Have You Guys Heard About This?

Have you heard about the recent snowflakery from millennials?  I’m not even sure if it is recent or not but it is so awesomely millennial, so emblematic of their hair trigger indignation that I can’t help myself.  I can’t keep from talking about it in a way that will only further enflame their self-righteous certainty which contains absolutely zero contextual understanding of anything other than what they’ve experienced thus far…or seen on social media.  Brace yourselves.

jtpantsFriends is unacceptable.

Yeah, I know what you’re thinking.  Wait’ll these guys discover Remington Steele.  Or the Sean Connery Bond movies.  Or North and South.  Or The Breakfast Club.  Or the 1980’s…

Friends is the quintessential show from the 90’s about Gen Xers in their 20’s and early 30’s.  I suppose you could make an argument that Square Pegs is more Gen X.  Maybe Herman’s Head.  Or even Seinfeld.  But Friends is definitely no worse than choice 1B in any of those discussions.  Regardless, word on the street is that millennials find it so offensive, or problematic to use their vernacular, it has to be removed from Netflix.  Erased.  As if it never happened.  So fresh off their sudden discovery of rampant sexism in It’s A Wonderful Life, they have trained their crosshairs on Friends?  They evidently enjoy comedies like Ted, The Hangover and Superbad like the rest of us…but they find Friends offensive.

Isn’t this just digital book burning?  Is your belief system so fragile that it can’t withstand  Chandler Bing…or Mrs. Chanadler Bong?  C’mon, man.  What you’re really saying here is that if I don’t agree with the messages I perceive in this book – or in this hilarious show from the 90’s – it should be banned in the name of acceptance and tolerance.  I gotta be honest here that I always – ALWAYS – find millennial snowflakery and their political philosophy of outragery hilarious.

WTF?

So, after some quick – albeit lazy – internet research here are the issues that are offending this fragile demographic with whom I don’t evidently sympathize.

The show makes fun of fat people.  Because Monica used to be Big Fat Goalie and her previous rotundity is a source of mockery on the show.  Her friends make fun of her weight in college and high school.  Fat jokes are bad.  Its fat shaming.  Fatphobia.

The show makes fun of transgender people.  Chandler’s dad is no longer a dude.  He’s Kathleen Turner.  Which is funny because Kathleen Turner was in movies like Body Heat.  But irony isn’t funny to millennials.  So even if Chandler’s dad now has boobs, no joking about it.  Transphobia.

The show makes fun of dudes who are whiny wussbags.  The friends, and most of America if we’re being honest here, make fun of Ross and his proclivities for sensitivity on all of life decisions.  We’re making fun of him because his display of manliness isn’t made of steel and brawn.  And so we’re feeding an outdated standard of masculinity by doing so.  And that’s sorta sexism.  I think.  Not really sure what to call this particular brand of offensiveness but it definitely is unpleasant for millennials.

Joey isn’t funny, he’s creepy.  Joey hits on women.  All the time.  He views women in a demeaning sexual way.  Which means he paved the way for Harvey Weinstein.  So if it wasn’t for Friends and it’s glamorization of male objectification of women, sexism wouldn’t exist.  Nice going Tribbiani.

The show is too white.  White people, if they have a group of friends who are also white people, are inherently racist.  Subconsciously they have avoided making friends with people who aren’t white.  Its implicit bias.  It isn’t somebody just being friends with somebody.  It is evidence of something far more sinister and nefarious.

Here’s thing though.  Friends is a TV show.  Its not real.  If it was real then these twentysomethings wouldn’t be living that huge apartment in New York.  See back in the 80’s and 90’s TV shows didn’t have to push a political narrative or particular worldview.  They could just be funny.  And if you didn’t like it, then you watched something else.  You didn’t try to ban it.  Because freedom.  We have that still.  If your TV show sucked, it went off the air.  You know why?  Capitalism.  Remember Charlie GraceHigh Incident?  Neither does anybody else because they sucked.  Capitalism is why you can have a job as a cat behaviorist expert and turn it into a TV show called Psycho Kitty.  This is why we rebelled against the British, why Rocky fought Ivan Drago, why the Wolverines banded together in 1984 to defend their town, country and freedom itself from the invading Soviet and Cuban armies!

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We’re Not Good At This

Mom and I have been married for 20 years.  That’s a pretty long time.  Over the course of these 20 years we’ve also learned we’re good at certain things and we’re not so good at some other things.

Here’s an example:  Mom is really good at getting stuff done.  To completion.  She’s also really good at the self congratulations about whatever she completed.  She’ll finish a book, weed the yard or paint a room and she’s pretty damn sure that not only did she do a really good job, she’s pretty sure that you’re sure she did the best damn job.  And she’s going to point it out to you.  When it comes to me, I’m really good at assessing risk.  At identifying the potholes or obstacles and how to avoid them.  Or as Rye would put it, pointing out everything that might go wrong or exaggerating the aforementioned obstacles that may present themselves thereby preventing us from having any fun.  And that’s fair.  Anyway, together we’re really good at kicking ass.  Kidding.  Together we’re really good at making fun of the shows the girls like to watch…like the Kardashians and the Bachelorette.

