Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Tony C loves chicken, ice cream, gay folks and where does that leave me?

Okay. The Summer of Tony C is taking a commercial break. I've been enjoying a bit of a respite from my blog to regroup, regenerate and refresh for a new season this Fall. Yes...I've missed you most dearly, but it's not quite time for the premier of the new TCT. Not just yet.

But alas, my dear friends know me well. Well enough to know that sitting on the sidelines during the whole Chik-Fil-A fiasco is just not going to happen. No way. Just ain't gonna happen.

(Note to self: Clean up grammar before Fall. Appalachian English is showing.)

Good Lord people...there's nothing in the Bible that even says Jesus ate chicken! Wait. That's not the issue is it? No the issue is once again the Political Correctness Police playing Rodney King (RIP) with our First Amendment rights.

So, the owner of Chik-Fil-A doesn't support gay marriage. That's his opinion, he owns it (the restaurant and his opinion) and gay people need to get their panti...their shorts out of a wad and deal! He didn't say gay people couldn't eat or even work there.

Hey. I sure as heck didn't stop eating Ben & Jerry's ice cream because they support gay marriage. As a matter of fact, I'm pretty sure Cherry Garcia is served in heaven. At least I'm hoping. Ben and Jerry have the right to believe what they want to believe, and that's a gift from God. Not just my favorite constitutional add-on.

Christians need to calm down too. Where's the love we're commanded to display in our actions and harness in our hearts when we're starting food fights with chicken sandwiches and waffle fries?

Man...those waffle fries are good...

Gays are boycotting and Christians are lining up in the drive thru, and  I'm okay with that. Just please soften the rhetoric a bit. Gay folks believe they have a right. That's cool with me. Doesn't mean you do though, but you can sure have that opinion. Christians believe homosexuality is immoral. While I personally agree with that position, I caution my brothers and sisters who are quick to throw out
 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 as the banner statement of our faith.

Not because the Word isn't truth and irrefutable, but because that passage has a number of sins that prevent a person from inheriting the Kingdom of God. Not just homosexuality.

Let's see...sexually immorality would include adulterers and porn gazers, then there's idolaters (ever miss church to watch your favorite TV show?), thieves, greedy people (sorry Wall Street), drunkards, and...wait for it...slanderers! Ouch. Why do we (read Christians) seems to focus just on the sins we don't struggle with daily?

Not to you really see Jesus in this picture?

Ouch again. I'm really sorry many gay people will see their only Savior in this light, and that's our fault Christians.

So, is Tony C going to Chik-Fil-A today to show my support for those who oppose gay marriage? Absolutely not. I'm going because I support the God-given right of everyone to have an opinion of their own whether I agree with it or not. God will decide who's lived His way in the end. I just need to focus on Tony C, my own struggles to stay in His will, and being a beacon of His love.

Beacon. That word looks like bacon. Okay! Okay! And I really love that Spicy Chicken Club too...

See you again in September! Tony C loves you!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

They'd be talking about this party for decades to come...

Okay. I've been out of pocket a day or two. I know. But I'm not quitting on you!

Sometimes writing for you comes easy. Sometimes...well...not so much. Funny how the brain works that way. I'm coming off hiatus today because tomorrow is one of those milestone days, and I feel compelled to share a few thoughts. That's right. Tomorrow is...

My birthday!!!

(cue falling balloons and circus music)

Honestly, I'm not one of those narcissistic types that thinks even DisneyWorld should be in celebration for the big day tomorrow, but Mrs. Tony C makes a big deal about birthdays around our home, so I'm not going to be accused of being a wet blanket...ahem...again.

I do, however, have a ton of things to be thankful about including the fact I've made another successful trip around the Sun. When you get to a certain age, birthdays take on more of a reflective quality than a celebratory one. Sure. I love cake and ice cream. I'm a little giddy some people will be losing money again tomorrow since I've reached another birthday alive and mostly intact (pay up suckers!). I enjoy Facebook threads that are focused on just little old me. Who doesn't?

So, I could list the things that I'm most appreciative for at this point in my existence...but...zzzzzzzzz! I'll save that for some sappy sentimental post around Thanksgiving or Christmas. Seems more fitting.

Today, I'm going to share my ideas for my ultimate birthday party if common sense, funding and generally accepted social practices weren't an issue/obstacle. Don't worry. It's still G rated...mostly.

