Monday, December 30, 2013

The Tapeworm.

Part one

Of course, when the cops came, they'd never seen anything like it. They sat at the crime scene for a while, discussing the worst things they'd ever seen on the job and off, in that joking way that cops sometimes use to keep the gruesome mortality of their duties from affecting them too much.

"Did you see the way their necks were bent?" asked one of them.
"Yeah, that was a 90 degree angle," replied another. "Like that street light after Roberts hit it with his patrol car last week."
Another, presumably Roberts, jumped in to defend himself. "The perp's in jail isn't he? Besides that light was wonky. It didn't work half the time."
"Doesn't work at all now."

They all laughed and started heading for their cars. There wasn't anything they could do now, this was a job for the guys who showed up in fancy black suits driving fancy black Suburbans with no identification on them whatsoever. The kind of guys who you didn't argue with if you wanted to keep your job.

Even though, after tonight, most of them were wondering why they'd even want to keep their jobs.

***

Stephen "Bear" Williams was a tough man. Not only was he as physically grizzled as his nickname suggested, he also had the temperament of a bear who'd just woken up from a long hibernation only to find his normal hunting spot had been turned into a Burger King with a sign that specifically said "No Bears." 

Stephen approached all of life with a bad attitude. He hated his job, he hated his wife, and he hated his kids. He had a reputation for being an abusive husband and father, although "abusive" didn't exactly cover what he could be in a bar on any given night, be it Tuesday or Saturday. No one knew exactly what Stephen's problem was; his wife Marie was beautiful and had a passive demeanor that would have to be possessed by anyone who loved Bear, and his children were well-behaved and mild-mannered. 

Only Stephen knew the reasons for his behavior, and Stephen wasn't exactly the type to tell you all about it over a beer or on a psychologist's couch. Stephen was the type to explain his anger with two large, ham-shaped fists thrown any direction he could see a face.

In fact, the only redeeming qualities Stephen possessed were not actually qualities at all. They were people, and they were his brothers, Jeff, who was older; and Wallace, who was younger. Each of them could do what no one else could; they could calm Stephen down when he was at his worst. Every bar and tavern owner in the town had their numbers saved in their phones, and local policemen didn't hesitate to pick either of them up from work to go diffuse a situation that would normally take a truncheon and a taser to get a handle on.

In spite of their onerous father, the Williams family thrived. The oldest, Sarah, was eight years old and at the top of her class in school, and Brandon, who was six, was athletic and charming, sometimes a little too much of both. Neither displayed the typical character traits of an overbearing father, and both loved their daddy with the pure and unequivocal love that only young children and Jesus are capable of.

The only real problem the family had of late was Brandon's lack of interest around mealtimes. No matter what Marie fixed, Brandon would get a couple of bites in and refuse to eat anymore. This often prompted angry outbursts from Stephen, demanding "You got a tapeworm boy?" Without fail, Brandon would always ask, "What's a tapeworm?" and dinner would be completely derailed by Stephen pounding his fists on the table and sending Brandon to his room where he would "deal with him later."

The Williams were active in church, inasmuch as "active" meant that they attended semi-regularly and didn't mind helping out once in a while as volunteers were needed. Stephen's reputation followed him like his shadow, but many church members were content to let that ride as long as his temper never flared inside the doors of the church and as long as he was kept away from children and the sacramental wine used for communion.

So when it happened, no one was really surprised. The talk of the town was that they all knew it would happen one day, and someone really should have called protective services when there was still a chance, and how each was really too busy to make the call themselves, because that's how people will deal with passing blame in the face of tragedy. But, just like in any other small town or city, a lot of people can talk, but only a few know the details.

And the devil was certainly in these details.

Part two

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Tiny Cheerleaders, Hotel Pools, and How I Achieved Nirvana in the Midst of Idiocy.


I hate kids.

Somehow, through tolerance and sheer force of will, I've managed to fall in love with the two I call my own, and there are several couples from church who have a few that I like.

But as a rule, the first time I meet or see a kid under the age of 11, I'm not going to like them.

"Is everybody on? GOOD GREAT GRAND WONDERFUL!"
Image credit

I also hate hotels. 


It never fails that I forget something important, and have to spend the rest of the day with a sore back and smelling like lady Degree. 

Other things I forgot: 

1. Toothpaste
2. Brush
3. Patience

There is one thing, however, that I look forward to when I go to a hotel. One amenity I always look for, and won't book without. And that is...

The Mount Olympus of the hotel. 

...the hotel pool. 

Yes, I am aware that the kids who just left the hotel pool probably treated it like a personal lavatory, and I'm sure the honeymooning couple that just got out of the hot tub more than likely consummated their nuptials as they relaxed their muscles. 

None of that bothers me. Usually there is enough chlorine in a hotel pool/hot tub to clear up Jessica Simpson's face before Proactiv, so little things like E.Coli and herpes are above my concern. 

There is one thing that will ruin a hotel pool faster than anything else though. Something I've mentioned already in the blog, and something I wish there were a whole lot less of in the world. 

Kids. 

