A Father’s Day Tribute

IMG_5181It’s Father’s Day, a day to celebrate the men responsible for bringing us into this world, and since it’s evident by social media that it’s just as important, if not more so, to let everyone know how much we lover our dads, as it is actually celebrating them, I figured I might as well go ahead and jump on the bandwagon. Sorry if I seem a little cynical, but these are our father’s for christ’s sake, not some friend or acquaintance that we are wishing a happy birthday. It just doesn’t make sense to me that you would write a post on Facebook and tag your dad in it, talking about what a great father he was, rather than just calling and sharing your feelings with him in person, which is why the social media posts have me a little bit skeptical. Is it really easier to reach your dad on twitter than it is on the phone? Unless you’re Arnold Schwarzenegger’s illegitimate child, then I’d have to think the answer is probably no. Okay, rant over, now I can get back to what this day is really about, showing you all how much I love my dad. Kidding.

I didn’t grow up in the same state with my dad, and I didn’t get to see him every day, or even every week, but the times we did get to spend together were always so great, and looking back, I can see how impactful those times were for me. For as long as I can remember, when I would come to Memphis for the weekend with my dad, he would read to me every night before bed. We would stay at my grandparents house, and every night before bed, he would lie down next to me with an armful of books and read them to me. Did you know that the same man responsible for the sweet children’s story about believing in Santa that was later adapted into a very successful movie, called The Polar Express, was also responsible for the heart racing story of Jumanji? I did, because Jumanji was one of my favorite books when I was younger, a book by Chris Van Allsburg that my dad introduced me to one night at my grandparent’s house. I attribute these nights as giving me a love for reading, something I still carry with me to this day. And I believe that love for reading is what made me want to be a writer, to have my words in a book one day. I started this blog as a way to get in the habit of writing every day, so I guess you could say my dad is to thank for you reading this right now, or to blame, depending on whether or not you are enjoying it or not.

My dad also instilled in me a sense of adventure. We were always playing very imaginative games, no matter where we were. When he would come visit in Little Rock and we had a whole day to kill, we would spend hours inside Chuck E. Cheese, and as much fun as the games were, once the tokens were gone I had just as great, if not an even better time playing the games my dad would come up with. For example, I might be on a top secret mission where I would need to grab a certain color ball from the ball pit, and then climb up into the maze and place it in a certain room and then get down the slide within sixty seconds. When we were in Memphis we would have treasure hunts in the backyard at my grandparent’s house, or we would go to the park and do some of the same kinds of missions from Chuck E. Cheese, and then when I was old enough, he took me to Paris, which is when I think the travel bug officially bit me, or maybe it was a bed bug, but either way it was great, and from then on I’ve always had the desire to travel within me.

Whether you think I’ve got a good sense of humor or not, is beside the point, but I personally love my sense of humor, and again, I think that’s something my dad is responsible for. I don’t remember when I was first introduced to Dumb and Dumber, I think it was at a birthday party in elementary school, but the next time I was with my dad, I was going on and on about how hilarious it was, so he bought it for me, and every time I would visit him, literally every time, we would watch that classic movie together and laugh the night away. It never got old. It was so much fun just laughing together and watching the comedic genius of Jim Carrey, selling headless birds and get robbed by a little old lady on a motorized cart. Of course I’d found things funny before that point in my life, but that movie, was by far, the funniest thing I’ve ever seen, so I credit it with broadening my comedic horizons and giving me the sense of humor that I have today.

Those are just a couple of the things I have my dad to thank for, of the countless things he has instilled in me. I could go on for days talking about all of the great things he’s done for me, but I really should go ahead and post this before everyone on social medial thinks that I don’t love my dad as much as they love theirs. Also, I need to give my dad a call to thank him for everything, which I’m really only doing because he’s not on Facebook and I won’t be able to tag him in my post so he can read it for himself. Again, kidding.

