It's all a matter of perspective.

Friday, September 20, 2002

My Favorite Dead Guys (In no particular order and with apologies to the Cap'n)

Calvin Coolidge
Kris Kristofferson
Buddy Holly
Billy Ray Cyrus
Paul of Tarsus
Walter Mathau
Evan Williams
Rex Stout
Jerry Garcia
Darrell Strawberry
Stevie Ray Vaughan
Jack Daniels
Harry Carey
Julia Child
Mr. Peepers
Old King Cole
Jose Cuervo
Corey Feldman
Corey Haim
Corey Hart
This fascinating article By Frederica Mathewes-Green on NRO makes the argument that couples should get married younger. As someone who got married at 20, I have to totally agree with the author. Ms. J and I have been together for five and a half years and we get along swimmingly. (Except when we don’t) Mrs. Mathews-Green makes the point that couples marrying younger will reduce the number of illegitimate births, lower the teen pregnancy rate, and probably even lower the divorce rate. She makes credible arguments for each of these.

But don't young marriages tend to end in divorce? If we communicate to young people that we think they're inherently incompetent that will become a self-fulfilling prophecy, but it was not always the case. In fact, in the days when people married younger, divorce was much rarer. During the last half of the 20th century, as brides' age rose from 20 to 25, the divorce rate doubled. The trend toward older, and presumptively more mature, couples didn't result in stronger marriages. Marital durability has more to do with the expectations and support of surrounding society than with the partners' age.

A pattern of late marriage may actually increase the rate of divorce. During that initial decade of physical adulthood, young people may not be getting married, but they're still falling in love. They fall in love, and break up, and undergo terrible pain, but find that with time they get over it. They may do this many times. Gradually, they get used to it; they learn that they can give their hearts away, and take them back again; they learn to shield their hearts from access in the first place. They learn to approach a relationship with the goal of getting what they want, and keep their bags packed by the door. By the time they marry they may have had many opportunities to learn how to walk away from a promise. They've been training for divorce.

The catch is, and this is what Ms. J and I had going for us, it takes a lot of support to pull this off. That is the difference between these days and back when people used to get married younger. It seems now that most parents want their kids to wait until they are completely self-sufficient before getting married. Ms. J and I have had tons of support from both of our families, both of our families’ churches, our church, our friends, and God knows what all else. When Wylie was born, we had something like five baby showers thrown for us. When we got married, one room of our little house (Which was provided by my folks) was filled waist deep in gifts.

We have been blessed, but we look forward to the opportunity to bless others too. I think that Mrs. Mathewes-Green has it quite right. Take the plunge kids, you are responsible enough and adult enough to pull it off.
My dreams are coming true, a culture of bloggers is springing up among my friends and each of them is talented and compelling. First of all, I expected John Barber to put up a good read every day, and he has not let me down. He is an expert on many topics and should hold forth in the future on parenting, movies, books, football, baseball, and most of all, music.

What I am really looking forward to are more posts from John's sweet wife, Janna. She has only published one so far, but it captured pretty accurately many of the PK memories from my childhood. I had forgotten how horrible church business meetings are.

But the crown jewel is this post from Capt. Flip Out, Mark Currey. You can ask Ms. J, I was crying like a little girl who had just had her dolly’s head snapped off after reading this. The part where he meets his Dad’s best friend . . . oohhh man . . . now that is a tear jerker . . . here I go again.

Besides the sad story, you also gotta give the Capt. credit for starting out his blog with an entry entitled:"My favorite Dead Guys (in no particular order)"

Also, I noticed that Janna and Currey picked the same template. What psychological information can we glean from that?

This leaves us only one question: Where are the blogs from Dan, Pastor Tim, My old man, Ms. J, Get with the program!

Thursday, September 19, 2002

Perhaps you remember this story of dental misfortune?