They are the bane of my hotel relaxation existence. They nullify all hope of me ever having a peaceful moment during a terrible hotel experience. It doesn't matter if the hotel has the best continental breakfast in the world, if there are kids in the hotel pool I will give them a 1-star rating. Jessica Alba could personally greet me in a string bikini in the lobby, and if I took her to the hot tub and there was a kid in it I would do my best to make sure the hotel chain went out of business the next day. 

Kids are terrible things. 

I've told you all that to tell you this: 

Me, The Missus and the kids went to Oklahoma City the other night. We thought we'd spend the night, then get up early and hit the outlet mall, try to score a couple of deals. 

So I booked us a room at the Embassy Suites where we normally stay when we go to OKC, knowing it had a beautiful swimming pool and an okay hot tub. 

When we arrived, all signs pointed to it not being a great trip. The parking lot was jam packed with cars, more than I had ever seen at the place before. 

I looked at my family, and with a great deal of optimism, said "Well, as long as the pool's empty, we'll be alright." 

I should have known then. 

We checked in, set our stuff down, got our swimsuits on and headed downstairs. We walked around the corner and saw this. 

Only it was indoors. And there were markedly less Chinese folks. But exactly the same. 

I. Was. Pissed. 

Here's the thing though. It was 9 p.m. Every single person in that pool was an 11-year old girl. Not only that, but every single person in that pool was an 11-year old girl CHEERLEADER. 

I have never in my life seen such a congregation of tiny cheerleaders. I don't know where they came from, I don't know where they were going, all I know is I now hate those kids more than anything in the world, up to and possibly including the University of North Carolina. 

They were screaming. 

They were yelling. 

THEY WERE DOING CHEERS IN THE POOL. 

But alas! There was one saving grace. 

They were all in the pool, and not in the hot tub. THANK YOU LORD JESUS FOR BEING A MERCIFUL GOD. 

I settled into the hot tub, closed my eyes and relaxed. Maybe this wouldn't be half bad after all, if I could just drown out the "ONE TWO THREE FOUR GET THAT BALL BACK YAY" that was going on in the background. 

Slowly the sound melted away, and I was a moment or two away from complete transcendence...and then it happened. 

Splash! 

I looked up, seconds from nirvana, and sure enough, 18 tiny cheerleaders had joined me in the hot tub. 

Now. I don't know what you would have done in that situation, but years of watching To Catch a Predator had primed me for action in moments just like that. 

I took both arms out of the water and raised them above my head like I was giving glory to The Highest, when in fact I was probably the furthest away from giving praise I had ever been in my entire life. 

"But Travis, why would you take your hands out of the water?" 

That's easy my friend, it was to establish my innocence. If my hands are visible, they can't be busy doing anything else, and that is exactly the kind of alibi you need when you're in a hot tub with 200 screaming 11-year old cheerleaders. 

"Excuse me officer, but if you'll check the tapes, you'll clearly see I had my hands above water level the entire time, and my eyes were fixed firmly on the fake palm tree to the left of the pool." 

The Missus looked at me and laughed, and I began fervently praying for a minor drowning. 

Then one of the little idiots touched my leg. 

I jumped out of the hot tub like it had suddenly been transformed into a storage facility for black widow spiders. 

I stood at the side, silently cursing them all in my mind, and waited for them to get out. Eventually they did. Then they immediately got back in. Then they got out. Then they got in. The whole time saying things like "DE-FENSE! DE-FENSE! GO TEAM GO WOOHOO WE'RE SO STUPID." 

At last, more of them got out than were in, and I got back in the hot tub, hoping for some peace. Immediately after I got in, all of the tiny idiots got back in with me.

After about ten seconds, a couple of them got back in the pool, and then it happened. The Lord moved. A miracle was wrought. My faith was restored. Something great and mighty and ordained and on par with the whole water into wine thing. 

One of the girls slipped and fell and hurt her knee. 

As she burst into tears, all of the girls rushed to her side to provide her comfort, and my face split into a thousand-watt smile like it does when I see the words "All you can eat." I struggled not to laugh. I rejoiced. I came very close to eschewing my worldly possessions and pursuing a call to the mission fields of Guatemala. 

I was, to put it mildly, insanely happy. That little girl getting hurt was on par with my wedding day. Top ten moments in my life easy. 

I slowly lowered my arms back into the water, knowing I only had a few precious moments of unencumbered joy. I closed my eyes, still grinning like an idiot, and replayed the moment in my mind. 

Slip. AHHHHHHH! Slip. AHHHHHH! Slip. AHHHHHHH!

I had finally achieved inner peace. The trip had become officially worth it. The day was made. 




Splash! ONE TWO THREE FOUR!



Friday, August 2, 2013

The Boy Versus The Nightmare.


"Nightmares don't last." - C.S. Lewis

It was a bad day for the boy, behaviorally speaking. His father had to be called at lunch, when he had a minor meltdown in the middle of a restaurant during his mother's "last day on the job" party. He begged and pleaded as his mother picked up the phone, but it was too late.