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The Allure of Minnesota

IMG_2503I’ve been thinking about moving to Minnesota recently, like really thinking about it, of course all the thinking means absolutely nothing if I can’t get my wife on board, which admittedly would be a near impossible task. For someone who grew up in southern California and Florida, warm weather is what she’s knows and loves, so it stands to reason that the harsh Minnesota winters are not at all appealing to her. I could let that discourage me, but I was on the debate team in high school, so if there’s one thing I know how to do, it’s crafting a convincing argument. Granted, I didn’t win a lot of debates, but I did make the team that anybody could sign up to be on, so that should count for something. Plus, it’s not like we’ll be able to move right away since my wife still has a year of school left here, so I’ve got some time to wear her down, um, I mean show her the benefits of moving north.
Don’t get me wrong, I like Memphis, and there are times that I even love Memphis, but summertime is not one of them. Some of the things that I love most about living here are the parks and the things you can do outside, but when it’s not even officially summer and the heat index is consistently over a hundred degrees, it’s absolutely miserable being outside. It’s kind of ironic that the one time of year when it stays light the longest so you can actually do things outside after work, but it’s so hot that being outside has completely lost all appeal to me. And by the way, it’s not just me that feels this way. Remember that wife I referenced in the first paragraph, the one that grew up in Southern California and South Florida? Well, she is absolutely hating this heat too. We were at some store the other day and we’d been inside for a little while, maybe Target, and when we walked out it was a few minutes after seven in the evening, a time when you would think the heat should have relented at least a little bit, but it smacked us in the face and my wife, not normally one to complain about how hot it is, did. So maybe I’ve got a better chance of convincing her to move to Minnesota after all.

I just love the idea of living in Minneapolis, a city I’ve only been to a handful of times, but when I liked each time I was there. One of my favorite things about the city, is that even in the middle of a fairly big metropolis, there is so much natural beauty. A couple of years ago when I was on vacation there, we went to this beautiful park in the city that had a really big waterfall and some several hiking trails and it was just pretty cool, and despite it being July, it really wasn’t so hot outside, which is really all you can ask for in the middle of Summer. We even went to a Minnesota Twins baseball game, and it was enjoyable, whereas now, I made up my mind last night that I’ve missed my chance to go to any of the Memphis minor league baseball games this year because it’s just way too hot and would not be at all enjoyable.

I don’t know if I’ll be able to convince my wife that we should move to Minnesota or not. In fact I think the chances of that happening or probably pretty slim, but it is nice to know that we are both in agreement that it is way too hot in Memphis right now. At least for now there’s hope which allows me to dream about the allures of Minnesota. Hopefully those happy thoughts will get me through this hellish Memphis summer.

The Obituary of Kendall Curtis

IMG_5177Kendall Andrew Curtis, of CLASSIFIED, met his fateful end on (INSERT DATE HERE) at (ENTER AGE) years young. He always hated it when people said “years young” in reference to someone’s age rather than “years old,” and he was nothing if not an antagonist, so he hopes that his use of the ridiculous phrase here in his obituary will irk some people in the same way it irked him. Kendall was born on September 4th, 1990, in a Tennessee hospital that no longer exists. He was born premature, a very small baby, and the doctors said his only chance of survival was to eat and get bigger, so that’s exactly what he did, for the rest of his life.

Kendall proudly served in the restaurant industry for multiple years. There were many nights where he didn’t get home until after ten, often having missed his favorite TV shows airing, which meant he would have to wait until the next day when the episodes were available to watch online. Some might say he made the ultimate sacrifice. He left the service when his was honorably discharged following a slip and fall accident in the kitchen of the pizza restaurant during his third tour of the food service industry, having left briefly to try his hand at getting a college degree and making something of his life, and then again when he mistakenly believed in himself and thought he could conquer the world of Real Estate. Although he no longer had his job, he was left with the memories of all those who served alongside him, whom he was proud to call his friends, like Stoner Pete, and Milk Dud, who said of his late friend, “Kendall truly new what service was about. He might not think that Pineapple belongs on pizza, but he will defend with his company’s menu, your right to order it.”

Kendall is survived by everyone who is reading this, obviously, and his entire beanie baby collection, that his mom thought was just going to be so valuable one day, but now they sit collecting dust in a box in storage. He lived a simple life, taking pleasure in the little things, like watching people trip and stumble while walking across the parking lot before quickly looking around to see if anyone noticed, or going to the park and pretending to have food for the ducks, only to open his hands when they got closer to reveal that he was holding nothing and shouting “Idiots!” in their face. Kendall also enjoyed running away from the ducks when they subsequently got irritated over the fake food trick and would begin nipping at him with their sharp beaks. While he may have lived a simple life, Kendall always dreamed big, the biggest of his dreams was to become a published writer, and now that this obituary that Kendall wrote prior to his death has been published in the local newspaper, or at the very least the digital online version that most people read more than the actual paper any way, his dream has been realized. He can now decompose in peace.

