Author Archives: Rick

About Rick

Writer, photographer, thinker of deep thought . . . too bad I only write about shallow ones.

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Comedy Club

It ain’t easy being cheesy. I should know. Before television, I spent 4 years turning song titles into sexual innuendo on the radio. Add to that all the Dad Jokes my kids have groaned at for the past 25 years. It’s a wonder anyone in my family has laughed in a quarter century.

But my cheese is just that. Goopy, sloppy retorts I slather on every conversation. I’m more of a joke shot gun than anything else. Fire enough ammo, and I’m bound to hit something.

My oldest son inherited that. Sorry dude.

17218503_10210702893920682_1843461757024607662_oMy youngest, well, he’s more analytical. Before he could even talk, we could see it. When Nick learned how his fingers worked, we could something happening behind those brown eyes. It was like his brain was trying to take this new-found skill and use it for something all together different than its intended purpose.

There was always something happening behind those eyes. Whether it was deconstructing Barney the Dinosaur’s “Clean Up” song, or befuddling his older brother with a 4-year-old’s logic, Nick kept us on our toes.

While his older brother excelled at sports, athletics never clicked for Nick. But he would insist on following in his brother’s footsteps. Still, we could see, it didn’t quite fit.

10400398_1188405063170_7327712_n

Nick was a rebel. Not in the usual sense. He didn’t get into trouble. But unlike kids his own age, he didn’t care what anybody thought about the way he looked, the things he did, or the people he called friends.

While his brother could walk in and own a room, Nick would rather sit with the adults and ask questions. He didn’t ask normal questions either. He always took conversations to deep and unexpected places. Like his first sex question. Not the usual, “what’s making out?” or “where do babies come from?” Nick asked, “What’s a blow job?”

Kinda glad I wasn’t in the car for that one.

In high school, his brain got him into all sorts of scrapes . . . mostly with teachers ill-equipped or unwilling to humor a kid with a mind of his own. Imagine a free thinker in a high school religion class.

Then came that day in his senior year. The semester was winding down. It think it was just before exams. Nick came to his mom and me and told us he had finished studying, and wanted to go to a bar the following night. (It’s Louisiana. So, yeah, it was legal.)

1486119_10103411106417425_4690932779115612618_oHe didn’t want to drink or party. He wanted to walk on stage and tell jokes.

We were floored. The kid with the huge intellect and the weird questions, the kid who would rather sit in his room and read the internet from start to finish, wanted to stand up in front of people and dare to make them laugh.

What could we say?

We could have said, “Hell no! You’ve got exams this week Mister Funny Man!” I may have even tried. My wife stopped me.

The first time we saw him, we could not believe it. He was funny! Not just family-gathering-inside-joke funny. For nearly 30 minutes, Nick held a barroom full of people in the palm of his hand. And they laughed.

They laughed hard.

A funny thing happened that night. Our awkward rebel found a home. It was amazing to see. In 30 minutes, my whole vision of my son changed. He wasn’t that awkward kid who listened to that man who cusses at movie screens on the internet.

He was a man. Talking about grown up issues. Challenging the conventions of everyone in that room, just as he had in all those discussions in our living room. Only this time, his audience wasn’t a curmudgeon who thought he was a communist, it was a crowed bar full of people. And they ate it up.

1014703_722230284527768_768910072053536914_o

I don’t know when my chest puffed out bigger, or when I had seen our little brain so happy.

That was more than three years ago. Every opportunity since that first open mic, Nick has hunted a stage to make people laugh — a job that may be even harder than being a parent.

This week, Nick heads west to chase his dream. (Something I could have never done at his age.) Seven booked shows in seven nights, in Los Angeles.

So, if you’re in LA between June 30 and July 7, look him up. He’ll be the kid in ill-fitting clothes cracking wise beyond his years.

Categories: Life Or Something Like It, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Dr. Feelgood

When your doctor is on indefinite medical leave, it might be time to find a new one. Don’t get me wrong, I love my doctor. He’s a great guy. And he’s the team physician for a local college football team that begins with “L” and ends in “U.”

