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When stones roll.


The recent murders in Egypt and a Rolling Stones song came up in a conversation tonight.

We were sitting around a table, a friend said that the song “Gimme Shelter” by the Stones was referenced concerning war and the impact it had on both a physical and spiritual level.

The lyrics especially in the first 3 verses stating:

Yeah, a storm is threatening
My very life today
If I don’t get some shelter
Lord, I’m gonna fade away

War, children, yeah, it’s just a shot away
It’s just a shot away
War, children, yeah, it’s just a shot away
It’s just a shot away, hey, yeah

Oh, see the fire is sweepin’
At our streets today
Burnin’ like a red coal carpet
A mad bull lost its way

These lyrics and words like “storm,” “shelter,” “children,” “shot,” and “fire” all create a stark contrast to the image of peace and love. The imagery of a storm threatening your health is probably something you can relate and maybe have even been subjected to in your life. Likewise, the notion of a fire burning wild like a wildfire in the western US might come to mind. Maybe you’ve lived out on the west coast, and this is something you’ve come to witness in your lifetime?

If you are like me, you can connect with most of the descriptions the song introduces, but the threat of losing your life might be too far-fetched. Do I realize that war is “just a shot away”? Yes. That makes sense. War is often started when the first bullet flies.

But the imagery of losing my life from this shot, war, and/or fire is almost other-worldly.

The 21 Christians that sacrificed their lives were all uttering prayers that echoed the lyrics above. Hana Aziz is quoted on CNN as saying that the men from his village were saying “God, have mercy on us,” even up to their last moments alive.

I haven’t seen the footage or watched many of the interviews that have taken place since the slaughter, but I can’t help but see the similarity in the song’s final words and the result of these men losing their lives. The lyrics “it’s just a kiss away” makes even more sense to me. The notion that if affection and love aren’t exhibited (and are replaced with hatred and malice) then, war looms on the horizon.

I pray for the village of Al Aour and those mourning the loss of these men. While these men weren’t able to celebrate this past Christmas and the holidays with their families, they are now at rest. May the mother that wasn’t able to prepare their favorite meals understand that their fate is sealed in a much better place. She need not worry about them, because they stood for the greatest cause.

They have been given permanent shelter.

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Cheers, Monk’s Cafe, Central Perk…a place.


The innate desire to belong somewhere (to something) is universal.

I love shows such as Cheers where there’s a sense of ownership in a place. The crew that hung out in that Boston pub had a real bond. It was a place where they all congregated and rehashed what happened in their daily lives.

I know, I know. It was a show. Much like Seinfeld, Friends, The Office, How I Met Your Mother, the list goes on and on. But, the premise was always the same in each show. Friends doing life together and enjoying the accompaniment along the way. It was never solely focused on the work the characters did or the successes they experienced professionally. Instead, it was always focused on the relationships they held and the memories they formed.

Real life requires authenticity.

But, like the shows, people want to feel as if they have places where they can truly belong. I find myself searching for awesome places to hang with friends even now. Whether it’s driving to The Growler in Chattanooga and watching a game with a buddy, or, making a pit-stop downtown at Burn’s on a Thursday. I’m learning that loving people and having a strong sense of place is important. Is there a favorite spot where life seems to slow down (or, speed up) and provide some amazing memories for you?

Here’s to a nice 2015 of finding “the spot” where you and some buddies can meet up and take in the scenery. If you are in the Scenic City sometime, give me a call and we’ll drop by The Terminal or something. Life is too short to not have camaraderie.


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God made Dr. James Naismith, and Naismith begat basketball.


Every March, basketball reigns supreme for many across the US. You won’t see much else on TV from now until mid-April.

It rains 3-pointers most of the year in my home state of Kentucky. In-season, out-of-season, and summer league all seem to run together. We played the game even when we didn’t have a proper ball growing up. (I remember using volleyballs, soccer balls, and even kick balls to throw through hoops during the years of grade school.)

Nowhere will you see such ravenous basketball fans than those that support BBN! Many of us have to remind ourselves that it is (truly…painfully) just a game. Not an idol or any such business to be adored more than it should.

But…it sure is fun to watch.

I see it as a gift.

