"I'd always heard of the rapture, and I figured this might be it.  I remember those books being out so I picked one up and started reading.  Well, I probably don't have to tell you, it was pretty boring.  So I only got to page four.  That's when I decided something even more disturbing might be going on."

His hypothesis?  People at work, were actually working!

"I know it seems unlikely, but that's all I can come up with.  Look at this.  Normally, by this time of day my battery power is down to twenty or thirty percent.  Today?  Seventy-eight percent.  Meanwhile, I've been nudging people left and right, like an extroverted goat.  It's like a Twilight Zone where the protagonist wakes up and goes to work.  He's still goofing off, but suddenly everyone else is doing actual work.  It's freaking me out, man."

For now, Berstocker mostly sits and stares at his iPhone, pondering things like whether he has enough chip clips for all his potato chips, and maybe someday interacting with another human face-to-face.

Pulling down and releasing the screen every few seconds to refresh.

Hoping, praying, for any sign of life.

"Now I'm looking to the sky to save me / Looking for a sign of life / Looking for something to help me burn out bright..."

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Forty is the new seventy

Two weekends.  Two lakes.  Two very different outcomes.

The first, I was leaping from rocks, flying through the air with the grace of a young Greg Louganis, the first time his mother threw him into the pool and told him to swim or die.  (What?  It obviously worked out OK.) 

The second was much more sinister, much more sobering.  It is the second I want to focus on today.

I had just woken up from my second nap of the day.  It was a hard nap, where you wake up feeling like someone must have walloped you in the face with an iron skillet.  So I was admittedly a bit groggy as I made my way down the pier to the mini-catamaran of which I've become so fond.

There is a 3-to-4-foot step from the edge of the pier to the watercraft.  I've made it several times with no problem.  But on this day, something went horribly wrong.

A misstep, or a slip, or maybe someone pulled the watercraft slightly away at the last second.  We may never know for certain.  But in an instant, I was in the water.

My life flashed.  This couldn't be the real end, could it?  I mean, I had so much left to do.  I still haven't gotten to experience my full-on mid-life crisis!  That was undoubtedly going to spawn some killer blog entries, not to mention some great prescription meds! 

Clinging to the edge of the vessel for dear life, I began to take inventory of my faculties.  Silently, I cursed myself for so foolishly throwing away all those Scooter Store mail-outs.

So many questions ran through my head. Who would take care of me?  Could I still play Words With Friends?   What was my last Facebook status?  The latter is important because whenever someone dies tragically the news story always includes the line, "He had just posted on Facebook two days ago.... blah blah blah."

(If you're curious, my last Facebook status would have been: "Had a conversation with the neighbor earlier this evening about gout.  I think I may need to scale back.  My life is getting a little too exciting."  OK, so that actually works quite well as a final post.)

Oh, and was I injured?  Yes, yes, there was definite pain emanating from my left hand.  I looked at my hand, one of only two that I have, and there I saw it:  blood.

I could have drowned!  Thankfully, I had already strapped on my life vest.  Also, the water was about four feet deep.  But still, according to the internet it only takes two inches of water to drown a person, so... I could have drowned!  Or worse.

Becoming more aware of my surroundings, I began to hear cries of "Bone!  Bone!  Are you OK???"

I pondered my next move.

Should I boost myself up onto the pier, get up and pretend everything is fine?  Um hello?  Do you think you're watching some movie right now?   I'm not Rambo, or the Bionic Guy.  Also, did I mention I was bleeding???

Plus, if I hop right up it becomes a funny story, with everybody laughing at Bone.  Been there, done that.  If I'm injured, it becomes a sad story.  All I wanted was three or four days of pity, to be waited on hand and foot, and to be regarded by some as a hero.  Is that too much to ask?

Summoning strength uncommon for a person in my situation (and age), I crawled up on the pier and laid on my back, as someone who had just been saved from drowning might be expected to do.  Then waited for someone to come administer first aid.

My feet were hurting.  More specifically, my big toes.  They must have taken the brunt of the force from my one hundred and ninety-, er, eighty-five pounds.

They would wind up purple and blue.  And I'm pretty sure my left big toe is broken.  I must have really banged myself up on the underpinnings of the pier because at one point, I was bleeding out of five different portals of my body.  But those bruises are nothing compared to the deep-tissue contusion suffered by my pride.  For that, my friends, like so many of my emotional scars, will never heal.

How did this happen to me???  I'm Bone!  I once scored 26 points in a church league basketball game!  I keep telling myself 39-year-old me never would have fallen.  But 40-year-old me.... well, apparently he needs to get together a rudimentary last will and testament.

As you might expect, I look at life a little differently these days.  You young whippersnappers who want to go the speed limit, you go right ahead.  I'll be in my over-sized (read: safe) vehicle, cruising into the September of my life at no faster than 35 miles per hour.  In the left-hand lane.  With a perpetual turn signal on.

When you see me, I likely will have just come from the Walgreens where I purchased some hand-grips and no-slip shower mats for the bathroom.

At my age, you can't be too careful.

"People my age / Are showing some wear / There's holes where their teeth was / And their heads have gone bare / Their brains are shrinking / Faces sinking into fat / And as for the mirror / We won't be looking into that..."

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Music Monday: Blowing by

Time is always moving at light-speed, and few have lamented its swiftness as often as I.  But this summer has been especially quick.

I feel like I got to this summer movie an hour late.  I'm sitting here ready for it to begin, yet the calendar says intermission has already passed.  Oh well, maybe at least I'll be there for the climax.  Or more likely, as the September credits start to roll and everyone else is making their way out into the lobby discussing their favorite parts, I'll be sitting there wondering what just happened.  (And leaves are falling, in the lobby!  Because the lobby represents autumn.  Am I the only one getting confused by this film/seasons analogy?)

And yet, bygone years have taught me that the next one may be even more fleeting.  So lest I while away the last precious moments of this summer bemoaning its brevity, I should get in gear and see if I can't somehow figure out this plot.

I'd like to squeeze in a trip to Cincinnati yet this season to see the Reds.  And at some point a date needs to be nailed down for a white water rafting trip for which tickets have already been purchased.  But August is my busy time, what with the toddler birthday party circuit coming up and all.  And of course, all this has to be done before September, because that's college football season.  And that's a movie I never miss.

We did manage to fit in a canoe trip over the 4th of July weekend.  I always look forward to being in a place with no cell service.  It's nice to be off the grid for awhile.  That feeling lasts about three hours.  Then I'm looking to trade my soul for someone's WiFi password.

