Tag Archives: Dad

That happy summer magazine

With kickoff to the new season of football starting…today! (we’re talking college football, ya bums, which is the only football that really matters!) I thought I’d yak about it a bit.

NewMadridEarthquake1990Some years ago—long before the internet and email—I used to receive regular packages from my dad full of newspaper clippings of assorted stories of interest and sports pages. Now, he didn’t just save me all the sports pages, but only the ones that had news about the Arkansas Razorback football team. Back in the pre-internet days, it was very difficult to get news of my favorite team because I was outside the state of Arkansas. In fact, when I was living in California, during football season I’d get a vhs tape around Thursday that had the game from the previous weekend in addition to the sports pages.

I absolutely loved getting those packages. I’d read up the papers, watch the game…and often I’d call dad. This was in the day when you had to pay for your long distance call by the minute, so our football conversations were often brief.

Dad used to send me the summer preview edition of Hawgs Illustrated, which is loaded with roster/player/coaching info to get Razorback fans hyped about the upcoming season…after he was finished. Somewhere along the way—and I don’t remember exactly when—I got a copy in the mail addressed to me! And it was NEW! I called and asked Dad if he’d sent me a copy because I was confused why the publisher was sending me one…and he said he’d ordered me a copy when he ordered his copy. One year my magazine even came with a post-it note attached that said something like “From Dad.”

He’s been doing that every year since.

My happy summer magazine, courtesy of my dad!

My happy summer magazine, courtesy of my dad!

And it’s STILL a happy surprise to get the magazine in the mail…mostly because it reminds me that my dad was thinking about me when he ordered his copy.

Thanks, Dad!

Here’s to a fun football season! Go Hogs, WPS!

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How long?

Hi blog. Did you miss me? I missed me.

Seriously, though. Things have been a mess time wise, but I hope think they’re cooling down. I know, don’t get my hopes up because the holidays are right around the corner, right? Sigh.

My classes have been full, but I’ve made some cuts to the graded work and have actually gotten some help—so that is good. I still enjoy the heck out of the campus classes—I mean, what’s not to love about teaching comic writing, right?

Brittany receiving her diploma

Brittany receiving her diploma

In other big news, Brittany graduated from Full Sail–and she was the Valedictorian of her class! That’s right. Tis true. And she is anxious as everything to get to work! I’m pretty anxious for that to happen, too! Ha! The cool news is that in just the last few months she was cast in major roles for two independent films. She was the lead in Love Waits and is the co-lead in The Colors of Emily (she plays Emily). She’s slated for another big role in March, and The Colors of Emily is actually a trilogy and so she’s booked for both of those in the future. All in all, fantastic success out of the gate!

As you can see from the picture, Mom, Dad and Ang were able to come down for not only Brittany’s graduation, but for Thanksgiving. We had a great time, but man did it go by in a hurry. Brittany wanted to go to Hard Rock Café to celebrate…so we lost our hearing while we were there. I think we sat in the loudest spot in the place.

Brett marched for the last time, as well, and was pretty bummed about it. They put on a pretty cool end of semester show that wasn’t just the

Dad, Brett, Mom, Angie, Brittany, BJ, and Me at Hard Rock.

Dad, Brett, Mom, Angie, Brittany, BJ, and Me at Hard Rock.

band, but kind of an all-around “talent show.” We snagged the family picture one of those nights goofing around. The show was really very cool.

Cat & Mouse is in the hands of a couple of publishers now so it’s just playing the waiting game. I think it has a better shot with one more than the other…but my contacts are better at the other one.

An independent publisher is looking hard at trying to make The Gifted happen as a series of graphic novels. As an indy publisher, but biggest obstacle to getting a graphic novel done is the art. Even if it doesn’t happen, I’m thankful they are making the effort. I’ll talk about that more when I can, of course.

Nothing new on Beah, Citizens or Rejects, but you’ll be the first to know.

I’m also hopeful that I’ll get Buying Time on Amazon and Kindle within the week—hopefully before Christmas.

Okay…hopefully I don’t crash and burn before next week! See you then!

Us being us

Us being us

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In the Spirit of Thankfulness part 1

All these posts going every day on Facebook got me a bit in the thankful mood…but there was no way I was going to keep up with that. So, I offer, here in its entirety, my 30 days of thankfulness! So, I’m thankful for…

30 life! I don’t know that I’ve ever taken it for granted, but the recent scare made me consider it all the more.

29 my wife! (and just for all you snarky folks looking at the numbers—it isn’t a countdown or a count UP, it’s supposed to represent the 30 days of November!) She’s better to me than I deserve! I love you, BJ!