Well, yesterday afternoon I had to go back to the chair and have some stuff fixed. I had to have my four front upper teeth crowned because I grind my teeth while I sleep. Those four had gotten so thin that they were breaking off bit by bit. I had never had a tooth crowned, let alone four at a time, so I had no idea what I was in for. Looking back on my experiences yesterday, it was basically like two and a half hours in a medieval torture chamber. I would have gladly given them any secrets that they wanted. I have never been in so much pain in my life. My lip and my nose were completely numb, but where the dentist was working was on my teeth and gums. Those were feeling pain just fine, thank you. I tried to complain and get more anesthetic injected, but the jerk just put another shot into my upper lip.

After whittling my teeth down to nubs, he had to pack these small pieces of string around each tooth between the tooth and the gum. This was the most painful thing that I have ever had to go through. I had tears streaming down my face. I was moaning like a poltergeist. The dentist says, “Ooh I just can’t stand to see you in such pain!” and gives me another injection in the upper lip.

The temporary crown that they put on is one piece and stretches across all four teeth. It is right in the front, so I can hardly talk. I sound like a little kid wearing an orthodontic retainer. When I answer the phone at work I usually say, “Call Center, this is Nathan.” Today it has been, “Caw thinter thishish Nasan.”

Until they get the permanent crowns on I can not eat anything that I have to bite into. No apples, no ribs, no chips and dip, but worst of all . . . No sandwiches. I do not know how I am going to go three weeks with no sandwiches.

And did I mention that my mouth feels like I chewed up a mouthful of safety glass - all cut up and sore.

I am going to start being more selective about what I allow those jerks to do to my mouth.
My old man called me last night to share the most amazing true story I have most ever heard. He has been pastor at a little country Baptist church for the past seventeen years. On Wednesday nights they do not have regular preaching, but everyone separates into smaller groups and has bible classes. The children go to what is called Awana. The only thing I know about Awana is that it is a church program for kids, but I intend to go to this web site and find out more after hearing this story.

Anyway, after Pop finishes up with his class, (he teaches the adults) he is walking out into the auditorium when one of the Awana teachers walks up to him and says, “The Little Cubbies have made you a gift and would like to present it to you.” Little Cubbies is what they have named the preschool group. I think they are called this because they have a short temper if they do not get enough sleep.

Pop follows her into a classroom full of little kids and sees that they have baked cookies in the shape of small bears, or little cubbies as the case may be. The teacher says, “Brother Pat, we would like to present you with this token of our appreciation for having the best goatee of any preacher in lower Arkansas.” Or something like that. He was not real specific on the ceremony.

This is how the action unfolded. He is standing there in front of the class and he has his hands out, together and palms up, and the teacher is placing a little cubbie cookie into his hands. A youngster in the front row sees the cookie and thinks to himself, “Wait a second, that is my little cubbie cookie.” The munchkin runs squealing across the classroom as if he were shot from a connon, collides with pop, and bites onto his crotch.

Yep, no shit.

Pop dropped his cookie, grabs a double handful of toddler hair, and they have themselves a little Mexican standoff. The crotch-biter is scared to move, the old man is scared to move. As Pop put it, “Thank God he had the frank and not the beans, cause he was biting down hard!”

Finally the kid relaxes his bulldog jaws and Pop pushes him away. The teacher was crying, the classroom was bedlam, the old man had a big wet spot on the central area of his slacks, and the kid still got the cookie.
Sometimes this blog thing seems like my own personal version of Elmo’s world.

La la la la , la la la la, Fatnate’s blog.
Hi and welcome to Fatnate’s blog. Can you guess what Fatnathan is thinking about today?
ya-ta-ta-daaaa. . .

That’s right Fatnathan is thinking about how he is going prematurely gray, if his son will hate him when he is fourteen, what that wierd rash on his neck might be, and what will happen on the West Wing this season.

Let’s ask Mr. Noodle what he thinks . . .

Wednesday, September 18, 2002

this was published in the weekly Modern Humorist newsletter. It made me giggle.

True facts: Vin Diesel X-posed!
by Bobby Mort

Real Name: Leonard Dieselwitz

Vin Diesel's first big break came when he wrote and directed a low-budget film about Man's search for his place in the universe called "Dude, My Arms Are Huge!"

