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30th of March

Best Title Ever?


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What’s the best story title you’ve ever heard, read, seen?

One that makes you laugh, cry, hide under the covers. Maybe it does all 3 of those things. Maybe it’s one you haven’t read in a while. It could be a movie title. The name of a city you hope to visit before you die. One on your bucket list?

I’m currently working on a short story, and I’ve tentatively titled it “Lobster Meat is Sweet.” It’s silly and fun, and it makes me laugh when I read it. (Yes. It does have pertinence to the story itself.) But, that would make it even better if it didn’t have a connection.

What’s a title that cracks you up every time you read it?

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, A Good Man is Hard to Find, Brave New World, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, Where are you going?, Where have you been?, The Rockinghorse Winner, The Dead, Popular Mechanics, etc. etc.

Take a stab at it! I’d love to know some of your favorite titles. There’s SO MUCH in a name!!

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27th of March

Most Embarrassing Moment EVER.


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If you’ve read my previous blogs, you’ve learned one important thing about me already–Awkward is my middle name.

Actually, it’s Lee. But, I could go to the courthouse and get it changed, because it would be F-I-T-T-I-N-G.

Awkward is as awkward does, yes?

From Adam and Eve grabbing fig leaves to ‘hide’ their nakedness as God approached to Kanye West at any public event where a microphone is nearby, there is awkwardness in all of us.

Flawed. Imperfect. Impure. And yet, our attempts to improve are still sometimes commendable.

It’s tough for me to pick just ONE awkward moment, but if I have to, I know which one I’ll use. (Please don’t judge me until you see me doing something like this again. Then, you have the right to call me out.)

It goes like this…

When I was 10 years old, I visited my Dad, Step-Mom, and Sisters on weekends. They lived in a small community about an hour north of Monticello. My family bonded over trips to a neighboring creek, cook outs, and the occasional drive to a movie theater in Danville. We had good times, and Dad always put me up to stuff.

I can safely say that I’ve swam with water moccasins, peed on electric fences, rode a not-so-wild boar fittingly named Wilbur, and ate muscadine grapes well before being seasonally ripe. But…none of this compares to the prank my dad put me up to Winter 1994.

He said, “Brian, I bet you won’t do something.”

Never one to back down from a challenge, I replied, “Name it.”

Dad came out with a dress, high heels, and the works.

(You’re probably wondering where this is going. I was too…)

“What’re you doing with that dress?” I asked.

“I think this would fit you,” he joked.

“Sure sure,” I played along. “The shoes might be a bit small.”

He said, “You want to play a prank on a your granny?”

(I’m not a punk, I promise. It was an experiment.)

“Just for fun,” he encouraged.

I stuttered and stammered over the next few minutes, and felt like I took all day to bite. Finally, I told him to hand it over. My step-mom said I should work on my act.

(I wanted to know just how a lady in a sundress acted. But, that was the beauty of it…I was too young to really know, or, understand any of it. Other than, my dad had dared me. And, I couldn’t refuse.)

I slipped the 1980s, floral print cotton dress over, and my step-mom playfully joked, “I’ll zip you up.”

(Now, I think about this today, and I can’t help but get embarrassed.)

The shoes DIDN’T fit. Cinderella gone terribly wrong. Horribly, frightfully wrong. But, we put them on anyways. And, this is where it gets really interesting. We drove to granny’s house (well, my step-mom’s grandma’s house…so that would make her my great-step-granny’s house…yes. I got that right.), and Dad gave me the foolproof plan. I was to march to the front door with dress, purse, high heels, even tights, lip stick, and a derby hat on, and PRETEND to be her home health nurse.

**I apologize to any nurses in advance that get bad reputations because of cross-dressing, 10-year-old boys like this one.

So…the prank started when I knocked on the door. Granny answered, and Dad waved and sped off. I remember foggily entering a warm, quaint house and being urged to sit down. She said something about taking medicines and not taking some as often as she should. (My moral compass flipped on at that point for me. Guilt. Shame. The works, for what privacy of hers I was invading.)

I started to speak. To say, “Oh that’s all right,” when, I remembered my voice was starting to change. To sound manly. So, I remember having to raise it a few octaves intentionally and coax out a few pleasantries from my vocal chords.

Longest 15-20 minutes EVER.

I said something about needing to leave. Stood, noticed a run in my tights, tried to cover it, and waddled to the front door. (I think I’d even been given a cigarette as a prop, and in my haste I’d lit it to look more grown-up.)

