Thursday, December 30, 2010

Aloha means hello and good-bye...and a lot of other stuff too.

The year 2010 has been filled with many blessings for yours truly. Mrs. Tony C and I added to our family with little baby Eden this month. The teenager started high school and is doing quite well, and the 3-year old known affectionately as the Crazy Tomato in our home has made the transition from toddler to pre-schooler with great ease. Sure, chaos reigns most of the time at our house that sits at the top of the hill...but I love every minute and can't imagine things any other way.

My Sunday School class at church as been a tremendous blessing too along with playing worship music with the Praise Team. There's a closeness with my church family like never before...and that's not saying we weren't close in previous years because we were.

Near the top of the list of blessings would have to be reconnecting with a number of significant people from my past through Facebook...especially former Marines. Thanks to the photo archives of one such Marine named Joel Haase, I've been able to relive moments and places I thought were long forgotten. It has been a highlight in a banner year of highlights for me.








Marines in BSSG-1, Kaneohe Marine Corps Air Station, Hawaii (1989 or so)







Nostalgia is a funny thing. Marketing professionals have known for quite some time it can be a powerful selling tool. Fortunes have been made on eBay from buyers trying to recapture a moment from years past by buying trinkets from collectors with foresight (and a lot of extra storage space). Facebook is revolutionizing the concept of reconnecting with the past, and I for one applaud the effort.

As I've browsed through photos and chatted with old comrades, I stepped into a metaphoric time machine that instantly transported me back over 2 decades to a time when my trouser waist size was much closer to my inseam length and running 3 miles took less time than conjuring the words for this post. A time when the major stresses in life were less about keeping what you have and more about getting what you want.

I've decided for my first few post in 2011 to share a few of those memories with you. I hope you don't mind...actually, I hope you really enjoy them. Nothing heavy. Just a few fond and mostly funny moments from a place most consider a paradise...that I once called home.

Happy New Year and Aloha to each of you, and may God bless your 2011 in a mighty way.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Are we there yet?


I sincerely hope each of you had a wonderfully blessed Christmas, and as we scream toward the dawn of a new year, I have to do one of those annoying looks back at the year that was on Tony C Today.


Why…you ask? Because apparently that’s what we do in our society at this point on the calendar each and every year. News. Sports. Fashion. Entertainment. Trends. Pish Posh. It seems that all matters and categories of any minuscule interest deserve some form of reflection as the year ends...so in keeping with the mainstream, here we go…


2010 started on a fairly negative note for most of my posting, as I seemed to rip into every one and every thing in the month of January…including Mrs.Tony C. Poor judgment seemed to abound in the month of long darkness (which I also posted about come to think of it).


The Month of Love brought back a little of the old Tony C Today with a few post on politics. There was also one on religion that gave a little peek into the dynamic of my marriage. Politics, religion and Mrs. Tony C again…I’m seeing a disturbing trend early last year.


March, April and May had me on a soapbox about mainly the Tea Party issues, and our tendency in this country to stick our head in the sand when it comes to our Nation’s history. I also managed to kick off a campaign against Comedy Central who felt the need to develop a sacrilegious cartoon about Jesus. Luckily, a number of other more prominent sources did the same, and the network decided not to move forward with the show…at this time. That’s okay. We’ll still be here when they decide to move forward again on nonsense pertaining to the Lord of all.


June saw a first on Tony C Today as my blog went video. The first vlog (video blog) was quite challenging but also proved to be quite entertaining thanks to the impromptu appearance of my beloved. Thank goodness she’s far better looking than me. The vlog didn’t go viral on YouTube or anything because apparently no one cares that I prefer boxers over briefs. To date, it has been the first and only vlog posted (I really need an Apple).


July, August and September were slow months with only 12 posts during that time span. I must have been on a delayed teacher’s schedule and took most of the summer off. I did manage a post that stirred interest and several comments concerning the flight attendant that went haywire and abandoned plane before take off. The associated video was a hoot.


Most of October was a Best of Tony C series, although I did post a zinger in the direction of fuddy-dudders who raise a big stink about Halloween. Funny thing is...my Facebook Friend list seemed to decrease by a few after that one (sorry guys...you know me).


November was a record month for Tony C Today! There seems to be a keen interest in the inner workings of the male mind as delivery day approaches for his pregnant spouse. Well okay...I also posted about breastfeeding and boobs taking my unique hits number well into new territory. As a matter of fact, that particular post is steadily climbing towards 1000 hits which way more than doubles any previous post...leaving me to conclude either there are some really disappointed people Googling ‘boobs’... or sex actually does sell.


Not to mention Mrs.Tony C was quite perturbed when the delivery room discussion with our obstetrician centered on the recent blog post and not the task at hand. At least, my mind was off what was really going on between the stirrups at the time, and I wasn't face-down on the floor.


That brings us to December with a few scattered post among all the festive celebrating. I managed to reach the 200 blog post plateau this year and also attract quite a few more readers (hello ladies in Charleston). Not a lot of you comment…and that’s perfectly okay. I do enjoy reading your feedback in the Comments sections or on Facebook, but much more than that, I enjoy discussing a post or series with you in person or in an email.


To be honest with you, that’s why I write. There’s no danger any information presented here will ever qualify for an educational award or Pulitzer. I just enjoy sharing ideas from my humble, Christian perspective. I don’t blog to make people mad, encourage civil rebellion or declare my own piousness...I write to share, and I love to hear your thoughts on the plethora of subject matters covered here too.


If along the way I can make you chuckle, inspire a warm feeling or provoke a little deeper thought on a topic…well, I’m very thankful you take the time to read. May God bless each of you in a mighty way during 2011.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Okay...so all my cultural knowledge comes from Looney Tunes.


The Nordic fat lady has sung...

Alas, it's time again for me to cry pitifully about the plight of my beloved Minnesota Vikings. Don't act surprised either just because it comes a bit earlier this year than the previous two.

Like the tragic tale of Wagner's famous opera Der Ring des Nibelungen, the Vikings' season has been a really, really, really long series of drama and more drama. With two games still to go and the guys in purple eliminated from not only the playoffs but at least the chance of a .500 season, most fans will be glad to finally put this one in the books.

I don't think it's completely fair and just to compare Brett Favre to the Nordic demigod Siegfried from Wagner's tale because it shines a far too compelling and complimentary light on the signal caller...but now comparing Favre to, say, Elmer Fudd playing Siegfried is a completely different matter. I can easily picture #4 standing on that rock in the opening scene of the classic cartoon What's Opera, Doc? in the metaphoric shadow of, not Thor, but the storied career that looms over him wherever he may be. The crashing storm points to the many troubles that were in store for the Vikings as Favre/Fudd stops and proclaims to the audience/fans 'Be vewy qwiet, I'm hunting Sewper Bwole wings.'

The beleaguered and misunderstood (eye roll) former head coach, Brad Childress, fits the bill of Bwunhilde...I mean Brünnhilde...riding the enormously fat horse played fittingly by Vikings' owner Ziggy Wilf.

But this is where the similarities between opera, cartoon and reality part ways. Even though it's Favre/Fudd who calls lightening to rain down the fatal blow on faux heroine Childress/Bugs Bunny (Packers 31 - Vikings 3), alas... there is no magic kiss to rescue the fair maiden for a happily ever after finale as in Wagner's opera. Just like the Merrie Melodies, Childress/Bugs is terminated.

Coincidentally, What's Opera, Doc is only one of four Looney Tunes where Elmer Fudd gets the best of Bugs Bunny. The comparison is kinda creeping when you thing about it.