Glad that God made James Naismith who, in turn, made the game of basketball. Sure he was from Canada, founded another program we don’t speak of too much in the bluegrass state *ahem* KU, and held a less than impressive 55-60 head coaching record in his time, but Naismith got this invention right.

Sure, stress levels are through the roof and the work productivity from Monticello to Covington to Paducah to Pikeville slows to a crawl each year, but the game is amazing to behold.

Questions we find ourselves asking: Will the sophomores step up like they did last year? Can Booker shoot 50% from 3-pt range? Does Cauley-Stein have enough mean bones in his body to be a dominant big man in March? All valid questions and equal to asking things such as: “Should we call off school today because of bad weather or not?” and “How’s your mom doing?”

I love the stress. It is something akin to the fear one has before taking off in an airplane. It’s unsettling and fun all at once.

To quote Mr. David Bowie, “Let’s dance!”



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When Modest Mouse tickets sell out.

Modest Mouse is a funny name for a band, but they are good. Remember that song “Float on”? That one got them international acclaim, but they’ve somehow been able to remain largely popular and quirky, despite all of the competing notions that come with being a well-known rock outfit.

I wouldn’t go so far as to say they are a household name like the Stones or anything. But…their Good News for People who Love Bad News album was a top hit on mainstream pop/rock charts. But this notoriety came in 2004 (11 years after their formation in 1993), and it was their fourth album. Other hits like “Dashboard” followed this album, but none recast them in the same popular sphere that the GNFPWLBN album did.

Fast forward to today, Feb. 19th, 2015. It’s been eight years since the band really created any new music, and here they are showing up in Chattanooga on March 10th.

Yes!! They are playing in my backyard. Well, not my backyard but a place called Track 29. It’s a cool locale. Kinda like Bogart’s in Cincinnati. Tons of floor space and lots of room to wiggle around to jams like “Cowboy Dan”.

So, here’s my dilemma. Apparently Modest Mouse stock has gone waaaay up since the last time I checked them out on Spotify.

How did I know they were playing in our town? Gmail. When did the email arrive? The day after Valentine’s day. When did I click on it? 2/15. What did I see when I went to Track 29’s website that same day? SOLD OUT. That’s right. The little band that made it big, but kept the quirkiness has come to town for the first time in about a decade.

And…in the time it took me to receive the email and check the venue page, the concert has sold out. Of course, my other options are to visit Florida or Winnipeg or someplace uniquely their own. (What was Hooter’s slogan? “Delightfully tacky yet unrefined”?) But maybe that’s what I need to do.

They’re an eclectic band. Maybe I need to go to Canada (or somewhere I’m not used to going) to get the full experience. Wait…hold on. I clicked on a link just now advertising remaining Track 29 tix for MM and guess what? Some joker online is upselling them for $200 a pop. They were originally 45-50/each.

Maybe I just need to take the bait and buy 2 tix. here in town. (Maybe, like a lot of things in life, the lesson learned is that sometimes I don’t need the things that I think are so essential?)

Or, maybe…just maybe I will find some options in Winnipeg. Either way, I need the rock music. ASAP.

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To the Octopus…


Dear Mr/Ms. Octopus roaming inside the tank at the Chattanooga Aquarium:

I imagine you enjoy your time inside the tank. What with all the visitors and pictures and popularity. When we spotted you, I had to take one too. I turned the flash off, because the sign said it could disturb you and I didn’t want to do that. My wife and friend pointed out the toys that you had in the tank with you. We didn’t know you had such an affinity for games. Have you played Marco Polo before? It’s great.

I apologize in advance if you overheard about someone bothering the sturgeons. The sign stating “Only touch them with 2 fingers” wasn’t clearly visible. And no…I did not pick one up out of the water. That is all apart of the rumor mill. The sturgeon didn’t seem to mind anyways.

So…is the water cold? That’s what I really wanted to ask you. With it snowing and sleeting and making Tennessee like a large igloo, I wanted to know if the tank was likewise. Do you know it’s winter here?

If you were roaming the seas would you note the change in the ocean’s temperature from season-to-season?

Sure you would. You’re an octopus. You know things.

