American Sniper

American Sniper

I enjoy movies.  I have seen a lot of movies in my 44 years.  I have never experienced what I experienced this afternoon at the end of American Sniper.

The movie ended (I won’t spoil it for you) and a few hands clapped but then a wave of silence spread across the theatre.  This was a crowded theatre.  I was alone towards the middle top.  The entire theatre emptied in a slow, orderly fashion and you could of heard a pen drop.  It was deathly silent.

Plain and simple; Clint Eastwood is a genius.

Circa 1978-1980 I was in early elementary school.  My teacher gave us an assignment to write a letter to an influential figure in our lives.  The idea was that they would write us back.  Hopefully, create a pen-pal type of situation.  We get to practice our handwriting and learn how to address an envelope with the correct headings and addresses.  We may even get a little extra something in return.

My influential figure was Clint Eastwood.  I have no idea why.  I was only 8-9 years old.  I wasn’t allowed to watch any of his R-rated movies.  I was watching, Any Which Way You Can and Everywhich Way But Loose.  I guess?

I was enthralled by this actor.  He was such the ALPHA Male to me.  I wanted to be like him.

3-4 weeks after I mailed my letter to Mr. Eastwood, I received a package in the mail.  It was a glossy 8×10 photo of Clint himself in a white cowboy hat!  He signed the bottom

Chris, Thanks for being a fan!

  • Clint Eastwood

I wish I still had that photo.  A long lost memory.  It cemented in my psyche that Clint Eastwood was and is the greatest Hollywood celebrity there is.  I could talk about him for days…

What impresses me the most today is how Mr. Eastwood can write a story… How he can produce and direct a movie that will pull at your heartstrings.  Shake me to my core.

  • Unforgiven
  • A Perfect World
  • Million Dollar Baby
  • Invictus
  • Gran Torino
  • And now American Sniper

I realize that Mr. Eastwood has done so much more.  But these are some of my latest favorites.  The ending music of Gran Torino with Clint singing is haunting.  The ability to infuse sports into Nelson Mandela’s life in Invictus.  The relationship story of A Perfect World and Million Dollar Baby.  Wow… when Hillary Swank breaks her neck in Million Dollar Baby I was rattled.  The gunfight in Unforgiven… The acting he is able to do as well…  I can’t get enough of Clint Eastwood.

 

Bradley Cooper deserves whatever awards that the liberals in Hollywood can muster.  This man is solid.  He nailed this part.  Eastwood was able to cast the best possible actor for this role.

The story is truly inspirational.  My daughter, R, and I went to the grocery this afternoon after I had seen the movie.  She watched it yesterday.  She was asking me.  How could Chris Kyle not “freak out” like the other soldiers.  Why was he able to heal?  I started to go over the beginning of the movie.  Back to his childhood.

Kyle was raised by a very strict father.  He explained that there are three types of people in this world.

  • Sheep
  • Wolves
  • Sheep dogs

Most people are sheep and the rest are wolves preying on the sheep.  The sheep dogs are rare and they are the ones that protect their own.

Kyle jumped in on a schoolyard fight when his little brother was getting his butt beat.  Kyle took down the bully.  His father said at the dinner table something along the lines, “I ain’t raising no sheep!”  He then pulls out his belt and slams it on the table saying, “If you’re a wolf get ready!”  referring to the belt.  So the only other thing you could be in Kyle’s life was a sheepdog.  His dad asked, “Did you finish it?”  referring to beating down the bully.

That explains all you need to know about Chris Kyle.  He viewed his fellow soldiers as “his own”.  He was a sheep dog and was killing the bad guys just to protect his own.  He never thought too deep about the politics, the reasons of war, is it morally correct, etc…. He was simply a sheep dog protecting his own.

R then tells me…

“You know how you are always telling me that most people are sheep?”

I answer, “yes…”  (I have always taught the girls that most people are sheep that need herding. Just because they are sheep doesn’t mean they need to be slaughtered.  Help guide them along the right path.).

R says, “Well I said that most people are sheep or something along those line the other day at school.  Some girl got really mad at me and said that was the worst thing she has ever heard me say.”  R pauses with me looking at her… “I guess she is a sheep.”

We both laugh…. We have a screwed up sense of humor.

Go see American Sniper

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Learning from those around me

Learning from those around me

Yesterday an old high school buddy of mine (divorced too) and I went out on what would best be described as a “Pup Crawl”.  This adventure started at 10:30 AM and continued until about 8 PM.  This was to be an all-day jaunt around the area.  My buddy invited some others to join us along the way. But each of those individuals were like characters in my new chapter of life.