My final words had been, “Well, toodles,” and I actually said that to Granny, remembering it from a movie somewhere, and skipped to the car.

Granny didn’t see Dad driving the car. I found out later that she told my step-mom that her home health nurse was the most quare lady she’d ever met.

We laughed all the way back to the house. Dad took the cigarette away. I was a 10-year-old and had survived an impersonation, a mission. I was too young to be THAT embarrassed. But looking back on it now…I think it takes the cake for most embarrassed I’ve ever been in my 30 years on this planet.

(And hey, for those that knew me in high school, it wasn’t the only time I had to wear something contrary for initiation’s sake.)

Life is too short to be taken too seriously. What’s your MOST embarrassing moment to-date? We all need a laugh every once in a while.

I can safely say I’ve worn men’s clothes ever since. And, I hope to for many more years to come.

 

 

 

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26th of March

Pretty Woman.


My wife is a very pretty woman. I’m a very lucky man.

l

That is all.

 

Ps. Creepy man in the background: I see you.

Pss. If you have someone in your life that you haven’t hugged lately, today is a great day to do so.

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24th of March

Movie YOU Are Most Excited About In 2015?


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My wife loves Netflix.

I love books.

You see where I’m going with this?

Neither do I.

Oh, yes, there it is again. I wanted to ask you something…

How do you balance electronic media with everything else?

I love paper books over ebooks. (Don’t tell anyone, especially my Kindle. It gets jealous.)

It’s difficult to do 3 things at once. Have you tried to read books, watch Netflix, and discuss “the real world”? We have at our home.

I’m not gifted in the multi-tasking arena, and for anyone that knows me, they are probably shouting in agreement right now.

Stop shouting at your computer. Okay. Scrap the first question. Here’s the REAL question, because media isn’t going away, and we are all learning how to deal with its many blessings (and detriments). The question is: What’s the Movie You are MOST Excited About in 2015?

Any movie. Any genre. You won’t be ridiculed, questioned, or forced to walk the plank.

GO!

 

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23rd of March

One Shining Moment(s), 2015.


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The song, One Shining Moment, written by David Barrett and performed later by Luther Vandross has become synonymous with college hoops. (CBS airs it every year during March Madness.) It’s what a lot of people assimilate with the Underdog stories of the tournament. They are always special.

I have to ask: Did you catch any of the start of March Madness last weekend?

I hope you did. It’s been quite spectacular since Thursday.

If not, that’s okay. There’s still the Sweet 16, Elite 8, Final 4, and Championship in Indy before us.

(Please don’t let my basketball excitement scare you away from my posts. I promise to venture back into other subject matter…soon.)

There’s just something so contagious about filling out the brackets each year, seeing underdogs pull off upsets (‘Thank yous’ go out to yesterday’s upsets…you know who you are), and witnessing the passion with which these young players play with, knowing each game could be their last.

The example I give of a ‘shining moment’ was one you might’ve seen over the weekend. (If not, don’t let me spoil it for you.)

**SPOILER ALERT**

There was a small, unknown team by the name of Georgia State given a 14-seed and expected to play the 3-seed, Baylor, in their region’s initial round. (Before this, the head coach (and also the father of the team’s star guard, had torn his Achilles tendon during the celebration of winning a previous conference leading up to the NCAA tournament.)

Coach Ron Hunter, and his son, R.J., made magic in the initial round of March Madness by knocking off the favored Baylor, with a last-second, deep 3-pointer by R.J. The crowd erupted, the upset was made, and Coach Hunter, who was stationed on a swivel chair, applauded and leaped/fell from it to the court. With the torn Achilles (and cast) already, and the fall, there was lots of concern for the coach’s well-being, but he admitted it was excitement, he was okay.

Hunter and his son celebrated the victory and put a team on the map…literally. Fast forward to the next round, and there was a close effort against Xavier, but Georgia State fell to them. The Cinderella experience ended. But, we discovered it was about so much more. As the press interviewed Hunter, R.J. and the other Georgia State players, we saw it wasn’t about their loss or shortcomings at all. It was a season to celebrate the memories made along the way. The people around the game!

Coach Hunter’s response is best seen (rather than told) as he reacts to the year, his team, and his son: http://ow.ly/KG0TF

It’s EPIC for all the right reasons.

These things are what make the round of 68 (formerly, 64) so great. Now, we wait for Thursday’s match-ups of more evenly matched teams. But, we won’t forget the magic of the initial rounds.

They TOO are what make March special.

