Friday, June 30, 2006

A Love Story in Three Acts: Exposition


I started writing this around the beginning of May. I started to post it as I wrote, but I remembered a story called "Darby Rutledge" that still begs for an ending, so I thought perhaps I should write it all out before I release any of it. So, I did.

It was intended to be three posts, but I realized I couldn't tell the story the way I wanted to tell it in three posts, or else they would be looooong posts. So, while we still have three acts, I'm breaking it up into scenes as well, and will be posted daily for the next week or so.

Stephanie and I discussed this as well... my fear would be someone in the audience would say to her "Are you okay with stuff he wrote?", and when confronted with that worry, she told me "Its your story. Write it how you want to." To me, thats not so much as a "write it how you want to" as it is a "I trust you that you'll say what you want to say in an appropriate manner". So I hope I have done so.

Of course, the question begs "Why even write it?" and I answer that in two ways... one, I found out some news that made me smile, but made me think, and finally made me want to write it out... and two, its my blog site. I can write as I want. I do hope, however, you stick around... and maybe even post your thoughts. I took me a year to get my dozen or so faithful readers, so I don't want to miss that. If you aren't interested, check back next week.

So without further ado, I give you "A Love Story in Three Acts: Exposition"

I'm almost 31 years old, and can honestly say that I've been in love twice. I've given my heart away two different times, once when it wasn't accepted, and once in 2004 when she gave me hers in return. I've said "I love you" five times in relationships--Cindy Howell, Katharine Gates, Amy Worthy, Amy Wible and Stephanie Campbell... the first time I sort of meant it, maybe, but who knows. The next two I don't like to admit it, because I didn't mean it... I prided myself on not tossing around "I love you" in relationships, but with those two, I did. The last two--yes, I meant it. We'll get to all of these.

Love stories are something different... something God given. Several of my readers won't have one yet. Perhaps a couple of you might have one, but you aren't sure... some of you have your own, maybe even several. I know Michael's love story with Susan Neese didn't pan out so well... but his with Ashley did. I'd like to think that Tommy, Amy, Michael and others can happily bear witness to the love story that happened between Steph and I (thats in Act 3, by the way).

Then again, some of you have a love story that didn't turn out so well, and are still waiting for the one that does. Or still waiting for one, period. It happens.

I found out the center of my first love story recently got married. I'm happily married to Stephanie, and have been for over two years, and yet when I heard this news, I twinged. Not a bad thing, just more of a reaction like Ocean's Twelve, when Rusty's car blew up, and he just turned around in classic Brad Pitt fashion, tongue-in-cheek and said, "...huh...". Like that.

And then it hit me... my proverbial circle had just clicked, and somehow, there was closure. Don't know why there wasn't before, she wasn't someone I thought of with loving eyes anymore, not by years, and yet it was like those five years were finally finished. And I smiled. And I was very, very happy for her.

Heartbreak is something a little different, I think. Its a nasty bugger to go through, though I still maintain that everyone should suffer through it once. If you never have your heart shattered, you'll never fully appreciate it when its whole and complete. Let's not overspiritualize it by the ol' "Only God can make your heart complete"... yes, thats true. But human emotion and human heartbreak is still very powerful.

The aforementioned newly married girl broke my heart once. Several years later, someone else did so in a completely different manner, so I've had to deal with it twice. Heartbreak takes closure and/or time to push through... the first one happened many years ago, giving me the time to be fine with it, so the closure was an added bonus. The second? I'm still waiting for enough time to pass, or closure to come.

Don't take this as "Man, he should just get over it, he seems unhappy", because I'm over it--and very happy with the life God has blessed me with thusfar. If I died tomorrow, God will have given me everything I could have ever hoped for and more, including Stephanie, whom I love so deeply and remind her of it often. She's amazing, unselfish, beautiful and the missing piece to me that God intended.

Anyway, to begin, I'd like to tell you my love stories, starting with one that isn't quite a love story, but sort of is. Her name is Cindy.

Next: Act 1: Cindy

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

A Sojourner's Links & Ramblings

Song heard during the writing of this column from having the iPod on shuffle: "Sink or Swim" by Plumb, "Even Flow" by Pearl Jam, "100 Years" by Five for Fighting, "Come and Talk to Me" by Jodeci, "The Cop Song" from Urinetown, "Good Enough" by Sarah McLachlan, "Son of a Preacher Man" by Dusty Springfield, "Sweet Emotion" by Aerosmith

The Adventures of Dave will be one year old on Tuesday. Who knew? I started this blog with the intentions of reporting on NYC's mission trip last year, and not much else. About December or so, I decided to make this a hobby, and over 100 posts and almost a year later, here we are.

So thats settled.

Also, you'll notice that the words under the new title have changed. This is what I'm going to call the Moron Statement. I'll be happy to post a moron statement every few days, usually something moronic said by someone on the left. Because they hate America, hate God, hate Jesus, love to understand their enemies and are generally useful idiots. Why? Because you need to see it.

So, I've been exploring That's a huge site I've not really looked into much... I know lots of people who have MySpace sites, and I considered it... but why? It takes enough time to work on this blog as it is.

That being said, I found sites for my buddy Michael, one for Shawn Sharp (which has a picture that I took), this chick named Lora that I will forever consider to be 13, my friend Nikki (whom I've seen more in the last six months than the previous six years combined), the Good Rev'ren Senator Ty Coffey, another for Matt & Ginger (where you can see their unborn girl), a girl who has one of the top five smiles ever, my pal Amy (who has just a great pic up) and finally, and some guy named Tom, who is friends with over 89 million people. Sort of like The Deuce.

I might start monitoring some of these sites, and possibly put the links under the blogs section on the right.

I guess I could get with the crowd, but what if some old man tries to meet me for sex? That might freak me out.

I figure I can just keep this site going strong, and maybe start adding pictures. Does anyone have a tag or some instructions for this?

FYI, this weekend I'm going to start posting my series called "A Love Story in Three Acts", which actually will take place over about 10 parts. Its the full, true story of Cindy Howell, Amy Wible and Stephanie Campbell, and I hope you like it.

I'm actually a little nervous about it, because I'm afraid people will get bored... but I think it reads pretty well, and some of the readers (ie, Ty, Michael, Shawn, Steph) will recognize some of the events as they are revealed. Its a story of love, heartbreak and the joy of finding someone in His Will.

Speaking of MIchael Nipp, I had no idea he married an Alabama Gymnast.

On Google Fight, I kicked Scott Latta's butt, while The Deuce killed The NegaDeuce.

Because you've always wanted to know, here's a list of problems solved by MacGyver.

Because you've always wanted to know, here's a site full of Men Who Look Like Kenny Rogers


Speaking of the iPod, I'll end with this... there's a playlist on iTunes that keeps track of the most played songs. Because I use it for podcasting over 1/2 the time, plus I've got tons of music on it, this list is a little skewered... but here are the top 15 songs played on Dave's iPod:
1) Wildwood Flower - Reese Witherspoon (from Walk the Line... I was surpised this was #1, though I love this song)
2) Black Horse & the Cherry Tree - KT Tunstall (no surprise at all)
3) This Song Remembers When - Trisha Yearwood
4) Numb - U2
5) These R Thoughts - Alanis Morrissette
6) Blowin Me Up With Her Love - JC Chasez (this bothers me. I should take immediate action to change this)
7) King of Pain - Alanis Morrissette
8) Until I Fall Away - The Gin Blossoms
9) Feel Good Inc - The Gorillaz
10) Running From an Angel - Hootie & the Blowfish (my absolute favorite Hootie song)

And the rest of the Top 25
11) Trinity - Jennifer Knapp... 12) Real Love - Mary J. Blige... 13) Jimmy Olsen's Blues - The Spin Doctors... 14) I Fought In a War - Belle and Sebastian... 15) Another Sad Love Song - Toni Braxton... 16) Because the Nights - 10,000 Maniacs... 17) Undo Me - Jennifer Knapp... 18) Ain't No Sunshine - Bill Withers... 19) His Grace is Sufficient - Jennifer Knapp... 20) Blaze of Glory - Jon Bon Jovi... 21) Mama Said Knock You Out - LL Cool J... 22) Hush - LL Cool J... 23) Fool FOr You - Nicole Nordeman... 24) Knowing You - Shelly Nirider (Passion)... 25) Lie Low - Plumb

Until Saturday, when we talk about Life, Love and Other Mysteries....