In the past I would go out in order to laugh, to act foolish, to have a good time.  Lately I am not as interested at this.  It is not that I didn’t have fun… Everyone knows I laughed and even acted foolish at times.  My focus has just shifted.

I was watching people and observing how they interact with those around us.  I want to learn why people do what they do.  I tried to learn why things happen the way they do.  The people I interacted with I truly wanted to know their story.  I asked questions that would make people pause.  The frankness the openness and honesty that I approached them was unique.  I think I am living life differently because I want to learn what is next for me in the second half of my life?

It might just be as simple as I care more about the people around me.

I say this but then I remember what my buddy at work always says.  “Name someone other than a family member that you actually like.”  He probably knows me more than anyone at work.  We talk about everything together.  He is completely different than me in his race, religion, politics, economic level, etc… But he knows me well.  He is correct in the fact that for the first 3 years we knew each other I was married.  I did not allow people to get close to me.  I have always been friendly but aloof.  Why bother?  I had everything I needed.  Everyone thinks I like them because I act like I do.  I just was not really interested in their true being.

I can’t hold this against my buddy.  He sees me only at work.  I am the “boss” so I have a belief system that you do not mix play with work.  So, I purposely put a wall up between myself and everyone.

But lately I have been wondering if my buddy is correct.  Maybe I do this outside of work too?

That leads us back to the ‘Pup Crawl’

Late in the afternoon the owner of the last pub we visit brings an older gentleman into the sitting area we had taken over.  I instantly become interested in learning everything I can about this gentleman.  I will call him Bob for simplicity sake.

Bob and I hit it off splendidly.  I start to learn about Bob’s life, job, belief systems, etc…  Bob is a “seaman”.  He has a home base in Houston and one in Prog, Czechoslovakia.   He has been divorced for over 30 years.  He was married for almost as many.  His kids are grown and older than me.  Bob is 72 years old.

I do digress in the story a moment and start to think about that country song, People are Crazy by Billy Currington.

It fit exactly what was happening with Bob and I.  I was waiting for Bob to give me a great nugget of wisdom like Currington sang, “God is great, beer is good, and people are crazy.”

What I did learn is that Bob highly recommended a few books.  One is Finding Meaning in the Second Half of Life: How to Finally, Really Grow Up, by James Hollis.  Bob said this book will put everything I am seeking into perspective.

So maybe my “God is great, beer is good, and people are crazy” has yet to be found?  Maybe I will find it in the words of Hollis?

I have a feeling that Hollis will not have as large of an impact on me as Bob the seaman did.

A few other nuggets Bob passed on to me:

  • Create a budget and look at it daily. Keep every receipt and know exactly to the penny what you have at all times. (I have this one covered)
  • Be selfish. Don’t be so American. Take care of you first. Imagine your drowning in the water along with another. If you don’t save yourself first you can’t save the others. (I think I’m good here)
  • Embrace being alone. Solitude is good (Im learning)
  • Write (I have been doing this)
  • Create two homes in different parts of the world. This will allow you to flip your perspective (need to think about this. Maybe North Dakota? Lol)
  • Don’t get remarried (disagree)
  • Buy a sports car for fun and a regular car for daily activity. (ok, I’ll start working on this)
  • Think before you talk. Pause and slow down. (Need to work on this)

What was interesting to learn, is that talking to an older guy drew the interests of a few ladies.  The table next to us was a lady in her 40s and another in her early 30s/late 20s.  The younger one kept smiling at me the entire time.  I can see the desperation in those eyes.  The loneliness, self doubt, and hurt… a longing for happiness.   She was a very pretty girl that finds herself eating cake on her birthday at a bar.   I had to walk past her table once to go to the restroom.  Really, cake??  Like the nice guy I am I paused and asked, “Is it your birthday?”  She laughed and offered me a bite.  I declined (cake and beer have never been a good mix for me…. Just saying).  But here I am more interested in talking to my new friend Bob than any one night stand.  I have changed…  As I leave the bar with Bob, I see the sadness in her dark circled eyes as I walk past telling her to order ice cream too.  I’m not here to fix the sadness in those around me.  Poor girl.  I’m sure she is waking up in some strangers bed right now (as I type this blog entry) hoping that he will call her in the next day or two knowing he will not.  Amazing how much hurt is in the world.

Bob also gave me his email and asked me to keep in contact with him once I read the book by Hollis.  I will and then I will give Bob the link to this post.

Bob….If you are reading this… I was honored to meet you.  Safe journeys my friend.

