Rats, Pirates, Crawfish, Wookies, Pentecostals, and Drums

Finally!  The one who inspired this whole ordeal is coming out from his aquarium and finding his voice!

Every five years, my friend Michael takes a Picture of the Day every day for a year.  In October of last year, he suggested I do the same.  So I did.

Tonight, Michael, my inspirer, has finally written a guest blog.

You’ve all met Michael before:  I went to see Titanic with Michael and his wife, Kim, and I showed a picture just a couple of nights ago of them chatting with us on the iPad.

A few words to describe Michael:  cheerful, energetic, enthusiastic, carefree .  Here he is:


Howdy – My name is Michael Connelly and I am tonight’s guest host for the Dusty Lizard blog. You may remember me being described in a previous DL blog as Remy from Ratatouille: crawling thru the sewers of Paris, searching for the perfect bit of fromage… wait, I think she meant…oh, forget it.

I’m taking my guest blogging cues from when I was little. I would sometimes stay up late to watch  “The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson”.  Joan Rivers often filled in for Johnny and  was the A+ guest host.  Here’s the formula:  Be funny, inject your own style to compliment the host, do not hijack the show to alienate the audience, add a bit or two about yourself, drop a few names, add a bit about the host that the audience may not know, and wrap it all up with a swinging big band number.

Interestingly enough, Joan looks almost exactly the same 30 years later…

The Opening Monologue 

(If I lose you here, you’ll be praying for Jackie to come back.)

So I’m driving down I-95 at 3:45 AM on my way to the Outer Banks, North Carolina. Ahhhh – OBX.  Miles and miles of pristine beaches, warm water, slow-pace, and four-wheeling on the beach.  (Cue banjo music – loud, turn-it-to-11 banjo music). There’s plenty of sharks right off the shore, but you don’t hear about them too often.

But you do hear about all of the Pirates – ARGH!!!

Anyways, I had plenty of road time to think about my guest blog and our friendship with Jackie and Bryan.   I can’t remember the specific aha moment of when we became friends, as the friendship slowly collided over time. We met at church, we have been mutually described as “interesting”, both as couples and individuals. Somehow the friendship just evolved, er, intelligently designed over time to what we are today.

What are we? I don’t know – but a spiffy chart would help!

Being a techno-nerd entrepreneur/consultant who makes a living by sometimes drawing things on walls, I started composing Venn Diagrams of friendship between couples.  Let’s look at the first set of couples –  DW1 and DW2 have a common thread, yet DH1 and DH2 have nothing – this relationship can only sustain the dinner date nite out on a neutral TGI Fridays turf and no more.

Now, here’s the Venn Diagram of Team Connelly and Team Valko.  As couples, we are polar opposite.  Yet there is plenty of overlap that we can all get along on various levels…

Example: I have an extra ticket to a lavish Cajun Cookout hosted by the former White House Chef, Walter Scheib – who would love to go? I’ll call Bryan. He’ll dive into the crawfish etoufee headfirst, just like me.  And we can talk about techno nerdy stuff while we do it!   Jackie needs a sign for Bramble Cottage?  Aha – Kimberly can paint a sign.

Ahhh, the glorious Death Star – the anchor of our friendship.  Well, that and being born-again Pentecostal Christians.  Now there’s a combination that throws off every marketing demographic known to the most savvy ad agency. When either of us do a Google web search, somewhere in PaloAlto, the Google servers groan because they don’t know if they should serve up an ad for LegoStarWarsCon12 or a Benny Hinn Crusade.

Star Wars invades all our lives. I can take a vacation picture of my kids and intertwine it with a Star Wars scene.  Here’s Girl12 and Boy10 playing at Jockey’s Ridge Sand Dunes in Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina.  It’s like the scene in Episode 4 were R2D2 and C3PO land on Tatooine.

Hmm – Kill Devil Hills – now that’s a good Pentecostal town name.


Did Jackie ever tell you that she went to the opening midnight showing of Star Wars Episode III – Revenge of the Sith? But she had to be careful to plan going to the movie around the timing of breast milk for Boy7 who was a mere padawan at the time.   Again, Google Servers groan – Star Wars Legos, Pampers or Breast Pump Ads?? ARGH!  (Oh no! PIRATES, again!)

And who was by her side?  My mega awesome wife, Kimberly. Imagine the “two mysterious chicks”, as I’m sure the Jedi-robed 16-years olds were calling them, at the midnight showing with all of the StarWars nerds. Now that’s the type of woman who makes a man’s heart go thump-thump.

Ya know what else makes a man’s heart go thump-thump?  Bacon.


And in a galaxy far, far away (Detroit, Michigan) on that very same midnight,  my sisters Kelley Riley and Agnes Jensen were also seeing Episode III.    They were wearing shirts like “Sith Happens” and “My brother is a Wookie.”

