2007 Resolution Number 3

I am one of those people who, when setting out on a quest, needs a lodestar. I need a point of reference, something tangible to which I can turn.

Well, even though I know that the quickest way to hear the laughter of God is to tell Him your plans, I have some plans for the coming year nonetheless. I intend to lose weight and get in shape. But, I ask myself, what shall be my lodestar? What shall constantly be in front of me, a reminder of my quest, not to be discarded until the quest is complete?

I decided after watching one of my daughter’s episodes of Hannah Montana. This year, I am going to shake things up. REALLY shake things up. I am going to do something, that for 99% of the world’s population is unthinkable.

I have told a few, select friends; they recoiled in horror. The most common reaction has been along the lines of: “For the love of God, NO!” I have been reminded to think of the children. I have also been reminded that I will have a lot of trouble finding a professional who will be willing to perform the “procedure” I need to get started.

That’s OK. If I can’t find someone in Nashville, I’ll go elsewhere. I’ll even travel to Mexico if I have to. I’m a man on a mission. So, I’m sure you’re asking, what on earth is it I am doing that has friends terrified, that will torture my children, that may even break up my marriage?

In 2007…

I am going to re-grow…

My mullet.

I want my mullet back. I’m tired of everyone telling me what’s cool and uncool. God has blessed this 42-year-old with a full, bushy head of hair, still the original color, with a few random white hairs peppered in. I’m ready to re-live just a small portion of my youth – business in the front, party in the back. (I had a GREAT mullet. That’s me, second from the right).

The mullet will serve three purposes:

1) It will be a constant, tangible reminder to me that I am on a mission; when I am weak, all I need to do is look in the mirror.
2) It will serve as a motivation for my family not to sabotage my efforts, as has been done in the past. The mullet stays until I reach my goals. It delights me to no end that my children are mortified.
3) It will be my own mini-mutiny. My mid-life crisis. My way of saying to the world, “I don’t give a crap what you think!”

Brittney at Nashville is Talking, with her Waxing Vegan blog, has inspired me. I have created a new blog to chronicle my growing hair and shrinking waistline: Follow The Mullet. If you want to follow one man’s struggle to regain his health and youth, check it out every now and then. My ultimate hope is to cut the back once I reach my goals, and donate the hair to Locks of Love or another such organization.

My family has been wondering why I skipped my last couple of haircuts. My hair is now to my collar in the back. I’m ready to trim the top/sides. Hopefully my usual barber will do it. I’ll try to get pictures and post them at Follow The Mullet.

I may be insane, but I still wish all of you a happy and hairy 2007!

Mark Your Calendars

This will be your first reminder, and probably not the last. If you want to see Slartibartfast as you’ve never seen him before, make the drive out to Ashland City on Saturday, January 6th to see X-Alt play at the Truth, Beauty, and Goodness Coffeehouse.

X-Alt almost never plays a non-mission related gig anymore, so this will be your only chance to see us for a while. Unless you are in prison, or a nursing home, or your church has booked us for a service.

It is my understanding that we’ll have the horn section for this show. This will be quite a treat!

I know every Christian band says this, but you have to take my word for it: our show is an incredible musical experience, whether you are a Christian or not. Half the set is Staxx Records – inspired soul. (My parents raised me on Sam & Dave and Otis Redding). The other half is standard Christian rock (with a little bluegrass and Zydeco thrown in).

And it might be a bold claim, but I’ll stack up our harmonies against ANYBODY’s in Nashville (hey, Sista – why don’t you come see us and you can report back whether I’m exaggerating or not?)

The show starts at 8:00 PM.

For those of you who met me at the blogger meat-up, that reserved dude hiding behind his wife will be nowhere to be found; I get pretty wild once I get on stage. Well, for an overweight 42-year-old Methodist. Come and see for yourself!

If you miss this one, your next chance may be the festivals / fairs in the summer and fall.

2007 Resolution Number 2 – Guess What?

The 2nd New Year’s resolution I am making is the most cliche of all: to lose my excess weight and get healthy. I seperated them in deference to Katherine Coble, who feels very strongly that the two are not neccessarily related. I remain undecided – my life experience tells me that there may not be a causal connection, but when you do the neccessary things to accomplish one, the other seems to fall into place.