Here’s what we’re not good at.  If you watch a movie and think said movie is hilarious, you may think to yourself, “Hey you know who would enjoy this unrestrained hilariousness?”  If the answer to that question is Mom and I, you might decide to bring over the DVD or blue-ray because you know we’re too cheap to have Netflix.  You might also decide to leave that DVD or blue-ray in an obvious spot like the kitchen table or the middle of the most active spot on the kitchen counter.  Why?  Because you want us to watch the movie.  Because its funny and rehashing funny movies with your friends is not only funny but it is a wonderful reason to sit around a drink beers.

But we suck at that.  Not the drinking beers, we’re good at that.  Especially when we have no responsibilities the next morning.  But we suck at the whole actually viewing the movie.  Some good friends of ours gave us Ted to watch about 3 or 4 years ago.  We’ve never watched it.  Mom’s sister and her husband gave us The Change Up to watch 3 or 4 years ago.  We’ve never watched it.

I’m really not sure why.  I mean once we get into January and February we have quite a few unobligated Saturdays.  So we have time.  Maybe it’s the whole 2 hour commitment.  As we all know, Mom doesn’t just to do just one thing.  If she’s watching a movie at home, she also wants to be accomplishing something else.  Like reading a book or making her meals for the week or nagging the girls about their homework.  Plus, if she were being honest with herself, she’d really rather just watch HGTV.  All day.  Every.  Single.  Day.

But last Saturday, as luck would have it, TBS was showing The Change Up.  And we watched it.  It was hilarious.  Like watch it 6 or 7 more times hilarious.  Probably shoulda just watched it when the DVD was left in our kitchen.  Next step is to watch the unedited version.  Favorite line courtesy of Ryan Reynolds when he perfectly summarizes helicopter parenting:

“These are called children, or dependents.  Never disparage your own child. Everything they do is miracle from God.   When they’re bad it’s only because they’re tired or going through a phase.  When other kids are bad, it’s because of indulgent parenting or innate defects in the child’s character.”

Then, this weekend, we watched Ted.  Again, hilarious.  And again, probably just shoulda just watched when the DVD was left in our kitchen.  Granted we’ve seen so many clips from it that a lot of the really funny stuff we’d seen before.  But it really didn’t matter.  Not sure how Mark Wahlberg sings the Thunder Buddy song without laughing.  Plus Ted’s derisive observations of the sound of 90’s music along with the fact you can sing any song from the 90’s with just vowels is not only hilarious but a statement of fact.  Because if we’re being honest, 90’s music sucked.  Really, really sucked.  Blues Traveler?  Awful.  Dave Matthews?  Terrible.  Green Day?  Amongst the crappiest music I’ve ever been forced to listen too.  Pearl Jam…Ok, maybe some of this was good.  Generally speaking the best thing that happened to music in the 90’s was that it gave us the death of grunge.  Not that boy bands were any better…

Anyway, I’m thinking there has to be a list of hilarious movies that we’ve missed…or ignored.

 

So What’s Up With This

Am I the only one who wonders why it is that during any week of the year you can easily find some channel showing The Day After Tomorrow?  I mean I went the entire Christmas season and did not stumble across Home Alone a single time.  It wasn’t on.  But I found The Day After Tomorrow several times.  Seriously.  If you chose to do so, you could watch the movie once a week all year.  It’s always on somewhere.  It’s like reruns of Friends.  Except not awesome but really, really awful.  Terrible.  Unless, I suppose, you are an Al Gore groupie or a strident fundamentalist regarding climate change or just a  lefty movie junkie.  All of which are fine.  For you anyway.  That’s just not me.

I do however wonder why The Day After Tomorrow is incessantly available to view while 13 Hours in Benghazi and Patriot’s Day are never on.  At least that I can’t recall.  But I’m 47 and like Kid Rock says, you can’t fight this getting older.  So unless you’re talking about NFL history from the 70’s and 80’s, I forget stuff sometimes.  But I don’t think I am on this.  Regardless, you might be grumbling right now that I’m complaining about commercially produced liberal crap made in the sexual harassment capital of the world (Hollywood) and distributed to unsuspecting Americans while pining for commercially produced conservative crap made in the sexual harassment capital of the world (Hollywood) and distributed to unsuspecting Americans.

And you’d be right.  But it doesn’t answer my question.  Why have I never stumbled across 13 Hours or Patriot’s Day some random Thursday night but avoiding The Day After Tomorrow is like trying to avoid watching Thriller on MTV in December of ’83.

I think its a legit question.  Because Mom loves The Day After Tomorrow the way old people like the early bird dinner at Dennys.  She turns it on like background music.  And listen, I generally like Dennis Quaid.  He was awesome in Frequency, Caveman and In Good Company – where he delivered the best Dad/Husband  advice ever doled out to aspiring Dads/Husbands:

“You just pick the right one to be in the foxhole with, and then when you’re outside of the foxhole you keep your dick in your pants.”

