Thursday, July 31, 2014

the worst week: a 3am upchucking

A few weeks ago, we had one of those weeks that in the grand scheme of things, was nothing.  There are problems all over the world, the county and our town that deserve a look before listening to the $ Family whine and moan about our five days of Hades... but it's worth a mention, nonetheless.

In fact, The Lovely Steph Leann called the week, once it was completed, "the most asinine week we've had in a long time."  I thought about calling this post "the most asinine week", but I wasn't sure how the word "asinine" would play in any blogrolls that I'm privileged enough to be a part of.  Heck, in that one sentence, I've just used the word "asinine" more than the entire history of the blog.

Campbell wasn't feeling good.  We knew this.  He was warm much of Sunday evening, somewhat fever like, and we hoped that some fever remedy and sleep would help him.  Because we wanted to make sure that he was okay before letting him leave the house on Monday, The Lovely Steph Leann stayed with him Monday morning, going into work at lunch.

For summer school, he would normally go Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, while staying with the grandparents, Pops and GG on Monday and Friday.   The Lovely Steph Leann let Campbell sleep in, then got him up, bathed him, dressed him, fed him, and took him to the grandparents around noon, so she could head onto work. 

I pick him up in the afternoon, and though he seemed to be feeling better, we were very cautious.  The last thing we wanted to do was send him to school the next day at less than 100%, because aren't not going to be those parents who send their kid to school sick, giving everyone fever or asthma or Ebola or whatever he might have. 

He ate a decent dinner of English peas and carrots and some fruit, drank lots of liquids, meaning lots of wet diapers, played accordingly, and finally we took him upstairs to put him to bed.  If I remember correctly, The Lovely Steph Leann had rocked him to sleep, but when she lay him down onto the bed, he woke up.  She laid beside him, and he wouldn't go back to sleep.

I came to bed, laid on the other side of him to try to get him to sleep... and nothing.  We dozed, he dozed, he would wake up, waking us up.  We'd get him back to sleep, we'd go back to sleep, he would wake, we would wake...

1am... then 2am... by 230, I had already sent a text to work saying I wouldn't be in until between 10 and 11am...

At 3am, Campbell began to cry nearly uncontrollably.  I held him, sitting on our bed, legs crossed "Indian style", calming him down.  He quieted a little, and I thought perhaps this might when he sleeps...

...every parent knows that all children are different.  Even if you have multiple children, they are different in little ways as well as their overall uniqueness... and so when your child is sick, you know "the gurgle", or the little cough sound, or burp-like sound that is made right before it is about to get messy.  And many children put very little time between that sound and what's to come.  Perhaps just enough time to make you aware that it's about to get real up this piece... and Campbell is the same way...

...he gurgled.  Slightly, just a little, quietly, but I heard it.  I had just enough time for my brain to formulate the words, "Hey, The Lovely Steph Leann, he's about to..." before it happened.  Campbell threw up.  Gobs of half digested peas and carrots came streaming out of his mouth and nose, in large clunky chunks... in big chunky clunks... it dripped down my shirt, it coated his front, it went down my arm, and a large portion fell directly into my lap.  It was wet and warm and disgusting.  The stench hit me like a blast, both from the pile in my lap, the chunks that were on my shirt and arm, and from him, who had it all over his face and now hands, as he tried to wipe it away.  Scared, he began to cry even more, with his hot little breath in my face.  I'm someone with a strong stomach, always have been, but I immediately threw my hand to my own mouth, held my nose, closed my eyes and held my breath until the sensation passed. 

The Lovely Steph Leann, in the bathroom trying to get something for him, ran in quickly, and threw a towel over to both of us just in time to catch a little amount of the second wave of Campbell. While it was only a little this time, it was still enough to send the toddler over the edge in the scared department, as he wailed.  The towel, actually on the bed in case this happened, was out of my reach, and so when The Lovely Steph Leann tossed it to me, it made no difference, getting only a corner and a small spot elsewhere infected with digestion.

