Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Chicken Poop #3

The Five W's of Motherhood

Mrs. Jane Robbins, a former Metropolitan Reporter for the Flint (Mich.) Journal, came up with an interesting concept. Why not apply the famed "Five W's" of journalism to real life? As a young reporter she had been taught that all the pertinent facts needed for a story could be learned by asking six simple questions: who, what, when, where, why, and sometimes, how. Jane Robbins realized that by asking these same questions of her teenage daughter, she could obtain all the important information any mother needs to know about her child's welfare:

-Who are you going with?
-What are you going to do?
-When will you be home?
-Where will you be?
-Why don't you call me and let me know you're there?
-How are you getting home?

Unfortunately, when asked these questions, her fifteen-year-old daughter, Tamara, responded with the "Five W's" of teenagers:

-Who died and made you Queen of the World?
-What do you want from my life?
-When are you going to stop treating me like a child?
-Where do you get off telling me what to do?
-Why can't you just leave me alone?
-How can you do this to me?

Jane Robbins abandoned her idea altogether.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Weekly Office

June 17 - "I will be honest. The dating has not been going well. Look, men are visual creatures. We crave beauty. Like a piece of fine art by...any number of renowned artists. Or an arty photograph of Cindy Crawford nude. But the women I'm getting fixed up with are...blech. Not that they aren't nice, or that they don't have great personalities, it's, they just lack a certain...Crawfordness." (Michael)

June 22 - "I finally broke down and bought myself a plasma TV. Check it out. I actually hung this on the wall myself...Sometimes, I will just stand here and watch television for hours. I love it. I love this TV." (Michael, showing Jim his fifteen-inch television)

June 24 - "I wasn't really planning on leaving. All I wanted was a raise. How on earth did Michael call my bluff? Is he some sort of secret genius? Sometimes I say crazy things." (Stanley)

June 25 - "As I lay there, with Dwight sticking his grubby fingers down my throat, I could see the trees, and the birds and the afternoon sun. It was glorious. But I guess it sort of repulsed me because I threw up." (Michael)

June 26 - "Plan a party, Angela. Oh, and the entire world will see it. Oh, and here's sixty-five dollars for your budget. Oh, and here are four idiots who will do nothing but weigh you down. Oh, and your cat's still dead." (Angela)

June 30 - "Man became civilized for a reason. He discovered that he liked to have warmth, and clothing, and television, and hamburgers, and to walk upright, and a soft futon at the end of the day. He didn't want to struggle to survive. As the Elephant Man said to Cher, 'I am not an animal, I am a human being.'" (Michael)

July 27 - "Did you know that candles are the number one fastest-growing product in the scent and aroma market? Two billion-dollar-a-year industry! And for only $10,000, you could become a co-owner of Serenity by Jan. What do you think about that?" (Michael)

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Chicken Poop #2

A Work in Progress

Day after day, often seven days a week, Jim Klurfield worked incredibly long hours. His job was his life, and he found little time to spend with his family or for recreation. He couldn't even enjoy the rare moments of relaxation he had because he felt too guilty about not working. But early one morning, while reading the newspaper on his way to work, he was amazed to see his lifestyle and feelings described perfectly by "Dear Abby." He was a "workaholic," she wrote, and then she described the potential consequences of that behavior.

Jim Klurfield was thrilled and surprised to learn that he wasn't alone, that thousands of other people had also unwittingly become slaves to their jobs. That morning Jim Klurfield realized his life was slipping away and vowed to change.

Klurfield was surprised to discover that while thousands of people suffered from this same problem, there was no organization to which they could turn for help. So he decided to create one. Workaholics Anonymous, a support group, would be modeled on the twelve-step programs that have proven to be so successful fighting alcoholism and drug addiction.

Klurfield threw himself completely into this task, devoting every spare minute he could to putting together this organization. Gradually he found himself spending less and less time at his job so he could work on this program. Early in the morning and late at night, weekends and holidays, he worked to create an organization to help people free themselves from an addiction to working. He dedicated his life to this job; he skipped meals, he rarely saw his friends, he even had to quit the company bowling team.

Finally, he was ready to schedule the very first meeting of Workaholics Anonymous. Unfortunately, it was almost impossible to find a date and time that was convenient for the people who wanted to attend. And then on the night of that meeting, every one of the people who had promised to be there had to cancel because they had too much work to do.

That failure only caused Klurfield to redouble his efforts. After that night he began working even harder in his effort to help himself and others like him from working so hard. The first meeting of Workaholics Anonymous has not yet been rescheduled.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Chicken Poop #1

Dad's Lessons

Sometimes late at night, when the house is so quiet I can hear the familiar complaints of the friendly old floorboards stretching their limbs, and the house is warmed by love, I tiptoe into my four-year-old son's room and sit on the floor in a corner, and I just watch him sleep. His clothes are always strewn around the room, while his baseball cap hangs proudly on the doorknob. I always have to be careful not to trip over his "Big League Football," which I know to be lying securely, I could sit there all night. And as I watch him, in these quiet moments, I can't help but remember my old man and the lessons he taught me about life.