 

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20th of March

When Independent Schools Close.


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I LOVE Independent Schools.

From attending one in my K-12 experience to recruiting at them in E. Kentucky 2009-2013, I love everything about them.

Do they have their shortcomings? Yes. They are not perfect.

But, where else can teachers and students co-exist as members of the same community to the same degree that an independent school permits them?

In Kentucky, the ones I’ve had the pleasure to visit had school boards closely connected to students. (The elementary-aged kids knew the high schoolers and vice versa.)

Does this make larger schools evil…no way! But, the “closely-knit community feel” is often lacking in such mega-sized environments.

I remember my college recruitment visits fondly (or, most of them anyways). And, I remember the attentiveness and the inside jokes that classmates shared at schools like Corbin, Somerset, and Pikeville. The meetings held in the media center at Hazard Independent. Prestonsburg, Barbourville, June Buchanan and Jackson Independent all working around my schedule and last-minute alterations. It was a pleasure!

The people are SUPPORTIVE. The students (despite the lack of funding and resources) are resourceful and motivated, too. The sports teams are heartfelt and united. (The small team sizes always sent Independent schools into the Class A (or, 1A) division.)

Today, I found this image on the KHSAA website regarding all-time wins for boy’s basketball programs and had to share:

ALL-TIME WINS (MIN. 1,000)
# School, Years (Won/Lost); 2013-14 Record
1,918 Ashland Blazer, 1921- (1,918-825-1); 22-10
1,854 Paducah Tilghman, 1911- (1,854-770); 15-13
1,578 Central City, 1926-90 (1,578-556); n/a
1,417 Paintsville, 1921- (1,417-1,072-2); 10-14
1,342 Newport Central Catholic, 1943- (1,342-698); 29-4
1,330 Wayne County, 1942- (1,330-803); 31-2
1,308 Lafayette, 1939- (1,308-718); 18-11
1,276 Monticello, 1911-13 (1,276-1,125); n/a
1,256 Paris, 1928- (1,256-1,097); 13-16
1,190 Mason County, 1960- (1,190-465); 21-

Seeing my alma mater’s name gave me a great bit of nostalgia. Yes. It’s been integrated into the school shown 2 rankings above it, and the 1911-2013 notation is painful to see, but I know the experiences that came from this place were once in a lifetime. For me, the staff and support at my Independent experience were second-to-none.

Larger schools are wonderful in their own rights as well. (Please hear me say that.) But, the uniqueness of a smaller school, smaller class sizes, and attention-to-detail made it a blessing. I reflect on MIS and remember the amazing people that made it a welcoming place.

To other alum and WCHS staff, thank you for welcoming this small community into yours since 2013. May the new friendships and memories keep forming.

To other schools that have closed their doors in recent years like Monticello, remember the people and the place and the time that was truly unique.

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19th of March

Funny Bone.


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“Boys, life ain’t all lollipops and roller coasters,” — my high school basketball coach, after a grueling practice, and his own bout with indigestion.

I distinctly remember him downing an entire bottle of Pepto Bismol in that same day.

Is that even safe?

EPIC.

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18th of March

Skeletons in the Closet.


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Comedian/speaker Mark Lowry once said, “We don’t help people by showing them our trophies.  We help them by showing them our scars.”

This can be an aid to those of us on social media. Let those words marinate with you today. Think about the page posts, tweets, and messages we send out. Our best profile pictures to our lowest moments behind closed doors.

If we put trophies aside and share our ugliest selves, it can help someone else who is hurting.

Skeletons in the closet can (and should) come out.

 

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17th of March

Favorite Quote of All-Time.


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What’s your FAVORITE quote of ALL-TIME?

Tall order to come up with that one, I know.

But, think about it…

….

Still thinking? That’s OK.

FAVORITE is tough to process. There are so many!

So many wise people saying wise things over the course of humanity that it’s hard to pick just one.

Maybe one didn’t jump out at you.

If you’re like me, it’s so easy to jump right into a Bible verse. Maybe Solomon or someone like King David jumps out at you? Of course there’s wisdom there…(I mean, c’mon, one of Solomon’s books was named ‘Proverbs’)… and it isn’t really fair to call Psalms unwise.

But, maybe for you a favorite quote is some bit of advice a family member told you. Something your best friend said in high school once. Now the wheels are turning!

Favorite movie quote. Favorite book quote. Favorite author. Favorite unwise quote. Regardless of what you land on, it’s still difficult to let that quote be your FAVORITE of ALL-TIME isn’t it?

