Showing 1 - 10 of 42 posts found matching keyword: dad has compiled a list of the most distinct last names by state. That's the name that appears most often in each state compared to the frequency of that name nationally. Imagine my surprise to discover that the name associated with Georgia is Stephens.

The Internet Surname Database says that Stephens means "the son of Stephen" and derives from the Greek "Stephanos," meaning "crown." It claims the name was popular in the Middle Ages because it was the name of the first Christian martyr (St. Stephen, who was stoned to death).

Maybe that's all true. Maybe Georgia is full of Greek Catholics who were named after saints. However, that has nothing to do with my last name.

Sometime in the late 19th century, probably around 1875, my great-great grandmother Rosa and her four children traveled from Lebanon to America. U.S. customs officials apparently misunderstood (or didn't care) when she told them she had come to meet her husband, Stephen Basil. No one in the family ever changed it back, so the family name has been Stephens instead of Basil ever since.

For the record, Rosa was a practicing Catholic, and most of her descendants remain so. However, you can see that my name has nothing to do with Catholic martyrs. I wonder how many of Georgia's other Stephens are descendants of my great-great grandfather?

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"Am I interrupting you? What are you doing right now?" my father asked when I answered the telephone.

"Nothing important. I was just reading an article from Ezra Klein about why Hillary Clinton's private reputation is so good but the American public hates her," I said. "He calls it The Gap."

Dad laughed. "Of course they'd publish that now. They just can't believe that the American public could be right about something."

I said, "Your response indicates that you believe there's no point in ever investigating this reputation gap. Don't you think there's value in examining the difference in someone's public and private personas?"

"I'm open-minded, but it's just election year spin. If they really wanted to investigate that gap, they'd do it next year."

I shook my head, though dad couldn't see this through the phone. "This is the ideal time, from the news industry's point-of-view. Capitalize on everyone talking about her during the Democratic National Convention."

"Have you been watching? There's been open revolt from the Sanders supporters. This party is tearing itself apart. I haven't seen anything like this since McGovern in 1972."

"What about last week? A week ago today, delegates at the RNC tried to pass a resolution to end-run Trump. Is this so different?"

"That's not the same thing," Dad harrumphed. "These people are angry at a party leadership that openly schemed to give their preferred candidate the nomination."

"What's new about that? Isn't that what the Republicans did in 2012 with Romney? That's what parties do, manipulate things to get their choice candidates elected."

"It's not fair! It's against the rules!"

I remained unswayed. "What rules? American political parties can do whatever they want with their candidates."

Dad practically growled. "Well, since we're not talking about facts, and I can see I interrupted you, I'll just let you go." Click.

I admit that I edited that conversation from my memory of the telephone call, but I think both Dad and I come out looking better in my version than reality. (He refuses to admit his own bias — he wants to Make America Great Again® — and I'm intentionally argumentative. About everything.) Frankly, we behave better when we don't talk about politics. Or government. Or sports. Come to think of it, maybe we never behave better.

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I had a conversation the other day with my father who, like many Americans, believes that the end is nigh. It was mostly the usual stuff: Obama. Gun rights. Big government. Federal debt. Apparently, the Iranian bombs will begin falling any day now.

I was trying to argue him out of his position — I'm not saying things are great, but I don't think we're 30 seconds away from Red Dawn — when my argument was destroyed by five words from my television.

"Artisan French Toast at IHoP."

Ok, Dad. You win. It must be the End of Days if IHoP is serving quality food. The last time I was there, they couldn't manage to give me pancakes.

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My father has two new puppies, sister and brother litter mates! They're so young, they don't even have names yet.

She looks like Bandit from Johnny Quest

I think we're going to need a paternity test

Dad says they're supposed to be Great Pyrenees, but the breed standard requires that Great Pyrenees be pretty much all white. It looks to me like they are some mix of GP and something else. Whatever their genetic heritage, they are 100% adorable.

They make a cute couple

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I called my father to ask who he planned to vote for in the Presidential primaries. He was thinking about Donald Trump. Dad wants to Make America Great Again™.