She picked him up, and after catching my breath, I set about the task of clean up.  Stripping the bed, changing clothes, washing off chunks from everything, tossing everything into the washer, going back and remaking the bed... The Lovely Steph Leann took Campbell into his bathroom, ran him a bath, calmed him down and slowly and gently bathed him.  She was a pro, keeping him calm, making him feel safe and secure...

By 345 or so, it was all over.  Fresh sheets, fresh clothes, freshly washed baby, washed off Mommy and Daddy... about 430, we all three fell asleep, finally.

I got up a few hours later, showered and made it to work around 1130, just exhausted.  When I got home, The Lovely Steph Leann was resting on the couch, while Campbell played in the floor.  She said he had been sleepy and sluggish all day too, to no one's surprise there.

We made the decision for The Lovely Steph Leann to keep him home one more day to ensure that he was feeling good.  And he was.  Whatever it was that hit him had seemingly passed through... literally, as he still had diarrhea on Tuesday, but it had mostly run its course on Wednesday.

All signs pointed to Campbell returning to school on Thursday, and The Lovely Steph Leann returning to work.   Of course, after we had dinner, I didn't think much of her saying her stomach felt kinda weird... she wasn't feeling bad, it was more of a throbbing pain of sorts. 

She used some Essential Oils, took some vitamins and we all went to bed, still-tired Campbell sleeping like a rock.

Surely, this is the end of the troubled week, no?  The kid better, we are rested, things are looking up, right? Right? 

If that was the case, we'd have called this post "The Worst 1/2 Week". 

Tomorrow... in The Worst Week Part II... the hospital... the waiting... the cutting... the shower...

Tuesday, July 29, 2014



I do that sometimes.  In a loud, obnoxious voice with a bad Cockney accent, I'll say "Hello Poppy", but it comes out "ALLO PAHPAY!!!!" sometimes for no reason.  Strangely enough, I don't think I've ever done it around The Lovely Steph Leann, but Campbell has heard it a few times.  Campbell is the 2 1/2 year old.

Some of you are reading that line about Campbell and saying, "We know who Campbell is!"... but some of you are stumbling across this page for the first time...

So, let me essplain... no, there is too much, let me sum up...

Well, really, there isn't too much, there's just a little, but I had to be true to Innigo's line.

Yesterday, I got an email from a friend named Jamie, who you has her own splendid blog that I do enjoy, and asked me if I wanted to be involved in a Blog Hop.  A Blog Huh?  It's a Blog Hop.  As she put it, "Its where someone links to you in a post introducing you their readers, then when you post, you link back to them and then introduce others.  In this instance, you would answer the questions provided and check with three more people."

Sounds easy enough.  And then I remembered, "Well, crap it all, I've got about 9 posts somewhere in between nearly done and four letters on a blank screen, so I need to post something quickly!  So people who come here won't think 'Wow.  He only posts like once per month.'"  Which sadly, sometimes is true.  Such is life.

Anyway, can you believe I'm close to 1000 posts?  Seriously. 

Glad you are here.  Look around.  Click some links.  Ask some questions.   

love shoulda brought you home last night

"Love shoulda brought you home, you home last night, shoulda been with me, shoulda been by my side... oh baby, if you care anything for me, then love should brought you home last night"
There is a movie somewhere in the middle of my 500 favorite films of all time, one that you probably have heard of, but might have never seen. Or perhaps you've never heard of it, at all... in any case, its not a great film.

Well, its not even a good film, if I'm being honest... but its entertaining. And its got something that I really put a lot of stock into--"re-watchability". There are brilliant films out there, like "Saving Private Ryan" or "The Gangs of New York" or even just great movies like "The Good, The Bad & The Ugly" or more recently, "Super 8", that I'd put on any great film list... but they aren't movies I'd sit and watch over and over. 