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Game, Set, Match

So, Steph and I started playing tennis. I love tennis. Well, the truth is, I love sports for the most part... I'm a big Troy University Trojans fan, an Auburn Tigers fan, a Florida Gators fan (yes, you can be both...), a Cincinnati Bengals fan, a Baltimore Orioles fan, a Colorado Avalanche fan, a San Antonio Spurs fan, a Dallas Maverick fan, a Lance Armstrong fan, a Phil Mickelson fan and anyone who can complete the true Ironman Triathalon--well, call me a fan of that too.

But thats football, baseball, hockey and basketball... sports I don't do well. Golf? Yeah, I've seen it played. Tennis, though... tennis I can do.

I started playing when I was 14, back in the summer of 1990. That was the year that 13 year old Jennifer Capriati started at Wimbledon (is it a sad thing that her fansite as the address of ""?) I fell in love with Jenn, one of my first true celebrity crushes (behind Nancy McKeon, Alyssa Milano, Debbie Gibson and Paula Abdul) and so I decided I would play tennis too. I saved up about $20 and went down to Geneva's Wal-Mart (a town about 8 miles away... imagine being 8 miles away from a Wal-Mart now...) and bought me a blue and orange (War Eagle!) Wilson tennis racket. Didn't even have a cover.

Samson had a small, two court tennis area next to the high school. The court was, however, gravel and concrete, like you'd see in a parking lot. The nets were kinda worn, and when I arrived there with my new tennis racket to play, I had two problems... first of all, I didn't have any tennis balls. Stupid me didn't even think to buy them, in my excitement to own my first racket. Secondly, I actually didn't know how to play tennis. Well, the first problem was easily solved... I found a few old tennis balls aroudn the court, all looking a little worse for the wear and feeling a little deflated. As for the second issue, why would rules slow me down? I went onto the court and started hitting the three balls I found. I hit them to one side... then walked over and hit them back. This was mind-numbing entertainment, but I felt cool. I was playing tennis... sort of.

For the next few weeks, I tuned into HBO's coverage of Wimbledon... in 1990, both Stefan Edberg (in his final Wimbledon) and Martina Navratilova (who beat out Jen Capriati in the semis) won championships. And I learned how to play... the game rules, the sets, lets, lines, love, matches, ad-in, ad-out, super-sets and so on.

Well, now that I knew how to play, finding an opponent was a little harder... so the summer wore on, my tennis phase slowly faded and in the fall of 1990, I was a sophomore in high school, and the year went by. In the summer of 1991, however, I took off with tennis. My nemesis became my good friend Ryan Frary, who lived just down the street, and we played just about every day. He beat me usually, but I put up a good fight for the most part. And that summer, I dropped 20 pounds, got contacts and suddenly, found myself not so dorky. Who knew.

Summer of 1992, everyone was playing tennis. I had started a movement, with Ryan along side. Both of us did routine work on the court, fixing the net, sweeping the sand that was in a small pile in the middle, and in July of 1992, I found 15 other people who wanted to play in a tournament. Each paid $5, with the winner recieving $30 and the rest of the funds going to buy some yellow paint for the court's lines... and I used string to mark in, and in the blistering South Alabama heat, I painted lines. You might ask "Why not paint at night?" and to that I answer "Because the one working light wasn't very bright, and only shone on 1/3 of the court."

So people like Marcus "Juice" Williams, Nathan Catrett, Jon Aplin, Bren Finch, Wade Rials and others all played in the tourney--I killed Nathan in the first round, but unfortunately became the victim of the tourney's biggest upset--I dropped a 2.5 hour, three set monster to Jason Lambert, who then went on to lose to Wade Rials, who beat Ryan Frary in the finals. This was actually the final usage of my old orange and black Wilson racket (the first one was put to pasture after I realized it was crappy), because a few days later, in a huge serve, I accidentally swiped the racket across the ground and it sliced the strings. So, I had to go out and buy a neon and green Dunlop.

Let me tell you of this court--I had mentioned it was asphalt. Which means lots of loose gravel, and lots of sliding. That one summer I actually went through two pairs of tennis shoes, both ending up with holes in the bottoms of them because of the court. And the back fence? I'm not exaggerating when I say it was a 15 foot chain link fence that was no more than four feet from the back line. And that meant lots of slamming into the fences when dropping back for shots.

My favorite victory, however, came in doubles. I was teamed with Ryan Hutchison against the cocky Bren Finch and the very cocky Wade Rials (who had just won the tourney days before), and we were down 5-1. So, Ryan and I won a game finally. And another, and another. And we ended up winning the set 9-7, finally just destroying their will and egos. It was a beautiful thing.

Anyway, I played in college, for fun, not on the team, still loving it. I liked to play Wookiee in tennis--he was easy to beat. You just had to frustrate him in the first few games, then let him take over his own self-destruction. Was it bad that I lived to watch that happen?

Well, after college, I played Michael Nipp, Tom Johnson, Shawn Sharp and whoever would play, but after a while, the fervor died down, until my racket lay dormant in my trunk long enough to have the rubber grip wrap literally disentigrate into my hands when I picked it up.

I've been telling Steph we needed to play, and finally, last week, we started to. She's actually not bad... I was expecting to be chasing balls all over the court, but she can rally like a semi-pro... at least, for a few hits. I bought a new grip today, so the old one is gone, but I've still got the same racket I played with in high school... its neon green and black, with a dollar sign painted on the strings. No kidding.

So, I ask, do any of you play? Tennis, anyone?

Friday, June 23, 2006

The Wookiee Birthday Top 10... er, 8

My best pal is Chris Fulaytar, aka Wookiee, and he turns 32 Friday (which, for most of you is today). I actually have a couple of people I could classify as "my best friend", that being Michael Nipp (who also has a birthday on Friday) or Ty Coffey, but my friendship with The Wook goes back to 1993... 13 long years.

We met in the midst of Dr. Padgett's journalism 101 class in the fall of 1993, then became friends when we realized our respective chicks were living across from each other in Hamil Hall. I was with Katherine "The Freak" Gates (she was normal until she met Mike Dunn, origin of The Mike Dunn Hypothesis) and he was dating The Wench.

Anyway, I saw him through two bouts with The Wench, Martine Moore and other girls he went out with... he saw me through The Freak, Heather Howell, Julie Echols, Julie Haynes, Melanie Jackson, Jennifer Mullins, Amy Wible, Amy Worthy, Chrissy Bullock, Melissa Stanley and a few others I cna't think of at this late hour.

We were in FarmHouse together, and were roommates from the summer of 1994 up until July of 1998 when he moved to Hazelhearst, GA, to teach... then moved back to Wetumpka, AL, then ended up on our couch at The Deuce two different summers, before being the best man in my wedding in 2004, and finally selling his house and moving to Gardendale--with his new lovely wife, Gina (I was honored to be the best man in his).

Its kinda fun because back in the day, maybe ten years ago, I told him he'd be my best man. And of course, over the course of a 13 year friendship, there will be lots and lots of laughter along the way.

And I'd like to give my Top 8 Funniest Things Wookiee Ever Said. (It was a Top 10 list, but I lost it, and I can only remember 8...)

