Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Highly Suspicious: Part III

In order to cut the number of offended readers dramatically, I have decided to change the Don't trust list to the be highly suspicious list.

1. Anyone who claims a favorite band/singer and can't spell their name is Highly Suspicious

I am a fan of authenticity. And honestly, I can not trust someone who can't spell the name of their favorite singer. Think about how many times you see their name if you listen to them regularly. Especially in our ipod age, it is something like ten million.

So, if you are a fan, be able to spell it!


Lynyrd Skynyrd (If they put a vowel in there, walk away); Beetles (That is a bug not a band); Red Hot Chili Peppers; Willie Nelson; Bruce Springsteen

2. Any male pre-med student who claims his dream is to be an ObGyn is Highly Suspcious

3. Any girl that claims her favorite books include any two of the following:

- Redeeming Love
- Captivating
- Boy Meets Girl
- I Kissed Dating Goodbye
- Passion and Purity

Guys, if you are reading this. Heads up. Highly suspicious.

4. Anyone who has updated their Facebook status more than 8 times in one day is highly suspicious.

In the interest of full disclosure, I have done this. Yes, I felt lame.

5. Any white person that rolls up their windows while listening to rap at an intersection

I have also done this.

6. Anyone who will go out of their way to make fun of the current or past president

A. It is soo played out
B. You probably don't know what you are talking about becuase if you were an expert in the field they would come up naturally

7. Anyone who says that Slumdog Millionaire is their favorite movie

If you say that in five years, I might actually start to believe you

Monday, April 27, 2009

Mama's Boy

Although she probably would hate for me to draw attention to it, today is my mama's birthday (well yesterday, publication took a while).

Before any of you ask, yes, I called her today. In fact, I called three times. I presume she had a good day because she was out celebrating every time I tried to call.

So, for her first birthday since I started a blog, I want to take to my blog to wish her happy birthday one more time.

As I have been thinking about her and her birthday, I couldn't help but think about how the giftcard from Kohl's just wasn't able to add up in anyway to the gifts she has given me. I mean, alot of who I am comes from my mom. She is where I get my rugged determination, my desire for excellence in anything I do, and the bald spot from my grandfather. She also encouraged me to draw and to learn about art. Alot of the finer things.

But one of the things I appreciate most, I have never really thanked her for.

I am fortunate to come from a fantastic Christian home. I was lucky enough to have a mother and father who not only believed but modeled it for me every day. (Don't worry, my dad will get his turn come Father's Day.)

Let me back up.

I hate getting in trouble. I hate being wrong. But most of all, I hate disappointing people who are important to me. I distinctly remember being a little kid hating to get in trouble. I didn't mind getting whipped as much as I hated that my parents were upset with me.

I don't know when the day was, but I remember the first time it hit me what mercy is. I had done something wrong the day before. In my little mind, it was really bad. My guilt was overwhelming, and I was certain my mama wouldn't even talk to me that day - did I mention I was dramatic? I probably committed a very minor violation, but it was awful to my young mind.

But when I went downstairs the next morning, my mom acted normal. She was herself again! She wasn't mad! She didn't say a word about the awful thing I had done! I wasn't in the dog house! I was her son again. Amazingly, she acted like nothing had ever happened.

I am sure that I asked her because I was not smart enough to figure the lesson out on my own. Well, when I asked her why she wasn't mad at me any more, she told me that she loved me and while she was upset for a while I was her son and she loved me so much she forgave me.

I never forgot that.

As I got older, I noticed how, like clockwork, each day started new with her having forgiven and forgotten whatever transgression had occupied my day before. I learned that punishment could last for a time, but love was alot bigger than that.

I distinctly remember on many occassions thinking to myself, "Mama always forgets by tomorrow. She forgives me." That was always followed by a sigh of relief and a soothed conscience.

I won't go into the whole story, but I accepted Jesus Christ as my personal Savior when I was four years old. I am convinced that my parents raised me in such a way it was easy for me to understand God's love for me.

As I grew and developed my own spiritual life, I never had a hard time understanding God's forgiveness. I realized I had seen it tangibly since I was a little guy coming from the love of my mother. It was not stretch of the imagination to see where that came from. I knew what it meant for my sins to be forgiven, because if God was half as good as my mama at forgetting stuff then I was fine.