While once I thought my dad was just about the biggest man in the whole wide world, in fact he was quiet small, and thin, and his face was as cracked and pockmarked as the old leather seats of his beloved '52 Pontiac.Dad had grown up dirt-poor on the great American plains. As a boy he had watched the once fertile farmland turn into the infamous Dustbowl. He often told me, "They called it the Dustbowl 'cause every night with my momma would take me and my brother outside with our wooden bowls and fill 'em to the top with dust. 'That's it, boys,' she'd tell us. 'Eat up.'"

My old man never forgot his hardscrabble days, even long after he grew up and could afford the nice things in life. By the time I was born he knew he'd never have to worry where his next meal was coming from, but it was important to him that his sons learn the hard lessons life teaches. He wanted to make sure that I would be tough enough to survive and prosper as he had done. To him, life was one big hard lesson.

I guess the first important lesson my dad taught me was to be independent. I was just four years old when he took me out to the shopping center and left me there. I'll never forget that feeling as I watched him drive away, with just that little loving wave. A few days later, when that nice policeman brought me home, my dad and I both knew I'd learned a very important lesson.

My dad had learned how to deal with emergencies, and was always eager to help provide opportunities to test how I would respond to unexpected problems. I'll never forget the day of my ninth birthday. Dad was driving and I was next to him in the passenger seat. Suddenly he screamed, "Think fast!" and leaped right out of the car. I had to learn how to drive right there on the spot. But as long as I live, I'll never forget that broad, proud smile on his face when I pulled that old car up the driveway. That was my old man.

As Dad got older and that cough became worse, he knew he wasn't going to always be there for me, and he wanted to make sure I could handle the real tough times. I was fourteen years old, I remember, when the police came to the high school to arrest me. As they booked me, they explained that "an anonymous called" had informed them that I had help up a convenience store. I smiled. That was my old man, I knew, teaching me how to deal with adversity. But two days later he was right there to bail me out.

Oh, sometimes the lessons were hard. I sure did miss my little brother after that tragic "accident." And when my dad spent all the money I'd saved for college, it helped me learn that I could survive on almost nothing. But there wasn't one single day when I doubted his love for me.

My old man isn't here anymore, but I've never forgotten the lessons he taught me. So sometimes, late at night, when I'm sitting there on the floor, I look at my son, sleeping like an angel, and I know that one day soon I'll be taking him to the mall.

Just like my old man.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Getcha Some Office

Friends, the day has arrived. We've been waiting for far too long to howl at one Michael Scott, Regional Manager of the Scranton Office of Dunder Mifflin Paper Company. So, in honor of the Season Premiere of The Office this evening, I'm debuting 7 quotes from past seasons which are simply meant to wet your pallet for tonight. As a followup to this, expect this every Thursday this fall as the show rolls on. Laugh away.

May 28 - "The warehouse got a ping-pong table last week. So now Jim comes down and plays with Darryl. Sometimes I bring him juice. My boyfriend is twelve." (Pam)

May 29 - Michael: "This is ironic, isn't it? I am in the hospital for not getting enough water; you are in for a disease that causes the fear of water." Meredith: "I am in because you hit me with your car."

June 2 - "Michael has asked Pam and me to dinner at least nine times and every time we've been able to get out of it. But I gotta give him credit-he got me-because I'm starting to suspect that there was no assignment from corporate." (Jim)

June 3 - "I work hard all day. I like knowing there's going to be a break. Most days I just sit and wait for the break." (Kevin)

June 4 - "Several hours in, it's time for me to find some nourishment. Now, these woods are full of creatures that can sustain human life. Things like chipmunk, squirrel, wild boar, venison, jackalope, are all ingenious to this part of Pennsylvania." (Michael)

June 5 - "Angela is worse than usual lately and we have a party to throw, so I googled, 'How to deal with difficult people,' and I got all of this. So we're gonna try out some new things today." (Phyllis)

June 23 - "Toby is great, but he can be a little much sometimes. 'I don't see the harm in that...' C'mon. It's just a cake, Toby. Go mumble somewhere else and stop staring at my girlfriend. That's all, I'm sorry, I'm just venting. But why does he have to walk so slow?" (Jim)

Monday, September 14, 2009

Vacation & Chicken Poop

So, let me just begin by saying that currently I'm chilling in Phoenix, AZ with my in-laws and having a blast. We're swimming, enjoying cards, downing Starbucks galore, and did I mention golfing twice for FREE? I'm hoping to take in another round or two before we leave Wednesday night. Oh, and let's not forget I've begun reading Irresistible Revolution by Shaine Claiborne, as well as getting caught up on a bunch of flicks.
You know, before I reveal my Baker's Dozen Book List (the first one being listed above), I've been blessed to squeeze in a ton of movies which I was behind on. Some good, some cheesy, some just stellar. Keep in mind, there are different reasons I tackled some of these. Here's kind of how I grouped them:

Just Okay
Rock'n'Rolla - I just expected more from Guy Ritchie. Tom Wilkinson was great, but I dozed off several times.

