26 August 2013

A Crying Shame

Last night brought us the train wreck that is the completely irrelevant MTV Video Music Awards (and I am delighted to report that I did not watch them). Why irrelevant? Um, let's see...first when was the last time MTV featured music and B) when was the last time MTV actually played a music video? That would be a quarter to never, but I digress. The MTV VMA's have a long history of being a forum for outrageous behavior, mostly from young women who have decided that being raging skanks is the greatest thing they could ever do. But what happened last night was the crowning achievement of skankdom and given how low the bar has been set, that is really saying something.

Believe it or not, this is the least offensive of the lot
Former Disney (the Disney people may want to look at the training program and what it's yielding- Britney Spears, Xtina, and now Miley, unless of course it's some secret program for producing walking testbeds for free clinics) child songstress Miley Cyrus used the event to perform, and I use that word as loosely as her morals, a spectacle normally reserved for seedy strip clubs. There is no point in describing it. It's being replayed at a vomit-inducing pace so you'll get to see it, if you so desire.

Her father, Billy Ray Cyrus, no stranger to causing the nation to bouts of explosive vomiting (I give you 'Achy Breaky Heart' and dare you to argue), sent out a text after his daughter's routine, imploring the nation to pray for world peace. Given his daughter's performance, I think he meant piece, since that is what she was giving away. Upon reading that, I actually felt a little bit sorry for him. It was a crying shame. A shame that he had to witness that and an even greater shame that he seemed to be more concerned about world peace than his daughter's implosion broadcast to a worldwide audience. The whole spectacle was an enormous shame.

Mika Brzezinski, co-host of MSNBC's 'Morning Joe' was having none of it this morning. None. Of. It. She was on a tear this morning. At one point, she said the following, "The whole thing was cringe-worthy, but I feel bad for her. She is a mess. Someone needs to take care of her." Cringe-worthy is a bit of an understatement. It was, and is, sad. Sad that a young woman feels that turning herself into an obscene parody is the way to jumpstart her career and create an impression. Sad that the shame of it all will be lost on her and those around her.

The whole thing was a crying shame. Makes you miss the days when the worst thing the VMA's produced was a writhing Madge Madonna lip-synching badly to 'Like a Virgin.'

24 August 2013

Satan's Kingdom

I paid a visit to Satan's Kingdom today. Many of you are not shocked by this but for those of you who may be wondering what I was up to, let these visuals be your guide:
No...too easy, I wasn't in Vegas
Inside Glenn Beck's studio would have been a good guess

HERE! Yes, this place exists and this is where I was
In fact, there is a Satan's Kingdom here on earth and of course, it's an official state recreation area here in Connecticutistan. Now how it got its name or how Martha Stewart and her cabal ever permitted its naming escapes me, but this much I can tell you, it made for a fun afternoon.

The stunningly patient and mighty fine SML, me, and the Boy joined several of the youth and other leaders from our Church youth group for a float down the Farmington River. It was a gorgeous afternoon, mild temps and no humidity! The water was not cold, which was good, given my epic and well-documented aversion to cold water. It was great to see the kids having fun and even nicer to enjoy an afternoon in the sun. It was even peaceful, which seems highly ironic given the name of the recreation area.

I'm glad we got to do this. I'm grateful that the Boy is cool with having his parents hang out with him and his friends. That says more about him and the kind of young man he is becoming than it says anything about us. We, his parents, are decidedly uncool but I think we can be pretty fun to be around in spite of our middle-agedness.

But that middle-agedness is biting me now...I'm sore from all the paddling. I need to get the heating pad....

21 August 2013


As noted in my previous post, it would seem that summer really is coming to a close. BookFace is getting populated with pictures of kids returning to school. The Blogosphere, especially the Mormon Mommy Bloggers who have taken it to an '11' on the Over The Top scale it would seem this year, is filling with stories and images of the same - kids heading back to school. But here in this part of Connecticutistan, school is not yet in session and there's still a bit of idle time to be had.

But you know what they say about idle time and its results...'an idle mind is the Devil's playground.' Well, I've found that an idle mind is an absolute blessing. Sometimes there is nothing I relish more than to not have a single, and I mean NOT ONE, thought in my head. It's fantastic. Really.

But you can't be empty-headed forever. The results aren't good. You want proof? Two words: Paris. Hilton. I rest my case.