"Boomerang", however, is one I could watch over and over. It's somewhat of a forgettable movie from 1992, with Eddie Murphy , Robin Givens (back when she was relevant, as the new ex-Mike Tyson), a much younger Halle Berry, David Alan Grier, early Martin Lawrence and Chris Rock in one of his first films…

Eddie is Marcus, who is a straight up playa.. not just a player, but for you extremely white, not down with the hip hop speak folks, a playa, who leaves a long line of women behind him who’s he has gone out with and has departed less than acrimoniously. Working at an ad agency, he gets a new boss named Jacqueline (Robin Givens), who herself is a playa… a playette? Is that what you call it? Mandie Tuck, do you know the answer?

Anyway… Marcus falls for Jacqueline, and then is played… the song on the excellent soundtrack that plays during the scene when he realizes he’s been hustled is “Total Reversal of a Dog”, which fits nicely here. He laments his woes to his friend Angela (Halle Berry), who turns around and falls for him. And predictably, Marcus falls for Angela.

Jacqueline sees Marcus now ignoring her for the very plain-jane Angela… and being female and naturally competitive when it comes to men, is furious, and aims to get him back. 

And here’s where the point of this whole thing comes in… Jacqueline seduces Marcus one more time, presumably just to ruin his and Angela’s relationship… and it almost works.

Angela finds out about it… Marcus comes in, and she demands the truth, and he admits he messed up big time, and then follows it up with, “Angela, I love you…”

Angela responds with this: What do you know about love? What do you possibly think you know about love? You know, I’m sick and tired of men using love like it’s some kind of disease you can catch…

And here’s the money line: 

"Love shoulda brought your (posterior) home last night”
We use “love” for everything. You love Alabama football. Your college daughter her sorority. The Lovely Steph Leann loves “Sense & Sensibility”. I love the Toni Braxton song that comes with this scene, “Love Shoulda Brought You Home Last Night”… we love everything, from beach weekends to cheesecake to Ryan Gosling movies to a pickup truck we’ve been wanting to own.

And that’s okay. It’s the way we are wired, to express our great feeling, our great affection for something, we use “Love” over “like”, because it puts forth a sentiment that this particular thing is not just something we casually enjoy, but we really, really, reeeeeeallly enjoy partaking of.

Then there is that next level of love, that even though the word is the same, the meaning is deeper, more meaningful. Joey Thornell will tell you he loves Alabama football… but you’ll never make me believe that “I love Alabama football” and “I love my boys” has the same meaning, ever. Same word, big difference.

Love… shoulda brought us home last night.

Watching the movie, you believe that Marcus has fallen for Angela, so its wildly irritating when he nearly throws it all away because he gave in to Jacqueline’s Jezebelocity. Is that a word? It is now.

When we say “we love God”, what do we mean? What version of love do we use? I know what we WANT to use… I know the way we WANT to mean it… but how do we really mean it? Do we profess love for Christ in the same meaning we profess the way we love a TV Show or a song or afternoon naps… or do we truly mean a deep love for Christ in the same way we love our spouses, our children, our families, our most cherished possessions?

Because Love… true love… shoulda brought us home last night. 

True agape love, the deep kind of love and affection that we should have for our Christ is the kind of love that prevents us from going out into the world only to come home to Jesus the next day and say, “Yeah, I know I did all that, but I love you, God.” Following Christ should keep us from wanting to venture into Monday thru Saturday and being our own selves, then coming home to Christ on Sunday to say, “I love you, Jesus!”

Don’t get me wrong… I know there is grace. There is mercy. Because of a cross on a hill, there is forgiveness—grace abounds, I’m the chief abuser… but that’s where many people stop—“I screwed up, but I am forgiven so it’s all good. Hey, World, what’s going on witcha?” 

See, we can’t stop there… because of the Holy Spirit, there is also a need for repentance, a pursuit of a love for God that surpasses the love for our own children, our own selves… not a love that is slightly ahead of the latest Justin Timberlake album (which by the way is just okay… if you are getting a JT album , start with “Justified”, as it’s got my favorite Timberlake song on it, “Rock Your Body”, which I love because… wait… crap, I hate it when I prove my own point on myself… you know what, let’s move on.) 