Real Solid
Gamer - Liked the effects, action, and scary reality of technology interfacing our culture, taking away our humanity.
Twilight - It seems like everyone loves the book series, but were only so-so on the movie. I've never read a page, and didn't know much about the whole thing. But it was actually quite compelling stuff, and I can see why the teen world likes it so much.
The Hurt Locker - Okay, so there was a lot of hype for this film, though I'd never heard of it. And a pretty sweet sleeper cast. It was intense and suspenseful, just keeping it a safe distance...especially from shrapnel.
State of Play - Russell Crowe leads a sweet cast in this Ridley Scott flick. Throw in some Helen Mirren, Rachel McAdams, Robin Wright Penn, Jason Bateman, and Ben Affleck (Extract pals?), and it's all well done. I think I'm okay with the resurgence of Affleck's career...being a hubby and daddy are bringing out the best in you.

Yeah, Baby
I Love You, Man - This made me howl...I actually enjoyed it more than The Hangover, and it's up there with Forgetting Sarah Marshall...guess I'm a closet Jason Segel fan.
A Fistful of Dollars/For a Few Dollars More - Spaghetti Western Classics by Sergio Leone, with a clutch young stud in Clint Eastwood. If you've never seen these, they are dynamite as they're written well, great camera work, and catchy music. Oh, and considering the films are nearly 50 years old, I'd say their in pretty good shape.
Extract - Hil-lar-i-ty. I'm sitting there just cracking up at Ben Affleck in a great role, and thinking the whole time, how in the world does Jason Bateman keep a straight face? This movie just pokes fun @ our culture and stereotypes, taking along with it some Bateman comic delivery. He's so money and he doesn't even know it.
Frost/Nixon - The best movie I've seen in a LONG time. Didn't have much knowledge of all the events of this piece of history, but Ron Howard unfolds this story beautifully. Nixon and Frost are so well acted, it's not even funny. I'd recommend this to anyone who wants to spend 2 hours in a great, well-acted story that has the historical stuff layered throughout.

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly (last chapter in "The man with no name" trilogy)
Jesus Camp
What Would Jesus Buy
Miracle at Santa Anna

Lastly, you can expect a return to some OFFICE quotes, particularly with it returning to the air very soon. But hang about some excerpts from a parody book I read by one David Fisher entitled, Chicken Poop for the Soul: Stories to Harden the Heart and Dampen the Spirit. I will confess to having a season of my life where I was addicted to those books (before they went into those crazy, specialized arenas like, Dog-lovers, Car-Lovers, Etc.). Yet, this book just made me chuckle and think about the more sarcastic, twisted side of know, reality without the always advertised happy-ending. So, be warned that over the coming weeks, I'll be sharing some excerpts from the book for your enjoyment.
May you live well in the goodness of grace.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

A Sleeper City

Had the priviledge of enjoying Montgomery this past weekend (wedding of my wife's best friend) and was blown away! Maybe I've been so stinking had I missed this great place? I'd enjoyed Birmingham, Mobile, and even little 'ole Florence, but had skipped right over the capitol city of Alabama? I'm pleased to now tell you that this this city slicker has been awakened to the appeal of such an interesting community. Here's just some observations:

-Buildings and landscape...everything was virtually easy on the eyes, clean, green and beautiful, with a touch of character splashed in virutally everything it seemed. There's actually this really cool downtown area where they've brought in Dreamland BBQ, and are trying to rennovate this old, vintage alley between some buildings...can't wait to see what that becomes in the near future.

-Racial acceptance...see, I live in NW Houston, and the ethnicities seem to tolerate each other and not go much further--but most encounters I had personally or observed from a distance were VERY was ACCEPTANCE, and that was very surprising to me since my initial thought had been the opposite of the deep south...

-More churches than I can count...of all flavors, shapes, and sizes. I almost got the feeling that there are more beautiful old buildings with beautfiul old saints than there are total people to fill them. What's the future hold there? And if that's beginning to happen in Alabama, when will that trend hit even bigger cities? Maybe there's some urban sprawl guru who can shed some light...

-Attention, compassion, and general joy of children. Every restaurant or public place we took in, my kids were smiled at, greeted, spoken to, and encouraged. Let's face it, I believe my kids are UBER adorable, but still, it was pretty unique.

-Sweet Tea @ every restaurant, Krispy Kreme donuts, Roll Tide everywhere...enjoyed every bit of these things.

May each of you spend one afternoon this week raising your class of sweet tea in honor of the great state of Alabama, and this "sleeper city," Montgomery.