Government Intervention

Government Intervention

My whole life I was raised a pretty solid Republican.  I remember a quote that my father always used to say to me that the only thing the Government should do is…

“deliver the mail, protect the coasts, and leave me alone.”

I do think I have lived faithfully by this Government help for most of my adult life.  At work I love it when students will come to me and say they actually have a real job with a paycheck.  This is such a rare occurrence because most of my students seem to find the life of robbery, theft, and extortion to be much more lucrative.   I had a big fella tell me this morning that he had a job interview at Popeyes Chicken after school.  I handed him a couple of my business cards and told him to ask for a manager and hand over my card.  I will be more than happy to highly recommend the young man for employment.  I looked at the kid and said, “I love it when people pay taxes…”

I often look at the teachers when their motivation starts to fade and walk by and say, “We are creating tax paying citizens….  Anything more is a bonus.”

 …

This morning on my morning commute one of the radio stations got ahold of a news article that came out yesterday that made me chuckle.

regulations

The Government of New Zealand has decided to push themselves far into the lives of parents.  They have decided to require that you seek and gain approval for your child’s name!

Once I started to hear the story and then think about this I agree!  Bring on the government!

A 9 year old girl was forced by a judge to change his name.  What is wrong with her name…..

 Talula Does the Hula From Hawaii

That’s the name…  WOW.

Other names they have banned or censored:

Superman

Metallica

Brfxxccxxmnpcccclllmmnprxvclmnckssqlbb11116

Lucifer

4Real

Anal

Justice

King

Messiah

And my personal favorite…  Number 16 Bus Shelter.

Who in their right mind would name their kid Number 16 Bus Shelter.  Was this where the poor child was conceived?  Can you imagine that being your name on the first day of school when the teacher tries to call roll?

For a full list and the number of times the government has stopped names take a peek at this article.  Absolutely crazy

With the nut-jobs in New Zealand I am glad they have a little Government Intervention.

The Cry of Youth

The Cry of Youth

I usually try and stay away from writing about the topic of work.  I don’t want to mix my work life with my blog.  But this week has been extra, shall we say for lack of a better word, entertaining.

As some of you know I work at an alternative secondary school in the inner-city of Houston.  This campus houses all students 6-12 grade that break the law at the regular campus.  They make a bad decision and are sent to us.  Basically, their bad decisions just keep coming.

I was asking a friend the other night if she thinks there is a full moon out there this week.  The next day she asked me if I found out about the full moon.

My response, “I haven’t looked because I am afraid if there is NOT a full moon then I am going to be more depressed.”

The students this past week have been what we like to call, OFF THE CHAIN.  Kids cussing, shouting, fighting, turning over desks, walking out of classrooms and leaving the campus, etc.. etc…  It never stops.  What is great about it…. We are used to it.   Nothing a kid does will surprise me.

I innocently walked out of the main office going toward the cafeteria for lunch duty.  Out walks one of our star stellar students from the cafeteria.  He is steadily cussing one of the adults I have stationed in the cafeteria.  She asks me if I could handle SAID student.

spit

I explain to him that he is being sent to the in-school suspension room and he needs to turn and go their immediately.  Typical profanity laced response that he wasn’t doing anything we say.  He walks into  secretaries office and starts using the phone.  I follow him inside and tell him to hang up the phone.  More profanity….  He then throws the phone at me.  Luckily I duck.  Student then sweeps his arm across the secretaries desk sending papers, computer monitor, staple, etc… all on the ground.  Student then chooses additional profanity and spits a snot rocket right at me!  I try and duck with my Matrix type skills but the snotball hits me in the shoulder.  He then runs off like a little school girl, out the front door and sprints down the street in who knows what direction.

This bothered me.  I know I am on video tape everywhere so I can’t do what I really want to do because I like shelter and food.  Losing my job would put shelter and food in jeapordy.

What really bothered me was the smell that kept coming from my shirt.  I had to change into a borrowed student uniform white plain shirt.

spit 2

Living the Dream?  Listening to the Cry of Youth.

Strength and Honor… Speed and Power

Strength and Honor… Speed and Power

How does one teach the foundation of sportsmanship to their children?  How do you know they are understanding the lessons you want them to learn?  How can you make sure your offspring have integrity, hard work, good moral values, teamwork, and basically just knowing how to treat people.

I don’t think I have the answers to these questions. I often wonder how the heck do my daughters make it from point A to point B with a father like me?   I was such a screw up as a child.  I am still screwing up as an adult.

I had a conversation I shared today with a good friend about what I tell my daughters.  It basically went along the lines of, “You are my blood.  There are things my family does not do.  There are lines we do not cross.  You don’t lie and you don’t cheat.  You DO have integrity.  You do the right thing even when nobody is looking.”

