Tuesday, July 26, 2011

To celebrate #250...Tony C's Top Ten Favorite Things in Life.

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You've got to be kidding me!!





According to Blogger, this is my 250th blog post on Tony C Today. While I've had a number of issues with my hosting site through the years, I'll assume their count is in the ballpark +/-10. That sounds about right to me anyway...

Thinking back to September 2, 2008, I've mused a lot of...well...stuff in those near three years. I'm being nice and not using a potty word that also starts with an 's' there in case you're wondering. It's all about the kids these days.

So how do I celebrate this milestone? While I'm not even close to the posting promiscuity of say a David Johndrow or Matt Appling, I've plugged along with a pish-posh of anecdotes, political opinions and New Age bashings that quite frankly makes me swell with pride...or maybe that's just the cucumbers I had for lunch causing that effect. Nonetheless! I'm going to commemorate the occasion with a list! Yes, that's right...a list!

Today, I give you Tony C's Top Ten Favorite Things in Life. I'm leaving off the obvious, presumed answers like God, Mrs. Tony C, family and Double Stuffed Oreos in order to provide you with a deeper (maybe more disturbing) look into the things I just couldn't live without...or at least wouldn't really want to live without. Drum roll please...

1. Humor- Giggles, chuckles, snorters or tear-producing belly laughs are an essential part of my life. I'm convinced without a daily dose of humor coming from somewhere...I'd have stroked out years ago. Now that's not funny.

2. Lonesome Dove DVD- If I had to pick one single show to watch the rest of my life, Captains Augustus McCrae and Woodrow Call would fit the bill. Larry McMurty wrote a masterpiece that transcends time... and apparently female taste. I often watch and recite alone.

3. Internet- Hi, my names Tony C, and I'm an information addict. Acknowledgement is the first step in recovery, but I can't seem to get past step one. Let me just google 12 steps...

4. ESPN Smartphone App- Guys...need I say more? I could care less about talking to anyone on my smartphone as long as I can get scores, breaking news and the latest on the Favre comeback watch.

5. Porcelain- Okay. This one falls in the been there, done without it, T-shirt cliche. Not only am I very fond of clean porcelain in a warm room, I'm a home-field advantage kinda guy too. Call it my personal sanctuary.

6. Stupid People- I love 'em! Not just in the Mark 12:31 kinda way either. Not only do stupid people provide me with a near constant source of entertainment (see #1), I'm not into that whole being an army of one thing. I'd get so lonely...

7. Fresh Fruit- While I'm particular to the reds (strawberries, cherries and watermelon), I've not found a fruit I didn't like. However, I'm not that fond of raspberries...but I think that's a spelling thing.

8. Phil Rudd- Yes. I know Neil Peart (Rush) is the greatest to ever pick up a set of sticks, but Phil (AC/DC) proved to so many of us normal drum pounders that a strong back beat with a heavy bass foot is as good as gold. For those about to rock, we salute you!

9. Seinfeld Reruns- I truly don't think I could carry on a conversation without a Seinfeldism or at least one episode reference. It would just be yada, yada, yada.

10. Ryan Reynolds- Nope. I'm not elaborating on this one...but trust me, I have my reasons.


Thanks for reading my...stuff!

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Friday, July 22, 2011

Losing a close friend is definitely like a punch in the gut...right after eating a McDonalds #2 Value Meal.

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I've received several inquiries of late on my writing absence concerning the debt ceiling debacle. While I did post an opinion back in May (click here if you're interested), I've remained silent since while still taking in the whole fiasco with great interest. Granted the matter at hand has grave consequences for our country's future which is why I'm thrilled Washington is finally doing a great service to the Nation and giving partisan politics a rest...



Right...

To be honest, I'm actually a bit in mourning. No...no one close to me has died recently, yet I have lost a dear, close friend nonetheless. My fond attachment to our space program is no secret on Tony C Today. I've even publicly stated a desire for my middle child, the Crazy Tomato, to be one of the first humans on Mars. Red hair to the red planet is our daddy/daughter motto...when her mother isn't around that is.

