Saturday, December 22, 2007

Jingle Bell Fun!

Ho Ho Ho. Merry Christmas, everyone!

Today, I aim to spread the merry.

First up is a cool little thing I found on the Interwebs called "The Jingler." What this little cyber-elf does is take any MP3 you care to upload and transforms it into a Christmas song!

Don't believe me? Prepare to have your ears blown wide open by the power of The Jingler unleashed on the Deep Purple classic "Smoke On The Water."

Check The Jingler out for yourself! It's a little slow, but you can literally waste tons of time there. It's located on the World Wide Web at the confusing and much too complex addy of www.thejingler.com.

Woo!

Next up? Let's channel Die Hard. It's already established blog canon that I consider the first Die Hard the perfect action movie. I know what you're saying; "But floydjoy, I can't remember which Die Hard is which. Does the first one have Samuel L. Jackson in it?" To which I answer, "No, you idiot. It's Hans Gruber, the best movie villain ever, played with - again - perfection by Alan Rickman." But don't worry. This handy little song by what sounds like a bunch of frat boys will help you keep everything Die Hard in proper perspective. (Another thing you may be saying is, "What the hey does this have to do with Christmas, floydjoy?" To which I give the most obvious of obvious answers: "Because the first two Die Hards happen AT Christmastime." Sheesh.)

Whatever. Just watch it and relive the majesty, glory and ass-kickery of John McClane. (Caution: Liberal shouting of his famous catch-phrase may not be suitable for tykes or grandmas.)



This next bit has NOTHING to do with Christmas, but it concerns Batman, which I'm pretty sure we can all agree trumps blog themes every single time. And no, I'm not linking to the trailer, which is all kinds of awesome (well, okay, I'm gonna do it anyway - here ya go) ...



... but I am gonna link to this low-key tune, which is all kinds of awesome too. Go to marbletea.com and click on "I'm Batman" in their little player. It's not Adam West, but then, who could be? Speaking of Adam West, he's on the Interwebs too. And if you're a fan of the old sixties show like I am, you ... simply ... MUST ... check out ... THE BAT PAGES! They have video clips and everything, including highly impactful footage of Cesar Romero as the Joker with makeup painted OVER his mustache. That Cesar Romero was a tough dude; "Okay, I'll play the Joker, but I'm NOT shaving my ultra-suave mustache. This life is all about the ladies."

And now, for my final entry, something I've already sent around to friends as a kind of online Christmas card. All I will say is that it concerns Steve Perry. (Oh, and as an aside, stay tuned: I feel a Steve Perry retrospective blog entry coming on. It could be tomorrow, next week, a month from now, but it's coming. You've been warned.) Anyway, watch this. And have a Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 21, 2007

T.O., Romo, Simpson: A Microcosm Of The Wussification Of Sports Journalism

Male sports "journalists," listen up.

If you actually took pen in hand - figuratively, of course, who the hell writes longhand anymore - to write ANYTHING concerning Jessica Simpson, Tony Romo and Terrell Owens this week, I'm afraid I'm gonna have to ask you to turn in your Man Card.

I'm deadly serious.

This is a problem. We've reached a critical turning point in the realm of sports, in particular the NFL. Gone are the days when sports stories were approached as an art. Nowadays, it's all about shock value and ratcheting up the drama, and this week has been a state-of-the-art snapshot of how far sports journalism has fallen.

I'll admit, I chuckled when Joe Buck asked Troy Aikman, "Can you imagine what it feels like to be the quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys?" while the camera showed Jessica Simpson in a stadium suite.

I didn't chuckle so much when newscasts and papers jumped on Romo's poor performance and pointed at Simpson as "the reason," but I really didn't think it was all that serious. That was just a spin they could put on the story, and that was it. I give it a couple days, tops, and then we all get back on with our lives. Or at least give a healthy wonder to how Roy Williams can keep committing the same foul over and over. Doesn't he get a slight clue when the reason for the fine reads, "because Roy Williams committed the outlawed Roy Williams Horse-Collar Tackle, otherwise known simply as The Roy Williams Rule, yet again." But I digress, because - shocker - the national media does not want to talk about such things germane to the actual world of the NFL. They want to talk about Tony Romo's love life.

