Archive for March, 2008

Our Family Vacation Adventure in Florida: pt. 3

Posted on March 31, 2008. Filed under: Uncategorized |

Paradise.  Simply paradise.

It’s another warm day with cool breezes here in Florida.  It’s just about 6:45 p.m. and I’m sitting on the veranda writing this blog as I look out over the dark blue waters of Lake Cecile. 

We began our morning at 8:30 running downstairs for the complimentary waffles and pancakes.  Yum!  The plan was to see if the forecasted thunderstorms would come rolling in.  If so, we’d head to Clearwater Beach and spend the day there.  If not, we’d go to Gatorland and let Titus run wild checking out all of the fascinating animals there.  Thankfully the clouds broke right before noon, so we packed it up and headed out to the ‘gator park.  We immediately walked the trail called The SwampWalk and I couldn’t help be reminded of the Black Forest from the speeder bike scenes in Star Wars: Return of the Jedi.  It was so thick with foliage that you literally couldn’t see after a couple of yards out.  On the swamp walk alone we were able to see snakes, frogs, turtles and one alligator. 

We were able to sit down and eat at Pearl’s Smokehouse and Marcia and I sampled the alligator nuggets and smoked alligator ribs.  YUM!  Gator is good!  Granted, poor little Titus was freaked out by the whole thing of eating alligators so we had to tell him that the alligator nuggets were actually chicken nuggets.  You’d think I’d have some guilt over decieving a gullible three year old who has put his ultimate trust and love in me, but dammit, I just spent seven dollars on those gator nuggets and he was going to eat them!  You’re damn right I’d con my kid like that…for crying out loud that’s almost ten whole dollars! 

After we ate, we went to go see crocodiles from around the world.  The Nile River Crocodiles and the Salt Water Crocodiles from Australia were amazingly huge.  I kept thinking of dinosaurs as they lumbered about from one place to another.  I also found it amusing inventing new ways to keep Titus on the path we were supposed to be walking on.  Everytime he would near a chained-off section I would simply tell him that alligators were going to eat him if he climbed over the chain.  Needless to say after the first two, he went nowhere near the chains for fear of being taken into a death-roll.  I’m a terrible father.

At the end of the crocodile trail a special show was going on where the staff were feeding whole chickens to the alligators by making them leap from the water.  Titus got to see one but we had come too late to see anymore, fortunately I kept my ears open as the crowd began to scatter and heard the emcee say that they were going to be feeding the giant tortoises next.  Knocking over as many octogenarians and seven year olds as I could, I made sure Titus was right up front for this one.  For five dollars Titus and I got to walk in and feed these 500 lb., 90 year old giant tortoises all by ourselves.  He thought it was the neatest thing feeding the lumbering giant a huge carrot, as he kept saying in that high pitched sweet voice of his, “You wan’ da cawwot?  You wana eed da cawwot?”

Unfortunately as we were entering the enclosure, Marcia was handing me the digital camera.  I was trying to listen to the special instructions that the trainer was giving us (cuz lord knows it was all Greek to Titus) so as Marcia held out the camera for me to take, I didn’t notice that she’d left the cord wrapped around her wrist.  When I grabbed it, it didn’t come smoothly off of her wrist and ended up crashing to the ground.  Now our multi-hundred dollar camera doesn’t work, and just at a time when Titus was going to do something adorable.  I hope my camera phone was good enough.

Titus got to play in a giant water park and got to see more turtles.  We got a photo of the family with my mother in-law holding a large constrictor and me and Titus holding up a juvenile alligator.  He got such a kick out of it that he burst into tears when we told him that he couldn’t keep holding the gator or the snake.  Truth be told, I was too cheap to pay for another picture which would have allowed him to hold the animals for a little while but dammit!  That would be MORE than ten dollars!  Instead I enticed him away with turkey hot dogs which we used to feed the alligaors up close and personal 

After engorging the alligators and flamingos on all the rest of my money we headed out back for the hotel.  Before we left Titus threw a big tantrum collapsing on the concrete more than once, burying his big head in his tiny little hands, all because the coke he was drinking fell and broke on the ground.  Anyway, Marcia is wanting to go to IHOP or Sizzling Grill or something like that for dinner so I need to go.

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The Hood – A Comic Review

Posted on March 31, 2008. Filed under: Reviews, Uncategorized |

 The Hood – A Comic Review

As of late, Brian K. Vaughan has become my favorite comic book writer.  Runaways, Pride of Baghdad, Y the Last Man:  all are fantastically written comics based on even more fantastic ideas.  The Hood is another comic to add to this list of new favorites.  This is a comic about a young man, who for a lack of a better term is a “hood”, named Parker Robbins.  Parker is a petty criminal trying to eek out an existence for himself and his pregnant girlfriend any way he can.  This isn’t to say that he’s being noble for the sake of his relationship;  he sleeps around with whores and lies to the mother of his child about having jobs.  He’s kind of a slimy jerk.

