The #IronBowl is Upon Us (#Auburn #Alabama)

*Note: This is from last year but much of it rings true this year, too, except instead of Alabama being #2 and Auburn being 3-8 on the season, we’re looking at #1 vs #4. War Eagle!

I was just six months old when the underdog Auburn Tigers defeated the #2 ranked Alabama Crimson Tide in the famous “Punt Bama Punt” game of 1972, yet I remember it as if was yesterday. Ok, perhaps that is a little far-fetched but I do remember most of the games between the Tigers and the Tide known simply as the “Iron Bowl.”

I’m an Auburn man, albeit by way of Auburn University at Montgomery; however, my money went to and my grades came from Samford Hall on the main campus. So, like I said, I’m an Auburn man.

Trying to take a little Auburn home with me from the Auburn Arena.

Trying to take a little Auburn home with me from the Auburn Arena.

The fact that I’m an Auburn man and fan defies all logic. My mom, dad, and brother were all Alabama fans. After the “Punt Bama Punt” game, the Tide went on to whip the Tigers for the next nine consecutive years, winning a few national championships along the way. The streak was snapped in 1982 when a young man named “Bo” went over the top to solidify a 23-22 win for Auburn.

"Bo Over the Top" from the '82 Iron Bowl (photo courtesy of yarbroughandassociates.com)

“Bo Over the Top” from the ’82 Iron Bowl (photo courtesy of yarbroughandassociates.com)

My loyalty and love for Auburn can only be explained as an act of God. I am always thankful for God’s grace.

Thanks to the nine game winning streak, Alabama leads the series 41-34-1. Since 1981, Bear Bryant’s penultimate season in coaching and Pat Dye’s inaugural season as head coach on the Plains, Auburn has a 17-14 lead in the series. Auburn’s six game winning streak from 2002-2007 certainly padded that record. In other words, the series is like a couple of Siamese Twins in a nudist colony; it is close and can be streaky.

To say that some people take the rivalry seriously is the understatement of a lifetime. Many years ago, while working at Kroger, I jokingly told a customer that I could not take his check. After a quick back and forth, I told him it was due to the check’s Crimson Tide logo. I can’t say in this column what he said to me but it was enough to make a sailor cringe and a Kroger cashier’s stutter increase dramatically. I sometimes wonder if the name on that check was Harvey Updyke.

During my three deployments to Iraq, Auburn went undefeated on two different occasions. More importantly, they were 3-0 versus their in state rivals. I’ve actually had friends and family inquire about the possibility of me deploying for a short period of time each year around Thanksgiving. Sure, they claim they are just kidding but there is a grain of truth to just about everything; in this case, perhaps a few grains.

Rolling Iraq with my pal Richard after Auburn's 28-27 win in 2010.

Rolling Iraq with my pal Richard after Auburn’s 28-27 win in 2010.

Much like 1972, no one is giving Auburn a chance against the #2 ranked Tide in the 2012 “Iron Bowl.” Will Auburn win the game? Well, I’m no betting man, but I can certainly hope for the best. One has to look no further than Buster Douglas, King David, or the Karate Kid for examples of those who overcame seemingly insurmountable odds to do the impossible.

To a certain extent, we’re all underdogs but we all have the innate ability to reach down deep to overcome just about any challenge thrown our way. On November 24, Auburn will have to reach down deeper than the Grand Canyon to have a shot at Bama but crazier things have happened, and that, as they say, is why they play the game.

(In case you missed it, Alabama won 49-0. Yikes!)

I love football as much as the next guy but when the final whistle blows, I hope we all remember that it’s just a game. Be that as it may, someone please let me know what happens. I’m trying to board the next flight to Afghanistan.

I’m ALL IN.

War Eagle!

Jody Fuller is a comic, a speaker, writer, and a soldier. He can be reached at jody@jodyfuller.com. For more information, please visit http://www.jodyfuller.com.

Promo pic small

Advertisements

I am thankful

Ten years ago, I spent Thanksgiving in a flooded tent in Kuwait. This year, I am thankful I am not spending Thanksgiving in a flooded tent in Kuwait.

I have so much to be thankful for this year and every year.

I am writing this from Hotel Capstone on the campus of the University of Alabama. I am thankful I am only here overnight, because I felt safer in Iraq.

