Sunday, July 29, 2012

Dancing our Way Across the Country

Deb and I just flew in to John Wayne Airport this afternoon.

We are in Irvine, California to celebrate my buddy, Joe Sambito's 60th birthday. It's a surprise ... and based on the flights, we were almost as surprised just to get on a plane.

When we checked in, we ran into hundreds of teenagers with gigantic hair. They were everywhere. There were so many of them that they were numbered. I thought the numbers might have been bigger depending on the size of their hair.

I was wrong ... it was a dance competition for the Celtic Irish Dancers of America Under God ... Indivisible .... etc.

I should have known. Just our luck ...  Almost  every trip we've made this year has been highlighted by large dance competitions at OUR hotel. In Nashville (the first round of NCAA basketball competition) there was a national cheerleading competition, In New York, the International Dance Competition of the them all ... THOUSANDS of girls with doting parents, hauling suitcases of makeup and petticoats was held at our hotel.  

And today ... the big hair competition.


For the last few days we were in Washington DC with a couple of other friends, Gil and Anna Kerlikowske. Gil is the Drug Czar ... I love that title ... actually the official title is something like the United States Director of National Drug Control Policy.

We just call him Gil.

He invited us to the White House for lunch. Daughter Alissa who lives and works in DC joined us.

Great meal and pretty cool place. I could only take pictures in certain secured areas ... this one was at the entrance of the West Wing.

Gil is the one with the short hair.

Here are some other highlights:

Official giveaways after lunch .... White House M&M s. Seriously.

Sign in the basement to the Truman Bowling Alley. It was locked unfortunately. Truman and Nixon were the only ones that ever used it I think. There are two lanes ... the left one is probably for Ds and the right one for Rs.

This picture was the only other secured shot that I could take in the West Wing.

This particular urinal was used by Bill Clinton once and Hillary numerous times. (C'mon you know I had to have at least one irreverent picture and comment).

Great times ... actually, very impressive place and we were very grateful that Gil took us through. Alissa took this shot of Deb and I in the "garden" with our credentials.

I look ... almost ... official.


Sunday, July 22, 2012

Teachers' Lounge

I did it.

I finally finished my book. I think it's pretty good ... but I also thought that Kinky Friedman would be a megastar. (Kinky ... in case you read this ... there is still time.)

The novel is called Home Movies. Those who have known me fror 30 years or more know that I have been writing this and erasing it for about that long.

The premise: Buddy Rosen is an elementary school teacher (Kindergarten) who teaches his class in unorthodox ways ... one of which is showing old home movies that he buys at flea markets as story starters for the kids. One day he happens to buy his own home movies which had been lost for years and discovers his father ... who had died when he was twelve ... might still be alive. He goes on a search to find his family. What he finds is more mysterious than he first thought.

Here's an excerpt:

Buddy put his feet up on the old scratched table that was reflective of the rest of the decor that adorned the Teacher's Lounge. He read a SpiderMan comic book with the catchy title, THE AMAZING SPIDERMAN :THE INVASION OF THE SPIDER SLAYERS PART TWO OF SIX !

" I saw your lips move, Rosen."  Bob Kevin knocked Buddy's feet off the table as he put his books down.

" Hey, you're not fooling me with those books.  Everybody knows you haven't learned to read yet. "

" Have, too! Tomorrow I start Cat In the, what’s that word, Heat? "  Kevin poured the remaining drops of coffee into his mug with the slogan , Those Who Can, Teach.  He pulled up a chair next to Buddy.

" Look at this, Kevin " Buddy said to him, " Peter Parker meets his parents in this issue. But he's not sure whether they're really his parents. They were political prisoners for 20 years...."

" I'm so glad you shared that with me."

Buddy sat back in the chair and turned a page with the air of nobility. " I want to share the finer things in life with you, Robert."   

" In that case, how about starting with Andi. I'll take Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. You can have Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. Sundays we rest."

" Not a chance, friend. Anyway, if memory serves, you have a girlfriend. She works at the Tap Room of the Holiday Inn. "

" Her body works there ... but her mind is on vacation."

" We can't all be lucky enough to have that special mix of beauty and brains." Buddy paused to comb his hair and fix his collar. " Andi was just lucky enough to find me."

" Andi was lucky enough to what? " Andi said as she walked into the lounge. She heard only the tail end of the conversation. She tapped Buddy on the head, " Hi Mutt."

She waved to Kevin, " Hi Jeff."

Buddy smiled, " Hi there Art Lady."

" Now what were you fellas saying when I walked in?"

" Oh your friend Rosen, here, was telling me how wonderful he is." Bob stood to rinse his cup in the sink. " You came in right before I threw up."  

From the wall behind them, the popping sound of the intercom signaled a message. A voice spoke through the intercom. "Excuse me, this is Ms. Rankin. Is Mr. Rosen in the lounge?"

Buddy looked at both of them and shook his head back and forth and mouthed ‘No’.      

" I'm sorry Ms. Rankin we couldn't hear you." Kevin said with a smile.

" Is that you, Mr. Kevin?"

" Yes it is. "

" Well Mr. Kevin I was looking for Mr. Rosen. Have you seen him?"
Buddy again shook his head and gave a more exaggerated "no" this time.

" Why yes, I have... " Bob said as Buddy stood up and started to go for his throat. "... about ten minutes ago. "  Buddy relaxed.

" Do you know where he was headed?" Ms. Rankin crackled through the system.

" No, Ms. Rankin. I never know where Buddy is going. " His body shook with quiet laughter.

" Yes. Well, if you see him, please tell him I would like to finish our discussion."
Andi and Bob looked at Buddy with raised eyebrows. " Certainly, Ms. Rankin."