I've never sat and never plan to sit through the 15-hour epic opera by Wagner. The Lord of the Rings trilogy is as close as I'll ever come to the famous tale's story line on that scale (and I don't care what he says, Tolkien plagiarized!). Much like the Vikings' season this year...it's just way too long for me.

But now I could watch Elmer and Bugs' version at least once a day. No problem.

As a long-time Vikings fan, I was glad to see Childress go this year, seen way more of Favre than I ever really wanted (thanks sexting and ego), and watched a very promising season go up in flames. I'm beginning to seriously empathize with Chicago Cub and Cleveland (in every sport) fans. Maybe sports is more epic poetry than epic opera...in which case you can just call me Dante.



Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Can we agree to disagree? It's my Top 5 Christmas movie scenes.

What's the holiday season without a list...well, a list or several of them?

I confess to loving both Christmas-themed movies and television shows. Call it nostalgic, sappy, cliché, or idealistic...I really don't care what image it produces to make such a confession. There are several shows and movies that immediately spring to mind when I think of this festive season.

Of course, I'm from a generation that saw A Charlie Brown Christmas, Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer and Frosty the Snowman chase The Wizard of Oz from being the annual premier kick- off entertainment to the holiday season. But then again, the season then didn't actually start until after Thanksgiving either...

While I still have some very fond memories of the now, ahem, vintage television shows of my youth (wow that hurt), the Christmas-themed movie has moved to the forefront of my pop culture association with all that's merry, jolly and ho-ho-ho.

Keeping things on the lighter side as we often try to do, I would like to share my Top 5 favorite Christmas movie scenes. Nothing heavy from It's a Wonderful Life or Miracle of 34th Street...both great films...just not my preferred genre. I'm still a big ol' kid at heart and tend to drift to the sophomoric humor found in these five movies. I'm not saying each is necessarily the best scene from the films...just my favorite/most memorable and why:


#5 Scrooged (1988)- Classic Bill Murray! I'm not sure anyone else could have pulled off the role of Francis Xavier Cross with the success Murray did in this Dickens' knock-off. There are a number of classic lines and scenes (I've never liked a girl enough to give her 12 sharp knives.), but my pick is the scene where Eliot Loudermilk, played to perfection by Bob Goldthwait, finally has Cross cornered for the kill only to be bamboozled by his prey's sudden change of heart. Hello, rabbit!
I love that Looney Tunes reference.





#4 Home Alone (1990)- I have to admit, I didn't care for this movie much when it was released. But then again, I was also quite full of myself back in 1990 too...I'm just saying. Glad that's over and reality reestablished because this is a heck of a funny movie!
My favorite scene(s) are definitely in the battle. Between Joe Pesci's facial expressions and Daniel Stern's physical comedy, the battle scene plays out like a modernized version of The Three Stooges...minus a dude of course.
Never gets old to me.






#3 Elf (2003)-Will Ferrell is a comic genius. I've actually laughed until I've cried in more than one of his movies. This Christmas film became an instant classic with so many memorable lines there are website dedicated to them. When I think of this movies, it's a toss up between the 'Santa's coming!' and the 'He's an angry elf' scenes as to my favorite.
Since I need to pick one, I'm going with the scene where Buddy is completely oblivious to insulting the famous writer Miles Finch whom he mistakes for a wayward elf.
I just wonder how many takes that scene required before everyone could play it straight...



#2 A Christmas Story (1983)- Yes, I know. We've all been bombarded to the point of saturation with this Christmas staple (thanks TBS). But come on! There are so many iconic moments in this movie that picking a favorite scene is akin to picking a favorite flavor at Baskin Robbins. The lamp, you'll shoot your eye out, the pink bunny costume, triple dog dare you, the Bumpuses' dogs, Fwa-ra-ra-ra-ra, furnace battles...the list is endless!
The most memorable line for me though is while Ralphie's being interrogated about where he heard the queen-mother of dirty words he let slip out earlier, we hear in narration... "I had heard that word at least ten times a day from my old man. He worked in profanity the way other artists might work in oils or clay. It was his true medium; a master." Priceless!
The follow up scene where Schwartz gets the blame by telephone then the thrashing of his life by his mother is also cinema gold.



#1 Christmas Vacation (1989) - An annual tradition at my home. The quintessential Christmas movie. It delicately makes fun of all we've allowed Christmas to become while trying to maintain a ruse of what we think it should be.
I've watched this movie so many times I can nearly quote the script verbatim, yet it never fails to make me laugh. There's a little Clark Griswold in all of us that tries so darn hard to make the holiday season perfect each and every year.
With so many scenes that stand out in this movie (there are t-shirt lines dedicated to many of them), I had to just close my eyes and let the first thing come to mind...SQUIRREL!!!
I bust a gut every time when Eddie's wife declares he don't eat them anymore because of his cholesterol. I'm laughing now...


So, it may not be your top scenes or even your top 5 movies with Christmas themes, but isn't differences what makes the world go around? Okay, it's actually gravity...but you get my point!

Share with us your favorite Christmas movie scene or line. Let's get this place really spinning!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Mommy, me and baby makes...five?!






The 'Third day at hospital' look- Mrs. Tony C wears it so much better...and she just delivered a human being!



So, our little bundle of joy arrived last Thursday morning at 8:08 am coming in an ounce shy of six pounds and half and inch short of 20. She's a mini-human...my little tiny dancer. Dad couldn't be prouder if he'd push her through his own...well...let's not get carried away crazy here.

Almost a week later, I still stand in complete awe of a Divine design that produces such a glorious moment called child birth. As I stated in my last post, my role was minuscule. I managed the wet wash cloth, camera and thick skin. Ice chips weren't necessary...but I had it covered none the less. The delivery staff were nothing short of amazing. A well-oiled machine that made this former Marine officer beam with glee at the management of organized chaos that occurs when another number is added to the roll of the human population.

Oh yes...and it's a most beautiful concert.

Maestro, aka, Dr. B was unflappable. While the subject of recent post have involved the OB/GYN experience for yours truly as a bull in a china shop, the calming effect of Dr. B sharing a fly fishing story involving his own son while I chewed scissors through a cord both a part of my new daughter's body as well as her mother's should go down in bedside manner lore. The situation was potential for the medical school instructional film series. Had my mind focused for even a brief moment on the task I was actually performing...to two of the most important people in my life...or my eyes wondered to where the cord went on either end...someone would have been using the cold wash cloth on me.


I'm not sure my HMO would have covered that either.

Look. I'm no stranger to bloody situations, or weak-kneed, or even fainthearted. I pulled a guy's molar once with a pair of pliers and gauze pads (no, he didn't owe me money...he actually wanted it pulled). I've lanced boils and blisters with a flame-sterilized K-bar (now we're talking pus). I've recovered a severed finger to hopefully be reattached! Hey...I'm no girly-man people!

Sorry. I guess Marines and former Marines just get a little defensive if we come across a bit squeamish or weak. It's a natural reaction. Some brainwashing...I mean indoctrination...no, training...last a lifetime. Besides, 'cutting the cord' has a completely different meaning/context in our field manual. But we won't discuss that here because some of you might be a little squeamish...

Thanks Dr. B for helping me save face by not ending up on my face...oh, and kudos for helping bring my little tiny dancer into the world. To use a fishing phrase...she's a keeper.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Blue 16! Blue 16! Hut, hut, hut...


If only it were that easy...

At absolutely any moment as I write this, Mrs. Tony C could go into labor and bring our brand spanking new little girl into the world. I mean no disrespect to her specifically or the female gender as a whole by the picture either. It's just what we guys understand and relate to more easily than the true process of child birth.

Unless you happen to be a male MD of OB/GYN...