I am thankful for Alabama fans. They make me feel better about myself.

I am thankful for my mother and brother, even though they’re Alabama fans.

I am thankful I know the difference in they’re, there, and their.

I am thankful for lucky 73 yard touchdown passes on 4th and 18.

Auburn’s Ricardo Louis (5) made a stunning 73-yard TD catch to beat Georgia. (Shanna Lockwood/USA Today Sports)

Auburn’s Ricardo Louis (5) made a stunning 73-yard TD catch to beat Georgia. (Shanna Lockwood/USA Today Sports)

I am thankful Auburn didn’t lose to a team from Mississippi this year.

I am thankful I know the difference in lose and loose.

I am thankful for this double chin, because it means I’ve been eating well.

I am thankful for a dog that wakes me each day at the crack of dawn with a bony elbow in my chest.

My sweet Ruby loves to lay on my chest...

My sweet Ruby loves to lay on my chest…

I am thankful for Google. Try it. You’ll be amazed and what you can learn and what you won’t have to ask others.

I am thankful for toothpaste, mouthwash, and Tic Tacs. If you are unfamiliar with any of these products, please Google.

I am thankful for Q-tips. Very few things in this world are as unappealing as a dirty ear canal. Friends don’t let friends walk around with dirty ear canals.

I am thankful for my nose hair trimmer. Now that texting is illegal, it gives me something to do while driving.

I am thankful for baths that allow me to soak away my worries even if only temporarily.

I am thankful for a dog that jumps in the bathtub while the water is still running to ensure the water is at a safe temperature for me to soak away my aforementioned worries.

Video of Ruby testing my bathwater…

I am thankful for your kids.

I am thankful I know the difference in your and you’re.

I am thankful for a dryer that can be restarted over and over so I don’t have to iron.

I am thankful I don’t keep up with the Kardashians.

I am thankful for my uniqueness.

I am thankful for fresh white bread and cold milk, because without either, I’d have no use for peanut butter or jelly.

I am thankful to have a vehicle that does not require Duct Tape. Been there. Done that.

I am thankful for a dog that immediately cleans my floor of any and all stumbling hazards, otherwise known as food.

I am very thankful for high definition television. I can no longer lower myself to watch standard definition, although it was just fine the first 39 years of my life.

I am thankful that I haven’t bitten my fingernails in over 20 years. It makes scratching so much more pleasurable than before.

I am thankful I know the difference in than and then.

I am thankful for a dog that brings in worms, spiders, centipedes, leaves, shrubbery and clumps of dirt so that I am able to get maximum use out of my “high dolla” vacuum cleaner.

I am thankful for XM radio so I don’t have to listen to local car dealership commercials. I don’t care if they are “selling cars like candy bars or trucks like Reese’s Cups.”

I am thankful for soft toilet paper. Being an Army guy, I’ve used enough John Wayne toilet paper to last a lifetime.

I am thankful for a dog that turns down the covers each night before I crawl into bed before settling down right on top of my pillow.

photo (64)

I am thankful to our Veterans who have served this nation so honorably.

I am thankful for unanswered prayers. Otherwise, I might be in my 12th year of selling furniture in Montgomery.

I am thankful I get to do what I love for a living.

I am thankful I have the opportunity to write for a great local newspaper.

I have so much to be thankful for, but most importantly, I am incredibly thankful for my faith, family, and friends and, last but certainly not least, I am thankful for my dog.

If she only knew she was a dog…

Jody Fuller is a comic, speaker, writer and soldier with three tours of duty in Iraq. He is also a lifetime stutterer. He can be reached at jody@jodyfuller.com. For more information, please visit http://www.jodyfuller.com.

Promo pic small

Hate is a strong word, but…

I was still in a good mood here, thanks to the fine students at Trine Univeristy in Angola, Indiana.

I was still in a good mood here, thanks to the fine students at Trine University in Angola, Indiana.

Last week, after a speaking engagement at Trine University in Northeast Indiana, I decided to travel past my hotel’s exit in search of a bite to eat; however, instead of finding a delicious meal, I wound up finding a toll road that took me all the way into Ohio before allowing me the opportunity to turn around.

Forty-eight minutes later, I made it back to my hotel room and dined on cookies, which was not the delicious meal I was looking for.

