Saturday, March 2, 2013

SUCCESS! FAIL!

Tyler and I decided to have people over for the Super Bowl. It was 50 percent successful. I emerged from my hosting duties without having a full blown panic attack (SUCCESS!). I actually used the oven to cook something other than brownies (SUCCESS!) that people besides me consumed (DOUBLE SUCCESS!). I baked three different desserts (HEYYOOO!). I ate less of the ingredients of said desserts than I ate for dinner that night (MIRACULOUS!). 

Aaaand then most of the people who had RSVP'd changed plans at the last minute (FAIL). It really is okay though. The night was a confidence booster, if you will. If everyone had come, surely they would have suffered mass food poisoning thanks to my artichoke appetizer. Right? 

Thanks to some great friends, we ended up having a really fun night. 


Most of the spread. 

And because talking about food makes for a really boring blog post, I give you the Gallon Smash Prank. 


Friday, March 1, 2013

Good Ol' Gramp

I once handed my grandfather a letter telling him how great I thought he was, and, among other things,  how much God loved him. I wrote that letter because, thanks to his poor health, I wasn't sure I'd see him again. 

That was 15 years ago. 

Good ol' Gramp lasted a whole lot longer than we ever thought he would, but things finally caught up to him a few weeks ago. I'll remember him for a lot - his personality, his quirks, and his love of bathroom humor. When he would ask me if "everything came out alright" upon exiting the restroom, I would always giggle (as a kid and, I'll be honest, as an adult). Gramp was also my resident fashion consultant, giving me wedding dress advice (seriously) and encouraging Tyler to purchase a three piece suit. (He sent a hand-written letter saying that three-piece suits are very "in" and particularly popular with the hip-hop crowd. Enclosed was a cut out of a three-piece-suit-wearing Justin Timberlake). He was more current on pop culture than most of my friends - a dinnertime reference to Snooki, Glee, or J.Lo was not out of the ordinary - and he loved a good party. As you can see, he also loved a good tan.


I was definitely interviewing him in the following picture. Who knew I would end up doing real interviews as a "grown up"? (Sans massive pink scrunchie, of course.)

One of my favorite memories of my grandfather was a recent one. Soon after Tyler got released, he called to tell me about losing his mailroom job at an ad agency. He was getting paid close to nothing, but still thought it was the end of the world (sound familiar?). Soon after that, he was hired by Y&R where he worked until he retired, producing hundreds of successful commercials. The moral of the story was clear; the sentiment behind it even more so. 

We headed to New York for the funeral just after feet of snow blanketed the northeast. We used to live up in New York during the summers, but I've never been up that way in the winter. It was freezing, but beautiful. 


While we were there, I couldn't resist leafing through some of my grandparents' old photos and albums. Look who I stumbled across:

I don't know about you, but that makes me want to buy some Kodak film. Gramp made sure all of Gram's modeling memorabilia was well preserved, putting together several scrapbook's-worth of her work. It's fun to look at until I realize that I didn't get the 16-inch waist genes. I'm not bitter. 

I'm going to miss Gramp a lot. But luckily I have lots of great memories. 

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

The Internet is a Crazy Place

Well, I was really hoping that I would be able to get on a better blogging schedule...then the pro tennis season started up again. If you've met me, you probably know that I value my routine at least as much as I value my daily allotment of carbohydrates. So, waking up in the middle of the night for two weeks straight in order to cover matches in Australia was not particularly enjoyable for me. I was, however, able to get some writing done. And, as has become a bit of a trend with my stories, we got some hate mail feedback. 

I've mentioned before how much I enjoy reading anything on Grantland.com. During the baseball season they publish Mark Lisanti's "Derek Jeter's Diary," which I've posted on the ol' blog before. I thought doing something similar for Roger Federer might be amusing, but I did not have a ton of faith in my ability to be funny on paper. But I gave it a go anyway. Most people loved it. Some people felt compelled to call us and complain, one of them calling it "gross." Someone even emailed to tell us they wanted to be unsubscribed from our mailing list because the diary entries were "embarrassing." And then there were the people who actually thought I was Roger Federer. Watching the comments roll in was one of the more amusing experiences in my career thus far. 
If you're bored, you can read the diary entries here:

But if you just want to chuckle at the comments, you can see some highlights below. As I've learned from just about every article I've written, people get really, REALLY, protective of their favorite tennis players. I was reminded of that again yesterday when someone posted an approximately 600-word comment/essay telling me what a terrible person I am for a story I wrote on Rafa Nadal's every-changing return date. I'll spare you that one. 







This comment is in response to Diary #4.  


This person actually gave this same reply to every person who thought I was Roger. Thorough. 

This was one of my faves. The Great Tennis Wizard posted this comment, twice, then went and posted the same comment on our FB page. Also thorough. 
 

I got a kick out of the second one in this sequence. Could I have gotten an interview with Roger Federer? Who knows. If I did, would it have been as entertaining? Absolutely not. 

That's all for now! I have a couple more blogs in the pipeline, so hopefully it won't be a month 'til my next post. Lata! 

Sunday, December 30, 2012

So Long, Grand Paul.

I know this isn't a surprise to some but, in general, I don't bond well - as in, I struggle to get warm and fuzzy with other people because I'm "supposed to." Just keepin' it real. 

