Thursday, April 28, 2011

Heaven got one of my favorite people today...

Some people can make you laugh just reading the phonebook.

Paul Rector was one of those guys. Like most Christians when someone close passes, I'm filled with conflicting emotions today. While I celebrate in the eternal gift he accepted some years ago, I will selfishly miss so many things about my friend being here.

For several years, I just had to look directly across an aisle on Sunday mornings and nights along with Wednesday nights to see Paul sitting in his normal spot at church. Often when we dismissed church with a closing prayer while joining hands across the aisles, my hand would end up in his. He would make a joke about me standing on the pew, so I could reach his hand, and I would fire back with warnings of lustful thoughts during church services.

We had that type of relationship...and I loved it.

Part of the camaraderie we shared stemmed from being kindred spirits. Paul loved God very much, but God hadn't always been first in Paul's adult life. Paul loved music and had played in a number of bands. He loved to teach and speak on Biblical subjects and didn't often mince words. God blessed Paul, much like his namesake, with a tremendous testimony...and he wasn't afraid to share it with anyone either.

Like my friend Paul, I understand and appreciate the limitless boundaries of grace from a standpoint of someone who oft tested those limits. We had a number of great conversation just on that subject matter alone. When I was approached about teaching a Sunday School class, I called Paul for guidance because I knew he was a wonderful example. He was teaching the class I attended and had been nationally recognized for his efforts (great story here).

Over the past several years, diabetes robbed my friend of many things we take for granted. He lost his eye sight then much of his mobility. This is where it gets tough for me...

Paul never, ever let those things get him down. He continued to teach about and praise his Father through the storm. He would always send a whisper of encouragement my way as I would take my seat across from him after worship music had concluded. Great job little buddy. Hot drumming today. Way to wake these people up brother. He would always take time to talk to anyone about God's word even on his worst days.

My friend had a stroke a few months back that eventually took him Home. This morning as a matter of fact. He leaves behind a loving, tireless wife who has been a family anchor for so long, a son I'm honored to call my friend, and a daughter that completely adored him.

I will miss my friend. Not long ago, I thought of a way to make him laugh given the opportunity again. So Paul, from the bottom of my heart, this one's for you...

Saturday, April 16, 2011


In honor of the week leading up to Easter Sunday, I won't be posting on Tony C Today. May your week be blessed as we remember the most scared events in the history of mankind.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

If Barry Bonds had just been wearing his Giants uniform during the trial...

Somebody please cry me a river...

My view on political correctness is well documented on Tony C Today (see here, here, here, definitely here, herehere, here and oh yes, here). I think you get the point. While some of those post are worded with an elegance most assuredly plagiarized from a more astute intellect along the lines of...say...Mitch Albom, others are straight in your face from the gut of yours truly. 

(Okay for the record, that last line was hyperbole...I never, ever plagiarize. Borrow from time to time from David Johndrow maybe but never plagiarize.)

Political correctness, or the fear thereof,  has paralyzed our politicians, stifled our academia, and rained paranoia on our pulpits. Freedom of speech in our country is being held hostage by the tender feelings of a gender-confused, minority-born man named April who may or may not believe in a Supreme Being but is completely convinced his dog named Oprah communicates the plans of an imminent alien invasion with him telepathically...but only on Tuesday.

I'm sick of it. Just plain sick of it.

Yes just a few short weeks ago, someone was offended by my playful jab at both my own culture and a certain demographic of people not necessarily from the South..not that there's anything wrong with being from the North. God loves yanke...people from the North too. I understand He's a really, really big God. Please understand blasting me as a hypocrite on your Facebook page only helps increase my blog traffic...and I thank you. I'm not, however, going to be handcuffed and walk on eggshells for the sake of global self-esteem. I have opinions. I'm going to state them. Change the channel if you don't like it. There. Now I feel I've disclaimed enough to say what I came here to say today...

I hate the San Francisco Giants!