So it's good to heed the counsel of the sign: No Idling Allowed. I'm trying to heed it as the summer winds down. I know I've been idling as it comes to the Den of late. But that hasn't stopped new people from finding a seat here in the Den. I'm curious though as to what idle behavior led people to the blog by entering the following search terms:

bloody nipple
running like a dope
JFK assassination bloody shirt

Seriously. Those three are just a random smattering of the search words or phrases that have led people milling about the dork forest that is the interweb to the Den. I could not be more concerned. All the more reason to step up the quality of the writing here, I guess. Clearly, I need to stop the idling.

It's time. Summer's pretty much over. Enjoy the last few days and weeks of it.

15 August 2013

As summer fades

If the the last few days here in Connecticutistan are any indication, summer is on her way out. The day time temps have settled nicely into the mid-70's, with light breezes, which has meant windows open and enjoy the tail end of summer as she cools off. It's been pretty fantastic.

The children in our neighborhood seem to be taking full advantage of these temperate days before they return to school. Today, though, that idyll was destroyed by this:
Not the exact truck but a reasonable facsimile
With our windows open in the late afternoon today, I heard it coming and I wanted to curl up in the fetal position. There is was...the awful screeching of pre-(and crappily) recorded carnival music being blared over a tinny bullhorn-esque device. The music ebbed and flowed like so much raw sewage with the movement of the truck. The dreaded ice cream truck. I'm telling you, the ice cream truck is pretty much like a clown on wheels. It inspires fear and revulsion, plain and simple.

And what it is it about those who pilot these Satanic vehicles? They pretty much fall into two categories: A) mustachioed, overweight men who have no business being near adults, let alone children and 2) your garden variety terrorist. Seriously, check out the pictures of the 'Top 10 Most Wanted Terrorists' and you'll see that at least six of them look far too much like the perv selling red, white and blue 'Bomb' pops (no irony there) out the back of a hammered van to the neighborhood kids. Thankfully, there are few kids on our street and the truck and its musical horror story were soon the way out. All was right in the world again.

It does seem strange, though, that it's only mid-August and it feels like summer is nearly over. It's been too short. Time needs to slow down, my friends, if only for a little while.

12 August 2013


As I've mentioned here before, as I was growing up my mother never missed the opportunity to say to me, 'Remember who you are.' As I learned at a young age, this was a loaded statement. I needed to represent our family name well, never besmirching it. I needed to do my best at all times. And I needed to be an example. That's stuck with me and while I've not been perfect, I've tried to remember who I was am.

The 'example' piece has always been something I struggled with, to be honest. The interweb's dictionary, dictionary.com, defines 'example' as a pattern or model of something to be imitated. I figured no one needed to look to me as an example. As a young man, I was determined to blaze my own trail and do things as I wanted to do them. After some heaping servings of humble pie, which is often bitter tasting when served, but mellows over time, I learned there were many good examples around me to follow. I'm grateful for those examples in my life, and they are far too many to appropriately thank here.

We had a chance this past weekend to reconnect with many of those people who have been examples to me as we were in Chicagoland. We were there to see old friends and to honor these two young men:
Scott, their mom, Michelle, and Justin
The Brothers B. Scott is leaving on a mission and Justin just returned from a mission. Both have the high honor of having served, or servng, a U.S. Spanish-speaking mission, which is the best way to do it, if you ask me (those two years in Miami were some of the most awesome of my life, so I know of where I speak!).

Scott has been one of the Boy's closest friends and Justin has been CAL's best friend since 8th grade. So seeing them hit these milestones has been pretty profound for our family. Justin served well and Scott is so prepared to do the same. These young men are examples to me and I am so grateful to their example to the Boy, CAL, and all my family. As we listened to them speak in Church on Sunday (yep, we got a rare two-fer), I looked around and saw so many people who have been amazing examples to me and my family. I counted my blessings. I recognized again how I've been fortunate to have so many good people in my life that have been people I can look up to and learn from. I am grateful. I am grateful for friends. Each and every one.

While it was an awesome weekend to reconnect, it was also a rematch of 'Just Dance - Battle of the Middle Ages.' I don't know what it is about Chicagoland, but it brings the best worst in me out, meaning my inner full body seizure known as my dancing skills. Those pathetic skills were put to the test during this train wreck, I mean challenge:
Trying to get our 'Four Tops' on to Barry White
As the oldest man in that conga line of the doomed, I should have known better. But let me just say, it was a riot. Laughed so hard it hurt. Hurt. It was a good time. I can't wait for the next battle. Bring. It.

09 August 2013


Due to a very busy travel schedule this past week, I've found myself far from the comfort of the sofa here in the Den, unable to put (virtual) pen to paper. Thanks to a respite in that schedule, I've got a few moments now.

