Halloween ’12

You know what you don’t get as an adult that you did get as a kid?

Halloween decorations. Or Thanksgiving decorations now that I think about it.

Remember back in grade school how your teacher would decorate the classroom with seasonal and/or holiday decorations? You’d get those stickers on your papers after the teacher graded them. A jack-o-latern sticker in October, then a pilgrim hat in November. It’s weird the things you miss. Like Vikings home games in December at the Met. Now that was a homefield advantage.

Anyway, Halloween comes in second to Christmas when it comes to the amount of money Americans spend on a holiday. Those of us in the New World evidently really love Halloween. But not so much that we staple cardboard ghosts to the walls in our offices. Or cut pumpkins out of orange construction paper and tape them to our desks.

Which is weird considering how Halloween seems to be as polarizing a holiday as the current red state/blue state battle. You either participate or you go to great lengths to avoid participating.

Plus you have a growing number of adults who are turning Halloween into a holiday for us instead of for kids. But that’s a different rant.

So you’re wondering about my evidence regarding the polarizing effects of Halloween? Exhibit #1: America hating a-holes who lock their doors and turn out their lights and refuse to be neighborly and hand out candy. Who are you people? First, why are you a funsmasher? I can’t document this but I’m pretty sure America’s trick or treaters spend more time planning their Halloween costumes than Obama spent on his health care law. Even if you are a twentysomething without kids who is dressing up as a drunk vice-president, what keeps you from handing out candy for an hour or two before hitting the bar? Or just sit at the door with a beer and hand out candy. Sure you look like a d-bag, but you’re neighbors probably already think that anyway since you only mow your lawn once a month and when you do, its just to chop down the dandelions. And how big of a douche do you have to be to turn out all your lights and sit in the dark and pretend you’re not home? A really, really impressively douchey douche. Like reaching David Axelrod douchiness levels.

I mean what happened to you on Halloween back in your youth that has driven your Halloween hatred so deep that you feel justified in punishing little blond princesses and 3 and a-half foot draculas? Seriously, unless you lived in the same town as Michael Myers, you have no excuse. None!

Exhibit #2: Any number of “festivals” or “parties” that actually replace instead of compliment trick or treating. This is not okay. Unless you live in a sketchy neighborhood, trick or treating is about as American as it gets. Fireworks on the 4th of July, Pat Summerall and John Madden on Thanksgiving, begging for candy on Halloween. I believe these so-called celebrations are the work of overzealous and/or overenthusiastic parents. The ones who use the term “momsense” and are sometimes referred to as “Apache Attack Helicopter Parents” which, as everyone knows, are the most dangerous of the helicopter parents. They seek to command and control all activities involving children. They often use the dark arts or ninja techniques to destabilize events or goings-on that are outside their sphere of influence or do not meet their expectations. Beware!

Exhibit #3:
Dude, back in the day we’d have kids from miles away come to our door. You remember this. The kid who got off the school bus like six stops before you shows up on Halloween asking for a Kit-Kat. And were Kit-Kats not like the pure gold of Halloween candy after-market trade scene? Same thing with Reese’s Peanut Butter cups. I’d trade multiple Three Musketeers bars for a Kit-Kat. I was always willing to part with any Three Musketeers bars. Those things aren’t for everybody. Remember the candy cigarettes? Genius marketing by the tobacco companies. Anyway, the long distance Halloween hike has joined the aforementioned candy cigarettes in extinctland. This year we made it about two streets over and that’s it. Although one of the Mom’s gave me a beer. Shock Top Belgian White. But you don’t see these ambitious souls anymore. Why? Because they are at some party or festival being indoctrinated as to why trick or treating is dangerous. Boo! Boo I say.

I’m sure these are the same people who skip Thanksgiving and go right to Christmas. They just blatanly cheat on Thanksgiving without any remorse. But, again, that’s a rant for another day…

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The Magic of Mid-October

A couple weeks ago on SNL Christina Applegate sorta mocked the nothingness of mid-October. As if the gold soybean fields, the smell of burning leaves and pumpkin beer mean nothing. Every other year we get the glory of negative political ads. Which are awesome. I love them. If I win the lottery I’m totally buying time and going negative on everybody who deserves it. You’ve been warned. Anyway, I’m just paraphrasing but Applegate said something about no decorations, no cards, no weird family tension. It’s that period of time before the holidays. Before Halloween, before Turkey Day, before Christmas and New Year’s.