8) Broken Explorer
So Wookiee just got his new Explorer, a big step up from his Bandit-style white t-top Trans-Am. I climb in the passenger seat for the first time as he drives around, showing me the fun it can bring. I reach up to lower the visor and the clip that holds the visor in place falls off into my lap. Wookiee just looks at me, frowns and says, "Dude... you broke my car, man." Gosh that was funny.

7) Body Rush
Driving somewhere, I don't remember, was myself, Wookiee and Elisabeth Malphrus. The immortal Jann Arden came on the radio with her one hit wonder, "Insensative". When the line " do you numb the skin, after the warmest touch, how you slow your blood after the body rush..."From out of nowhere, Wookiee goes "Yeees, body rush". Cracked me the heck up.

6) The Rat
I came home one evening to change clothes, as I was going on a late night venture with some friends. Wookiee was in the corner of his bed, which was next to the wall, playing a video game. I asked what was up. He deadpans, "Dude, there's a rat in here." I laughed and left. When I came back, probably around 3am or so, several hours later, he was in the same position, playing the same game. He said, "Dude, I hate rats. I'm not putting my feet down." (He later went out and bought about a dozen rat poison things, put them all over the apartment--the rat died behind our stove and smelled really, really bad.)

5) Hardee's Pizza
On our way to Six Flags from Troy, it was myself, Allyson Guy, Martine Moore, Tara Powell and Wookiee. We are all at Hardee's, getting breakfast and such, and for whatever reason, mine was taking an extra long time to get ready. So, Allyson, Martine, Tara and Wookiee are all crowded around the front door waiting on me, when Wookiee shouts across the restaurant, "Dude... what'd you order? A pizza?"

4) Fruit Wheels
So, I'm a brand name kind of guy. I buy Coke. Wookiee buys Dr. Thunder. I buy Head & Shoulders. Wookiee buys Southern Home Hair Foam. I buy Fruit Loops. Wookiee buys Fruit Wheels. One late night, shopping at Winn Dixie, we are both standing on the cereal aisle, and I'm figuring out the best deal between "Buy 2 Raisin Bran, save $1.00" and Corn Chex on sale for $2.89. Suddenly, down the aisle, Wookiee has this look of sheer glee in his eyes. His whole face lights up, as if you told him the Cubs, the Bears and the Auburn Tigers had just won their respective national championships... he reaches his hands out, pulls back a big red box and says, "Hey Dave! Fruit Wheels twin pack!" Perhaps it was more the look on his face than what he said, but it made me laugh so hard I had to sit in the aisle doubled over.

3) Stupid kids
Shawn, Michael, Tom, myself and Wookiee were all hanging out at The Deuce, discussing how we can make life miserable enough for the DeRamii Clan downstairs, miserable enough so they'll move and we can lease that apartment too, having a Deuce Deuce.
Shawn, who works Bellsouth, says "I'll cut their phones off."
Tom, working for Napa, says "I'll break their cars down".
I, working for a radio station, say "I'll make their radio stations crappy!"
Michael, working for Compass Bank, says "I'll screw up their banking."
And finally, Wookiee, who is a teacher, pipes up "And I'll make their kids stupid!"

2) George Bush
If you've ever heard myself, Stephanie, Ty, Michael, Shawn or any number of Deuce people say the word "Yes" before we say something fun, such as seeing Whataburger in Mobile might make me say "Yes, Whataburger!" or hearing the Carpenters on the radio might make Steph say "Yes, the Carpenters!" Well, one day, when Wookiee & I shared a bedroom in our first apartment, we were both lounging in our beds on a lazy Saturday. I was half asleep, and former president George Bush came on tv. Wookiee piped up "Yes, George Bush". I laughed hysterically. And a phrase was born.

And finally, one that will go down as one of the funniest things I've EVER heard from anyone, the Wookiee #1.

1) The Shower Curtain
In our apartment in Thomas Circle in Troy, the vent in our shared bathroom was a bit weird. When it was on, and you were in the shower, the curtain tended to fly in on you. Quite a weird phenomena. I actually thought it was just me, but one day, Wookiee opens my bedroom door. Standing there, dripping wet, towel wrapped around him, he looks at me with the seriousness of someone who had cancer, he says, "Dave? When you are in the shower... does the shower curtain ever, like... attack you?" I think about it now, and I crack up (like I'm doing right now).

And there's the list. Happy Birthday, Wook-Fu. To quote
Ronnie Milsap, "...what a difference you made in my life... what a difference you made in my life... you're my sunshie late at night... oh what a difference you made... in my life..."

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Mobile's Big Fat Greek Wedding, Part 3

"Everybody Wang Chung Tonight... Everybody Go Greek Tonight"

After Nick & DeLisa were finally hitched, we drifted over to the reception, which was right across the parking lot... Jason Foley, husband to bridesmaid Lesley, and I rushed over to prevent what had happened the night before at the wedding rehearsal dinner--that being, the group didn't get to sit together because some were late getting to The Pillars.

So we snagged a table in the reserved section, which DeLisa had several tables reserved for the bridal party and guests. The tables had 8 seats there... we needed one for myself and Steph, Jason & Lesley, Mike and his date Daphne, Suzie and her husband Mike (the other one), and Ken that was in the wedding. For you math students out there, that's 9... so I quickly reached back and snatched a seat from the table behind us, while Ken grabbed the silverware and glasses and setting. Then we both quickly tried to fill in the gap left by the seat, using the other chairs and tables. It didn't work... we were amused when other people walked up, looking confused as they tried to figure out why there were only 7 chairs and settings there, and why such a space existed between two seats.

It was an open bar, so the beer and wine and mixed drinks started flowing quickly for everyone. I, not drinking, was eyeing the buffet table... they had already set out a huge bowl of chilled shrimp, and I was looking ever so forward to taking it on... I told Jason and Ken that I might not even make it past that point at the table. When Brooke Belcher and Todd Velaber married a few years back, they had a similar set up with the shrimp... at one point in the evening, late in the reception, I took to just standing there and eating out of the bowl. I feel no shame.

The bridal party was announced, as the girls came in, and with the addition of Mike, we all crowded around the table... with this group and Steph, this would be the equivelant of Michael & Ashley Nipp, Tom & Jill Johnson, Wookiee & Gina, Myself and Steph and Shawn all eating together... the jokes flew, the laughter came heavy and it was an all around good time.

A toast was made by someone in Nick's family, and a few people got up to give their wishes, and finally, The Impressive Clergyman gave the blessing over the meal. And we ate. I dug in on the shrimp and greek salad and fish and green beans and potatoes and baked chicken and corn nuggets (better than you think) and crab claws, which I ate a ton of. Aunt Tessia had made desserts for each table ("You don't et no meht? Iss okay... I make lamb") and of course, a chocolate grooms cake and a pearly white bridal cake. And the open bar--which I drank about nine Cokes that night. I'm talking, I was chuggin' 'em, baby.

The Greek music started, and Nick began to lead a small line of people, including DeLisa, in The Circle Dance. Whoever is leading holds a cloth napkin in their left hand, and on the other end is the next person. That person is joined hands with the next, who is holding hands with the next and so on. Its like the leader, Nick, is pulling the train of people with that napkin. Its a dance where you take about four steps, you stop, you do this four step little dance (like, right foot forward, left foot forward, right foot back, left foot cross) and then you go and the whole line moves forward about four steps.

Slowly, more and more people grabbed the next person in line, so the train got longer and longer. Steph and I joined in, and we were trying to learn it... Steph just didn't get it, and though I finally figured it out, my problem was that there were good Greek dancers at the front of the line, and good Greek dancers at the end of the line, but me being in the middle, having Steph on one side and a five year old girl on the other, kept me from doing the dance... I would stop, begin to do the dance and then the line would move again. At one point my arms were totally outstretched, at another point I had both Steph and this little girl right up on me. Finally, though, I was able to do it properly... so now I can add "Danced in Greek wedding reception" to "My List of Unusual Experiences" (a list that I proudly say also includes "Ran up Rocky steps in Philadelphia", "Saw 'A Few Good Men' Performed Onstage", "Was in Olympic bombing" and "Seen George Lucas in person.")