That's an easy one...luau style! Who doesn't have fun at a luau? Complete with Aloha shirts for the guys and coconut top/grass skirt attire for the ladies and leis for everyone . Spray-on tanning would be available at the door for the self conscience or snow-blindingly white complected (like my yankee friend David Jonhdrow..I'm sure). We'd need at least a couple of acres of flat, grassed area surrounding a huge pool and hundreds of tiki torches.  Of course, there would be a beach area with brought in soft, white sand and a wave pool complete with water slides.

Food would compliment the theme with a few imu pigs in the ground and every drink having a little umbrella. Those little umbrellas just screeeaaams party! We'd also have ribs and wings galore..and a whole pineapple at every table for people to just slice off what they want when they want.

No birthday cake. Sorry. Way too cliche. Instead, we'd do it Rain Forest Cafe style and when someone was ready for dessert, a molten lava cake would be freshly prepared and served while everyone yelled 'Volcano!' every time one appeared...and without the $13.99 price tag you get at the Rain Forest Cafe (Ouch. I was screaming something completely different when we went).


Another factor not requiring much thought for me. Aside from the go-cart race track and helicopter rides available to everyone, I'd have a mock up of the Wipeout obstacle course from the TV show for the really brave-hearted. I'd sit and watch my friends try taking on the daunting course and just laugh and laugh as they slipped and slid into mud and water...that would never get least for me!

Music? Hootie and the Blowfish of course! Maybe not completely in line with the theme, but's Hootie and the Blowfish! Wouldn't it be fun listening to everyone try to get into key with Darius Rucker's raspy, bluesy vocals on the Happy Birthday song? I wouldn't let him do any of that country crap he sings now. Just saying...

Not that she's all that entertaining, but Courtney Cox...whatever her last name is now...would be there to help me do commentary as friends went through the Wipeout course (my friends, not hers). Why Courtney Cox? Because we were born on the exact same day and will forever share that common bond. Well, at least in my mind.

I'd try to work Rick Flair into the mix somehow. I mean, come on! What's a party without Space Mountain? Wooooo! He could be at the memorabilia picture station and have his picture made with the guest as they arrived. All free...of course. Now wouldn't that look cool hanging on the frig?! Wooooo!

The characters from The Banana Splits and H.R. Pufnstuf of 70's TV fame would be walking around in costume throughout the party too. Sure the kids might get a little freaked out by the over-sized, alien characters...but hey...this is my birthday people!


The most important factor of the whole gig. An invitation and means of travel would be extended to anyone and everyone I've ever been friends with through the years. All family, naturally, and extended family. Facebook friends. Work customers. The Laker Girls. Steve Mann and the morning crew from the WXSM Sports Monster. Chevy Chase. My blogging friends.  Karl Pilkington and Ernie 'Turtleman' Brown. All the residents and employees of the Church Hill Health Care and Rehabilitation Center. Phil Jackson. Current Vanderbilt NROTC staff and faculty. Vince Scully. My high school English teacher, Shirley Whitt. Shemar Moore (for Mrs. Tony C to watch).

Too bad Andy Rooney died. He'd be on the list for sure if he hadn't. I can just picture him at the end of the huge conga line that's sure to form at some point in the festivities.

Not a bad plan overall. At least a good start anyway. Maybe I'll keep working on the plan and start buying lottery tickets...the big 5-0 is just right around corner...

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

I'm going off the rails on a crazy train...

Most days, I love my commute to and from work. It's sort of a respite from the rest of the overly interactive world, so drive time becomes me time.

While most days I sail along listening to the local contemporary Christian music station or the local sports talk station, occasionally...just ever so often... I revert to my old ways and push that preset that takes me back to a time when music was...well... music. Back to when bands consisted of at least two guitar players, a bass player and A DRUMMER. A real drummer too. Not some digitally produced facsimile of one. Ah yes. I'm talking about...

Classic Rock!

Wholesome? Absolutely not. Virtuous? Please. Spiritual? Well now...that one is certainly debatable.  I'm on probation with the wife on songs I can teach the two youngest girls due to more than a few stories afoot about the teenager in her younger days belting out AC/DC lyrics at the most inopportune moments. Apparently dirty deeds done dirt cheap and honky tonk women are completely inappropriate verbiage for a first grader...who knew?

As I drove and listened this morning to the sweet sounds vibrating from the cones of paper making up my no-name brand speakers, something came over me that I never recall happening before today. For whatever reason, I found myself not focused at all on the driving beats and rhythmic patterns but rather on the lyrics.


I'm as surprised as you friends! All these years and I've never realized just how ridiculously stupid some classic rock song lyrics can actually be....(gulp)...apparently, another tell-tale sign I'm...(no! don't say it!)...getting old.