The canoe trip is ordinarily a most relaxing excursion.  The river virtually empty.  If you encounter 4 or 5 other canoes, that's about average.  But this year, there must have been a boom in the local water recreation industry.

There were at least 3 or 4 different canoe companies that had started up since the last time I was there, and they were all taking busloads of people back and forth.  My once quiet getaway now provided about as much peace and seclusion as an amusement park.

The river was an almost non-stop cluster of canoes and 10-year-old kids in kayaks.  It was my worst nightmare.  (Except in my nightmare I whack the kids in the head with my canoe paddle and they instantaneously regenerate into even more annoying versions of themselves.)

However, this was a nice twenty seconds:

Unfortunately, views like that were far between and way too few.  I think I'm beginning to understand the allure of becoming an astronaut.  It's the only way to get away from people anymore.  In fact, is that mission to Mars still on?  Seven-person crew.  55 million square miles.  I think I can handle that.  Can we go ahead and put internet there?  And a golf course.

I also found time to discover some new music recently, downloading the new album from Jason Isbell.  He's originally from Alabama.  And as with many local things, I'm not sure I have a good grasp on how widespread or popular he is.  But he was on Letterman, so... more popular than me, but probably not as popular as, say, the Beatles or Richard Marx.  Somewhere in between.

Anyway, it being Tuesday and all, I figured it was time for a Music Monday post.  The album is titled Southeastern.  The songwriting is splendid.  And this particular song has been stuck in my head for most of the past week.

"I had to summon the confidence needed to hear her goodbye / And another brief chapter without any answers blew by..."

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Debbie does delusion

I have a friend.  I know, shocking.  We'll call her Debbie.  (She once wore a bonnet and bore a striking likeness to the snack cake empress, so we started calling her "Little Debbie.")

Some years ago, Debbie, her boyfriend, a couple other friends and I went to the Mardi Gras.  It was 1990-something.  We were young.  We had no idea what was in store....  OK, so I suppose we had some idea.

We would stay in Mobile, whose Mardi Gras celebrations, I learned, actually pre-date those in New Orleans by several years.  We'd check out the parades in Mobile one day, and drive over to check out the scene in New Orleans another day.

But this is not a Mardi Gras story, per se.  It's more of a Little Debbie story -- the friend, not the snack cake.  (Though I could discuss Nutty Bars, Oatmeal Creme Pies, and Banana Twins at length.)  It's  a story I had forgotten about until I was talking about imaginary friends with someone last week.  No, not my therapist.  Well, not paid therapist anyway.

Debbie is a sweet, sweet person, passive and a bit soft-spoken, which I suppose left her open to our, at times, incessant kidding.  She was always talking about these girls -- friends of hers -- that we never saw.  So at some point it became sort of a running joke amongst our little group of friends that these girls didn't actually exist and Debbie was just making them up.

Yes, long before Manti Te'o, there was Debbie. 

It was in Mobile that the whole imaginary friends thing sort of came to a head. 

One of Debbie's "friends" from college lived in Mobile.  We'll call her "Alison."  Debbie was to call Alison when we got in town and we'd meet up at some point.  "Sure we will, Debbie.  Whatever you say."

On the drive down, that's all we heard.  Then once we arrived, we weren't allowed to make any other plans until we found out when Alison wanted to hang out.  At long last, we were going to meet one of Debbie's friends.

She called Alison one afternoon to supposedly set up the rendezvous.  I want to say one of us grabbed the phone to see if there was actually a real, live person on the other end, but my memory fails me at this point so I can't be sure.

When Debbie got off the phone, we asked when and where we were supposed to meet her "friend."

"She says she'll just meet us downtown tonight."

In case you've forgotten, it's Mardi Gras.  There are several THOUSAND people downtown.  Tens of thousands.  And we're just supposed to bump into this girl "downtown???"

Needless to say, we never ran into her.  And as you might imagine, the teasing grew evermore incessant.

That was back in the days when we were all broke and limber enough to fit 6 or 7 people in one hotel room/two beds.  (Well, I'm still broke, but no longer quite so limber.)  To Debbie's credit, she did not require us to leave a space in bed for her imaginary friend.

Or make me give her any of my beads for flashing her imaginary boobs.

"When you're alone / And life is making you lonely / You can always go / Downtown..."

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Jumping the Sharknado

When I first heard about the Sharknado, I'll be honest, I thought it was real.  In my mind, I pictured a series of angry shark attacks in a limited geographical area.  Sort of a Bermuda Triangle meets the killer bees meets Jaws.  With all the freaky stuff going on in the world today, I figured, "Why not?"

Then I found out it was a movie.  And a sci-fi movie, at that.  And suddenly I had lost what little interest I ever had.

I was on Twitter Thursday night when the Sharknado began.  At least three out of every four tweets on my feed were Sharknado-related.  As is often the case when seemingly everyone jumps on the bandwagon of anything, I become even more averse to that thing.

I briefly considered unfollowing everyone who tweeted anything about Sharknado.  "That'll show 'em," I thought to myself, suddenly feeling like someone you'd most often find living in their parents' basement.  But as that would have left me only following about eight people, I decided to pass.

And then...

Someone made the mistake of tweeting something about Ian Ziering being in the movie.

And that's all it took for me to be sucked into the Sharknado.

Yes, while many guys may have been watching to see Tara Reid, I was not among them.  I was watching for the actor who once played the affable Steve Sanders on Beverly Hills 90210.

You see, I have an obligation to watch any and everything featuring any former cast member of the original 90210.  (Except for Andrea. Blech!)  Why else would I have watched even the fifteen minutes I did of Tori & Dean: Inn Love?  Exactly.  There is no other acceptable reason.

For the few of you who may still be reading, er, wondering what Sharknado is, I quote from the ultimate source of all internet knowledge, Wikipedia: "Sharknado is a 2013 made-for-television disaster film about a tornado that lifts sharks out of the ocean and deposits them in Los Angeles."

Sort of a City of Angels meets Jaws meets Twister.

However, Sharknado was much more than just a movie.  It was, simply put, a Twitter phenomenon.  Soon I found myself making sarcastic comments about the movie with people I'd never met.  For two hours, that's all we did.  Even a few members of the Twitterati were chiming in.  It was such an in-the-moment, true-life experience... in a virtual setting, obviously.

In fact, I do hereby declare that from now to forever, all subsequent Twitter phenomena in which more than half of all Tweets in the world at any given moment are about the same topic also be referred to as a "Sharknado."