© 2007 Robert Seale Robert Seale Photography www.robertseale.com 832-654-9572

He’s nursed me back to health from all sorts of work-related injuries. Like that time I blew out my knee chasing Lil’ Boosie’s momma around the courthouse. And he’s probed me in places even my wife won’t touch.

Just a few years ago, the doctor was simply the dude in the ER who stitched me up after a dare gone bad. Now, it seems I need one weekly. Men, in general, have an aversion to doctors. I think it all starts when we are kids.

On the little league field we rub dirt on it. We walk it off. Blood makes the grass grow. We don’t need doctors. We just need a little time to shake everything back into place.

5440740-9779688409-39705

In high school, the doctor asks you to turn your head and cough. In college he gives you a shot of penicillin and sends you on your merry way.

In short, the good doctor is rarely good.

Even into adulthood, the doctor holds only bad news in his gloved hand. High blood pressure, cancer, migraines, depression, diabetes. He’s almost as scary as Jason Voorhees.

Then of course, there’s the reason his hand is gloved.

Which brings me to the reason I needed a doctor this week.

download

It’s time for the yearly drop-em-and-bend procedure. Without a current doc, I did what any man would do — took the first name on the list at my local hospital.

So, I called Dr. Blaise. Of course, he’s not taking new patients, but a new physician in his practice is. Well, sign me up.

The kind voice on the other end of the phone told me I would be seeing Dr. Candi.  “With an ‘I.'”

There were a number of thoughts that whizzed through my cortex. But they were not what you might think.

No, it didn’t bother me that Dr. Candi With An I was a woman. It’s 2017, and I’m old. It wasn’t that she was “new.” In all those years in med school, she had to learn something.

The one thought that stuck in my head when I was told that I would be seeing Dr. Candi With An I was, “Great, I got the one stripper who really was paying her way thorough med school.”

il_570xN.1253432507_a0yeI freely admit that is chauvinistic and completely inappropriate. I also admit that before my appointment I showered with that special “smell good” soap my wife bought me.

Dr. Candi With An I was completely professional, and completely lovely. She asked about my medical history, my family, my health. We talked about diet, exercise, work, Crossfit. Turns out she’s a fan, though not a cult member.

It almost felt like a first date.

Then came the moment of truth, and I learned she had one important qualification my old doc didn’t. Small hands.

When it was all said and done, Dr. Candi With An I gave me her number and told me to call anytime.

I think I might have a shot.

 

Categories: Life Or Something Like It, Satire, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Yah Nasty

isla_280x280.25591620_jocox1yoThere are few things worse than coming home smelling like a photog — crackhouse fires, sewer plant explosions, swamp ass, eaux de politician — most days, I could knock a buzzard off a shit wagon.

Lately, I’ve cleaned up pretty good. That’s saying a lot considering what I’m working with, but it’s not me. It’s the soap.

It started off as gifts for my wife — samples from a local hair dresser perfecting her recipes. Handcrafted soaps made from natural clays, aromatic oils, and all kinds of other stuff guys like me don’t understand. I just know my wife came out of the tub soft, smelling great, and relaxed.

My favorite is the name Yah Nasty — because why else would you use a great-smelling soap.

In all seriousness, it’s great soap. Hell, we have a bar in every room and they keep the whole house smelling great, and they look better than any Glade Plug-In or those crappy pull-top air fresheners.

il_570xN.1253422059_ghsfAnd when you get right down to it, who would’t want to smell like Grandma’s Couch? Soft rose scents with a hint of jasmine take you back to those days sneaking cookies on that ugly floral couch.

How’s about an old goat? Rolled Goats, made from goat’s milk, oats, and essential oils smell like no barnyard I’ve ever schlepped a camera through.

il_570xN.1253432507_a0yeShe’s even got one for men. Put A Beard On It, with it’s sandalwood, black tea, and activated charcoal scrubbed off the nastiest assignments the Adult in the Room has thrown at me and left me smelling good enough for my wife to actually sit next to me.

You owe it to yourself — or the lady in your life — to check these out.

My next bar is going straight into my work car. Gas fumes and stale cheese poofies don’t stand a chance.

Categories: Life Or Something Like It, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

A Fairy Tale With A Twist

cs_default_imageI’m so flipping excited.  One of the authors in our local writer’s group is about to give birth.