Let's examine the line up from my morning commute:

Bang a Gong (Get It On)- Sweet...the classic retitled T-Rex anthem from 1971 that truly epitomized the sex, drugs and rock-n-roll culture of the era. Timeless guitar rifts with a bass line that sticks to memory. Even this old drummer was never fooled into thinking the title was a percussion reference. Nope. Just to accentuate that point...the mid-song sound effect of lighter flicking and gurgling noises. So...that should actually be gang a bong?

Get it on, bang a gong, get it on. Deep stuff? Don't think so...but fun to sing even if there's not an actual gong in the song to bang or you're ignorant of the drug me.

Stuck in the Middle-  Nice! Gerry Rafferty with Stealers Wheel (who?) pre-solo and of Baker Street fame. That's K-Tel classic folks! My, oh my... makes me remember my very first boy/girl party where matching party hats and napkins weren't involved but a spinning bottle...oops! Sorry. Better not relive that least here.

Clowns to left of me, jokers to the right...The very words directly apply to my given situation as I sit in my office and write them. Just saying.

All Right Now- One of the very songs that gave me reason to start playing an electric guitar. Wow! The powerful vocals behind Paul Rodgers' whoa, whoa, whoa are nearly lost to the perfect blending of Paul Kosoff's lead guitar, Andy Fraser's thumping bassline and Simon Kirke's simple but perfect time keeping and fills. Thank goodness my local classic rock radio station plays the full 5:29 version with the leading guitar intro and not that hacked up 4:13 version most stations play these days!  I saw Rodgers and Kirke do this song live with Bad Company in the late 90's and consider it one of the greatest moments of my existence...

Slow, slow, don't go so fast. Don't you think that love can last?   Sadly, I must admit I've used that cheesy line...but it was a VERY LONG time ago!

China Grove- Does the very name of the group, The Doobie Brothers, not say enough? Well actually, the reference to a Chinatown located in the real China Grove in Texas is completely fictional...not to mention the reference to samurai in the song, who are in fact, from Japan. Smoke it up some more boys and let those lyrics keep rolling along. Nobody will ever notice!

We're talking about, talking about China Grove. Wo oh oh. China Grove. Brilliant. Just stinkin' brilliant. Who says drug use can't be a positive social influence...

Fat Bottom Girls and Black Betty- I'm lumping these last two together for obvious reasons. Honestly...I love both songs, but I'm a little confused on whether I should actually admit that publicly or not in the present day climate of uber political correctness. Neither of these songs come close to PC acceptable verbiage. I guess liberals just don't understand that using African American Betty would have seriously messed up the meter in the song. Just get rid of the bam-a-lam? Are you crazy! That's the song!

In the same era that gave us Short People...ladies of ...ahem...size can just deal with it in my book.

She's from Birmingham (bam-a lam), way down in Alabam' (bam-a lam).  A dude from England (William Bartlett) referring to my southeastern neighbor state as Alabam' is about as lame as a couple of white guys calling each other 'homey'. Just please stop.

Maybe I just need to stop listening so close and enjoy those classic melodies and jams. Then again...maybe I should have listened more closely all those many years ago. Not sure it would have mattered though...I still would have hated country music.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

I always preferred the taste of Dove over Dial as a kid...

Okay. I'll admit it. Come completely clean. Confession is good for the soul...or is it wait that's charcoal. Anyway, here it goes...

I'm a grade-Nazi.

A what?! may ask. But alas it is I, in mine own household, that holdeth dearest to the true value of one's education.

So why are you talking like you're quoting from the King James Version?

A question most assuredly springing to mind in my beloved to be followed closely by a sudden realization of jiltedess by my Shakespearean banter.

Okay. Enough of that crap. Bottom grades count for something at our house. Period.

While I've blogged pretty extensively about my views on education, the reality is my spoken/written feelings are actually put into practice constantly with the girls. Well...two of them anyway. Bulldog is still at that point she's fascinated with the fact she has toes.

But things will take a drastic turn when she graduates turns 2! Just wait!

From daily checks of the teenager's grades via an online parent portal with real time updates (thank God that wasn't around when I was in high school) to daily quizzing of the Crazy Tomato on addition and subtraction problems along with blended letter combination, the two oldest girls are constantly submerged in an atmosphere of learning.

* Disclaimer: Mrs Tony C does not, nor has she ever, participated in mind-numbing, rote memorization drills that may or may not result in the withholding of daily extra-nutritional treats for incorrect or incomplete answers.


