Tuesday, November 29, 2011

It’s the Chicken Man*

*with apologies to Toy Story 2 from where I got that line

My younger son (my nine-year old) loves fried chicken.

Let me rephrase that. My younger son is crazy about fried chicken.

Awhile back, Food Network did a show about a fried chicken battle between two places in Pittsburg, Kansas: Chicken Mary’s and Chicken Annie’s. Chicken Mary’s won the competition.

Since that show, my son has been begging us to go to Kansas for vacation, solely for the purpose of eating chicken. However, that’s only part of it. He added chicken from Chicken Mary’s to his Christmas List, asking that Santa bring him a take-out order. My Uncle Steve has jokingly suggested that we get a take-out box from Chicken Mary’s, put leftover chicken bones in it, and then leave a note from Santa with an apology that says “he just got hungry.”

Recently, an online article about the “best chicken places in the U.S.” caught my eye. I read the article and noticed that one of the places, Mama Dip’s, was located in Chapel Hill, NC, less than an hour from where I grew up. Knowing that we were headed to NC for Thanksgiving, we planned a trip to Mama Dip’s. My younger son was ecstatic.

The evening came and went. The chicken was delicious. My son declared it “better than KFC.” (Granted, we hoped it would at least be that.) However, he talked about moving on to bigger things. He still wants to go to Chicken Mary’s. He still wants Santa to bring him take-out.

What’s the strangest gift your kids have ever asked you for?

Pictures of Mama Dip's from http://www.chapelhillmemories.com/. Picture of Chicken Mary's from http://www.city-data.com/.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Christmas Music War

My wife and I disagree over the proper time to begin playing Christmas music. She believes that Christmas music shouldn’t be played until December 1st and definitely not until after Thanksgiving. Me, I prefer to start the seasonal listening early.

I know I’m not the only person who likes to hear Christmas music early. One of my favorite movies, The Rookie, brushes on this. The movie is based on the life of Jimmy Morris, a high school teacher and baseball coach that realized his dream of playing major league baseball. The movie stars Dennis Quaid in the lead role. In one scene, Quaid’s character is eating at a diner. The patrons are chatting, when Morris notes the song in the background.

(Chestnuts roasting on an open fire…)
Jimmy Morris: Frank, ain’t it a little late to be playing that song?
Frank (the proprietor): It’s 8:30.
Jimmy Morris: It’s March.

The proprietor responds that the song is too good to be played only one month of the year.

As I said earlier, my wife is a “Christmas music begins December 1st” kind of woman. When she drives my car, she sometimes winces when she turns on the radio.
“Honey, why are you playing Christmas music?” she asks.
“It’s that time of year.”
“It’s early November.”
“I like it. It’s a radio station. I can’t be the only one who likes it or there wouldn’t be a market for it.”
“It’s not even Thanksgiving yet!”

My view extends to movies. My favorite is Miracle on 34th Street. As Christmas approached one year, I asked my wife, “Do you want to watch Miracle this evening?”
“Not tonight, Honey. I have a headache.”
I try again a few days later, “Do you want to watch Miracle tonight?”
“I don’t feel like it. Maybe in a couple of days.”
This continued. On Christmas Day, I asked one last time. “How about (Miracle) tonight?”
“I’m too tired. Tomorrow, I promise!”
Come tomorrow, she says to me, “Christmas is over. We need to wait until next year.”
If we must adhere to her policy, we should at least find a time during the holidays where we actually do watch the film.

So what do you think? When is the proper time to listen to Christmas music?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


I’m still in a little bit of shock.

A few months ago, when I submitted a short story for a Christmas anthology, I was hopeful, but didn’t know how much of a chance I had. Also, it’s difficult to get your head into a Christmas setting with the summer sun beating down on you. I once heard that Christmas CDs are recorded during the summer and that the decorate the recording studios with Christmas decorations to get the artists in the mood. I thought I would try something similar, so I played Christmas music in the car on my commute.

I submitted my story

And now it’s out. I’m one of five authors in a book called Hot Cocoa for the Heart, a Christmas anthology from Highland Press.

It can be purchased at Amazon or Barnes & Noble. A Kindle version is also available. I’ll hope you do me the honor of checking it out. Below is a blurb from the book. I thank you.

Five poignant stories straight from the heart. From soldiers wounded in action during World War II and Iraq, to how the aftermath of car crashes affected peoples' lives, to a dedicated woman who teaches itinerant deaf students. Pull up a chair, grab a cup of hot cocoa, and immerse yourself in their trials, triumphs and tears.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Season's End

The football season ended too early.

I know the college and pro seasons still have a ways to go. However, the one I cared about the most, my younger son’s team, is nothing but a memory. When the final buzzer blew and the 9-year old Mill Creek Hawks were on the wrong end of a 31-21 scoreboard, a football season that had seen bunch of boys earn a #1 seeding in the playoffs came an abrupt end in the quarter finals. It was the only loss of the season. Unfortunately, it was one too many and came at the wrong time.

We finished the season with a banquet that included trophies and awards, along with a lot of Mill Creek related football wear. Some kids have moved on to basketball season. For us, we’ll take a break. Baseball sign-ups are in January and both my kids are ready to play. We’ll see some of the kids and parents in the other dugouts. We’ll shake hands and catch up, but it won’t be the same. It wasn’t last year after the end of the 2010 football season.

The season actually began in July this year with speed and agility camps. In August, tryouts were held and teams picked. The kids practiced five days a week for two weeks, then shifted to three days a week after that for the start of the season. The regular season continued for nine weeks, eight games and one bye. The football field where the team practiced got a lot of use. There were five or six teams on it for every practice, working in 20- 25 yard areas (and the end zone), all taking their turns on the equipment. When the younger kids vacated at 7:30 p.m., another five teams of older kids showed up to use the field from 7:30 to 9:00.

During practice, parents sat in the stands in bunches, trying to figure out what the kids were working on. A number of parents took advantage of the track that surrounds the field, getting in some exercise, though not nearly as much as their kids. Each practice, I logged between 2-3 miles. It kept me healthy. However, what was more fun was walking each practice with two of the other dads. Did it slow us down to walk together? Yes. At the same time, it was an opportunity for all of us to downshift after a hard day’s work. My wife, whose hobby is origami and who is the most wonderfully creative person I’ve ever known, created various spirit-type items for pep rallies and game days throughout the season. She loves doing it, because she loves the atmosphere, the camaraderie of the season, and the people we get to spend fall with.

This past Saturday, my son’s elementary school had its fall festival. I ran into one of the dads from the 2010 season. It was great to see him and we talked a while. He spent the 2011 season on another field, watching his kids play on another 9-year old Mill Creek team. It will likely be the same next season. Some of the parents we see next season will be the same ones we saw this season. Some will be on other teams. It’s a fact of life. This entire group won’t be together again. One of the coaches for my son’s team lives down the street from us. His son and mine play together all the time. They were on the same team both this season and last season, but there’s no guarantee they’ll be on the same team next year.

Still, I look forward to next year. I hope my son gets picked by a team that has as many of the same kids as this year.

Because this year’s team had a wonderful group of parents.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

A Last Look at Halloween

Being a Dad means walking down the street with a pint-size werewolf and asking him how school went that day, being thankful that the weather is nice, despite the freezing temperatures from the morning, and understanding why Halloween is the 2nd biggest commercial holiday of the year.

It's about the kids.

See you next week.