I thank the Lord all the time that I learned these lessons so young and that they were modeled so well.

When I began to really mature, I realized that the only way my mama was able to do with was her own walk with the Lord. So, reminded daily by her Bible left over from her early morning devotion, I began to work on my own walk with the Lord so that I could model the same things she did.

One of my favorite memories from high school rolling over to check the clock at 6 am, thankful that I had time to sleep. Every time this happened, I could see the hall light on and know that my mama was downstairs praying for me, for my family, and for the day.

So on my mama's birthday, I can't help but think of these lessons that she gave me. I hope that more than any gifts me learning to live up to her example will be a good way to return the gift.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Don't Trust List: Part II

Due to the rampant popularity of the Don't Trust List, millions of my most faithful followers have asked me for more examples of people they can't trust. So here we go:

1. Don't trust a guy with an exit strategy.

Ladies! This is vitally important! See, one time I had a friend who dated something like 3 girls during one school year. I asked him how he moved from one to the other so quickly, and without hesitation he said that he had them lined up three deep. So he not only knew who was next. But who was after that.

2. Don't anyone who take any movie too seriously

Perfect example: Boondock Saints

I knew alot of guys that saw this movie and started quoting it a little too seriously. They didn't become vigilantes but we had to sleep with one eye open.

Girl example: He's Just Not That In To You

Yah, I said it. And you know it is true. The worst part about that movie is that girls do not realize the message is that they are stupid. In the end, the movie reinforced the stereotypes that it tried to dismiss - the happy girls ended up getting what they wanted.

3. Don't trust people who say their favorite quote is Ghandi's "Be the change you with to see in the world."

The thing about this is that if it really is your favorite quote you are lame.

4. Don't trust anyone who says they are a fan of a show but was not a regular viewer of at least one of the first two seasons.

See, this has become a huge deal for our generation thanks to The Office. So many people were suddenly huge fans but started in the third or fourth season. That is great and all but I personally believe it peaked in season 2. I started watching Scrubs somewhere around season 6. I am a fan, but I don't flaunt it. I fell in love with more reruns. It isn't the same.

5. Don't trust a man wearing more diamonds than you.

A man who is wearing copious amounts of diamonds tells you a few things. One they sell use cars. Two they might be a televangelist. Three they have horrible fashion sense and want to look rich.

If they really have that much money, they will know better.

The Trials of Neil Diamond

As I have mentioned before, my Jeep is named Neil Diamond. For those of you who don't have time to read his history, suffice it to say it is the only name that is suitable for four wheels and a testosterone-fueled straight-6 that is just as sexy as it is macho.

Also, there is a cassette tape of Neil in the tape deck.

Anyway, as you can imagine life as the only yellow Jeep in the area is a good one. Well, until today...

See, today at a stoplight I looked to my right for the daily intimidation of anyone who dared gaze at the brilliance of my rig and what did I see... Neil's twin. For the sake of this exercise we will call it Harry Chapin. Whats worse? Harry was driven by a lady...

I love ladies, but it upsets me that there are people out there who think I drive a chick car. I mean what if Neil is really like Janis Joplin... It was tough, but I think it will be ok.

Well, as I was sorting through this and other significant issues in my day, something happened... Something bad. Here is a reenactment for you...

As you can see, a bird recklessly flew into my car. I am not sure what kind of bird is man enough to do that. But I assume it was an eagle or some kind of hawk.

Fortunately, everything is fine. Neil can heal himself - a handy little trick.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

The Chocolate Story: Part 1

"It's all over the floor! Caleb needs a new pair of pants!"

Fearing the worst and with a confused look on her face, Rachel hung up the phone and hastily gathered the list of things her mom had asked her for. She wasn't sure what was going on; but from the sound in her mom's voice, she knew this was bad.

Did she get everything on the list? Yes, she had it all - carpet cleaner, rags, and a pair of pants.

In a flash, she was in the car, down the hill, and at her grandparents house. Her mind raced. Her feet hurried. She had a job to do, and she did it well.

Her feet flew - hardly touching the ground - as she walked through the cold night to the front door she had entered so many times. So many happy memories. But this time there was work to do.

On the scene, Rachel was met at the door by her flustered mother.

"What happened? Is everything ok?"

Flustered, her mom began the same way she had on the phone.

"It's all over the floor. Did you get Caleb some new pants?"