Why?

Because it encapsulates all of YOU…or, it feels like it does when you share with others that it’s your most beloved, cherished, irresistible tidbit of knowledge ever bestowed upon you by someone else. Right?

So again think about it…not plural. Single. FAVORITE. ALL-TIME.

Got one in mind?

(Hey, I’m with you. This is tough for some.) It might take you an entire lifetime to land on one quote, verse, ounce of wisdom that hits you at your core like none other.

We have so many favorites we don’t know how to pick just 1. I love literature obviously. And as I read more works, I discover new phrases and revelations along the way. This path called life keeps offering new discoveries.

You hopefully have that FAVORITE. It’s OK to have more than 1. I do. But, within the realm of literature, I’ve found one of my favorites of ALL-TIME within one of my FAVORITE books of ALL-TIME: Moby Dick.

The quote goes…

“…and Heaven have mercy on us all – Presbyterians and Pagans alike – for we are all somehow dreadfully cracked about the head, and sadly need mending.”

Melville wrote it, and I always smile when I read it. There’s wisdom, humor, & universality to it. It is a quote that I get, and it gets me. Such a great book. It’s filled with life-lessons and adventure. It’s a book that I love reading.

Like literature, FAVORITE(S) can come from anywhere. FAVORITE song lyric. FAVORITE expression from a celebrity. Steve Martin once said, “A day without sunshine is like, you know, night.” Maybe that fits into a FAVORITE category for you.

Regardless, it’s safe to say life is too short to not have some FAVORITE somethings.

One final time: What’s YOURS?

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16th of March

Selection Sunday, Bracket Monday.


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Any sports fans out there?

How about NCAA college hoops fans?

Do you enjoy the spectacle that is NCAA bracketology?

Yesterday was ‘Selection Sunday,’ and I love that the bracket list of teams has grown even larger. (It’s now at 68 teams!)

Before we know it, March Madness will seriously take the entire months of March, April, and May to complete. Smiley face from this guy, if that happens!

And like every die-hard basketball fan, I printed my bracket this fine, Monday morning. Selection Sunday yields Bracket MONDAY!

Now what?

The picks of course.

If you’re reading this and thinking, Brian has gone off the deep end. You’re probably not alone in your thinking. But hear me out.

Imagine a month every year where maybe it’s your favorite movies of all-time are being re-played in a theater near you. Could you imagine getting to see Terminator 2 played in IMAX? What about watching T2 and then Weekend at Bernie’s back-to-back? Or, pretend you’re given backstage passes for all of Bonnaroo music festival and your favorite bands are requesting your presence.

Wouldn’t that make your 2015 more entertaining? More memorable like the 4th of July, vacation, and your birthday all rolled into one?

Except get this…the outcomes are unknown until the final buzzer!

This is what takes it to the next level. We don’t know if a #1 seed will get past an #8 or even a #16. UPSETS are sometimes a GOOD thing. (I know this is contrary to everyday thinking and really doesn’t work anywhere else.)

But, to contrast it again with a string of your favorite movies being replayed in theaters or given Bonnaroo passes. Imagine the movie theater owner telling you that you get to rewrite the endings of the classics (scary thought, huh?). Or, the Bonnaroo manager saying, “You play the tambourine? Great. Get on-stage and open for Cage the Elephant. Or, better yet, how about you just stay up there and play alongside them. See what happens.”

These might be SLIGHT exaggerations to my initial point. But let me just repeat this: MARCH is fun now.

[And not just mediocre fun like eating at a pizza buffet or walking a dog around your neighborhood.]

Think bigger.

Even if you don’t enjoy the game of basketball, I encourage you to fill out a bracket this year…today. Pick Teams. Even if you do it based on their names alone. This one sounds funny. This one doesn’t. What’s a Villanova? Is that an ice cream flavor? Where in the world is Hampton? All good questions. Use them in YOUR process.

It seems that the best way to describe this time of year is the word– user-friendly.

You get to pick the rounds, consider the spread, and watch 1 game (or, 8 games if you’re capable) at any given time.

Enjoy them from the comfort of your favorite chair or take a trip to one of the tournament regions, cheer on the team that’s name sounds like an ice cream flavor.

It’s your only chance before April (a time when many will go one to the professional level and the NBA [lowers voice a few octaves]).

The NBA is okay. The NCAA is what makes an otherwise dreary time of the year (at least for the mid-west, mid-south, mid-north, and northeast US) bearable and then some.

ENJOY!

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