Daily thoughts by a guy that doesn't like to think deeply too often!

Saturday, December 31, 2005

King & Betty

Millie & Ethel, and the Great Civil War

Millie & Ethel were sisters, but they were complete opposites. They really had nothing in common, except their parents. Millie lived just past Snellville, in a very large home with lots of other women. Most likely, she was the madam of a brothel, rumor has it. She never told, and no one ever asked. Ethel would just talk about how good of a woman Millie was for taking in all of those young women and taking care of them.
At the age of 50, Millie got her first car and learned to drive. She didn't really have anywhere to go, but she wanted to stay in practice, so every week she'd make the long drive from Snellville to Tucker. She was always dressed to the nines whenever she visited the family-- she liked to show off her wealth. No matter what outfit she wore, she had a hat and long gloves to match. She was never a good driver; she often ran people off the road, and never payed attention to the stop signs. When she approached a stop sign, she'd stick her gloved hand out the window and wave. Everyone else would yield. This is back when Stone Mountain Freeway was a one lane dirt road with only a couple of stop signs. Now it's a congested 6 lane highway with busy intersections every few feet.
In contrast to Millie's extravagant lifestyle, Ethel lived a quiet life. Her husband was a factory worker and they lived in a little bungalow on the factory grounds. After all of her children grew up and moved away, Ethel spent her time collecting. She loved junk. She'd show off her dime store purchases like they were diamonds. Among her favorites was a little plastic chicken- if you pushed on it's back, it would lay a little plastic egg. She also had a little rubber baby- if you cranked the knob underneath, it would rotate it's head and act like it was crying. In later years, her daughter brought her a fiber-optic sign that lit up to show an Hawaiian waterfall. She loved showing off her souvenier from "Hi-Waya", and her other "dust collectors", as she called them.
One Sunday afternoon, Ethel invited all of her family to her house for a Reunion, of sorts. I don't know all of the details, but some of her brothers, cousins and sons got into an argument in the front yard. They all carried guns and used them that day. Just after the coroner bagged the last body and left, Millie arrived. She still hadn't mastered the brakes, so her car came to a stop about 2 driveways past Ethel's house. She walked up to the house carrying her trademark congealed salad, clueless of the huge civil war that had taken place just minutes before she arrived.
The Reunion had to be postponed- none of the survivors were in the mood for a family get together that day. The food was all put away and served after one of the funerals that same week.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Man of the Day: Antonio Sabato, Jr.

Antonio Sabato Jr. was born on February 29th, 1972 in Rome, Italy. He was the son of noted Italian actor Antonio Sabato, who had made his film debut in John Frankenheimer’s Grand Prix. When Sabato Jr. was twelve, the family moved to the United States. It took some time for him to adjust, as he did not speak English at the time. Like his father, Sabato made his debut in a racing movie. 1988’s Born to Race was set to the backdrop of stock car racing in North Carolina. A driver falls in love with a beautiful Italian engineer. She has developed a revolutionary prototype engine, but is kidnapped by a rival team who want the design for themselves. Unfortunately for Sabato, this movie was nowhere near as good the classic in which his father had debuted. It bombed. After appearing in two Italian action movies (Karate Rock and Arizona Road) in 1990 and the video for Janet Jackson’s ‘Love Will Never Do (Without You)’, Sabato made his breakthrough in ‘General Hospital’. Shortly after he had joined the cast as John ‘Jagger’ Cates in 1992, the show jumped from seventh to third in the ratings for daytime series. Sabato quickly established himself as a leading heartthrob and sex symbol. This led to his casting in a made-for-TV movie, 1993’s Moment of Truth: Why My Daughter. The next year, he played Jack Parezi, Amanda’s long-lost abusive husband, for a season of ‘Melrose Place’. With his 1994 calendar quickly selling out and his contract as an underwear model for Calvin Klein, he had reached the pinnacle of male modelling. After finishing his run on ‘General Hospital’, Sabato tried to get away from his heartthrob image in ‘Earth 2’. After one season playing in competition with the popular news-show ’60 Minutes’, ‘Earth 2’ was cancelled because of low ratings. After this setback, Sabato acted in several made-for-TV movies. Sabato’s other major made-for-TV movie from this period was If Looks Could Kill: From the Files of America’s Most Wanted. After recently completed his contract for Calvin Klein, Sabato appeared at an event for Durex condoms. He is currently raising one child, five year old Jack Antonio. The mother is Virginia Madsen, who played Princess Irulan in Dune. They were never married, and have since parted ways. He was briefly married to Alicia Tully Jensen in 1992, but they were divorced a year later. All of these events have been watched carefully by Sabato’s hordes of female fans, who have established him as the leading heartthrob of the 1990’s.