Well…that’s crap. Fall is the best time of year for many reasons. Among them are pro football, college football and pumpkin beer. But mid-October is the kickoff. It’s really doesn’t get the credit or appreciation it should. I mean Columbus Day falls right in there. I love Columbus Day. It’s always on a Monday and in grade school we got the day off. And that meant I could watch the NFL all day without the gnawing feeling of doom of going to school the next morning. The girls don’t get Columbus Day off. I assume it has something to do with the revisionist anti-American historians like Howard Zinn who can’t find anything good about America’s past. So public schools don’t celebrate Columbus Day anymore. Rumor is he hates the NFL too. Can’t confirm that but it stands to reason. Anyway, aside from simply being the beginning of what really is the most nostalgic two and a-half months of the year, it contains several monumental history changing events.

October 13, 1960…3:36 p.m. eastern. I became possible. Not kidding. On a sunny mid-October afternoon Bill Mazeroski stepped to the plate with no outs in the bottom of the 9th in Game 7 of the 1960 World Series. About a minute later he hit a 1-0 pitch over the left field wall. And my Dad walked from his job at Gimbels Department store to meet some friends in front of the Pittsburgh Hilton. He met my Mom there. So don’t let anyone tell you sports don’t matter or they are unimportant in the grand scheme of things. They’re full of crap. Thanks Bill Mazeroski. I owe you one.

October 15, 1977. With the leaves changing a little 2nd grade boy sat in the south endzone with his parents and watched the 17th ranked and defending national champion Pitt Panthers beat Navy 34-17. Mid-October is what college football is about. And I fell in love with it that day. Mostly because there was so much more of it compared to the NFL. So be careful to what you expose your children…you never know what they’ll fall in love with. This is mostly the reason our girls don’t play soccer.

October 12, 1980. Nobody really sensed it at the time but it was the end of the 70’s Steelers dynasty. First play from scrimmage Franco fumbled. Then near the end of the first half the greatest outside linebacker of the era was beat by Pete Johnson on a short pass over the middle. Jack Ham was beaten by Pete Johnson! On a pass pattern! I know. Its hard to even say let alone type it. It’s like saying Abe Lincoln was bested by Nancy Pelosi. Or Justin Bieber is better than Def Leppard. Or Thundarr the Barbarian was outclassed by Zan from the Wonder Twins. Anyway, the Steelers lost 17-16 and I experienced the NFL playoffs for the first time without the Steelers. It was horrible. Awful. Like the first day of an Obama second term.

October 14, 1992. Braves 3 Pirates 2. There are times in your life in which you learn to deal with disappointment. With loss. When you are old enough to know that the last chance at a wonderful opportunity has been missed. And you must deal with the consequences in an adult and reasoned manner. Except I was still in college at this time so I dealt with it with lots of Miller Lites. Regardless, Jose Lind’s error, Francisco Cabrera’s hit and Barry Bonds’ poor throw are why when something really awful happens to the girls, something that tears their hearts out, that knocks them off their feet with the brunt force of disappointment…all I have to say is, “10-14-92, damn you Jose Lind!” That should get the point across that I too have suffered at the bony, gnarled, pitiless, heartless hand of destiny.

So, um, not sure what my point was with this post but I like mid-October

Sometimes Things are Just…Awesome

So you get invited to a high school multi-class reunion. Six classes. You decide to go after your wife and high school friends convince you to go. You make the 6 hour drive, stay at your high school buddy’s house for the weekend. Then you head up to the reunion Saturday evening.

But there’s a rumor. And its spreading. The rumor is a cool 80’s band is performing live. Poison, Tesla, Great White, Cinderella and Billy Idol all get tossed around as we run through the names we’ve heard.

But the organizers aren’t talking. Despite that fact that my buddy’s brother is married to one of the organizers. Security is evidently tighter here than at U.S. consulates.

You get up there, see all the people you haven’t seen in years and its been even longer since you’ve seen them all together in the same place. So its…well its weird.

Security, yes security, encourages you to enter the ballroom. There’s a big dance floor, a stage for the band and a giant screen on the wall. Then you notice the boom camera above the dance floor and the camera dude maneuvering amongst the partiers…hey, it’s like a 80’s music video. Or American Bandstand back in the day. But you can see yourself and your buddies on the giant screen and that’s cool…in a disconcerting kind of way.

Then the rumors are put to rest. What would you think if this happened at your high school reunion:

Your standing at one of the bar tables near the dance floor when the lights change and first act comes out…it’s the lead singer from Flock of Seagulls. Dude is totally bald. Way more than me. He sings two songs including I Ran.

Then Stephen Pearcy from Ratt comes out and sings three songs. Lay it Down, something else and Round ‘n Round. And listen, I’m pretty sure that Stephen Pearcy is a zombie. This guy had already been embalmed…with Jack Daniels. He looked like the Crypt Keeper. But at least he didn’t sing Way Cool Junior.