Yes, Wookie – that is the name that my family calls me. My nieces didn’t even know my real name was Michael until they were in middle-school. I am neither hairy, not tall, nor smelly. But I do retain all the good qualities of a Wookie – I can fix things in a pinch, I’m a loyal friend, and I can tear peoples arms off when I lose my temper.

During one late night cyber chat, I was sharing with Jackie how incredibly smart and talented my sisters are.  Jackie, being an only child, was pleased to hear that some families are not insane.  Well, we Connelly’s are, but in a good way.  My sister Kelley is now also hooked on the DustyLizard blog – she’s probably sitting at her work desk right now going “I’ve made it in life – I am now officially in the DustyLizard blog!”

While we’re talking about families, did you know that my family was selected as the “OFFICIAL HAPPY FAMILY OF GETTYSBURG” – We were the professional models used in all official marketing for Gettysburg – our faces are in the magazines and print ads around the nation.  The paparazzi can be a bit unbearable at times.

DL here: Michael meant to send me a picture of the family here, but I didn’t get it. So I found my (autographed) copy of Gettysburg Magazine and took a picture of the cover. That really is him and his family on the cover.

DL again: Here’s another picture from inside the magazine. They have about 5 pictures of them in the magazine, and you can see them in visitors centers around the nation.


Speaking of Wookie names, did you know Valko’s considered Darth as a baby name?  Darth Valko – that’s way coool.

My brother and sister-in-law had twins – a boy and a girl.  They are named Grace and Nathanial and we love them so much… but if we were to be so lucky with twins, we would have named them Luke and Leia. Seriously.  Kimberly used her skills to make their baby picture more Naboo-appropriate.

And while we are talking about names, the Valko’s have Clarisse, Alex and Juan the TV.  We name our gear as well.  We have Gerta, the iPad. That’s a strong German name – as she’s the workhorse of the family. And then Svetlana, my iPhone 4s. That’s a good Bond Girl name. She’s techxy sleek, always wears black, and can dismantle bombs in seconds.

Kimberly is convinced that Svetlana will not talk to her. Kimberly tried to use Siri Voice – “Siri, call Michael.”  “I’m sorry, I don’t understand what you said,” and kept doing it over and over.  Is Svetlana jealous?  At least when I ask Svetlana, “Who is my wife?” she replies “Your wife is Kimberly Connelly” and pulls up her contact information, just in case I forgot where she lived.


You may not know that Jackie secretly desires to play drums.  HELLO!  I’m a Jedi Master when it comes to percussion.  I’m a formerly nationally ranked rudimental champ and toured for years in competitive drum and bugle corps, where I met Kimberly who was spinning rifles.   Perhaps I should become like Yoda and invite her to my tiny little hut where I will serve unedible soup and watch her get ADHD impatient (I want to learn now!!!).

Well, I have the next best thing than a Yoda hut – it’s called the Fishbowl. Yup – you can see me most Sundays banging away in the “drum booth” at our church. It was designed to keep drums quiet (now that’s an oxymoron!).  When I’m in there I  feel like I am beyond the outer rim. I’d say about, uh, 12 parsecs outside the Rishi Maze.  (C’mon who said that quote??)

Actually there’s nothing Sci-Fi about it – it’s got big old fish-glass windows. I feel like I should put on a snorkel so I can be Finding Nemo instead of glorying God.

Come to think of it, I think Jackie’d be a great drummer – she’s weird and intelligent.  That’s good building blocks for drums. And she has 3 men in the house that could be her roadies to carry around all her drum gear. That’s essential.  We’re soon to see her back-room filled with a sleek drum set.

And in true Johnny Carson style (who was also drummer), I’ll close the blog with arguably the best ever to hit the skins, the late jazz legend, Buddy Rich.  (Click here for Buddy Rich vs Animal from the Muppets.)   I actually once pretended to be his roadie and got to set up his drumset, but that’s a long story for another blog…

Thanks for reading – DustyLizard will be back tomorrow evening! Good night!

Michael Connelly 🙂


5 thoughts on “Rats, Pirates, Crawfish, Wookies, Pentecostals, and Drums

  1. My life is complete! I’ve been waiting all week for the guest writer, I log in and am interrupted by so many phone calls and co-workers when all I want to do ( like most mornings) is read the DL blog before completeing any task at work! Wookie brother referencing me in the DL blog? Is this possible? The DL is my virtual best friend and my worlds are colliding, I don’t think I can focus much on work today. I think we could expand the ven diagram and have the Death Star unite us all:)

    • Kelley, if I ever meet you in person, I’ll be sure to take your picture and include it in The Blog. Maybe a shot of us eating Traci Cakes together. I’ll use the tripod…

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