Another fun little tidbit is that guests throw money at the bride and groom as they pass by. Usually, its $1 bills, though I'm sure there was more. It was funny to watch the money fly through the air, then the little kids run around picking it up.

A black dude jumped on the stereo, him being the actual DJ, so we got some dancing music going finally. It made me think of when Truvy Jones and Clairee Belcher are at Shelby's wedding , and they observe a the mayor's new wife dancing... Clairee says, "It looks like two pigs fighting under a blanket", and Truvy responds, "I'll bet she spent a fortune on that dress and didn't even bother to wear a girdle."

And, in what I think is the ultimate inside joke among all DJs, especially ones with soul, he played "Electric Boogie". Yes, the immortal Marcia Griffiths 1990 classic that says "It's electric (boogie woogie woogie)"... I truly think that in the brotherhood of DJs, this song is played just to get a laugh out of all the white people trying to dance in rhythm... and there was a lot of white people dancing to this. Especially one guy trying to look cool--you know the type, five o'clock shadow, just a little heavier than he should be for the shirt he's wearing, plus his shirt is untucked from his jeans, even though he's wearing a tie... and my man was getting with it too. I watched him, expecting Cops to roll up and take him down, a la Bucky from American Idol. I think this guy might have whizzed in the bushes... wouldn't have shocked me.

There are, like, two single women in the whole place, and one was Melissa, one of the bridesmaids. Somehow, Steph found out she was 35, but she was totally h--er, I mean, she was attractive. Ken noticed too, and spent several minutes getting his groove on.

The call came out for all the guys in the room to gather on their knees in a big circle, which we did. Someone let us into a rhythmic clap, and Nick was in the middle, and was supposed to do some sort of Greek dance, though he admitted in the circle he had no idea what he was doing. Never fear, another Greek man went into the circle, and began to do this slow step dance that was really cool. Nick stepped back into the circle of guys who were squatted on their knees (three minutes in and my knees were killing me--that floor is no place for a padless kneecap) while others took turns in the circle. Someone got on his knees in the middle of the circle, while another guy danced around him, threw his leg over that guy in the middle and kept dancing. Then someone set a cup of wine down in the floor and danced around it, while another guy came in, picked up that same cup using only his mouth, then, while dancing, began to drink the wine. It dribbled down his chin a little, but was cool nonetheless. I finally stood up, because my knees were aching.

We got our pictures and such, continued to drink and eat and dance and have a good time--I was sweatin' hot, though, I'll be honest. The Greek dancing continued, and more money flew in the air, and I asked Suzie "I wonder if they are using the same dollars over and over?" and she said , "No... look over there..." pointing to the table where Nick & DeLisa had been sitting.... there was a huge pile of cash on the table, just dumped there. Looks like hundreds of bills or more. I told Steph we missed a huge payday on our wedding...

Apparently, DeLisa didn't have a garter, or she left hers at home. Before the wedding, Lesley and Steph fashioned one with some fuzzy trim from a purse or something, weighing it down with safety pins. This is what Nick tossed into the crowd of guys.

When Steph had said be prepared to be at the reception until around 11pm, when the wedding was from 5 to 6, I was thinking "five hours? five hours?? how?"... but lo and behold, it was around 1015pm when we finally started getting our stuff together to go.

We walked out, and made a procession where we tossed little candy flower thingies to the bride and groom as they ran to their vehicle (they had two there--one to drive away in, and one to load up with gifts and drive to Birmingham, which I'll explain in a minute). The vehicle wasn't decorated very well, mostly because there wasn't time to get supplies and do much to it--mostly some toilet paper and shaving cream. They sped away, amidst the crown whooping and hollering, and like most newlyweds, they came back a few minutes later (we did it at our wedding, just to change and leave for the airport, I think they came back because DeLisa forgot something)

The newlyweds had actually planned to go back to Birmingham the next day, then fly out to... The Virgin Islands, I think, for their honeymoon, so people were putting the wedding presents in their Jeep. DeLisa had asked Stephanie if we could bring some of the gifts back with us, because there wouldn't be enough room in the Jeep to take them all. So, I walk out, and see a couple of guys loading... well, cramming... gifts into the Jeep, to the point where you can't see out of any side or back windows... that leads to this exchange.

Me: Hey... my wife and I are going back to Birmingham, so we can take some of these with us
Mensa Student #1: Oh, no, Nick and DeLisa are going back, and we have to put them all in this car
Me: Yes, I know that... DeLisa asked us to take some back with us because they won't all fit in their vehicle
Mensa Student #2: No, but see, they are driving back and they have to take their gifts with them
Me (speaking slowly): My wife Stephanie and DeLisa are best friends... she asked us to take some of these with us to our apartment, in Birmingham, where she and Nick can get them later
Mensa Student #1: But all thes gifts are going back with them to Birmingham

I rolled my eyes. Not my problem. Stephanie came out, and asked why we didn't have gifts in our car... I told her of the the brilliant conversation I just had, leading Steph to roll her eyes. DeLisa showed up, looked at the Jeep and said "We can't see anything to drive it!" Nick came out, and Stephanie said "Would you still like us to take some gifts with us?", to which DeLisa said "YES!" Stephanie and I told them both how we tried to get some to begin with, but were shafted, to which Nick just rolled his eyes. Anyway, we loaded up the car with about a dozen boxes and bags, enough to give some visibility to the back windows, and finally, Nick and DeLisa Pournaras took off.

Stephanie said her goodbyes to Ken, Mike & Suzie and Jason & Lesley (the other Mike and Daphne had already left), and we headed back to the Fairfield Inn.

The Next Morning
To finish, we awoke the next morning, again around 9ish or so. The Fairfield Inn check out is not until noon, which is nice--most places want you out by 10am, so that two hours was great. We had the continental breakfast again, then loaded up the car. We took a tour of Mobile, with Stephanie showing me Baker High, her alma mater, and the old home that the Campbell Family resided in when she lived in Mobile (Steph says she still doesn't think they've painted the shutters).

Back to Birmingham we went, stopping at Steak-n-Shake for dinner... a little tip: if you and your other want a milkshake, yet don't want the whole thing, but don't want to pay $2.59 each for two kids shakes, do this.... ask for one shake ($3.19), and ask that it be put into two separate cups. One regular shake is enough to fill up two kids sizes, so you pay only $3.19, not $5.18 for two, and you get just enough. We ended up deciding on the turtle carmel nut (though I really wanted the cookie dough). Mine kinda stunk though, because I kept getting hot fudge stuck in the straw, and couldn't get to my shake.

Such is life.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Mobile's Big Fat Greek Wedding, Part 2

"It's All Greek To Me"

So, its about 9am on Saturday morning, and the continental breakfast ends at 10... which means Steph and I have to get up. Its hard to do, though, getting up at 4am the previous morning, going to bed at 11pm the night before with shoe shopping, Denny's, wedding rehearsal and some great snapper in crab sauce filling up our day. But the call of waffles, bagels and yogurt call to me.

After breakfast, we just kill some time reading and watching television (actually, Stephanie went back to sleep, asking me to wake her up around 1215pm). The plan is for Steph to get ready for the wedding and me to drop her off at the church by 2pm (for pictures) and I'd go out and grab lunch, go get ready and be back by 4pm. So, that's what I did... and on the way back, I got some Whataburger for lunch... and man, what a burger! And Steak-n-Shake is tomorrow... I love my life.

