Friday, March 25, 2011

Steven Crowder: the health benefits of an early smackdown

Had my first bully sock in the stomach when I was still cute, i.e. early elementary age. And yes, boys sometimes gang up on curly headed girls for no reason at all. What did I learn? To strengthen my core and not let bullies intimidate me.

Now I don't let anyone intimidate me.

See how that works?

Monday, March 21, 2011

Alien v Marine. Bet on the Marine.

With all the buzz, I had to find out about "Battle: Los Angeles" for myself. Here's what I keep hearing from movie review sites I trust: Go. See. This. Move.

Pro-military. Pro-Christian. Post-racial. And by that, I mean race isn't an issue and isn't highlighted or discussed. People are accepted according to their character, not their color.

This movie, from what I hear, is about true heroism and the bond between soldiers, who sacrifice themselves for each other and for the greater good. It's a love poem to the individual.

And now, I must Go. See. This. Movie.

Bill Whittle at Declaration Entertainment does an out-of-this-world (this is me trying to stay thematic but it isn't really working, is it) review of the movie and why it's a must see. Despite my poor hype, check out Bill's galactical (that is too a word) video.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

A father tried by fire

This I've been saving.

It's an article neither my father, nor anyone else, has ever seen because I've never published it. I wrote it a few years ago as a piece for a compilation book about fathers. Though it didn't get selected, it took a few years before I found out and could publish it on my own.

So I've been waiting for his birthday to publish it here.

All the following details are true. It was December 1979. A few weeks before Christmas. A month before my third birthday. Yes I remember it all. God saved us that night. And my father, in that moment, became my eternal hero. Two-years-old or not, you simply don't forget things like that.

Our two-story country home - the one my father built with his own hands - burned to nothing but ash. We had the clothes on our back and a jar full of twisted, molten pennies when the sun rose again. And we had our lives.

That was enough to start over again.

Here's the story of his heroism.

He had to be freezing.

I watched him through the windshield of our 1976 green Chrysler, a vehicle that neither had character nor charm. Sitting inside, safe from the wind and debris and ash, I sat on the icy vinyl seats repeating over and over, “I’m cold. I’m cold. Mommy, I’m cold.”

Outside, Dad wore only his boxer shorts. Barefoot and bone-tired, he was working feverishly to put out the flames devouring our home. As the glass exploded and the fire waltzed through the second floor window, we knew it was over.

The house was gone. But we had escaped.

As I shivered in the vehicle with my mother, brother and aunt, watching Dad bathed in darkness and fierce firelight, I knew he - somehow, someway - would make everything better.

Even then, just shy of my third birthday, I recognized the fighter in him, the man who never gave up and never let me down.

The fire had breathed and huffed and snorted until swallowing the house whole. The only thing left when the sun crescendoed to end the night had been a pile of ash, a smattering of deformed coins, and our lives. One man had saved us all.

I had gone to sleep that night without fear. It was simply another Saturday night, an evening in the country, one more day gone with Christmas not far behind.

Bedtimes had been followed. Dishes had been cleaned. Nothing had been abnormal.

Mom and Dad had tucked me into bed with kisses, like always. And sleep had come.

In the middle of the night, perhaps sensing danger, perhaps unconsciously aware of smoke, perhaps for a reason I’ll never know, Dad awoke.

He had always been strong – working with his hands and back and heart. It seemed no matter the challenge, no matter the obstacle, Dad conquered it with humility. This night, still a young man with a young family, the challenge would be merciless if he failed.

Dad had no second to think, no moment to waste. Life and death were under the same roof. One would win. One would not.

Through the chalky air in the upstairs hall, Dad stealthy guided Mom to my bedroom, not knowing the girth of the fire. It was underneath his feet, dancing against the walls below, hissing at each step of the stairs.

The first floor was gone, a playground only Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego could walk out of, and Dad knew it. The stairs were a deathtrap.

I huddled in my pajamas in the hall, confused and dazed, blinded and groggy, not knowing my conscious mind could fade any moment and be lost to the smoke. My hope was him.

Dad had built the house with his hands – calloused from hammering in every nail, strong from securing every board. Those hands would be the last thing he would consider as he placed them on glass window panes and shoved with every sinew in his body.

The window above the front porch popped out, gushing in oxygen like a tidal wave in a sinking ship. Collectively, I gasped with my family, unaware how long I’d stopped breathing.

One by one he herded us onto the roof, desperate to get me, my brother, mother and aunt, out of the house, yet not knowing how long the structure would stand.

He jumped down first, springing immediately to his feet and opening his arms to catch us one at a time. Though I was small, I cannot erase that site. Standing before the Oak tree, half clothed by darkness and concentration, Dad held out his arms.

Cold, scared, so young, yet so fiercely immovable, there he stood waiting for me to jump to him and away from danger.

I think we established our lifelong relationship in those seconds, if it even took that long. There he has been, when I’ve been faced with pain, with disappointment, with loss, with fear, when my entire world has been consumed by fire. He has been the protector. Those arms I’ve jumped into, ran into, crawled into and, each time, they have wrapped me in and pushed the world out.

I made it out alive. We all did.

There aren’t even physical scars as reminders, an uncontested miracle. Instead, I have a photograph in time burned into my brain by the flames of that night, a look from my father that said, “Tara Lynn, jump now. Daddy will catch you.”

