Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Trip to Nashville, Book 5: Central Time

As you drive through the great state of Tennessee, an amazing phenomenon occurs. Somewhere between Knoxville and Nashville on I-40, you slip an hour back in time. One second it's 4:34pm, the next, it's 3:34pm. Isn't that cool? No flux capacitor required. Just a simple trip over an imaginary line drawn on a map of the United States.

The drawback is that if you drive back east, you go back to the future. Or the present. One hour that was gained is lost once more.

But I'm really beginning to grasp the concept of Central Time. When I was a kid, I hated it. I thought it was strange. The news doesn't come on at 6 o'clock here. It comes on at 5. That's weird. The 11 o'clock news doesn't come on at 11. It comes on at 10. What's up with that? And your primetime programs? An hour earlier on the schedule.

From a television standpoint there's no difference. They're shown at the same time here as they are there. It's just that when Lost comes on at 10 on the east coast, it comes on at 9 (simultaneously) in the Central Zone. Not that I really need to explain this, it's fairly simple to grasp.

But as an adult, I'm seeing the pros to this time zone. See, I love watching things like Lost, which comes on at 10 back home. But here it would come on at 9. I tell ya, at this age, it's getting harder to stay up 'til 11 just to watch a TV show. Staying up 'til 10 would be so much easier.

Look out Central Time Zone. When I get out of seminary, I may be looking to come back to the past on a more permanant basis.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Trip to Nashville, Book 4: A Reunion of Epic Proportions

It's that time of year again! That's right, time for the family reunion. Time for a 7 hour drive from Roanoke to Nashville. Time for a cookout at the F.O.P. lodge. Time to see people whose names I may or may not know.

Okay, I enjoy seeing family. Mostly. I enjoy seeing family members I know. Anyone else get the impression at family reunions that for every person you know, there's someone else you don't know? And amazingly, you don't know them, but they know you. Or at least they did twenty years ago when you were 7 years old and 3 foot 6 inches tall. "Oh, you've gotten so big!"

And then there are the people that you just know you're not related to at all. Not even a little bit. People who somehow find out there will be free burgers and dogs.

In the past these reunions were fun. I was a kid. The cousins were kids. We played some kind of outdoor sports and ran around doing the things that little kids do. Now we're adults. We know what the grown-ups were talking about when they sat around under the big maple tree. How do we know? 'Cause they're still talking about the same things, and we're involved in the conversation now.

This year was a little more difficult than years past. This was the first reunion without dad. So, of course, there were a lot of comments about how much he was missed. I love my dad, I miss him every day. But I just didn't want to be reminded of all that grief all over again. So I had a hard time today. And I'll have a hard time tomorrow when my grandparents are there.

I'm not saying I'll have an emotional breakdown. Though it's been awhile. Stay tuned.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Liberty Meadows

I've generally been disappointed by the funny pages since the end of "Calvin & Hobbes" and "The Far Side." These days, comic strips just aren't all that clever or even, in my humble opinion, that well drawn. "For Better or For Worse" is probably the best one that sees major syndication, but even that is hit or miss with the funny.

A few months ago I ran across a little strip on the internet called "Liberty Meadows." This strip no longer sees syndication, and hasn't for some time. "Liberty Meadows" is written and drawn by Frank Cho and is seriously the best thing since "Calvin & Hobbes."

It takes place at an animal sanctuary called, get this, Liberty Meadows. We follow the adventures of a motley crew consisting of people and anthropomorphic animals.

The main characters are Brandy Carter and Frank Mellish. Brandy is the resident animal psychiatrist. One of those girls that's smart, beautiful, and is the most rational and sensible one of the lot. Frank is the veterinarian who is head over heels in love with Brandy. But like myself, he's too shy or scared to do anything about it. Mostly, it is a love story between these two.

Also at the sanctuary, providing a great deal of the comic relief, are the animals that are being protected. Dean is a sexist pig and former fraternity mascot. No, really, he's a pig. And he's in detox. Ralph is a retired midget circus bear who likes to invent things. Leslie is a frog with some pretty serious hypochondria. And then there's Truman, a baby duck that was saved from an oil spill, and his best friend, Oscar the dachshund.