Back to the Fairfield Inn, I lounged for a while, finally showering, getting ready and getting my suit--and my shoes--on, then headed to the wedding. I arrived around 4ish, and met up with Jason Foley, husband of high school pal of Steph and bridesmaid Lesley. Mike and Ken were ushering, so they were in the back, while Suzie (another bridesmaid and high school pal of Steph, DeLisa and Lesley), Melissa, Nicole and Steph were around somewhere.

Even after I spent several paragraphs on shoe shopping in my previous column, I've rushed through the pre-wedding stuff for a reason: I want to get to the wedding itself. We're in a beautiful church, the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church, with high, awesome stained glass window, a gorgeous mosaic dome of Christ and all around just a very sacred, peaceful place to be.

In the Orthodox Church tradition, the ceremony is actually two services in one, the first is the Service of the Betrothal, and the second being the Service of Crowning. The exchange of Rings is next, followed by The Candles, the Joining of Hands, then the Crowning, the Common Cup, the Procession and the Removal of Crowns and Benediction.

The Service of Betrothal
The wedding starts, and you see the traditional procession... Nick, the groom, comes out with his groomdawgs, then one by one, the bridesmaids come down. The ringbearer, plus a crown bearer, then the flower girls, and finally, the bride. And DeLisa is a beautiful woman, and she looked ravishing in her dress. I told Steph later that it was sad... with Steph in the wedding, its another wedding where the bride is the second prettiest girl in the room. (I told that to Jill when she was marrying Tom, as Steph was coming in... she didn't find it amusing. I thought it was hysterical).

Anyway, The Impressive Clergyman appears, and begins to pray over Nick and DeLisa... and there's alot of chanting. He chants a little, and a guy off to the side, who is seems has a book in front of him (the Word? I dunno) is also chanting. I hear lots of "And to the Loooorrrrdd weee prrraaaayyyy..." all during the ceremony. Actually, I never bow my head during any prayer, simply because I'm afriad I'll miss when its over.

The Rings
The Impressive Clergyman continues The Service of Betrothal by blessing the rings, which are then exchanged three times by Nick and Delisa. This symbolizes the lives of two being intertwined into one, and they are assisted by someone called The Koumbara (a girl named Vicki--I think its Nick's cousin) who is standing nearby. This is not Vicki's profession, mind you... Nick has asked her to be The Koumbara at the wedding here.

The Candles & Joining of Hands
The bride and groom are then handed candles, which they hold through the ceremony. Then Nick & DeLisa's right hands are joined, as the Impressive Clergyman chants "Join these thy servants, unite them in one mind and one flesh". The hands are kept joined during the service.

The Crowning
The Crowns are actually two rings resembling wreaths, with one long ribbon running from one to the other, connecting them. The Impressive Clergyman holds the crowns over the heads of Nick & DeLisa and chants another prayer. Whats cool is that some in the Orthodox Church refer to the crowns as symbols of martyrdom, since every true marriage involves immeasurable self-sacrifice on each side.

The Common Cup
There's a doorway at the back of the podium area, a wide door that you can peer into and see a large statue of the Christ. Behind it, you can see all sorts of artifacts and paintings and such, but its a doorway that I'm guessing you really can't go in... I told Jason it looked like a Jesus Shadowbox. I wanted to go look before the service, but I thought better of it... anyway, The Impressive Clergyman goes into the Jesus Shadowbox and when he reappears, everyone stands up. He begins to read from John 2, the story of Jesus turning water into wine, known as His first miracle. A cup of wine is poured and shared by Nick and DeLisa.

Sidebar: This was my first Greek wedding, coming less than a year after my first Catholic wedding... Steph's friend Suzie got married in Mobile last fall in a large Catholic church--I actually got to be part of it, carrying a candle thingy down the aisle in the opening procession. Anyway, during the rehearsal, I snuck to the back of the church and was able to go into their "Jesus Shadowbox" room. There was a staircase leading down, which of course, I took, and it put me into a small prayer room. I quietly made my way back up the stairs, then found another staircase leading up... I climbed and found myself in the church attic, with a coll maze of ladders, rafters and a large room with the only light being a stained glass window. It was almost creepy. Some chick who's husband was in the wedding also up there to look around. We chatted for a second, but with it being really, really hot up there, plus it was obvious she wanted me, I came back to the sanctuary.
Thought it was worth mentioning.

The Procession
The Impressive Clergyman leads them in a circle around a table, a table that has the Gospel and the Cross on top of it. It is here they are taking their first steps as a married couple. They are led around the table three times... after the second go round, The Impressive Clergyman whispers to Nick "That's two, right?" Nick smiles and says "Yes, thats 2." Its also funny to watch Suzie, the matron of honor, and Vicki the Koumbara both work on keeping DeLisa's dress train flowing with the walk.

The Removal of the Crowns and Benediction
A prayer/chant is then said first to Nick, then to DeLisa, and then The Impressive Clergyman removes their crowns. The prayer of Benediction is recited, then The Impressive Clergyman lifts up the Gospel and parts Nick & DeLisa's joined hands... this symbolizes that only God has the right to separate the couple physically from one anohter.

The Vows
Finally, the Impressive Clergyman steps back, and the Baptist part of the wedding transpires. Rev. Chris Estes steps up and leads DeLisa and Nick through wedding vows. They say the vows, Estes sits down, and The Impressive Clergyman then announces Mr. & Mrs. Nick Pournaras.

And now we're off to the reception... which will be highlighted in tomorrow's conclusion to Mobile's Big Fat Greek Wedding

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Mobile's Big Fat Greek Wedding, Part 1

Mobile's Big Fat Greek Wedding, Part 1... Its in the Shoes

Stephanie's good friend Delisa was getting married this weekend, to a Greek fella named Nick Pournaros, in Mobile, Alabama. Steph and Delisa went to Baker High School together, also in Mobile, and Delisa was actually a bridesmaid in Steph's wedding. Also in the wedding included Suzie, the matron of honor, who also served as the Maid of Honor in our wedding in 2004 (and Steph was in hers), Lesley, a bridesmaid who Steph went to high school with, and ushers named Mike and Ken, who Steph went to high school with. It was going to be like a big reunion.

We left around 420am on Friday morning--originally, we had planned on leaving Thursday night, but we decided to save the money for the night in the hotel. Steph had to be at the hotel, the Mobile Fairfield Marriott, by 915am to be picked up in a limo to go to some bridesmaid spa brunch thingy... chicks love that stuff. So, I would get to hang out by myself, go to the mall and/or anything else I wanted to do.

I'm driving, Steph is asleep in the passenger seat, and we're crusing along when, right past the Evergreen exit, it hits me--I've left my suit shoes. Now, understand, I don't have cause to wear a suit a whole lot, which means the one pair of shoes I have that go with my suit, and are a bit too fancy just for my casual church attire, only get worn when I wear my suit--so forgetting them is a big deal. When Steph awakes, I inform her I'm going to have to buy some more shoes once I get to Mobile. There goes the $100 bucks we were going to save by not staying Thursday night, there goes the free morning I had in Mobile. Over breakfast at the Evergreen Waffle House, she's not happy...

...we arrive in Mobile around 820am or so, and check-in is not until 3pm. Steph and I wait in the lobby for the limo to pull up, while she's giving me the rundown of where to go for shoes.

Note this... its been a long time since I've been to Mobile. We came down for Suzie's wedding a few years ago, and last year we were here for Nick & DeLisa's engagement party, but as for just driving around the city, its been probably eight or nine years. In 1997, while in Troy, I dated a fellow student who hailed from Mobile, which is where I really fell in love with the city. Its a cool town. The roads I'm familiar with are Airport, Government and Cottage Hill, which all run parallel to each other, and perpendicular to I-65. Also, Schillenger's runs across the three roads I named, and thats where the chick I dated used to live.