From Russia, With Love

I met a penpal online last year. His name was Sergey and he lived in Russia, in Cheboksary City, about 750 km east of Moscow. He was in his early 30's, I was in my late 30's. We it it off right away. He talked about his country and questioned me about mine. He spoke of his parent's recent divorce and how distant he felt from his father and that side of his family. I helped him by telling him about my parents and my family.
We had a lot in common-- we liked the same movies, the same TV shows, etc. He had never visited another country and looked forward to being able to travel some day. We exchanged e-mails for months and I felt like I really got to know him.
Then he asked if he could come visit me. Of course, I said yes. I looked forward to showing him a world that he could only imagine. We talked about dates that would work for both of us and it was finally decided that he would be able to come to America and could stay with me for 6 months. I thought that was a little extensive, but I looked forward to meeting him, since I felt that I knew him already. Then he wrote back, saying that he couldn't afford the plane ticket and wanted to know if I could help him pay for it. I agreed to pay half. Then he wrote back saying that he would need financial help to purchase a passport. The red flags went up and I had a strong feeling that I was being used. I wrote back and told him that since I already had a passport, it would be easier for me to visit him if he could pay for half of my plane ticket. I never heard from him again.
I would like to think that Sergey was a poor, naive Russian boy that couldn't afford to help me buy a ticket, but really wanted to meet me. But in reality, I'm sure he was good old American scum, with a knack for writting broken English-- pulling a scam in hopes that I would mail him a check or give him my credit card info.
It was fun while it lasted, Sergey. I'm sure you've moved on to another victim or two since then. It's too bad you weren't for real, because I was really falling for the character that you played.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Reflections on Christmas

Christmas is over, and I have to admit that I never really got into it. Sure there were moments that I came close, especially at the candlelight service at St. John's on Christmas Eve. I felt the true meaning of Christmas that night, I felt like I had found my way home after all of these years. This was the first Christmas Eve service that I've attended in at least 10 years. It used to be a holiday tradition to go to church on Christmas Eve, as a family. But traditions change-- Dad died, Steve moved, and the tradition stopped.

I don't know why, but this Christmas has been strange for me. I've spent the last month remembering past Christmases more than ever. Is it morbid? I don't think so. I had a lot of great Christmases with my family growing up. Each year was more memorable than the last. But there's something about having children and grandparents at a Christmas celebration. This year we had neither. The kids are all in Memphis, the grandparents are all at the cemetary, along with one of my parents. I spent a lot of time thinking about them this month- the ones that are no longer here. Happy memories-- memories of Christmas that are etched in my brain forever: Mommo's egg nog, Granddaddy's "chirping bird" ornament that everyone hated but I loved, Mema's fur coat, Papa's Santa hat, Dad lining us all up in the hallway when he went to the living room to see if Santa had come or not, Aunt Evelyn's themed gifts-- the year we all got wallets and the year we all got windbreakers from Aunt Evelyn.

My grandparents, my father and my Aunt Evelyn all died in the 90's. Christmas as I knew it changed when they were no longer here. But for the first time since then, they were all here because I remembered them. Merry Christmas Mommo & Granddaddy, Mema & Papa, Dad and Aunt Evelyn-- thanks for the memories.

Man of the Day: Lucky Vanous

Born and raised in Lincoln, Nebraska, Lucky joined the Army at 18 and was selected to join the 1st Ranger Battalion (Black Berets), the elite anti-terrorist and anti-guerilla response team. In the Rangers he traveled extensively and was trained in many military skills including demolitions, scuba diving and low level parachuting. After completing his duty with the Rangers he attended the University of Nebraska at Lincoln.

While vacationing in New York with a friend, Lucky was spotted by an agent for the prestigious Elite Modeling Agency, who signed him on the spot. His first assignment found him being shot for GQ MAGAZINE by internationally renowned photographer Francesco Scavullo. During the next five years he traveled and lived throughout Europe and Asia, hiked the Himalayas and made 12 remote excursions into Alaska.

Lucky continued his studies at NYU and Fordham University, studying political science and history, but soon found his academic career put on hold when he landed a role as a construction worker in a Diet Coke commercial. The spot became one of Coca-Cola's most successful commercial campaigns, which led to appearances successfully promoting Diet Coke throughout the United States and Europe.

Once he made the decision to pursue an acting career, Lucky sought out the best available training - Alan Savage in NY, Howard Fine (Advanced scene study), Groundlings and Jessica Drake (speech) in Los Angeles. He completed his first starring role in the feature film "Chapter Perfect" (Spring 1995), guest starred on the NBC comedy "WINGS" and with Carol Burnett on "ALL MY CHILDREN" anniversary special for ABC, and was selected to co-host part of the 1994 CLIO Awards with Kelsey Grammer.

