The (book) worm has turned at our house

We’ve found a new activity at our house that doesn’t involve television, video games, or my smart phone.

And, no, the activity we’ve found isn’t sleeping.

Instead, it’s reading. As in, my son reading to me.

Now before you start to think I’m either a GREAT parent for thinking up this rather (ahem) novel idea or you think I’m a CRUEL and UNUSUAL (ok, the unusual part might fit) parent for making my son read to me, there’s something you should know. This was his idea.

The newest book in the Wimpy Kid series is one of several books my son has read to me lately.

The newest book in the Wimpy Kid series is one of several books my son has read to me lately.

I’m not even sure how or why it started. I was basically just sitting around one day minding my own business – probably watching an intelligent and entertaining Lifetime movie or something – when my son asked, “Do you want me to read to you?”

Well, you know what? I did want that.

As our children grow older, it seems we have less and fewer opportunities to have one-on-one moments. Things that we do together. Moments that we share. It seems like as kids grow older, we tend to think that activities must be more elaborate.

But here was simplicity staring me in the face. My son. A book. Me.

It doesn’t get much simpler than that.

And so he’s been reading to me just about every night. He might read for 10 minutes. Or he might read for 30 minutes or more.

He started out with a couple of stories from a book he bought at one of those regularly occurring book sales they have at schools. It’s a book of about 10 stories on crime scene investigations.

I wish he hadn’t. I thought if you bought the book at the school, then the book might be, you know, written for someone on that grade level. i didn’t realize it was going to more graphic than many CSIs actually see first hand.

But then he moved to some of his favorites: the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series.

The latest one came out the first or second week of November. And I bought it for him not knowing that I was going to hear it in the near future.

He wants to read the entire series to me – in reverse order. Fortunately, this isn’t a series where the story builds on itself. Otherwise, I might be in trouble.

We’ve made it through three of the books so far. And I’m looking forward to hearing the others in the series. Not because I’m enthralled with the stories or the depth of the characters.

But because it’s a chance to spend time with my son. Doing something that he wants to do.

The other day we were coming home from work and school, and my son asked me how my day was.

“It was great,” I said.

“Why, what happened,” he asked.

“Nothing special. It was just a great day.”

“You know,” he said, “we just don’t take time to appreciate the simple things in life.”

Sometimes I have no idea who this kid is. But I’m always thankful that he’s mine.


Son’s criticism of Davey and Goliath wildly misplaced

“Oh Boy!!”

It was my birthday and I was so excited! It was a Saturday morning and I was cruising through the menu to see what was on TV when I stumbled across “Davey and Goliath” about to come on.

Ok, so Goliath IS smaller than Davey. Who cares?! Except my son, of course . . .

Ok, so Goliath IS smaller than Davey. Who cares?! Except my son, of course . . .

Oh boy!!

There’s nothing that gets me excited like bad TV. And on my birthday, too!!

And my son was excited, too. Well, at least initially. He’s seen the show, and he enjoys some bad TV, too. Or at least he says he does. But I think a lot of it has to do with just watching me get excited about it.

But then he let loose with his criticism of the show.

“Why do they call it ‘Davey and Goliath’ instead of David and Goliath.”

“Ummmmm, well, I’m not really sure. That’s just his name,” I said hesitantly.

“Well, they shouldn’t have named it that anyway. Goliath is too small.”


“in the story in the bible, Goliath is a lot bigger than David. But on the show, Goliath is smaller than Davey. They should have made Goliath bigger.”

(Hmmmmmm. I show about a giant dog. I might be all in on that one. Of course, it would have to be a giant dog that goes around the neighborhood eating kids or something. Oh wait, I’m way off track here . . . )


You’ve seen this ghastly, horrible show, and this is what you’re complaining about?

This show has plots that are so syrupy that even Brer Rabbit couldn’t have worked his way out of, and you’re worried about the title?

I always like it when Davey's evil side comes out. If this show were on Fox, they might refer to it as Claymation Damnation.

I always like it when Davey’s evil side comes out. If this show were on Fox, they might refer to it as Claymation Damnation.

Ok, I get that you’re not too crazy about the title. And, yes, maybe they could have gone in a better, more inspired direction, but there’s so much more to sink your teeth into with this show.

The simplicity of the resolution of each episode is just so darn . . . simple.

And the show features nothing but cardboard characters – literally! Ok, I know that it’s actually claymation or some other otherworldly technology, but back in the 70s, wasn’t clay made out of cardboard anyway?

And the lessons? Wouldn’t you rather make fun of those?