I hate tolls. I mean I really hate them. It’s one thing to have them as a convenient alternative but when it’s basically the only choice, I hate them.

Don’t I pay taxes for roads and bridges?

I was bitter that night and harped on all the things I hate in life. Hate is a strong word but it is what it is.

For example, I hate the expression, “It is what it is.”

I hate to see a dog wearing clothes. I don’t care if it is a cute Auburn sweater. A dog should never wear clothes. I don’t care how cold it is.

No comment.

No comment.

Speaking of cold weather, I hate it. Well, I kind of hate cold weather. I don’t mind it; I just hate being stuck out in it. I blame the Army for that. There is nothing fun about pulling guard duty in the dead of winter in the dead of night at Ft. Sill, Oklahoma. The wind is relentless and will cut right through any kind “snivel gear.”

Shaving in the field on a cold winter’s morning is one of the reasons I hate shaving so much.

Broccoli. ‘Nuff said.

I do hate some people. I know we are to “Hate the sin but love the sinner,” but that is easier said than done. The fact is that I do hate some people. I could lie and say that I don’t but then I’d be sinning twice on the same topic, so yeah, I hate some people.

I recently saw a video on Facebook of a lady throwing newborn puppies into a river. I hate her.

My mother used to tell a story about her school bus driver tossing a bag of kittens into a creek one morning on the way to school. It’s easy for us in 2013 to call that cruelty to animals but this was 50 years ago and was just a way of dealing with unwanted pets. They were wrapped up in a burlap sack. He didn’t enjoy the task at hand.

The lady tossing the puppies 30 feet into the air, one by one, was pure evil. I hate her.

I hate “hate crimes.” First of all, I hate any type of criminal activity, but I hate “hate crime” laws, too. To quote Hillary Clinton, “What difference does it make?” Dead is dead, regardless of motive.

If I’m killed for my wallet, doesn’t that send a message to everyone else that carries a wallet?

I hate real bullies, but I also hate how the anti-bullying campaign has just gone overboard. I also hate to hear it used as a verb.

I was picked on and teased every day when I was a kid. I hated it, but based on all the public service announcements and such, one would think that getting picked on is a new thing.

To me, a bully is Butch from The Little Rascals or Buddy Hinton from The Brady Bunch, but according to the government’s campaign, bullying also includes spreading rumors and excluding others from groups.

Butch from the Little Rascals. He was a bully and always wound up on the wrong side of right.

Butch from the Little Rascals. He was a bully and always wound up on the wrong side of right.

I thought school was supposed to prepare kids for life and the real challenges of life but instead tries to create a social Utopia, which is not the real world. I think the over protection of kids will make them less resilient in the long run. There will always be unpleasant people in society. We must learn to deal with them.

Some of the biggest bullies I dealt with as a child are some of my best friends today.

I hate loud music. I don’t care if it’s Luke Bryan or Lil Wayne. Turn that junk down. If I want to hear that “boom boom”, I’ll play it myself.

I hate when people blow their nose in public, particularly at the table while I’m trying to eat. Do you think it’s ok to do so? It’s not.

Do you see what I did there?

I hate crooked politicians.

I hate bad breath.

I really hate crooked politicians with bad breath.

Rod Blagojevich, crooked with bad breath.

The very crooked Rod Blagojevich, trying to hide his bad breath.

I hate when my egg isn’t fully cooked and still contains some of that runny white stuff. I hate talking on the phone. I hate reality TV. I hate profanity in public. I hate dirty bathrooms.

Hate is a strong word, but sometimes, at least for me, seems quite appropriate. The good thing is that we don’t have to dwell on all the negativity life dishes out. There will always be unpleasantness in the world. We just have to deal with it.

Jody Fuller is a comic, speaker, writer and soldier with three tours of duty in Iraq. He is also a lifetime stutterer.  He can be reached at jody@jodyfuller.com. For more information, please visit http://www.jodyfuller.com.

Promo pic small

Thanks from a Veteran

Each year, I post this but always tweak it a bit. Please take a look. Thank you.

For Veterans Day, I’d like to thank each and every service member who has ever stepped foot on foreign soil. To keep in line with the original intent of Veterans Day, I’ll even go a step further and thank every service member who has ever had the honor and privilege of wearing the uniform.