Some examples: "Boy, Twitter really sharknadoed last night."  "That UFO landing caused Twitter to Sharknado last night."  (Note: There hasn't really been a UFO landing. At least, not that the government will admit.)

For your confusion, I will be using the term "Sharknado" to refer to both the movie and the Twitter phenomena.

The fact that 1.4 million people watched Sharknado probably says more about the lack of halfway-decent summertime TV options than anything else.  Because it was bad.  We're talking  USA-Up-All-Night bad.  But the thing is, it was so bad, it was hilarious.  I would estimate SyFy spent upwards of five, six thousand dollars on the 1960's-era special effects.

What could have made it better?  I have two words for you: Brandon Walsh.  Well, any additional original 90210 characters really.  You telling me "Sure, Donna Martin graduated, but can she survive... the Sharknado?!?!" wouldn't have made a killer tag line?

But I'll take what I can get.  It was nice to see Ian Ziering not be typecast for once.  In Sharknado, his character is a California surfer and bar owner. As opposed to 90210, where his character was a California frat boy and club manager.  (I think we all remember the Peach Pit After Dark.)  So, very different.

I also have a few suggestions for future SyFy movies that I would like to see:  Dogcano.  Snakequake.  The scarier-than-you-might-think Hurricrane.  And the catch-all Zoonami.  And by "I would like to see," I mean, "I can't promise that I'll be watching."

One wonders what might possess SyFy to make such a bad movie in the first place?  Well, if nothing else, it keeps actors like Ian Ziering gainfully employed, so that they don't have to resort to a career in the porn industry.  I mean, even I don't want to see that.  Well, maybe.......  No, definitely not.

In closing, I'm sure this post has raised several questions in your mind, about me, about the world we live in... but mostly about me.  And I'm sure some of you are also wondering, could a Sharknado ever really happen?

Well, if you're referring to the tornado/shark natural disaster portrayed in the movie, my answer would be: I don't really know.  I'm not sure I understand all the science and meteorology behind it.

But if you're referring to the Twitter phenomenon which will now and forevermore be known as a Sharknado, my answer would be:  It already has.

"And I've given up hope on the afternoon soaps and a bottle of cold brew / Is it any wonder I'm not crazy? / Is it any wonder I'm sane at all?"

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

He lives

I made my little-ballyhooed return to Facebook a couple weeks ago.  The response was as you might expect.  A couple of "He's alives!" and one "Rumors of Bone's demise were greatly exaggerated."

But alas, I'm no Facebook Jesus.  Or even a Facebook Paul McCartney.  If anything, I'm more of a Facebook Luke Spencer.  Good for a few one-liners, then mysteriously absent for months on end.  But always, beloved by all.  (Wow, that last line sounds a little tombstone-ish.  Eh, I'll never come up with anything better.  Go ahead and chisel me in.)

November 28, 2011.  That was the fateful day of my last Facebook status update.  I had posted the following: "Why does Yahoo weather say it's snowing here, but when I look out I don't see ANY?  Am I... wait for it...... snow blind?"

And then, nothing.  For nineteen months.  No likes.  No status updates.  No passive-aggressive "Don't you love when someone lies to your face."  No "Thank you all so much for the birthday wishes, I've never felt more loved (by people I barely know)."

Nineteen months with no Facebook gives a man a lot of time to think.  And tweet.  But mostly, tweet.

Since my unceremonious return, the two questions I get the most are: Why did you quit Facebook?  And why did you come back?  And, did you know your Dad has like a hundred more friends than you?  OK, so three questions.

To be honest, I have given almost no thought to the first question.  I mean, who has the time for such ponderings when you log in to see one of your high school friends (Axl) has changed his profile pic and underneath it you read "Your dad and twelve other people like this."  (Is that tombstone ready yet?)

Top of my head, a few things do come to mind which contributed to my hiatus.  They include, but are not limited to:  Political posts.  People who seem to be in some unannounced competition to make their life seem beyond perfect and better than everyone else's, especially when you talk to said person almost daily and they do nothing but gripe and complain about their life away from Facebook.  Also, it sometimes felt like a contest for likes and comments.

And don't get me started on the typos and misspelled words. My God, the misspelled words! My blood pressure goes up forty points just thinking about them.

But mainly, I think it comes down to the fact that I'm just not a very social person.  And it is, after all, a social networking site.  It was just too much.  I like my human interaction in small doses.

So why am I back?  I suppose I had contemplated returning for sometime.  But ultimately, the straw that broke the Facebook-less camel's back was a single, kind post by a sweet friend.  It reminded me that there were a lot of good, supportive friends there.  And that I shouldn't let the bad and annoying behavior of a few rob the rest of the world of my brilliant-in-my-own-mind, if sporadic, statuses. Besides, it's becoming pretty clear Facebook is part of my heritage.

I can easily see Dad and I having a Frank and George Costanza Festivus moment, only about Facebook:
"Bone, Facebook is your heritage. It's part of who you are!"
"That's why I hate it."

Don't get me wrong.  It's still way too much.  Do you realize some people post on Facebook four or five times a day?  Who has that kind of time???  I barely had time to score twelve thousand points last week in Words With Friends.

And can I just say, I think we're all overusing the "like" button a bit?

"My dog died."  47 likes.

"My kid's sick." 22 likes.

"Darrin lost his job today.  No idea how we're going to pay the rent next month." 6 likes.

And now we're liking comments, too?  You can even like your OWN comment (which I have done, on more than one occasion, if you're curious).  Next we'll be liking likes.  "Hey, I liked your last status update, why didn't you like my like?"  These are the important conversations I imagine people to have.

The other thing I would like to know is where are all these overly-friendly people in real life?  I mean, I'm driving and people are cutting me off and honking and giving unflattering hand gestures.  And nobody likes anything or anybody at work.  People are griping about their spouses or clients or co-workers.

But put these very same people on Facebook, and magically they turn into the world's largest support group.  How fortuitous, as I've been looking for a new support group since my Jason-Morgan-Dependency group fizzled out a few weeks ago.

I should invent an app.  It would work with your Facebook page to give your friends more options than just liking a post.  There could be a "sympathy" button.  A "love" button.  (Sounds kinda kinky.)  A "BO-RING!" button.  If a post gets 10 "borings" Facebook automatically deletes it.  And of course, the ever popular "My God, are you on Facebook 24/7!?!?" button (also known as the "you are posting excessively" button).

I'm serious about this!  I think I shall be googling "Designing Apps For Dummies" later today.

Game on, Zuckerberger.