"Yah, but what happened?"

"Go in and see for yourself. He made such a mess of the place."

Then, it all began to make sense. As she entered the house, she saw the stain emerge - a trickle at first, growing, growing, growing. Then, at the entrance to the kitchen she saw the abandoned basket where there had once been a fresh chocolate pie. At the other end of the kitchen, with an embarrassed look on his face, stood the culprit.

She knew what it looked like. She knew what it sounded like. Now, she knew what had really happened.

Somehow, her little brother had managed to spill chocolate pie down the back of his pants and across the living room floor. Not just any living room floor. The brand new carpet her grandmother had begged for for years. Just months ago, they had replaced the gray shag carpet with the brilliant white version covered in globs of chocolate.

Caleb took the pants from his sister, knowing he couldn't hide the rosy embarrassment from his cheeks. He mumbled something to her about when his brothers found out. He knew it was too late.

That year Rachel learned that months of preparation go into Christmas, and a poorly balanced pie in the hands of a clumsy brother can almost ruin it all.

Today, the carpet is clean. The stain is barely visible. But she can still hear the words, not desperate but mocking...

"It's all over the floor! Caleb needs a new pair of pants!"

Monday, April 13, 2009

Rule 73: The Don't Trust List

You know how there are times you meet someone and you are not sure what to make of them? Like the used car salesman with the slick hair...or the dentist who has no diplomas on his wall? Well, I want to make life easier so here is the first edition of my list of who you can trust.

1. Don't trust men with exquisitely groomed facial hair.

I think that this one is a no brainer. I mean, who would buy a used car from Rollie Fingers? Think about the rampant corruption of the Wild West. Now, think about the dominant facial hair style. That's right.

Think about people with mustaches. Now think about how many of those you would trust with your life. Yup.

A man with enough time to put that much care into a mustache has something to hide. It's science

2. Don't trust men who walk with canes

I got this one from Bruce Springsteen, but I think he had a point.

3. Don't trust people who root against their alma mater

This is another no-brainer. I mean how can you trust someone who spent four years at a college only to turn on them. You know who else spent for years on a cause only to turn and fight for the other team - yah, Benedict Arnold

4. Don't trust people who go to college and their high school friends shun them

This is simple math. There is nothing wrong with branching out but when there is a conscious effort to shun someone. You should take notice.

5. Don't trust guys named Whitey

6. Don't trust sports fans who only root for winning teams

You know a Lakers fan who doesn't know who Magic Johnson is? You know a Yankees fan that doesn't know there is a new Yankee Stadium? How about a Red Sox fan who doesn't know the Curse of the Bambino? Yah, you have to check their fan credentials

7. Don't trust a man who has never seen Rocky

Seriously, this film is on more that Maury Povich. Come on. Plus, there are six of them. If a guy can not explain why the bromance between Rocky and Apollo that blossomed in #3 was strictly platonic, he is subject to question. And if a man can't explain how Rocky's "If I Can Change" Speech ended the Cold War, he isn't worth your time.

8. Don't trust a man without a working knowledge of The Godfather

The corollary to this is that if they are unable to explain why they like the third film, they dont' really know anything about the series. Also, if you use phrases like "go to the mattresses" and they don't blink - you should probably be skeptical.

9. Don't trust a man who cheats at golf

The game is about honesty and rules. If a guy will willingly cheat at golf, there is no telling what else he might cheat at.

10. Don't trust someone with more than two of the following articles of clothing: Aviators, boat shoes, plaid shorts, Polo shorts (real Polo brand), a Croakies strap for sunglasses

Too susceptible to fashion trends. In another time they would rock bell bottoms or have a fade.

11. Don't trust a guy who says he loved The Notebook

It's too cliche. Don't buy it

12. Don't trust a girl who says she is a sports fan but doesn't like Field of Dreams

I borrow this from Bill Simmon's Field of Dreams rule: it says "If I were dating a girl and she said she didnt like Field of Dreams, I would dump her right then" Enough said.

13. Don't trust a guy with a working knowledge of Grey's Anatomy

The only way that he can redeem himself is if he thinks the show is about Katherine Heigl and that is all he knows.

14. Don't trust girls who play bass

Think about it. The bass player is always the wild card of a band. Now, imagine it is a girl. You have no idea what to expect.