Veterans Day is set aside to thank and honor all those who served honorably in the military, be it in wartime or peacetime. In fact, Veterans Day is largely intended to thank living veterans for their service, whereas Memorial Day is a day to honor those who died during battle or as a direct result of injuries sustained during battle.

I am a veteran and am very proud of my service, but the respect I have for those who came before me and my generation is immeasurable.

Basic Training (Aug 1992)

Basic Training (Aug 1992)

The origin of Veterans Day can be traced back to honoring the veterans of WWI. I’m proud to acknowledge that my grandfather, Herbert Lee Fuller, was one of those men who fought so bravely in WWI.

Paw Paw Fuller, sometime during WWI

Paw Paw Fuller, sitting down, sometime around WWI 

Those who served in WWII were truly the cream of the crop of “The Greatest Generation.”

I have great respect and admiration for those who served in the Korean War, which sadly is often referred to as “The Forgotten War.” No war should ever be forgotten.

The veterans of Vietnam deserve our respect, appreciation, and support now more than ever. The way they were treated upon their return from is a sad chapter in our nation’s great history, but there is sufficient time to correct that mistake.

welcomehome1

Lastly, I’ve had the honor of serving with many great warriors who valiantly served during the Gulf War and the current Global War on Terrorism. I can’t possibly name everyone I served with but I think they know how much love and respect I have for each of them.

I touched on each of the major conflicts of the past hundred years so that none of them will be forgotten. We owe a great debt of gratitude to those who serve and no one’s service should ever be forgotten.

In 2011, Frank Buckles, the last surviving veteran of WWI passed away. According to the Department of Veteran Affairs, WWII veterans are dying at the alarming rate of more than 1,000 a day. Quite simply, these great Americans are responsible for our very way of life. There is still time to go out of your way to pay respect for these immortal heroes. For most, a sincere “thank you” will suffice.

The next time you see a gentleman wearing a WWII, Korean War, or Vietnam War veteran hat, I highly encourage you to approach him and thank him for his service. Furthermore, if it’s a Vietnam veteran, welcome him home. It’ll make him feel good but it’ll do even more for you. I’ve been welcomed home from war on three different occasions. Each time, there was a variety of pomp and circumstance. Sadly, the Vietnam vets failed to receive such adoration.

Today, I spent the morning at the Bill Nichols State Veterans Home in Alexander City, Alabama, with friends, family, and heroes of past wars. Unfortunately, many of those same heroes are now alone with few friends and little family, if any. It’s incumbent upon us to see that they are not alone, so I encourage you to visit your local veterans home from time to time. It shouldn’t be a chore to spend a little time with those who helped to provide the freedom you enjoy each and every day.

The most alarming issue facing veterans today is the suicide rate. Presently, a veteran is taking his or her own life approximately every 80 minutes. This rate is completely unacceptable and the identification and prevention of suicide has become a top priority of the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs.

Whether or not you support war is irrelevant; you have to support the troops. They serve voluntarily so you or your loved ones don’t have to serve involuntarily. This hasn’t always been the case.

On a personal level, there wasn’t a day that went by on my latest deployment that I didn’t receive a letter, a postcard, an email, or a package from a grateful American. Over the years, the support for the Global War on Terrorism has dwindled; however, the support for the troops has never been higher, so on behalf of each and every service member who has ever had the honor of wearing the uniform, I want to thank each and every one of YOU for your past, present, and future support. We couldn’t do what we do without it.

Thank you.

Jody Fuller is comic, speaker, writer, and soldier with three tours of duty in Iraq. He is also a lifetime stutterer. He can be reached at jody@jodyfuller.com. For more information, please visit http://www.jodyfuller.com.

Promo pic small

Veterans Day: A Day of Celebration

Veterans-Day-image

Last year, I took a character strengths survey for the Army. It is a 240 item, scientifically validated, questionnaire that provides a rank order of an adult’s 24 character strengths.

While the ranking of some of the character strengths left me baffled, the top character strength did not. Topping the list for me was gratitude.

Take your own survey now. You’ll find it interesting.

Gratefulness is November’s character trait for Opelika, a City of Character.

I have so much to be grateful for, but with Veterans Day upon us, I want to focus on our veterans, for whom I give thanks to every day.