Karen Ullo’s second novel is on the way. And it’s a tale you only thought you knew. Cinder Allia is on the way.

I got a chance to see this one as she wrote it. It’s sort of a Cinderella-meets-Joan of Arc tale, with Cinderella having to rescue herself when her prince dies. Treason, espionage, romance, magic, murder, mayhem, and the most evil step-mother you can imagine.

A release date is still sketchy, but make room on your bookshelf for this one!

Categories: Authors | Leave a comment

Earn Your Rank

18402930_10211113874019994_8400291433473830259_nGrains of sand tumbled over each other then took flight, hurling themselves across my legs at speeds enough to shave the skin off my ankles. This was not what I signed up for. At least we were’t racing on the beach.

The Battle Race course, set up ten miles inland, awaited my partner and me. We had run Sid Morris‘ epic first Battle Race in Baton Rouge last year.

This year’s series promised to be even better — 3+ miles and 38 obstacles, complete with extra burpees and penalty laps. Needless to say, we were amped.

Our strategy was nothing new, after half-a-dozen OCRs together, we just looked at each other as the rookies sprintedP4290383 out of the starting gate. We knew we would see them again, gasping for air about 7 obstacles in. Slow and steady is the way to handle a Battle.

Terrain isn’t much of a challenge in Gulfport, MS. The obstacles were the reason we were here, nearly 40 in a 5.5-mile course. And Battle Race did not disappoint.

Cargo nets to crawl under and climb over. Ladders. Inverted ladders. Short walls. Tall walls. Cliffhangers. Rope climbs. Rope swings. Sandbag carries. And that was the
easy stuff.
P4290287I have never seen this much variety, and this many obstacles packed into any OCR anyhere. And as we battled deeper into the course, the obstacles just got better. Barbed wire crawls. A-frames. Tire flips. And a literal mountain of sand. (So much for terrain not  being an obstacle on the Gulf Coast.

You want log carries? Try humping a log down a gentle slope, then crawling under barbed wire while rolling that log up a dried gully.

Tough Mudder has Everest. Spartan has the Bucket Carry. Battle Race has at least three signature obstacles. The first we faced was Limitless. P4290201Imagine Victor Frankenstein as a fitness freak instead of a mad scientist.

This contraption could have come straight from his lab. First you shimmy up an angled pole, swing up and down monkey bars, then back up another angled bar before crossing another set of monkey bars and out of the obstacle. And the best part is, this thing has so many rigs, there can be a different set-up for every race.

Unmovable should be dubbed MissionAlmostImpossible. Grab a 150+ pound sandbag, and schlep it 20 yards. But that, my wheezing sherpa, is just the beginning. 18320595_1718903321740732_5350041093897681042_oDrop that behemoth onto a 24-inch platform then push it over to the other side. Now, jump on top, and cross to the other side. Now, pick up that beast, flip it over the box, jump back, and again hoist the dead weight off the ground and carry at back to where you started.

It’s enough to knock the wind out of the most seasoned OCR strongman. I watched the action at this one for nearly half an hour before our race. No one ran out of this obstacle.

The FF5 Rig, is . . . well . . . words fail me. If Limitless was something from Frankenstein’s lab. FF5 is another dimension. Ropes, balls, and freaky little handlebars all unstable, all dangling from trusses, IMG_6056just daring you to grab one and swing.

Choose wrong, and risk a penalty lap with even more challenges.

Battle Race is the race for obstacle lovers and novices alike. It is a great introduction into what OCRs are all about. Challenging for the individual. Fun to run as a team. On a bigger course, it could easily challenge Spartan as the baddest race in the land. The price is better than any of the big-name races, and the swag aint bad either.

IMG_6035After happy damsels plied us with protein bars and battlefield medals, we retired again to the beach where the winds had intensified. But what’s a sand-blasted ankle when there are beers to be drunk by returning heroes.

If you missed Gulfport, don’t cry in your sports drink. There are two more Battle Races scheduled for New Orleans and Baton Rouge. I’m already signed up.

Categories: exercise, Fun, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Bag of Ass

17362917_10210828317876893_2968130807892576018_nIt’s been an entire week since I ran the Tough Mudder NOLA, and I’m still blowing mud out of my nose. I’d call that success.