("Like" this post by commenting below, and be automatically entered to win a free reply.)

"Looking at pictures on Facebook / Of your ex-girlfriend / At three in the morning / Never helped anyone..."

Wednesday, June 19, 2013


 It's a beautiful evening here as I sit on the back porch writing.  Twilight is setting in.  The clouds are a mix of pink and and purple and a weird blue-gray.  The moon is out -- a waxing gibbous, I think it's called.  Looks like it'll be full in a few days.  It's a painting.  God doing his best Bob Ross.  Or maybe God let Bob paint this one...

I don't know what it is about Father's Day that makes me think about my dad.  Just one of life's little mysteries, I suppose.

Saturday, the plan was to meet Dad and his wife and go to supper and to the cemetery where his parents are buried.  (I've written about the cemetery here.)   Dad wanted to meet at 3:30.  It's about a 45-minute-to-an-hour drive to the cemetery.  So I'm thinking we'll get there at 4:30, leave the cemetery around 5ish, and be at the restaurant by 5:15 or so.  I know they like to eat super early, so that seemed like a good compromise.

I cannot adequately describe the moment of surprise and just wanting to burst out laughing out loud as Dad blew past the exit to the cemetery and I realized, "Oh, my dear Heavenly Father, we are about to eat supper at 4:15 in the afternoon."

But that's exactly what happened.

As we were ordering our drinks, my step-mom got water and whispered, "I didn't figure I oughta have any caffeine this late in the day."  Meanwhile, I was looking much forward to my sweet tea and thinking, "I'll be doing great if this is the last caffeine I have today!"

After force-feeding myself a rather delicious meal of a cheeseburger, chili dog, (What?  They're really small!  Everybody gets multiples!) and banana pudding for dessert, we left for the cemetery.

Dad took a different way -- an old way -- and showed us the house where he grew up.  As we continued on the drive, I asked where his high school was, and he started peering off the road to the right.  He said, "You can probably see it behind these new buildings."  The buildings turned out to be the new school. He didn't realize they had built one.  And though I'm sure it didn't bother him, I felt bad for him in that instant.

Later, he took us clear across town to the cemetery where his two half-brothers are buried.  They weren't buried near each other and they obviously weren't buried by their parents.  I wondered why.  Dad didn't seem to know.

At some point as we walked amongst the peaceful rows of markers and flowers Dad mentioned that he and his wife had already purchased their spaces at a cemetery near where they live now.  It's not something I wanted to think or talk about, so I left his words to linger and fade without a response.  At the same time, I marveled at how he spoke of his own mortality with such matter-of-factness.

I think Dad is in a really good place these days.  There's an ease in him now that wasn't always there.  A contentment.  He seems to have found the answers to some of life's many questions.  It gives me hope that I, who take after him in so many other ways, will do the same.

He's all over Facebook now.  He mentioned it on at least six separate occasions during our excursion Saturday.  And when I called to see if he wanted to do this for Father's Day, he was at the gym.

We leave each other with a hug instead of a handshake anymore.  And the "I love yous" are no longer just implied.

But not everything has changed. He's still playing the guitar, still working, still driving the same old Chevy truck, which seems to always be barely running.  He's still in church every Sunday morning and night.  And he remains quite taken with his role as a grandpa.  "Peepaw," Nephew Bone calls him.  Some might say it's the role he was born to play.

Me, I always kinda thought he made a pretty good dad.

"I notice I walk the way he walks / I notice I talk the way he talks / I'm startin' to see / My father in me..."

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

What people really mean when they type "LOL"

Well, I've done it.  I have created the definitive "definition of all LOL's" pie chart of our time.  And it only took me about four hours.  

Listen to these reviews... that I just made up:

IAW (Internet Acronym Weekly) raves, "BHDI!"  (Bone has done it!)

TextSavvy agrees: "We've looked for years for something like this, but everything that was out there was so lame.  This is only kind of lame."

Windows 3.1 For Dummies says, "Exquisite use of Paintbrush.  It's pretty clear from this the world will never need any other graphics/art software program ever!"

I'm not one to brag, but this may be my second-best pie chart ever.  Ideally, it would have a title, but whatever, you already know what it's about, so... enjoy!

"Shopping online for deals on some writable media / I edit Wikipedia / I memorized Holy Grail really well / I can recite it right now and have you ROTFLOL..." 

Saturday, June 01, 2013

Debunking the Big Bang Theory

Something has been weighing on my mind for some time, yet I have refrained from writing about it until now because, well quite frankly, I was afraid I would be persecuted for my beliefs.

And that thing is, the Big Bang Theory.

I know for a fact that some of you subscribe to the BBT, and are likely already planning your rebuttals for the comments section.  I have only one question for you people:  What have you been smoking?  And would you be able to ship some of that legally to me here in Alabama?  OK, so two questions.

My feelings on the Big Bang Theory can be summed up in two sentences: I don't believe it... is funny.  And I'm not buying it... as the #1 sitcom on television.

I've tried.  I've watched (parts of) four, maybe three episodes.  Didn't laugh.  Didn't chuckle.  Nothing.

To be fair, I don't laugh at many showsCheers and Seinfeld, obviously.  The Office, years 1 through 6 AC (Anno Carelli, loosely translated "in the year of our Michael Scott").  As far as current shows, New Girl makes me laugh.  There are a couple others.  But even if I don't laugh at a sitcom, I can usually find it mildly amusing, or at least see why some people would.

But when I watch the Big Bang Theory, I just sit there, mouth agape, eyes slightly squinted.  It's exactly the same look I had on the first day of Calculus.  I'm waiting, hoping for something, anything, to click.  But nothing ever does. 

It seems like such a one-trick pony to me.  Sheldon is a nerd.  He's socially stunted.  I get it.  Only I find him entirely unfunny and, to be honest, quite annoying.  Oh, and Penny is the (air quotes alert) "normal" girl.  What an ingenious and original concept. Hey, 1965 called.  Marilyn Munster wants her gig back.

Now granted, the little Roseanne reunion they've got going on is nice, with Darlene and David, and Aunt Jackie.  Get back to me when they bring the original Becky on and we'll talk. 

OK, so I don't like the show.  So what?  Not every show is for everybody.  There are two hundred plus channels on this newfangled cable, so I'll just watch something else and let it go.

Except I can't.


I'll tell you why.  Because I'm me.  Because I can't let anything go.  Because if dead-horse-beating were an Olympic sport, I would be the Michael Phelps of it (without the proud mom or the marijuana scandal).  And because it bugs me to no end that I -- who has and still occasionally do consider comedian to be one of 30 to 40 possible career options when I grow up -- find virtually no humor in a show everyone else seems to love.  (Emphasis on "no end," as well as the implications that I've yet to grow up or choose a career.)