Recently, I told a forty something year old friend of mine that had the U.S. not defeated the Axis powers in WWII, we’d all be speaking German. His reply was classic. “Not me. I can’t speak German.”

Last Sunday, I had the honor of attending the birthday party of 90 year old Husky Kirkwood, a Navy pilot during WWII. Not only was it an honor due to his rightful place in The Greatest Generation but also because according to him, it wasn’t a “phonebook crowd.” He didn’t just scroll through the phonebook looking for folks to invite; he only invited select personnel. Like I said, it was an honor.

Husky in his new birthday suit.

Husky in his new birthday suit. I wore a Navy shirt in his honor, which was tough for an Army guy.

This is the P2V5F, one of the planes Husky flew in the Navy.

This is the P2V5F, one of the planes Husky flew in the Navy.

As one can imagine, the “phonebook crowd” drives a lot of Buicks. I believe there were more Buicks at Husky’s house that day, per capita, than anywhere else in America.

Also, as you can imagine, the “phonebook crowd” consisted of many Veterans.

I know there were multiple WWII Veterans in attendance, as well as those from Vietnam. There was at least one from Desert Storm and even a couple of us from Iraq and Afghanistan.

It’s ironic that I didn’t mention the Korean War, which sadly is referred to as The Forgotten War; however, I didn’t forget about it and neither should you. I assume some of the guys served in Korea but it never came up in conversation. Perhaps they’ve tried to forget and for good reason. War is hell and Korea ranks right up there near the top.

While many people see Veterans Day as a sad day, I do not. I see it as a celebration for all who have served; those for whom deserve our unwavering gratitude.

It shouldn’t be confused with Memorial Day; Veterans Day celebrates the service of all U.S. military veterans, while Memorial Day is a day of remembering the men and women who died while serving.

I missed out on a well-paying Veterans Day speaking engagement in California this year, because I stood my ground. I told the event planner that I could speak about anything but to expect a few laughs along the way, because Veterans Day shouldn’t be a somber day; it should be a day of celebration. Apparently that was too much for him to handle, but I’m ok with that and that’s what ultimately counts. You got to stand for something.

But for many, the celebration will soon be ending. According to the VA, we are losing 800-1000 WWII veterans each and every day, so the time to show your gratitude is now.

In recent months, many of my friends from around the country have been showering veterans with birthday cards.

My friend from Fairhope told me about her uncle who fought in WWII. He is 91 years old and blind. His wife died 15 years ago and all he has left is my friend and her mom.

As of Monday, he’d received 26 birthday cards and was deeply moved and brought to tears by the love and gratitude sent his way. He feels special knowing that he is not forgetten.

Uncle Bill message

It doesn’t have to be a holiday for you to reach out to veterans.

We are also losing Korean War veterans at an alarming rate.

Vietnam veterans were loathed by many during their era, so the time to sincerely thank them for answering their nation’s call for a very unpopular war is now.

I deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom three times, each time coming home to a bigger celebration. Sadly, the guys from Vietnam were spat upon and advised not to wear their uniform upon their return. The time to thank them and welcome them home is now.

I’m not forgetting about my generation of vets, I just ask that you focus on the older ones first. We plan on being around for a while, but if you see a younger veteran who is struggling, please reach out to him or her.

I encourage you to do something special this Veterans Day weekend. Make a phone call or two. Send a card. Drop by to see a friend. Visit your local veterans home. Bake some cookies. Who doesn’t like cookies?

I plan of taking a veteran or two to lunch on Monday. Heck, I might even drive them in style. Does anyone have a Buick I can borrow?

My "grandpa" is a WWII veteran and pinned on my lieutenant bars at Ft. Benning in Jan 2003. He's not really my grandpa but that's what I call him.

My “grandpa” is a WWII veteran and pinned on my lieutenant bars at Ft. Benning in Jan 2003. He’s not really my grandpa but that’s what I call him. He has a Buick.

Jody Fuller is a comic, speaker, writer and soldier. He can be reached at jody@jodyfuller.com. For more information, please visit http://www.jodyfuller.com.

Promo pic small

“The best things in life are free”

In last week’s column, I was fired up after a parent filed an official bullying complaint against a Texas high school football team for beating his son’s team 91-0. I vowed to come back for part two this week on how the anti-bullying campaign has gotten out of hand; however, I’ve had a change of heart and see no need in another rant. Life is too full of blessings for me to focus on things that have the tendency to spike my blood pressure.