I’m sorry about the sturgeon. The openness of the tank makes it too easy to bother them. I’ll know next time what not to do.

Have a nice day in the water. I’ll be in the snow.


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Film Trumps Movie.


Clint Eastwood is 84 years old and going strong. I watched American Sniper a few weeks ago and realized just how firm a grip he still has on directing a well-formulated film (true story or not). In the case of American Sniper, he really keeps the viewer engaged from beginning to end.

Another lesser known gem of Eastwood’s is the 1993 film A Perfect World starring Kevin Costner, Eastwood, and Laura Dern. Did you see that one?

It’s the one where Costner, aka Butch, plays an escaped convict that is pursued by Eastwood (Texas ranger) and befriends a boy, Phillip. The tone is amazing, and it is really one of the more overlooked films of the 90s and ultimately Eastwood’s career.

Phillip is a boy with a fairly broken childhood home. Costner is the least likely person (captor) to come along and sweep the boy away…teaching him some life lessons and evading authorities across Texas.

I’ve said too much, but I do think it’s one that you should check out. If you haven’t seen it, it’s one to find SOON. (It might have to be purchased, because I haven’t seen it on Netflix, Redbox, or anywhere digital recently.)

But, suffice it to say, this is one that should be savored. It has an all-star cast, but it also has something which allows it to fall into the ‘film’ category rather than just being another sentimental ‘movie’.

It is what Unforgiven, Gran Torino, and The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly all were. Films that offered a fresh perspective on universal stories that we’ve all heard. From towns that need a reckoning to good Samaritans standing up to fight for what is right, they all had an amazing storyline with a directorial eye that helped them become something larger than just a 2-hour show.

A Perfect World envisioned a scenario where a convict helped a fatherless boy, but the execution is so much more. Again, I’ve said too much.

What is your ‘film’ you need to go revisit? Maybe there is one that you haven’t discovered yet. I thank Mr. Eastwood for this one.

Thoughts? Nostalgia?

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On the rocks.



You ever have a day that didn’t seem to let up?

I do anytime I take the car “in” to get it checked.

Today was one of those days.

A snow day permitted me to take the Jeep in for servicing. I went and did an oil change.

Check mark in the (Win) column correct?

Oh if only the story could stop there. Haha (maniacal laugh)

The option to get the brakes, exhaust, and suspension checked was given by the automotive manager. *I had needed to do this anyways. The exhaust was sputtering, brakes have never ever been changed, and the struts had had issues in the past.*

So I said yes…? And they did this with a follow-up estimate. Suffice it to say that the estimate took my breath away. Albeit the brakes were fine, the exhaust too. But, the struts….man, the struts were the hitch in my giddy-up.

The manager was kind enough to recommend another option. God bless him.

I called Detroit. Yes. The main office for Chrysler.

I was given a case number. I took the case number and somehow managed to get a second opinion from an authorized dealer in the same day. The dealer and Detroit were intertwined in the same conversation. The results…the struts weren’t the central problem. Detroit wouldn’t uphold the case. The service center charged for their inspection as well.

It is, by this point, 5:30pm. My wife is picking me up from their lot and I have to let the car “sit” tomorrow during another potential snow day. The Jeep is inoperable.. Unfit to drive until further action is taken.

The question: what action should be taken? Oh how I love the moments right before an operation. My options at this point are to operate for the price of a kidney or my firstborn, unborn child. I know my wife will not be happy with either option.

Whoever said balancing and saving money was easy obviously never had to maintain a car in the 21st century. All I know is this–I’m happy it’s 6:30pm and the Jeep is parked at our house, as the temperature drops down down down (insert Johnny Cash voice).

I hope and pray your vehicle is working for you today. May your tomorrow be safe, and the weather cooperative. Happy trails!



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What’s in a name?


What’s in a name?

Are you happy with yours?

We’ve all got one. Like that quote from the French Taunter in Monty Python and the Holy Grail when he says “We’ve already got one.”

Mine is fairly common. Universal really. Brian. When called aloud in a group of people, 9-12 heads typically turn around.

What about yours? What does your name mean? I try to find significance in it. I’m thankful for mine’s simplicity, but I find the commonality unsettling.