His father had yelled at him, threatened him, and told him he was in all kinds of trouble. The boy said "Yes sir," a lot and nodded enthusiastically, even though his father couldn't see that. He made up his mind to try harder, and maybe his father would forget about the misbehavior after his long day at work...

Then, in the evening hours, the boy had continued his misbehavior, and had earned himself an early trip to bed. As he tossed and turned, trying to fight sleep because of the injustice of it all, he thought about how fun it would be to live in a world without parents, a world where he could act how he wanted all the time without consequences.

He vaguely remembered a life like that, but it was getting so hard to remember...

...The dream started normally. It was a sunny day, the sky was blue and clear, and he was in the yard doing his favorite thing, playing. The grass was green and crisp, and he could smell the earth underneath it. Trees waved gently in the breeze, dropping the occasional leaf, which he chased. He was full of fun, and most importantly, he was not "in trouble."

He was now with his friends. Not just the friends he had made on his street at his new house, but every friend he'd ever made, in both of his lives. They were all there, laughing, talking to him, telling him how much they loved him. 

Now they were playing a game, and he was winning. He was beating everyone, running faster than he ever had before, scoring more goals, a perfect performance. His friends admired him, cherished him. They pounded him around his shoulders, telling him how awesome he was. Every team wanted him first. Every little girl cheered his name as he dominated the other boys. He even engaged in a little trash talking, and he was not rebuffed by his fellow competitors. On the contrary, each one smiled and lowered their head in respect, giving him the adoration he wanted. 

The thought entered his mind that he'd like his parents to see his performance, because their approval was something he desired. Images flashed through his mind; faces, so many different faces. He ignored it, and searched the periphery of his vision for the people he called mom and dad now. 

He turned his head, and that's when he first noticed something was wrong. He couldn't find his parents anywhere. He swiveled back and forth, searching desperately, finally resorting to asking his friends if they had seen them. His friends were willing to help of course, and asked what his parents looked like. He opened his mouth to tell them, and when he tried to describe what they looked like, he couldn't remember. He tried to recall their faces in his mind, but it wouldn't work. He kept seeing heads with no faces on them. Smooth, hollow orbs, with no distinguishing characteristics, just glossy polished discs of terror.

He didn't want to cry in front of his friends, but the tears started to fall anyway. He tried to explain what was happening, but couldn't get the words out. His friends suddenly turned on him. Each mouth transformed from a helpful smile to a sneer, then the laughter started. 

"He doesn't know who his parents are!" 
"Haha! Why can't you tell us what they look like?"
"He probably doesn't even have parents!"

Then their faces vanished too. 

He screamed. 

His world slowly dissolved around him. He shook his head to clear it, but it didn't improve his vision. He needed a superhero right now. Superman, with his blazing eyes and bright blue suit. Superman would help him. He had seen Superman help so many other people, and he thought for sure the faces of his family and friends disappearing qualified him for some super-support. 

Where is Superman? Iron Man? Spiderman? Where is the hero? 

The voice that answered surprised him. 

The man paused briefly at the side of his son's bed.

He had been getting ready for bed, and the scream had grabbed his attention. He knew the house was devoid of intruders, and was certain a bad dream was tormenting his son.

He watched as the boy tried to shake off the nightmare, his head moving back and forth, murmured words lost in translation as they rolled into his pillow. It appeared as though the boy was asking questions, trying to explain something.

The turbulent head tossing proved to be too much for the man to watch. He wanted to intervene, needed to intervene, and save his son from the terrors of the night. He stooped down with gentle hands to work his heroism.

"Son. Wake up," he said, shaking the boy gently.

More head tossing. More murmurs. Desperation was etched on the boys face, sweat glistening on his skin, eyes quivering with random movements, the hallmark of dreams both good and bad. The man tried again.

"Son. Son."

Where was Superman? Why wasn't he helping? 

In the midst of the dream, the darkest hour, he felt a strong hand on his arm. The darkness lightened, but only a little. Then another hand, and a shaking sensation. He heard the voice again. Why was he talking about the sun? He looked for the sun, rotated his head around until he found it, a dim circle in this persistent darkness. If the voice wanted him to look at the sun, he would try...

Light — harsh, preternatural light — filled his eyes. The sun seemed to be right there. 

The boy looked up blearily. He wiped his eyes.

"Hi dad."

The man laughed.

"Hi son," he said. "It was a nightmare. You're okay."

"Thanks Dad."

"You're welcome, son. Go back to sleep."

"I love you Dad."

"I love you too, son."

His friends slowly swam back into view, each one wanting to know what had happened. There was no teasing, only genuine concern and the unconditional love of fellow playmates.

Warm laughter once again filled the air as he told them everything was okay, a hero had come. 

"My dad fixed it," he told the children. "Mom was there too. I found them." 

His friends surrounded him, hugged him, told him they loved him. Then, in the blink of an eye, he was on the field again, playing hard, and winning. 

Everything was wonderful. He was the best again. 

"When enemies are at your door, I'll carry you away from war, if you need help, if you need help. Your hope dangling by a string, I'll share in your suffering, to make you well, to make you well."  - Phillip Phillips, "Gone, Gone, Gone"

Monday, July 29, 2013

Without Nipples, This Story Would Be Pointless.