In the process of trying to heist some goods from a waterfront warehouse, he happens upon a demonic creature.  Believing that he has dispatched the horror he steals its boots and hood (the other reason behind the title).  Only later does Parker discover that the clothing he recently boosted off of an incapacitated demon hold magical powers.  The boots allow Parker to fly while the hood grants him invisibility.  This defining revelation now sets the stage for the rest of the book.

 

Vaughan’s genius in writing lies in taking a story we are all familiar with and twisting it.  The twists that he adds to any of his stories aren’t unbelievable, it’s not like they come out of nowhere.  In fact his twisting of the familiar is that which makes his stories more realistic.  Most of us are accustomed to tales which involve normal people discovering super powers then using those powers for good by fighting those who prey upon the innocent.  The twist that Vaughan lends to the character of Parker Robbins is that once Parker realizes what he can do, he uses it to his advantage in committing and getting away with crimes.  This new found power is used for evil, not good.

Aside from the fact that this book is purely and simply a good read, it forces us to take a look at what we have been given and what we do with it.  Receiving a gift seems to be a good test of character.  Many of us don’t use our gifts, whether material or spiritual, always with the benefit of others in mind.  Thinking of material gifts, many of us have made the statement, “If I won the lottery I’d…” and finish it off with donating money to the church, an orphanage, our families, etc.  We insist that we’d use the money for good.  But let’s face it, when we have an excess of money now, we are more than likely going to spend it on something that we want. 

Spiritually speaking some of us are given gifts by God for the benefit of the church and the benefit of all mankind.  Unfortunately we often times horde these gifts to ourselves instead of sharing with others.  We shy away from the responsibility that said gift brings us.  Too often when a gift is bestowed upon us, we don’t use it to uplift people around us.  Our first thought is for ourselves.  The gift merely accentuates the behaviors and the activities we’ve been carrying on with the entire time. 

 

The Hood is a good, though extreme, illustration of this.  I’m nowhere near saying we are all going to become criminals when given a gift from God.  I’m merely exhorting us to think about what the gift has become under our control.  What have we done with it?  Who has benefited from our newfound talents and treasures?  Maybe when we discover that we’ve been granted a gift from above we should take stock of our priorities and revamp them if necessary. 

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Our Family Vacation Adventure in Florida: pt. 2

Posted on March 30, 2008. Filed under: Uncategorized |

Aaaaah!  Now that’s more like it.  I’m rested (read: all napped up) and not feeling sore anymore.  I reread pt. 1 of this blog series and am amazed at how tired I was when I wrote it.  All of those writing errors make me look like I have writing Tourette’s.  Oh well, I’m rested enough to enjoy the candid-ness of it thusly I refuse to edit it.

I am thoroughly aggravated by the fact that the hotel advertised their free wireless internet without informing us that there’s no wireless connections in any of the rooms, only in the hotel lobby.  So I have to come to the hotel’s breakfast nook and put my laptop up on a syrup covered table to write to all of my adoring friends (all 1 of them apparently, thanks for checking me out Doug W., although I know Mark Johnson will come and visit sooner or later;  hey Mark, it’s warm and sunny here hahahaha to you and your Iowan snow!)

Today I didn’t do squat except smoke, write and read.  I read Anthony Bourdain’s The Bobby Gold Stories from cover to cover in a just a couple of hours.  It was OK.  Not the best book I’ve read but absolutely not the worst.  I prefer his fact books over his fiction.  I just picked up Mister Touch by Malcolm Bosse.  I can already tell it will be getting put down just as fast.  Marcia, Sue and Titus went down to the pool earlier today to go for a dip.  Marcia’s mother, Sue, didn’t know how to apply the spray on sunblock and just kind of squirted it on like you would spray perfume or cologne on.  A dash here, a dash there and she thought she’d be good.  I don’t necessarily like laughing at the misery of another (big lie) but it amuses me evertime time I think of or see the splotchy sunburn she has on her legs.  She’s got big, white, pale polka-dots all over her legs amidst the bright red of the sunburn!  Too funny for words.

Marcia and I found this awesome seafood buffet restaurant called Boston Seafood Feast.  They had fried scallops, green mussels, rock crab claws, london broil, oyster Rockefeller, Snow Crab legs and much more on the buffet.  But the capper for me?  What made it the best all-you-can-eat seafood buffet I’ve ever been to?  It was the all-you-can-eat lobster….All….You…Could….Eat!!!  I ate five friggin’ lobsters.  I don’t know whether I should gloat about it or be ashamed at even mentioning it.  I tried numerous times to call my “friends” (wink) Maurice and Lauren to tell them about this blessed heaven burried in this neon jungle but neither picked up the phone.

When we got back from the restaurant and waddled our fat happy selves through the side door of the hotel, I spotted a little green tree frog stuck to the outside window of the foyer.  When I got back to the hotel room, I let Sue and Titus know there was a frog down stairs and Titus just thought it was the coolest thing.  It is now about 10:30 at night, I just got done trying to buy tickets for the family to go to the Pirate’s Adventure dinner show but I found out that you can only order them online 72 hours in advance, not 48 like I tried (those damn pirates and their standards!)  Tomorrow we’re going to Gatorland praying that it doesn’t rain.  If it does end up raining, we’re going to drive the 1 1/2 hours to Clearwater Beach for the day.  I’m still trying to convince Marcia that Medieval Times is the way to go but she won’t listen to me, she’d rather go to the one in Chicago but that’s a different issue for a different day.

