Sunday, March 2, 2014

the four of us

Just like fanfare, no dramatic scene, no grand finale. Honestly, it seems like no one noticed but us. For two days, we'd sat by her hospital bed. She was non-responsive, struggling for every breath...twisted, wilted, fighting. There was nothing I could do - that we could do - to help her on her way.

It was like some cosmic comedy. In the end, it was the four of us together again. Mom in the hospital bed - my sister, father and I sat with her the last two days she was alive. Over the past three decades, we'd all fought like cats and dogs. A divorce, arguments, courtrooms and drama. We'd all drug each others' names through the mud more than once. We'd all said things we regretted. Things we damn sure meant when we said them. But who knows...maybe God knew the truth. In my mind, all four us are difficult to deal with. We're all headstrong, stubborn people. And I'd imagine many people shake their heads and mumble under their breath when they see us coming.

But for her last two days on earth, we were there together, in the small room remembering, talking, worrying, thinking, crying, joking. I'm sure some of mom's friends would argue and second guess. "Why is he here?!? That's the last thing she would want." Not for the last time, I would think, "I don't give a shit what they think." When it came down to it, regardless of the water under the bridge, it was the three of us there when she needed us. We did everything we could to protect her, follow her wishes, spend time with her and make her more comfortable. We'd all failed each other more than once, but when one of us was fading, the three of us did what we could.

Here's what I want people to know about my mother. She loved children, she was a caring grandmother, she was generous to a fault, she was terrified of being alone and even at her worst I think she always meant the best.

I'm not one for lying. We'd had a rough few years. I made decisions that I had to make to protect myself, my family and our future. But I never stopped caring about my mom. I worried about her every day. And as I dodged phone calls, cursed, screamed, yelled and did everything I could to avoid the situation, I knew it would come to this. I would be left with these decisions, I would regret them, I would beat myself up over them. Sure, I would remember WHY I made the choices I made, but it wouldn't help much when I thought about it all.

On some level I knew her health was deteriorating, and it scared me to death. I was a momma's boy. I am a momma's boy. Sounds funny after years of arguing and yelling, but I know no one will ever care for me like she did. I feel more alone than I have in years. I pushed her away for five years, now I'd give anything to tell her I cared. I loved her. It killed me to see her sad and alone.

We failed her. I failed her. Many people have told me I didn't. But words can't change it. The world will keep spinning, and I'll try to do better. But in the end, I'll never understand this one. There's no happy ending moral at the end of the story. Time wrecks bodies, destroys lives, takes people away, and we're left wondering why. If you've spent happy, relaxing time with your grandparents and parents, thank God for that. It is a blessing. For the rest of us, I guess, just know that someone else has been there too.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Early Morning Thought

My alarm went off at 5:25 a.m. central time this morning.

I sat up, and the first thought that popped into my head was: "Man, in a lot of scenes Bruce Campbell reminds me of Lee Marvin. Bruce totally stole some acting chops from Lee."

At the time, this seemed like pure genius.

But after thinking about it for a few minutes, I couldn't come up with one example to back up my theory.

I still can't.

So much for that early morning eureka.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Anything new makes me puke...

I'm sitting in the chair. I've got four comics in my lap and about 45 minutes until I'm ready to call it a night and head to bed.

I look over and realize my wife is asleep on the couch (with the remote in her hand). This means I can watch what I want. I decide to scan the DVR list before cracking the comics.

Low and behold, there's an hour long show about Groucho Marx recorded off TCM. I select it and find out it's an hour-long interview with an older Groucho on the Dick Cavett show.

For the next hour, I learn, I laugh, I think. As he sits and tells stories of old Hollywood, it becomes clear that the true stories are even funnier than the ones he's making up.

Yep, even in his older years, Groucho had something that nobody in modern Hollywood has. True talent. Charisma. He's smart, he's charming, he's funny as hell, and...who knew...he can almost sing.

At the end of the show, I'm sad it's over. This sadness leads my mind to the other classic performers I love. Charlie Chaplin, Don Rickles, Rodney Dangerfield, Phyllis Diller...the list goes on and on.

And, of course, this leads me to think about the crap that is pouring out of Hollywood on a weekly basis now. Who can my generation claim as their classic comedic performer? Really, is Dane Cook the best we can hope for?

The more I think the more I get pissed about modern comedy. I'll say it, Jim Carrey, Adam Sandler and Mike Myers have no soul. They squeeze out colorful crap with bland humor meant for the mindless. And I'm sick of it.

Same thing with music. I watched 30 minutes of a Motorhead concert today. Those three old farts ripped through 30 year old songs with a recklessness that I can't help but admire.

As Lemmy tore into the bass solo on 'Stay Clean', I teared up a little. And, in Lemmy's honor, I made a promise to myself. No more lying. Not about things that don't matter.

See, in a weird way, I have 'Weirdo Complex'. Since I enjoy a lot of things that other people don't, I often end up lying to avoid telling them the stuff they like sucks.