I'm still not clear what all those letters stand for and where they relate and apply in the whole process. But then again, it's been said ignorance is bliss.


Having personally witnessed the whole birthing process before, I just don't see how anyone couldn't believe in God. A single sperm and a single egg meet and from that union comes a fully autonomous living being...well...eventually. That happened due to a random sequence of cosmic events? That kind of ignorance is far from blissful. But I digress...

Let's stay on the subject of male, non-medically educated ignorance of the child birth process shall we. This is my third rodeo (okay, bad analogy), and I no more comprehend the mechanics of birth outside of rudimentary biology than the next guy. Come on guys! Admit it...we're ignorant! Know how I know? I walk into the OB/GYN exam room with my wife and see one of these...


That's right...you don't have a clue either dude. Know how else I know? Because my ignorance made me so insecure, I immediately laughed out loud, snapped a picture on my BlackBerry and shared it with other ignorant male friends just like you. Case closed... D-U-M-B.

Being at the OB/GYN office with Mrs. Tony C is akin to taking your dog to church services on Sunday morning. He's glad to be there, knows something cool is going on around him (in most churches anyway), but has no clue what it's all about. That's me in a nutshell when I go to her appointments... and yes, I'm the dog!

Sure, I always find sophisticated, ahem, ways to ease into conversations with the other pregnant people or staff attending to them, but I'm not truly at least a little at ease until I see another expecting dad and make eye contact. You can smell the fear. The kind of temporary kinship I'm sure comes across a couple of guys looking at each other knowing a mortar shell is about to drop on them the very next breath. Not sympathy, not pity...but absolute empathy.

At least my days of enduring those visits are quickly drawing to a close. Unfortunately, the graduation ceremony takes place in a room filled with busy people. Each has a specific task or duty to perform to ensure a new life is brought forth into this world under the best medically possible circumstances.

Then there's me...

Bucket of ice chips. Cold washcloth. Digital camera. Thick skin. Cap and gown. Ready to graduate.

All I can say is God bless the people in the room who know what they're doing. I've got a completely different thought for the first guy who agreed to do the whole thing in a bathtub while he was in the water during the delivery too. D-U-M-B. What were you thinking brother? D-U-M-B. If you happen to be reading this and are planning on one of those water/bathtub births and we see each other at the OB/GYN office...don't be offended when I look away. It's one thing for the mortar shell to fall on you from a different position and a completely other when you fire a mortar round straight up in the air perpendicularly...D-U-M-B.

Wish me luck beloved readers! I'm going to need it...

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Bungee jumping and skydiving are for wimps. If you want to experience true gut-wrenching terror... have children.


I'm convinced our 3-year-old is part bloodhound...

It's bad enough that her super-sensitive sniffer has her calling me out at assumed moments of solitude when...well...when you got to do what you've got to do. Of course, her acute sense of hearing may play a part in that also, but that's not what we're talking about today.


What terrifies me most is her lack of public discernment or even an ounce of tact that leaves the potential for an ill-timed comment in a place like, say Walmart or Target, that could immediately result in anything from tremendous embarrassment to daddy being socked in the nose. It boils down to not if it will happen but to exactly when it will happen.

Luckily, most spontaneous outcries of malodorous air by the 3-year-old have been contained to the homes of family members, well, except the one crying breakdown in a public restroom while she was with Mrs. Tony C...but since her mom didn't get to apologize to the unfortunately humiliated lady in the stall next to them, she has requested I refrain from sharing that hilarious story. I'm sure you can fill in the blanks.

There have been awkward moments in-family recently too. While taking the pre-schooler to her great, grandmothers on Halloween to show off her costume, I let the teenager take her in for a quick visit. My grandmother, God bless her, is 93-years ahead of her youngest great, grandchild. I was watching through the door as the two girls were talking with her, and the look on the younger's face set off an internal alarm in me that knew my presence was either required or about to be required:

Teenager: (as I'm walking in) She sure has a lot of candy so far.

Tony C: (glaring at the 3-year-old peeping up at me) Hey Mamaw. How are you?

Bloodhound Kid: (whining loudly) It stinks in here daddy! It stinks real bad!

Mamaw C: (looking at teenager) What'd she say?

Teenager: (thinking fast and talking loud) She said she's a pumpkin.

Mamaw C: Yes you are sweety, and a very cute pumpkin.

Tony C: (grabbing Bloodhound Kid by the hand) Give Mamaw C a hug so we can trick or treat a little more.

Pumpkin Kid: Bye Mamaw! Love you! (running back to car)


Now in car Pumpkin Kid: Mommy, it stinked real bad in there!

Mrs. Tony C: (to me) What was it?

Tony C: 96... (teenager giggling in the back)

Mrs. Tony C: Tony! That's not very nice!

Tony C: Hey! I hope I'm lucky enough to smell 96 some day.

Pumpkin Kid: That's not nice daddy! It stinked real bad in the house! You don't say those words!


Of course, she had no idea why she was calling me out and just followed her mom's lead. There's another common trait of most post-toddler children...they don't forget anything. When we visited my grandmother this week and the little one froze upon stepping on her porch and seeing the door, I had to get creative pretty quick:

Reluctant Youngest: No daddy! It stinks! It stinks real bad!

Tony C: Want to ride the horse outside of the grocery store? Let's go in here and visit Mamaw, and when we leave, I promise we'll stop by and let you ride the horse...twice!

Excited Princess: I can ride the horsey! Yay! Ride the horsey!

My only fear from that point was the little stinker would yank the lever on my grandmother's recliner and launch her into the floor. That's a game she plays with her grandfather who can move around a whole lot better at this point.

I can only imagine what my grandchildren will say about me one day...

Thursday, November 18, 2010

I'm not an OB/GYN...but I could play one on television.


Since I wasn't blogging during the process of pregnancy for my first two daughters, I feel a bit compelled to share a few muses during my final go around...

That's right. Three and out. So please stop asking if Mrs. Tony C and I are having another one to 'try' for a boy. What exactly does that mean? Plus, the only thing another baby will result in is another future wedding bill and more college tuition to pay for a fourth daughter. Call it poetic justice, Divine intervention or whatever you chose because I'm certain the number of daughters I produce is directly proportionate to the number of children I father...period. I understand and accept that fact. So should you.

Besides, I'm getting pretty good at being a daddy for girls. What I'm not acclimating to is the whole pregnancy process. Yesterday, I had to stop and laugh as I was scouring the internet for a good deal on a Medela Pump In Style Advanced Backpack Breastpump. Twenty years ago, I had absolutely no idea such a thing existed and would have probably punched you (if you're male) in the face for suggesting I did know. Why would you do that to a perfectly good breast? It would have made no sense to me.

A little knowledge in pediatric health and a formal education that included economics brings a whole new light to the subject. Today I understand that baby feeding is actually what God made boobs for in the first place! Go figure. Bikinis had nothing to do with it!

Through my new found knowledge and a little progressive logical thinking, I also now understand the Intelligent design (aka God again) behind a pair instead of one great big one goes well beyond the two is better than one principle or anything that involves feng shui...and no guys, nothing to do with the fact we have two hands either (eye roll). To accommodate a constantly feeding newborn requires a one-sided respite much in the way you shift from one cheek to the other when you've been sitting for a long time. Brilliant!

How could a person possibly look at the completeness and pure genius of biology and believe in a creation by randomness. How?!

The philosophy of randomness does bring into question the overall intellect of humans though. Well..that and the need for disclaimers like this...




Seriously? Come on. Only a man would think a bunch of women sit around hooked up to the same breast pump while at book club like milk cows. Right? Please tell me I'm right ladies!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Christmas brings out a little something in all of us...