So it should come as no surprise that at 5:57 am ET yesterday morning, I became a bit melancholy when the Space Shuttle Atlantis landed thus ending my 30-year love affair with the retiring fleet of space buses...I mean ships.

To the world, the Space Shuttle was as American as it gets.

By that you mean a gluttonously expensive program ran by the government that came far from meeting originally stated expectation and far over estimated operational cost?

No! I mean American...like Mickey Mouse, the Yankees and Shoney's Restaurants! General Electric, corn on the cob, and yard sales! America!

Anyway...the Space Shuttle was from my generation. My parents had the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo programs which were definitely sexy and exciting. Then came Skylab! Who can forget that golden age of space exploration...well...at least space habitation. And finally the  monumental Apollo-Soyuz mission when original Mercury Seven astronaut Deke Slayton (The Right Stuff) finally got into space aboard a hollowed out Apollo capsule so stripped down there were only three toggle switches on the control panel: Up, Stop and Down. Those were the good old days of paranoid international relations when we weren't the only big boy on the block...remember?



The Space Shuttle was my generations to claim. Ronald Reagan, The Gap and the Space Shuttle...now two of the three are gone...mere pages in the history books.

I'm going to need a minute here...

Monday, July 18, 2011

I'll take the easily lobbed, softball questions thrown from my girls...anytime!

Last week, I was on vacation with the family. We decided to go off the beaten path this year and rent a house at Holden Beach, North Carolina on the recommendation of some friends at church.

Great recommendation!

Myrtle Beach seems to be the vacation-Mecca for most of the Southeast. It's busy, loud and packed this time of year. All the things Holden Beach is not. At just around 45 minutes north of Myrtle, all the bells and whistles are available to you in a short drive if you like. We took the trip a couple of evenings, and I would have been perfectly content staying north.

Like most people, vacation is time I use to unwind, recharge and spend uninterrupted time with the family. If I want excitement and round-the-clock festivities...I'll go back to Vegas.

After we settled in on Sunday, the rest of the week followed a workable, enjoyable routine. I was usually the first one up around 7 am, so I would take the necessary logistics to support our crew of 10 to the beach early and set up. Loved it. Setting up early wasn't necessarily a requirement because the gorgeous beaches were never crowded. Nevertheless, I enjoyed the solitude and time for reflection sitting alone on the beach with just my thoughts and prayers.

Something my beloved Crazy Tomato said early in the trip stuck with me all week. Looking out at the ocean one day, she states "You mean God made all this for us?!" Her enthusiasm was both genuine and refreshing, as is the case with most three-year olds. I thought deeply on her comment the next morning after setting things up and taking my customary seat alone looking out at the Atlantic. Majestic is a word thrown around far too loosely in our language. Many things are awesome, fewer are splendid and even still fewer are magnificent...in the proper use of the words. But majestic should be an adjective reserved for those very special, very rare encounters in life that only the presence of God Himself could supplant in scope and scale.

Oceans fit that bill in my mind. Maybe the mountains where I live have the same sense of inspirational awe to people who live at the beach or in the plains of the Great Midwest. Just guessing I suppose. Having been in the middle of two of our vast planet's oceans while aboard deceptively large yet unassumingly insignificant ships, it becomes even more apparent just how majestic God's earthly ponds truly are in comparison to other matters we often find that are larger than words can describe.

Oceans, mountain ranges, sunrises/sunsets and even rainbows are all just regular reminders of the lunacy instilled in the theories of random chance being the creator of the universe we occupy. Sheer lunacy. While science forges arrogantly forward in the futile attempt to create life outside the realm of natural order, I find great comfort holding to a faith that still makes far more logical sense than assuming our kind is as good as it gets...and even still one day will forever vanish from all recordings and echos of a place in time we call history into oblivion. Just pure lunacy.