Each episode features a “lesson” that Davey learns from some misguided decision that he makes. And before Davey can act on his boneheaded plan, Goliath offers the familiar foreboding “I don’t know, Davey.”

But most of the lessons are impractical at best. Like, for instance, don’t crawl down a well blindfolded when your parents have warned you that you need to study for a spelling test.



Or how about learning how you shouldn’t explore a house that’s about to be demolished to look for a little girl’s doll, which, in fact, turns out to be a voodoo doll or something.

Yep. This show is rich in material to laugh at. There are so many juicy nuggets to make light of. And yet you, my son, have focused only on the title. I have no idea what you were thinking.

Where have I gone wrong as a parent?

Maybe I could find a good book on parenting. You know, the kind that would show you how to instruct your kids on the fine art of poking fun and truly awful TV. Maybe I’ll get it as a gift this year . . .


Turning 50 – A Bad Poem

I never really thought about the day

Where my friends and family would say . . .

Happy fiftieth birthday to you we wish,

Now go out and have some fun; and oh, your cake was delish! birthday cake

Getting older is a hard thing to do,

But for now I can still walk, and my food I can chew.

But there are parts that are a failin’

Running is harder, my physique is bailin’

I can’t see any more, I have to wear glasses.

I’m gaining weight around the middle from sitting on my as- . . . ummmm, molasses?

My hearin’ I’m losin’, and to that there’s no mistakin’

I pretend to hear, but it’s hard to keep fakin’

You say, “Come quick! You’re son got a stick jammed in his eye!!”

And I hear, “Would you like to try some of my grandma’s apple pie!”

To the food I eat, I’ve made some changes

My beer and burgers have become fruits and grains.

No, growin’ old isn’t easy.

Especially when I have to eat those little green peas-ies.

Sure I’m achy, sometimes hurtin’

But I promise  this ain’t the final curtain.

There’s still life in these old bones, I tell ye.

Because I plan to keep on rockin’ til I’m a hundred and three.


We’re Going to Dance with What Brung Us

In my early days out of college, one of my first jobs was writing sports at a newspaper in the small town of Nashville, Arkansas. That wasn’t anything completely new to me because I had spent most of my falls in college doing radio play-by-play for a local high school.

I’ve moved on to other jobs since, but I’ve been able to stay somewhat active covering high school sports in the area. For years, I worked at the same Nashville newspaper I started at. In recent years, I’ve started covering the team for the radio station.

My son and I have found that the best way to spend an off night from football is with MORE football.

My son and I have found that the best way to spend an off night from football is with MORE football.

One thing that I’ve always found fascinating is how different coaches are. And not just their take on all things football. But their personalities, too.

One coach was like a CEO. One was aloof while focusing on new offensive formations.

And one presented himself as very country – just your friendly, down-home boy. But he was probably the most savvy when it came to dealing with the local media.

And he always had a unique way with words and phases. For example, about every three weeks, we would be starting a new “half” of the season. I figured it up one time, and according to him, there were about six halves of every football season.

When I asked him what he was going to do in preparation for a game with an upcoming opponent, his reply was “We’re going to play our game.”

I found a good life lesson in that – always do what you do best.

He sometimes phrased that line just a little differently – “We’re going to dance with what brung us.” I think some other coaches over the years (before and since) and used that same line, but I still like it.

About 10 years ago, I had just finished up my MBA, and I remember thinking that I would keep doing the sports as long as I still had fun with it. As long as I still enjoyed it.

Obviously, I’m still having fun. But a couple of years ago it became even funner.

When my son was little, he would often stay with my mom on game nights.

But about two years ago, I thought he might enjoy going, so I invited both of them to go with me. And a tradition was born.

He and my mom went to almost every game with me last year . . . although both were conspicuously absent for my five-hour trip to a playoff venue. Hmmmmmmm.

But this year, my son has gone with me to EVERY game. And we’ve had a blast.

He thinks it’s BIG TIME to sit in the press box. I don’t have the heart to tell him otherwise. But I guess when you’re 11, it does seem pretty cool.

The high school playoffs started last week in Arkansas, and Nashville ended up with a bye in the first round.

We’d been going to games now on Friday nights for two and a half straight months. And here we are in the first week of the playoffs with no game to go to. It’s hard to quit suddenly like that. So what did we do?

We went to just watch a game.

We decided to go watch a game in the same town where the grandparents live. Temperatures that night were down in the 20s, but we dressed warm, took some blankets, and bought some hot chocolate.

AND we had a great time.

And it’s one of those events that you love as a parent – it really wasn’t that big a deal, but it WAS a big deal.