I was told this weekend that our Christmas tree needs to be up soon, so our newly arriving bundle of joy can come home from the hospital to a festive environment...

Like she'll notice. She won't even know she has feet for a few months much less notice something shaped like her daddy but much brighter and better smelling.

Now don't take that as Tony C being all bah humbug either. Actually, I quite love the Christmas season and everything that goes along with it. I just prefer when it's contained within the month of December...that's all.


Plus, I'm also a traditionalist when it comes to the tree. I favor a fresh-cut tree despite the hassles of trimming and the fire hazard imposed throughout the duration of its stay inside our home. Problem being... I'm a tad too Clark Griswold, and my judgment in scope of size is limited to if the tree will or will not block the view of the flat screen from my recliner.

Mrs. Tony C holds far stricter parameters, therefore, she prefers the consistency of an artificial tree. I'll bet you see where this is going.

For the past two years, the real tree/artificial tree debate has taken a Washington-like flavor and resulted in absolutely no progress on either front. Last year we used a hand-me-down, green pipe cleaners artificial tree that quite frankly saddened me to share the same room. Year before, we settled on a grab-and-go mass production tree hybrid call-it-spruce-or-call-it-fir for $39.99 from the front of a Wal-Mart tree. Ho-ho-stinkin'-ho. Instead of evergreen, we had the smell of formaldehyde flowing gently through our home. Don't bother looking for that in the holiday scented candles section...trust me.

I want tradition. I want to make memories with the whole family loading up and driving to a wooded area to find our holiday home centerpiece. The teenager can forget being cold temporarily for such a memory. The toddler can overcome her fear of all things that creep and crawl to share in the joy. Ditto to both for Mrs. Tony C...we're making lasting memories here people!

In the spirit of the season, I will offer a compromise of good tidings and peace. If I am to forgo my personal conviction of keeping it old timey...to disrespect the memories of my heritage when the family gathered to celebrate the season around a real, once living tree...to succumb to the trappings of an over-commercialized, injection-molded holiday...I will agree to a fake tree if, and only if, that tree can be the one artificial tree of nostalgia that once lite my imagination as a young boy. The futuristic pine that sparked my dreams of off-world adventures as an astronaut working for the pinnacle of space exploration agencies called NASA. The cutting edge technology that jump started the hip to be square phase of American pop culture.


This tree...
















My late aunt had one of these in the 70's, and she would wait until I could be there each year to assemble the tinsel wonderment. I would sit for hours and watch the aluminum foliage shift from red, to green, to blue and then yellow before starting all over again. I vividly remember the grind of the slowly spinning color wheel. The pop of static sting if you touched a branch while putting a present around the base. It was like truly living in an episode of the Jetsons.

I miss my aunt. I miss that tree from such a wonderful childhood memory too. How in the world can you possibly say no to that Mrs. Tony C?

(I fight a little dirty if you didn't notice...)

Thursday, November 11, 2010

And like why would I assume they'd like want fries with that? Duh...


I'm not sure if this post is a dig at the fast food industry, Generation Y, or both...

I'm about to ditch fast food (see Monday's post), but since I'm married to a Gen Y'er, I guess that ensures me a pretty constant stream of entertainment in the future. Come on! You know what I mean. Nothing says giggle my butt off like a trip to the local Mickie D's and Taco Bell for a little people watching. It's the new dinner theater.

There's just something about the combining of middle class suburbia with foods high in saturated fats that is simply irresistibly amusing. Maybe, just maybe, it's the typically employed staff of Gen Y'ers at fast food joints that makes this combo so interesting. Regardless, I'm convinced a future article of study for Psychology Today is inevitable.

Uh huh, huh...you said joints.

Fast food is by nature designed to be simple. simple=quick. simple=cheap. quick+cheap=profit. Now I'm no Rockefeller, but that's about as easy as it gets in business models. From the birth of the fast food industry in the 1950's through the rapid expansion of the 1980's into the empires of today, the captains of mass fast food production have had a relative constant when it comes to their targeted labor force. Young, energetic kids who are for the most part conscientious, reliable and willing to work for minimum wage. Booya! Mad Money's Jim Cramer gets chills just thinking about it all meshing together. Who cares about health consequences! There's tons of money to be made!

In steps the Gen Y's as the labor force of not choice...but necessity.

My, oh my how things have changed! Gone are the adjectives reliable, energetic and even willing. Now we are using descriptors like spoiled, lazy and presumptuous. I'm not doing a lump classification here...okay, yes I am. But don't be offended my young friends if the proverbial shoe doesn't fit. There have been post on Tony C Today dedicated just to you.

Just this week I was faced with a prime example of what I'm getting at in this post. Rushing to church Wednesday night straight from work, I decided a Burger King drive through for a cheap burger would carry me over until after church and band practice. Convenience overrides conscience yet again. So, I ordered a single $1 Buck Burger and pulled forward to dispense my $1.09 to the dude at window #1 wearing his skater cap and Pacsun jacket. So much for uniforms. Too militant I suppose. At least he was facing me, so I didn't get cracked. Oh! But then I see the dude washing the dishes behind him...why'd I look?!

Up to window #2 for my food, where I meet obviously the future Mrs. Skater Dude. There are things that just can't be made up. As she hands me my order, the follow exchanged happened...so help me...it actually happened:

BK Employee Sydney: Here you go. Thank you and come again.

Tony C: (noticing the bag is obviously heavy) That's just one Buck Burger?

BK Sydney: No, I threw in an extra burger.

Tony C: (quite stunned) You gave me a free burger?

Sydney: Yes, we were about to throw it out, so I just gave it to you.

Tony C: (stunned yet even more) You gave me trash?! (trying to hand bag back)

Syd: I'm sorry, but we can't take bags back through the window. It's a rule.

Side note: At this point, I realize a debate on any standing rules concerning the distribution of time expired food is obviously moot and pointless. Yes, I've worked in fast food.

Tony C: Can you at least tell me which one is the old one?

Girl: The one on top. Thanks!

Her last word actually carried an inflection of sarcasm as she seemed completely offended that I didn't appreciate her act of kind generosity. Does this stuff happen to skinny people? Did I look like one sandwich just wasn't going to get the job done?

My ban on fast food started immediately after I ate both burgers driving to church.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Happy Birthday to my brothers and sisters...and to our beloved Corps.



President Reagan once said some people live their lives wondering if they've made a difference...but Marines don't have that problem.



Now my most favorite President meant that in a particular way, but today I'm going to spin it another. Sure, Marines have made major contributions to the world we live in for 235 years as of today. Freedom just wouldn't be the priceless liberty it is without the Marines who've actually paid the price. They've not done that alone, and tomorrow on Veterans Day, please make a sincere effort to thank a veteran still around...and reverently remember a few that aren't.

But Marines, they are a unique breed. The Corps goes to great extents to stay current with modern battlefield technology while always instilling into each individual Marine that winning the battle may come down to one Marine with nothing but his hands and head...be ready. Every Marine young and old takes a great deal of pride in that fact. There's also a great deal of pride and esprit de corps with the Marines from previous generations who laid the foundation and reputation of the world's greatest fighting force.

However, let me tell you the difference that I see Marines make...and that's the difference made in the lives of each other. I reflect back on twenty years ago and the friendships made, the positive influences shared, and the hardships we suffered together. Don't mistake that last one as a complaint because we wear it like a badge. A right of passage. One of the most difficult and frustrating things is to try to share those experiences with someone who doesn't have a point of reference. We often come across as aloof or reclusive trying to talk about our time in service. Believe me, that's usually not even close to the actual case. Just get a few Marines or formers together and watch the room light up with energy as they share and spin their tales of times gone by...times never, ever to be forgotten.