Anyway, Suzie arrives, and soon after, the limo picks up both of them. So I'm off to buy shoes. First stop, Shoe Station. Now, here's the problem when it comes to shoe shopping... I don't do it often, because its hard work. I have a wide foot, so finding shoes that are A) 9.5 to 10, B) Wide and C) look good is a hard combination. I get to Shoe Station and start walking the "dress" shoe aisle. I scan boxes, but don't even stop to look unless I see a "W" on the box. Then, if there's a "9.5" or a "10", I'll take out the box and look at it. I find one pair of shoes for about $40 that might do me okay... but, remember, I've got a pair of "suit shoes" that I never wear because I never wear a suit... so I'm looking not only for black shoes in Wide, the right size and that look good, I'm looking at the possibility of being able to wear them again, plus, we're on a budget.

I do, however, find a pair of boot type shoes that I like--I would call them pimp boots, for no other reason than that would be cool to say: "Hey man, check out my pimp boots". "Hey Dave, are those your pimp boots?" "Yeah, dawg". But I can already tell you any shoes I purchase that I can describe with the words "pimp" and/or "boots" is going to automatically be met with contempt from the lovely wife.

I leave Shoe Station with those shoes in mind (the $40 pair, not the pimp boots) and cut across the street to the Bel Air Mall. I dash into American Eagle--nothing. I zip in JC Penney's, and find some that might work, but no salesperson will help me, so I leave. I go into Payless Shoe Source, and see a pair for about $20 that might work. I'm hesitant though, and tuck them in the back of my mind. Across to The Shoe Dept., I find a pair of Bill Blass shoes that could be what I'm looking for, and they are only $29.97--I might get out of this cheaply. I cut into Parisian quickly, where I find this chick named Ashley who immediately asks me if I need help. I told her quickly my issue, had to find black dress shoes, my feet are hard to size and I'm on a budget. So she goes to the back and comes out with three or four different kinds of shoes, including a pair of Steve Maddens that I really like. The tage says $69.97, though, so I wince and say "Thank you, I might be back" and go out to the mall again.

Over to Sears and Dillards, both of which gave me no service, I then went into Target, figuring it was worth a shot. Nyet. Sears was memorable though, because I saw a lady who was carrying a bikini, and I could only pray and hope that she was holding it for a petite daughter who was in the bathroom, because it scares me that she might've been buying it for herself.

Alright, my final selections... I go out to the car and go back to Shoe Station (can you see why I hate shoe shopping?) to look once more at the $39.97 pair I liked. I reflected and decided against them. I really liked those Steve Maddens at Parisian, and what's more, I liked the fact that out of 8 places I had gone too, Ashley, the chick in Parisian, was the only salesperson who even bothered with my business.

Back to the mall.

I went back into The Shoe Dept. to try to talk myself into spending only $29.99 on that pair of Bill Blass shoes, instead of spending $70 on the Steve Maddens (I'm such a woman) but I looked at them, I just couldn't do it. I did, however, find a decent pair of size 9.5W brown dress casual shoes for only $16.95. The brand? "ID Required". I kid you not. The box had dust all over them, and though buying them crossed my mind, I figured they were $17 for a reason. I mean, ID Required?

Back to Parisian. Ashley said "Are you here for your shoes?" and I said "Yes I am". I tried them on again, she gave me some advice and I went with it. On the way out, I met the manager, a guy named Mark, and told him how I had been all over the place looking for shoes, and how Ashley was the only salesperson who gave me the time of day. I'm hoping he (or you) didn't think I said it because she was like, 21 and cute, because while shoe looked 21, she was only cute in a Jennifer Herndon sort of way.

I've now spent 2 and a half hours shoe shopping. My free day is slipping away. I spend the rest of my time over at Barnes & Noble, then a quick stop into Wherehouse Music, which is a part of the Springdale Shopping Center. I only mention this because this used to be the Springdale Mall, which was really annoying because to get from one side of the mall to the other, you had to go through JC Penneys... now, they cut it all up into a Paton Creek-like area. I do remember this though, because I had a dinner date at Garfield's with Cyndi Bledsoe back in 1995. Neither Garfield's, nor Cyndi Bledsoe, is there now. Aaaaand back to the hotel.

There are three restaurants I hold dear to my heart, possibly because you can't visit them in Birmingham, and that's Denny's, Steak-n-Shake and Whataburger!, and all three are in Mobile. My mind churns, and I think to myself "Denny's today... Whataburger tomorrow... and we can stop at Steak-n-Shake on the way home. YES!!!" So I stop at Denny's and have an apple-filled pancake. It wasn't very good. Yes, I was very disappointed.

Its around 2pm, and they let me check in early, and Steph shows up a few minutes later--we both zonk out for the afternoon.

Wedding rehearsal is at 5pm at the Greek Orthodox Church, while dinner is at 7pm. Now, the service itself is going to be a Greek Wedding service, which I'll explain in tomorrow's posting, but DeLisa, who is Baptist, has a Baptist minister who will read vows for the two of them--sort of like "the Baptist part of the wedding". The minister is none other than a guy named Chris Estes, who Steph went to high school with and asked to prom--he said no.

Lesley's husband Jason and myself are the only spouses that are there that aren't a part of the ceremony--Lesley, Suzie and Steph are part of the party, while Ken and Mike, guy friends of the group, are ushers. Jason and Lesley both are avid photographers, so he was taking lots of pictures during the rehearsal, while I just had our 35mm camera. Suzie's husband, Mike (a different one) is not there yet, but will meet us for dinner.

The wedding photographer came up and was talking to Jason and I, asking about our cameras. Jason described his in detail in photogspeak, while I just said "Mine's a Pentax 35mm". The photographer looked at me strangely and said "Oh... you have film?". He says it like I'm some sort of quaint antique collector... "Yeah, man, I keep it next to my 8 tracks."

Dinner is at The Pillars Restaurant just down the road, and Jason & Lesley and Steph and I get there first. We try to save some spots for Suzie & Mike, Mike and his date Daphne and for Ken, but after a while, we had to give them up. DeLisa's two other bridesmaids, Nicole and Melissa, sat with us, along with Nicole's husband Bill and another couple. Nicole is actually from Monroeville, so I had some semblance of an intellectual conversation with her about Harper Lee and Truman Capote.

My dinner was grilled snapper with a crab sauce, while Steph had the "butterboy", 8 ounces of really, really good cow. We ended up having some of all three desserts, which were a great Ameretto Cheesecake, a Triple Chocolate Mousse cake and one heckuva Creme Brulee. Because I tried yogurt a few weeks back for the first time in about 15 years and found out I liked it, I decided to try the white wine. Now, I'm not a drinking man at all, but its been a long time since I had wine, so I thought I'd taste it and see if I liked it this time around... no chance. Not a fan.

Nick's Aunt Tessia made Greek wedding cookies for all to indulge in, and that was fun... I really wanted to find her and say "Aunt Tessia, I don't eat meat", just to see if she'd look at me and say "You don' et no meat? Izz okay... I make lamb", but Steph wouldn't let me.

Someone did drop their water glass and managed to soak my sleeve and the tablecloth directly in front of me, but beyond that, it was a relaxing evening of dinner with friends. Of course, as the night wore on, the wine and other spirits kept pouring, so it gota little rowdier as you'd expect, but about 9pm or so, Steph and I were just plain exhausted.

So, with that, I leave you until tomorrow, when I'll give you Part 2, which will include the details of a Greek wedding and my chance to dance at a Greek wedding reception.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

"Godless" and Other Books of Fun

I love Ann Coulter.

There, I said it. I meant it. This is a conservative woman, a right wing nut job if you will, who prides herself on not only hacking off liberals, she says the things that most conservatives in the mainstream won't say... she's like the girl in the group who says stuff without thinking--only Ann thinks when she says it, and she's usually right. She's a Jesus lovin, anti-abortion, pro-Bush, prayer-in-schools activist woman who stands forever tall and I would love to meet.