I'll admit it, I've consciously acted as if Hinder, Hall & Oats and Red Jumpsuit Apparatus didn't suck just to avoid awkward conversations.

Even worse, I had the chance to personally tell Widespread Panic's guitarist that they sucked, and instead I mumbled something about how they 'were okay'.

But those days are over. I swear before all 3 of you now that I will decisively tell people if I think something sucks.

After all, I know it's what Don Rickles would do. Groucho too, I think. Naturally.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

I'm behind the bitch.... first dispatch from behind the bitch.

The bitch has actually been here for quite a while. I bought her when we moved in.

Getting her home from the thrift store was a pain. She weighs more than a hippopotamus, and she's wider than Nell Carter's ass.

Of course she had to fight me every step of the way. I was lucky to get her off the truck using a hand truck and brute strength.

Next, she wouldn't fit through the man room door. I took the door off it's hinges and managed to squeeze her in. But I skinned two knuckles doing it.

At that time, my man room was a filthy mess with no carpet. She had to sit on her side for a few months. Still, I could hear her calling to me at night. Sometimes a whisper, other times a demonic screech.

As I began to work in the man room, she always seemed to be in the way. No matter where I put her, she stymied my attempts at laying carpet, cleaning walls and hanging pictures.

It was then that I realized I was in love. She was made for pain, she was made for death, she was made to foster hatred. And I am now ready to harness her power.

She will be my partner. Together, we will spew bile and filth upon this earth. Our thoughts will be dark. Our intentions will always be the worst. We will never see the good. We will never honor those we don't respect.

For the past couple of years, I kinda feel like the world has put it to me. Darkness hounded my steps, confusion often made rational thought impossible. Many nights were long; many days were dismal.

But everything is different now. She and I are together. As a team, WE will put it to the world.

The bitch just whispered. She said, "Tell mother nature to bend over and spread 'em."

God I love her.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Something else no one wants to talk about.

Seriously, I'm completely serious about the seriousness of this seriousity. The high cost of refrigerator repair has finally gotten out of hand.

My beloved ice maker broke a couple months back. I don't think you understand the severity of this situation. I love that ice maker.

That ice maker to me is more important than indoor plumbing. I can pee on a tree, I can have a BM behind the back shed, but I'll be damned if I'm filling another damn ice tray.

The worst part of it is I'm addicted to using ice. 90 percent of what I drink on weekly basis is ice water. Notice the first word. You can't have ice water without ice and water. Really, who the hell ever heard of drinking just water?

When the ice maker broke, we were a little broke, so we went to the dollar store and bought some ice trays. For two months, we made due.

Finally, after my beautiful, saint of a mother came over and cleaned out my ice trays and didn't refill, I snapped. My wife had one last free week before starting a new job, so I said we should get it fixed.

Yeah, we were given an estimate of $75. After the local yokel showed up, somehow the price ballooned to $350. THAT IS A DAMN OUTRAGE!!!!!

I work for literally minutes at a time at my job, I pay my taxes when the government makes me, and I go to church at least once every seven years...and this is what I get in return!!??! An ice maker repair bill for $350? Seriously, serious?

Well, we paid the cash. And, it's been worth it. Hell, I've got enough ice in there currently to freeze the balls off a water buffalo.

But, I will be bitter until the U.S. lawmakers pass my bailout. It's time for people like me to get what's coming to them. A nice fat check and a 32 oz. cup of cold, delicious tap water.

Anything less would be uncivilized.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Butterbeans and Longing

Last weekend, I saw a walking Butterbean marry a huge piece of cornbread. Don't believe me? I have pictures to prove it.

In my little town, everyone is worried about where you go to church. But, they'll close down the city's main street to let this type of un-godly union occur. I, for one, stand against that sinful and unnatural union, and I know that Jesus and Moses would agree.



Sunday, August 24, 2008

Man, my summer SUCKED!!!!!

(Disclaimer: My summer has actually not sucked on a literal level. It's actually been really fun and a little relaxing. I spent most of the hot days at this place: I had lots of fun with friends, and I spent some good time with the family. But, being the flaming asshole that I am, that wasn't enough.)

There I was, soaking in the cold pool of a swanky Los Angeles hotel. It was April of 2008, and I had just spent the weekend at Disney Land. I had just seen a re-united Testament play an awesome show at a Hollywood nightclub as well.

Over the next few days, I would continue to kick L.A. squarely in the nuts. I would put my toes in the Pacific for the first time. I would eat one of the top 10 meals of my life at Roscoe's Fried Chicken and Waffles. I would see several Universal Studios sets that would burn up in a backlot fire on June 1.

Yeah, as I shivered in the pool, I was high on life. My family and I had successfully traversed the 2033.23 miles from Birmingham to Los Angeles. We'd made it through 3 airports, one rental car office and downtown Los Angeles.

"Damn," I thought, "if we can pull this trip off, I may plan a couple more trips this summer."