While Vin was a bouncer in New York City, Vin Diesel got into a scuffle and accidentally killed one of the Fat Boys.

Vin Diesel shaves his head because his actual hair is dense shrubbery.

Vin Diesel's first kiss was with his biceps.

Not wanting to be pigeonholed, Vin Diesel hopes to do adventure movies as well as action movies.

Much has been made of Vin Diesel's multi-racial appeal, but he is 100% Chinaman.

Vin Diesel can chop a tree in half with his steely gaze.

In high school, Vin Diesel formed a barbershop trio called the Aca-Fellas with friends Mike Octane and Jimmy Fuel.

Vin Diesel was the voice of the robot in "The Iron Giant," and he also did voice work in Disney's classic "The Great Mouse Detective" as a giant robot.

Vin Diesel is half cougar.

Vin Diesel claims he could've stopped 9/11 if he'd only had access to a giant harpoon gun.

Tuesday, September 17, 2002

My best buddy is named Dan. Dan is a big fat sweaty lazy hairy musician, just like me. That is why we hit it off so well. For a day job, Dan learned how to break in to cars. He got himself a cell phone and an ad in the yellow pages . . . instant locksmith career. Now he spends most of the day sitting in front of his computer, surfing EBay for sweet bass guitars. Did I mention that Dan is much smarter than me? He talked his wife into letting them get DSL instead of cable, and then he just stole cable from the neighbors for free.

We came from the same town and I knew who he was, but we did not hang out. When I was in ninth grade my old man gave me a guitar for my birthday. It was just what I had always wanted. After I had exhausted all of Pop’s knowledge I wanted to learn more about pickin’ and grinnin’. I went to the high school band director and said, “Mr. C, where could I get some guitar lessons.” I was expecting him to send me to some college professor, but he replied, “You should talk to Dan the Man!”

I said, “But Dan is into heavy metal. Besides, I thought that he was a bass player.”

You see I was a little bit scared of Dan because (a) I did not really know him and he was older than me (b) He had long hair and wore slayer T-shirts and (c) He hung out with The Great Whoreior – Corey Shepherd.

Mr. C said to me, “Big Nate, He is the pest guitar player around. I know you two will hit it off.”

Turns out Mr. C was damn right, we did hit it off. I gave Dan ten bucks a lesson for three weeks. At that point we had exhausted all of his knowledge also. Then he went back to playing the bass and we started jamming as peers.

Dan lived in a tiny little trailer house with about 27 brothers. His room had two beds in it. We would sit on the beds facing each other and play for hours. All we knew were Cream and Zepplin and AC/DC and Guns N Roses, but we would rock them all night.

With Jody Evans and the Silver Crickets we put the rock in rockabilly.

We joined the music department of various universities and learned something about music.

With The Electric Church we put the funk in dysfunctional.

One time we crashed an open mic coffee house at a college. We played an avant garde improvisation for thirty minutes while two guys we had recruited from the visual art department smeared paint on a huge canvas and we all freaked out. Finally this little black kid in the front row got fed up with all of the weirdness. He jumped on this drum kit that was set up for the next act and started laying down a beat. Daniel and I accepted his challenge and rose to the funk. Another black kid jumped up, grabbed a mic and started freestylin’ some rhymes. We brought the crowd to their feet.

Next we started a jazz quartet with a drummer and a horn player. We could never come up with a name, although we had some good ideas. (Fugitive Squirrel, Clearly Disturbed Beavers, Jesus Chrysler, The Colostomy Bags, My gay uncle, Purple Monkey Discharge, The President's Penis, My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult, The Ed Fuqua Experience, The Underwear Men, Pissing Razors, Spiked Fondue, Jazz Ass) So I told the guy who owned the bar that we were the Daniel Schoultz Quartet. Dan has never forgiven me for this. One day we were playing this reception at one of the colleges and several members of the music faculty came and sat in with us. These guys were world class jazz musicians and we were clearly poseurs along side them, but it was a compliment that they even jammed with us.

With the Mark Currey Band we molded contemporary worship music and alt-country into a polysynthesis that only a Roach could despise.