So I ask a lot of questions? Big deal. Last I recall...

We were sitting in a restaurant waiting to order. The Bulldog was hard at work turning her developing brain to goo by re-watching the same episode of the Bubble Guppies on the Kindle Fire for the...oh...say 600th time. At least she was quite. Mrs. Tony C was doing her usually octopus act of multitasking. A juggling act of picking up a sippy-cup off the floor, trying to read the menu for her and both girls, all while employing a delaying tactic that will usually temporarily stifle the Crazy Tomato's obsession with public restrooms.

Tony C: (helplessly entranced Homer-style) Wow...they have a big menu.

Crazy Tomato: Mom. I have to go to the bathroom really bad.

Mrs. Tony C: Honey, wait until after we order. How do you spell 'on'?

Crazy Tomato: Aaaa aaaa nnn nnnn...O and...nnn nnnn....N.

Mrs. Tony C: How do you spell 'off'?

Tony C: (completely to myself): Those ribs look good, but so does that roast beef sandwich. Wings! Wow look at all the wing choices...

Crazy Tomato: Aaaa  aaaa fffff fffff...O and...ffff fffff...F. OF?

Mrs. Tony C: Close. Very close. It has two Fs. OFF.

Tony C: OMG Burger? That suckers got four pieces of bacon! Real bacon...

Crazy Tomato: Two Fs? fffff...ffffff...F in FU**.


Tony C: (looking over my menu) What did you just say?

Crazy Tomato: F in FU**.

A quick glance over at Mrs. Tony C, and I find her locked up tighter that the hard drive on my last laptop. I wasn't completely sure she was actually breathing. Just staring straight ahead as if time had actually frozen in that very instance.

Tony C: Where did you hear that word? Where?!

Crazy Tomato: I don't know daddy. Why? It starts with F doesn't it? Is it a word?

A defining moment in the dynamic of this delicate daddy/daughter relationship was about to unfold. Try to remain calm.

Tony C: Sweetheart. That is a very, very bad word. Don't ever say it.

The weight of the moment (and my apparent demeanor) dropped onto the little rascal like an anchor. She immediately curled up into a ball of sobbing withdrawal.

Mr. Tony C: (snapping back into the moment) It's okay honey. You didn't know it was a bad word. You're not in trouble sweetheart. Where did you hear that word?

The response was just a series of mumbles and sniffles.

Mrs. Tony C: Sweetheart. Daddy's (evil eye + head snap in my direction) not mad at you. You're not in trouble.

Tony C: Hey kiddo. I'm not mad at you at all...

In an effort to marginalize the moment and not damage the learning exchanges (aka drills), the wife and I decided not to make a big deal out of an assuming innocent enough occurrence. For her use of another word earlier in the year we deemed unacceptable, the Crazy Tomato now has a bar of soap stored in a clear plastic baggy with her name on it in the bathroom. She sees it twice a day when she gets her toothpaste out of the medicine cabinet. A not-so-subtle reminder of the consequence should she decide to repeat offend....and expand her vocabulary.

We figured there are at least a few places the CT could have picked up the mother-of-all dirty words, with the likelihood falling on school. Imagine that. I was hoping for Robert Frost, and instead she can quote Eddie Murphy. Nice.

I worked so hard at not overreacting that day, that I ended up ordering fish tacos. Fish tacos?! I've never ordered fish tacos in my life! What...the ...

All the way home, Mrs. Tony C drilled the Crazy Tomato with words starting in F. She has a harder time letting things go.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Hey to last time.

Very few television characters have a lasting presence in pop culture. Goober Pyle, however, makes that exclusive list...

I was deeply saddened to read this morning that George Lindsey, aka Goober, died yesterday in Nashville at the age of 83. Unlike so many other actors, George never tried to detach himself from the role that made him famous on a world stage. He was Pee-Wee Herman/Paul Rueben or Mr. Bean/Rowan Atkinson before those personas were ever imagined.

George Lindsey was the lovable buffoon Goober Pyle.

He had originally auditioned for the role that eventually went to Jim Nabors. The two men  grew up in  Alabama practically real neighbors until the latter moved to Southern California. Jim Nabors is 81 and lives in Hawaii today. The two men will be linked forever as the cousins from Mayberry that both worked at Wally's Filling Station.

Goober Pyle: Yo.

From 1964 until 1992, George played Goober on The Andy Griffith Show and later on the long running Hee Haw. I've always loved the first and have grown to love the latter, but after years of loathing the standard response when meeting people and saying I was from Tennessee...Oh, like Hee Haw?