Hoo-boy, this is going to be a long post.

In order for you to understand where I’m coming from, It’s extremely important for me to take a step back and tell you my life’s fitness history. For the first 22 or so years of my life, I was quite skinny. Not in a good way – most people (and my doctor) thought it was unhealthy. To give you some idea how skinny I was: in high school, I was a wrestler. I was in the lowest weight class, and I won half of my matches by default because the other school usually didn’t have anyone small enough to fit into that class. I drank the weight-gain shakes, but it was to no avail. I only tell you this because I want you to know that I am NOT trying to reclaim the wonderfully healthy body of my youth, because it never existed.

Marriage cured me of my skinniness (it always does, doesn’t it, men?). I gained steadily till I quit smoking in ’92, then (here’s another cliche) I sort-of ballooned. Since then, I have yo-yo’d, and I mean in an EXTREME way. I have lost (and gained back) over 50 pounds 3 different times. I am an expert at losing weight, and an absolute amateur at keeping it off.

The last time, I got serious. It was (surprise!) a New Year’s resolution, and I studied every weight-loss and fitness book I could find. It pleased the engineer in me to discover at the heart of weight loss lies a simple logic formula:
If (calories eaten
The Sirius Cybernetics Corporation (SCC) has exercize facilities in the basement of my building. There is a large room for exercize classes (provided by SCC at no charge), and a weight room. The women of SCC did the classes, and the men would pump iron and preen in the mirrored weight room. I had done my share of weight training since the previous fall (like a man, with no instruction or guidance).

After New Years, I walked into the weight room as usual, then kept going to the classroom. The men gave me funny looks as I passed by, but the women really did. I was invading their space, I guess. I think the instructor sensed this, and she proceeded to try to kill me with that day’s toning workout. She almost did. Men are used to doing small amounts of reps with large weights; in women’s toning classes, they do high reps with lower weights.

Dear. God. I was not prepared for how much I hurt the next day. But, to everyone’s surprise, I came back for the next class. I wasn’t going to let that woman defeat me! After a few more classes, she stopped trying to kill me. It was obvious that I wasn’t going away (Later, we became good friends). The other women got used to me, and realized I wasn’t there to ogle (that would have been quite embarrasing – I was in gym shorts and it was a long walk to the men’s locker room).

It started getting easier, and after a few months, I added a couple of cardio classes to my weekly routine. Once again, it nearly killed me, but I came back time and again. I raised my calorie intake back to 2000 because I was burning an incredible amount by that time. The weight continued to peel off, and this time, something different happened. I had developed a real man’s body for the first time in my life. In my late 30’s, no less! The men in the weight room stopped laughing at me,and several joined me. We had learned that to get a decent man’s body, you have to work out like a woman.

This was the glory time, just a few short years ago. It is amazing how differently everyone treats you when you’re in shape. Spouses, family, co-workers, even strangers are nicer to you and treat you with more respect. My doctor said I had the resting heart rate of an Olympic athelete. I’m sure Lintilla thought that I was going through a mid-life crisis, and that a sportscar and affair couldn’t be far behind. I got the sportscar, but I could never, ever betray Lintilla. It was enough for my ego just to, for once in my life, be considered attractive. (BTW, women, you aren’t as discreet about these things as you think you are. There were a few times when I wanted to say “My eyes are up here!”)

Well, I have rambled too long so I’ll get back on point: later that year we went on vacation, and I got out of my good habits. Eventually, I gained back all the weight I had lost, and then some. I could have rejoined the classes at any time, but after gaining about 15 lbs, I felt like I had let the ladies in the class down. I didn’t want them to see me in that shape. I figured I’d go back once I had lost some of the weight. I never did.

Then, this past year, I resolved to lose it again. I figured it would be a piece of cake, I had learned the secret, and it would just be a matter of doing what I did last time. But this time, I failed completely. I learned that there is a HUGE difference in metabolism between age 37 and age 42. I learned that it’s not easy to eat healthy when you have two school-aged children whose friends “get happy meals all the time”. I learned that I have filled the God-shaped hole in my soul with a lust for food.