Imagine if you thought you might want to be.... I don't know... a singer when you grew up.  But you couldn't stand One Direction's music.  OK, bad example, everybody likes One Direction.  What about this?  You wanted to be a TMZ reporter, but you don't find anything interesting or unusual about Miley Cyrus, Amanda Bynes, or bikini pictures of anyone named Kardashian.  Can you imagine how horrible that would be???  Well, welcome to the comedic impasse known as my life.  At this rate, I may never find a career.

You know, I wouldn't even say anything if it were like the number fourteen show on television.  But CBS has to shove down my throat at every opportunity that it's number ONE!  Which in itself is annoying.

When you're number one, you don't flaunt it.  Fans of the #1 team in sports don't wear foam fingers proclaiming they're #1.  They're too busy out celebrating another championship, setting cars on fire and getting pepper-sprayed.  It's those delusional fans of the teams that are nowhere near the top that usually wear the foam fingers.

Besides, you can twist numbers to say anything you want.  For example, let's say on average 15 million people watch BBT each week.  Sounds like a lot, doesn't it?   Until you consider there are more than 300 trillion people in the United States... what?  Oh, million, 300 million.  Which means two hundred and... uh ..... a WHOLE LOT of us don't find your little nerd show funny.  So who's twisting numbers now?  Huh? Huh?  Huh?  Mmhmm, mmhmm, mmhmm.

Please understand, it's not that I have anything against nerds.  OK, maybe their perceived lack of hygiene.  But otherwise, I'm pro-nerd.  To wit, Kip was one of my four favorite characters on Napoleon Dynamite.  Nerds is one of my top twenty favorite candies.  And The It Crowd -- also about nerds -- is my favorite Netflix discovery in the history of Netflix discoveries.

In fact, I was so devastated when I had watched all the episodes of The IT Crowd that I didn't watch Netflix for days.  My Netflix obsession was dead.  Buried.  Fortunately, on the third day, it was resurrected when I bore witness to an Audrey Hepburn movie I had not seen before.

Feeling disillusioned by the Big Bang Theory, and feeling there had to be something more, I began to search for answers.  So I spent two hours googling the BBT one night.  Again, I spent two hours googling a show I DON'T EVEN LIKE!

I came across one article titled "Eleven Reasons Geeks Hate The Big Bang Theory," which I did not find really applied to me.

Then I discovered someone who was using the power of the YouTube pulpit to spread their message.  They had posted a video of a scene from the Big Bang Theory with the laugh track removed.  I think the point was to prove how unfunny the scene was without the subliminal "you're supposed to laugh at this" message.  To which I gave a hearty "Amen!"

(At that point, I got sidetracked looking up stuff on how people react to a show when there is canned laughter versus when there is none, and lost about 30 minutes.)

Finally, I found an article written by a guy who sounded similar to me.  It bugged him because he didn't find the BBT funny but some of his friends did.  As I continued reading the TV-gospel-according-to-this-guy, he also spoke of a sitcom not of this present country -- the IT Crowd! Like me, he subscribes to the Intelligent Design of The IT Crowd over the Big Bang Theory.  Finally, I had found my TV-viewing messiah! 

And lastly, there were also some Big Bang porn links, as you might expect.  Entertaining in their own way, I'm sure, but not really relevant for this post.

I suppose this debate will rage on (in my mind), possibly forever, or at least until the show is canceled and America writes me a big note of a apology -- preferably framed and in calligraphy -- saying, "What were we thinking!?" 

So, probably forever.

Meanwhile, I will continue to search for validation for my beliefs.  Don't think me poor, or deserted, or lonely.  For I am just a pilgrim, in search of a sitcom, a network free of reality shows, where there is no more canned laughter.  And there shall be no night there... with bad TV.  And they shall need no Hulu, neither subscription to Netflix.  For the utter hilarity of the shows giveth them entertainment.  And they shall dwell on the couches in their houses forever.

Join me next week when I may or may not reveal my Theory of the Evolution of How I Met Your Mother, but most likely won't.

"We settled in for the night /  My baby and me / We switched around and 'round / Until half-past dawn / But there were fifty-seven channels and nothing on..."

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

The Mount Rushmore of dads

Parents.  They're the best.

Sometimes you think you know them so well -- their dislikes, their... other dislikes, which things you should never tell them under any circumstance, and exactly what to say to get them to kick in a few extra bucks for groceries (vacation, shoes, etc.) without having to directly ask.

And then sometimes, it's as if they aren't your real parents at all, but rather part of some top-secret experiment.  Aliens, planted by the government and made to look like your real parents.  And you are just a pawn in their game, kept alive only to make it appear as if they are an average American family.  You know, so the Soviets won't catch on.

Here's a for-instance:  My sister called a few months ago to tell me Dad was posting pro-gun propaganda on his Facebook page.  OK, fine.  Dad and I have never been completely in agreement on politics, and a lot of people post crap like that.  So not all that odd, right?


We never had anything more than a BB gun in the house, ever, for my entire life!  I wanted to comment and say exactly that, but you know how parents get if you post all the time on their Facebook wall.  They think you're hovering.

Then a couple weeks ago, I was conversing with a lady whose husband played music with my father in the seventies.  As in, the nineteen-seventies.  I knew Dad had played music most of his life, so again, not a big shock.


She started telling me that Dad's band had a manager who booked them gigs around the area.  In her opinion, the reason they never got any bigger was they refused to play places which served alcohol.  AND, they wore matching "uniforms."  According to her, they were leisure suits -- silver jackets and green-and-white striped pants!  It sounds like they were basically the white Temptations!

How did I get to be this age and never know this about he who reared me???

Now for the latest adventure in the My Dad Is From Mars saga.  I was talking with my alleged father the other day, and he informed me he and his wife are thinking of taking another trip.

Let it be noted here that my dad, who used to complain about going anywhere farther than out to eat, has in his recent years become a veritable Kerouac.  Except without the drinking.  Or the writing.

Last year, they visited North Carolina.  The year before that, it was the Grand Canyon.  And this year?

"We're thinking of going to South Dakota."

What I thought was, "To get ready for some sort of doomsday scenario?  Is the end upon us???"

What I said was, "Oh, that'll be nice.  I've heard there's lots to do there.  Mount Rushmore and the Black Hills...."