In 1997 Lucky starred in Aaron Spelling's "PACIFIC PALISADES", which aired on Fox and in 1998, starred in feature film, JACK OF HEARTS (1999 release) and guest starred on one episode of PENSACOLA WINGS OF GOLD (aired in January of 1999). In February of 1999 he was featured in HANGING UP, directed by Diane Keaton.
The name Vanous is of Czech origin, and the actor is mostly English and part Czech in ancestry. Lucky's father, then a nightclub owner and gambler, gave him his first name when he was born in Lincoln, Nebraska.

Enlisting after high school, Lucky worked his way up to become a member of the elite First Airborne Ranger Battalion, earning the right to wear the black beret. He served on the demolition squad, learned how to seize hostile airstrips and military facilities, specializing in low level parachuting and attending military schools including Special Forces Underwater Diving. "It was the greatest experience of my life," he says. "It helped me grow up." Lucky's character in 18 Wheels of Justice shares the actor's military background, which he finds a useful point of reference in playing the role.

When Lucky was still an infant, his family moved to Los Angeles where his father found work on television crews, first as an electrician, then working up to camera operator on shows such as Petticoat Junction, Green Acres, The Beverly Hillbillies and The Addams Family. "I remember being chased around a set by Cousin Itt when I was about three or four," Vanous says, suspecting that working in the industry has been unconsciously part of his plan ever since.

"Twas the Night Before Christmas

The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Noel at Mema's

My grandparents, Mema & Papa, lived a simple life. They lived through the depression and it changed their mindset for the rest of their lives. They never splurged on anything, and tried their best to never waste a thing. Mema's handwritten recipe books even included suggestions of what to do with the empty cans, for example: "add 1 can of Cream of Mushroom soup, rinse can out and remove label. The can can be used later for watering house plants". They worked hard all of their lives and squandered every cent they ever earned, with the intention of leaving their family with some money. They drove the same car my entire life. In my lifetime, she bought 1 new dress, and he bought 1 new suit. They were hung in the closet and never worn until they were buried. They wanted to be buried in something nice.
They had us over for Christmas Eve every year. They had a 6' artificial tree that came in two parts-- the top of the tree fit into the bottom to form a complete tree. Some years they would only use the top half, resulting in a 3' tree. One year they only used the bottom half, which ended up looking more like a decorated shrub. The lights on the tree were the same from year to year; the ornaments never changed either. The mantle was decorated with plastic holly, along with some wooden blocks that spelled out "Noel". Every year, my drunken Uncle Larry would rearrange the blocks- by the end of the night the blocks always spelled "Leon". After several years of this, my grandparents began to think that that's what they were meant to spell, so that's how they'd arrange them from then on. It was always fun explaining to dates why my grandparent's mantle said "Leon" on it.
At suppertime, the adults sat in the dining room, and us kids sat in the kitchen at the kid's table. They didn't have chairs at the breakfast table, just stools. We all would fight to be able to sit on the stool that Papa had nicknamed "Old Rickety", because it was in bad shape and anyone that sat on that stool was risking their life. I still have that stool, and it's still in bad shape. I wouldn't sit on it today; but I wouldn't repair it either.
When it came time for presents, Papa would put on the Santa Clause hat that Mema had made for him years ago. It was basically two pieces of red felt triangles, sewn together with cotton balls glued on to form a hem. I remember the last Christmas Eve that we all spent together. Papa had his hat on and was passing out the gifts. By this point in their lives, most of the cotton balls had fallen off, but none of us seemed to notice or care. We all took turns opening our presents, and Mema was the last to open her gifts. Papa had splurged that year and got her a fur coat. It was white; probably rabbit. To her, though, it was the finest mink. She put it on and paraded around the living room like a super-model, with the biggest smile on her face. She beamed as if she had just won on Oscar-- years of hard work and simple living had finely paid off and she had a trophy to show for it!
Other than the fur coat, our Christmases were pretty humble, but very memorable. When I remember Mema and Papa, my first thoughts are of Christmas Eves: the fur coat, the ratty Santa hat, and Leon on the mantle.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Man of the Day: Nick Lachey

Nicholas Scott "Nick" Lachey, born November 9, 1973 in Harlan, Kentucky, was a member, alongside his brother Drew Lachey, of the boy band 98 Degrees.