There is an Arby’s commercial where construction workers are sitting on a ledge, and a series of beautiful women pass by. The men say nothing. Then, a balding man, carrying an Arby’s sack and drinking a shake passes by, and the construction workers start their catcalls. It’s hilarious, and it rings true. This is where I am at in my life. Sometimes I think that if Shania Twain was standing naked before me, saying softly, “I want you!”, I would be totally unaffected. UNLESS she was holding a supersized Big Mac combo – THAT might get my attention. I say I subscribe to Good housekeeping for the articles, but I swear, if they had a chocolate cake centerfold, I’d hide it under my bed. THAT’s how much food has a hold of me right now.

I’ve gotten a little too personal, haven’t I? I’m just so frustrated right now; I feel like Charlie Gordon in Flowers For Algernon, when he realized he was reverting back to his old self and would never recapture the glory he had most recently experienced. I really am stumped about my own behavior. Just like the apostle Paul, I know what is right, yet I don’t do it. My problem is now spiritual, but it would feel funny to pray for a hot bod, and I’m a little too old for that kind of foolishness anyway.

But I do know this: you never see a fat 90 year old. So, I think I’m at a crossroads in my life. I either get this under control while I’m still young enough to do something about it, or I resolve myself to weight/age related illnesses for the next 20 years, followed by an early death. I do not fear death, but I do think it would be neat to dance at my grandchildren’s weddings.

So I know what I must do. I must find a way to give food it’s proper place in my life. I have to swallow my pride and get back into the toning and cardio classes. AND, most importantly, I need to finally, finally figure out a way to make it permanent. Of corse, saying it and doing it are two completely differnt things.

By the way: I had originally included in this post a swimsuit image of the “in shape” me, because I know those of you who have met me might find my description of this time unbelievable. I just can’t bring myself to include it, though – I don’t want to give the impression that I’m an egomanic. I’m really not. I just look at that image and have a hard time believing it’s me, much less me from just a few years ago. But, if y’all demand proof, I’ll post it. But understand, even though I’m quite proud of how I looked then, I’m not really sure I want a swimsuit photo of myself plastered all over the tubes. Would you?

How Bout a Few Photos?

Here’s some various and sundry images from the past couple of weeks. Click any to embiggen.

We were some of the very first people to cross the BRAND NEW I-10 bridge. Remember when it was destroyed by hurricane Ivan?

Not much to look at, but I can tell you, to northwest Floridians, it’s a thing of beauty. Speaking of:

Trillian at the beach. Her brother:

What light beyond yonder window breaks? Here they are together, in their usual position:

I can tell you, right now, I’d rather be fishin’

Oh, and for those of you familiar with northwest Florida, a rare sight, indeed:

…a completely empty Fudpucker’s. Only in December!

But enough about the beach, let’s look at Christmas!

I think Santa did pretty good:

A good time was had by all. Even though we forgot to light the most important candle of all!

2007 Resolution Number 1 – This Blog

I’ve always felt that NOT doing something just because it is popular or cliche is just as shallow and superficial as doing something just because everybody else is doing it. (Have you ever noticed that even non-conformists seem to have a dress-code?). As a result, I’ve never joined the “I don’t do New Year’s resolutions because I’m smarter than the unwashed masses” crowd. I do them, and I do so proudly. It doesn’t matter that 90% of them fail. You can’t score if you don’t shoot the puck.

So, I’ll be posting my resolutions for the new year, one per day. Today, I turn my attention to this blog. My resolution is two-fold.

First, I’m going to move my posting times to the nighttime or early morning. I post (and read other blogs) WAY too much on company time. Although I could rationalize it and say it isn’t affecting my work, that doesn’t make it right. The Sirius Cybernetics Corporation does not pay me to read and post on blogs. (I still reserve the right to do so on my lunch hour, though).

The second part of the resolution is more vague: I want to figure out just what it is I want Shoot The Moose to be, and make it that.

I feel as if I have been missing the mark. Don’t ask me exactly what that means, I’m not sure myself. It’s more of a feeling than anything. I’m still an amateur at this; I don’t know what I’m doing half the time.

Have you ever been at a party and told what you thought was a funny joke, but it received no laughter, just uncomfortable stares? That’s how I feel in the aftermath of about 50% of my posts. My attempts at humor seem to fall flat, as do my political posts. And I obviously broke some kind of unwritten rule earlier this year when I posted one of my own songs. No reaction but crickets. Being a musician, I can tell you that the absolute worst response to a creative endeavor is a non-response. I know the blog world works differently, but I haven’t gotten used to that part yet.