28 my job. In this messed up economy which only looks to get worse, I’m glad to be doing something I enjoy: teaching creative writing to (mostly) pretty motivated students.

27 my daughter. Even though I’ve tried to convince her to stay OUT of the arts because it’s the pathway to a lot of potential heartbreak, she’s multi-talented and incredibly smart, too…if she’ll just apply herself I have no doubt she’ll be incredibly successful(on both counts!).

26 having a roof over my head. Even though I’d really like to sell my house in Oxford so that I can get my family all back under one roof all the time, I know we’re fortunate to have a home with electricity and running water.

25 my son. Also incredibly talented (can you say FIRST CHAIR bay-bee!) and smart, I appreciate the fact that he’s just as happy geeking out with me playing war games as he is doing anything else.

24 my doctor. When we first moved to Oxford, Dr. Will Dabbs was just the kooky doctor we took the kids to see. Over time, however, he’s become my doctor and my friend…and I DO trust him with my life!

23 facebook. Yeah, yeah, I know. I can hear all the groans now. But I’m of the age that I can remember life before social media and there are a lot of names on my facebook “friend list” that I didn’t speak with that much and that now I get to at least keep up with them now and again. For writer-types who dwell in caves, it’s nice. And even though I hid EVERYONE during the last election season—that’s over and I can now enjoy posts again.

22 technology. I’m a technogeek, I admit it. I love technology. And even though I’ve fought (and still do) the idea of me carrying around a cellphone, I LIKE what they are capable of…I just don’t want to have to carry it around.

21 my parents. I’m blessed to have the best set of parents in the world. How they managed to allow me to continue to live in their house when I was a smart-aleck teenager, I’ll never know. I’m thankful for the way they raised me and for the values they taught me.

20 my church. When you move around as much as BJ and I have, it’s difficult to get “settled” with a church family. We’ve been fortunate, though, in that every place to which our names have been on the roles, they’ve welcomed us with open arms: FBC Muscle Shoals, FBC Loretto, FBC Piggott, Yellow Leaf BC, and FBC Oxford.

19 my books. Yeah, I know this sounds like a very materialistic thing…and maybe it is, but I’m still thankful for them (and for BJ allowing me to surround myself with them). Maybe it’s a writer thing, but I do love to—when I’m in “thinking” mode—to just sit back and take in the surroundings of my books, looking at the titles and recalling the emotions of the read or the particulars of it.

18 BCW. Or Byhalia Christian Writers Group. I was shocked by the lack of anything remotely faith-based in Oxford (aside from the Churches, of course) and really expected to find multiple writers group in Oxford…I mean, it’s OXFORD, the home of Billy Faulkner. Byhalia, Mississippi was the closest group I could find…and they treated me like a long lost brother. I don’t get to go as often as I’d like (for various reasons—one of which it’s an hour drive one way), but I know they remember me in their prayers—and how can one NOT be thankful for that?

17 my bed. Traveling makes you realize just how much you appreciate “your” stuff. And while BJ made me buy a mattress for the apartment in Florida, it’s still not “my bed.” And being a reenactor, I sleep on the ground every now and again. Yes, I’m very thankful for my bed.

16 Spalding. Yeah, one of my alma maters makes this list. It’s not that I am NOT thankful for the others—I am—but Spalding has that special place in my heart, mostly because, I think, the admin and faculty there have embraced the idea of nurturing the writer. It’s the first “hall of higher learning” that did NOT scoff at the body of comic work I have.

15 Spalding peeps. So, yeah, I can’t mention Spalding without mentioning my classmates/colleagues who helped make the program what it is…and ALSO embraced my comic geekiness, some of them even sharing that. There are lots of names I could mention, but the Devil Dawgs (don’t ask—long story) are deserving of special call-out for my thankfulness: Marjetta Geerling, Kat Shehata, Karin Goodwin, Rebekah J Harris, Mary Knight (one of my favorite Yankees!).

(so this is longer than what I thought it would be…to be continued)

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When the mice are away

For the next 4 days, both kids are out of town enjoying their summer, which means that momma and daddy have the house alone—a very rare event in the last 14 years. Brett is on his yearly “visit Paco and Magoo” trip and Brittany is attending Camp Electric, her very first ever I-don’t-know-anybody camp. Last week I didn’t blog as we were on a “staycation” and I tried my best to “stay” away from the computer—for the most part anyway. Actually, it was BJ’s vacation, but the rest of it enjoyed it with her, especially the swimming and homemade ice cream.

Brett has come to really love going to Arkansas so that he can be “Paco’s shadow.” He absolutely loves going everywhere my Dad does, and will actually help Dad work! I need to figure out how to get him to do that here, too!