We have been playing together at church for the last few years and that is where the real music is at; getting to worship the King along side my best friend while using this amazing gift that God has given to us. Jamming with Dan on Wednesdays at church is my most cherished memory.

Last Sunday night we got to rock the Decorative Arts Museum, opening up for a band that was much better than us. Dan booked the gig, so what did he name us . . . The Nathaniel Greer Trio. Vengeance is mine, this saith the Dan.

Monday, September 16, 2002

I love Tony Pierce. I have made no secret of that. I have said on this blog several times that he is my favorite. Last Friday when I reorganized my links I decided to put the blog links at the top and of course I put him at the top of my list of favorite blogs. So I decided to send him a note and tell him. I said,
Hey Tony,
I have been trying to deny it, telling myself over and over that your's is not my favorite web site. Today I finally gave in and linked you right at the top of my list.
God Bless,

I have written Tony before and expressed my admiration, but he is a busy man. If you read his blog then you know that he has dozens of womens to keep up with. I did not expect a reply, I was just sharing the love. But after a couple of hours I see this in my inbox:

youre the man
have a great weekend!



Now that was really something special to me. For my money, a personal note from Mr. Pierce is like a phone call from the president. Then I click over to his site, just like I do six or eight times a day, to check and see if he has any new posts, and what to my wondering eyes should appear, but a big fat link to me! Right at the very top left of his site. I have not been that excited since I hit my first homerun in Little League. Finally I will have the chance to write for somebody besides my sweet Ms. J and my best friend Dan. Since he gets one thousand visitors a day, and I get about ten, this was an act of benevolence on his part. I really can not help but feel like it is a new beginning for this simple little blog.
As I walked out to my truck from work on Wednesday, September 11, 2002, I had become completely saturated with 9/11 talk. It sounds calloused and crass, but I had watched it on TV, listened to it on NPR, read it on the opinion sites and the blogs and in the papers, and I was fed up. As Mark Steyn said,
To be honest, I'd had enough of the American networks' 9/11 anniversary coverage after about 10 minutes. I think it was the piano accompaniment to the victim profiles. Also there's the ironclad rule that every news story, no matter how unprecedented, eventually becomes a story about how the media cover the story.

As I started up my truck to head home the radio came on. I am a devoted listener to NPR, but as soon as I realized what I was playing I turned it off. I just could not handle any more 9/11 talk. I dug around in the console and found a CD of a Sunday morning service that I had not listened to. (I play guitar with the band on Sunday mornings, so I get a copy of the recordings mostly for vanity’s sake. Very spiritual, huh?) I plugged it in and cranked it up, just to take my mind off of the obvious. I hit the freeway and headed home, not really thinking about anything.

Little Rock is not a showy town. We are Deep South and we prefer to keep to ourselves, thank you. There are no globalization protests in Arkansas. There are no spontaneous memorials. There are biscuits and gravy and blues festivals, but that is about as emotional as we get in public.

But an amazing scene unfolded. As I passed underneath the Pine Street overpass, there was this guy in an eagle T-shirt, jean shorts, and a baseball cap standing up on the guardrail with a hefty American flag. He had a proud grin on his face and he was waving that damn thing around like he was trying to get somebody’s attention. As all of this was happening, on the stereo I noticed Mark Currey sing these lines:

We've been through fire
We’ve been through rain
We've been refined by the power of his name
We've fallen deeper in love with you
You've burned the truth on our lips

Rise up church with broken wings
Fill this place with songs again
Of our God who reigns on high
By His grace again we'll fly

And we’ll shout to the North and the South
Sing to the East and the West
Jesus is savior to all
He is Lord of heaven and earth

I became overwhelmed and my face was hot as if I was blushing. Martin Smith, who is an Englishman, wrote that song in 1995. It has nothing to do with dealing with the aftermath of terrorism, but it has everything to do with the transforming power of God’s healing. I realized that this thing changed all of us, even if we did not notice it happening. That God took a measure of our cynicism and burned it off. That He was able to take this horrible event and change us into something more like him.