During my break, I seriously considered shutting down Shoot The Moose altogether. Not in a hissy fit, taking my ball and going home kind of way, but in an admission that it had been a failed experiment. But I know I can’t do that. I write. That’s what I do, what I have done from a very early age. My preaching, songwriting, even my style of web programming, all of it springs from that creative writing spark that God put in my soul – it’s who I am. Prose is what I do, and Shoot The Moose is, short of writing a book, the best outlet for my desire to write and write often.

Also, at the risk of giving myself a little too much importance, the composite of Nashville area blogs has a distinct lack of voices from southwest Davidson county. This is not to take anything away from Kerry, Lindsay, or Holiday Grinch, (or anyone else I’ve forgotten) but each of them has their own “thing”, and I am the only person I know who is presumptuous enough to claim to be the “voice” of anyone, much less a part of town. So, I’ll take that mantle till somebody kicks me off of it.

So my task in the coming year is to figure out what I do best, do that, and drop the rest. The shotgun approach isn’t working anymore. I’ll still post the Ugly Betty recap/reviews, because I enjoy writing them and almost nobody else does it. Daddyblogging seems to be my strong suit right now, so I’ll continue doing that. Whenever I get the chance to write in the point of view of a southwest Nashvillian, I’ll try to do that, just because I think SOMEBODY ought to. That means that evey now and then, I’ll still write about politics, but hopefully from a previously unheard perspective. I’ll continue to write theological posts also, because I love bouncing “deep thoughts” off of Kat.

Everything else is up for grabs. I may leave humor, sports, and overt politics to others, because they do it far better than I do. However, I could change my mind. Like I said, these are the initial impressions I’ve gotten from my soul-searching; it could turn out that I’m totally wrong.

But my mission in the coming year is to find a focus (or two or three) for this blog. Y’all will help me, right?

If You See My Brain…

…can you please tell it to call me?

I haven’t thought about “work things” in almost 2 weeks, and this blog hasn’t gotten my attention for quite a few days. I guess I really put my heart and soul into doing Christmas.

Speaking of which, I’ve never seen so many perfect gifts for each member of the family since I was a child. The highlights:

I played it safe and got Lintilla chocolate, and a hefty gift card for Land’s End. She had already gotten the Corelle wear she wanted, because she just couldn’t wait.

Santa brought Trillian a metal detector, skate shoes (tennis shoes which have retractable wheels in them – she hasn’t taken them off since she got them), and Nintendogs (more on that in a minute).

Zaphod is getting to that age where Santa gives him fewer gifts because his wish list is quite expensive. He got a digital camera, a NEW Nintendo DS (with a note asking him to give his old one to his sister), and another game.

Finally, I mostly got things for the kitchen. I’ve never understood why common knowledge say not to give anything to a woman that involves housework or cooking. I am the primary cook / house cleaner in our family, and I must tell you the kitchen gifts I got this year couldn’t have been more perfect. I wasn’t offended in the least. I’ve always wanted one of those “stick” mixers, and I finally got one! I also got a device called “The Kettle” which deep frys, steams, and slow cooks. That, combined with various and sundry kitchen gadgets and a few items of clothing, meant I got far more for Christmas than I deserved.

Back to the kids, I must say that Nintendogs may be one of the coolest things ever. The children won’t even play with the REAL dog anymore!

All in all, we’ve had a wonderul time, both on our trip to Florida, and in celebrating Christmas. I hope y’all had as blessed of a time as we did.

Now, back to normal life!

Time’s Running Out…

…If you are going to rob my house. We’ll be home tomorrow.

The pre-Christmas trip wrap up:

Our visit with the folks was wonderful. Mom even surprised us last night with Christmas dinner!

Dad got his own Christmas miracle of sorts – an offer for a real job doing real machinist work! He’s been so disheartened being unable to do what he’s best at for all these years. It’s only part time, but he can now get his foot back in the door!

Prattville, AL reminds me of Smyrna.

I don’t think I’ll ever stay at another hotel chain besides Country Inn and Suites. Nobody comes close when it comes to comfort and service for the price.