A Stormy Night

dt_170801_thunderstorm_800x600It was storming last night, so my dogs were going crazy, probably because to them I looked like some sort of space monster with my hands cupped over my ears, but if they thought I was going to subject myself to hearing the thunder at full volume, then they obviously don’t know me well enough. I suppose that’s my fault. I’ve just been so caught up in my own life, that I never thought to sit the puppies down and explain to them that grandpa, which is what they call me, or rather it’s what my wife calls me when she’s talking in the dogs’ voices, pretending that they are talking to me, which is a completely normal thing to do (right?), doesn’t like loud noises. I’m sure they would be able to sympathize with me, because they don’t really like loud noises either, which is evident by the way the run around erratically as lightning flashes and thunder roars outside our apartment, or maybe they wouldn’t understand at all because although the origin of our behaviors is the same, the dislike of the loud noise, we respond to it in completely different ways. They run around like the storm is chasing after them and maybe they’ll be able to out run it, whereas I stay completely still and repeat over and over in my head that thunder is just a noise and won’t actually harm me, the ridiculous mediation of someone suffering from phonophobia.

It had been storming earlier in the evening, and there was a severe thunderstorm warning in place for my county until about half past nine, but those had come and gone without incident, the thunder no louder than the rumbling of a coworkers stomach around lunch time, but then round two started up, just after I crawled into bed. I was about halfway through my tossing and turning routine, my nightly ritual that must be performed to the satisfaction of the sleep gods before they will grant me sleep, when I saw a flash of lightning through my closed eyes. Initially, I wasn’t sure that it was lightning; it could have been my wife clicking on her lamp, or a fire fly that had made it’s way into my home illuminating itself right in front of my face, but I opened my eyes to check, and the loud crack of thunder confirmed my original theory.

I could hear the dogs panting and padding around the room frantically, and I was all set to ignore them, to let them overcome their fears on their own by living through them. Granted, that method hasn’t worked out so well for me, but I figured that the difference in species might make some kind of difference, plus I just really wanted to go to sleep. The storm continued, and with each flash of lightning I was filled with the anxiety about the thunder that was soon to follow. It’s a terrible feeling when you don’t like loud noises, but you know there’s about to inevitably be one, but you don’t know exactly when. So there I was, with both hands cupped over my ears in bed and cringing and grimacing with each bright flash of light, anticipating when the next crash of thunder was going to take place, and hoping it wouldn’t be too loud. Maybe I’ll grow up someday.

The dogs eventually fell asleep, and in the midst of the storm, so did I. Maybe we both got over our fears last night, or perhaps more likely, maybe we didn’t. I guess we can’t really know until the next storm comes, but until then I’m going to let myself that my method of letting the dogs worked through their fears actually worked, because life is a lot more pleasant when you lie to yourself, which is a lesson I think we can all benefit from learning. Then again maybe it’s just me that feels the need to make myself feel better in order to overcompensate for my ridiculous fear of loud noises.

The Benefits of Going to a Movie Alone

IMG_4829I’m going to tell you something about myself that a large portion of society considers weird. It’s something I haven’t made public before now, because I just wasn’t sure if I was ready for people to know the truth about me and forever view me in a different light. It’s something I’ve been doing since high school, but as I always partake in this activity under the cover of darkness, my secret has remained hidden. It’s not something I’m ashamed of and I’m not really interested in whether or not you think my behavior is strange or even crazy, because regardless of what you think, it’s not going to make me stop doing this thing that I love. My name is Kendall Curtis, and I enjoy going to movies by myself.

Don’t get me wrong, I also enjoy going to the movies with other people, in fact, my wife and I have made a habit of going to a movie or two every week as of late, and my dad and I go pretty regularly, but there’s just something fantastic about being completely alone in a dark room full of strangers that most people never get to experience because of some hang up or preconceived notion about going to a movie by themselves, but today, all of that’s going to change. Because I so firmly believe in the therapeutic quality of going to movies by yourself, I’ve taken the time to write down what I believe to be some of the most compelling reasons to start going to the movies solo.

The first and possibly my favorite reason for going to the movies alone, is that when a part brings their baby to the movie, and that baby inevitably starts crying, I can yell at the kid relentlessly until he learns his lesson and decides to shut up or the adult can’t take my harsh but true words about their parenting style and decides to leave. I learned very early on that if you do this when you’re at the theatre with someone else, particularly a date, they will get embarrassed by your use of this very basic first amendment right, and might even consider you to be some kind of crazy psychopathic monster or something (my wife’s words, not mine).

Another reason why going to the movies by yourself is the ideal situation sometimes, is because then you don’t have to share the armrests, which believe it or not, is a pretty important factor when it comes to maximum movie enjoyment. Have you ever been completely engrossed in an intense scene in a movie, and the love of your life annoyingly bumps your elbow and brings you crashing back down to reality and pulling you out of the moment in the blink of an eye? Well if you’re completely alone, you won’t have this problem.