Just a note to the reader here: If you want the full experience, read the entire blog of course. However, if you are keen to get on with your day or just don't have time to laugh a lot, just sort of skim the first two parts and get down to part three, which contains a lot of Paint pictures of nipples and a good deal of awkward. 


Part One
The Introduction

I think we all know from previous posts that I am not in any way, shape, or form a hunter. I got very lucky in the blog I'm referencing, but that luck was helped by a very skilled hunter and a very nice location.

I've also made mention before that my Sunday School class is full of the "hunter/gatherer" type.

This is actually my Sunday School teacher.
Image Credit

Suffice it to say, I often get text messages in the following form:

"Hey, do you guys want to go kill *animal currently in season*?
"YES"
"OKAY"
"CAN WE USE THE REALLY BIG GUNS?" 

And then I send a text back that usually goes something like this. 

"Guys can I borrow a gun/bullets/gear/courage and do I need a license?"
"YES TRAVIS GEEZ." 

So when I got a text message a few days ago asking if I wanted to go wild hog hunting, I asked the above questions, made the requisite plans with The Missus, and went to purchase a hunting license. 

Part Two
The Hunt

Here's the message I got. 

"They're mean, so if one comes at you, make sure you kill it." 

So here's what I expected. 

Someone get me a basketball sized apple.
Image Credit

Slavering fangs, sharp pointy tusks, blazing speed, and a Sharknado-esque abundance. Basically Pumba on steroids and acid, without Timon there to calm him down and remind him about the Hakuna Matata and all that.

Three of us went, armed to the teeth and ready to kill pigs. Yours truly, the gentleman who invited me who I will call The Facilitator, and a gentleman who I will call The Snake Whisperer, because he had a particular set of skills. 

We all loaded up on an ATV and headed out into what I thought were going to be flat fields of grass easily traversed, and stopped at something like this. 

The tiger obviously was missing. Otherwise we'd be eating tiger meat and heading to prison.
Image Credit

So we hacked our way into the Oklahoma jungle and got more spiderwebs in our faces than anyone should ever have to deal with.

I hate spiderwebs. I am no Gwen Stefani, and I have a mini panic attack every single time one touches my face. You see I think if a web has touched me, a spider is on me, ready to bite, kill, and feast on my moldering corpse, while my younger brothers tell stories about how I "never really should have been hunting." 

I thought briefly about shooting the spiderwebs when I encountered them, but figured that would have been counterproductive to the moderate stealth we were achieving while hunting our quarry. 

To make a long walk into a short story, I will tell you now we didn't see a dang thing, with the exception of snakes. This is where having The Snake Whisperer was a very good thing, because he would spot them, and then naturally, since we were a bit trigger happy, we would shoot them. 

But to set up the last part of the story, I need to tell you me and The Snake Whisperer were dropped off in a clearing, and The Facilitator said he would drive the ATV through the brush from the other side, chasing anything in said clearing out into the open for us to shoot at. 

Again, here is what I envisioned:

You know, with slavering fangs.
Image Credit

And this is what we saw:

Like a Dixie Chicks song.
Image Credit

But The Snake Whisperer said he heard the ATV stop, then start again, but it sounded like it was not going very fast.

And then The Facilitator came driving back to us, only he was driving in reverse. 

Part Three
The Nipple

Apparently the ATV had suffered a crippling injury. It was stuck in reverse. Naturally, this made for a rather strained driving experience for The Facilitator, and to make things worse we were about three miles away from the truck. 

After some discussion and kicking of the gear shift, it was determined that we would ride back in reverse, and seating arrangements were worked out. 

I was to sit in the driver's seat, while The Facilitator would climb on the front, face me, and use the steering mechanism backwards. Meanwhile, The Snake Whisperer would sit with his back to me and face the rear of the vehicle, which was now actually the front. 

I really didn't think facing backwards would be that big of a deal. 

I was wrong. 

You see, The Facilitator was wearing a sleeveless shirt. Not a normal sleeveless shirt either. This shirt had extra large sleeve holes cut out of it, so a lot of skin was exposed. 

I will now give you an example of the view I had. 

He was somewhat perturbed about the condition of his ATV, hence the frown. And yes that's a nipple.

His nipple was RIGHT THERE. 

I didn't know how to politely ask a man who invited you on a hunting trip and provided you with transportation which just broke to put his nipple up, and after staring at it for about a mile I realized any chance I had in the beginning was now gone, because of the intense concentration it was taking for him to pilot us safely backwards. 

So this happened. 

My world was slowly reduced to this man's nipple. 


It was RIGHT THERE guys. In my eyeball. 

There was really nothing wrong with the nipple. It was a fine specimen, peaking proudly in the cool breeze, the healthy pink hue offset by the pattern of the camo gun strap slung across his shoulder. 

But I have what you might call a vivid imagination, so it wasn't very long before I saw this. 

The nipple spoke to me. 

You know what I just now realized? The nose is the nipple of the face.

Did that just blow your mind? 