You may know the story floating around her now--she's written a book called "Godless: The Church of Liberalism", and the media has jumped all over one sentence buried deep in one chapter. Though you can read about it here, it simply says that the four widows who have been so vocal against the war and the administration have been lionized and made into icons in the mainstream press... and Ann just wants them to stop "enjoying their husbands deaths so much"

What does it mean? It speaks to the fact that liberals, and Democrats, like to push forth victims, and dare you to respond. You CAN'T respond to them, no matter what they say! They lost loved ones! This is the same mentality that let that moron Cindy Sheehan run all over the country pretending she matters, ruining the awesome legacy left by her son who re-enlisted in the military (voluntarily, by the way) and was killed in battle. Let's face it... when the Democrats start moving away from you because you're a little too kooky for them, then you have problems.

Lest we not forget that the same party, the very same Democrats who hold their widows tightly, who love their victims because it gives them a group that is forces to lean on them (New Orleans? Illegals? Anyone?) is the same party who loves undermining the president in a time of war, openly comparing him to Hitler, destroying intelligence processes that will help prevent another 9/11 and worse. (Hey liberals... Murtha, Kerry, Pelosi, Moore--you can have 'em)

If you click on her website, she says the following:
"Godless" examines a set of beliefs known as "liberalism." It is the doctrine that prompts otherwise seemingly sane people to propose teaching children how to masturbate, allowing gays to marry, releasing murderers from prison, and teaching children that they share a common ancestor with the earthworm... It's not just that liberals ban rabbis from saying brief prayers at high school graduations and swoop down on courthouses and town squares across America to cart off Ten Commandments monuments... the thesis of "Godless" is: Liberalism IS a religion. The liberal religion has its own cosmology, its own explanation for why we are here, its own gods, its own clergy. The basic tenet of liberalism is that nature is god and men are monkeys. (Except not as pure-hearted as actual monkeys, who don't pollute, make nukes or believe in God.)

I only mention this because I turned on Jay Leno's Tonight Show to see KT Tunstall perform. (right before the commercial, Jay yells "when we come back, TK Tunstall!". Funny). Well, anyway, George Carlin is on there... now I like George Carlin sometimes, but I think he thinks himself a little smarter than he actually is. And because he's a comedian, he, of course, has the perfect Iraq policy to end the war, which he shares.

So, next, they bring out Ann Coulter... and I'm loving it. Seriously, Ann is my celebrity girlfriend right now, I swear. So Jay is trying to ask all these questions about her book, and she's firing right back at him--you can tell that Jay is not trying to make it super serious, but he's really attempting to make her answer for some of her comments, which she does just fine. And then, they pan out, and George Carlin is sitting there, silent, with this "I will snap her neck in three places in about four seconds" look on his face. Its priceless. As she's sitting there, making total sense, he's fuming while Jay is just stumbling about.

To top it off, KT Tunstall does a rousing "Black Horse & the Cherry Tree" version, my favorite song of 2006 so far (much like my Top Ten Coolest Things of 2005, KT has a legit shot at the 2006 list)

To answer your question, no, I have not read "Godless" yet... for three reasons--1) It just came out, and its too expensive for me right now. But even if I had $25 to buy it, I wouldn't yet because 2) I've learned that when poly sci and some non-fiction books come out in trade paperback, they usually have an updated or expanded chapter or foreward. I'm waiting for the TPB next year, much like this book I've been wanting to read for six months now, but will buy the trade when its released in October. Oh, and 3) I've got to start on some of other books, notably the one I'm going to start reading, which is "How To Talk to a Liberal (If You Must)". Taking a cue from my pal Jaci, I'm even going to use a highlighter to mark my favorite parts.

I just finished, tonight, a fabulous book about television. I call it "Desperate Networks", though the official title is "Desperate Networks: Starring Katie Couric, Les Moonves, Simon Cowell, Dan Rather, Jeff Zucker, Teri Hatcher, Conan O'Brien, Donald Trump and a Host of Other Movers and Shakers Who Changed the Face of Primetime TV".

The author is Bill Carter, the same guy who wrote "The Late Shift", which documented the late night TV battle between Letterman and Leno, after Johnny Carson retired. Never read that one, but HBO made it into a movie which was really good.

Anyway, "Desperate Networks" is a fun read, if you are into this sort of pop culture thing, and it really sheds some light on how TV works... in fact, I learned:
--Fox almost didn't pick up American Idol. It was shopped to other stations first.
--CSI almost didn't make it on the schedule for CBS, it was a last minute addition, and William Petersen (Gil Grissom) had to fight hard for it
--Desperate Housewives and Lost were two shows that ABC didn't want, and both were almost cut in the script phase
--ABC also made the boneheaded decision to pass on Survivor and American Idol
--NBC's "Must See Thursday" lineup, which it held dominant for 20 years, slowly crumbled while CBS' power players built a strong schedule to beat it, which it did
--NBC also pushed hard on Jay Leno to commit to retire in '09, so it wouldn't lose Conan O'Brien, much like it blew the deal with Letterman in the early 90s--Leno didn't want to commit, but he didn't want Conan to go through what he went through with the Tonight Show/Letterman fiasco
--Dan Rather is a blubbering idiot... wait, I knew that.

It was also interesting for me to read NBC's behind the scenes stuff with names like Jeff Zucker, Bob Wright and Jeff Immelt, because when I worked for NBC 13 here in B'ham, I knew those names as the "higher-up-powers-that-be", and even talked to all three on the phone at one time or another.

The other books that are in line to read:
  • "The Death of the WCW" by RD Reynolds (I'm really excited about this book... I wish I were kidding)
  • "100 People Who are Screwing Up America (and Al Franken is #37)" by Bernard Goldberg (Jack Huberman wrote a leftist version called "101 People Who Are Really Screwing America"... he lists God as one of them)
  • "Dating Amy" by Amy Dezellar (it looks really funny, but it may be a little over the edge)
  • Someone actually wrote about the popularity of Christian Rock... (I wonder from what angle)
  • "Disney War" by James Stewart (I'm fighting the urge to read this, because I don't like to think of Michael Eisner as an egotistical jerk--which he was, but more than that, this book is beastly, at over 600 pages)
  • If I have time to, I want to tackle the Harry Potter series again, making it a summer ritual.
  • And finally... they've gone and published fiction about Lost. Crap. Now I gotta read these too.
Well, thats all I got right now... Steph and I are leaving for a big fat Greek wedding in Mobile early Friday morning, so I'll give you the full update on Monday!

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Hulk 2 (by The Incredible Hulk)

With the news that Hulk 2, the the lowly anticipated sequel to Hulk, might be in limbo, or even a rehash of the aforementioned Hulk, I thought it only right to let Hulk speak for himself... so here, as a guest columnist, is The Incredible Hulk.


X3 come out this year. Spider-Man 2 come out next year. Both great sequels to great movies about Hulk friends. Hulk love great action movies about friends! People buy tickets. Make money for theaters, make money for movie company. Movie company make more movies with money. Already, they working on Fantastic Four 2. Hulk movie come out few years ago. It success. It big popcorn movie with heart. So why no one want make Hulk 2? It make Hulk mad!

Hulk know what people say. Original movie no good, people say. Hulk movie Hulk-sized bomb, people say. That not true! Hulk more successful than people think. Make $132 million in U.S. alone, only cost $120 million. That not small potatoes. Add international box-office receipts and DVD sales and it add up to big money. Big! Oh, and did Hulk forget merchandising tie-ins? First Hulk movie really forge Hulk brand identity. Make people aware of Hulk. Hulk now poised to build on success of first Hulk movie. Hulk 2 smash box-office records!