History records several encounters where a single Marine did in fact turn the battle and win the day, but every Marine of today and yesterday knows in their heart it takes brothers and sisters to make a Corps. Brothers and sisters willing to die for their country, their ideas and for each other...if it comes to that. Those are the stuff never dying friendships are made.


Happy Birthday Marine Corps and a heart-felt thank you to those Marines that helped make me who I am today. Oh...and goodnight Chesty Puller...wherever you are...you old Devil Dog!

Monday, November 8, 2010

There's only room for one person of girth in this house...I was here first!


My wife is a petite lady...when she's not pregnant.

On the other hand, she's married to a man about a ham biscuit away from shopping at the 'big and tall' men's shop, and I'm only 5 foot 7...so it's sure not for the 'tall' part. We are finding the logistics of having two people in the house of considerable girth a rather unpleasant experience. Again.


Mrs. Tony C has done a wonderful job not gaining as much weight this go around as she did with our first child. I'm convinced the reason we have a red haired 3-year old is directly connected to the mass quantities of watermelon consumed by her mother while she was processing in her womb. If watermelon futures were an actual commodity traded in Chicago, there would have been some rich people made in 2007.

Still, pregnancy does by very nature expand a person even in the best of weight management conditions. I'd love a reason to just be fat. Actually, I have a reason, and it's called being static. Sure I could throw out the usually culprits of excuse like I'm big boned, have an inactive thyroid, or conspiracy theories on high fructose corn syrup, but the fact is my big old butt is the only thing inactive. I'm not in the game anymore.

Mrs. Tony C would confirm that I'm not really a big eater. I occasionally splurge on ice cream (my food vice) or have an Oreo binge once in a blue moon, but for the most part, the problem isn't food. I went from being a multi-sport high school athlete, to a competitive power lifter, to a US Marines, to being a professional desk jockey. That's not an excuse...it's actually a reason for me to be more active. Working a desk job is way more stressful than you might think, but then that's a different blog post all together.

So I'm fat and Mrs. Tony C is 8.5-months pregnant. We've gone from spooning before we fall asleep each night to something that resembles the yin-yang symbol...




Or maybe closer to the Greek letter phi... Either way, it's just not as intimate as before being pregnant. But then again, I guess that's how we got back to being pregnant. But, I digress...

I've made an additional vow with my wife that I will put forth maximum effort to lose weight with her after the baby is born. I know I'm not in my twenty's anymore, or even my thirty's, and the task is not going to be easy. But it's just darn embarrassing when both parents have to ask the toddler to help with putting their socks on in the mornings. Lord knows I'd never ask the teenager.

So look for a slimmer, sexier Tony C next summer my dear readers. I won't bore you with the play-by-play details of the quest. There are too many inspiring people out there who do a much better framing job on that story than I ever could. I just want to be able to once again share the same side of the booth with my lovely wife, go horseback riding, kayaking, or ride a teeter-totter together in the park without launching her into low Earth orbit. I want to climb into bed and snuggle up close to my smoking hot wife and spoon with my love on a frosty night...

Wait a minute! I've got to make an appointment with a urologist ASAP!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Please don't make this deja vu all over again...


Don't get cocky old-school Republicans...it's not about you.

The sure way to curtail any momentum handed to the Republican party is for the party to think this past election was a glowing endorsement by America for them. I don't think so. As Americans, we only have two real choices...for now.

The election two years ago equally wasn't about the Democrats either, and their victories were numerous. Republican had the position of power, voters didn't like what they were doing with it, so a vote for change was cast. Tuesday, voters sent a clear message to Washington that things aren't changing fast enough. Change? What changes?

THAT is the question everyone in Washington should be asking and fearing! Heads are coming out of the sand all over the country. For decades now, the Washington two-step with the American public has been more akin to professional wrestling than governance of the Nation. Sure, the two sides fight and squabble in public, keep throwing out hot-button issues as rally cries, and generally force over 200 million people to pick between us or them...but a lot of people are getting it now. The only thing worse than dichotomy is no choice at all, and we're tired of being forced to pick between two sides that are basically cut from the same piece of cloth!

The crying game is coming to an end and the rats are scrambling to get off the ship. Personally, I don't care if it's Republicans, Democrats, Libertarians or the Cap'n Crunch Party. Just somebody please define and act conservative by the same criteria I use when it comes to the federal government- balance the budget, get spending under control, eliminate the huge debt hovering over my children's children, and get your nose out of every single aspect of my life. I can take care of myself thank you very much. That last one should be easy if you just send most of the bureaucrats in Washington home. Come to think of it, that would probably help with the first three too.

Don't tell me you're going to lower my or anyone else's taxes until you get this stuff done either. I helped get us in this mess, and I'll do my share to get us out. Even if it hurts a little. I just don't want my children to have to pay for the indulgences and poor decisions of my generation. This country grew, flourished and did fine for well over 150 years without massive legislations, government interference at every level, and expensive special interest bailouts.

Lose sight of that this time Republicans, like you did after 1994, and voters will seriously wonder if you understand the meaning of the word conservative. Tea Party activist will be watching...you can bet on that.

At least it's not hard to spot a liberal because they don't hide who they are...thankfully.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Face the facts...the bed is already made.


I watched David Stockman on 60 Minutes last night in utter disbelief...

Politically, I came of age under Ronald Reagan. He was the first President I had the privilege of casting a ballot. Raised in a family of Blue-Dog Democrats, I watched the party turn from one that championed the causes of the middle class to a party that pandered to society's misfits and their agenda. Conservative philosophy no longer worked or had a place among uber-liberal ideas of the social elitist. I felt like party leadership was making fun of me specifically for trying to hold to the idea of both social justice and God almighty. Bet Jimmy Carter related on a much more grandiose scale.

There were problems with the 'other' party too, but not near what Democrats imposed. Reagan Democrats somewhere became a tag for those I shared the same hopes and dreams for our country. After college, I was commissioned in the service and enjoyed some of the most prosperous times for service men and women...especially during a time of mostly peace. It wasn't until years later I fully realized that I was just another card in a gigantic house of them, and the term conservative was apparently no longer synonymous with smaller government...

Last night, I listened as former President Reagan's Budget Director said in no uncertain terms that our economy has reached a breaking point and ALL Americans needed to face the reality of higher taxes. (Gasp). Then came the moment of epiphany when I knew in my heart what he said was completely true...Mr. Stockman pointed out our government spending has reached 24 percent of our national GDP. I went immediately to my computer to confirm that number. But not true! Sources I found put it at 43 percent when you factor in the deficit! We've not seen 24 percent since 1951...but how? Why?

There have been spikes in the ratio in the past 110 years during times of global conflict, and that's to be expected. But since 1974, the percent has never fallen below 30 percent again and has steadily increased to present day dipping only during the Clinton years. Sorry folks, you can't deny the facts. That one hurts me too. Democrats and Republicans have controlled both the executive and legislative branches of government during this unprecedented era in U.S. history. Just as we watched the mortgage market bloat and overfill to a final pop that left most of the world in financial shambles, Americans are watching our government grow to a similar point of exploding and then insolvency.


It can't be ignored and won't go away.

So where do we cut? Who pays the bill?


I like to consider myself a modestly intelligent man...at least intelligent enough to know hard decisions are upon our country, and any politician who campaigns on promises of lower taxes and less government spending is either negligently naive or boldly full of bull crap. Neither reason deserves a vote.