The TM guys said that this year, they had upped their game. I can attest, Tough Mudder 2.0 is a beast. New obstacles. Improved old obstacles. And more mud!

I’m not going to lie, when my team and I crossed the finish line back in 2015, we were ready to run again. This time, I don’t think any of us wanted any more of this course.

The NOLA trail snaked for 10.9 miles across acres of old sugar cane fields, and through sparse woods. I grew up in cane country. The smell of the sugar mill is not one you want to wear to a black tie affair.Bagasse

Once cane is crushed and drained of its sweet nectar, it is thrown into huge piles outside the mill and left to ferment and rot. It’s called bagasse (pronounced bag-ass), which I believe it’s French for “bag of ass,” because that’s what it smells like.

Now, imagine thick, gumbo mud churned to cake-batter and smelling of bagasse. I was a kid again!

The re-magined Everest2.0 is a leg-slayer. 2014_training_everest_420x220px_1The run-up is shorter, and steeper. If you want to make it to the top, don’t stop churning your legs — even when the mountain falls away from you.

Then, swing wildly for one of the dozen or so outstretched arms of your fellow mudders waiting to pull you up.

If you miss, it’s a short, humiliating slide down the Everest’s muddy face all the way back to base camp for a short rest, and another run at it.13116039_10154117816772790_3498648781963682248_oPyramid Scheme is a blast, as long as you don’t mind strangers grabbing any body part available to heave their muddy carcasses over you. I want to apologize to the woman who’s crotch I may have grabbed on my way to the top. That’s what happens when someone is hanging upside-down and her legs look like a fork in the branches of that big oak tree from your childhood.

She was a good sport and yelled at me, “Just get your ass to the top! I can’t hang here all day!”race_3517_photo_50969411

Standing at the base if an eight foot, mud wall with no foot-holds to help me out of the chest-deep goop I was wading through, I thought, “This is gonna be fun.” Mile of Mud is one of the trademarks of Tough Mudder. This year, it was the slickest, nastiest, most fun on the course, and we got to do it TWICE.

But the best thing about a TM is the mudder to your left and the one to your right. Your team is every single mudder on the course. You’re all in this mad, muddy dash together, and the only way you’ll make it through is with the help of the dudes around you.

And THAT is what Tough Mudder is all about. Now hit the showers. You smell like a bag of ass.17362575_10210828317716889_3419742437002249856_n

Categories: exercise, Fun, Uncategorized | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Return to Everest

o-MOUNT-EVEREST-BRAWL-facebookIt started as a whisper, somewhere in the distance, a nagging call among my team. You need to do this. . . Again. The voice was seductive, like the siren’s songs that draws sailors to the sea, only this whispered echo was calling us home.

There was much to do: Gear to clean. Weights to lift. Miles to run. Diets to perfect. In short, we were in no shape to return to Everest. But it was April. Our ascent wasn’t until March. That gave us an entire year to prepare for the grueling trek up the face of an obstacle that has stolen the hopes and dreams of so many.

Preparations the first time around had almost killed us, but they paid off in every member of our team scaling the monolithic half-pipe that is the single toughest Tough Mudder obstacle.

14232489_10208956828370825_7740601966627015887_nWe were all two years older now, and one member of our team was AWOL. (Actually, he’s now a Marine, scaling much tougher obstacles.) Still, we were determined to meet the challenge as any Legionnaire would: With lots of help from our friends.

Then, the historic floods of August 2016 took our home. It could not take our drive.

Training would have to wait while we rebuilt our lives from the ground up. Healthy diets would have to be put aside for something we could eat single-handed on the fly with a hammer in our free hand. Running? Only if dashes to the lumber yard for more sheetrock mud counts.

DSC_0249Last time I scaled Everest, I was in perhaps the best shape of my life. This time, with only two months to prepare, I enter the fray 10 pounds heavier, and a full minute off my mile pace.

Now, with two days left before we get muddy, that siren call blares like a trumpet in our ears.