" Thank you, Mr. Kevin." There was the familiar popping sound signaling the end of the transmission.   

" Naughty, naughty Mr. Rosen. " Kevin teased.

" That woman really has to get a life. "

" Buddy, be careful. " Andi warned, " She does not like your teasing. I'm worried about you. "

" She's on you all the time, man. " Kevin added.

" I know. She seems to have a lot of information about me and my classroom. Maybe Hillary the snitch tells on me." 

" Whatever it is, don't take too many chances. " Andi said. " Hey, don't you have to get your kids at 11:00?"

" Yeah."

" Well, it's 11:05 now."

" Shit." He jumped up and ran past Ms. Rankin who was just stepping into the Lounge.

" Mr. Rosen. I want to continue our discussion..." Ms. Rankin called out to him as he yelled back a cursory, "Yes, ma'am".

" I found him." Bob Kevin said and pointed in Buddy's direction and smiled. 

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Nikki, This One's For You

Seems like only yesterday that Nikki (at 2 years old) was sitting on her bed, dressed in a ballerina outfit, telling me that she was going to be a doctor and live in France. Today, she's a doctor ... living in Savannah ... just down the road from a French restaurant (okay, I made that up but there might be one close by).

She also just got engaged a few days ago to a great guy. They are both very happy and very much in love.

I am so proud of my daughter who has worked so hard to get where she is today and who was my first born and the light of my life (Josh and Alissa ... sorry but she was the first, you know?).

I'll always remember ...

... the hundreds of trips to soccer practice and games, watching her zip past defenders and score goals

... sitting in the stands for volleyball games where she patiently waited her turn in rotation because she was so much shorter than the other players ... but so valuable as a defender

... listening to her play the piano at the recitals that she did for me because it really wasn't high on her bucket list even at 6. She was very good.

... fixing her peanut butter sandwiches and packing her school lunch with a note that had a corny joke.

... carrying her around the block when she was a baby almost every time we went out for dinner. She could not sit still ... ever.

... worrying about her when she had her first date and following her to the mall. She was mortified.

... helping her pick out her first training bra (actually we did that as a family). She was even more mortified.

... walking her out on the football field when she was crowned Homecoming Queen where she whispered that she was much more comfortable in cleats.

... watching her graduate on stage as Salutatorian in high school and "hooding" her on stage at USF when she graduated from Medical School.

She is brilliant, beautiful and still ... my little girl.


And Nikki, when you read this ... remember two things:

1. All the mistakes and the embarrassing or dumb things I did as your father ... don't take yourself too seriously when you do the same things to your children. It's all part of growing up (one day I might grow up too).

2. I love you.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Car Talk

I got a new car today.

Sure I'm excited. It's a little bigger and roomier than my last car ... both are Infinitis.

That's the extent of my technical expertise.

SO ...  I decided instead to write about the features that aren't in the "book".

1. USF Parking Sticker. This sticker was on my last car and transferred to the new one. It wasn't done fast enough, apparently. The last couple of days, I had a loaner car and parked it in my designated spot. It was both ticketed and "booted" in the span of two days. My assistant saved me by throwing herself in front of the security golf cart in an effort to reason with the campus police. They were convinced that I was a criminal and had to protect my parking space from ... myself. Thank heavens I am once again "legal".

2. Debbie's car. This has nothing to do with my car's features ... just wanted you to see that my car has already made a friend.

3.   GPS map. Really cool. Now it even "tells" you what to expect ahead on the road as you are driving. It's the same chick that talked to me in the other car. On the way home we found out that we had "a severe flood ahead". It hadn't started raining yet so we figured she was talking about the lady who was watering her lawn in our neighborhood.

4. The Text While Driving Button. Get this ... when you activate this switch, the car automatically stops when the car in front of you stops suddenly and you are not watching the road. It also beeps at you when you switch lanes without putting your turn signal on. Finally, I can play Words With Friends and drink my coffee while I drive to work ... safely.

5. Race paddle shifters. Because this car is an automatic, I'm really not sure why you would want this feature (which allows you to shift gears quickly). Might be useful if you made a wrong turn and wound up in Indianapolis.

6. IPhone Bluetooth. This to me is the MOST important feature of this car. It will play the music from your IPhone wirelessly. You still have to find the song you want on your phone as you scroll your playlist ... but don't worry ... the Text While Driving Button will protect you while you do this.

7. Bose Speakers on the headrest. In case you can't hear the other 14 speakers surrounding your head. This is a MUST.

By the way ... there are lots of other cool things that I haven't tried yet. I think the car makes breakfast, washes your clothes and even tucks you in... while you're driving!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Please Pass the Celery

I'm doing fine.

Two days of the South Beach Diet and I hardly feel it (feed me). I had one scrambled egg and a water for breakfast and a chicken salad for lunch and scallops for dinner last night (help!). This is a piece of cake (cake??? cake ???) and I'm not sure what all the fuss is about to just lose a few pounds ... I can do this standing on my head (I have such a headache!).

You know I figure I only have to lose about 40 pounds (WHAT? 40 POUNDS?).

Thankfully, Debbie is helping me out and she is remaining my rock (yesterday she threw the iphone at me when she couldn't figure out grams on the app). Having a partner through this process is truly a blessing (I can't wait until she goes to church on Sunday).

So ... those of you who doubt that I can last (I can't !!!) will be surprised when I finish this program and  have a new trim bod ( FAT chance).

Wish me luck that I'll be strong. (btw ... please leave an order of fries at my back door ... Debbie is not home until about 5:30)

Ballad of the Big Prostate

Here’s a little country tune I wrote just yesterday to commemorate a dark day in my history. I don’t have a tune but realized you can use an...