While Brittany has been to “camp” before, it’s always been with a group of kids she knew, or at least knew some of them. Camp Electric is a camp she wanted to attend because of the music emphasis, but as time drew near she realized she was going and didn’t know anyone else going…and was going to be rooming with girls she didn’t know. So she got nervous. She was very nervous when we actually arrived to drop her off in Nashville. I talked to her tonight, though, and she’s already made a small group of “friends.”

We had some sad news last week: Goldy, our part-lab dog died. We got him with his sister Blackie back in the summer of 2005. He was hit a car and broke his bottom jaw in summer 2006…then Blackie disappeared. While we have no idea what happened to her, I think someone took her (more on that at a later date). Anyway, we don’t know why Goldy died, but the family is sad.

A bit of good news for me: I’ve been accepted into the MLA in Creative Writing program at Spalding University in Kentucky. It is a low-residency program which means that I’ll go once per semester and spend a week or so on campus while completing the rest of my semester work from home. It’s a program tailor-made for folks like me! Of course, my dissertation work will be a book length work! I’m very excited.

I’d been accepted into the PhD program in Creative Writing at USM. It’s a very good program and one that I was very interested in. However, after digging deeper into it, I realized I was going to have to spend the next 3 years AWAY from my family. Since the kids are 8 and 14, that would put them at 11 and 17 by the time I finish. I just wasn’t prepared to miss that much and that part of their lives!

Off to work!

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That little contraption

I’ve got this little tray-contraption chock full of nuts and bolts and screws. It’s something I got several years ago when I realized that tossing every little piece into a Tupperware bowl just wasn’t working. Plus, the bowl couldn’t hold them all anymore. One of the trays has so many screws in it that it’s hard to open. So why is it that when I need a certain sized bolt or screw I don’t have the size I need?

It’s true. Just this last week I was re-attaching bathroom cabinet doors, drawer knobs, and the hardware that goes along with them. Without getting into my wife’s method of UN-attaching them, I discovered I needed 10 screws to reattach the doors. I could put the hinges back on the doors, but couldn’t attach the hinges to the cabinets themselves.

So I went to visit my little contraption.

Notice the duct tape at the bottom and the plastic "hand cuffs" holding the handles together.

Notice the duct tape at the bottom and the plastic "hand cuffs" holding the handles together.

It’s not that big; about 18 inches tall. There are 3 “doors” across and 4 down, giving me a total of 12 doors (see Mom, I can do math!). One latch at the top releases all the doors so that they fold down opening the trays up to me so that I can remove the necessary piece and then close it back. I’ve got an exact duplicate attached to back of it, making the contraption seem 2-sided.

Which reminds me of a time my Dad asked me about my little contraption. Once on the phone shortly after I’d purchased the contraption, Dad asked me where I got it. He said he’d seen it during his last visit and wanted something similar for himself. I told him I’d purchased it at Sam’s and it wasn’t one, but was two. He insisted that it was not. He had seen it very closely and examined it and it was one solid piece which had trays and opened up on both sides. I assured him he was wrong…but he’s my Dad.

During his next visit, he wanted to see it. I took him to the shed, showed him the plastic “handcuffs” that still held the handles together…and then pointed out the duct tape across the bottom. I had to promise him that I had indeed added the duct tape after the bottom “handcuffs” broke and that the tape didn’t come as part of the purchase. I offered to buy him 2 contraptions and tape them for him.

He returned to the house.

Anyway, I had one screw the size that I needed. I rifled through for a minute but couldn’t find any because they’re so small. So I dumped them all out…on the ground. In over 100 screws, not one…NOT ONE…was the size I needed. That’s just hard to believe. What in the world, then, do all those 100+ screws I have go to? Why do I have them?

I didn’t want to go to the store, so I did was all good Southerners did.

I used duct tape.

No, not really…I got the next size up, but I sure thought about using duct tape!

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Man or mouse?

I don’t like mice.

Actually, I don’t like most rodents, not even squirrels. Yeah, I know that’s nearly blasphemous in this neck of the woods. And yes, I’ve eaten squirrel, too—it was fried. That statement doesn’t carry the same sort of weight as it did, say when I was in California—you should have seen the reactions from them—but many of our younger generations around here have never tasted it.

You know how the saying goes, though…tastes like chicken.

Now is that time of year, though, when many commonly discover they’ve been landlording an immigrant family of mice. We usually discover they’ve left in a hurry and left their droppings for us to find.

I remember my grandpas always had cats around the house, farm and barn to help keep the mice at bay.