Lastly, one of the most compelling reasons to go to the movies by yourself is that you can get whatever you want at the concession stand. I guess theoretically you could do this anyway, but are you really wanting to spend an extra $5.50 on your own drink because you don’t want to compromise and share a drink with whomever you are with? I wish I had that kind of money to be frivolously throwing around at the theatre concession stand, but when my wife and I go, we share a drink, and since she doesn’t like my favorites, “we” compromise, and I let her pick the drink. When she’s not there, I can get whatever I want, up to and including Pibb Xtra or Diet Coke, my two favorites, and if I’m feeling really crazy, like I was last night, I’ll drop four bills on a twenty ounce bottle of water, something that would undoubtedly draw out an unwanted comment about the cost of the water from whomever had accompanied me to the movie.

Basically, all of the reasons to go to the movies alone can be summed up in one word, selfishness. They are all selfish reasons, but that’s okay, because it’s okay to be selfish sometimes, and that’s something that I don’t think gets talked about enough. Take some time for yourself every once in a while, or more frequently if you can afford it, and go see a movie, and trust me, you’re going to love being able to yell at kids, hog the armrests, and get whatever you want from the snack bar. It’s what’s kept me sane, or at least close to it, all these years.

Weekly Movie Reviews: Ocean’s 8, I Feel Pretty, and Overboard

IMG_5168I’ve been going to quite a few movies lately, like ten thousand percent more than I did last year, and while I love writing about movies and reviewing them for the general public so you can make an informed decision about whether or not you should go check them out, but if I write a post every time I see a movie, then the blog will be overrun with posts about movies and I would have to give up writing about the other things that I enjoy sharing on this platform. That’s why I’ve decided to write about movies once a week, and in that post I’ll talk about all the movies I’ve seen in the previous week, so let’s go ahead and dive right in, literally.

Last week my wife and I went to see the movie Overboard where Anna Farris plays a single mother of three girls who is simultaneously raising them, working multiple thankless jobs, and attempting to become a nurse. She’s working one of her jobs, as a carpet cleaner, where she has been summoned to a yacht to clean the carpets of a billionaire playboy who has never worked a day in his life but spends all of his time partying and spending his father’s money. He is incredibly rude to the carpet cleaner and ends up pushing her off the boat without paying her, so when he is discovered fallen overboard and washed up on the beach with no recollection of who he is or how he got there, she has no problem taking full advantage of the situation, by pretending that she’s married to him and he’s the girls father, both to get revenge on him for how he’d treated her earlier, but also to get some help around the house while she got ready for her nurse exam. Overall it was an entertaining and pretty funny movie, and I would rank it a 4 out of 5, as something I would definitely want to watch again, but probably won’t make it a priority to go see it again while it’s still in the theatre.

Friday night we went to see I Feel Pretty, the Amy Schumer movie that I’ve had recommended to me by a couple of different people as a funny movie to see. I’m not the biggest fan of Amy Schumer, like I don’t find her to be all that funny, but since I’d heard good things, against my better judgement, I decided to check it out. The premise of the movie is basically that Amy Schumer’s character falls off her bike at the gym and wakes up believing herself to be much more beautiful than she actually is which inspires her to live her life with more confidence and do things she never would have done in her old life. It was basically like Shallow Hal, but instead of Jack Black seeing fat women as more attractive, that was the effect Amy Schumer felt when looking at herself. It had some funny moments, but I didn’t find myself wrapped up in the story and I was actually checking the time to see how much longer this movie could go on. Out of 5, I rate I Feel Pretty a 3, because overall it was just mediocre, not terrible but not great, and not a movie that I would care to ever see again, although my wife liked it more than I did.

Saturday we went to a nearly sold out showing of Ocean’s 8 at the Ridgeway Theatre. I’ve seen one of the other movies in the Ocean’s franchise on a plane one time, but I felt that it wasn’t necessary to have seen the others to be able to enjoy the newest installment, plus I love a good heist movie, so this was one I was looking forward to. It’s the story of a group of women who plan to steal a rare necklace valued over one hundred million dollars at the annual Met Gala. It was pretty entertaining and I found myself completely wrapped up in the story which is usually a good thing. The only negative thing I would say about Ocean’s 8 is that it seemed like the humor was meant for a different audience, as most of the jokes didn’t land with my wife or I. I’m not sure what that audience is, perhaps people who were big fans of the other movies in the franchise or people of a different age, but I didn’t find the jokes particularly funny at all. Overall I would rank it a 4.5 out of 5, a movie that I thoroughly enjoyed, would definitely want to see again, and might even try to catch it again while it’s still in the theatre.