15. Don't trust a guy who won't hug his mom

16. Don't trust a guy who takes a guitar on a camping trip

Could it be any more obvious? He isn't there for nature.

There are more rules to come. Feel free to run your ideas by me.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Neil Diamond

It never fails.

Every time someone sees me drive up for the first time, it is bound to happen.

"You drive THAT?"

Yes, yes, I do.

My name is Caleb, and I drive a surface-of-the-sun yellow Jeep Cherokee. So far, I have seen five other yellow Jeeps. Four were driven by 20-something girls. The fifth was driven by an old man. So, yah, you could say I'm a trailblazer.

It is an age old story, of a boy and his car. And Neil and I have been a long way.

You know, with a yellow car that is four-wheels of robust masculinity, it deserves a name. I guess it is something about men that they need to name it and claim it.

So, my compatriot Crapforth and I starting calling my Jeep Neil after purchasing a cassette tape of Neil Diamond from a thrift store. I should probably say that the name chose us. Think of it this way: how many cars made in 2001 have a tape player? How often do you find a sweet Neil Diamond tape at a thrift store for $1 and not buy it? That day, listening to Neil, he chose me.

He embodied the raw masculinity that women want and men strive to achieve. Singer/songwriter meets the Fast and the Furious.

Neil and I have been through alot together. There was the 720 on the interstate, countless fishtales, thousands of miles, and great great memories.

So here's to you Neil!

Keep on Trucking

Monday, April 6, 2009

What the Cubs mean to me

It started simple enough. I wanted to be just like my big brother.
I went where he went.
I did what he did.
I liked what he liked.

For me, this meant I was destined to be Chicago Cubs fan.

Some of my earliest memories are watching games on WGN with Steve Stone and Harry Carey calling the action of my beloved Cubbies. It was probably good I had no idea what curses were or why it mattered the Cubs didn't win very much. I knew there was something special in the ivy and blue pin stripes. I had no idea what the "Friendly Confines of Wrigley Field" meant, and honestly, I didn't care.

To me, baseball was life. The Cubs were my team. Simple as that.

As I grew older and more sophisticated, the Cubs became more and more of my routine. I began to carefully look at the box scores and stats of my favorite players. I grieved when Andre Dawson moved on; I adopted Mark Grace as my favorite player. I learned to savor the talents of Steve Beuchele, Shawon Dunston, Glenalen Hill, and Rick Wilkins. In retrospect, they were not good. But it still didnt' matter, they were my team.

When Opening Day would roll around, I would tape the game so that I could watch it when I got home from school. During the awful years of the early 1990s at times I kept a diary where I wrote down facts from the game - I guess I missed my calling to be a sports writer.

Before I knew it, they were a way of life. Tuning in to games was a right of passage that meant spring was here and summer was near. During the summer, it was better, I could watch them everyday. I loved the day games. I still do. Wrigley at night is nowhere near as fun.

The downside of this affection comes when we lost - which happened alot.

Then 2003 happened. It was my freshman year of college. Everything was good. The Cubs were destined to win and made it to within five outs against the Marlins. Then Steve Bartman and the greatest collapse of this or any other millenium... That was game 6. I remember game 7. I was in my dorm room and watched Kerry Wood hit a home run. I didn't fight it - I knew it was destiny.

I went about my business going to Campus Crusade hoping to come home to catch the end of the game. By the time I was back, it was too late. The Cubs were floundering. A heavy cloud descended... then it was over.

The next day in class a professor brought it up. The look in my face told her all she needed to know. We moved on. I didn't talk about it anymore.

Then 2008. Made the playoffs. Got swept by the Dodgers. The same knot came back into my stomach. The knot that tells me I love a baseball team too much. The knot that says I'm a real fan. The knot that will probably kill me before the Cubs win it all....

That sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach is what the Cubs mean to me. It's the same feeling that makes me think they can always come back, they can always pull it out when they never seem to be able to. But I hope. You know, that is a better way to put it -

To me the Cubs are about hope. They are about a genuine joy that is out there waiting for me.

Any team can have a bad century. I'll wait another one if that is what it takes to finally see that World Series win.

Until then, I enjoy the game. I hope.

My philosophy

I believe that every life is full of hilarious stories and funny moments. You just have to stop and look around for them.

This blog is my chance to tell a few of mine.