I also remember my first real personal experience with a mouse. I’d just graduated college and was renting a house with a good buddy of mine. One night while trying to sleep, I kept hearing a scratching noise. I’d never heard the noise before so I had no clue what it was. After about an hour, I decided to see what it was, and turned on the lights.

That’s when I saw him run.

I was about 22 or 23, fresh out of college, and thought I was far superior to this mouse.

You’d have to have seen my room to understand what I am talking about here; the only real furniture in my room was the bed. I’d taken milk crates and 2×6 pieces of wood to make a set of “shelving” for myself. This open shelving held books and clothes alike, and it ran the length of one wall.

I chased the mouse around for an hour before he proved to be faster than me and ducked into a hole.

I set a mouse trap directly in front of that hole the next night…once again proving my superiority over the mouse.

When I first moved to Piggott and was staying with Mom and Dad for a while, I must have brought one with me.

Once again, Mann set out to prove superiority to the mouse.

The good thing about modern homes is there aren’t many little holes for mice to duck in. I first spotted it when it ran under the treadmill. This mouse, idiot thing that it was, was probably looking for a lighter workout than it received that night.

Mom and Dad were both there that night and the three of us set out to trap and get rid of it. Dad got on one end of the couch, Mom on the other, and I waited out front, cutting off any possible route of escape.

Mom had a towel, I had a rolled up newspaper, and Dad’s weapon of choice was a flyswatter. I’d like to admit here publicly as to never having seen a flyswatter used a weapon against a mouse. As they say, there’s a first for everything.

Well, that little mouse would run one way and Dad would swat at him with a flyswatter…then he’d run another and Mom would scream and throw a towel at him. Then he’d run at me…poke his head out from under the couch just enough that I couldn’t swat him with the newspaper. I really think he was trying to size me up, see if he could make a dash past me. Maybe he thought since I had a paper I’d just read to him.

Either that or he was catching his breath.

He eventually ended up under an antique buffet in the corner and the process started all over again. That mouse ran so much I could hear him huffing and puffing. Dad eventually got him with the flyswatter—who’da thought that, huh? But the whole process of the hunt took nearly an hour.

I wonder what mouse tastes like? I bet it tastes like chicken.

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April is a good month

April is a good month for the Mann family. Good, but always very busy. Seems like April is the month when so many things happen.

For instance, April 6 (which just so happens to be today), is the date on which my daughter Brittany was born. Yes, can you believe it? She is 14 years old today. She’s already talking about getting her driver’s license! It also happens to be the date on which my mother was born, albeit several years before Brittany. And it also happens to be the date on which my grandfather Bill Mann was born, in 1919. When Grandpa was alive, we had a few years in which we celebrated all three birthdays! And although Grandpa isn’t with us anymore, his twin sister is still living in St. Francis, Arkansas!

For as long as I can remember, Dad has always had a good time with the fact that he married an older woman. You see, Dad’s birthday is 4 days later…April 10.

I once teased Brittany and told her that I’d always be able to remember her birthday if I couldn’t remember anything else. The American Civil War battle of Shiloh, Tenn., took place on April 6 and 7 in 1862. Brittany even celebrated her 7th birthday on the grounds of Shiloh when she went with me to participate in a reenactment.

April is also Confederate Heritage Month in many Southern states. Admittedly, it’s becoming fewer and fewer as more Southern Governors turn coward and give in to political correctness. Why April? April is the month during which the war began…and ended.

Sigh.

Confederate Memorial Day also happens in April…mostly. Unfortunately, the Southern states can’t all get together to agree on this date. For instance, it was January 19 in Texas this year. In the Carolinas, it’s May 10 (but will be observed on May 11)…and then in Geo., Miss., Ala., and Fla., Confederate Memorial Day is April 27. An interesting tidbit about this finds that the Federal Memorial Day began after many in the North discovered Southerners honoring Southern dead after the war. As is often the case, the Feds took the date and turned it into Memorial Day, causing the Southerners to switch to a different date. Initially, Memorial Day was only for Union dead…that changed after WW1. If you’re a Southerner, you should mark this date down on your calendar and remember the Southern dead who generally do not get remembered any other time…unless they’re being portrayed as the villains. They are no more villains than the current US Troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Last, but not least, April is the month in which I was married. Yep, April 28 of 1990 (for those of you ticking away on your fingers, this makes 19 years!) is the day I tied the knot with BJ. Of course, for those who knew me before then, you’ll remember we dated for SEVEN (yes, 7!) years before we got married. There were quite a few, I think, who wondered if it would ever happen.

So, Happy Birthday Brittany, Mom and Aunt Juanita! May you have many, many more!

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