Because Love… shoulda brought us home last night.  

With the power of the Holy Spirit, with the love of Christ—and let’s face it, it’s a love that we cannot replicate, because it is too deep, too wide, too infinite and monumental for our limited understand—we can resist those things that test that love, we can have freedom from the world who will cause our actions to be anything less than continual displays of love for our God. 

And in this, we won’t hear Jesus quietly saying to us, “Love shoulda brought you home last night”… instead, we’ll hear the sweet sound of Jesus’ approval, saying “It is in My love that you have remained here.” And that’s a love that we should all desire so deeply and passionately, it knows no end.

By the way… when using spell check, “Jezebelocity” was suggested to be “Jezebel City”. I find that entire possibility both hilarious and fascinating. Love does not take you to Jezebel City, I can assure you. Nor Paradise City. Maybe Panama City, but probably not during MTV’s Spring Break party at Club La Vela. Not that I would know about that. Stephanie told me. 

Saturday, July 12, 2014

live from the apple store

So, I'm sitting in the Apple Store, at a side counter, on a computer.  My iPhone battery is on it's death bed, having already signed it's will, and issued a DNR to me for the eventual demise.  I use my iPhone like it's some sort of turbine pumping air through my lungs.  It's rather sad...

I don't have a problem... I don't... I can... I can quit anytime!  LEAVE ME ALONE!!!

Where was I?

Yes, since I joined the Facebook social group Dreamers and Builders, formerly known as The START Experiment before it's founder Jon Acuff and legendary money guru Dave Ramsey parted ways in October of 2013, my iPhone usage has leaped about 400% percent.  Now, combine that with two things... first, the growth of Disney on a Dollar, my Disney travel planning service... and second, the job I took in November, and that we aren't supposed to be doing non-work stuff on a computer that is at work... meaning in addition to using my iPhone for regular things like Mapquest and movie times and emails and such, I'm now on social media a lot more, and now doing a lot more business on the phone.

End result?  Well, when I came in here today, the Apple Chick pulled up a little square diagram, with green in the top left corner, red in the bottom right corner, an orangish yellowish color in the other two squares, and a little dot in the bottom red.  This showed my battery.

So, now I sit in the bastion of hipsters all wearing skinny jeans and many with rings through their noses and ears and eyes, awaiting my new battery on my phone.

Don't get me wrong, rings through noses and ears and eyelids aren't really a problem... I think to fully understand the Whole Foods culture and integrate properly, you need to have a ring through sometime, or a wild tattoo, or best yet, a ring going through a wild tattoo--and the people at Whole Foods are some of the nicest people that I've ever met at any retail store.  It was a real lesson in stereotyping.  Sure, I am guessing they go home and fire up the Tori Amos and White Stripes, but when at work, nothing but nice.  Crap, I did it again.

Oh, my iPhone is here.  Gotta tell ya, it's been wonderful typing on such a well working computer.  Okay, bye.

Monday, July 07, 2014

casey, will you please play...

Record stores sell 'em, radio stations play 'em, and Billboard count's 'em down...

Casey Kasem died a few weeks ago, and I started this the day after his death, only to finish it a few days ago... sorry it's late.  While I will admit it doesn't leave a hole in my being at this stage in my life, it does strike me as kinda sad.  He died of a form of dementia, but his death was somewhat quickened by the way his family jockeyed him back and forth in his final years... his second wife, the current one, forbade his children (with his first wife) to even see Casey, to which they turned around and sued.  At one point, Jean Kasem hid her husband, telling the court that Casey was "no longer in the United States".  He was found in Washington state soon after.  His kids finally got the injunction they wanted, and took over his care, getting a court order to allow Kasem to be taken off ventilators and food machines. 