I just don't think vacation would be enjoyable holding to such a hopeless belief...no matter how sparse people were at the beach.

Yes my little Crazy Tomato...He made it ALL for us. That's just how much He loves us.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Wait...it's not even close to the sappy Christmas season!

Once in a blue moon, you see a story that makes you believe we're going to be just fine...

Here's a breaking news flash, it seems everything coming from the media these days is all gloom and doom. I'm not sure what it is about our society, our very cultural, that leads us to thirst for the negative. Don't even act like you are shocked and appalled by that characterization either.

I consider myself a very optimistic person...and even I'm guilty of the very thing!

Several years ago, I started filtering the sources of my information intake. Even that's very dangerous. Historically, I've been a proponent of the print media, but that has changed. As a matter of fact, Mrs. Tony C and I collectively decided to stop buying the local newspaper during the scrubbing of media sources process. Just too much negative, inaccurate garbage. The once honored and necessary art of investigative reporting has been dead and buried for several decades.

So why am I so upbeat today? Well, despite my media diet, I don't live in a bubble and still maintain tabs on the world we live. Last week out of New York came a story that was a shining beacon of wholesomeness in the dark pit of greed and corruption that seems to dominate many of today's headlines. Derek Jeter joined an elite club in baseball with his 3000th career hit. Only 27 other Major League ballplayers can claim that feat in the sport's long and storied history. Like a script right out of movie, the hit was also a home run...and so the mad scramble ensued for a piece of history in the left field bleachers of Yankee stadium.

Baseball memorabilia is big business. Jeter's historic ball projected to pay big. Maybe as high as $250K. Life-long Yankee fan Christian Lopez was the one standing with ball in hand when the scrum was over. He had in essence won the lottery. The big payola we all dream about.

The media was quick to arrive and question Lopez. What are you going to do with the ball now? Lopez was in the midst of his 15-minutes of Warhol fame. I'm sure the words that came out of his mouth next vastly deflated the frenzied media sharks because Lopez announced he was giving the ball back to Derek Jeter. He reasoned Jeter had worked a career for the milestone, and he had done nothing more than been there to witness. Lopez only requested, not demanded, that he be allowed to hand the ball back to the man who had hit the historic homer.

Gasp...

That's not a story! Where's the greed, the barter, lawsuits, the ruined life, or at least some profanity!!

I wouldn't be completely honest if I didn't admit even I waited for more. But that's how the story ends...well...almost. The Yankee faithful cheered and saluted Lopez in the 8th inning when he announced he was giving the ball back to Jeter on the stadium video board. Lopez was an instant hero in the eyes of many worldwide (with the major exception being the greater-Boston area where any Yankee news is bad news). But the Yankees didn't let the moment go unheralded, and Lopez was showered with a number of gifts from the club including primo-luxury seats for the rest of the season.

I like to believe...want to believe...that Christian Lopez is the epitome of most human beings, and the overload of dirty laundry we're saturated with daily are stories about the vast minority of our kind. Sure. We're all capable of less-than-honorable actions, but when the chips are down, when the spotlight is on a person's true character for often but a fleeting moment...I like to think most people would shine bright like Christian Lopez and take the honorable path. We too would just give the ball back with no thought of personal reward.

After all, that's the path that pays far more importantly over the haul of eternity.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

God bless America...land of the hot dog eating champion!

Nothing says Happy Birthday America quite like watching Joey Chestnut shove 62 hot dogs in his face...


That's 62 complete Nathan's hot dogs- wieners and buns. Condiments were optional I'm guessing. The annual contest sponsored by Nathan's has become a Fourth of July weekend staple covered by the national media. You can even catch the highlights on ESPN SportsCenter while catching up on the weekends baseball scores. Ironic isn't it?