He replied, "Yeah, and there's that mountain with the Presidents' heads."  Dad doesn't hear so well anymore.

He continued.

"And there's Sturgis, where they have the big motorcycle rallies."

Uhh..... what?

I think my feeling at that point could best be described as one of bewildered confusion.  Suffice it to say, at that moment, I was confildered.  I'm fairly certain I gave him that you-just-sprouted-a-second-head look.  And not just any second head, but one that looked like my Dad and spoke alternately with the voices of Dog the Bounty Hunter and Wink Martindale.  You know the type.

How does my dad even know about Sturgis?  And why on Earth would he think of going?  Maybe he watches Full Throttle Saloon.  Or maybe this was some sort of joke, like how he used to drive across the river pretending he was going to Huntsville (then the nearest place) to buy alcohol until I would cry and beg him to turn around.

Or maybe, just maybe, my father has a Harley I don't know about.   And chaps.  And quite possibly an "NRA" do-rag.

Oh well.  I can only hope and assume his pro-gun rhetoric will serve him well there.

Godspeed, my enigmatic longtime legal custodian.  May Charlton Heston be with you.

Oh, and you're probably gonna need a new name.  Something tough like Tex, or Maverick, or Sea Bass.

God, I hope he knows it's motorcycles, and not bicycles.  A son worries.

"You can just turn in your ring and your tie tack 'cause Coy, you are out of the Shrine! You're gonna be blackballed, Coy!  That's right.  You may have to pack your bags and leave town. What do you mean, you might join the Hells Angels?"

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Thoughts of home

It's not the town where I was born.  Nor is it the town where I live now.  But it's where I've spent the most of my days.

None of my family live there anymore.  But it's still the one place I'm more likely to recognized than anywhere else.

I still think of it as home.

There, I'll always be my parents' son, or my sister's older brother.  The kid in the brown smock and pink knit, square-end tie who bagged groceries at the Piggly Wiggly.  The underachiever who frustrated more than one teacher because he cruised through high school finishing sixth in his class rather than daring to stand out by, oh I don't know, actually trying.

There's something reassuring in the knowledge that whether you go off and make it big or whether you never amount to much of anything, in your hometown you're still just you.

I had occasion to visit my hometown a few weeks ago.  The only accountant I've ever used has her office there.

A lot sure has changed in that little town.

To someone only passing through that would probably seem strange to hear.  For it's nothing you would notice at first glance.  Just a lot of little things that only someone who spent a number of years there --  who grew up there -- would see.

The four-way stop has been replaced by a traffic light.  The shopping center once home to the Winn Dixie, a Bargain Town, and the Elmore's five-and-dime now houses a different grocery store, a gym, and an H&R Block.

They've built a new courthouse out on the four-lane.  The old courthouse is just a building now.  It's three stories serving as an unintentional monument of the town square which has changed so much around it.  Thirty years ago, it was still the center of commerce.  And every Friday and Saturday night, there would be a solid line of cars -- teenagers in Trans-Ams and old pickup trucks and Novas -- cruising the square.

I remember when the "new" four-lane was first coming through.  Before it opened, you could go around the orange roadblock signs and drive on the fresh, jet-black pavement.  It's where Dad would take me to practice driving, since you didn't have to worry about traffic.  And I realized he was younger then than I am now...

They finally tore down the old Star Theatre.  It was an old-style art deco theatre with half-moon doors.  And even though it was never open as long as I can remember, seeing its ticket window and big marquee, I always liked to imagine how alive it must have been on some long ago day.  Every so often, there would be talk that somebody was going to open it back up again, but nobody ever did.  

I drove past the spot where the old lumber company used to be.  A few years ago, it burned to the ground.  I knew a fireman who died there.  The obvious void in the landscape seemed fitting for the gaping hole I know he left in the lives of his wife, and children, and grandchildren.

Somewhere around this time, it began to dawn on me how virtually every street in this town held a memory for me.  Almost every building, some significance.

The old Texaco, which is now a used car lot, is where I used to stop every evening on my way to work (under the guise of buying a snack) to see a girl who worked the counter.  She even stopped in to see me at work a couple of times, but I was too naive or unskilled to ever go any further.

That's just a few blocks from the intersection where I killed my Jeep umpteen times one night when I was learning to drive a stick.  We must have sat through at least 5 green lights, me panicking while my baby sister sat in the passenger seat telling me it was going to be OK. She loves recounting that story at family gatherings for some reason.

Just off the square, there's the Western Auto where I once bought a 10-speed.  It was all covered with dust and the tires were flat and I remember thinking they must not sell too many bikes.

Out on the four-lane, now next to the new Walmart, is the church of Christ where I had my sins washed away.  I can still remember the feeling of freedom and purity I felt that day, and the guilt I've felt so many times since.

If you head south, on the outskirts of town, there's the Baptist church which none of us attended, but we sure made good use of their outdoor basketball court.  The goals are no longer there, the church having installed an indoor gym many years ago.  The old court now serves as a parking lot for the church buses.  As I'm writing this, I just now remembered there would sometimes be an older gentleman, probably in his 70's, who would occasionally come and bring a lawn chair and watch our pickup games.  I hadn't thought of that memory in probably twenty years!

A part of me will always be bound to that little town, held fast by so many memories, people and places, a lot of them no longer there anymore.  But I can still see them, in my mind, frozen in time exactly as they were ten, fifteen, twenty-five years ago..

I smiled when I thought about the barber shop where old Mister Albert used to cut my hair.  I never saw him when he wasn't wearing dress pants and a button-down shirt.  Dad and I would both get our haircuts the same day.  I'll always remember the story about Mister Albert having a mild heart attack while cutting someone's hair.  He sat down in a chair for a couple of minutes to rest, then got up and finished the haircut before he would go to the hospital.

It feels like I could go on forever.

Not surprisingly, the accountant asked about my mom.   There, I'll always be my parents' son...  I just had to sign some papers.  We exchanged a bit of small talk and I was on my way.

A lot of times I would have taken a couple minutes to drive by our old house: an unassuming three-bedroom brick on a sleepy little street with a carport, gravel driveway, and a maple tree in the front yard.  It's the last place my parents lived together.

But on this day, I did not.

Maybe I was afraid it had changed and wouldn't be as I remembered it. Maybe I'd seen enough change for one day.

Besides, I can go back there most anytime.

All I have to do is close my eyes.

"Southbound breezes blowin' / This town ain't my home / You can slow me down / But I'm goin' / If I can turn this road I'm on / Southbound..."