In addition to the ranting and raving in my column, last Friday was significant for more pertinent reasons.

Early last week, I was asked to speak briefly to the Campus Life students at Opelika High School. I was all in, even after learning they met at 7:07 a.m. Yes, that’s 7:07 a.m. in the morning.

ohs-logo

I am not a morning person. In fact, one of the reasons I left Active Duty Army is because I had to wake up early every single day. I often say that I left the Army for three reasons: I hate waking up early. I hate shaving, and I hate running. Well, those were the first three things I did every single day, so change was in order. Rest assured, I didn’t shave last Friday morning and since I wasn’t being chased by a pack of wolves, I sure as heck didn’t run.

The students were raising money for a worthy cause, so it was the least I could do. They had the option of supporting any cause they so desired and they chose to support the Wounded Warrior Foundation. By God’s Grace, in spite multiple tours to Iraq, I am not a wounded warrior but have many close friends who are.

Most of the students in attendance had loved ones who’d served in the military. One of the girls wasn’t sure which branch in which her granddad served, but, according to her, he was “one of the water people.” I assume he was in the Navy.

These kids touched my heart.

They also touched my wallet.

They were selling handmade bracelets, so I walked out of there with three of them…and I don’t even wear bracelets. I’m such a sucker for kids supporting a great cause.

photo (55)

After leaving these impressive young people, I proceeded toward the Birmingham VA Medical Center by way of US Highway 280 passing the sign for the Bill Nichols State Veterans Home in Alex City en route, which got me to thinking.

I entertained a group of female Veterans at the Breast Cancer Survivor’s Luncheon at the Birmingham VA. To my credit, I made them laugh but I was overwhelmed by the love and kindness they showed me.

photo (58)

Because of the audience, I waived my fee, but as I told them, nothing in life is free. I expected to be paid in hugs before they left and boy was I ever. I’d never been hugged and kissed so many times in my life.

Notice the scarf, my new favorite accessory.

Notice the scarf, my new favorite accessory.

They stated that they were blessed to have me there but it was I who was truly blessed on this particular day.

It’s an old cliché, but the best things in life really are free: love, hugs, and extra gravy. I used to include air on that list, but it now costs 50 cents at some places.

As I was driving home, it dawned upon me to contact my cousin who works at the Bill Nichols State Veterans Home to see if there was anything I could do for them. She stated that many of the residents were in need of shoes.

The Campus Life kids and the breast cancer survivors inspired me to take action; therefore, I did, but I couldn’t and didn’t do it alone.

It was just an idea, but with the incredible and overwhelming support of my friends, new and old, local and afar, we raised enough money in just three days to send 115 pairs of men’s Reebok Velcro-strapped walking shoes to the residents of the Bill Nichols State Veterans Home.

As you can imagine, it takes a while to gather 115 pairs of Velcro shoes but our hope is that they get there by Veterans Day.

There are also two females residing at the home, but only one can wear shoes. We didn’t forget about them. A friend from North Carolina ordered a pair of New Balance Velcro-strapped sneakers for one, while a friend from Florida bought a pair of slippers for the other.

My friend from NC sent these my way to give to the lone shoe wearing female at the Veterans Home.

My friend from NC sent these my way to give to the lone shoe wearing female at the Veterans Home.

I received donations ranging from $5 to $337.50. Every dollar was just as important as the next and every cent will go to the home.

I was asked to speak to those kids for a reason and now we know why.

Oh, I gave my three bracelets to members of the Midfield High School JROTC who were also in attendance at the survivor’s luncheon. I didn’t need the bracelets, because I now have a pink one, along with a scarf, given to me by Evelyn, one of the survivors. She, of course, gave them to me for free.

Every one of these kids said they planned on going into the military after high school. I'm proud of each of them.

Every one of these kids said they planned on going into the military after high school. I’m proud of each of them.

photo (62)

I will always cherish my gifts and memories of this wonderful day, which is proof that the best things in life really are free.

Jody Fuller is a comic, speaker, writer and soldier with three tours of duty in Iraq. He is also a lifetime stutterer. Jody can be reached at jody@jodyfuller.com. For more information, please visit http://www.jodyfuller.com.

Promo pic small