Then you head for the bar to get a beer and you’re standing at the aforementioned bar table with your back to stage because your discussing the coolness of hearing the key ingredient of Ratt live. Sure the guy was already dead but so what. That’s when you hear familiar and awesome first lyrics to Kiss Me Deadly. You turn your head, catch a glimpse and tell your wife and friends with complete seriousness that, “HOLY *&#%, that’s Lita Ford!”

So you charge the stage. Because that’s what you do when you’re at a class reunion and Lita Ford in leather pants is there. Sure she’s got some miles on her, but that chick freaking rocks. And she does like a ten minute extended version before it morphs into Close My Eyes Forever. Yes, her duet with Ozzy. But she’s the only one out there. Who is going to sing Ozzy’s part?

Then you hear it…somebody…somewhere IS singing Ozzy’s part. But it’s not Ozzy…it’s Dee Freaking Snider.

Dee. Snider.

And listen, this dude was having an absolute ball. Flock of Seagulls guy did his songs and was never heard from again. In and out. Stephen Pearcy rocked as hard as a dead guy could but c’mon, if you were afraid your limbs could fall off if you moved too quickly, you’d be subdued too. Lita, 54 years old, freaking brought it. So her and Dee finish the song, which was awesome, and Dee starts into his set of three songs.

I Wanna Rock.

Have you ever seen about 100 people in their early 40’s flashing the horns, fist pumping, jumping up and down, screaming “I Wanna Rock”…and have you seen them do it 5 feet from Dee Freaking Snider? Yeah, that’s what I thought.

Songs ends and we’re sorta catching our breath stunned at the pure uncut awesomeness of what just happened. Dee tells us about a new reality show he’s gonna do and then goes into The Price before warning us to get freaking (he used a different “f” word) ready…

We’re Not Gonna Take It! And listen this reunion was held inside Paul Ryan’s congressional district so not only was it awesome but it was the God’s Honest Truth. I mean I wanna rock. I really, really do. But more than that…I just don’t want to take it anymore. At all. Ever. I don’t want it. I didn’t ask for it. I voted against it. And I’m not gonna take it. Anymore.

So I yelled it as loud as my genetics permitted.

Anyway, I’m pretty sure I blew out my esophagus during the song. Hurt my knee and sprained my shoulder from excessive fist pumping. The cure? Awesomeness…and beer.

Now take stock of what I’ve just told you. Flock of Seagulls guy, Stephen Pearcy, Lita Ford and Dee Freaking Snider. And you’re 5 feet from the stage. Being filmed by a boom camera. Oh, and you’re pretty sure Lita Ford winked at you while you were rocking out to Kiss Me Deadly.

So we adjourn to the aforementioned bar table, take some candid pics for facebook and posterity, buy some more $4 beers and scan the room for oxygen and defibrillators. While this is happening Mom looks up at the stage and sees the silhouette of someone else. Defining characteristic? Hair. And then he cranks out a familiar scream.

Sebastian Bach. Mom and my buddy’s wife took off so fast for the stage all that was left was vapor and the faint smell of hair spray…

He does like five songs. Was never really a Skid Row fan but it was still awesome. I mean if I’m picking a guy to plug into this spot, its Bret Michaels. Or Jeff Keith from Tesla. But when you’re not paying for it, you just revel in the awesomeness. But Youth Gone Wild was a little ironic as none of us are youth and very few can lay claim to any real bona fide wildness. And none of us had lighters to hold up during I Remember You. Mom didn’t even have her cell phone…so she held up her beer. We’re Gen X, we improvise.

What could top this? How about all of them doing “Rock Me Like a Hurricane.” Yeah, that happened. And I was there.

But its not done yet. No, it’s not. After a short break in which we take some even more candid shots, the lights go down and the headliner comes out. Yes, Dee Snider and Sebastian Bach were not the headliners.

Night Ranger. And they did a full set. Even covered Crazy Train. Plus they did High Enough and Coming of Age from Damn Yankees. Jack Blades still sounds good. Coming of Age is one of my favorite songs from the era and not having Tommy Shaw and Uncle Ted there sorta sells the song short but…it was the first time I’ve heard it live since ’91. So I’m not complaining. Best part, well besides the drums in Sister Christian, is that everybody, and I mean EVERYBODY, knows the words. So it was awesome. But right at the end Mom is up by the stage and she reaches up there and rips a sheet of paper duct taped to the floor right beside Jack Blades’ mic stand. She stole the set list. And she was really damn proud of it too. I mean like weirdly proud and excited.

So that’s what we did last Saturday night. What did you do?