I couldn't let that happen, if only partially because I don't think that America was so great once upon a time that I would ever want to go back there. Whenever that was.

When pressed for his reasoning, he said, "I think Trump's got the business background to fix America's budget problem." Maybe so. But is that the only prerequisite worth considering?

I asked whether it wasn't a problem for him that Trump had repeatedly belittled women and called Mexicans rapists. I asked him if it was okay that the head of our Executive branch of government bullied those of us who didn't have as much money as he did. I asked if it was acceptable to elect a commander-in-chief who called POWs "losers" because they got captured by the enemy.

Those are all things my father had taught his son not to do. Was behavior inappropriate for his son somehow acceptable in his President?

Dad thought about that for a while before telling me he's changed his mind. He now says he'll be voting for "Jeb!".

I guess I can live with that.

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I'm thinking about painting my bedroom. This is the approximate current color:

Someone thought this color was a good idea

Disclaimer: I did not choose that color. I never met the person who chose that color. I'm terrified of the person who would choose that color.

If it was up to Mom, the walls would be beige. Or tan. Or eggshell. Or ecru. Mom loves her neutrals.

If it was up to Dad, the walls would be white. Dad, a former real estate agent, would paints all walls white. It's almost a mania.

(How they could live in the same house long enough to have two children remains a mystery to me.)

Obviously, I don't want more green. To prevent clashing with the big red Georgia flag on my wall, pinks, lavenders, and oranges are out as well. Personally I'm thinking blues. Something like:

I'm feeling blue

If I can ever make up my mind and paint the room, I'll provide pictures. In the meantime, don't hold your breath.

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I was in a lousy mood, so instead of watching something new, I turned to an old favorite: UHF.

I can't speak for everyone, but some movies I have a personal relationship with. For example, I remember where I was and who I was with the first time I saw The Princess Bride, The Adventures of Ford Fairlane, and Robin Hood: Men in Tights. For UHF, I remember the first day I didn't see it.

"Weird Al" Yankovic's foray into movies hit theaters in the summer of 1989. The weekend after my brother and I returned from camp (Trey from Camp MacIntosh and me from Boy Scout Camp Burt Adams) in July, Mom and Dad took us to the local multiplex. I wanted to see UHF, but the rest of the family voted for Honey, I Shrunk the Kids. I remember selflessly offering to let the others watch their movie while I watched UHF alone in a different theater. Mom said no. I wouldn't get to see the film until it was rented from Blockbuster a few months later.

UHF was — and still is — a brilliant piece of comedy film making. Most of the film is commercial and film parody in the style of Kentucky Fried Movie overlayed with a plot combining The Secret Life of Walter Mitty and the work of Harold Ramis (where the plot isn't as important as the jokes). The space between the parodies is filled with plenty of good, old fashioned Marx Brothers-style screwball and wordplay. Yankovic is no Danny Kaye, but he's supported by a sterling cast including Michael Richards, Fran Drescher, Kevin McCarthy, Victoria Jackson, Billy Barty, Anthony Geary, and Emo Philips, among others. If you're not laughing at UHF, you have no sense of humor.

Unfortunately, the movie was a flop. I think this may in part be due to its incredible competition. In addition to Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, UHF was up against Batman, Lethal Weapon 2, When Harry Met Sally, License to Kill, Dead Poets Society, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Ghostbusters 2, Weekend at Bernie's, The Karate Kid 3, and Field of Dream. Ye-ouch. Hell, about the only movie that was out that week that I still haven't seen is Spike Lee's Do the Right Thing. (I've been thinking that it's about time I corrected that oversight.)

The performance of comedies are notoriously unpredictable, making financing difficult. I doesn't help when your comedy is dumped in the middle of the summer blockbuster season. Therefore, it's no surprise that there was never a follow-up. It may be a shame that the world was denied more of Yankovic's madcap antics on the big screen, but at least we'll always have UHF.

Thanks, Al.