It was another bonding experience, something that we did together that we can look back on someday and say, “Hey, remember when we went to watch that playoff football game when it was freezing?

No, it wasn’t the biggest event ever had together. But it’s what’s brung us this far together.

And I’ll be looking forward to this same dance in the years to come.

Happy Birthday to . . . Me!!!

I don’t normally promote my birthday. In fact, I usually try to ignore because ignoring it = not getting older.

But this time I’m straying from the normal course. Because this time it’s a Big Un. It’s the BIG Five-Oh. I won’t have another birthday this big for another 50 years, so I need to make this one count.

Hey, who's that good lookin' kid . . .

Hey, who’s that good lookin’ kid . . .

In fact, this birthday is SO big, that they’ve given everyone the day off. Of course, it’s also on Saturday so that might have had a little bit to do with it . . .

First of all, for the Sheryl Crow update. If you’re a regular reader, you know that for some time now, I’ve been hoping to connect with the popular and ultra talented singer/songwriter and go out with her on my birthday, but so far she’s playing hard to get.

However, while I haven’t heard from her, I did receive a rather nasty letter from her lawyer. Sure, I understand how 137 letters to Sheryl expressing my love and marriage proposals might look a little excessive to those on the outside. But I learned all my courtin’ techniques from some highly popular romantic comedies. It’s hard to argue with countless hours of quality entertainment of Lifetime television.

So at this point, I feel like as a MORE MATURE ADULT, I should be dispensing words of wisdom to today’s young whippershanppers.

Hey, who's that even better lookin' kid . . .

Hey, who’s that even better lookin’ kid . . .

Well, first of all, when I was young, we used to travel around in these contraptions called . . . CARS!

And when I went to school, I had to walk . . . the 10 yards from the school bus to the school.

Ok, so maybe things haven’t changed too much since I was a kid. I guess the thing that I’ve been most amazed at is technology, specifically telephones. I’ve gone from a rotary dial to a phone that I carry around that’s more powerful than the computer I used in high school (AND college), my family’s television, any five sets of encyclopedias I might have used to write reports on Mars, AND the Apollo 11- COMBINED!

So what am I going to do to celebrate my 50th?

Holy Shi . . . ! What the hell happened!! And just WHAT died on top of his head?!!

Holy Shi . . . ! What the hell happened!! And just WHAT died on top of his head?!!

No real idea. I thought I might throw a party and invite every girlfriend I’ve ever had and have them all together in one room. But then I realized that would be a lot like getting a glimpse into hell. Well, hell for me or them one – I’m not really sure who comes out worse in that deal.

So what have I learned in 50 years on earth? Well, I have a few short slogans I live by.

First: You never know. Yep, I’m never surprised by anything that happens in life any more.

Second: “I would have gotten away with it if it hadn’t been for those meddling kids.”

Ok, maybe I didn’t learn much from Scooby Doo, but it’s nice to have a line handy for when I want to blame someone else – especially my kids!

And while I’ve been joking quite a bit, I do want to say that I appreciate all my family and friends who have been a part of my life. Sure, my life hasn’t always been easy. Anyone who makes it to my age is sure to have suffered some bumps and bruises along the way. But I wouldn’t trade my life for anyone else’s.

Here I am this fall doing two things I love - spending time with my son and broadcasting high school football.

Here I am this fall doing two things I love – spending time with my son and broadcasting high school football.

Great kids. Great parents. Great family. Great friends. Some good barbecue and chocolate thrown in from time to time. It’s just like they told George Bailey – it really has been a wonderful life.

And finally, I’ve found that you can learn a lot from watching the Christmas classic Santa Claus is Coming to Town. Basically, toys are fun, there’s more to life than just doing chores and cleaning your socks, and last but not least, laugh often. And laugh hard.

The Burgermeister is all about clean socks . . . and squashing all fun.

The Burgermeister is all about clean socks . . . and squashing all fun.


I’m disappointed they couldn’t squeeze even MORE movies out of the Hunger Games series

Are you kidding me?

That was my reaction when I saw the first promo for the upcoming release of Mocking Jay, which is the final book of the Hunger Games trilogy.

If somehow you’ve been fortunate enough to shelter yourself from this series (and I’d really like to know how you did it), I’ll briefly fill you in.

This is a young adult series set in the future of the U.S. Only there are no longer states; instead there are districts. And each year in each district, the young folk have to draw. The male and female in each district who draws the unlucky number, has to go into the “arena” where everybody tries to kill everybody else until there’s only one young folk left.