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Life at up to 30 Mbps

It's been tough again for me to write.  First, Boston, and then West, Texas, just took my heart.  And yet, the days keep coming.  The world keeps spinning.  Somehow.

The human spirit again proves irrepressible.  Still I wonder how much more we can take.

Some have said the thing to do is to live your life.  Go out.  Run another marathon.  Hop on a plane.  Blog.  And so, here am I.

The spring has found me busier than usual, which let's face it, wasn't very busy at all.  I've taken on some freelance work on the side, and have also started a lawn care business.  At present I have precisely two clients.  That may not sound like much to you, but it's about fourteen steps further than most of my ideas ever get, which in case you're wondering, is usually about the point where I think, "Hmm, that's a good idea, I should really look into that.  Woo, I'm sleepy.  Nappy time." 

It's all in the name of not only making ends meet, but perhaps even having them overlap a bit.  My apologies to those of you whose image of me was that of a kind of southern Kardashian, independently wealthy and making millions more from this blog.

Today, that image has been shattered.

The freelance job forced me to finally do something about my internet.  My AT&T DSL, which for years was decent, had in recent months been doing a dead-eye impersonation of dial-up.  Dead being the operative word there.  So as of this past Tuesday (martes, for my Hispanic readers), I'm on cable internet.

Oh. Em. Gee!

It's like I hopped in the DeLorean un martes tarde to go for a drive, hit 88 miles per hour, and boom!  Instantly I have been transported from 1997 to 2006.  And while I do kind of miss Hanson and Mark Morrison -- I mean, I think we all thought they were here to stay -- now my Netflix doesn't freeze five times during a half-hour show!  I never said anything before because it was so embarrassing.

I feel like I just got indoor plumbing for the first time.

To celebrate -- the internet, not the plumbing -- I watched two episodes of The Hills on Netflix.  Ugh, that Heidi.  Even in reruns, she just... ugh!  Don't get me started.  Oh, oh, OH!


They brought me out a cable box.  See, I'd been getting my cable straight from the wall all these years, which evidently was robbing me of HD and limiting my number of channels.


The only thing you really need to get from all this is:  I've got SoapNet back!  So now I can watch my stories every night!

I haven't been this excited since... have I ever been this excited?

Probably not.  Especially when you consider there is a channel that shows WKRP In Cincinnati at night, AND there was an ABBA movie on last night!!!  I didn't even know there WAS an ABBA movie!!!  (Also, if I ever learn how to make that backwards B, I may just retire from the internets.)

Anyhow.  Naturally, I watched General Hospital the past couple of nights, and began to catch up with Luke, Laura, Scott, Dante, Lulu, Patrick, Brenda, Sonny, Nikolas, Michael, and unfortunately, Carly.  However, I'm still not sure how Stavros managed to escape the bottomless pit Luke pushed him into all those years ago?  That's seems a tad unrealistic, GH.

After that, The Young & The Restless came on.  Now I've never watched the show (honest!) but I left it there, just to see if I could catch a glimpse of Jason Morgan.  At first there were two old guys on there I didn't recognize.  Personally, they didn't look all that young or restless to me. 

And then...

There he was.  The gangster/coffee importer/main-reason-I-own-a-black-leather-jacket formerly known as Jason Morgan.  In all his perfect-hair glory.

I'll admit, it was tough.  I mean, this is a guy I modeled much of my life after.  At least, my stoic facade and my cool manner with the ladies.

It was like seeing an ex-girlfriend you dated for years, but now she's married to someone else, and he's a nice enough guy and she acts happy, but you know they'll never have what you and she had, and sure you made mistakes but who doesn't, your story wasn't over yet and how could she give up on that and settle for him when the two of you had so much left to do!  And why?  Because it's convenient???  Well love's not always convenient!!!!!!

So... uh, yeah.. it was a lot like that... 

Here's a fact you may find amusing.  This actually started out to be a Music Monday post.  I know, normally I post those on Tuesdays.  But anyway, that just goes to show you how much I procrastinate, er, like to plan things out in my head for a few days before actually getting around to doing them.

It's one of my endearing qualities. I like to pretend I have several.

Monday was Glen Campbell's birthday.  As I was googling and listening to some of his music, I hadn't realized how many songs he'd done with a positive, upbeat message.  Sure some of them were a bit hokey.  But after the previous week the world had seen, I was in the mood for some hokey.

This is a song called "I Will Never Pass This Way Again."  It definitely has a bit of a gospel feel to it.  The time stamp is a little distracting, and the audio and video are a tad out of sync.  Hey, it was 1973. I'm sure it was a crazy time for us all.

I also came across Glen's version of "MacArthur Park," a song I've loved from the first time I heard it.  I really like Waylon Jennings' version of this, but it wasn't Waylon's birthday, so...

"I will taste the wine while it is warm / And never let you catch me lookin' in the sun..."

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Is "bitches" a derogatory term?

The boys of summer -- who actually show up in early spring and somewhat overstay their welcome through mid-fall -- have arrived.

Baseball is here.  Which means fantasy baseball is here.  Which means it's time for Bone to spend hours, yea, minutes, researching, surveying, and creaticizing, all in an effort to come up with the best, most clever team name in all the fantasy league.

Mission... accepted.

There has been a long-held conception that if I spent as much time and mental energy on drafting and managing my team (say, for the entire season rather than losing interest sometime in mid-June) as I do naming my team, then maybe their results would be better.

And I must admit, even I was starting to question whether that might be the case.

And then last year happened.  Dusty's Spring Field happened.  Possibly the most dominating season in the history of history happened.  

I won my league by 29 points!   While I'm sure most of you are familiar with fantasy baseball rules and scoring, there may be a couple of you (*cough* Renee *cough*) who have no idea what I'm talking about and who are, in fact, only "skimming" this post as we speak.

So to put that in some perspective, I finished 29 points ahead of the second place team.  Meanwhile, the difference between the second place team and the last place team was only 28 points.

A legend began to grow about my fantasy baseball adroitness.  I considered retiring.  I mean, from such great heights where else could I go but down?  Besides, if you recall, we were all pretty sure the world was going to end last year anyway.  

But then, I remembered a lesson learned from those athletic conquistadors of my youth -- Brett Favre, Michael Jordan, Brett Favre again.  And that is: never go out on top.

And so, I'm back, for one more run.  Or two.  Until no one wants me in their league anymore or they carry me away from the keyboard with a career-ending carpal tunnel injury.  That's how I wanna go out.