Anyway, the nipple was there, it had a face, and it was speaking to me. My entire world, the entire trip, had now been shrunken down to a talking nipple. 

I was faced with a choice. I could shut my eyes tightly and suffer the motion sickness, or I could introduce myself to the man's nipple, talk to it, find out if it had kids, and provide you, the reader, with much more information about it, sort of a sneak "peak" into the life of a nipple. Just sort of let my imagination do some really weird things, and risk actually saying something out loud to the nipple that would guarantee a solitary walk back to the truck and surefire humiliation once the story got out that I talk to nipples. I had a choice to make, and I had to make it quickly before things got even worse. 

My view for the rest of the ride. 

Sorry guys.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Stay Classy, North Tulsa.

So this happened last night.

Story here via News on 6. (follow the link for video)
TULSA, Oklahoma -
Dramatic video Friday morning showing someone shooting an exploding firework at Tulsa Police. It happened around 1 a.m. at Chamberlain Park near North Hartford Avenue and East 51st Place North.
Police say firefighters were responding to a small fire on the roof of a building when someone started shooting fireworks at them.
The firefighters called police, and the same thing happened to them.
News On 6 photojournalist Gary Kruse was responding to the building fire and had his camera rolling when the firework showered sparks at some emergency responders.
Officers ran after the group, but they escaped.
No one was injured



I just have a few basic questions.

How do you get to this point?

"Hey guys, let's shoot these fireworks off."
"Y'all know it's illegal here, right?"
"Who cares, I've had 3 PBRs. Let's get crazy!"
"'MURICA."

*fireworks commence*

"Guys is that the cops?"
"IT'S THE COPS RUN!"
"I don't run from nobody."
"Let's shoot fireballs at them!"
"Guys that seems like a bad idea."
"FIRE IN THE HOLE."
"Now run!"

This seems appropriate.


Also this picture is gorgeous. Absolutely gorgeous.

Picture courtesy of Newson6.com.
If you're a cop, what is your training for this? Is there a CLEET Class in fireworks dodging? Do you use a taser in response? Pepper spray? Hand grenades? A gun? Also, is this something they talked about later at the bar?

"There we were, pinned down. The enemy had artillery shells and Roman candles." 
"Sweet Moses. Artillery shells? In Tulsa?" 
"They were fireworks, son. Shut up I'm talking." 

I really want to hear the radio transactions that took place during all this. 

"Unit 1, this is Unit 2. We have a problem up here in the park." 
"Unit 2, what is the problem?" 
"We're hemmed in here, the enemy has us surrounded." 
"Unit 2, you say surrounded? With what?" 
"Bottle rockets, Unit 1. Bottle rockets and Black Cats. Maybe some snappers, I can't t..."
*BOOM*
"UNIT 2 GET OUT HERE NOW IT'S GETTIN' REAL!" 

I bet the whole  scene looked like a Michael Bay film. Rockets and explosions and Shia LaBeefy riding a motorbike through it all with a Muse song playing in the background. Like the founding fathers intended. 

I know I'm kind of poking fun at this, but in all seriousness, the people that did this are freaking idiots who deserve to have fireworks shot straight up their nostrils.* Regardless of how you feel about police or the media, you cannot shoot freaking legit fireworks at them. You see that picture? That's a legit firework. You want to shoot a Roman candle at someone, fine. It's dumb, but the very worst is someone takes a slight burn. 

The best part of this story is that whoever did it got away. Right now there are a group of  people somewhere sitting in a coffee shop** in North Tulsa talking about their "Eff the Police" moment in the sun. 

Shout out to the video guy. Staying in there when it got hot. Sort of the Geraldo Rivera of Tulsa photojournalism. 


* buttholes
** crack house

Friday, June 28, 2013

A Decade.


You got a fast car. I want a ticket to anywhere. Maybe we can make a deal, maybe together we can get somewhere. Any place is better, starting from zero, got nothing to lose. Maybe we'll make something, but me myself I got nothing to prove. 

"I do." 
A decade.

Let me just tell you what can happen in a decade. 

You laugh. You yell. You cry. You fight. You move into a terrible apartment, then get kicked out. You get pets you can't afford, then give them away. You build friendships, then watch them fade away. You burn your stomach trying to make pancakes. You have to borrow money from your parents. You experience the pain of watching the other one pack their things, then the joy of them not actually leaving. Your wife kicks a dudes butt for you. You join churches, then you leave them. You try to start a family, then one day you do. You quit jobs, then start new ones. You worry about money. You worry about sex. You worry about the kids and how dumb they act. You go to school, then you quit, then try the whole thing again. You get caught up in online gaming and have to be yanked to reality again. You buy cars you can't afford, then have them taken. You write a hot check hoping it won't get cashed until payday. You take vacations that are stressful, and then vacations that are incredibly relaxing. You deal with others who try to take your happiness. You deal with each other's issues. You realize how easy you had it with no responsibilities. You pack up one night and head to Kansas, Houston, or anywhere else you get a whim to go to. You win. You lose. You love. 

My first live Duke game. 

