The Witty Lizard

Ramblings of a grilling, drinking, black flag hoisting father and philosophical eclectic.

The Witty Lizard - Ramblings of a grilling, drinking, black flag hoisting father and philosophical eclectic.

Friday Five

Places I want to visit before I die. Admittedly, I’m cheating here a bit. I want to witness these historical places sure, but I also want to see the country/city associated with them. This is a list of place I want to explore.

  1. Aldford Castle
  2. St Peter’s Basilica
  3. Angkor
  4. Machu Picchu
  5. Kilimanjaro

Remember the scene in Braveheart  when Stephen refers to Ireland as “my island”? Aldford Castle is my castle. Built in the 12th century by Richard de Aldford, my great-grandfather many times over. I will concede that a motte-and-bailey castle built some 900 years ago is not really worth looking at but it’s mine. A trip to England would be amazing in its own right, highlighted by a journey into my history would make it perfect.

Rome was the center of the known universe, in the west anyway, for a millennium. The Forum, the Colosseum, the cathedrals and the art all make Rome a place that I must see someday. Although I am honestly more interested in the later period of Raphael and da Vinci. St Peter’s Basilica is the apex of  Renaissance art and architecture, the work of Michelangelo and Bernini. I can’t fathom the grandeur of walking through the plaza and entering the Basilica, but I want to find out.

South East Asia fascinates me, always has. There is something about the beauty, mystery and danger of the jungle and an exotic culture that captivates my imagination. The manifestation of all that for me is Angkor. Ancient and beautiful, it has an allure. A mighty civilization once thrived and prospered here and to see something so foreign and exotic would be a helluva trip.

Machu Picchu is simply mind-boggling to me. Four day hike to get there, which begs the question, how did they build in such a remote place? Better still, why did they build in such a remote place? That’s part of the coolness of the site, no one really knows. Theories range from remote prison camp to agricultural test station. Whatever, I really want to explore this ancient site at the top of the world.

Kilimanjaro is the biggest of the cheats on this list. I’m not a climber and have no aspirations to mount an ascent. The reason to include it here is East Africa itself. I have always wanted to see the savanna, the Rift Valley, Lake Victoria, Zanzibar and of course Kilimanjaro.  The chance to go on safari or to see the gorillas in the highlands is something I hope I get the chance to do.


Thursday Links

The Paradoxical China… The Economist

Obama is a putz… The Economist

Unleash the crowds… Slate

Red Sox are confusing me too… Grantland

Ranger stuff… BBTIA

Profar is looking like a stud… Texas Rangers

Things they are a changin’… NewsOK

Hasn’t this been going on forever? But still good stuff… Star-Telegram

SEAL Team 6, enough said… NY Times

William Wallace please stand up… NY Times

Big 12 (-2) expansion on the horizon? ESPN

I love this hire… ESPN

I agree with most of this… Just Blog Baby

Random Dallas Cowboys stuff… ESPN

Dude is a beast… ESPN

Great writer, intriguing story… Grantland

How ’bout less Xbox, just a thought… NY Times

Don’t I wish… NY Times


Friday Five

My favorite American cities.

  1. New York
  2. New Orléans
  3. San Fransisco
  4. Chicago
  5. Dallas

I struggle with New York and New Orléans. Both incredible cities with rich history and culture. I have to choose New York because I’ve been there more than any city on my list (except Dallas), almost ten times. I know New York. Where to go, how to get around, what to do, what not to do… I have all these things figured out. I even have a favorite bar, McCoy’s on 9th avenue between 51st and 52nd. I always go to McCoy’s when I’m in town. It’s a wonderful little Irish pub. The barkeep speaks with a heavy Irish brogue as though she recently arrived in town, although with knowledge of the city only a local would have. And I’m quite sure the 3 guys in the corner booth last time I was there are mobsters from the old days of Hell’s Kitchen. Sports, food, music, bars, and theater are among the best in the world.

New Orléans is my second favorite for the pure debauchery of the place. OK, I know, it’s not always about drinking and carousing, but damn, it’s NOLA. The history and culture of the place is so unavoidable that the city oozes with it. The river, the architecture, the food, the music, how can you not love New Orléans?

Number three is a recent addition to my list. I had not been to San Fransisco until a summer trip in 2010, I instantly fell in love with the city. I’ll admit that I haven’t done much past the usual tourist stuff, Alcatraz, the Mission, the Golden Gate. But the vibe of the place is incredible, reminds me of NOLA in that way, and I can’t wait to make a return trip.

My dad, that’s Chicago for me. We have taken 4-5 trips there over the years to watch baseball. I have taken trips to baseball games with him since I was about 10 and Chicago has been our top destination. It is an incredible sports town. Plus, the bar scene and the food are top-notch.

Dallas… What to say except I grew up not far from there, I lived there as an adult for 12 years, and I still live close enough for a quick road trip. It is my town. And for travelers, it offers all the same things any major city offers except public transportation. Like any city, if you know what you’re doing, it has great bars, great food, sports and culture.

There you go, my favorite American cities.

Damn, I need to catch a plan….



The Lizard in All of Us

Why The Witty Lizard?

There is a condition in all of us referred to as the lizard brain that is responsible rampant disharmony in our existence. Here is a humorous and informative YouTube video based on the concepts presented by Seth Godin in his book Linchpin.

What is the Lizard Brain?