Nick Lachey was on summer break from studying Sports Medicine at Miami University in Ohio when he got an invitation from a high school friend to join an up-and-coming vocal group in Los Angeles. Nick had always been torn between his loves of sports and music, but it appeared that music would win out this time. Shortly after joining Jeff in California, Nick realized that his friend, Justin, and his brother, Drew, would fit perfectly in the group. A few phone calls, several plane flights, and thousands of driving miles later, the foursome was complete.

All four albums released by 98 Degrees went platinum. In the fall of 2002, Lachey went solo and in November 2003 he released his first album, SoulO, which is generally considered to have been a flop(sold over 105,000 copies), despite the success of Newlyweds and the fact that a song from the album, "This I Swear", is the show's theme song.

Lachey played Leslie St. Clair on the witch drama series Charmed for six episodes.
Lachey has now signed with Jive records and is preparing for his next album.
12/26/05 Update:
Check the picture below-- this could be the pen that Nick stole from "Anonymous":

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Keep Smiling, Brian, Keep Smiling

No matter how badly I want to scream that life is unfair, I keep smiling.

No matter how many times I get slapped in the face, I continue to turn the other cheek- welcoming another slap.

I feel that I've been slapped so hard, so many times in the past few days that I have a permanent handprint on my face. I won't go into details, because it makes me look petty. My list of complaints is long, and I'm not one that normally complains about much.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Man of the Day: Enrique Iglesias

Born in Madrid in 1975, Enrique grew up immersed in three cultures -- Latin, European and American. His parents divorced when he was three and, when he was eight, his mother sent him and his siblings to live with their father in Miami. Enrique led the life of a typical Miami teen. But what his family did not know was that Enrique was secretly writing songs and dreaming of stardom. After a year at the University of Miami, he decided to follow his heart. In 1995 he sang for his soon-to-be manager, who at Iglesias' insistence first shopped his demos under the name Enrique Martinez. It wasn't until he landed a record deal with Fonovisa that he told his parents of his aspirations.
His self-titled debut, recorded in Spanish, sold more than a million copies in its first three months (more than seven million to date). He followed up in 1997 with "Vivir," which broke into the U.S. Top 40 and enjoyed global sales topping five million. The album also launched his first world tour: 78 venues in 16 countries (including 19 arenas in the U.S.). His next tour in 1998 was in support of "Cosas Del Amor."
Now Enrique Iglesias moves on to the next chapter. And though the secret to any artist's success is constant growth, Enrique says there is one thing that will never change: his striving for that next great song and next great album. "That's the challenge, that's the fun," he says. "That's what will always drive me. I keep having to prove myself."

A Silver Lining

I will be so glad when the holidays are over. I've enjoyed the parties that I've attended, and the ones that I've thrown, but I am looking forward to a little relaxation soon. On top of the regular holiday events, I'm still doing the catering gig and it's been hectic lately. I had to be at work before 5am today to get a catering order delivered to Crawford Long Hospital by 6am, and another catering job was delivered at 7am. I thought I would be out of work by 3pm, but the catering hotline rang and another order was placed for CNN to be delivered by 7am tomorrow. I ended up staying at work til 430pm getting things together and organized so that tomorrow morning will go smoothly. It was another 12 hour work day, followed by a quick run out to Stone Mountain to get my teeth cleaned. Hopefully I'll get out of work at a decent time tomorrow, because I'm due at my Aunt's house in Fayetteville by 6pm for a Christmas dinner with what's left of the extended family. I got a day off on Friday, so I intend to start and finish my Christmas shopping that day, as well as filling out and sending the Christmas cards and thank you notes that have been sitting on my desk for weeks now. Friday night is Kevin's birthday party at Flashback. On Saturday night, I'll go to a Christmas Eve church service and Sunday I'll be spending the day with my immediate family and exchanging the gifts that I will hopefully purchase on Friday. Sometime late Sunday night, after watching at least 7 viewings of "The Christmas Story" marathon on TBS, I'll finally get into the Christmas spirit! If not, I'll spend the night taking the tree down and lugging all of the decorations up to the attic.
Oh yeah, the "Silver Lining" on a dismal day~~~ no cavaties! My teeth have always been in terrible shape, due to the medicines I had to take as a child. They ate away the enamel and left my teeth defenseless. Every time I go to the dentist, I learn that I need at least one or more fillings, or a root canal. Today was the first time that I got a clean dental bill of health, and I was shocked. I haven't been to the dentist in almost two years (when I lost my dental insurance), so I was expecting the worst. So, today did have a silver lining after all! You've got to take your blessings where you find them, and find at least one thing each day to be thankful for.

Monday, December 19, 2005

A New Feature: Man of the Day!