(eye roll)

We sorely miss genuine characters like Goober on television today. Simpleton in the most innocent of terms. Living life with a sense of wonder and almost childlike. That fact is personified in pop culture slang whenever you call someone a goober. While maybe not fair to the purity of the role, Lindsey's character is a direct result of the slang label. On the other hand, I'm not sure of the origin when using the word in referring to a part of the male anatomy. But I digress...

Much like Elvis Presley, Jughead Jones or even Bugs Bunny, Goober Pyle will live on as a recognizable character for many, many years to comes. Maybe, just maybe, not only because he continues to entertain most all of us with his lovable shenanigans in syndication...but because most everyone has at one time or another had a Goober moment or two themselves.

Lord knows I've had plenty...

Thursday, May 3, 2012

You're only as old as you look...feel...I mean believe, yes believe!

It all started so innocent enough. A little gray hair, weight not coming off so easily, a few cracking joints in the morning, etc...

Then came phase two. A case of gout. What the heck is that? Doesn't that effect only old people. Next came the need for a prescribed 'fluid pill' due to excess fluid build up. Dear Lord. I'm a 'nerve pill' prescription away from being my grandmother...and she'll be 98 next month!

Today, I enter a completely new phase of sun-setting I became...a mall watcher.


Not a 'mall walker' mind you. Oh no. I skipped that level completely and went straight to going to the mall, parking on a bench all by myself, and watching people go by while making mental observation all to myself. What next? A Hoveround. Oh the humanity!

My written confession might lead to open weeping. I'm glad my dear readers can't see me right now. Shameful.

No. I can't explain why. I thought the Crocs, the ZUMBA, the Just for Men were all great tools to help me fight off that plummet into the old person abyss of condo-living in Florida and Bingo on Tuesday and Friday nights. Apparently not.

The sad part about the whole affair is I didn't even realize I was doing it...mall watch that is...until the task was well under way. It all happened so fast! I went to the mall to get the teenager a pair of shoes, a bite of lunch and then...wham, bam, Son of Sam...I'm anchoring down one end of a bench with a tag team partner on the other end obviously well into his 70s.

Warm weather we're having for the first week of May.

Yes sir. After that nonexistent winter, we might be in for a scorcher this summer.

The weather?! I'm sitting on a bench in the mall talking to an old man about the weather?! Why does my ankle hurt? On no...not gout. Not gout again...

This weather sure messes with joints. Knees hurt so bad I can't sleep at night.

Weather. Knee pain. Maybe that's it. Maybe it's not gout after all. Maybe, just maybe, it's barometric pressure related rheumatoid...arthritis...oh sweet fancy Moses...please be gout! What's happening to me? I need to lie!...I don't need to lie down! I perfectly okay! I'll do ZUMBA tonight, a little bow-chicka-wow-wow later tonight. Yes! I will be just fine...

These young people and their phones. Walking around texting not watching where they're going. Why aren't they in school in the middle of the day?!

Oh look at the time! I'd better be getting back to work myself. Hope you have a good rest of the day sir.

Work? Oh yeah. Good talking to you.

I'm officially avoiding the mall for the rest of the summer. I'm too young to be old! That's're too young to be old Tony C. You're to young to be old. You're too young to be old.

I missed ZUMBA tonight because my stinking ankle is killing me...dang this gout stuff hurts.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Misery loves company...wealth draws it like a magnet.

This morning when I got in my car to head to work, the radio station was set to a local country music station. Stinkin' teenager. Now, I'm by no means a country music fan (shocking, I know) and couldn't even begin to render a guess at who was singing the song violating my ears before changing back to my preset.

Garth Brooks?

Is he still in the business? I just don't know. The incident did, however, take me back to my college days when I was running around the Mecca of country music...Nashville, Tennessee.

Country music made a resounding boom in the early '80s, and the town was completely saturated with the extraordinary influx of higher per capita income. Of course, I was a broke college student working his way through a higher education with a part-time at the local Mickie D's. This particular  McDonald's was located in Green Hills, which at the time, was one of the more affluent parts of town.

Yep. Even rich people eat Big Macs.

This morning, I recalled on my way to work a particular evening of handing white bags out the drive-thru window...a story that has stuck with me through the years. It wasn't uncommon (by any stretch of means) to run into a country music star of the time just doing their normal routines. As a matter of fact, a few years after this particular story I'm about to share, I actually put shoes on Emmylou Harris without a clue who she was and why people I worked with were making a big deal about her. She did have a nice bod, but...