As my wife and I near the possibility of expanding our homestead, I love to think up names that are just plain obscure. She is patient with me; she humors me. Names like Santiago, Ishmael, and Demetri. They are worthy of remembering. Right? I love Magnus, Ludwig, and Apache.

Would you name a kid Helga or Bartholomew? Even with the risk of forthcoming playground fights (and ridicule), I think there’s something exciting about offering a name that is unusual.


then I think about what even the common names stand for. What does yours mean?

I looked ‘Brian’ up. It has its meaning based in Celtic origins with descriptors such as “high” and “noble.” That makes me feel a little better.

I recommend doing some research. Unless you change it, it will be something that follows you around for a lifetime. Sure, I think unusual words are more fun, but I now also think the meaning behind common words can be impactful as well.

Use this site for your own investigating: Let me know if you are happy with the meaning behind your name.




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Valentine’s Day!


3 saints are all argued to have played a part in the formation of this national day of pink. According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, one was a priest in Rome, the second one was a bishop of Interamna (now Terni, Italy) and the third was a martyr in the Roman province of Africa.

Whether St. Valentine (Valentinus) was in love with his jailer’s daughter or not (and left a note that really said, “From your Valentine” before being beheaded) really isn’t the main draw for this holiday. Is it?

We can try to reduce it to sugar, flowers, etc., but there seems to be more here. Although, Hallmark does love the confusion…and pressure that men face in delivering on it.

But at the end of the day there’s this very real need for connection.

I mean, today, I saw hundreds of people walking the streets in downtown Chattanooga holding hands, trying to hold hands, and Dudley Do-Rights taking kids to aquariums and things. It was beautiful and unsettling all at once.

We as humans genuinely crave to be loved. This one day just seems to showcase how great that need is. We don’t want to be left alone. Especially on 2/14. Like musical chairs, we hear the music playing and if it does stop, we don’t want to be without a seat.

So. I took note of the couples that seemed genuinely happy. The ones not trying to hold hands out of obligation or FORCING it. There was one couple that genuinely enjoyed the aquarium it seemed. They didn’t corral one another to take pictures at every exhibit and even seemed to relish in the butterfly garden.

It made me appreciate Saturday (and time with my friends) even more. Valentine’s Day or not–it was pleasant. Seeing that couple just absorb the sights and sounds of a weekend and take delight in being together was refreshing. It helped me to look at my own family’s joy and realize we need 2/14 more than just today.

Additional note: Keebler elves now apparently make Red Velvet fudge-striped cookies as well.


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Did you hear?

Hi, awesome reader friend. Fennek

Did you hear?

I guess a better question would be “Did you see?” Like, “Did you see my new webpage?” Yeah. That’s more appropriate. Well, I hope so. You’re staring right at it, if you’re reading this.

Check out this new page.

Compliments of my friend, Mark Love. He’s clever and helpful and resourceful. I told him a week ago about a need for a website, and Voila! 7 days later and here’s a new site. Mark has revamped the old look from yesteryear on WordPress, and I appreciate him for it.


“Did you see this new page?” Pretty killer huh?!

I will try to keep it up-to-date. Like a new car, I want to keep all of the dirt, dust, and bird poo away from the exterior, and it requires a lot of maintenance. May the WordPress one RIP. Here’s to a better 2015 with this one. (I must embrace my inner Mark Zuckerberg and Steve Jobs.)

I’ll try to use it for book updates. Btw, there’s a new project (First-Novel) in the revisionary process right now! I’m nervous about that because…I’ve never written a full-length book before. The story collection from Summer 2014, Baptisms & Dogs, is it thus far. (By the way, there’s a cool giveaway going on over at Goodreads for a signed copy of the book:

Feel free to enter. It’s FREE!

Thank you for checking out this new page. May it be a place you return to, and I’ll try to keep this blog fresh and entertaining for you.

If you have funny tidbits of information, random thoughts, inspirational dialogue, and/or a zany personality feel free to share it on here and message me. I look forward to your participation and enjoyment of this literary, virtual space. As the Foo Fighters once sang, “Keep it Clean,” and we shouldn’t have any hiccups.

The World Wide Web is accessible, even to those of us that aren’t so techy. There. I said it.