Sometimes I want to blog-- I really, really want to blog about something, but I can't come up with a subject. Or, I have a subject in mind but I need a little time to get the creative juices going. At times like this, when I am mentally stuttering, I'm going to start posting a "Man of the Day" blog-- just a few pictures and and bio of the man. Some of these guys you know, some you'll see for the first time.

Today's "Man of the Day" is Rob Lowe. Everyone knows of Rob; especially of his sex scandal in Atlanta (which is left out of the bio). He's been a favorite of mine for years:

Raised in Dayton, Ohio, Rob Lowe began his career at the age of 8 in local television and summer stock. After his family relocated to Los Angeles, he starred in the television series “A New Kind of Family” and was nominated for a Golden Globe for his performance in Hallmark Hall of Fame’s “Thursday’s Child.” In 2001 Lowe received an Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series for his work on the three time Emmy Award winning drama series “The West Wing.”

Lowe made his feature-film debut in Francis Ford Coppola’s “The Outsiders” and went on to star in “Class,” “The Hotel New Hampshire,” “Oxford Blues,” “Youngblood,” “St. Elmo’s Fire” with Demi Moore, “About Last Night” and “Square Dance,” for which he received his second Golden Globe nomination. He then starred in “Masquerade,” “Bad Influence” and the comedy smash “Wayne’s World” with Mike Myers, as well as “Tommy Boy.” Lowe also appeared in “Mulholland Falls” with Nick Nolte and in Robert Zemeckis’ “Contact” with Jodi Foster and Matthew McConaughey. He recently re-teamed with Myers in the huge box-office hit “Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me.”

Lowe starred in the miniseries “Stephen King’s ‘The Stand’” and “Atomic Train,” as well as Jack Higgins’ bestseller “On Dangerous Ground” and “Midnight Man.” He also appeared in “Great Performance’s ‘Suddenly Last Summer’” for PBS and Francis Ford Coppola’s television production of “Outrage.”

In 1992, Lowe made his Broadway debut in “A Little Hotel on the Side.” He recently wrote and directed an acclaimed short film for cable television, “American Untitled/Desert’s Edge.”
Currently, Lowe is working on “Union Pacific,” a film starring Bill Paxton, which he wrote and will direct for producer Gale Anne Hurd.

Lowe and his wife, Sheryl, have two sons. His birthday is March 17.

The Newest Burnett

My brother, Jim, adopted a 6 month old puppy this week. He named him Cosmo. Welcome to the family, Cosmo!

~Uncle Brian

Saturday, December 17, 2005


Who is THAT?

I look in the mirror and wonder who that guy is I see in the reflection.

I guess I expect to see my self image looking back at me.

The shape looks familiar. The waistline has always fluctuated between 28" and 29". I know, it's a curse! I just can't gain weight, no matter how hard I try! At 40 years old, I can still fit into the suit I wore at my highschool graduation. Damnit!

The eyes are the same. Well, basically the eyeballs are still the same. Still blue somedays, green other days, depending on the clothes I wear. The skin around the eyes have changed, though. Puffy and supporting dark circles underneath, from years of not getting enough sleep. Lines surround the corners of my eyes. They call them laugh lines-- I must've laughed a lot.

The skin isn't as elastic as it used to be; the hair is a pile of over-processed straw.

The days of getting anything I wanted with just a smile have dwindled away. When I was young, I could get away with murder. I'd flash a little smile, bat an eye, and the world was mine for the asking. Nowadays, I learn that you can't rely on cuteness to get you through life. Like Judge Judy always says: "Beauty fades, but dumb is forever".

I remember being in math class in the 3rd grade. The teacher asked us to figure out how old we would be in the year 2000. After a little work, I determined that I would be 35. Oh my God! That sounded ancient. I remember thinking back then, I'll never be that old. I'll die first, or the world will come to an end before that!

Well, I obviously made it to 35. Even 36, 37, 38, 39 and now 40. My body sometimes feels like it's 80. I know my health isn't great, but I persevere, or at least try to.

I wear these wrinkles like a badge. They show that I have been somewhere in life, they show that I laughed loud and often. Of course, if I could have them removed, I'd do it in a heartbeat in the quest for eternal youth!

Yet, here I am at 40. And there is my reflection at 40. Too bad. Despite everything, inside I feel like 20. I'm the happiest I've ever been in my life. I'm surrounded by the greatest family in the world (in my opinion) and the best friends anyone could ever ask for.