Wow. How liberating. So when I settled in this past Monday night to watch my beloved Dodgers begin  taking the second season series from the evil Giants, I was both confused and stunned to witness the two teams gathered at the pitcher's mound holding hands and singing Kumbaya. What gives?!

Truly, I mean no disrespect to Bryan Stow, the Giants fan severely beaten in the parking lot of Dodger Stadium by a couple of common criminals, but this incident was a result of crime...not real hostilities between true fans of the Dodgers and Giants.

When I say I hate the Giants, that's not an actual indictment of malice for any individual player, coach or fan of the team. Cheering against a rival team is as much a part of being a sports fan as cheering for your own team. Not to mention in this age of free agency, someone might be the player beating you with the long-ball one season and batting clean-up for your team the next. Hating the Giants is just not a pointed, personal's just not!

I detest what happened to Bryan Stow and hope they find the thugs and prosecute them to the fullest extent of the law. Having said that...let's please not overreact and start broad-stroke paint brushing white wash on the matter. Sports need rivalry, even resentment, to be what we've come to know and love. What we don't need is a kinder, more gentle MLB.  Going to AT&T Park to hear Giant fans yell and hold up signs that say Be Well LA is preposterous and, quite frankly, very disturbing to me. Nothing gets my adrenaline pumping like the roar of Beat LA chanting, while Andre Either drills one into McCovey Cove to put the Boys in Blue up by two in the top of the ninth. That's why we watch. That's why we buy ridiculously priced tickets, sodas and hot dogs. It's not for the Matt Kemp bobblehead me.

Giant fans hate the Dodgers too. It's one of sport's greatest rivalries moving from the uptight East coast to the tranquilized West. In over 128 years of baseball between the two teams, the series stands at favor of the stinking Giants for now. Both teams have won 18 pennants and 6 World Series each.  Dodgers vs Giants is all that's great about the game of baseball.

So it's okay if we get back to a few of these each season and completely away from the pre-game hand holding...regardless of the circumstances. Fighting from time to time belongs in the game. Because most major league players make the game look effortless, fights reassure fans that players do have a competitive fire burning and the $80 ticket, $15 to park and $28 in ballpark food is well worth the price of admission...if you're lucking enough to be there when a fight breaks out.

Besides. It's not like any players ever really get hurt during fights...come on...they're baseball players!  

To make a donation to a fund set up for a recovering Bryan Stow just click here. Get well and God bless brother!

Monday, April 11, 2011

I might not be too smart, but I could once move heavy objects...

There was a time I thought lifting, pushing or squatting a lot of weight was just plain fun...

In college, I started competitive powerlifting my sophomore year. My last sanctioned meet, however, was a distant 1985 ago. After attending Officer Candidate School for the Marines between my junior and senior year, I went into that last match very light at 161 pounds...or 20 pounds below my normal competition weight. During the meet, I remembered exactly why I had previously packed on pounds to compete in a heavier class in prior years because I finished an embarrassing 8th to the more technically proficient lighter lifters.

I really didn't lift heavy much during my days in the Corps because an emphasis was placed on endurance and stamina. Carrying the extra muscle weight wasn't worth the trade off during long formation runs or keeping my 3-mile run time under 18 minutes on the Physical Fitness Test.

Right around age 30, I picked weight lifting back up again. It was here where I started getting into physical trouble because my ego just wouldn't let go of the used to factor. One routine day in the gym, a young whipper-snapper a decade younger scoffed and remarked I'd never be as strong as I once was because physically I was passed my prime. What?! That sounded like challenge time. Even though I had only been back to the grind at most 2 months, I told him that in another 30 days I could put up more weight than him in any lift he picked.

Bench press. Of course. The gold standard for dumbbell heads. Overall strength is much more accurately depicted in either squats or the dead lift, but the bench press was the How much do you...question of chose around the gym, and what he didn't know, my strongest event from previous competition days. So for the next 30 days, I trained. The event got blown way out of proportion leading up to lift day, and I very much resented the old versus young spin the contest came to represent. Who's old?!