Yep. I worked in a retail shoe department too. Stop laughing.

Back to McDonald's. With all the new found wealth filling the city, seeing a Ferrari 308 was as common and seeing the infamously flammable Ford Pinto of the day. Made popular by Mangum, PI, the iconic red sports cars were buzzing around everywhere.  I got to see one up close on this evening as I passed a bag of food and drink carefully out to a rather pompous acting recipient who had the same look on his face most parents do the first time they catch the toddler drinking Kool-Aid from an open container on the sofa.

Don't worry jerk. I'm a professional, and your Diet Coke is in good hands.

As closing time approached, a late buzz of the drive-thru bell signalled either the most die hard of golden arch fans or a local co-ed with the munchies. Hmmm.

I'd like an order of Chicken McNoogets and a large orange drink please.

The slow southern draw and mispronunciations of McDonald's newest food craze provoked a giggle from everyone working this pre-headphone evening as it came across the box. I was anxious to interact with this character.

Pull around please.

From the box: Hey partner. Make sure I get some of that honey-mustard sauce if you would.

Please pull to the window.

I went to put the order together, and we all had another laugh in the late hour. What a hoot. Chicken McNoogets. Walking back to the drive-thru station, I watched the Ford Van circa 1978 or so pull up to the window. It was one of the popular vans from the '70s with the teardrop window on the rear upper corner, but this one was also sporting an advertising paint scheme:

My eyes trailed from the side of the van up to the driver as I walked closer. Now... I'm standing face to face with none other than Porter Wagoner himself. Wow!

Growing up, The Porter Wagoner Show was regular viewing at our home. I heard not only Dolly Parton, but also stuttering Mel Tillis for the first time on his show. Here was the Wagon Master himself in one of his famous rhinestone jackets with a ring on most every finger! He must be coming from a gig!

He had to turn the van off because the exhaust system was both loud and in need of obvious repair.

Partner. Don't forget that honey-mustard sauce.  (wink)

No sir Mr. Wagoner. I'll put in a few extra.

I appreciate that cowboy.

There is a certain unwritten etiquette when dealing with stars in public. After all, they're just people too and like their privacy. I was pumping gas one day across from none other than Randy Owen of Alabama fame and just coolly nodded a confirmation of recognition and left it at that. There was a certain degree of personal satisfaction on my part for not doting and appreciation conveyed for that fact on his part. Of course, that moment was completely shattered when a vehicle came whipping onto the lot, and a screeching lady with both breast nearly out of containment went running over to him for an unsolicited bear hug.

But this was Porter Wagoner... a Grand Ole Opry staple!

Fighting back the urge to strike up meaningless conversation, I focused on getting him on his way with sauce in tow.

I'm surprised a young fellow like you recognized and old washed up singer like me... 

Okay. Now I'm seriously fighting back my innate sarcastic mechanism that wanted to point out his name was plastered on the side of his van like a mobile billboard. Not to mention, the lift in the front of his hair was peaking somewhere around 8 inches...his signature trademark.

As he fired back up his van and pulled away, I thought about the Ferrari from a few hours earlier. Without a doubt, that jack-wagon had made a ton of money in the country music industry on the foundation built on the back of this falling star who was driving a near dilapidated vehicle.

Both sad and pathetic.

Of course, I found out years later that Wagoner was just notoriously cheap and filthy rich from his early music career and syndicated television show. He also had a serious hankering for honey-mustard sauce...but then, maybe I'm  the only one holding that telling information.

I don't know who these generic, pop-called-country music stars of today are...but they're no Porter Wagoner for sure. He is and always will be an original character of the genre.

* Porter died in 2007 at the age of 80. Misery Loves Company was one of several #1 hits for the singer from 1962.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

“We can evade reality, but we cannot evade the consequences of evading reality” Ayn Rand, Russian-born writer

After comments from several of you about my last post on doing the work, I must admit I came under a great deal of conviction...

Now let me state right up front I've never been a lazy person. That doesn't, however, exclude the fact that on past occasions I've found easier paths to get to a desired result. While my personal creed has most assuredly flopped Mitt Romney-style from the end justifies the means to do the right thing no matter what,  I still tote some baggage that apparently some of you remember quite well from days of old. Ancient history.

Yes. I'm talking specifically about school...that is. The other type of cheating is a completely different post/issue.

Not long ago, I received a text message from my teenager while I was at work, and she was supposed to be at school.

What is the Ring of Fire?

Thinking she was goofing off in class with some of her classmates, I quickly responded:

The after-effects of the new hot chalupa at Taco Bell... 
...or the title of an old Johnny Cash song I used to have on an 8 track.