After a test like that, everything afterward in our relationship has transitioned just a little bit easier. When it came time to learn to swim, I paddled toward him into the deep. When I had a splinter, I faithfully spread my palm before him and the awaiting needle. When it was time to drive, I trusted his “the coast is clear.” When it came time to date, I respected his warning, “I don’t like him.”

Even through the years of teenage rebellion when my make-up was too much, my clothes weren’t enough, and my smart mouth was just like him, I listened to his advice because Daddy was protecting me.

It’s been over 30 years since the fire that took everything from my family but each other. Since then, I’ve watched my father prove repetitively how you greet every challenge with a handshake and then go back to your corner and come out fighting fair.

That’s what he’s done. Through the tragic loss of family, the stress of physical labor, the emergency brain surgery, the war of life, he fights the good fight.

Yet still, no matter the calls from the battlefield, no matter the spoils, he stands as the one whom I can always trust – his heart, his love, his guidance. He not only taught me to trust him, he taught me to trust the woman he raised.

To me, my dad looks no different than he did that night. He’s the same man, same Irish blue eyes, same ornery laugh, same calloused hands, same welcoming arms that open when I need to jump.

Happy Birthday Daddy!

Courageous: Movie Trailer

Today, on his birthday, I celebrate a father like this. He has always been courageous, always honorable, and, without a single second of hesitation, I've trusted his decisions and his leadership. Even when I didn't understand.

Why? Because I had no doubts of his love or devotion to me. Not ever. Not once.

Isn't that how we should feel about God?

There is no substitute for an honorable man. Period. Without them, there is a literal black hole in our culture. Men of valor are indispensably critical. That means as fathers, as husbands, as leaders, as simply men.

Yes, they are that important. As the daughter of such a man, I can assure you there is no substitute. Not even a loving mother. A father is existential. They have a definitive role, fill a specific need, and when they aren't present, that need is not met.

A man choosing to be anything else leaves an irreplaceable void. So here's to the men who are loving fathers, who are honorable husbands, who are men of their word, protectors of those weaker, and warriors for our world.

You're the only superhero we'll ever meet.

Father Knows Best. Honestly, he does.

My father's favorite television show. Especially the title.

This is for my Daddy who is having his birthday today. That gives me the excuse to talk about him.

I picked this clip because it actually reminds me of my father when I first purchased my Jeep oh those many years ago. He kept needing to "test" it. Make sure it was safe. Take it for drives to ensure everything was "working properly."

The last few seconds of this clip are my favorite. That look on the father's face as he drove away? That was so my dad behind the wheel of my Jeep.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

President Pipsqueak?

Don't look at me. I didn't say it. Though I'm not denying the point.

That's what John Podhoretz at the New York Post is afraid will be Obama's legacy - being a pipsqueak. I say now is the time to fear for the nation, not the President's political future. But I'm weird like that.

In the midst of this perfect storm of world catastrophe, what we know about Obama is...NOT his decision on Libya, NOT his future plans on the fallout from Japan; not to mention, NOT his plans to lower fuel prices, stabilize the financial market (the Dow dropped 240 points today), cut spending (our debt rose $78Billion yesterday - yes, in one day), or keep the food prices from skyrocketing (they rose 3.9% - highest jump in 36 years - last month).

What we do know about Obama is that he picked Duke for one of those NCAA bracket thingies and that he's heading to Rio for a speech and then taking the family sightseeing, a long awaited break after all the work he's been putting in on his golf swing.

He's like an actor thrown into the real-life role of his character and he thinks the show's writers are back in the conference room revamping the script. So he's stalling until his lines show.

This is not a leader.

Sadly, however, we only get one President at a time and he's it. He obviously doesn't want the job right now. There are many who don't want him to have the job right now. But he does. And that's that.

So time to do it. Right now.

Here a brief preview of what the Post's Podhoretz is asking:

Where is the president? The world is beset. Moammar Khadafy is moving relentlessly to crush the Libyan revolt that once promised the overthrow of one of the world's most despicable regimes.

So where is the president?

Japan may be on the verge of a disaster that dwarfs any we have yet seen. A self-governing nation like the United States needs its leader to take full measure of his position at times of crises when the path forward is no longer clear.

This is not a time for leadership; this is the time for leadership.

So where is Barack Obama?

The moment demands that he rise to the challenge of showing America and the world that he is taking the reins. How leaders act in times of unanticipated crisis, in which they do not have a formulated game plan and must instead navigate in treacherous waters, defines them.

Obama is defining himself in a way that will destroy him.

Except in the eyes of the Duke players.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

The power of ONE voice. When it has something to say.

This is what one informed, reasonable voice can do. Only one. And they couldn't prove him wrong.

Elliot Fladen, a graduate of Stanford Law School and Northwestern University with Economics Major, defended his Libertarian views, as well as the Tea Party stance, on unions during a pro-union rally in Denver on Saturday.

He was alone among hundreds. Yet they could give him no arguments other than name calling, booing, and flipping him off. Why couldn't they give one reasonable argument?

Truth only needs one voice. It'll take care of the results.

My favorite? When the man began screaming "fascist" in Elliot's face then got sucker-punched when Elloit simply asked him, "Do you know what 'fascist' means?"