The Missus is not really great at gift-giving. Traditionally I have to tell her exactly what I want, or most always suffer a tinge of disappointment. Over the last week I've been thinking of the gifts we won't be able to get each other this year because we're broke, and I had a startling revelation. 

The Missus has given me ten years of her. 

Ten years of her life have been spent married to me. Ten years of babysitting me, laughing at/with me, and telling me time and time again, "We can't afford it." If not for her, I would not be a father, I would not be in school, and I would more than likely have died years ago in what the authorities would probably call an "accident." 

Turns out, The Missus is incredible at giving gifts. 

One of the first meals she made me. You can see why I'm fat. 

A few weeks ago my youngest brother sent me a text. He wanted advice on proposing to a girl. I asked him a couple of funny questions, and then this one:

"Can you imagine the rest of your life without her?"

I cannot for one second think about a life that doesn't involve The Missus. I've thought about what it might be like to lose her, and my brain just shuts down, it won't work. She has completely fabricated herself into every facet of my life, and I would not have it any other way. 


"Travis, put that down, you don't get cake yet." 
Here's the thing. I like to say I wouldn't change any decisions in my life, that I live with no regrets and no looking back. But that's a lie. Had I known what I know today, I would have done quite a few things differently to make her feel more special, to give her more support, and to show her how much I love her. 

And I'm sure I'll screw things up in the future. Screwing things up is kind of what I do. Forgiving me is kind of what makes her so special. Forgiving me is kind of what she does. 

10 years. And a bangin' bowtie. 
She's not perfect. She never answers her phone. She drives WAY too slow. She won't tell someone when she's mad at them. She doesn't like Mexican food as much as me. 

But she can deep fry the mouse or phone you're scrolling with and make you love it. She can light up a room with a smile and a comment. She laughs at my jokes. She laughs when I fart. She tells me I'm a good writer. She reads my blogs. She raises our children. She doesn't make fun of me for crying in movies. She kisses me when I come home from work. She lets me touch her boobies. She drives on Sundays even when I know she doesn't want to. She does my laundry and my dishes. She puts up with my whims, my obsessions, and my incessant need to try new things. 

She loves me. 

I love her. 

And here's to the next ten years. The next decade of Travis and Alicia Sloat. 

Young, stupid, happy. 
In a hundred years from now, I know without a doubt, they'll all look back and wonder how we made it work out. Chances are, we'll go down in history, when they want to see, how true love should be, they'll just look at us. 

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

"I Am A God," and Why Music Sucks Now.


I may have a few new readers who aren't familiar with my line of "Why Music Sucks Now" posts. The basic point is me passing judgment on songs I feel are detrimental to the music industry, and society as a whole.

Today's post, however, while focusing on a single song, will cover an entire album of horribly digitized voices and what can only be described as sound effects from any number of CGI based movies.

I'm speaking of course of Kanye West's "Yeezus," featuring the song "I Am A God."


The album cover reflects the contents: blank. 

There are some, I'm sure (probably Kanye), who will hail this the greatest album of all time, and demand that it be lauded from rooftops the world over. 

I am not one of those people. 

The album, which seems as if it's about 15 minutes long, is probably the most narcissistic piece of media I've ever laid hands on, and I've laid hands on me, so that should tell you something. The name itself, "Yeezus," is some sort of play on "Jesus," and in the album he refers to himself as Yeezus repeatedly. This is not only excruciatingly blasphemous in my book, but is also just downright idiotic, unless I've gotten Kanye all wrong and he's actually referring to himself as the local country club gardener. 

So let's take a look at the lyrics of "I Am A God," and break them down. 


I am a god
Hurry up with my d*** massage
Hurry up with my d*** ménage
Get the Porsche out the d*** garage
I am a god
Even though I'm a man of god
My whole life in the hands of god
So y'all better quit playing with god

Soon as they like you make more money like you
But kissing people a** is so unlike you
The only rapper who could compare to Michael
So here's a few hating a** n***** who'll fight you
And here's a few hating a** n***** who'll bite you
I don't wanna hear why some n***** like you
Old n***** mentally still in high school
Since the tight jeans they never liked you
Pink a** polos and a f***ing backpack
Everybody know you brought real rap back
Nobody else swag n**** we the rat pack
Virgil Pyrex that's the snapback, diamond shotgun shining
Until the day I get struck by lightning

I am a god
So hurry up with my d*** massage
And a French a** restaurant
Hurry up with my d*** croissants
I am a god
I am a god
I am a god

I just talked to Jesus
He said 'what up Yeezus
I said "s*** I'm chilling
Trying to stack these millions"
I know he the most high
But I am a close high
Mi casa es su casa
That's that cosa nostra
I am a god
I am a god

1. He doesn't waste any time at all getting right into telling you he's a god. Naturally, as a deity, the first thing on his plate is a massage and a ménage, followed by a ride in his Porsche. Since I've thought very little about what I would do as a god, I can't say that he's wrong here, I can only speculate on what I think I would do, which would be to make sure Duke never loses again and drive way better cars than a Porsche. 

2. Kanye then lets us know he's a man of god, which makes all of this okay, right? It's like when you make a racist joke then say it's okay because you have Alaskan friends. 