Rebuilding your life from the ground up in just three months throws up every mental road block anyone can imagine. The crushing blow of learning your home will have to be demolished, the joy of learning it will not, daunting five-hour work sessions after a full nine on your day job, sixteen-hour days on the weekend, sheetrock dust — pounds and pounds of sheetrock dust settled on your skin and in your lungs, decisions on everything from walls to be moved to cabinet pulls.

We may enter this trial slower and heavier, but we enter it stronger. Mudder Nation, prepare for Team Geezer!

Categories: exercise, Fun | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

17.0-Shit!

Sounds like ego talking.

Those were the words that sealed my fate. Actually, I had every reason not to get involved. With all I had been through in the last year, no one would have blamed me. Work had been a beast. My family had lost everything in a flood last August. My diet had been crap. Hell, I had only been back in the gym for two months.

crossfit 2But my trainer knew right where to hit me. And she guilted me into joining the 2017 CrossFit Open.

For those who are not part of the cult. The Open is this ridiculous competition to see who is the fittest person in the land. And it is brutal.

It starts on the home gym, or Box level. More than 300,000 athletes from around the world hit their home gym or garage to do the same exact workout. Stuff like cleans, and snatches, and deadlifts, or squats, or combo moves like squat snatches. Then the sadists at CrossFit’s home office throw in pullups, or double-unders, or burpees to take the wind right out of you.

It sucks.

What’s worse, there are judges who can make you do it all over again if you don’t do it right. Even worse than that, it is timed, and scored.

crossfit4The day of the first workout, I dropped my 20 bucks in the pot and signed my name on the death waiver. Then, I started making excuses.Shit, I’m 52 years old; I’m lucky to roll my ass out of bed in the morning. I haven’t worked out in months. I’m still training for a half-marathon, so I’m always tired. This is just for fun, a benchmark for when I can train like I want to. . . 
Through three of the five workouts in this first round, I’ve learned a couple things about myself. Competition is a great motivator, at least for me.There’s nothing quite like knowing people are going to see your results to push you to get in one more rep. No matter how much it sucks.

Wind is my strong suit. It must be all the running I’m doing. Those wind-sucking exercises could not suck more, but I seem to recover from them pretty quickly. (I never thought weighted lunges would be part of my recovery.)

crossfit1I’m a lot stronger than I thought. It’s not that I cruise through my regular workouts, I just never had an idea of how hard I could push myself. Hell, before last week, I had never done a squat snatch in my life. I thought I’d pass at 75 pounds. I actually didn’t time out until the I hit two rounds at 115.

I need to push harder. Even though my workouts are scaled (because I’m old and broken), I’m not dead.

Two workouts left, and I start training for next year.

Oh yeah, and Ego, is still the best way to motivate me.

Categories: exercise | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Family

It happened 11 years ago this month, but I remember it like it was yesterday. Hurricane Katrina had flooded New Orleans. Every television station was broadcasting around-the-clock live coverage. Every photographer was pulling 16-hour shifts. There was no end in sight.

I went home that night, exhausted. I grabbed a beer and flopped in my recliner hoping for a few minutes to clear my head of the carnage I had documented over the previous month. My 9-year-old son wandered into the family room, gave me a hug, and asked me, “Dad, why would God let this happen?”

I honestly do know where the answer I gave him came from. “Sometimes, bad things happen, and it’s up to us to be an example of God’s love to other people.”

That seemed to satisfy him.

img_5135As we muddle through the recovery from our own flood, I’m struck by how true those words were then, and still are now.

My wife left our home with two duffle bags of clothes and no idea where we would lay our heads for one night, much less for the months it will take for us to get back into our home.

Friends took us in. They fed us. They sheltered us. They gave us a shoulder to lean on. Not just for a night or two, but an open invitation to stay as long as it took us to get back on our feet.

Three days in, they took in our son who had also flooded. They gave us a place to huddle together to regroup, to rest, and to prepare for whatever came our way. In our time of greatest need, they gave us what we needed most. A place filled with love and hope for better days ahead. They gave us a home. A family.

img_4843Even before the flood waters had receded, an army of family was making plans to help gut our house and speed us onto the road to recovery. Strangers from around the country poured into our neighborhood to help however they could, whether it was manual labor, supplies, food, or just to stop in to pray. They lifted our spirits.