So who is that in the mirror? It's me. And I'm proud of it. After a lifelong struggle for self-acceptance, I can look in the mirror and know that I finally like the person looking back at me.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Noises in the Wall

My office is haunted. A lady name Bunny died in my office 13 years ago. Her body was found in the same spot that my desk currently sits. Bunny shows up from time to time- one day last year, she threw a roll of tape at me- no one else was in the room. She went dormant after that... until a few weeks ago. Bunny's been very active the last few weeks: she popped PJ's bra strap the other day, she put an imaginary bug down my shirt (I could feel it wiggling around, but there was nothing there). One day, 4 of us were in my office and we all sensed someone walking past us. A couple of days ago, a picture fell off the wall and hit me in the head. Monday, I started hearing noises in the office. They were coming from the wall next to my desk. Nonstop knocking. We thought there was an animal trapped in the wall- a squirrel, a rat or something. The knocking sound went on nonstop for three days. My boss wouldn't even go into her office because of the noise trapped inside of the wall between our offices. It was constant. In desperation, we had a talk with Bunny last night. We asked if this was the anniversary of her death, we apologized for not recognizing it if that was the case. My boss talked to her directly and asked her to stop messing with us. Bunny must've heard us, because when I got to work today, the knocking had stopped.

The Party's Over

I worried for nothing. The party's went fine, and I really had a good time at both of them.
The first party was at my house last Saturday-- I had 55 people in my little house, but it didn't seem crowded for some reason. I got some great surprises that day. Earlier in the day, my former boss from Rosenbluth showed up. I haven't seen him in about 5 years, but he's someone that I always looked up to and admired. He's the closest thing I have to a father. He came at just the right time and helped me finish cleaning, he even painted the front door an hour before the other guests arrived. He baked me a cake and built a birdhouse for my birthday presents. He had RSVP'd and said that he couldn't make it to the party, but he wanted to come by to see me before the party anyway... he probably didn't know that I would put him to work!
My other great surprise occurred when I saw my brother and his kids walking up my driveway. They live in Memphis and drove 8 hours each way to attend my party. I was shocked when I saw them. How cool it is to be loved enough for a teenager to give up a weekend in order to attend his Uncle's 40th?
A couple of other blasts from the pasts:
Former co-workers from Rosenbluth, Lisa and Alan, came to the party too. I haven't seen them in over 5 years, but we picked up right where we left off.
The Christmas party I threw for the Biscuit was a huge success, too. Everyone had a great time, and said it was the best party the Biscuit has ever had. Notable mentions: Krystal singing "Bohemian Rhapsody", Bruce's cake (complete with "chocolate-covered biscuits"!), country star Ty Herndon & his band in attendance, and lots & lots of eye-candy.
I dreaded and feared both of these events, but they both turned out fine. Thank God it's over, though. Now I can relax and coast through the rest of the holiday season!

Did I Ever Tell You?

Every year on my birthday, my Mom calls me first thing in the morning and asks the same question: "Did I ever tell you about the little boy that came to live with us __ (fill in the blank) years ago?". When I was young, she would wake me up on my birthday and ask the same question. Back then I use to wonder who that other little boy was that used to live with us. As I got older, I realized that she was talking about me. But the "came to live with us" part always through me for a loop- was I adopted or something? Was I a homeless child that stumbled across her doorstep and was taken in? My brother's names both started with "J", mine started with "B". My older brother was named after my father. My younger brother was named after both sets of grandfathers. I was named after no one. Proof positive that I was adopted, in my mind. My name didn't "fit" with the names of my siblings. I lived under the delusion that I was adopted for most of my life- always wondered why they just wouldn't come out and admit it. It turns out, that I was wrong. I really am the spawn of my mother after all- I wasn't an infantile vagabond crawling around with a napsack, looking for someone to take me in. That came later in life!

The story of my birth and explanation of my name:
I was born on December 14th, 1965 at 7:34pm. The news of my impending birth was spread amongst all of my relatives, and they all rushed to the hospital to witness my debute. Being Christmas time, most of the relatives had to leave a party to get to the hospital, and most of them were drunk (or at least buzzed) when they arrived. My future grandparents, Aunts and Uncles sat in the waiting room, drinking coffee and trying to sober up. I'm sure that at least one of them had a flask and continued to party as my little head was beginning to crown! Soon the nurse came out and announced to the family and my father that "It's a boy!!". Then it happened. There was an announcement and my name was said outloud, in public, for the first time: Brian Christopher Burnett. The oohs and aahs were replaced by sneers and jeers from the drunken masses. If there had been a tomatoe nearby, they would've thrown it. " 'Brian'... we don't know anyone named 'Brian'. What's wrong with the name 'Ernest Monroe' " (asked my grandfather, whose name happened to be Ernest Monroe). "The only 'Christopher' I've ever heard of was Columbus" (said my grandmother, coldly). My other grandmother misunderstood and thought my middle name was Chrysler and commented that it's strange to name someone after a car. (Sidenote: til the day she died, my grandmother still believed that Chrysler was my middle name.)