This is NOT why I watch football. I feel compelled to actually type that out loud.

But then Terrell Owens goes and jokes in front of the press about how Jessica's not exactly a fan favorite in Texas Stadium because she's pulling Tony's focus away.

When I heard that, I immediately thought, "Oh T.O., ya big card. Something's got the spotlight besides you in the post-game interviews, so once again, Pavlovian creature that you are, you wander over and jump on the star, as it were."

But there was no way I ever thought he was being serious.

Oh, silly me. Holy crap, did I ever underestimate the national press. What a bunch of stiffnecked asses. Why, it makes perfect sense that they would take a T.O. joke - lame as it was, after all - and try to turn it into a serious issue.

The headlines, combined into one catch-all: "Oh Noes! T.O. Owens To Simpson: Back Off Romo!"

Don't believe me? Click here, here or here. And a couple hundred other places that ran that stupid AP story.

As if I needed validation that it was all a big-ass media overreaction, I heard a clip of the T.O. audio on SportsRadio 1310 The Ticket today, and judging by the big laughter in the locker room the whole way through his Jessica/Romo spiel, I think it's safe to say that it was OBVIOUS that he wasn't serious.

How in the name of Thomas Wade Landry can you lack that much of a sense of humor, locker room reporters?

The culmination of this jack-assed ridiculousness? T.O. had to issue a public statement of apology.

You have GOT to be kidding me. Apologize for what? Joking around? Trusting that a bunch of media guys who laughed uproariously at his obvious joke would not be moron enough to then turn around and act as if he said it while spitting out ten-penny nails of furious indignation?

Boy, did he ever underestimate the slack-jawed droolery of the national media.

All of a sudden, Owens-Romo-Simpson-Gate is the - get ready for this, no, I mean it, put on your damn seat belt if you consider yourself manly in any way, shape or form - "gossip" of the NFL week.

Holy mother of pearl. It's gonna take literally weeks of badass, macho coverage of steroid abuse, salary disputes and maybe even a good old-fashioned "Should Pete Rose be in the Hall of Fame" debate to get over this sports de-balling.

I mean, has it really come to this? Really?!?

T.O. has to apologize because the press manufactured a huge amount of drama. I cannot emphasize the following enough: A LOT OF PEOPLE GOT PAID GOOD MONEY TO FLOAT THIS TURD.

What's next? A pantsless Albert Haynesworth crotch shot as he's getting out of a Prius? Tom Brady driving a Ferrari with a kid in his lap behind the wheel? A guard's cell phone viral video of Michael Vick prison sex? (Actually, if karma exists, this last one is pretty much an inevitability.)

Hope you're up for it, this new wave of sports journalism. Pretty soon, we'll be tailgating sipping wine coolers and frou-frou umbrella drinks if they have their way.

Look, I'm even willing to forgive and forget. That's what men are good at, anyway. We'll all just hitch up our pants, grunt a little bit, slam another beer. To paraphrase a great movie line, those weren't pillows, but we CAN act like it never happened.

So ... how 'bout them Cowboys?

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Things I Think Of When I'm Bored

One of the biggest ironies of being lazy is that I also get bored easily. I'm not talking every so often, once in a blue moon or even infrequently; I'm talking pure multiple times a day. It's okay, though, don't worry about me - it usually passes, and then I'm back to being my lazy self.

It's the circle of life.

Anyhoo, the top ten Things I'm Thinking About Right Now Because I'm Bored. And no, they aren't numbered for any other reason than I need to stop when I get to ten. Okay, here goes.



1. Kenny Rogers used to look like The Gambler. Now he looks like the Wizard of Oz. What the hell?!? I tell you one thing - the icons from my youth are falling one by one, and they're falling HARD.






2. Incomplete list of random guys I sort of hero-worship: William Shatner, Neil Peart, both Disney and post-Disney Kurt Russell, Steve McQueen, the Six Million Dollar Man, Cary Grant in North by Northwest, Roger Staubach and Bruce Willis. If you don't know who they are: that's what Google's for. I can't do all the work for you.