Unfortunately, there’s a mob of basketball players staying here tonight, and I think they’re having practice in the room above ours.

If you decorate your house with kitschy beach-house kind of stuff like we do, there is no store like Bealls. Their home furnishings department is unlike any other.

Every town in the southeast has an all-Christmas station. Didn’t our own 101.1 (when it was a Christian station) invent the concept?

This past year, I went fishing with my family a total of 6 times. Total fish caught: 0 . It was SOOO frustrating to actually see these huge fish swimming right next to the pier in Ft Walton Beach, with no bites whatsoever. So far, my kids associate fishing with standing and looking at water.

See y’all back in Nashville – have a Merry Christmas, or just enjoy yourselves with whatever you do!

I Am Filled With Unutterable Loathing

So it has finally happened. The travesty known as the Duke Rape Case has been brought to a merciful end. I am so angry it is hard to type.

I know this case intimately from my hanging out at Free Republic. One of the long-time members was a court reporter from one of the nearby cities, and from time to time she’d post a little nugget of info (note: no laws were broken). Those who have followed closely know that it was a travesty from the beginning: the evidence didn’t support the charges.

I am angry beyond words. Not at prosecutor Mike Nifong, I’ll leave the outrage at him to others. Not at the accuser, what little I know about her just makes her pitiable. No, the object of my rage sits in the location of Duke University.

I am angry at Duke president Richard H Broadhead. Without hesitation he fired the coach and stopped the lacrosse program completely. I am angry at the so-called “Women’s Study” types, who marched outside the homes of completely innocent people, plastering their pictures and names everywhere, yelling at them to “come clean”. I am angry at Nancy Grace and her harping ninnies, who always assumed these boys were guilty. I am very angry at “the community” in Durham – I hope I never have to step foot in that God-Forsaken Hell-hole.

I don’t care how brilliant my children are, Duke University will never see one cent from me. I’d rather my kids go to community college than go somewhere where they’ll be left to twist in the wind at the first sign of racially and sexually loaded charges.

What we’ve had here, from the beginning, is To Kill a Mockingbird, in reverse. Had it gone to trial, I have no doubt that jury nullification would have happened against these “rich white boys”, and they would have seen long jail sentences. (I have inside information about how things work in Durham – think Memphis Machine to a power of 1000). As it is, their lives are ruined. They will forever have the cloud over their heads of being accused of something incredibly heinous.

I swear, I now feel about Duke University almost exactly as TGW does about president Bush.

My new favorite basketball teams are Vanderbilt, and whoever is playing Duke.

My Christmas Tag

Because I’ve been in a gloomy mood, and “need a little Christmas”, I barge into the Christmas tag party from Amy via Katherine. Because it’s all about meme:

Favorite Christmas Movie
The 1951 Alistair Sim version of “A Christmas Carol” called Scrooge. No other version comes close. Honorable mention: just last night, I saw Christmas with the Kranks. I liked it so much, I decided never to listen to reviews from the “cool” people I know – they don’t know my tastes.

Favorite Christmas Song
Oh, Holy night. So much theology crammed into such a beautiful song. The two best versions I’ve ever heard were by family group The Martins and the understated version by Josh Groban. The song is VERY tempting to “over-sing”, as evidenced by versions by Mariah Carey and Celine Dion. I prefer the focus to be on the song. Honorable mention: Witney Houston’s version of Do You Hear What I Hear. I wish she’s had a full choir backing her up, though.

Favorite Christmas Cookie
My daughter’s sugar cookies. She has SUCH a big heart (she baked and sold so many last year that she was able to raise enough money for 100 “personal packs” for Katrina victims). She pours all of her heart into every cookie.

Favorite Christmas Gift Ever Received
The most excited I’ve ever been was the Christmas when I was 10 years old. I got a Toss-Across, Supertoe, and a Talking Monday Night Football game. But by far the greatest gift ever was the bag of toys given to us by our church after we lost everything in our house fire.

Least Favorite Thing about Christmas
That almost everyone gets stressed out because they set the bar too high for what they think Christmas should be.

Where Would your perfect Christmas be?
Some day before I die, I want to spend Christmas (with my family, of course) in some place “Bavarian”. I don’t know why I associate Christmas with Heidi country, but I do.