Dad! I'm serious!

So, now I'm thinking she's using me like ChaCha to look smart in front of her friends.

A group of active volcanoes in the Pacific rim that goes along Eastern Asia around to Western North and South America. Why? (True. A better question would be why in the world do I know that?)

Are you sure?

Wait. Are you cheating on a test?!

Dad? Are you sure?

Yes! But I'm not answering anymore questions! Not good young lady...

I'm wondering why a teacher would let students have phones at that...out during a test? Is that education today?

The conversation with the teenager had a bit of a tainted feel to it later that day as I lectured on the values of actually learning a school subject (in this case geography) and the attributes of integrity as a foundational cornerstone to one's character.

Ouch. As I remember these recent events and recalled (with some of your help, thanks) my own antics from school...yep...the conviction starts pouring over me in buckets. Granted, I have used one of my former 'creative escapades' to illustrate the importance of doing your own work in school while talking with young people today. The story goes like this:

My very first semester of classes in college included the foreign language of Spanish. In my very first class of said subject, I quickly noted that the professor, along with everyone else in the class, spoke exclusively Spanish the entire class. I was completely lost not to mention embarrassed more than once by my feeble attempts to start adding to my class participation grade.

At the conclusion of class, I immediately went to the professor:

Tony C: I'm sorry. I must be in the wrong class. Is this an advanced Spanish class?

Professor: Hola. Senor Antonio, did you have Espanol in high school?

Tony C: Yes ma'am. Two semesters.

Professor: Did you make an A in those classes?

Tony C: Yes ma'am. Both semester.

Professor: Then Senor Antonio you are in the right class. Bienvenido.

Now the truth of the matter about my high school Spanish grade is that while my transcript shows an A grade in both semesters...Pam H actually made those A's...not yours truly.

A quick trip to the Registrar's Office and a drop/add slip took care of the problem. Well, except now 'Я говорю по-русски...плохо'.

But, I'm not even sure if that's the correct phrase in Russian to be quite honest.  Kids...just do the work! Believe me, you're much better off in the long run...and a much better person to boot.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

"Opportunity is missed by most because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work." Thomas Edison

There are a few television shows that get recorded to the DVR for my benefit each week. Aside from my weekday regiment of the PBS NewHour, Tim Allen's new sitcom called Last Man Standing is a weekly watch for both me and Mrs. Tony C.

The premise revolves around a middle-aged father of three girls struggling to relate his old school way of thinking to their more modernized, sophisicated approach to life. His wife becomes the ultimate mediator between 'manly-man' father and daughters due in large part to the fact she is obviously smarter and much more refined than her husband.

Ahem...sounds very familiar. Too familiar actually if you just add Crocs.

The wife recognizes Tim Allen's character has a great heart and always the best intentions with his often hilarious shennaigans. Sort of a remake of Allen's first sitcom character, Tim Taylor, on Home Improvement.

During a recent episode, Allen's character (Mike Baxter) is listening to his middle daughter whine about forgetting her lines during a school play (which he happened to miss) when she finally admits to the fact she didn't really put forth effort to actually memorize them.

What's wrong with you!?  You know you've got to do the work! That's what we do in this family. We do the work!

Over and over that  phrase has since buzzed in my head. Do the work! How completely and simplistically profound.

There are a number of positive attributes I get from my mom without a doubt. But, the one dominate principle I learned from my dad is to never be afraid of hard work. A lesson by example from a man who in 35 plus years never missed a day of work for sickness. Not one.

Where has this principle of  do the work been lost?  I'm constantly riding my teenager about her responsibilities around our house. Granted they're not great task but are put in place to help her better understand everyone plays an important role in making up the family. She will have her own some day, and only then will she truly realize the amount of effort required just to get through a single day of living in modern society.

But that fact hasn't really changed in thousands of years.

Sure. Our culture has become less physical with technological advances, but the garbage still has to be taken out! Meals still have to be prepared and cleaned up. No. We don't have to spend a tremendous part of our day working to hunt, kill and cook the food we eat, but we do spend a large portion of each day at a job that pays us so we can purchase the food we need to live.

I work for a relatively small Department of Defense contracting company. The model keeps the number of employees to a minimum in order to maximize the compensation for all of us who work there. To a person, everyone seems to loves it.  But there's a mutual understanding that due to our lean composition, it is vital each employee do his/her job with maximum effort and be willing to pitch in when the occasional overload shows up. That's not my job is not only an unacceptable's practically nonexistent.