I read the first book, and thought it was ok. Then I read the second in the series, and kind of skimmed through it, and finally got through the end. Then I got the third book, read the first page, and then resorted to asking my girlfriend at the time how it ended.

Now, to see that they’ve divided this last lousy book into TWO movies . . .

I understand how all this started with Lord of the Rings, but that really did need three movies – just like it needed three books.

But then the Harry Potter series broke its final book into two movies. That was followed by the Twilight series. Then we were left with The Hobbit as THREE movies.

And now . . . this. This Hunger Games crap.

I mean, really. Come on. I understand all about making money and all. I mean, I work in marketing and all, but even I wouldn’t do this. First of all, there’s no substance to work with. It would be like trying to re-create Michelangelo’s David using just one can of dried out Playdough.

What we really need is to send someone out to explain this to the folks who make these movies. “Hey Hollywood! I don’t know if you know this, but, ummmm, the Hunger Games is a KID’S BOOK. Oh, excuse me, young adult book.”

It would be like turning Goodnight Moon into two movies. Although that does a disservice to that children’s classic, because it has a much deeper plot than Hunger Games.

This kids classic would be a much better candidate for two movies than the tedious Hunger Games.

This kids classic would be a much better candidate for two movies than the tedious Hunger Games.

I saw the first Hunger Games movie and it had all of the substance of a bad Hanes men’s underwear commercial.

Secondly, you just can’t do this to your fans. Now I understand that even though I don’t like this, there are people who actually do look forward to this. For about a year now, they’ve been looking forward to seeing what they thought was going to be the FINAL movie in the series. You can see how a fan might have thought this was going to be the final movie and all since THIS WAS THE FINAL BOOK IN THE SERIES!

And to make fans of this series just sit through this total Money Grab of a movie should be illegal.

And that’s what it is – a Money Grab, pure and simple. And you should be ashamed of yourself for dropping this movie on fans.

Better yet, the people who made this movie should be forced to watch it, and pay FULL TICKET PRICE, too. And pay double for the popcorn!

Why can’t they schedule these dang lunar eclipses during the day?!

I was hoping it was a dream, but deep down (way, WAAAAAAAAY down) I knew it wasn’t.

I peeked at the clock with one eye. Hey, I thought 4:15 only happened in the afternoons . . .

I wanted to go back to sleep, but that desire was soon squelched by my son, who started shaking me and DEMANDING that I remove myself henceforth from my bed and get up.

“Dad. It’s time to get up. We’re going to miss the eclipse.”

With my super duper smart phone, it was almost like I was taking pictures from the same galaxy as the eclipse!

With my super duper smart phone, it was almost like I was taking pictures from the same galaxy as the eclipse!

Did I really agree to this?

It seemed so reasonable the night before. You know, at that hour between 8 and bedtime when you’ve still got stuff to do, but you’re not so wiped out. That time between being a parent who can still sign a pile of school papers, but you haven’t quite hit the point where you can’t tell the difference in ironing a dress shirt or the cat. (I finally figured it out when I never could get the wrinkles out of the cat. But at least now his fur has a luxurious sheen.)

So there you have it. It was a problem of my own creation. Like they said, I had made my bed, now I had to lie in it . . .

Except in this case, I couldn’t lie in it even though I wanted to.

The next words I heard made me realize I was in this for real. “I’ll be waiting outside for you,” said my son, as he dashed out of the room.

Outside? Now why is he going outside at this time of day again? Oh, yeah . . .

So like a slimy snail, I kind of oozed over the side of the bed until I found myself on my feet.

I made my way outside, and there was my son, waiting anxiously for me . . . and the eclipse.

The moon was full, and it made for an incredible sight, even at that awful hour.

There were a few low clouds, but nothing that got in our way for a while. We gazed up at the sky filled with stars on this night. And we talked while we waited for the eclipse.

I can’t remember now exactly what we talked about. But it wasn’t the subject that mattered. It was the two of us, sharing an experience.

The eclipse was good. We watched it. ALL of it. It really was remarkable. I’m not sure if I’ve ever watched an eclipse all the way through before. But even if I did, it wasn’t as memorable (obviously) as this time.

It was a special morning for me. For my son too, I hope. It was the kind of occasion that we’ll share – and remember – for a lifetime.

Looking back, I guess getting up that early wasn’t so bad after all. We both had fun, got to share a special time together, and saw something that by every scientific definition can only be described as “really cool.”

In fact, I wouldn’t mind sharing an eclipse with my son again. Only next time, I’m going to hope for the solar variety.