In a country where child obesity has become a national epidemic to the point that the younger generation is expected to have a shorter life expectancy than their parent's generation, we celebrate the accomplishment of a man shoving over 5 dozen hot dogs in his mouth in 10 minutes...and keeps them down. That's over 14,000 calories at one time.

But wait...there's more! This year, the contest was expanded to include a women's division where the victor consumed 40 complete hot dogs in the same 10 minute period. China entered 3 competitive eaters for the first time also in this year's contest. Wonder how that goes over with all those 'starving people in China' my mom was always using to get me to eat my vegetables as a kid?

But wait...this gets better! The annual hot dog eating event is actually sanctioned and governed by the Major League Eating franchise which, by the way, has officially banned former champion Takeru Kobayashi (aka Kobi) of Japan from the contest for failure to comply with contracting requirements. So how did Kobi respond? He held his own simultaneous eating exhibition on top of a Manhattan high-rise, which was also media covered, where he consumed 69 complete hot dogs in 10 minutes to break the previous record of 68 set by now five-time champion Chestnut.

Naturally, the record is completely unofficial though because it wasn't sanctioned by the MLE. (eye roll)

Granted, I may be a little bitter about all this hoopla over a blatant gluttonous display given I've been pretty serious about personal diet changes in my own life of late. Heck...I loved Nathan's hot dogs!  If you noticed the past tense used in that sentence, that's not necessarily due to said diet changes in place either. No. I caught an episode of How It's Made not long ago where  making hot dog wieners was featured. I've never looked at one with the same appeal since...

Still, I just don't think our country's unofficial motto of American as baseball, hot dogs and apple pie would have sold very many Chevrolets in the famous 1975 ad campaign if the list had been baseball, turkey wieners and apple wedges. But that's just me, and I love America (although I drive a Mazda)!

Did I mention ESPN is owned by the Walt Disney Company, and Pepto Bismol is a major sponsor of the MLE?

You just can't make this stuff up folks...you just can't!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Time sure does fly when you're Livin' la Vida Loca...

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Did I just miss an entire month?!




As impossible as it might seem, the month of June 2011 is gone. I'm both very sad and perplexed by that fact. I'm sad because June is my favorite of the twelve months in the Gregorian calendar. What's not to like about June? No...it's not just because the anniversary of my birth is celebrated in June either. My grandmother's birthday is in June (she's seen 97 of them so far). Father's Day is in June, and I love both my dad and being a dad myself. My father-in-law's birthday is in June too. He's not that much older than me, but I'm sure he's reminded of that in the three day period between our birthdays. Well, that and the true moral of the story of what can happen when you haze underclassmen in high school...they might grow up and eventually marry your daughter! Doh!

The longest day of the year is in June. Okay. Before some wiseguy points out that all days are actually 24 hours in length, let me qualify that by stating the longest day of daylight for this particular region of the globe is in June. Sounds like something I'd comment on a David Johndrow blog post.

What a wonderful month.. June. What a wonderful word! A' la Benjamin Bufort Blue (aka Bubba from Forrest Gump)...there's June bugs which were always fun to fly on a string as a kid, June Carter, Juneberry Trees, Juneau Alaska, June apples (just don't eat too many of these or you end up with the June apple splatters- which is not a good June word, trust me), Miss June 1985....sorry, scratch that one, the word jejune which I've used for big points in Words with Friends (and pretty much describes this post), and if you really stretch your imagination, Journey. Come on! Lovin', Touchin', Squeezin' fame...not the motivation poster word.


But, I've never been one to live in the past, so goodbye June and hello July.! Hey...July is a pretty awesome month. Blackberries, ripe home-grown tomatoes, America's birthday, vacation, fireworks, the best time for watermelons, Miss Jul...oh, let's skip that one too.

Have a great Fourth of July weekend everyone! Because I care, here's an awesome video clip from Mrs. Tony C's favorite movie just to kick off the holiday weekend...

video