Unfortunately, I don't see the same demeanor at my church where the typical (to churches) 10% of members do 90% of the task necesary for the church to thrive and function. Such a shame too. In a congregation of over 300 people, so much could be done for God's glory if everyone would do the work  He needs us to do.

What I find most baffling is this lassez faire attitude in today's church bridges each and every generation...even to the surviving members of the Greatest Generation. Christians can't blame just young people for the stagnant state of the American church. We've become increasingly lazy as a whole in our society and as a subset in our places of worship.

A daunting subject matter that undoubtedly will require more addressing in future post. I'm going to leave you today, however, with a thought and hopefully a chuckle.

The thought is this: The next time you're walking down your street, in your office building, around your church or anwhere else for that matter...and you come across a piece of trash on the ground/floor...pick it up and put it in a trash can. Do the work necessary regardless of blame or due credit and don't leave it for someone else to do.

Now here's the chuckle. It's a little disturbing watching this knowing I'm in complete agreement with what Tim Allen is saying for the sake of comedy...but that's a blog post for Mrs. Tony C to write I suppose.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Be kind whenever possible...and remember it's always possible.

A couple of phrases/concepts I've recently heard via television or radio have managed to capture my attention and ultimately have worked into my muses.

Just yesterday while out for lunch, I was sitting at a red light listening to a radio commercial about retirement I'd already heard several times. What caught my attention was the premise being made that until that first day of  a person's retirement, we each face deadlines near constantly. That fact is actually the underlining principle behind students being assigned homework in school.  Learning to meet deadlines while producing quality work is the actual goal of homework...hmmmm.


As I pulled through the the red light, my right, front tire finally gave up the ghost. Granted, I had been pushing it for quite some time, and that green stuff called Slime you shoot into your tire for a slow leak problem can only go so far. Such is life, no big deal.

Limping into the closest parking lot for the required pit stop, I noticed a female sitting on a bench outside of this particular Walgreens. Duly noted to self. Surveying my surroundings is an old habit from years gone past. Old habits die hard but sometimes prove useful. I found a nice spot in the rear parking lot of Walgreens in the shade.

I opened my trunk and prepared to retract my spare for the task at hand. I'm thinking 10 minutes...tops.

Hey! I can change that tire for a few extra dollars!

From around the corner comes the aforementioned female on said bench, and it is immediately apparent to me what profession the aforementioned female is currently listing on her nonexistent resume. Great. Just great. Rear parking lot of Walgreens with a pro. This kind of stuff ends up news even in the most innocent of circumstances.

Aside rendered on a personal level, she also boasted of mechanical skills and immediately started digging around in my truck trying to retrieve the jack.

I'll have you on your way in no time Sugar.

Tony C: Ma'am, that's okay. I can do this pretty quick.

Let me just get this jack out and we'll...

Her phone rings.

Hello. Waiting for you. You're late this week. Helping this guy change a flat tire. No! I'm really helping him change his flat tire. Okay. I'll be right here.

By this time, I had managed to fish a $10 bill from my wallet. Yes. A risky exchange, but...

Tony C: Okay look. Here's $10. Just go back to the bench and wait for your...friend. I'll take care of this.

For nothing? You don't have to do that.

Tony C: Yes. I know. I just need to change this tire and get back to work. Besides, what kind of gentleman would I be letting a lady change my tire. No offense meant of course.

Well God bless you mister. I can buy me some cigarettes now. God bless you.

Tony C: God bless you too ma'am, and I mean that with all sincerity. He blesses me all the time even though I don't deserve it.

(Smacking me on the arm) Yep, me too! Ain't that the truth Sugar!

My heart sank just a bit as I watched her walk away and then climb into the truck for her...ahem...appointment. An overwhelming sense of anguish fell over me as I reflected on the fact she was some body's daughter, maybe even a mother.

I'm sure she is well known to the other people around that parking lot for what she, what she does... but I don't begrudge a single second giving her that $10 in front of them. Sure. I just wanted her to go away, so I could change my flat in peace and be on my way. But after the fact and upon reflecting on the brief exchange, I find comfort in knowing that regardless of her circumstances and choices, she still acknowledged an understanding that God blesses us. 

The radio commercial I was listening to when my tire blew out was trying to convey that responsibilities end at retirement, but we all face a last ultimate deadline even in retirement. We can't afford to rest, even in old age, on our responsibilities to God until that final retirement comes. That's true planning for the future.

My next post will look at the other phrase/concept I've recently picked up from...of all things...a sitcom.