The lizard brain is the thing that tells us to do all the things that kept us alive for a millennium, the 5 F’s if you like: feed, fear, fuck, and feel good. The basic primeval responses to, well, everything. But mostly fear. When we were cavemen, we had to exercise caution. Chasing that 5000 lbs mammoth is probably not a great idea, he is big strong and mean, we might die. Although, if we don’t eat, we WILL die. Herein lies the contradiction.

We really want, even need to partake in 4 of the 5 F’s and we want to do it right the fuck now! Unfortunately, fear invariably fouls things up. We are afraid of pain. We are afraid of what other people think about us. We are afraid to eat something because we might not like it. Here lies an interesting phenomenon about the lizard, memory. Remember the lizard is only concerned with keeping us alive and happy. Everything that we experience is recorded somewhere deep inside the lizard brain, both good and bad. We want to repeat the good and eliminate the bad. Any animal can be conditioned to avoid the bad and find the good. Pavlov and his dog, mice in a maze, cattle at feeding time, these are all examples of the lizard brain at work. Thus fear is the number one motivating factor in any animals life, including humans.

Fear keeps us from giving in to all of those base desires. Taken by itself, that is a great thing, otherwise we may not have ever made it this far. But part of human nature is aggression and impulsiveness, you know those other F’s. The emotional response to any and all situations. These are actions that tend to fall outside of societal norms. The aggressor is thought of as the bad guy in most circles. Society has deemed impulsiveness to be a treatable medical condition. Humans want to fit in so the lizard brain throws fear at us, and in the modern world, acceptance is most people’s biggest fear.

Should we be careful or should we be aggressive? Should we be impulsive or rational? Is the best path to give into fear and tread lightly or should we throw caution to the wind and embrace our primeval side? That is truly a question each individual has to answer for themselves.

I have been referred to my whole life as a loud, obnoxious, boorish, overbearing ass. Basically all of the traits that society deems unacceptable but probably would have placed me at the top of the food chain 10,000 years ago. It bears mentioning that it is in fact 2012 not the stone age. Therefor, there must be some temperance applied to this battle.

For me, this is a battle between what society wants from us and what makes us great. Those things are at odds these days in ever-increasing fashion. Not to say however, that I want to live outside of society, removed from the world for the sake of my principles. Quite the contrary. I want to excel in society by not being afraid.

I want to seek adventure and truth without fear. I don’t want to work and have meetings because society says we should. I don’t want to fear my boss coming down on me for running up the score because it looks bad. I want to run it up because I am creative and bold and not afraid to attack. I’m tired of living in a box created by society. I want to explore new ideas, be aggressive, be impulsive, be spontaneous and not worry about what other people think.

Fear has been crippling the human race for eons. Occasionally, great men come along and jump out of the box. So that is my plan. I may not change the world but I damn sure am going to change my little piece of it.

Fuck fear. Embrace the base desires inherent in the human psyche. Think outside of the box and change your destiny.

I decided to call this blog the Witty Lizard to remind me to throw fear aside and fight the lizard. It is also to remind me to laugh at myself and not take life to seriously, we are just here for a short time, let’s have some fun while we can.





Stuff About Me and This Blog

This blog started in a different format a little over a year ago, albeit in a different form. It started shortly after my mother died at 59 of the most “curable” form of cancer, non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Cancer blows, but that is for another post on another day. The thing that happens when you are faced with one of the most difficult times of your life is you find out real quick who your real friends are. I know that sounds cliché but if you are ever there you’ll find out I”m right.

So, it turns out that the few people who actually care about me were all still in my home town. You know, that place that you spend your entire youth trying like hell to escape. Well, I escaped, or I thought I did… I spent 12 years in the big city and had no intentions of ever returning. But a funny thing happened on the way to the forum… My marriage fell apart and my mother got sick. I’m not real sure which happened first or how one is related to the other, but they happened roughly the same time about 4 years ago. It was obviously the most difficult thing (s) I had ever endured.

It then became clear that the people I had worked with in said big city for 10 years didn’t give two shits about me. At least not deeply and spiritually, oh they like me but didn’t like my angry, loud, and obnoxious ways. Those things only bothered them because they affected them… What would people say? Would he lose it at work? Would he shoot someone? WTF is going to happen to me if I’m to close to him? You know, the lizard…

Not one of them ever asked about my mom, never asked about what was going on in my world. That probably sounds selfish and I guess it is, but I spent every day for almost 2 years in a hospital room with my dying mother. Seems to me like the people you spend every day with might ask occasionally. And what put it in perspective for me was the fact that those people from home asked almost daily. Why were people I hardly talked to for 15 years (or more) more concerned than the people I spent everyday with for the better part of 10 years?

Anyway, my mother died on September 20, 2010 and from that moment on, things began to come into focus for me. I made 2 decisions on or about that day.

  1. Get the hell out of there (and move home).
  2. Find happiness.

So the first one is done. I have returned home. I get to see my dad on a regular basis. I get to see my friends all the time. It’s a good time in my life from the standpoint of not dealing with people who don’t care about me and I don’t trust.

The real trick is number two on the list. When I talk about happiness, I talk in relative terms. I was miserable for a long time. Ultimately, the idea is true happiness. Intrinsically happy. Happy because of the people in my life. Happy because of how I feel about myself. But that is still a work in progress. The plan is to work toward that ideal everyday.

Thus, I embark on a journey for true happiness. I will fight the lizard brain inside me. This is the journey for great food, good drink, real friends, and adventure.

Hang on for the ride because I have no idea where we are going…..