Mom had been forced to name her first son after her husband and she wanted to come up with a unique name for me- something outside of the family boundaries, and she did. She played it safe when her next child was born-- he got named after relatives on both sides of the family, including "Ernest" as his middle name.

Thursday, December 08, 2005


This is how I feel. There is too much going on these days. My birthday party is this Saturday-- 48 hours from now. I've got so much to do to get the house ready, and I'm running out of time. I should be working on the house now, but I'm burned out on all of these projects that I started working on months ago. Hopefully as soon as I finish writting this Blog, I'll turn off the computer and get a little bit more work done before going to bed. I'm sure everything will turn out fine- it always does somehow. At the last minute, things seem to fall into place. Either that, or I give up and just decide to let things be as they are and try not to worry about it.

On top of that, I'm throwing the company Christmas party on Monday. I've received zero help with the planning or arranging of the party. I've booked the "hall", hired the entertainment, arranged for the catering, ordered a cake and almost single-handedly scrounged up about 50 door prizes to be given to employees during the party. The list of prizes include: lots of gift certificates to local restaurants, T-shirts, play tickets, a TV, an Ipod, and cash. I took it on myself to grovel to ALL of the local businesses- I went around to each of them on my own time to collect their donations. I was told yesterday that I'm not eligable to receive any of the prizes during the party, because "it just wouldn't look right". No one asked me to do this- I just did it on my own-- I want the party to be a success. I didn't ask to be responsible for arranging everything having to do with the party... I don't even know how that happened. Oh yeah, I'm also supposed to sit by the front door during the party- handing out drink coupons and raffle tickets. Meanwhile, my boss will be in the other room giving out the prizes that I worked so hard to accumulate. To add a little more stress, a large group of employees are protesting the party and vowing not to come.

I know it sounds like I'm bitching; I'm not. I want both parties to be a success. I'm just under a lot of pressure to pull off two great parties within two days of each other. I guess I can only do what I can do and I have to face that fact. Everything will be fine and the guests at both parties will have a good time and that's all that matters.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005


I'm sorry about the next couple of posts that you'll read here.... they are about memories of my father and memories of my first love. I'm not obsessed with stories of death- I just get a little overly sentimental this time of year, I guess. I regret things that happened and I wish I could turn back the hands of time and change things that I said or did. That being said, I'm not a morbid person- I don't dwell on bad memories. I'm an upbeat guy, but I do have a sentimental side that comes out once in a while.

Glass of Water

He filled a glass with water and put it on his nightstand. He did that every night. It was a habit; maybe a ritual of some kind. He never drank the water, and the next day the glass would be emptied and placed in the dishwasher. Maybe it was a security blanket of some type- he couldn't sleep without a glass of water within arm's reach. I pointed out that it didn't make sense, but it always became an argument and so I stayed silent about it for years. Every night I'd watch him pour a glass of water and take it to bed. It became a part of him- something I learned to overlook. Something I came to expect. One more little thing about him that I loved.
One day he was gone. I tried to justify it-- was it fate, destiny? We never fought, we never broke up. He's still my other half. But some higher power stepped in and stamped an expiration date on our relationship. I bargained with God that expiration dates were only hints-- maybe it wasn't an expiration date after all- maybe the lable was meant to read "freshest if used by..". I drink milk that expired two weeks ago, but it still tastes good. Expiration dates are not always finite. But in this case, the expiration date was permanent. He was gone.
It was a few days later- after the whirlwind-- when I noticed it. The glass of water on the nightstand. Just two days ago, he walked into the kitchen and filled that glass. He carried it to the bedroom, sat it on the night stand, cuddled up next to me and ignored that glass forever. Sometime during the night, he was taken from me. He was gone. I awoke from my dreams and finally realized that he was gone, but the glass of water was still there.
I picked up the glass and studied it, as if it was the last possession of a great God. To me it was. I lifted the glass and looked at it- imagining it in his hand. I sipped from it, hoping that by chance my lips might touch the same spot that his had, two days earlier. Just to make sure, I moved my lips around the rim of the glass. On some scale I felt as if I had shared a last kiss with him.
It's been a couple of decades since then... I've loved and kissed lots of guys since then. But my fondest memory of a kiss has to be the one that I shared with him that day, over a glass of water that he left behind on our nightstand the night that he died.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Voices From the Past

My father gave me a Christmas ornament the year that he died (1990). It was in the shape of a cat and it played a Christmas song if you pushed the button. It wasn't expensive, it wasn't even that nice. But it meant a lot to me later. Every year I unpack the decorations and push that button on the cat ornament to see if it still works. It always does. The cat sings "We Wish You a Merry Christmas" and I feel like my Dad is there. I'm always amazed at how long the batteries have lasted in that thing. It's a miracle every year when it still works!