3. My Top Five Books, Subject To Change Like The Wind (Maybe As Early As Tomorrow): "The Bible" by Bunch of Ancient God-Inspired Guys; "To Kill A Mockingbird" by Harper Lee; "The Stand" by Stephen King; "The Hobbit" by J.R.R. Tolkien and "Fight Club" by Chuck Palahniuk.

4. Stephen King could have had two on that list if he'd ended "IT" with the same quality he started it. The first 800 or so pages of that book contained the best, most dead-on portrayal of adolescent coming-of-age I've ever read; after that kind of investment (I repeat, 800 plus pages), imagine my surprise to find out spiders, turtles and time travel was behind "IT" all.

5. I might just have to go see Van Halen reunited with David Lee Roth. We'll have fun, fun, fun till the disgruntlement takes our lead singer away. Again.

6. Coolest Song Ever: Crystal Blue Persuasion by Tommy James and the Shondells. There's no denying it. Just give in; it's only a matter of time until you do anyway.



7. I don't know how it worked out this way, me being a natural-born idiot and all, but somehow I wound up with a wonderful, beautiful wife who complements the best parts of me and puts up with, well, all the other parts. Hey, I don't question; I just sit back and smile.

8. Funny movie moment time out: "I'm gonna come at you like a spider monkey!" Enjoy.



9. Terence Newman is one thing*, but I don't think I'd get on Bradie James' bad side even if you gave me good money, butterflies and lollipops the rest of my days. Poor Jon Kitna. We barely knew ye - at least as a healthy Lions QB.

*Not that I could take Terence Newman, either.

10. Power walking. What the hell is that, anyway? It's not the elbows-up motion, I could get behind that. I mean, you could pretend you were punching somebody if you wanted to. Eye of the tiger, and all that. But you've got to be kidding me with that butt motion. It's like the opposite of the air punching, only, instead of fists, you've got butt cheeks punching BEHIND you, presumably providing some kind of propulsion. Anyway, anything that looks that odd can't be natural body movement. Hmmm. Butt air-punches that propel you forward. I guarantee you, someone has made money off that idea.

Well, that's it for another edition of ... ah hell, you know as well as I do that this is the first edition ever. If you've read this far - and you have Sean Connery's pity** if you have - just know that you'll never get the last couple minutes of your life back.

You're welcome.

**

Thursday, November 29, 2007

I May Be Responsible For Ending Brett Favre's Career

Yes, it's finally official: the NFL jersey that I wear directly affects EVERYTHING.

Yeah, I couldn't believe it either.

Here's the scene. This morning. Post shower. Pre shirt. Vague thoughts whoosh through, around and past my brain. What should I wear today? What is today? Do I work today? Hey, the Cowboys play a special, super-duper Thursday night game this week. Is this Thursday? By God, I think it is. I must wear my Emmitt Smith jersey today. But lo! They are playing the Packers. I also have a Brett Favre jersey, because I like Brett Favre, NOT because of any kind of affection for the Packers. The Packers suck, but Favre's cool. Don't ask me why; I don't ask you about your irrationalities.

My pro jersey lineup, if anyone's interested (and if you are, I fear your social ineptitude):

Emmitt Smith
Brett Favre
Dirk Nowitzki
(this one doesn't seem to work in either a good or evil direction)
Roger Staubach (my favorite; if I ever lose this twenty pounds, I aim to wear it again someday)
Mike Modano (I don't hardly ever wear this one. Mainly because it's made of some kind of sandpaperlike fabric, and I've only got so much skin to spare.)

Anyhoo, you can see my dilemma. Cowboys vs. Packers today. Smith vs. Favre in my closet.

Emmitt gets the nod. On any other day, Favre, you're the man, but this day - THIS DAY - belongs to the BOYS.

So, flash-forward to post game. Here's my supernatural equation, worked out using all sorts of fancy computers and good old fashioned common sense.

I wear Emmitt Smith #22 jersey = Cowboys win.
I DO NOT wear Brett Favre #4 jersey = Favre goes down with an elbow injury on his THROWING ARM.