First Hulk movie flawed but underrated. Oscar-winner Jennifer Connelly give sublime performance as Hulk romantic interest Betty Ross. She pretty. Australian hunk Eric Bana good in breakthrough American role as puny human Bruce Banner. Film even give tip of hat to TV Hulk and Stan "The Man" Lee. Sure, conflict with father stray from original story, but it provide new twist on classic legend. Necessary to increase dramatic tension. Make Hulk seem more human so audience can identify with puny human Banner.

Why no one appreciate daring vision of Ang Lee? Aaargh! Ang Lee genius! Maybe panels on screen gimmicky, but him try something new. When last time you try something new?! Ang Lee willing to work in unfamiliar genres. Him brave like Hulk. Hulk wish for him to work on Hulk 2, if he willing, but Hulk understand if he not want to. Ang Lee like Hulk: He not stay in one place for too long. Him awarded for gay western. That prove Hulk's point. Hulk not quit him. If him not do it, maybe Darren Aronofsky or David Gordon Green. Someone with unique vision that not so stuck on action clich├ęs. First studio exec to suggest Joel Schumacher get smashed!

Hulk 2 give chance to increase merchandising profile, as well. Hulk have ideas for new Hulk products. Hulk Foam Hands surprise hit in toy stores. Hulk Foam Hands big and soft and make Hulk smashing noises when you hit things. If Hulk Hands big hit, Hulk Feet even bigger hit! Make smashing and stomping noises. Imagine puny human child walking around with Hulk Feet! Make big noise like Hulk. Imagine... ho, ho, ho... excuse Hulk, Hulk laughing. That funny! But Hulk not just limit branding to toys. Make Hulk Shampoo and Hulk Shampoo For Kids, in special no-tears formula. It sound like bad idea, but it good idea! You squirt it right in eye, and it not make you mad! Hulk very concerned with hygiene and comfort. Know how hard it is to make puny human child take bath. Hulk Shampoo make bath-time fun!

Many unanswered questions from last Hulk movie. What happen to puny human Banner in rainforest? Is there cure for Hulk? Will General Thaddeus E. "Thunderbolt" Ross leave Hulk alone? Is there future with Betty Ross? Where villains that make comic so great, like Abomination, Wendigo, and Leader? Hulk hate Leader and Leader's big head. What happen to Grey Hulk? And where Hulk's friend Rick Jones? He only one that understand Hulk. Rick? Rick!? Raaaaahhhh! Sometimes Hulk so sad and alone.

Back to Hulk movie. Hulk visualize Hulk trilogy like Matrix, but no spiritual mumbo-jumbo. Crazy mumbo-jumbo make Hulk's head hurt! Hulk work out treatment for next movie Hulkself. It have everything in Hulk, only more intense. In this movie, Hulk smash for first 20 minutes. Give fanboys something to hang fanboy hats on. Then have romance, for women ages 24 to 40. Very important demographic if want make movie real summer blockbuster.

Then Leader come, bring Abomination. Him try to wreck everything by capturing Hulk. Then Hulk smash more! Hulk smash Leader and Abomination! Hulk smash tanks, too! That nod to first film. Hulk love scene where Hulk throw tank into horizon. At end of movie, cliffhanger. Put people on edge of seats. Like Hulk say, always leave puny humans wanting more.

Hulk working on pitch right now. Hope to take lunch with Hulk movie screenwriter James Schamus. Him really get what Hulk all about. Also, him open doors in Hollywood. Hope him will share story-by credit with Hulk. Hulk paint in broad strokes. Not good with words. Leave detail work to Schamus.

If you producer, Hulk want know why you sitting around? Does producer hate make money? Hulk need someone line up investors now. Need maybe $100 million. Less than original. Kinks worked out by now. Software engines all designed. Want start filming in New Zealand by December. It summer there when winter here. It much cheaper to film in New Zealand. Hulk budget-conscious. If all go according to plan, Hulk 2 hit theaters by summer 2007. Perfect summer movie!

If that not enough, Hulk write great tag lines. "No make Hulk 2 angry!" Maybe "This time it personal." Or "Green machine back in theaters summer 2007." Maybe teaser poster with Hulk fist punching out of poster. Puny humans see that and they duck! It real attention-grabber. If you still not convinced, Hulk not waste more time with you. Maybe New Line interested. They flush with Lord Of Rings money. Looking for new franchise? Call Hulk when you ready to talk serious. (originally featured on The Onion website)

Friday, June 09, 2006

VBS, NYC and a Steph Tanner Update

Oh, big ups to Sammy Jane Funkhauser, who apparently read this column for the first time yesterday.

Just got back from Vacation Bible School at Valleydale Church (an sbc fellowship). As most do, we had a weeklong adventure from 9 to 12 every day for all the kids, doing games, Bible stories and skits... well, I say "we", but I was only there today. Always been in a job where I had to work every day, so I could never do it... apparently, most families have the man working, because 80% of the workers were moms.

Hopefully, next year, I'll have a store of my own, and I'll be able to work out my own schedule to be there every day. I was in a skit, portraying a wandering drifter who takes the town daughter under his wing, teaches her to fish, skip school and put important stuff off until tomorrow. My character's name was Dan Browne, though I dont know if that was code for something. So, Dan--he could be an angel, he could be a demon, who knows?--gets a good family talking to by the town sheriff, who is also the kids father, much like Mayberry.

Got my script on Tuesday night, read it for the first time Wednesday afternoon, but of course the VBS skit director fails to tell me that the words would be on the monitors in the front of the stage. Yes, prompters. God's gift to aspiring Christian actors. Anyway, it was fun.

By the way, you know you are getting old when half of the moms are right around your age and they have kids who are in 1st or even 2nd grade. I think Speedy from the Rick & Bubba Show coined the term "GLM", or "Good Looking Mom", which would qualify for many of them. I think Steph will be a GLM too, and I'm looking forward to finding out. Apparently, so are other people--one girl asked me today when we were going back to Disney World... I replied that when Steph and I get my student loan paid off, we're taking a celebratory vacation, then perhaps starting a family. When I asked why she was asking, she said she knew after WDW, we would have kids, so she wanted to know how soon.


Going back to NYC! Been working on "support letters" for a few days... those letters are always so hard to write, because while you need prayers and encouragement, you also need financial support. And I find it hard to send those letters to people that I know don't have a lot of money, even though my intent is to ask for their prayers... but the first thing that anyone thinks when they open one up is "money".

So if you read this, and you got a letter (and you might-- I am sending out, like, forty) please know that while your finanical support would be fantastic, prayer is the most important thing. If all forty people are truly praying for me and the means to go, then I have no doubt that the money will take care of itself.

In NYC, I'll also get to blog again, which was just a hoot last year. We're staying in a real hotel this time, no stick-to-the-mattress kind of places again. You can read the NYC Intro here and here, and the beginning of the trip here. Another thing that will be better this year is that you can actually leave comments. Last year, I was new to the blogging world, and I didn't know you could turn the "register to comment" feature off. Looking forward to it.

Onto some fun stuff for your weekend:

The A.V. Club online has listed its picks for the most unpopular TV characters ever. Personally, I think you could stop at #1 and #2 and be satisfied with the list.

The Mike Dunn Hypothesis is alive an well, folks. Jim and Jenny prove it.

When I was a kid, I had a thing for Candice Cameron, which was the only reason I watched Full House... while Alyssa Milano was out of my league, I think I could have gone out with DJ Tanner. I only bring it up because DJ's little sis, Stephanie Tanner, has a new gig. Did you know she had a meth addiction for a long time in her teenage years? She's recovered nicely... good for her.

I'll be wondering if Stephanie (Dollar, not Tanner) will be able to resist clips of Balki from Perfect Strangers, when they are just one click away.

Found out that that this is on HBO On Demand, which means I can watch it anytime I want. Crap... I have a hard enough time not being distracted. At least its not this, which is on now.

And finally... don't be speaking no es-pan-yola up at Geno's Steaks in Philly. They've got an "English Only When Ordering" sign. I love it.