3. I'm pretty sure he compares himself to Michael Jordan here. As in, "Hey guys, I'm the Michael Jordan of rap." Let's clear one thing up here. Tupac is the Michael Jordan of rap. And no, I didn't say "was" the Michael Jordan of rap, I said "is," because he's clearly alive and dropping a new album in 2014. Just ask this guy. 

Keeping the investigation hot. 
4. Shout out to Mike Tyson with the "biting" lyrics. I guess maybe he could be calling himself the Michael Tyson of rap, but somehow I don't think anyone would call themselves the Mike Tyson of anything, unless it's biting. Like, "My two-year old is the Mike Tyson of the daycare we take him to."  

5. I don't understand what being in high school has to do with tight jeans and pink shirts. He has to be talking about hipsters or something and I've been out of the high school game too long to know about it. If he's saying he hates hipsters, then Kanye and I finally agree on something. 

6. I literally had to Google what Virgil Pyrex was. The first thing that came to my mind was a Roman glass baking dish. Turns out it's a clothing line of some sort, no word really on if it's Roman, and they also make "snapbacks," which if you've been living under a rock, are those idiotic hats the kids are wearing these days where the bills don't curve. It ain't natural, and I don't like it. 

7. I'm calling bs on the diamond shotgun. Ten to one says he doesn't have one, and if he does, I volunteer to let him shoot me with it, with the caveat that my wife and kids have to pry the embedded diamonds from my riddled flesh to pay for my dream funeral, which will include The Rock and Vin Diesel propping up my embalmed body while Paul Walker reads the eulogy and Ke$ha sings "Amazing Grace" as live eagles fly screaming through the building. 

8. You keep talking like you're a god, and that lightning strike is going to happen quicker than you think. 

9. Then Kanye has a conversation with Jesus, wherein he curses and explains to the Lord Almighty that he's trying to "stack these millions," which is almost a direct contradiction to what Jesus ever said to do. Is Kanye tithing on that money? Or is he buying more diamond shotguns? Then he tells us Jesus is the "most high," but he a "close high." I can't even began to deconstruct the grammatical ridiculousness of that analogy. 

10. Roughly translated, the Spanish here says "I'm a douchebag, really, I'm a douchebag. I'm bitter because Kim got pregnant fat and had an ugly baby and I'm really just taking it out on everyone by calling myself Jesus and using movie sound effects from Transformers 3 to make music in the loosest possible sense of the term."*

Pew pew pew, lasers pew pew!

So if you were planning on buying the new Kanye album, don't. Unless you feel sorry for him for the whole ugly baby thing. 

And if you somehow made it to this site expecting an objective and on-topic review, AND you made it this far into the post, I should probably apologize, but I hope you at least chuckled a few times.



*This is a solid Google Translate translation, also I took a semester of Spanish in college. 

Saturday, June 15, 2013

A Break from Regular Programming...

I'm taking a summer class called "Advanced Composition for Teachers," and I just wrote my first Literacy Essay. I picked a topic near and dear to my heart, blogging, and more specifically how I got started.

I know this won't mean much to y'all, and I'm completely okay with that. But there might be someone out there who is scared to death to take the first step and create a blog. Or maybe you've started a blog, but it hasn't gone anywhere. Either way, maybe, just maybe, this post will help push you over the edge and get you started (again).

And it might seem weird, but to Rob and Johnny, you guys completely changed my life. You inspired me. I don't think I could ever thank you enough for that.