I am, naturally, being pulled in competing directions over this. I am equal parts SORRY BRETT and GO COWBOYS.

This is even worse than the voodoo stuff that native was pulling on GILLIGAN'S ISLAND.

Looks like I need a Tony Romo jersey to balance all this out.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

The Self-Discovery Shuffle

Outside, the sun is going down and the wind is cool and crisp; perfect for an evening jog. I load up my trusty iPod shuffle, kiss my wife on the top of her head and hit the neighborhood streets.

This run will be short, I’ve already decided. I have too much to do. Most importantly, I need to crank on the next part of my book. At least three pages worth. And since I compose, on the average, about one page an hour, I need to get a move on if I’m going to hit that goal before shuteye.

After all, the book isn’t going to write itself.

I push play. The iPod’s first song starts in the middle, because it’s the same one I ended my run with the night before and shut off mid-jam: Motley Crue’s “Kickstart My Heart.” I’m not the world’s biggest Motley Crue fan, but that song clearly kicks ass, and gives me a great tempo to start with.

Eventually, the Crue gives way to Deep Purple’s “Hush.” Cool enough. It’s kind of fast, has a good “na-na-na” rock and roll sensibility. It works. My legs get a little heavier, but that’s no big deal. I just need to fight through the temporary fatigue, that’s all.

After about three quarters of a mile, having realized that I’m not going to stop, my legs start to rebel furiously. I have a theory, which has been proven time and again (so it might as well be fact), that the distance between three-fourths of a mile and a mile and a quarter is my biggest challenge. It is in that time period that my body fairly shouts at me to stop, don’t go any further, you’re about to die. The true wonder of this situation is that if I can make it to a mile and a quarter, I’ll slide into a preternatural groove that can last well over two miles, possibly three. What I’m saying is, that half mile is one hell of a hassle.

So I fight. And struggle. And fight some more. But it doesn’t help that the song playing at this point is Neil Young’s “Heart of Gold,” so I hit the forward button and “Run to the Hills” by Iron Maiden blasts me into a good second wind, and a while later, with a little help from a couple songs by AC/DC and Van Halen, I settle into the awesome rhythm provided by the mile-and-a-quarter threshold.

What’s a real shame, though, is when I’m in a hurry like this, I try to shut it all down at around two miles. I figure it’s a good medium that gives me upwards of a good half-hour of heart acceleration, plus it provides me the satisfaction of having a fighting chance of completing everything I have on tap for the evening.

And so it happens that around a mile and a half, Creed’s “My Own Prison” shoots forth from my earbuds, and I start paying attention. Not much, but a little. Enough to recognize the universal truth that we all create our own prisons of the mind.

I cry out to God
Seeking only his decision
Gabriel stands and confirms
I've created my own prison




It’s a hell of a lot easier to tell someone else that they made their own bed and now they have to lie in it than to turn that judgment back on ourselves. As I run along, I admit to myself that yeah, I have created my own prison. Thanks a lot, Creed. That little bit of pop-art self-analysis has convicted me. I spend the rest of the song thinking about things I feel guilty about, but not in a depressed way. In fact, the more I run, I actually feel good about my chances at end-of-it-all redemption.

And the crunching power chords don’t hurt, either.

A softer song floats in next, allowing me to coast a little bit. Slower songs on the back side of a run serve two equally impactful purposes. One, it allows for introspection and maybe a little emotion to creep in, both of which are good for losing yourself in the perpetual motion involved with jogging. Two, and way more importantly, you can slow down slightly without guilt.

It’s a Steven Curtis Chapman song. I like this guy; he’s one of the few Christian songwriters that actually gets it right and seems sincere, like this is what he’d do even if he didn’t make money at it. And that kind of sincerity goes a long way, especially in a slow ballad. Fifteen to twenty seconds in, I cringe as a shadow passes over my soul: this is a song about adoption.