If we, as Americans, continue to stick our heads in the sand and let our government spend uncontrollably, mortgaging the future of our children, the pop will be a lot more painful for everyone than the sting of a few less entitlements or a little higher tax bill. Haven't we learned a thing the past few years?

Somebody has to pay for the irresponsible behavior we've allowed to happen on our watch. The sooner we realize and accept that responsibility, the less painful the fix will be. We just can't afford the shenanigans of either party anymore. Something to think about not just tomorrow, but each and every time you vote until we get government spending back under control.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Could I get excited? Sure...but then what's the point?


I'm probably going to offend a few people today...


But then again, when has that ever stopped me from writing something? I just want to plead with Christians to lighten up a bit when it comes to Christmas, Easter and...Halloween!

Egad!


Not the eve of evil, the celebration of satanic, the ALL HALLOWS EVE! As God fearing faithful, we can't condone the night dedicated to the living dead! What are you thinking?!

The blogosphere is full of post today addressing the issues of Halloween, so naturally, I'm jumping in with mine. I mean seriously, do you think my 3-year old has any idea the origin hails back loosely to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain? I'm pretty sure she doesn't even know any Celtics...besides, we are all Lakers fan. Purple and gold baby!

Every holiday season, the Celebration Police show up and start spouting off about the secular roots of this, the demonic connections to that, the square root of...anyway. Most do it in the name of Jesus. Funny thing is...I don't ever remember Jesus ranting about any of this nonsense. To me, the Celebration Police come off a lot like the...no Tony C...don't go there...don't say it... a lot like...don't say it Tony C... the Pharisees!


I can't believe you went there!


Believe it brother, that just actually happened. Christians need to accept we live in the secular world. Our job is to put God in all we do. That's how we don't become of the world. I could care less where Christmas started. In my home, we focus on the Christ element of the season. Same with Easter. Halloween is a little more challenging, but I've found a few costume idea's that might appease the Celebration Police just a tad:



Where it all started...

With thanks to David Johndrow at Fire & Grace, nothing screams Christian like the fall of man. (Recommended for adults only)


God's Holy Word

Ring doorbell. Say 'Trick or Treat.' Receive candy. Jump on top of them. Bible bashing on a whole new level. Amen.

Eternal Lake of Fire

One of my personal favorites. A little tricky getting in and out of the car.

Wow...oops!
Sorry. I was emailing that to Mrs. Tony C for a Christmas present idea (how embarrassing).




If you chose not to celebrate Halloween this or any other year...more power to you. That's you're call. But if you get a hankering for a Twix bar Saturday night...swing through Stone Edge Subdivision. I'll be dressed like an Egyptian handing them out.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

You can put a cat in an oven...but that don't make it a biscuit.

So, I'm watching the Disney channel with the 2 year old one day, and she breaks into a dance as a short called Choo-Choo Soul starts. As the attractive young lady dances and sings on the television, my little one is jumping around and having a great time too. Then the kids on the show get up and start dancing...

Now there are certain things that just POP out at you. Can't be helped. It's not that your mind is geared to a preset expectation or anything...I mean...well, I'm just saying.

But why did Disney pick this lily-white kid with absolutely no rhythm to dance in this video?




No...that's a stereotype! Bless his timing-challenged heart...

White people can dance! My wife is a great dancer. I'm pretty decent when the mood strikes. The teenager...well...okay, so two out of three ain't bad!

Poor kid better hope this get lost in an archive somewhere at Disney...before he starts dating.

Monday, October 25, 2010

That's just the way it is...still today Walter.


I don't watch the evening news that much anymore. There was a time when watching the local news at 6:00 then Uncle Walter at 6:30 was a household ritual. I kept that up even after Dan Rather took the once thought irreplaceable chair of Cronkite in 1981 and held the post for 24 years on his own. I even made it a point to usually catch the local news again at 11 before Carson or Letterman drifted me into la-la land to close the day.




Come to think of it, I don't read the newspaper anymore either. The USA Today (which this blog affectionately parodies in name) and my local newspaper were daily reads at one time. I'm not sure if somewhere I lost faith in the media's integrity or focus on the source as each became drowned out in a backdrop of news media overexposure (radio, 24 hour news stations, blogs, magazines, etc). At this point...it's hard to say.

One thing I am certain about though is the increased negativity of both televised and printed news- local and national. I personally can't stand it. One can't help but be jaded by the constant barrage of the Right crying 'liberal media' or the farcical discrediting from the Left of conservative sources. As for me...I don't trust either side at this point and have seen point blank examples of both sides distorting the truth to bolster their agenda. Before you point out the obvious to me, I'm sure Uncle Walter did the same. But I was mostly ignorant to the fact then and still looked at journalism as an honorable profession. Of course...I thought the same of the legal profession at the time too. I guess we all grow up and lose the illusion of Santa Claus eventually.

Watching or reading my local news anymore is just a 'Who's Who' of the recently arrested. It's the same stuff night after night of blah, blah arrested...blah, blah charged. I would rather watch a Seinfeld rerun or episode of Man vs. Food to wind down the day. A person would think crime had just been invented, and until recently, wasn't the norm. Here's a news flash for you...people have been doing stupid things for a very long time. Don't believe me, just read your Bible.

In my best infomercial pitch...But wait, there's more! Apparently people have become so enamored in the daily crime watch, a seriously opportunist entrepreneur now publishes a weekly newsprint of nothing but recently arrested local mugshot and charges.



If only I were joking...

The monthly circulation of the paper is up to 30,000 and climbing. Unbelievable. Stores sell out the same day the new copies are delivered...at a dollar a pop! I applaud the audacity of the publisher and shame the patrons who buy them.

I just look through the one at work to make sure none of my relatives are looking to move residence...seriously.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Best of Tony C Today- I'm no rocket scientist...but I make a mean grilled cheese sandwich. (March 2010)

Last 'Best of' this week. New stuff coming next week.


I had a dream as a young boy...

When Neil Armstrong stepped out of Apollo 11's Lunar Module in July 1969, I was sitting beside my grandmother watching on her black and white television. Although I was completely unaware at the time, she was dying from cancer and would take her own final trip just a few months later. I treasure that memory... and miss her today.

As far back as I can remember, I always wanted to be an astronaut. After a few flying lessons from a former Leatherneck pilot in an old cub prop plane, I was ready for the big show. I had it all mapped out. Through Vanderbilt for commissioning in the USMC. Flight school. Carrier duty. Instructor School. Test Pilot Program. Astronaut Program. Space!

God had a different plan. I never made it to step two...vision 20-40...unacceptable for flight training.

Now don't get me wrong, I was crushed. But looking back at how NASA changed from the glory days of Apollo through the routine grind of Skylab to driving a space bus called the Space Shuttle, maybe my dream wasn't the only one that faded.

When NASA finally announced a plan to go back to the moon, my batteries recharged. Since the birth of my fire-haired toddler, our daddy-daughter motto has been 'Red hair to the Red planet'. * We routinely participate in low gravity simulations and centrifugal exercises. By my calculation, NASA would be about ready for a Mars launch about the time she would be completing her PhD in astrophysics with an emphasis is subatomic particles. With a double undergraduates in geology and chemistry, she'd be a shoe in for the maiden voyage.

But once again, another dream is smashed...

The Obama Administration has deep-sixed the Constellation program which was the first step to put a working outpost on the moon by 2020 and a reasonable step toward a Mars mission. Again, don't get me wrong. I understand how expensive such an undertaking would be and there is actually logic in Obama's push to privatize some parts of space travel. Apollo cost $145 billion in today's dollars...not chump change, but not bailout money either. At the height of the program, NASA employed over 440,000 people. That would sure help some key employment indicators today.