As a lifelong fan of music, there are three main individuals that had an impact on my musical knowledge... in no particular order:

John Garabedian, the host of Open House Party.  I was never all that popular in school, especially middle school... I didn't go to many parties, mostly because I wasn't invited, and I didn't get asked to hang out a lot on the weekends.  I listened to Open House Party on WKMX 106.7, and understood all the new stuff coming up.  (I wrote another two paragraphs on this just now, and realized this should be it's own blogpost)

Dave "Doc" Kirby, the program director for WTBF 94.7 in Troy Alabama.  First, he hired on my best mate Wookiee as a part time DJ, then he hired me on in 1997, where I ran the mid-morning show for two hours, then some talk radio programs.  But in those morning two hours, I got my education on 60s and 70s rock, everything from Firefall to The Doobie Brothers. 

and finally...

Casey Kasem.  Every Sunday, on the aforementioned WKMX Maximum Music 106.7, Casey Kasem's American Top 40 would play, starting at noon, and ending around 4pm.  And every Sunday, right after church, I would go to my room and spend the afternoon doing whatever, including writing, LEGOs, drawing, creating whatever my 10 year old mind would create... all the while, Casey would tell us "Record stores sell 'em, radio stations play 'em and Radio & Records counts them down!", then he'd get onto the countdown. 

I would write down each song as it was ranked...

I would wait anxiously for how many songs debuted, keeping track of the new music that would end up being huge, like if Lionel Richie's new song "Dancing on the Ceiling" premiered at #35, or this new band, New Kids on the Block, and their first song, which debuts at #37... and how many dropped out, using the dropping out as a benchmark for the end of a song's run, like when "Beat It" finally fell out of the Top 40 after a bajillionty weeks on the countdown.

Then I'd listen as the songs came one by one...

" number 34 for a second week in a row is the British band Tears for Fears, with their latest hit, 'Head Over Heels'"
" peaked at number 5 on the AT40 charts, but Belinda Carlisle falls three notches to number 25 with her latest smash, 'Heaven is a Place on Earth'"
"...that was Boston, dropping down to number 2 after spending two weeks at the top spot with 'Amanda'... and now, our new number one song in the land (insert story here about the band) is... 'Human' by The Human League!!!"

Several times, there'd be a listener question that would be teased in one segment ("Coming up, a listener wants to know, what song had the longest title to hit #1 in the rock era?  The answer features a beach and swimwear... we'll have that answer coming up!") and then the commercials, and then the familiar voices of the chicks, singing "American... Top Foooorty...."

Then Casey would play a song, and then answer the question... "John from Des Moines wants to know, what song had the longest title to hit #1 in the rock era?  Well, you have to look all the way back to 1958 when..." and then he'd explain.  By the way, the answer is, in fact, "Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Yellow Polka Dot Bikini"--I used that example because it actually is the right answer.

I always wondered if these were actual letters from fans across the country, or if every Tuesday Casey stuck his head in the writers room and said, "Okay guys, I need questions.  You come up with three each, plus the answer, and I'll pick my favorites.  Go!"

Then later in the broadcast, several times, we'd have the infamous Request and Dedication... again it would be teased right before a break ("Up next, a request and dedication from a man in Florida who seeks to find the one that got away... I'll have details coming up...") and then commercial, and then, of course, a song. 

"And now, a request and dedication from a man in Florida who wants to reconnect with his soulmate.  It reads: 

Dear Casey, I made a terrible mistake.  I let the one girl I loved get away.  I lived next door to my best friend, Judy, for over ten years, starting when we were in 7th grade.  We grew up together, side by side, walking to school together, learning to drive together, even going to prom together, though we were always just friends.  Then, when we graduated, she went out of state to college, and I went to a local junior college.  She wrote me a letter before she left, and it told me how she had always loved me, and wanted to know if I felt the same.  I didn't know how I felt, because Judy had always been just my friend, so I wrote back and told her that I didn't and that I loved someone else who I was dating at the time.  But I then realized that I did love Judy.  I broke it off with the other girl, and tried to find Judy, but I know that I've broken her heart.  She won't return my phone calls and all of my other letters have been returned unopened, and I don't know how to find her.  I miss her every day, and wish I had a chance to tell her that I love her too.  Casey, would you please play REO Speedwagon's "Keep on Loving You", to let Judy know that I'll wait for her to come back.  Signed, Robert.