I knew Chapman had adopted kids. But the reason this song hits me like a thud in the pit of my stomach, though, is because my wife Robin and I are currently stuck in the process of adoption, having been extremely lax in pursuing it for months. We started out strong, but eventually, we tailed off. Yes, there were extenuating circumstances, but we could have kept the ball rolling a lot harder that we did.

Let me rephrase: I could have kept the ball rolling a lot harder. Me.

Chapman’s earnest voice calls out to me.

When love takes you home and says you belong here
The loneliness ends and a new life begins
When love takes you in it takes you in for good
When love takes you in


I’ll be honest. I feel sorry for myself right now. Poor me, it’s a big life adjustment, if I play it safe and don’t make any moves I can keep being lazy till … when? When am I gonna grow up? When I think of what Robin and I could be to someone who has nobody, or a baby who needs a home, it’s insane to do nothing. What the hell’s stopping me?



I stop feeling sorry for myself when the next song comes on. I smile; it’s a trusted band I’ve followed for over twenty years, Bon Jovi. The song is called “Welcome to Wherever You Are,” off their Have a Nice Day CD, and I think it’s really good. In fact, I think I’ll run another cliché into the dirt: in a world of Britney, Justin and Christina, they just don’t make ’em like this anymore.

I know sometimes it's hard for you to see
You come between just who you are and who you wanna be


After the last two songs, this damn thing’s a life saver. Yeah, you’ve been bad, you’ve created your own problems, but hell, you’ve got no one to blame but yourself. You have to take responsibility for not being more successful than you are. Add to that a guilty conscience from knowing you could’ve pushed harder for an adoption both you and your wife really want, and you’ve got a right to beat yourself up. But out of all that semi-darkness, it’s a real stunner to see Jon Bon Jovi — Jon Bon Jovi, of all people —step out of the light at the end of your pity-party tunnel, extend a hand your direction and say, “Floyd, you gotta believe that right here right now, you're exactly where you're supposed to be.” Welcome to wherever I am, indeed.



At this point I’ve finished running and slowed down to a brisk walk. After runs, I like to cruise around a couple blocks in the neighborhood because one, I hate sweating all over the place when I get inside, and two, it stretches my calves more so I don’t pull the crap out of them. So I’m sweating, breathing hard, but feeling good.

And then Bono gut-punches me. Hard.

The song playing now is U2's “Sometimes You Can’t Make It On Your Own,” another of Bono’s long-ass titles that meander all over the liner notes, and I know a little about it. The song is a tribute to his father, Bob Hewson, and their relationship, but I’ve never really listened to it closely. I really only know it because of the comical first line, “You think you've got the stuff.” Such B-movie language. Awesome.

But this time, I still have the volume cranked up from the Bon Jovi tune, and the earbuds give off this intimate vibe that makes me feel as though Bono has stepped alongside me and is whispering in my ear. And since I’m pretty much wallowing in self-pity at this point, I allow myself the vanity to pretend that he is singing about my father, who I lost almost three years ago.

The words languidly pass by, evoking pictures in my mind’s eye of my dad, lying in that damn hospital bed, almost a stranger, wasting away from the double shot of cancer and diabetes. He can’t speak anymore, but he’s looking at me, with eyes that seem to comprehend. But does he? Does he know I’m here? Does he know? In my selfish mind, I want to think he does. But if I’m being truthful, the answer is clear: probably not.

You don’t have to put up a fight
You don’t have to always be right
Let me take some of the punches
For you tonight

Listen to me now
I need to let you know
You don’t have to go it alone

And it’s you when I look in the mirror
And it’s you when I don’t pick up the phone
Sometimes you can’t make it on your own


But I know the truth. He DOES have to go it alone. No matter how much I want, I can’t enter that world and pull him out. I can’t … do anything.