NASA must be up to much more important things these days with the upcoming retirement of the space bus and Virgin Records sponsoring a new era of space tourism...sort of an Age of Aquarius deal I guess. The budget for NASA is still pretty rich at $19 billion for 2011, not the $27 billion for the Department of Agriculture for high fructose corn sweetener subsidies, but that's a different blog post now isn't it?

So how will NASA be spending their billions in the near future with no major space exploration planned? Funny you should ask...because just this week we got a glimpse of the new NASA:

Richard Gross, a scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., and colleagues calculated that Saturday's earthquake in Chile shortened the Earth day by 1.26 microseconds. A microsecond is one-millionth of a second.

I'll bet that stinkin' guys an astrophysicist too...



*Disclaimer- Mrs. Tony C neither condones, encourages nor appreciates anyone who does condone and encourage her daughter to participate in interplanetary space travel, extraterrestrial colonization, human endurance experiments and any training to wit.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Best of Tony C Today-Where everyone knows your name...unfortunately (August 2009)

I'll admit I'm often an idiot...

I was reminded of that fact last weekend when the teenager went to eat with other family members and brought back leftovers for the fridge. Like her old man, she's loves hot wings and went to a restaurant noted for great wings. Little did she know the anxiety she would create in her father when he opened the refrigerator door later that day to see the take-out box from...

Allow me to explain.

There was a time in the life of Tony C Today when I would frequent said establishment. All that changed when my heart was taken by Mrs. Tony C Today...and for the better. It was bliss and constantly falling rose petals as we honeymooned for several years. Oh, we had the occasional disagreement about trivial issues...fan on or off at night, Heinz or Hunts, toilet seat issues, etc. The most consistent point of disagreement was the dreaded 'Where do you want to eat?' question...the focal point cause of conflicts in so many modern relationships....it would almost be my undoing too.

It was a typical weekend night as Mrs. Tony C and I travelled down our town's version of restaurant row. We had done it all way too many times.

Tony C: Where do you want to eat tonight Dear?

Mrs. Tony C: Where do you Honey?

Tony C: Your choice Pookie. Whatever you're in the mood for tonight.

We rolled down the street passing restaurant after restaurant...

Mrs. Tony C (glancing over at the familiar owl sign): I've never eaten at Hooters. How about...

Let me state with scientific certainty that a Nissan Pathfinder can conduct a 90 degree turn traveling at 32 mph without a major component flying off. Just FYI.

Mrs. Tony C: Whoa! Hooters it is!

Tony C: Are you sure Dumpling...I mean...it is something different.

Mrs. Tony C: For me it's different. Sweetie, you've been here before.

Tony C: Yeah, but not in years Sugarlips.

Mrs. Tony C: We'll give it a try.

As we walked up to the door hand in hand, my carnal self began to imagine the combining of the old with the new...could it work? Should it work? As the door flung open and we were greeted by the Hooter Girl Beth, that last question came across my love's lips...

Mrs. Tony C: When was the last time you was here?

Tony C: Years...

My answer hung in the air as we walked through the door and were greeted by...


Except 'Norm!' wasn't yelled...it was MY name.

Not since jumping from an airplane have I felt the sensation of overwhelming pride and complete utter terror simultaneously. It honestly had been years since my last visit, but little did I know that as my life had moved on...the lives of some of my old friends had been pretty much static and very predictable.

I knew, instinctively, the next few seconds could forever change my horizon...

Mrs. Tony C: HOW long did you say it's been since you've been here?

Tony C: Pookie...I just know these people from way back...honest.

And then, quite possibly, the counter move of my entire life...

Tony C: Do you want to go someplace else? It's really no problem. We can leave.

Mrs. Tony C: No...we're here. Let's just eat.

For some reason, the experience wasn't what I had pictured though. The food was average at best, and the service is a lot different in mixed company...I mean...the die are cast in that situation. Not that I desired the silly flirtations that usually...what I really mean is...I wasn't looking for the girls...at the girls...aaagghhhh!

Sometimes I'm just an idiot.

We don't really use pet names for each other anymore. Not sure we actually ever did...and I've not seen one single rose petal fall since that dreaded day.

Good thing Mrs. Tony C fell in love with a doofus...one very lucky, forgiven idiot!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Best of Tony C Today- If a podcast told you to jump off a bridge...(March 2009)



I've been in a bit of a funk lately...

This week, I'm selecting a few of my favorite Tony C Today post for you with the promise of new stuff next week. Hey! I'm eight months pregnant you know...(does that work for men too).










If a podcast told you to jump off a bridge....

Describing my taste in music as eclectic might be a tad understating. My iPod playlists are a mosaic of genres that even David Letterman couldn't link to a specific stereotype. And, like most people...I just love music. Pop to Pavarotti, rock to religious, Free Bird to funk, classical to country...a little or a lot of each is all on there...and I listen to it all.

Who's Grayson Hugh? Song on my iPod. Have you heard of the Amazing Rhythm Aces? Original version of Third Rate Romance on my iPod. Do you remember Robbie Dupree? Squeeze? The Clash? Ronnie Milsap? The Manhattans? Pablo Cruise? They're all there. LTD or Hot Chocolate ring a bell...you sexy thing?

Now before all of you kids born during the Reagan administration or later stop reading, I've got plenty of music released on something other than vinyl too...even that catchy tune by Yael Naim from the Macbook commercial ...'I'm a new soul, I came to this strange world, Hoping I could learn a bit bout how to give and take.' I really like songs with 'la la' or 'hey hey' in them...seems hip.

I sing in the car most days. I also keep a pair of drumsticks with quick access for good grooves or rolls coming up in a song. My thoughtful wife got me a new car stereo for Christmas that syncs with my iPod. Good stuff...keeps my hands free for drumming parts. I don't really embarrass easy, so singing and drumming doesn't cease when there's an audience...say at a red light or on the Interstate. The same principle applies when I sing in the choir at church. Can I sing? Doesn't matter...I do it anyway. Hey...make a joyful noise...the good Book doesn't say anything about melody. Sometimes, I sing while I play drums in our church Praise Team, but I don't do it often. The Music Director gets upset because sometimes I forget I'm the drummer...first and foremost.
Being a drummer draws me to different music styles to some degree. I make fun of the Bee Gees on this blog from time to time, yet the groove of Night Fever is mesmerizing to me...and hard to master. Although I'm not that fond of country music, it was Don William's son who helped me with the switch from guitar to drums while I was in college, so I feel somewhat obliged to keep some old school Nashville around...even though Don Jr. played classic rock in a college band. I also went to school with Marty Roe of Diamond Rio...great guy, great voice...but dances like the white guy he really is. (You young people probably need to google Don Williams)

Are we what we iPod? Hmmm...that's a pretty philosophical question that has great points on both sides of the debate. Music touches and affects everyone....good and bad. I don't think, as a Christian, it's a requirement for me to listen to only Christian music. Besides, it's a little difficult for me and the wife to...well...get 'to know each other' with Ray Boltz playing in the background. Okay, bad choice...let's say Mercy Me. Now Boyz II Men or James Ingram, on the other hand...bow chicka wow wow. I do subscribe to the 'garbage in, garbage out' method of parenting, so I don't want to come across a hypocrite either.

I was forever changed one day when I heard my high school football coach belting Maneater...Hall and Oates style...while he showered after football practice. Wow...now I need a mental Tic Tac.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Don't look for me on the milk carton just yet...

I really do like to blog. Actually...you could say I love to blog.