It’s been two months since the Amite River invaded our home, and we still see God’s love all around us: in neighbors swapping cleaning supplies, the Red Cross wagon that circles our neighborhood almost every day with hot lunches, and the trash crew that is slowly getting our street clean.

Today, we are well on our way to rebuilding our lives. Thanks to talented friends willing to give their nights and weekends, our house again has doors, electricity, insulation, and walls.

God’s love manifest itself almost daily in our lives, mostly in the little things. We just don’t notice it until we are at our most desperate, our most vulnerable. It’s in those times, when we need Him the most, that we find Him in the people around us.

img_5170And if there was ever any doubt, this afternoon, while we were raking drywall crumbs out of our grass where our entire house was emptied and hauled away to the dump. My wife found this.

My grandmother’s rosary. It was a gift on our wedding day. At this point in our lives, we did not need the reminder. We have seen His love in the face of everyone who has helped and encouraged us along the way.

Categories: Life Or Something Like It, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Here’s Your Sign

northern_cardinal_7 Whether it was as a kid watching the scarlet blurs flit in and out of the pecan trees of my grandmother’s back yard, my fellow E. D.White High School Cardinal classmates, or the color a former news director’s face would turn when he yelled at me (which was pretty often), cardinals have always made me smile. And with all that’s happened since the Amite River invaded my home five weeks ago, I could use a smile.

Since the muddy waters have receded, my wife and I have heard a constant refrain. “I love your attitude.” “You are so strong.” The truth is, we are not strong. We simply have no choice.

Every day since August 13 has been an emotional roller coaster, unbelievable highs over the simplest good news, followed by unbearable lows when that good news turns out to be false.

The worst is the uncertainty of the recovery process. FEMA seems to be making things up as we go. In the morning we will not have to raise our home. By lunchtime, we will have to raze it.

15732101329_6d797462c2_oIt’s not that our house is that important. It is where we have raised our family, where we’ve weathered the storms of colic, adolescent angst, and watched our boys leave the nest. It is where we celebrated life through middle school sports, high school wrestling, and rock concerts. Where we have gathered with friends for Super Bowls, game nights, and New Year’s Eve parties in the middle of February. Crawfish boils, pool parties, and hammock time, our house was always alive.

It’s the place we slowly made our own by the sweat of our brow, stripping wallpaper, sanding sheetrock, painting, installing floors and lights and counter tops. But it is still only warehouse where we lived in with our stuff.

29147005140_88e571937c_oLast week, as I wandered inside the empty shell wondering if we would ever celebrate another birthday or choose another wall color here again, I cracked.

It was not the idea of bulldozing the life we had made here that drew the tears to my eyes. It was the thought of losing what little we had left in the world.

I walked into the woods behind our house and cried. We had been faithful. We had not questioned. And I would not do it now.

Through the tears, I prayed for strength. The strength to let go, to trust in someone stronger.

On a sun-dried limb 30 yards away, in the fading light of the day, the brightest cardinal I have ever seen perched. He cocked his head my way as if to make sure I had seen him, then he flew away.

I laughed until I cried. I had been leaning on someone stronger the whole time.

Categories: Life Or Something Like It, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

the warble

the official blog of Karen Ullo, author

Todd Rossnagel

My phone calls me "Horse Nail"

My great Wordpress blog

Just another WordPress site

Craig Runs...

...The London Marathon

Ubiquitous Bubba's Blog

Books, Characters, Alien Poetry, and Ponderings

Foul Mouthed Hooligans

Stories so good, you'll need to wash your mouth out with soap.

Live to Write - Write to Live

We live to write and write to live ... professional writers talk about the craft and business of writing

The Life and Times of Nathan Badley...

just like Moby Dick, but shorter and less whale-oriented.

andrewgobeil

Observations, discussions and thoughts.....

THE RIVER WALK

Daily Thoughts and Meditations as we journey together with our Lord.

TNcoonass

A Louisiana boy finds a home in Tennessee

baton rouge music studios

225.769.6225 | contact@brmusicstudios.com

R. D. Harless

That's a hot box of cereal

live apartment fire

Confessions of a grey-headed reporter