Favorite part of Christmas
Tie: The excitement of my children, and the way everyone at least TRIES to be nicer and more charitable.

Favorite Christmas decoration you own
We lost most in the fire, but Lintilla has some heirloom decorations that are over 50 years old.

When do you put up the tree?
If it’s a “live tree” year, about two weeks before Christmas. If it’s an artificial year, usually the first weekend in December.

Do you wear “holiday” sweaters/sweatshirts/T-shirts?
Lintilla does. Were I to do so, my brothers would beat me senseless.

I’m actually going to add one (can I do that?):

Open Presents on Christmas Eve or Christmas day?
We do both. Lintilla grew up in a Christmas Eve family, and I grew up in a Christmas Morning family. So, we split it up. It’s a great testament to our marriage. The kids don’t enjoy it as much as you’d think – they get clothes on Christmas Eve.

Anybody else want to take a shot at this?

Family Ties

Didn’t go fishing yesterday – we still had too much shopping to do. A few observations:

Big buffets are the only place I can go that I don’t feel fat.

I really wish Middle Tennessee had a Barnhill’s Buffet. It’s like a poor man’s Golden Corral, and the food is always great. As it stands, the nearest one is in Jackson, TN.

I think I’m at a crossroads in my life healthwise, I’ll tell you more about it next week.

Pensacola feels like Murfreesboro to me.

Did you know that former WKRN personality Tom Siler is the weatherman at the local Pensacola TV station?

OK, a new direction:

Sorry I’m late with this (as you can tell I’ve been a little distracted down here). All day yesterday I had this post by Katherine Coble running through my mind. A small quote:

There are no holiday songs about a scared twelve-year-old girl having her innards ripped out while lying in the stink of a barn. There are no joyful songs about cutting (or biting) the cord and looking for water to wash the gunk from the crying baby, about wrapping him in an old towel and putting him in an overgrown dog dish.

The rest is along the same lines. I want to make it perfectly clear, I am not criticizing this line of thinking (especially when it comes to the later suffering of Christ) – I believe that it is good to fully appreciate the sacrifice our Lord made for each of us. Many times we mouth the words, but we do not really give much thought to what it really means.

But the implication of this kind of thinking is that the faith of most who call themselves Christian is superficial or weak. As a friend of mine once said, “A mile wide and an inch deep”. BUT, I think the need for stark realism when thinking of the life of Jesus, while admirable, is not a requirement for true faith, and I’ll tell you why. I’m sorry if some of you might have heard these arguments before. Let’s go back a few steps first, shall we?

When Mel Gibson released The Passion of the Christ, I noticed something very strange: most Christians were moved in a life-changing way, most non-Christians found the movie to be absolutely horrible. I asked myself “why”, and the answer I came up with surprised me: vacation slides.

(I’m old enough to remember slides, if video works better for you, use that analogy). Have you ever noticed how, when you’re watching someone else’s vacation slides (or videos), it’s incredibly boring? But the people showing them are all starry eyed, like they are watching an Oscar caliber performance? Well, that’s because THEY have an emotional connection to those images: they feature people they know and love, a special time, a special memory. To outsiders, there is no such connection.

So it was with The Passion. For Christians, it featured someone we knew, someone we spoke to every day, some one who knew us more intimately than anyone else. We felt every emotion exponentially because we were watching it happen to a member of the family. (the very HEAD of the family, indeed).

That leads us to the question at hand. Thinking of stark realism when thinking of the birth (or life) of Jesus is unthinkable, because you just don’t do that with Family.

When you celebrate your mother’s birthday, do you reflct on how she tore up your grandmother’s innards? Do you think of your siblings having bowel movements? Do you let your thoughts dwell on the thought of your own parents having sex?

No – this is what we do with those we love – we idealise them, we never dwell on those base things that are part of being human. We acknowledge the humanity of our family, but by no means do we dwell on it. Certainly by the time they are gone and we remember them, the parts of their lives that make them fully human are long forgotten, only the idealised memories.

And this is a good thing.

So, although I sort of agree with Kat, I thought I’d offer an explaination why people do this with Jesus. I hope I’ve been coherent. I haven’t yet had enough coffee.

About to leave to go Fishing in Fort Walton Beach – if there are any pictures, I’ll post ’em later.