I feel that sports have been a better teacher than I could ever be.

Ever since the girls were 4 years old running on the soccer field I would say these words,

“Strength and Honor…. Speed and Power.”  They would chant them back to me and punch their fist into their other hand.

Strength to muscle your way through the task at hand.  You will always pass out before you die. So push yourself until you cannot push anymore.  Only then will you be happy knowing you gave it everything you had.

Honor to treat the opponents, your teammates, your coaches, and the referees with respect.  But most of all you honor the game you play… It will be either the sport you play or the life that you are living.

Speed to push yourself to move faster in everything you do on the field or off.

Power to show that explosiveness along with your speed.  When you make a change of direction or begin to move you push yourself as hard as you can in that direction.  Apply this to your other activities in life.  You push yourself in whatever direction you have to turn.

Sports can be applied to everything you do.

I can just look at the girls today and say, “Strength and Honor…” and they will always repeat, “Speed and Power”

 …

My youngest daughter, B, learned a valuable lesson this weekend.  She has been hurting from a nagging knee injury.  My older daughter, R, always has nagging injuries but she plays through them.  You don’t even here a complaint from her.

B complains often.

R and I sat with B after last weekend’s tournament (where B came out of a game due to knee and we lost).  I allowed R to explain that all athletes play with something hurting.  There is a huge difference from “being hurt” or “being injured”.  Are you hurt or injured?  The trainer said that her knee is just sore and was strained.  She can play if she can handle the pain once it is taped.  He also explained that her ability to sprint will be severely hampered.  R and I explained that a 50% B is better than the other options.  But you will never be a great player until you learn to tell the difference between being hurt or being injured.

050

R pulled off her socks and showed B her injuries.  Both ankles were twice the size as normal and had a dark ring of purple around them.  Her knees were scabs torn off of older scabs last week.  Her calf was still swollen from being kicked.  Her bottom lip was bloody from doing a face plant into the turf.  She is missing two toe nails and she can barely walk.  But when game time comes around and the whistle blows she is the best player on the field.

B came out this weekend and scored 5 goals in 3 games.   Honestly she was a complete beast.  Nobody could contain her.  She was running through double and triple teams.  She was pulled down by her arm, by her jersey, kicked in the back of the legs, shoved to the ground with full extension of arms.  Basically she was repeatedly fouled.  She battled.  She was a warrior.  She scored.  Then after the game she walked up to each defender that was trying to stop her and shook their hands.  Class.

157

She looked like her big sister more this weekend than she ever has.

I am blessed.  There is nothing else I can say.  Truly truly bless.  What I will say is this,

Strength and Honor, Speed and Power.

Crap Poetry Corner – Stopping in Bed on a Cold Winters Morn

This lady cracks me up. I mean, really funny!

Being Female

My sincere apologies to any Robert Frost purists out there, but ‘Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening’ popped into my head this morning whilst I was weighing up the options of staying in my warm bed with a full bladder and going to my cold bathroom to relieve myself…

*clears throat and steps up to the microphone*

My Bladder’s full, yes I know
The toilet is so far away though
But my brain doesn’t mind me stopping here
To stay warm and hold in the urine flow

My little bladder must think it queer
to stop when wetting point is near
Between the bed and staying dry
the fullest bladder of the year

My bladder gives a little cry
to ask if I could maybe try
But the only other sound’s the glee
Of my brain crying ‘No here you’ll lie’

My bladder’s full to bursting with wee
But…

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Looking For My Rainbow

Today needs to be a good day.  Today needs to be happy.  Too much sadness in the world today.  But also opportunities for much happiness.

The old comes and is replaced with fresh opportunities… The new is scary and exciting.

Fears of moving forward.  Fears because I don’t want to feel more pain.  Fears because I don’t want to feel more heartache.  More rejection.  More loss. More adjusting.

If I don’t move forward then I am stagnant and dormant.  On the road to dying.

I often say, “Whats the alternative?”

You can either lie down and die or you can take risks and move forward.

I’m too pretty to die.  I’m too much fun to die.  I’m have too much to offer to die.  I will make the next love of my life happy and need that opportunity before I die.

Shake these fears.  Use this anxiousness as fuel to my motor.  Use this fear as a power source.

I will thrive.

I always love to go back and listen to Israel “IZ” Kamakawiwo’ole  version of Somewhere Over the Rainbow.

I do this often when I am Looking for My Rainbow.  IZ, I hope your trouble melts like lemon drops where ever you are in Heaven.