The comic has been labeled "adult themed," which to me means, kids won't get it. It's no more vulgar than most of what's on TV. Actually, it's pretty tame by TV standards. So if you get a chance, check it out. There are four collected volumes of the strips, and Cho is trying to put out more in comic book form in the future. Here's hoping there's more. 'Cause it'd be nice to see Frank and Brandy finally get together. Might give a shy, scared guy like me a little hope.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Awake in the Darkness

Tonight is one of those nights. It's midnight and I just can't sleep. I've been trying to fall asleep for the last couple hours, but I just can't. And really, isn't that a contradiction? Trying to fall asleep? I guess that's impossible. If you're gonna fall asleep, you just do it. There is no try (thank you Yoda).

I am obviously not sleeping at this moment. So I'm left to fill the time with the meaningless ramblings of an insomniac.

For awhile I was watching National Treasure on DVD. Good movie. I liked it so much that I saw it twice when it was in the theater. However, I did fall asleep the second time I watched it. Not because I was bored with it. I was just that tired. Maybe I chose to watch that movie hoping I would get those old feelings, but alas, I'm still awake. The movie ended, so I restarted it. Still awake.

Now the TV is off. I set the "sleep" timer on it, hoping against hope that I would be asleep by now. But it's off and I'm not yet asleep.

For awhile I just laid here in bed listening to the sound of the fan on my desk. A nice, soothing, white noise kind of sound. And the thoughts began to flow. And for some reason I began thinking about Dad.

I've done that a lot lately. Last Thursday morning I got to work and was waiting around for the day's assigned duties. I started thinking about him then. Somehow it became so overwhelming that I nearly broke into tears. I didn't though. Manhood intact.

So tonight, as I lay awake in the dark, my mind wandered back to Dad yet again. Really there isn't a day that goes by that I don't think about him at some point. But sometimes, like now, the thoughts go deeper than just a passing remembrance. The thoughts turn into another realization of just how much I miss him. Another realization of just how much my heart aches.

I want so badly to talk to him about movies I've seen lately. About how frustrating my favorite TV shows are when I'm left with cliffhangers at season's end. About how scared and excited I am to start fresh with seminary in the fall. About how much I appreciated him always being there for me. About how sorry I am for not always showing it.

So now what do I do? Do I try, again, to go to sleep? My brain, flooded with thoughts and feelings and memories? I'm not really expecting an answer to this. I know I'll get sleep eventually. It's inevitable. My body will become so tired that I won't have a choice in the matter. But what do I do 'til then?

Thursday, May 17, 2007

What's Going On?

It's been about three weeks since I last posted on this blog. I have no real excuses, other than I just didn't think to write anything. Nor did I think about anything to write. Well, it's been three weeks. Here's a little of what I've been up to.

I saw Spider-Man 3. At a midnight showing. Was it worth it? Yes. Was it as good as I thought it would be? No. I liked it, but I'd be lying if I said I wasn't disappointed a bit. Too many villains. Too much story. I really think it could've been split into two seperate films. Overall I enjoyed it. But the second one was better.

One day last week I got very lucky. I called Toys R Us and got some good news. And after receiving this good news, I got in my car and drove very quickly across town. Why? So I could make a semi-major purchase. So I could buy a Nintendo Wii. Yes, I got an elusive Wii gaming system. And let me tell you, it is fun. When I was a kid, I used to play Nintendo a lot. So much that my thumbs would begin hurting. I never thought I would see the day when my entire upper body would ache after playing a video game. It's a pretty neat innovation. I like it a lot.

I've been working at the Western Virginia Water Authority. It's part-time. It's temporary. I was hired with the impression that I would be doing office work. I've been mostly riding around with others while they turn off delinquent customers or recheck water meters or replace ancient water meters. Since I know little to nothing about the technical side of working with water lines, this translates to me standing around taking notes on work orders. Which mostly just translates to me standing around doing nothing. I'm unhappy with it. But I'm gonna stick it out. 'Cause it's nice to get a small paycheck every other week.

I suppose that's about it. I didn't promise anything exciting. I'm sorry for the lapse in posts. More to come.