I hoped you’ve enjoyed the inaugural weekly movie wrap up. To review the reviews, out of the three films I saw over the last week, Ocean’s 8 was my favorite, Overboard was second, and I Feel Pretty was my least favorite and the only one that I wouldn’t recommend checking out. Maybe you will go and like it, but for me personally, it’s not one that I would sit through again so consider yourself warned. If there are any movies out that you think I should check out or avoid, just comment them below as I’m always looking for recommendations, and if there’s something you want my opinion on, let me know and I’ll try to go see it so I can add that review to the next week’s movie wrap up. Until next time, whatever you decide to do, whether you decide to watch one of these movies or not, I hope you’re happy, because that’s really all that matters.

Pop’s Comfort Kitchen: A Trip Back in Time

The plaza where the closest Kroger to our house has undergone some pretty big changes recently. First a new pizza place moved in, then came Chick-Fil-A, which I really only crave on Sunday, and then an old pizza place, Stevie B’s, a worse version of Cici’s moved out and created an opening for the newest restaurant on the block, Pop’s Comfort Kitchen. I wasn’t exactly sure what kind of food Pop’s was serving up, but my rule when it comes to food is try anything once, a rule that I won’t have any problem abandoning should a particularly disgusting food be presented to me, but Pop’s didn’t strike me as the kind of place that would serve up fried cockroaches, so I was definitely game to try it, which is what my wife and I did a couple of days ago.

The first thing that struck me was the smell, an aroma that seems to emanate from particular restaurants, a scent that I can’t quite place, but I recognize as heavenly. We walked into a bustling restaurant that had quite a few people eating, but was not overly crowded. There was enough space to accommodate more tables, but Pop made the smart decision to let the restaurant breathe a little and have enough open space so the patrons wouldn’t feel claustrophobic. The menu had a lot of things that looked good, but ultimately I decided to go with a classic, the chicken tender basket, because I’ve been on kind of a chicken kick lately, maybe I’m pregnant.

My wife and I got an order of chips and cheese dip to share as an appetizer, because there’s no reason to wait for your entrees to arrive, when for just five to seven dollars more, you can have food to eat while you wait on your food. The queso had a nice kick of spice to it and the chips were thick and unbreakable, an important quality when considering a chip to be dipped, and ultimately it was delicious. Once we’d gotten every last morsel of melted cheese out of the bowl, our chicken tender baskets were placed before us, and they smelled so good. The fries were untraditional, spiraled instead of straight cut or curly, which was nice to see. With the monotony of the same French fries served everywhere you go, it’s a nice change of pace to see someone creative enough to challenge the norm. Unfortunately that’s where my praise of Pop’s fries stops, because the taste was severely lacking. Basically they didn’t have a taste at all.

The chicken tenders on the other hand were incredible. Although my wife doesn’t believe that Pop’s actually cuts the chicken or hand breads it, and I concur, the first bite of the chicken strip took me on a nostalgic trip down memory lane, to the baseball fields that me and my brothers used to play at growing up. I didn’t really enjoy playing baseball, mostly because I didn’t enjoy having my stepdad “coach” me, which was more like yell at me, but also because I used to get really bad headaches when I played due to the excessively hot summer weather and the dustiness of the baseball field, but there was one aspect of baseball that I loved, the concession stand. After my games were out of the way I loved getting concession stand food to eat while I watched my brothers or friends play, and my favorite thing was the ballpark chicken tenders, fried perfectly in the vat of oil used for every other food served in the concession, served piping hot so that steam poured out of the chicken with each scalding bite. It was juicy and flavorful and probably my favorite food as a kid, other than mashed potatoes of course, and this is exactly what Pop’s chicken strips tasted like. While Pop’s chicken was really good, what really made them stand out was the honey mustard that tasted homemade and was absolutely delicious. Maybe it’s because it’s still fresh on my mind since I was just there the other day, but I don’t know that I’ve ever had a better bite of food than that crispy chicken dipped in honey mustard.

Overall I would rate the meal as an eight out of ten, the only points being taken off because of the tasteless fries and the booths that were kind of like picnic benches with a rail in the middle of the seat so you couldn’t slide over to the middle. My wife wasn’t as impressed as I was because the chicken tenders weren’t made there, but I would definitely go back to eat the chicken again, and I would also love to try some of the other menu items that looked interesting. If you haven’t been there and you’re ever in the neighborhood of the Kroger in Bartlett, I would definitely recommend checking it out. They have lots of options for your various tastes, and if it’s anything like my experience, you’re going to love it