While the details of the long trip are mostly work-related and not particularly inspiring, I did want to share the highlight of the beginning of the trip. Before starting a week of conferences on the West Coast, I was able to join the stunningly patient and mighty fine SML, CAL, and The Boy at the Awesomes in their new home, nestled comfortably in the confines of the Zion Curtain. It was a wonderful opportunity to see the Baby Awesome:
Benson with his Dad
We joined the Awesomes as well as other family to celebrate a milestone in young Benson's life - his blessing. Benson was taken before his Church family by his father and given a name and a blessing, held by his father, his grandfathers (yep, I was there), his great-grandfather, and an uncle. Young Benson has a strong name and an example of what it means to be a good man in his father. His father gave him a beautiful blessing and one thing he said in particular stood out. My son-in-law blessed his son to be "a friend to the friendless." What a tremendous gift to be given - the challenge to reach out to those who are alone, who feel there is no one who cares for them. There are far too many people in this world who don't have even one friend. That's not right. As I looked into my grandson's eyes after that blessing, I know that he will fulfill his father's prompting. He will be a friend to the friendless. It makes me want to do the same.

Spending the weekend with the Awesomes was bittersweet. Sweet because my whole family was together:
Could this be the 2014 Christmas card?
We really are grandparents
Sweet because we got this 'Four Generation' shot with my Mom:
The boys bookending their amazing mothers
And it was bitter because we live so far away and had to leave these guys:
The Awesomes
The good news is that we have CAL home for a few weeks and we are going to spend some time together in Chicago. Could not be more excited about that!

I am blessed. I have the photographic proof of it. I still struggle to understand why I've been so blessed. I'm flawed and I'm surrounded by amazing people who make me want to be better. I'll just keep trying to be better for them every day.

02 August 2013

Live from 17D

Now that wi-fi is becoming essentially a standard in-flight servicing offer (ahem, Mother United), no longer must one be faced with the in-flight entertainment horror that is the latest failed rom-com from one of the Jens (J-Lo/Anniston). So as I was staring down the barrel of this four hour flight that I'm on right now and armed with a 50% off coupon, I knew I'd fire up the electronic device as soon we hit 10,000 feet.

A few observations from my seat, 17D:

If the amount of carry-ons you are lugging as if you were a Nepali Sherpa causes your body width to double, perhaps and I'm no Mr. Physics here, you should turn to the side as you attempt to make your way down the aisle. You're not a bulldozer, so take it down a notch.

Keep your shoes on. Why must this continue to be an issue? And if you walk into the fetid swamp that is the lav at 2R in those bare feet, then I would opine that you should be put down (humanely of course) upon arrival. That's probably too harsh, so enjoy the fun with Hep-c that's coming your way! FYI - the count is three who have committed said offense on this flight so far.

The seat in front of you is not, I repeat, is NOT a sling shot. There is no need for you to pull back on that seat as far as you possibly can in order to get out of your seat. I'm talking to you, 18D. I bought a seat on an airplane, not a carnival. Had I wanted whiplash-inducing ride on a tilt-a-whirl, I would have found the nearest creepy carnival manned by crackheads and been tossed around accordingly. Again, not what I signed up for on today's flight.

The inflight snack, the Biscoff cookie is Belgian crack and I am its whipping boy.

So there you have it - my first post, live from 37,000 feet!

01 August 2013

Chivalry...it may be DOA

When chivalry reigned
It has come to my attention that chivalry may shortly be DOA, if it isn't flat-lining already. I've seen ebbing away but it leapt of the cliff earlier today.

As I bounded (yes, I said bounded because I could not have been more excited to take my leave) out of the office this afternoon, it was raining. Leaving at the same time as me was a woman carrying a large box of files. As we approached the door, I moved to open the door for her and was shot a rather icy glare. Um...okay. So at the next door, I decided to ignore the earlier frostiness and held the door. This now put us outside. Said woman began the ballet of balancing her big box o'files as she tried to extract an umbrella from her purse, which, by the way, was about the size of a body bag. I asked her if she'd like me to hold the box for her. Her reaction was a curt "No!" And with that, I was on my way and she was left to her own devices.

The last I checked, and, please correct me if I'm wrong, I do not look like JoJo, the Dog-Faced Boy, nor do I resemble your garden variety purse snatcher. Holy crap, people, I'm a grandfather! My intent to offer assistance was genuine. She was having none of it. This isn't the first time I've run into this, hence my sense that chivalry is DOA. That's kind of a bummer.