Now if the Cervantes' idiom from Don Quixote fame of 'the proof is in the pudding' is the standard for my opening statement, I'm very much in trouble. The idiom is actually 'the proof of the pudding is in the eating', but that does me no good either.

The long lapses in my post are completely a result of necessity and not apathy...I assure you. Writing, sharing and getting feedback from you have all been a blessing on a number of levels. I look forward to sharing ideas, thoughts and sometimes just general hodge-podge. I've been thinking a lot about politics lately (thanks to David Johndrow) and need to post a few opinions as we approach mid-term elections. I firmly believe we are on the precipice of great change in our country. I'm both excited and anxious about that fact though.

But, today marks the end of the federal government's fiscal year. The date passes each year
without even a second thought by most people. However, I work for a DoD contractor, and this date has great significance for anyone directly tied to doing business with Washington. If there's a single Christmas morning moment for Washington spending, then today I say Merry stinkin' Christmas!

I learned during my days with the USMC that October 1st was an important date in the military. Like all great planners, the U.S. Government works each year from a predetermined budget. That budget starts October 1 and ends September 30 the following year. Simple. Each military branch gets 'x' number of dollars to operate on during that year, and the money is budgeted down to the smallest individual commands throughout the service who each get their piece of the pie.

So far so good? Sounds very practical, sensible and responsible.

But least we not forget whom we talk about. The federal government has a proven record of taking the facile and making it fecal...excuse my crudeness. How it works with the federal government (in contrast to your personal home budget I hope) is that when you are allotted 'x' dollars to spend in a fiscal year, you better spend every dime or risk having your budget reduced the following year.

So this would be me the past month...>>>>

Grabbing as many of the available dollars left over from the bases I deal with in my job. As the last day of September gets closer, desperate spending takes over. Need proof? I quoted 27 business phone systems to a base in Korea last night. My company sells automotive parts.

I'm all about making as much money for my company as I possibly can, so I work a lot of long hours in September and pamper my customers just a little bit more than usual. Need laptop batteries? No problem. Need a floor buffer? No problem. You need it....I'll find it.

There is of course the other side of that coin. That's when I get my paycheck and notice the federal withholding line realizing I'm helping pay for the insanity...ouch.

I'll be back on a more regular posting schedule next week. Who knows...I feel a vlog coming on too.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Kids really do say the darndest things...

I'm on my second rodeo when it comes to 2-year olds...

That's my little fire gem to the right. Another blessing from Heaven and living proof to me just how much God truly loves me. Of course, tough love is love none the less.

Carlee is the second of my two...soon to be three...daughters. While both girls share several common traits (i.e stubbornness, impatience, fiercely competitive, etc.), there are also some core differences. Carlee's older sister (Tony C version 2A) was for the most part a very soft spoken toddler. She spoke quite often but mild-mannered. True to stereotypical profiling, she is now a loud, annoying teenager...but I still truly love her (Happy 15th Birthday yesterday).

Tony C version 2B is far more in-your-face than version 2A as indicated by this recent exchange:

Tony C: (looking over counter in direction of dishwasher) Carlee? Are you messing with the dishwasher buttons again? You know that's off limits. Carlee?

Version 2B: (slight paused, then popping into view with hands out) You don't worry about me! Tony, you just don't worry about Carlee and worry about Tony!

Tony C: (off-balance by the rebuttal) Excuse me?

Version 2B: You just don't worry about me. You worry about Tony, and Carlee will worry about Carlee.

Tony C: (regain composure) Come here! Come right here, right now!

Version 2B: But I don't want a spanking! Just don't worry about me!

Tony C: Now!

Version 2B: (chin tucked into chest, lower lip puffed out and mumbling) I don't want a spanking.

Tony C: (lifting tot up onto the table and looking right into her eyes) I worry about Carlee because it's my job to worry about Carlee. I'm your dad! Don't tell me not to worry about you. Understand?

Version 2B: (under breath) Yes.

She does actually call me Tony part of the time, and while this is a point of contention with some of my extended family, I'm cool with it. Her sister went through the same phase and grew out of it (and I'm sure on to calling me much worse behind closed doors).

While there is rarely a day goes by that Mrs. Tony C and I aren't entertained by our rambunctious toddler who seems to be obsessed with bodily functions involving digestion or shedding her clothing whenever and wherever opportunity presents, her matter-of-fact dialog and take on life keeps us in stitches...as well as...on edge.

One recent morning while preparing to depart for school and work, I let the teenager deal with getting the toddler ready (mom departs at 6:30 am for work). After 15 minutes of bickering and crying (by both I might add), I headed downstairs to let the teenager finish what she had started:
Tony C: (yelling back upstairs) Girls! It is time to go...no...past time to go! Get a move on it!

Teenager: (with toddler screaming in the background) Dad...she won't let me put her clothes on her!

Toddler: Stop! Don't touch me! Stop!

Tony C: Carlee! If you don't let your sister help you get dressed...

Toddler: No! I want you to do it!

Tony C: If I have to come back up these stairs, you will definitely get a spanking for not listening! Let your sister dress you...we have to go now!

Toddler: Come spank me! I want a spanking! Then you can put my clothes on!

While I've never heard those words come out of the toddler's mouth again, I should have punished the teenager too for not finishing the task and letting a 2-year old get the best of her...but then I'm sure she has plenty more lessons still yet to come before she's off to college.

Funny how birth control can come in many different forms...

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Some guys have all the luck...

I have a new favorite show...and I'm sure watching it is not going to help me lose any weight.

If you've not seen Man v. Food on the Travel Channel, you're missing all the great stuff television has to offer: 1. Great locations, 2. Humor, 3. Real local people, 4. Amazing food segments, and of course, 5. Somebody doing something really stupid at the end.

Let me start with the last one. The host, Adam Richman, ends each show by taking on a food challenge from one of the host city's restaurants. These are tried and true food challenges that have usually kicked several hundred previous challengers in the pants and onto the walls of shame. I've seen Adam do some pretty dumb things in his quest to reign supreme in the ongoing man v. food battle. Sometimes he prevails...sometimes he pukes. Nobody said war was pretty.

Since I've started watching, here are a few highlights from the more entertaining food challenges:

  • 15 dozen raw oysters in New Orleans- man won
  • 11 pound pizza in Atlanta- food won
  • 7 pound breakfast burrito in Denver- food won
  • 4.5 pound steak in Amarillo- man won
  • 5- 24 oz milkshakes in St. Louis- food won (Adam barfed)
  • 7 pound seafood platter and sides under an hour in Long Island- man won
While each of these challenges was entertaining in its own right, I personally like the challenges that involve really hot (spicy) foods...and I mean really hot foods:

  • Hell Fire Challenge in Salt Lake City (ironic) which involves 7 different tuna sushi rolls that get progressively hotter with the last one (milk allowed)- man won
  • Fire in Your Hole Challenge in Sarasota, FL which was 10 hot wings cooked with Habanero peppers, hot sauce, Cayenne, chili powder, crushed red pepper, and Ghost Chile extract in 20 minutes. He finished 2...food won.
  • Suicide Six Wings Challenge in Brooklyn that only 10 out of hundreds of challengers has completed. He actually wore gloves to protect his hands while eating - man won.
In addition to the entertainment value of watching this guy stuff, gorge and burn himself for the sake of pride, a t-shirt (usually) and a photo spot prominently displayed, Adam hits a few of the host city hot spots for local cuisine. For a 30-minute show, you get the info you really want about a city without the fluff of Foder's...where's the good food!

He officially stands at 33-19 against food, and Adam is a pretty funny dude. If there's a lottery for television host, Richman hit the Powerball in my opinion...but Bert the Conqueror would be a close second.