Robert, here's your long distance dedication."

I made this up... but it certainly fits the narrative.  By the way, the R&D was the source of Casey's infamous "Snuggles" cursing rant, when in September of 1985, he had just finished playing an upbeat Pointer Sisters song, and then took several takes because he couldn't find the right amount of somberness to properly read a sad dedication about a woman who's dog had just died.  He then went into a saucy, profanity filled tirade at his producer for putting the dedication right after such a happy song.  I've heard it, it's glorious.  Mental Floss actually has a link to it, plus some other Casey facts, including mistakes he's made, and the one song title he wouldn't say during the song's entire chart run.

Anyway, I'd be on my bottom bunk of my bunk beds, listening, soaking up every word Casey said, learning about the singers and bands--like, the band Simply Red was at first just called "Red", but when someone was introducing them, they were called something else by accident... the lead singer whispered to the guy "NO!  Not that!  It's just RED!  It's simply... Red!" and the announcer said, "Oh, I'm sorry... here comes SIMPLY RED!"

And how .38 Special got it's name, something about an incident with a gun that almost killed someone... and every now and then, he'd do a special report on a trend in the music industry, like one in particular that told me how .45s were beginning to fade away, and the newest thing was "...the cassingle... it's a cassette tape with a song on each side, and they are gaining in popularity!"  (Obviously so, I still have over 200 of them in a box)

Casey would get to the Top Five, and nothing would tear me away from my stereo... of course, since I listened so regularly, by the time he got to #3, I had an idea of how it would play out, but still... I'd hear that drumroll, and I'd be ready, not daring to write down what I already knew would be the top song... "For the second week in a row, the number one song in the nation is... 'Shake You Down' by Gregory Abbott!"

And of course, after he reads all the credits, he'd remind us to "keep our feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars!"  They should put that on an inspirational poster.

That was a typical Sunday for me... but then, the big countdowns would be even better... he'd take the last week of December and the first week of January, and do the TOP ONE HUNDRED of the year--fifty songs on one show, fifty songs on the next... and even if I had several of these countdowns written down, I'd still write down all 100, song by song as it's played.  I was at my friend Greg Avant's house one New Year's Eve, and I made him listen to the countdown as WKMX was playing it where the #1 song would coincide with midnight... we railed against the fact the #1 song was Elton John, Dionne Warwick and Stevie Wonder's "That's What Friends Are For".  The following year, it was much better, with The Bangles "Walk Like an Egyptian", and I was pleased that Debbie Gibson, my Hollywood Girlfriend in 1987, ranked in the Top 10 for the year with "Lost in Your Eyes".

All in all, I was a huge fan.  A local radio station in Birmingham, WMJJ Magic 96.5, plays old countdowns on Sunday morning, starting at 9am.  As we are racing to church, we usually can hear the first couple of songs, and by the time we get out of church, it's usually in the Top 6 or 7.  I've actually sat in the car before going in a restaurant because it was on #2, and I had to know what #1 was (that particular week it was "What's Love Got to Do with It?" by Tina Turner).

And it irritated the heck out of me when last November, they went wall-to-wall Christmas Music, meaning no Casey for two months.   Sidenote:  One thing I have learned in listening to this countdown on Magic 96.5 as we go to church is that the early 80s really sucked when it came to music.  The Lovely Steph Leann and I like about one in every five songs we hear, many of them have never been heard before by our own ears.

So there ya go... I enjoyed him as Shaggy in Scooby Doo cartoons... I really liked him in Battle of the Planets, my favorite cartoon as a kid... but American Top 40 was were it was at for me when it came to Casey Kasem. 

Thanks Casey, for decades of enjoyment.  My feet will stay on the ground, and I'll reach those stars one day, I promise.