Wasn't even close. Like any competitive event, the psychological factor can never be underestimated. We flipped a coin, and he lifted first starting a little above warm-up weight. Easy lift. I knew about where his max lift should be, and compensating some for adrenaline, I went straight to that weight. The shocked look on his face screamed to me check and mate as I made the lift look easy. Truth be known, I only had another 20 pounds at the most in me. He had to match my lift but was already physologically beaten thinking that was just my starting point and his target weight. He couldn't do it. You can insert the cliche about age and treachery here...

I couldn't sleep on either of my shoulders for quite some time after that.

Fast forward another few years when, for some dumb reason still unbenownst to any of us, four of my friends decided to have a dead lift contest one evening after the gym had closed. Three of us were over 33 and one was pushing much as we could. With due respect to Freud's psychic apparatus involving the id, ego and super-ego, some stunts are just plain stupid...and this one perfectly fits that category. Stupid. We should have all ended up in the hospital but were each too proud to be the one to breakdown and go lest the others find out. I watched an entire weekend of sports flat on my back stretched out on the floor in front of the television and barely made it to work the following Monday. I just hope none of them are reading this...

That was over 13 years ago. A period of time during which my motivation to lift heavy objects has greatly diminished. I tell you all of that just to make myself feel better before sharing this- I spent the entire day yesterday incapacitated after just a single day of landscaping in my yard. Nothing major either. Dug up a dead tree and planted a new one. Boxed in my tomato/pepper/herb garden. Spread a little dirt and manure.

Done in by a small Bradford Pear tree...

I couldn't go to church yesterday morning much less sit on a drummer's throne and play drums. What an embarrassing text message to have to send. I couldn't teach my Sunday School class of college-aged kids whose backs are nearly invincible to overexertion . Yet another embarrassment. 46 is NOT the new 30...let me tell you!  Apparently my alter ego just doesn't understand the decrepit state of the reality involved in a winter of continuous inactivity for the aging. Not that I'm looking for anyone to compete with in a dead lift competition... I just need to still mulch my flower beds!

 Maybe I'll just take a walk during lunch...tomorrow...when my back feels hopefully much better.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Okay, women are from Venus...and men are from Ork.

My friend David Johndrow is broken...

Oh it's not a permanent problem, and he's on the mend (but please still lift him in your prayers). A lot of you know David from his own blog over at Fire and Grace, his Monday post on Kingdom Bloggers and/or his comments left on my blog. Love the guy! We chat fairly often on the phone across the Mason/Dixon line (that's allowed now), and I honestly consider David a true friend (as defined in Monday's post). Since he was in the midst of  possible cardiac arrest, I forgive him for not throwing a little love my way on Monday's controversial post that provoked unkind words by some.

But let's not revisit that fiasco. Hey people...I was just kidding...sorta...

But I digress... so in honor of my vascularly clean brother of the catheterized order, my post today will be in the Johndrow style of 5 and 1/2 points. I enjoyed his series in this style, and as they say, imitation is the ultimate form of flattery.

Since I ever so slightly poked fun of the fairer sex earlier this week (ahem), I find it only just to reflect inward at the simple, neanderthal-like thought process of my own sex...and in I feel pretty confident I reasonably represent the common interest and thought process of all Y chromosome humans, but then again, making such often incorrect assumptions is a standing pattern for most males too.

In the spirit of either gender equality or continuing proof men are complete and hopeless idiots, I give you the Johndrow-style list of the 5 and 1/2 material things that do or would make my life much more livable...or at least enjoyable:

-1 A big cereal bowl. Both adjectives must apply in this case, or this is just dumb. I'll admit in my younger, less sophisticated days I've whipped out a clear Pyrex  2 1/2 quart-er and commenced to chowing down on some 'Charms, but I don't think it's asking too much for a man to dignify his cereal consumption with a bowl that's large enough and specific to the task at hand by being appropriately labeled with his name or the generic example in the picture. How big you ask? The bowl should be large enough to contain an entire 24 ounce box of Post Grape-Nuts and an adequate amount of milk.