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Our Family Vacation Adventure in Florida: pt. 1

Posted on March 30, 2008. Filed under: Uncategorized |

Dear sweet Jesus, we actually made it.

Mapquest is a lying bitch.  Our 15 hour drive turned into a 20 hour debacle of crying, arguing, navigating and making restroom stops.  Originally, the plan was to leave our place at aprox. 9 o’clock p.m.  Titus, who is currently potty training, decided that it was his duty to climb into daddy’s suitcase and urinate on his freshly packed clothes.  My mother in law thankfully caught him and helped to was my belongings which ate up more time.  Marcia finally finished grocery and accessory shopping at about 10:30 and finally made it home to pack her things.  This turned into an ordeal that lasted until just about 2 o’clock in the morning.  Please don’t think that the delay is all her fault, if my accident prone ass hadn’t gotten my wrist hurt at work, I would have been somewhat helpful instead of being the guy who kept making jokes at everything that went on.

Finally we made our way out and after grabbing a bite to eat at Steak ‘n’ Shake we were finally on the road.  The plan was for Marcia to drive the first leg of the trip allowing me to sleep and pick up the second leg.  HA!  She made it as far as Columbus, Indiana and said she was getting tired and asked if I could take over.  Already exhausted I drove all the way to Nashville before Marcia woke up.  That’s six hours of nearly nonstop driving.  She asked if I wanted her to take over which I had to decline.  By this time, I’d driven for six hours in total silence in the black of early morning for most of it.  I had become one with the road.  I had reached a Zen-like state in which there was no asphalt and no flesh, there was just a mystical being traveling through space and time.  It was that half sleep state in which with every curve your whole body sways effortlessly and you change lanes with a mere thought.  It’s that feeling that you could drive without holding the steering wheel or depressing the gas peddle, where you use your tele-kinetic powers to make the car move.  Yes, I had reached road oblivion.

Needless to say, my new super power was draining me of energy.  I had to stop and switch places with Marcia.  Unfortunately for me, this was also the time everyone decided to wake up.  As I tried to sleep I was constantly wakened by my wife swerving to avoid accidents or braking to catch an exit(that according to her would not have been her fault and because I love her [and because she’ll probably read this blog] I believe her), also Titus thought it would be amusing to keep doing stuff to the top of daddy’s head and then ask me what I was doing as I tried to use my new found super abilities to also catch some Zs. 

I believe I got about two hours of sleep consisting of 10 or 12 couple minute naps interrupted by the events stated above.  Upon waking, I kept my wife thoroughly entertained with my knowledge of Civil War battle sites (I don’t know why she refused to stop at the historic site where Jefferson Davis was captured, I’m sure it’s great family fun).  She also found my jokes about some of the locations we passed absolutely hilarious (please note the sarcasm).  There was a lake that we passed and I swear to you the sign said Lake Witacoochi, the comedy simply writes itself with that one: “How’d you get that rash?”  “Hmmmph….how do you think?   Witacoochi!”  For those of you who know my wife, just think about how amused she was at twenty steady minutes of Witacoochi jokes.

Finally after having learned that the Waffle House chain uses White Lilly flour and sweet cream to make their waffles (they also use 185,000,000 eggs, that’s two percent of all the eggs in the U.S., every year, at least according to the Waffle House I walked into as I stupidly inquired as to what they serve there), taking a picture of me and my family next to a giant plaster cow in Ashburn, Georgia and passing over the Florida state line twice (yes I said twice, since my photography abilities aren’t what they used to be, I missed getting a picture of the “Welcome to Florida, the Sunshine State!” sign as we passed over the border so Marcia wanted to turn around, cross back into Georgia then make another U-turn and come back into Florida so I could get the perfect picture; believe me I got it the next time out of the gnawing fear that Marcia would continue border hopping over the next few hours until I got it right.)

It took another 5 hours before we finally made it to Kissimee, Florida before we finally got a little lost.  I took the wrong way on Florida State Road 535 and headed away from our hotel rather than towards it.  After stopping at a Pizza Hut we made it to the road our hotel is located on only to discover that we were cruising a strip with a bajillion different hotels.  Ours just happened to have the smallest most discreet signage out front.  Right about 11 p.m. we checked into our hotel room, unpacked and collectively collapsed onto the beds.

What could possible make this trip worth it after all of that exhausting work?  I mean, a vacation should be relaxing and quiet, not exhausting and frantic.  Well, when I opened up the sliding door onto our balcony where I pulled up a chair to enjoy a cigar, it was a humid-less low 80s outside with a very cool breeze blowing from the north.  Lake Cecille, which our hotel sits on hence the name Royal Celebration Inn on Lake Cecille, was a beautiful deep blue and just the overall atmosphere was inspiring.  I’m comforted in knowing that back home in Indianapolis, it’s cold and rainy and I could be there complaining about the cold rather than here enjoying the sun, the clouds and the comfortably warm weather.

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