I guess you could say it all started with boredom. I can remember sitting at work on a slow day, hot, the middle of June, customers trickling in like molasses, and only for the temporary respite of our air conditioning. I went to the back computer, the one you couldn’t see in the cameras, and I decided to Google a new term I’d overheard from a coworker: “blog.”
            I didn’t know blog was short for weblog, and I didn’t know what one looked like. I’d happened to hear a conversation, the details of which are fuzzy, but I remember thinking, “I like to laugh, I’m going to put the word ‘funny’ in front of it and see what comes up.” The top two results were a site called “Mattress Police” by Rob Kroese, and “15 Minute Lunch,” run by a guy named Johnny Virgil.
            The crazy thing is, four years and hundreds of blog posts later, I can honestly tell you I feel like I’m friends with both of those guys. Rob lives in California, Johnny in New York, and I’ve never met either. Some may laugh at that fact, but I’ve shared several poignant moments with both over the Internet, and I feel like I would be absolutely comfortable stopping by their houses and having coffee and discussing the finer points of the blog world. In addition, both of those guys have wound up writing books, and both have enjoyed success as authors.
            Let’s go back to that computer screen at a cell phone store in mid-June. I laughed. Oh how I laughed. I read Rob’s stories about growing up in Florida and his parents running a cheap hotel. I read Johnny’s stories about growing up in the 70s and his posts about The Snitch, Houdini, and The Slug, and how they almost killed a guy, not once, but several times. I laughed so hard I had tears streaming down my face and my stomach muscles were sore from the workout they received.
            And at the same time, it wasn’t just the laughter. In reading the archives of these two guys, I felt something else, a deeper emotional connection. It was as if they let me into their lives for a brief moment, gave me a glimpse of what it was like for them growing up and how their lives were now. They weren’t just being hilarious; they were providing something more for the reader than just a temporary feel good experience and a hyperlink click away to the next post full of jokes.
            Then, somewhere in the midst of it all, either down there in my sore gut or up in my dopamine-filled brain, I got an idea. “I have stories,” I said. “I love to tell people those stories, and I could write them well. I think I should start a blog.” I had no training in writing, and to be honest I was just an average English student in high school who had dropped out of college twice since then. I had written a few long-winded diatribes on Myspace, back when I was a youth minister at my local church, full of vim and vigor about changing the world, but nothing of any real substance.
            I had not yet grasped the importance of “your and you’re,” and “there, their and they’re” to the Internet, and I didn’t even really have an idea of what stories I’d want to tell or in what order. I had no clue about posting frequency and how important it was. I didn’t know about search engine optimization (SEO) or “spiders” or how comments should not be your driving motivation for posting. I thought long and hard about my nicknames for my friends and family, dubbing my wife “The Missus,” my best friend “Kid Funk,” and my brothers “The Groom,” “The Liar,” and “The Youngest.”
            Then I hit the biggest roadblock of all. I had gone to Google’s Blogger website, and I had created my account, but it asked a very important question. “What is the title of your blog?” I thought long and hard. The title had to be something that reflected my personality, but also told people what to expect. It had to convey the message of the entire site, yet at the same time be a draw to get traffic. I wanted people to see the title and think, “Yeah, that sounds like Travis, aka “tstyles77.” But I could not for the life of me figure out what it should be called. I cannot recall now the names I tossed around, but I do remember asking myself the question that lead to the name I settled on. “What do I like to do?” The list was simple. I like to play basketball, I like to eat, I like to fish, and I like to spend time with my wife.
            One thing on the list caught my eye. I like to fish. The words reverberated through my skull, clanging around like a klaxon. Was this it? It conveyed what I like to do in my spare time. It was completely random, much like I expected the content of the blog to be. It summed up me as a person, because I am a fisherman at heart. I entered the title in the text box, and I remember staring at it for a long time. Finally, I clicked the “OK” button, and there it was. “I Like To Fish.” Those of you who have any experience in the English field will undoubtedly notice the typo immediately in the title. I didn’t.
            “Alright. Lets get this awkward blog outta the way. The first one probably won't make anyone laugh, and it's more of a history of myself and why I am blogging. Here goes. My name is Travis, and I'm a 26 year old (at this time) guy who's married to the most wonderful woman in the world. I'm a fat guy, and I want to lose weight, but I refuse diet and excersice. Consequently, if anyone knows a good cocaine dealer, holla. I love to fish and play and watch basketball. I'm a TV fanatic, kind of, and some of my favorite programs are; The Office, King of the Hill, M*A*S*H, and Family Guy. I have a bunch of very funny friends, and they say lots of very funny things, most of the time on a daily basis. I work for a cell phone company (presently) and I won't say which one, b/c I don't want people bitching about our service. An unfortunate consequence of my job is that people are always asking me questions about their cell phones. My mothers ex husband for example, would always ask me questions about his IPhone. I mean, EVERY time I saw the man, he would ask me about it. Here's the deal though. I DON'T work for AT&T. At all. Or an agent for them. I don't personally like the IPhone, I'm a BlackBerry man. So our conversations would go somethin like this...”
            That was part of my first post. Riddled with spelling and grammar errors, and nothing of any substance to read. I essentially built a biography about me, but I didn’t bother explaining that my father died when I was 17, causing a 5-year jag of bitterness in my life. I said I had a lot of friends, which was honestly a bit of a lie. I mentioned I hated the iPhone, and here I am 4 years later with an iPhone. I had no clue about form or function, and how to use paragraphs. It was, in a word, terrible.
            Fast-forward to today. As of June 10, 2013, I Like to Fish is 4-years old. My current page views are at roughly 118,000. I’ve had exactly two blog posts that enjoyed enormous success, and for some reason my blog is incredibly popular in Russia. I wrote a eulogy for a 17-year old girl in my community who died in a car accident that was seen over 7000 times in over 100 countries and was shared just over 500 times on Facebook.
            One day last summer, I decided to write a fake news article about a mother who was arrested in Florida for using the phrase “You’re so cute I could eat your face,” in reference to her baby. The “article” was based on a real-life experience with the phrase while I was on vacation in Florida just a week before the crazed gentleman actually ate the face off of another man. The post gathered steam, and was briefly featured on Reddit before being yanked because it wasn’t “news.” It caught the attention of a local woman who decided to start a charity for bail money for the mom in question, before she realized the “article” was fake.
            And then, in an incredible twist of fate, the post caught the eye of the editor for the Fort Gibson newspaper. She left a comment on it saying how funny and well written it was. So I replied, and said if she liked it so much, she should hire me. To make a long story short, she hired me, and to sum up five pages and 1500 words, the course of my life has been completely changed, all because I Googled two words: “funny blog.”