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To reach my father's house in Florida, I have to drive past several tourist traps advertising a myriad of Florida-related specialties like orange juice, boiled peanuts, and pornography. The advertisement that keeps catching my eye is the sign for alligator jerky. On my latest trip to Dad's house, I could resist it no more.

I suppose Alligator Al barbecues a mean buffalo

I knew I'd been suckered almost as soon as I walked inside the little country store and asked for the advertised jerky. "It's right there beside the kangaroo and ostrich jerky," the clerk explained helpfully. I'm not intimately familiar with all parts of Florida, but I don't think they have many kangaroo farms. However, I was already in the store, so I bought the jerky anyway.

I don't know what I was expecting, but what I got didn't taste anything like chicken. It tasted like spicy barbecued beef. If you could read that label, you'd see why: it's alligator "and beef" with barbecue flavor. To be fair, alligator is listed as the first ingredient, but if you can taste the gator over the spicy barbecue sauce, you're a better gourmand than me.

The label held another surprise. The jerky was manufactured by a company in Michigan, Zick's Specialty Meats. Michigan is nowhere near Florida, and though I've never been there, I don't recall hearing that Michigan was overflowing with kangaroos either. I wonder what types of jerky their roadside signs advertise?

So I learned my lesson. The next time I fall for one of those roadside Florida signs, it'll be for something I'm already familiar with: the pornography.

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Even more movies! (Some good, some less so.)

22. (769.) Jack Reacher (2012)
Spoiler alert: About halfway through this movie I turned to my Dad and said, "there's only one black guy in this whole movie. Surely they're not going to make him the bad guy." Guess what.

23. (770.) For the Defense (1930)
William Powell can do no wrong! This melodrama is about a lawyer living life close to the edge and the people who take advantage. A character so sleazy shouldn't be so charming, Powell!

24. (771.) All the King's Men (1949)
I'd seen the last 30 minutes of this movie years ago, and it was nice to see it from the beginning. It has a very Sunset Boulevard vibe to it, and I love Sunset Boulevard.

25. (772.) Pride and Prejudice (1940)
Jane Austen has a way of writing that really brings you into the life of the characters and makes them feel real. This film, while clearly expensive, fails to convey that depth. Not terrible, but the book is far more satisfying.

26. (773.) The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie (1972)
Way, way more enjoyable than the the other absurdist Luis Bunuel movie I watched earlier in the month, The Exterminating Angel. It's just as angry about the human condition, but somehow less bitter.

27. (774.) Shall We Dance (2004)
I had no intention of watching this Richard Gere comedy; it just happened to be on television as I was doing some other work. I'm glad I didn't change the channel. It was cute (thanks mainly to the presence of the always amazing Stanley Tucci).

28. (775.) Week-End at the Waldorf (1945)
This slice-of-life drama takes place exclusively in New York's Waldorf hotel and frequently feels like an advertisement. But so far as product placement-as-cinema goes, it's plenty entertaining.

More to come.

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Another story about my family.

Dad calls on Wednesday to tell me that he's going to visit his sister in Alabama on Friday, and he'll need to drop the dogs off with me on Thursday. I advise him to notify Mom (since, you know, I live in her basement). However, by the time Mom and Dad talk, Mom has been celebrating the purchase of new, larger glasses of wine by drinking several larger glasses of wine.

The next day, Mom's dog Chewie has a vet appointment. When I mention that at least one of us has to stay home to meet Dad, she is surprised. How rude of him to drop off his dogs at her house without at least notifying her! So she calls Dad to find out when he's coming, and he explains that I'm the one who's wrong. He's coming on Friday, not Thursday, so that he can meet with his sister on Saturday. Walter must have garbled the message. Ok, sure, whatever.

Except Dad calls back later to say that he's spoken with his sister, and yes, she was expecting him to visit on Friday. So now Dad has to leave Florida in the wee hours Friday morning to drop the dogs off with me if he's going to reach his sister in the time allotted. (Because that's how their relationship works.)

So there you have it. I have one parent who doesn't remember the contents of conversations and another one who doesn't remember having them at all. The next time you wonder why I do things the way I do, just be impressed that I'm able to do anything at all.

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To be continued...