Now, without further adieu (because really, that was quite a bit of adieu, doncha think?), I present this year's finalists:

Dusty's Spring Field ~ Yes, I briefly considered keeping Dusty's Spring Field for a second year.  Why mess with a good thing, right?  Plus, as Michael Scott once said, I'm not superstitious, but I am a little stitious.  In the end, I decided Dusty's Spring Field would have to be retired into the Bone Hall Of Names, just like all the fantasy team names before it.  That's the rule.  And if I can't abide by these rules I've made up, well then I have no idea what any of this is for.

Son Of A Bleacher Fan ~ Meet Dusty's Spring Field's offspring: Son Of A Bleacher Fan.  This would probably be my new team name in 2013, if not for that little Yahoo! Sports rule that limits team names to 20 characters.  SOABF has 21.  Though I suppose I could eliminate spaces.  But then that'd just bug me the whole season, like someone sending me an email saying, "Your so funny."  I just. Can't. Let. It. Go.

Cafe Latos ~ Not horrible.  This is the contestant in the Final 12 on American Idol that isn't a bad singer, but that everybody knows isn't going to win.  Just doesn't have "it."

Cozart's Concerto ~ I liked this one a lot.  Actually I wanted Cozart's Cowhide Concerto, but again the 20-character limit.  However, after consulting with my IMAEIC (instant messaging & email inner circle), none of them seemed very thrilled. Cozart's Concerto is the American Idol contestant who finishes 4th but has a much longer career than Kris Allen... I mean, the winner... ever will.

The Fountain Squares ~ Getting away from the players names' theme, I decided to go in a city-of-Cincinnati direction.  Again, none of the IMAEIC seemed all that impressed, but don't be surprised if this one pops up again somewhere down the road.  It could be a possible name for my future band, should I ever learn to play an instrument.

And now, the moment you've all been skimming for.  Two of the three members of my IMAEIC immediately picked this name as soon as they heard it.  It must have been a lot like how Elvis's mom reacted when Vernon was calling out possible baby names... "Howard?  Vernon Jr.?  Elvis?"  There was no need to hear the other names.  Either that, or they were just trying to pacify me so I'd stop bugging them about it... Hmm, I may have to rethink my inner circle.

Anyway, your 2013 Bone Fantasy Baseball team name:

Queen City, Bitches!

(pause for confusion/consternation)

Well, except apparently Yahoo! doesn't allow commas in their team names.  So instead of calling my fellow competitors the b-word, it's like I'm calling my own team the b-word.  

Of course, I didn't really intend it in a derogatory manner.  More in a fun way, like "What up beyotches? We gonna hang at the hizzouse and get crazy up in here tonight?  What what?"  (Imagine me saying this as I'm throwin' gang signs. But like a nice gang, one that helps old people and does good deeds.  Actually, I guess that's the Cub Scouts, isn't it?  Do they have a sign?)

But assuming for a moment that it were a derogatory term, I've just gone from insulting the rest of the league to insulting myself.


"The only one who could ever reach me / Was the son of a preacher man..."

Sunday, April 07, 2013

"Last week, on The Bible..."

With the Bible ended and our brackets busted, our thoughts turn to the swelling spring -- flowers, showers, and the new season of Mad Men.  A nation takes solace in the fact that evil Duke has been defeated for another year.

For some reason, hearing the phrase, "Last week, on the Bible..." never failed to crack me up.  At the same time, the promo for the final installment that said, "The Bible ends tonight," kind of freaked me out a little.  Let's just say I was more thankful than usual to see the sun rise that next morning.

I wonder if the History Channel has considered the limitless possibilities for Biblical reality-show spinoffs.  Real Concubines Of Gomorrah.  Joshua & Caleb Take Canaan.  Pimp My Chariot.   So You Think You Can Prophesy?  Cash Camel.  Survivor: The Flood.  Lamech Is 147 & Single.  Mesopotamia's Got Talent.

Sticking with our odd Jewish/Christian religious theme, I went to see Jerry Seinfeld... on Good Friday.  I received the tickets as a birthday gift, and was pretty excited to see "An Evening With Jerry Seinfeld" printed on them.  However, that was a little misleading.  Turns out it's an evening with Jerry Seinfeld and like three thousand other people.

Our seats were in row Y of the balcony, which meant there was only one row in the entire arena farther from the stage than us.  So it was more like An Evening With Nosebleeds... and this mysterious Jerry Seinfeld voice booming from somewhere in the vast darkness below.

Nonetheless, it was good to relax for a solid ninety minutes and watch someone else trying to be funny for a change.  The opening act, Tom Papa, provided non-stop laughs.  I actually thought he upstaged Seinfeld a little.  Also disappointed that there was no "If anyone has any can't miss ideas for new sitcoms, please meet Jerry backstage at this time" announcement.  So I didn't get to pitch my brilliant show idea, which I cannot share with you at this time for nebulous reasons.

After the show, we ate at Chic-fil-A.  They were piping some religious-sounding music through the speakers.  Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Continuing with our new "joke" theme, I did have one April Fools' Joke (Is it fools, fools', or fool's?) played on me -- by Nephew Bone.  He called me Monday.

"Hey Uncle Bone, it's snowing!"

"It's snowing at your house?"

"It's snowing at everybody's house, Uncle Bone!"

"Oh no!  Are we gonna build a snowman?"

"Ha ha, April Fools!"

Can't believe I fell for that one.  (He says, knowing he'd fall for it a thousand times more.)  Plus, Nephew Bone has verbal apraxia, so the words are a struggle and a lot of them aren't clear, which increases the heart-melt a hundredfold.

I got him a toy golf set for Easter.  I figure it's never too early to gauge his interest/try to nudge him forcefully down the path I have chosen for him.  Work with me people, I'm trying to groom a future golf partner here.

He was way more interested in hiding the eggs this year than hunting them.  Of course, then he runs around the yard directing you and pointing to where he hid the next egg. Which actually wouldn't be a bad quality to have in a golf partner. "Hey, Uncle Bone.  Your ball's over here.  In this briar patch.  Behind this hundred-year-old oak tree.  Again."

Once in awhile you have an epiphanic moment where you realize life is not at all how and what you thought it might be. It's not necessarily worse or better, just different.  Far different.

I had such a moment when I found myself squatting and pretending to "lay" a turquoise-colored Easter egg in an attempt to make a 4-year-old laugh.  In all my forethought, scheming and dreaming, I somehow never saw that coming.

Life: The biggest April Fools' Joke of all.

"I'm April's fool / I play by her rules / She treats me any old way she wants to..."