Not that there's any danger of that healthy crap ever actually being in the bowl...just the gold standard for cereal measurement.

-2 One brand name power tool that cost over $500. Yes, we're

stepping this list up a bit, and yes I know my example picture is well above $500...but a man can have a dream can't he?! Nothing is more emasculating than to be talking with you buds about fixing up the 'cave' and accidentally reveal your tool/war chest is comprised mostly of Wal-Mart brand tools.  I pray you never experience the complete and utter humiliation of a friend stopping by to do a quick adjustment on his wheels, and you have to offer up use of the Dollar General tool box and tool set you received for Christmas in 1994. I'm stopping here now...I find myself getting really upset.

-3 A flagpole in the front yard for flying the American flag. Can that really be asking too much? I'm a veteran and proud American and want all my neighbors to know just that by proudly displaying our country's standard on an aluminum, single-stationary, concrete set, 20-foot flagpole with 24-hour illumination as required by proper flag displaying etiquette. It sends a clear, unmistakable message to would be socialist revolutionaries...not on my watch. not in my neighborhood!  I could also take advantage of the educational opportunity and teach my kids the meaning and significance behind the designs of the flag and the importance Old Glory symbolizes for our country.

I'd better do it because apparently the public school system stopped teaching that stuff years ago...

-4  A completely juvenile toy for my personal amusement. Are you really surprised? Guys have long been noted for their toy fetishes. Hey, we actually coined the phrase he who dies with the most toys wins... how much more preposterous can you be than that? I'm not looking for my own personal playroom filled with G.I. Joes and Hot Wheels from days gone by here. I'm convinced one of the reasons God gave me three daughters is He knows I'm prone to covetousness behavior while roaming around in Toys-R-Us. There would never be an enough if my focus was in the Star Wars action figures aisle instead of the My Little Pony section.

I did say one of the reasons for those of you shaking your heads...

I just want a toy that, although made for kids 12 and older, doesn't come across too childish and elementary but is still really cool and fun. Alas, my search may be over with the Air Hog, a state-of-the-art flying instrument of entertainment with an aerial surveillance device. Pinch me please... 

-5 My own personal bathroom. Yes...I went there. Maybe I got greedy and gluttonous with this pick, but by golly I'm at least being honest! I live in a house with four females and three bathrooms...and Give a Brother a Break Day is not to be found on any of my calendars. Granted, one of the four ladies is still making poo in disposable underwear, but the day is coming...the day is surely coming. It never fails in that treasured moment of isolation while catching up on back-post of Fire and Grace (dude must post every six hours) or the latest The Economist issue, the Crazy Tomato feels the urge to bang on the door repeatedly and demand entrance into my temporary respite. There's another bathroom less than 20 feet away! As if cutting my time short isn't enough harassment, she has to go into the whole production of pointing out the malodorous environment left behind loud enough for anyone and everyone to hear that often includes a running announcement through the entire house even with visitors present. Trust me...there's a golden statue in the kid's future.

Let's not forget about the chemistry experiment of necessary beauty products littering the space. I live in

constant fear of the day I mistake my bottle of Suave 7 in 1 for Men (shampoo/conditioner/shaving lotion/after shave/body wash/moistuizer/toothpaste)for one of the other 17 bottles in the shower and end up blond...or worse...bald! There's stuff in there for that! Where I shower! I don't need a lot of space, just my own space. The bathroom in this picture would be plenty...add a magazine rack and flat screen.

I'm just saying. I already have wi-fi in the house. 

-5 1/2  iPad 2. For work of course...

Monday, April 4, 2011

A post that most assuredly comes with a disclaimer...

I truly value friendship...