P.S. We didn’t get back to my buddy’s house until around 2. And the one thing awesomeness doesn’t help with is being in your early 40’s. Took me two days to recover. \m/

If you find yourself in a hole…

Sometimes I think that nearly 13 years of parenting has made us dumber. A few weekends ago the girls had Monday off from school. So Mom and I both decided to take the day off too. We had softball all that weekend so we’d figured we’d have stuff that needed to be done.

We were right.

But we, and by we I mean Mom, decided that it would be okay for Riley to have a friend spend the night. And by Riley I mean Kinsey too. So after a long weekend of running back and forth to softball games not to mention the fact that Mom had driven over to Iowa City for that football game, we thought adding two girls would be a sound decision.

Exhaustion is a poor partner when it comes to parenting decisions. Often times it manifests itself through the word “yes” when your child asks you a question.

So after three back to back to back softball games end and just as we’re wrapping up Kinsey’s coach says “hey, let’s all go to Dairy Queen!”

What!?

Uh, no, negative Ghostrider, let’s not. It’s Sunday. In the fall. Am I the only guy who needs to get in front of an HD TV and watch the NFL! Nobody else is playing fantasy football here? And Dairy Queen? You can’t say Dairy Queen in front of twelve 4th and 5th graders and expect them to say, “uh nah, I’d rather let my Dad go home, collapse on the couch, and let him watch football while I make him some nachos.” That’s about as likely as MSNBC running a story about awesomeness of Paul Ryan’s family pics in hunting gear. It’s not in the freaking cards!

Then you start questioning yourself…does it make me a bad Dad if I ask Kinsey in the car if she really wants to go? I mean there is ice cream at home. Probably can have more if you get it at home instead of DQ. Most of the blizzards have weird nuts in them that you don’t like…

Anyway, we invaded the DQ, they had ice cream and I had my 24th Diet Pepsi of the day. So after eight hours at the softball fields and some extra special time at Dairy Qeen, we arrive home. And listen I wasn’t in the best of moods since I arrived home just in time to watch the Steelers blow a 10 point 4th quarter lead to the Raiders. The Carson Palmer Raiders not the bad ass Ken Stabler Raiders.

But softball is done. For now…

Time Travel as a Parenting Strategy

Lita Ford, Poison, Def Leppard. It’s not often that you really can go back in time. But we did a few weeks ago when one of my best friends from high school and his wife came out to visit and go to this concert with us.

I was hoarse for three days. I also couldn’t hear normally for nearly 24 hours after the concert. Which of course means a couple things, the concert was freaking awesome and I’m old. But awesomeness, trauma to the larynx and hearing loss are evidently the side effects of hair metal induced time travel.

Belting out “Ride the Wind” with Bret Michaels clearly provides the 1.21 jigowatts of power necessary for time travel to be possible.

But it also got me thinking…man, the girls are going to be doing this in a few years. Riley is already going to the local high school football games every Friday night with her friends. Last Friday Mom and I went too. We brought Bailey, Kinsey and one of Kinsey’s friends along. We did a little bit of walking around to see if we could accidentally run into Rye. Which we did almost immediately. She did her best to ignore us. This is something of which I am becoming accustomed. But the recon also allowed me to get a feel for what is going on at the games.

I’ll summarize my observations.

Lots of kids aimlessly walking around not paying attention to the game. They all look and dress alike. Did I do this in 7th grade? High school kids appear to be more interested in the game than the junior high and middle school kids. I assume this is because the game is one of the very few opportunities the kids between 11-13 get to roam relatively unsupervised in an environment overrun with their the friends. They also look at you like you are an alien with weird alien mannerisms when they mistakenly notice an adult is present. It is also deadly accurate to say I am watching as many time travel movies as possible in an attempt to stop the march of time and save Mom and I the ordeal of three girls going through high school.

Mom keeps telling me that there is all these physical and hormonal changes going with Rye. As far as I can tell, all that is happening is that her brain ceases operations at random intervals and inopportune times. This is a girl who has been organized her entire life. She was categorizing her Disney princess dolls by color and dress length when she was 2. Now she can’t remember what she did with her lunch card despite the fact that it is almost always in the same pocket of her backpack everyday. Mom says her hormones are wreaking havoc with all kinds of stuff. In fact at an orientation session before school began, the principal and vice-principal let all the parents know that the children you have known their whole lives will cease to exist for a few years as they are going through some changes.

Hmmm…I tend to believe it is an elaborate conspiracy dreamt up by some 13 year-old tech genius who issues commands through his iPhone 15s or whatever the hell version its on. Purpose? To piss me off. Well not me personally but Dads across this great nation of ours. As if four more years of Biden being America’s inappropriate drunk uncle and Obama insisting that we didn’t build that isn’t infuriating enough.