The Heroes Comic Convention in North Carolina immediately popped into my mind. I had been to this con once before, and it was a comic-nerd orgy of epic proportions. Sure, Bill Sienkiewicz had been kind of a dick and not signed my Daredevil and Elektra comics. But, I had found comic after comic on my list, I'd gotten enough comics signed to choke a hungry goat, I'd found some Invisibles original art pages, and I'd bought a cool Night of the Living Dead t-shirt.

I also knew that Iron Maiden was pulling out all the hits for a big North American tour. There was no way in hell they were coming to the South, but a friend had recently move to Cincinnati. So, I made mental plans to get to Ohio and catch a date of this awesome-ass tour as well.

In addition, I knew there were other bands touring this summer that I wanted to see. At the Gates had announced their big reunion tour, and it ended up that Municipal Waste and Darkest Hour were going to open for them. That is a hell of a metal tour.

The two Cavalera brothers from Sepultura had also started a new band, and there was word of a big tour during the summer months as well. In my mind, I planned a quick skips to Atlanta to see both tours.

I also have a friend who lives in Baltimore. He's invited me up for a concert here or there. Yeah, I'd wait for some anonymous show and maybe grab a cheap airline ticket for a nice, quick trip.

"Shit, this is gonna be a hell of a summer," I thought. Over the next few days, I had a glimmer in my eye and a spring in my step. Little did I know, the coming summer would be eventually be given the title 'Unfulphiled Phil'.

Let me get all literary on your asses with this here quote:

The best laid schemes o' Mice an' Men, Gang aft agley,
An' lea'e us nought but grief an' pain, For promis'd joy!

(I don't really know what the quote has to do with my blog...hell, I dont' even think it's in English. But Yahoo search said it applied, so I threw it in.)

Well, over the next few months, life gave me a frickin nut kick. Yeah, my money well kinda dried up. Instead of a summer full of trips and rock 'n' roll goodness, I was stuck at home cutting grass and getting stung by yellow jackets.

When the weekend of the Heroes Con arrived, I was at home staring at the guest list on their website and crying. I guess I could have made it to North Carolina on the cheap and shared a room with my friend, but I would have had zero money to spend on comics and food. Stuffing down peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and staring at comics I want to buy didn't sound like that much fun to me.

Next, it ended up that the Maiden show in Cleveland was two days before my big summer deadline at work. I had zero money, and I had a boss who would be a little tiffed if I wasn't there to upload the 696 finalized PDFs.

And, as for At the Gates and the Cavalera Conspiracy, they both skipped out on Atlanta. Now, don't get me wrong here, I'm not totally against Atlanta. I've seen some killer tours there, and I've indulged in their world-class gentleman's clubs on occasion.

But, this summer, the city really let me down. It's bad enough that everyone there thinks their shit don't stink. But, I've got to hear their attitude about how great their town is, and yet they can't book the 2nd and 3rd biggest tours of the summer I want to see?

Needless to say, as the summer months wore on, I realized my hope for a quick jaunt to Baltimore wasn't in the cards either.

"So," I think, "I'm unhappy. What can I do to alleviate this situation?"

Simple - MAKE MORE PLANS BITCHES!!! I've been working all summer, and now it looks like I got a little change in my pockets going jing-a-ling-a-ling. So, here's my potential list for the next few months.

1) Dragon Con - Next weekend in Atlanta. I'm hoping I can get in on the cheap and maybe spend $100 bucks and get some stuff signed. If Mike Baron has the nuts to show up, he's going to be signing Punisher and Nexus comics until his hand falls off.

2) Carcass reunion tour - I can't decide if I'm really excited about this or not. When I imagine the perfect Carcass set, I'm thinking 2 straight hours of songs off their classic 'Reek of Putrefication' and 'Symphonies of Sickness' albums. Instead, they're playing almost all of 'Heartwork' with a couple of old songs thrown in. Not good.

3) Giggity GWAR!!!! - A big fall tour from the death-obsessed aliens = good times! Two good opening bands (Kingdom of Sorrow and Toxic Holocaust) and a Friday night date in Atlanta. Sure, it would be the 5th time I've seen them, but Sleazy P. Martini is coming out of retirement for this tour. How can I miss that?

4) UAB basketball - They're going to be good as shit. I'm thinking of getting season ticket with a quick trip to Cincinnati to see them play Cincinnati in December. Never been to a road game before.

5) Finish my manroom - Yeah, it's been hot as hell in my man room all summer. But, I'm going to get a couch and switch a TV out there for FOOTBALL!

6) AC/DC - Oh yeah, this little band from Australia is heading back to the U.S. for a tour. Maybe you've heard of them? The tour is supposed to start in October, and I see the Lawless family hitting at least one date. (It would be my son's third concert. He saw Queens of the Stone Age at Magic Platter at six months, and we took him to see Cheap Trick last summer.)

Anyway, I love my family and we really had a good summer. But, if I can't whine on the Internet, what's the point in living?