Within the balancing act we call life, I place more importance on being a friend than having a friend too. I just really enjoy being called someone's friend! Next to being a child of God, a faithful and true husband, and then a dedicated father, being a friend is right up there in importance and priority for me.

I've learned a great deal about friendship in my life's journey to this point too. If being a 'bad' friend required a 12-step program for recovery, that step involving apologies might be embarrassingly long in my plan. Believe me...I pain to even type those words much less relive in my mind the circumstances incorporating each situation. If you're reading this and the proverbial shoe fits...I'm really sorry, and if it's any consolation whats-so-ever, I'm not that person you knew back then today.

What I don't understand is the vast difference in which men and women approach the relationship dynamic called friendship.

Don't give me that! You know EXACTLY what I mean by that statement. 

Now I'm by no means saying one is right and one is wrong...just different. Take for example, say, Mrs. Tony C and myself (gulp). I have true friends that go back years...even before the Reagan Administration (yes, I'm that old). I may not talk to some of them once a year or even every other, but they are still what I consider true friends. How do I define friendship you ask? I define a true friend as someone who, if I'm in need, will answer the call and rally support at a moment's notice. They would also know the reverse would apply should they find a need. No questions, no hesitation. Flare goes up...calvary's on the way. I don't even have to think twice about it.

In this category, I could easily put 20 people, all of whom coicidentally would be male (minus Mrs. Tony C. of course). Some I'm close with today, and some I've not spoken with directly in over a year. There's no need for regular communications if the situation isn't condusive to such, I've still got your back! You got problems, then I've got them too...kinda of stuff.

Then there's the fairer sex. Honestly, I never know who's in and who's out at any given minute much less day with Mrs. Tony C. But now she's not alone in this club. She just happens to be my point of reference at the present. I've literally been talking to what I thought was one of her friends while we were out shopping when something along these 'hypothetical' lines accured:

Tony C: Hey honey, look who I found.

Mrs. Tony C*: Oh hey! How are you? Have have you been? You look great. How's the little one? I know, they grow so fast don't they! So good to see you! We need to get together soon. Bye-bye. (hug)

Tony C: It was great seeing her. She looks good to have just had a baby...doesn't she?

Mrs. Tony C: So what are you saying? I'm fat! That what you're saying? For the record, I was back in my pre-pregnancy jeans a week after giving birth!!

Tony C: (totally confused) I...I ...

Mrs. Tony C: I nothing! I see how it is...can't leave you alone in the grocery store for a minute.

Tony C: I thought you two were good friends?!

Mrs. Tony C.: Do what?! I haven't talk to her in a month! She's too busy for me...

Tony C: She just had a baby!

Mrs. Tony C: You taking up for her now? Is that what's you're doing? You don't know her type! I know her type. I've seen her type. Only my friend when she needs or wants something. Telling me... made me go and have to talk to her. Did you see how she was checking out our buggy. She's just nosey. Plain nosey.

Tony C: I'm really sorry. I just thought you two had been close friends for years.

Mrs. Tony C: You're just dumb sometimes. You know that? Dumb.

Tony C:  (mumbling under breath) I tell you dumb, telling me, ain't never gonna figure out...

Mrs. Tony C: Did you say something? Speak up!

Tony C: I said I want some Cap'n Crunch!

Mrs. Tony C: What are you? Five? Guess you think I need some Special K?

Tony C: Hey look! It's...(pausing)...are we talking to her?

Mrs. Tony C:  (shoving me out of the way) Oh hey girl! How are you? You look good!

Okay guys. If you have a wife or girlfriend, go ahead and tell me you've never been participant in a conversation like or very close to this one...I double-dog dare you. My true friends will even be so brave as to leave a comment of support...which I most surely will need after this is posted.

* The Mrs. Tony C character depicted in this post is not based on any living or deceased person to knowledge by the same name and should not in any way reflect on a real person by the same name or help me God.