So, all of that to say, the love I had for Tyler's grandfather, Paul (otherwise known as GrandPaul), was out of character for me. He went to be with Jesus today, and selfishly, I'm sad. Unselfishly, I know he's hanging out with his Maker. That, of course, makes me smile. 

 GrandPaul lived each one of his 90 years so that everyone in his general vicinity knew he loved the Lord. Not in an obnoxious, in-your-face way, but in the sense that you just knew something was different about him. He was an amazing example of what a Christian man should look like, and he has passed that down to his namesake, Paul Tyler Henley. Yep, Tyler is actually Paul Tyler, or Paul T. as GrandPaul always called him. Those two had a special bond, that's for sure. I'm also fairly certain that, just like everyone knew GrandPaul loved the Lord, they also knew he had a grandson that played baseball. He loooved talking about that. In fact, I first met him at the College World Series in Omaha back in 2006. He introduced himself as Paul Spicer, Ocala, Florida (referencing his place of residence). I'm pretty pumped to one day start introducing myself, Blair Henley, Houston, Texas. I figure I have to wait until I'm about 82, give or take. 

Last year when I was teaching tennis down in Florida during the spring break rush, Tyler took a Greyhound bus four hours north to visit Paul Spicer. A Greyhound. That's how much he valued time with his grandfather. And while I know we're both going to miss him, his legacy will live on down here while he's walkin' the street of gold up there. 

"I have said these things to you, that in me you might have peace. In the world you will have trouble. But take heart; I have overcome the world." John 16:33

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Reporting from Santa's Lap - No Joke

It's the tennis offseason, which means there's not a whole lot to talk about as far as tennis news is concerned. So, I thought it would be awesome to spice things up with a tennis-themed Santa interview. The concept was hatched a couple of weeks ago with the help of my camera man/video producer, and at the time, I could not stop laughing at the thought of "reporting from Santa's lap." I thought the odds of a mall actually agreeing to the idea were one in approximately 10 zillion, but I figured it wouldn't hurt to ask. 

I called the Memorial City mall first (try keeping a straight face while asking someone if you can interview Santa), and was told by one of Santa's handlers that he would just be too tired to do an interview before or after regular visiting hours. I was then given the number of a "private party" Santa whose rates were a tad steep for our purposes ($175/hr!), so I tried the Katy Mills mall next. My conversations with them sounded promising right off the bat, and I was excited/terrified by the thought that the interview might actually happen. Somewhere in all of the calls I made, I also wrote a quick email to one of the marketing people at the Galleria. I figured that if the Memorial City mall turned me down, the nicest mall in Houston was not likely to say yes. But again, I wanted to cover all my bases.

Welp, turns out it was the Galleria who thought my Santa/tennis interview was a "fun idea." (Katy Mills never called back.) So Santa and I had a date. He got to see the questions beforehand, but that's about it. It's safe to say that I had no idea what to expect going in. Would he give me one-word answers? Would he know anything about tennis? Would he let me report from his lap?

We got to "Santa's Village" early last Friday and set up our cameras. Then it was time to bring in Santa. Guess what?! He had glitter in his beard (Magical Santa Dust according to the man himself)! I immediately reached out to shake his hand, to which he replied: "Santa does not shake hands. Santa hugs." So, I got to hug Santa  - as did our cameraman and our photographer. It was hilarious and awesome. 

The interview commenced shortly after the hugging, and as you can see, Santa was fantastic. The children standing five feet from me yelling "Santa! Hi Santa! SANTAAAAAA!"were not so amazing, but what are ya gonna do. 


It was by far the most ridiculous thing I have ever done...but I'm so glad I went through with it. Oh, and the greatest part of all was the free photo package they offered us before we left. Jackpot! 



Ho, Ho, Ho! Merry Christmas. 

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

This happened...

Tyler played Benjamin in a living nativity for our church Sunday School classes last weekend. If you're like me, you may be asking, "Who's Benjamin?" Well, apparently one of the shepherds had a son of that name (duh!). 

Ben flew threw his lines like a champ. Nailed it! 

Sadly, I couldn't stay for the full performance. I've been near death for several days now thanks to the sinus infection of the century. At first I thought for sure I had bronchitis, but either way...ain't nobody got time for 'dat!  

Also, in my attempt to make this the most random compilation of thoughts ever, click here if you like GIFs and are depressed and/or delighted by A-Rod strikeouts. 

More consistent blogging to come!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Perks

There were some really great things about having very few material possessions. In the case of a hurricane, we could evacuate without having to leave anything behind. In the case of a tornado, we could lose "everything" and "not much" all at the same time. And in the case of a home burglary, thieves would see our apartment as a huge disappointment. I could go on. 

But, while such a setup may be great in the case of potential disaster, it's not so great if you ever want to invite friends/family to your abode. As you might imagine, the ability to have people over (without forcing them to sit on the floor and/or on a futon that has the potential to put your hind quarters to sleep in a half hour or less) has been a nice perk of home ownership. This weekend I got to host some of my favorite people for a night o' relaxation (and food, of course). We were missing a few faces, but it ended up being a great evening. I'm pretty blessed by these girls. 


And, to top it all off, I actually baked something that didn't end up tasting terrible/lighting the kitchen on fire. I'm not sure exactly what you call them, but these things (below) are really, really good. If you are interested in making this brownie/cake/chocolate chip cookie trifecta of amazingness, see the recipe here

Perhaps next time I'll shoot for a recipe with five ingredients. Crazy, I know, but it pays to have high standards.