We fight all the time
You and I … that’s alright
We’re the same soul
I don’t need … I don’t need to hear you say
That if we weren’t so alike
You’d like me a whole lot more


Images flash across my consciousness; hurts long ago buried come bubbling to the surface. Me in a rage, bicycling across the whole town to get away from him as fast as I could. Him, trying to protect me, forbidding me to play football, failing to control his temper. Me resisting his way, straining against the bonds of boundaries both real and imagined; shouting, railing against him, knowing that he really doesn’t know what it’s like to be me, he grew up in a different time and place and the world’s changed, damn it, and HE DOESN’T UNDERSTAND ME. Him, being obstinate, so sure he’s right, secure in the knowledge in fact, and damn it, MY SON DOESN’T UNDERSTAND ME. No fists ever, no violence, there was no need; conflict doesn’t reside solely in the realm of physical force anyway. There was plenty of other kinds of animosity available, and we took it. But conflict never really defined our relationship. In fact, the majority of the time, it was the exact opposite.

Can - you - hear - me – when – I -
Sing, you’re the reason I sing


I’m crying uncontrollably. I’m standing on the sidewalk next to a six-lane throughway with my hands on my knees and tears painting the sidewalk. My shoulders shake. I wonder vaguely if anyone notices, and almost in the same thought realize that I don’t care. The truth has crashed in on me, completely.

I still grieve for my father.
I had no idea.

Where are we now?
I’ve got to let you know
A house still doesn’t make a home


Visions fly fast, some fleeting, others fully formed. Frosty A&W root beer after working in the yard every Saturday. Finding common ground later in life through precious rounds of golf. My dad, on the sideline at every soccer game I ever played. Every piano recital. The joy in his voice when I’d make one of my infrequent calls home. Every moral decision I make. Everything I do is a reflection off the prism of his memory. His proud face at my graduation. His proud face at my wedding. His proud face at any one of my many failures.

Don’t leave me here alone ...

I will not lie. In many ways, I feel helpless without him. There is a void. A vacuum of time, space and soul that he used to occupy. I can no longer see him. Talk to him. Ask his advice. He will never again ask me how things are going, tell me how wonderful he thinks my wife is. I will never again see him at my mother’s side. He will never bail me out again. Not in this life, anyway.

I am my father’s son. And I hope the boy inside me never leaves.

Now.

One foot in front of the other.

Every step I take towards home gains a little more bounce. I feel more … purposeful. After all, there are things that need to be done.

The book can wait.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Immaturity! That's my forte.

There's a chance that I'm twisting in the wind here, but I honestly think the world would have much, MUCH clearer communication if we all stopped maturing around the age of five.

Think about it.

Let's say someone said something you disagree with. What would you say? Probably some kind of PC crap that you don't even believe yourself. Oh, you might give them a little slack out of some misbegotten notion of compromise, even though they're clearly wrong, but all in all, most of us would be polite. But if you were five years old, you'd probably say, "I hate you. I don't want to talk to you anymore." See? It's beautiful. But oh, no. We have to have our ears bent ad infinitum by some yahoo with a caffeine buzz, a coworker splitting hairs, or some equally hollow blowhard.

Or how about checkout clerks? Bank tellers? Retail guerillas who sneak up on you with the ubiquitous "Can I help you sir?"

That's right. Repeat after me. "I hate you. I don't want to talk to you anymore."

It works on so many levels.

So there it is. From now on, no quarter shall be given. I am liberated from the yoke of political correctness.

Am I being childish? Sure. But it's a lot more fun than suffering all the slackjawed fools out there.

God, sometimes it's a burden being so right all the time. :(

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Ah hell, this blog thing is screwin' up

A post. To republish.

Okay, to say something meaningful instead of wasting this opportunity, 'cause who knows when I'll ever get back to it:

Die Hard is the perfect action movie.

Go ahead. Try to knock holes in that. You can't.

So. Mission accomplished. I am a blogging master.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Stagnation in overdrive

I can't seem to drag up the energy from the depths of my apparently barren artistic soul enough to make a decent entry, so whoever reads this - and your numbers will be alarmingly small, I suspect - will just have to make do.

In other news, I drove down a common thoroughfare in hometown Tyler this weekend and something hit my windshield. I say something because I don't really know what the hell it really was, but suffice to say, it had the strength of at least a small branch, and the smashing power of at least a golf ball. The wind was gusting at an insane pace, so I really didn't get a look at it amid all the horizontally flying pine cones and tree gumballs.

But I'm okay, so at least there's that.

It still sucks though.