Last year was an exception. I placed the ornament on the tree and it played it's little tune. My family came over for Christmas and they were amazed that it still worked after all of these years. Before they left, my bother pushed the button on the cat and it started to play. And play and play and play. It played "We Wish You a Merry Christmas" for three days straight. I began to hate the tune and figured out various ways to make the music stop-- boiling it in a big pot of water, throwing it into the fireplace, etc. Eventually, the batteries did die without intervention, and it turned back into an ornament that I could tolerate.

I decorated the tree this year and as I hung the cat ornament, I feared presing the button-- what if it sings again for three days? What if it doesn't sing again-- ever? I pushed the button and nothing happened. I squeezed it, shook it and twisted it and it didn't make a sound. I hung it on the tree anyway. Before going to bed, I pushed the button one last time and a split second sound came out of it-- it said "We...". I realized that that would be the end of the tradition and the last sound I would hear from my father, 15 years after his death. "We". Merry Christmas, Daddy. I miss you.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

In Search of the Perfect Tree

This time of year always reminds me of the first Christmas I spent at the Cotton Mill Loft. I was living with my boyfriend Jeff and I mentioned that I'd love to be able to afford to buy a Christmas tree that would be tall enough to reach the ceiling. The ceilings at the loft were 20' tall. It was a dream, and one that I thought wouldn't happen. To Jeff, it was a quest. We headed towards Home Depot, in search of a 20' tree. They didn't have one. Normally I would've settled for a decent 6' tree if the price was right, but Jeff was determined. We then went to a Big John's lot and found a beautiful 20' tree, but it didn't have a price tag. When we asked, we found out that that tree would cost $1200, but that included delivery, set up and weekly waterings & mistings. Of course I was turned off, but Jeff (never one to want to appear anything less than wealthy) said that the tree looked rather skimpy and we were looking for one a little fuller. The salesman went back to the lot and searched for a more expensive, fuller tree as we ran back to the car and sped away towards the nearest Home Depot.
We went to every Home Depot in the city, literally. We couldn't find a tall enough tree at a price we could afford. At our 10th or 11th stop, I was begging Jeff to just let me buy a normal sized tree and then we could go home and decorate it. He wanted to make one more stop. By this time we were geting close to Gainesville, GA. At a Home Depot somewhere near Lake Lanier, we found the perfect tree. It was only 18' tall, but it was priced at $150. Sold (finally!). We strapped the humongeous tree to the top of his car and headed back towards Atlanta.
After about an hours drive home, we unloaded the tree and took it into the lobby of my building (with some help from willing neighbors). Then it dawned on us that this tree would never fit in the elevator and I lived on the third floor. No problem, we'll take the stairs. The tree was too tall to turn the corners and by the time we made it to my floor, the top section of the tree had broken off. By the time we reached my floor, we realized that a 16' tree would've been a perfect fit for the staircase. And that's what I had when I got the tree inside my apartment-- a 16' tree-- at least 2' of the tree was broken off and hung in the stairwell.
I put the tree in the stand and then raised it into position. The legs of the tree stand bent from all of the weight. I had to get lots of magazines to place underneath the stand's legs in an effort to balance it. It stayed in place and was the most beautiful, magnificent tree you could ever imagine-- until Christmas Eve, the night of my party. About 2 hours before the party, I was cleaning up and getting ready. I took a moment to sit on the couch and look at the tree. At that moment, I saw something strange. The tree was moving-- it was falling. I jumped up and caught it, just before it hit the ground. I stood there for about an hour, holding the tree up-- I couldn't let it fall, the ornaments would break. Jeff wasn't home and I had about 50 people scheduled to arrive soon. I finally let the tree fall, and cried as I heard my precious glass ornaments turn into shards. With sheer adrenaline, I hefted the tree back into place, tied a rope around it and nailed the rope to the wall. I cleaned up the broken glass and replaced the last of the ornaments on the tree just as the first guests arrived.
I won't give a lot of details on how I got the tree out of the apartment when Christmas was over, but I can tell you that it didn't go down the stairs or the elevator. Let's just say it involved a couple bottles of wine, a hand saw, a Mexican Fire Pot on the balcony, about a dozen firetrucks and an emergency evacuation of the entire complex.