But none of that helps me in my investigation as to why the generally available channels seem to have blackballed 13 Hours or Patriot’s Day.  It may be due to some weird licensing/distribution agreement that some rich guy signed with another rich guy and therefore I can’t watch good movies but instead I’m provided with numerous opportunities to join the militant disciples of climate change disaster movies.

Whatever…maybe I’ll just watch my Red Dawn DVD…

Published in: on January 12, 2018 at 4:48 pm  Leave a Comment  
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My Christmas List

I’ve written a little about the practicality and usefulness of Christmas lists in the past – https://chroniclesofdad.wordpress.com/2015/12/22/christmas-lists-2/

I’ll never understand why some of you deliberately avoid using a list whilst purchasing gifts and/or are offended when someone provides you with a list.  The list maker obviously put thought and effort into the construction of the list because not everything makes it onto the list.  That means it was done in a thoughtful manner.  By shunning the list, the message you are sending is that you are trying to one-up the list maker because you not only know what they’d like but what they need.

Anyway, I think as we get older our Christmas lists get shorter but more expensive.  For example, I’d like a new mower.  Preferably one with a much more reliable self propelled drive mechanism.  But nobody is getting me a new mower.  Mostly because it’s way too expensive and I really want full control over all aspects of the decision making process when it comes my mower.  So it is not on my list.

The other thing about lists is that as we get older I think, if we’re being honest, they become a bit impractical.  Which, as we know, is the opposite of what the Christmas list is supposed to be.  The list is there for the ease of the user.  It should make the gift purchasing process easier to understand.  Like the rules on what a legal catch in the NFL should be.  I mean if it’s a catch in flag-football, high school football and college football, it’s probably reasonably a catch in the NFL…unless you’re wearing #81 for the Steelers and playing for the Patriots. Anyway…

Here’s what I mean by our lists getting impractical.  I’d like a million dollars cash, tax free.  Right now.  But I doubt that’s going to happen because I don’t really know Santa’s relationship with the IRS.  While it undoubtedly is better now than it was under Lois Lerner, I’m guessing that big bags of cash are out as a potential gift under the tree.

But here’s what I’d really like this Christmas:

1-A channel on Direct TV where I could watch Scooby Doo, Thundarr the Barbarian, Johnny Quest and Schoolhouse Rock.  And the Superfriends.  Yes, I realize there are variations of what I’m describing here on Hulu, Amazon Prime and Netflix.  But none exactly as I’ve described.  And it’s my damn list.  So instead of dismissively shaking your head at me, think about the awesomeness of what I’m describing.

Scooby EbenezerScooby, whether you’ll admit it or not, is definitive cartoon of Generation X.  It was on Saturday morning. It was on after school.  It taught us problem solving skills, perseverance, and teamwork.  And there are so many versions of it.  There’s the original series Scooby-Doo Where Are You?  Favorite episode?  Close race between Go Away Ghost Ship with Redbeard the Pirate and Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Werewolf?  Then there was The New Scooby-Doo Movies.  Kinda hard to pick a favorite here.  But Jerry Reed played Snowman and had  a dog named flash in Smokey and the Bandit so that kinda gives him a leg up.  Then we had The New Scooby Doo Show and the High Rise Hair Raiser and the Headless Horseman of Halloween.  Both of which were legit scary-ass creepy episodes for a third grader.  Of course it wasn’t too much longer until the eventual, although regrettable, introduction of Scrappy Doo.  Next to the implementation of the federal income tax, the casting of Hayden Christensen as Anakin Skywalker and the decision by the Steelers to take Gabe Rivera instead of Dan Marino #1 in 1983 this is likely worst decision in American history.  Realistically you probably have to count those Scrappy Doo shows as actual Scooby episodes.  But I refuse to count the Laff-a-Lympics.

superfriends1Also, it’s not really Saturday morning in the late 70’s without the Challenge of the Superfriends.  Loved the battles with the Legion of Doom.  Didn’t love the Wondertwins.  And everybody loved the narrator…”Meanwhile at the Hall of Justice…”

 

johnnyquestThen there’s Johnny Quest.  I have this memory of waking up early on Saturday morning back in the fall of ’78, hopping on the couch under a blanket and watching Johnny Quest as I got ready to watch whatever college football game ABC decided to force feed us because there was literally no other choices.  Besides being the lead in to college football, Johnny Quest had two other things going for it; 1) Race Freaking Bannon.  Everybody who watched Johnny Quest learned how to be cool by watch Race Bannon, 2) They used guns.  In a cartoon.  While they helped America fight criminal warlords, terrorists and other agents of evil during the Cold War.  Really – along with Star Wars – it was everything a Gen X kid could ask while forming his idea of values, morals and ethics…although I pretty sure catholic school had a lot to do with this too.

thundarrNo cartoon channel worth a crap could ignore the coolest Saturday morning cartoon of the 80’s.  “In the year, 1994. From out of space, comes a runaway planet, hurtling between the Earth and the moon, unleashing cosmic destruction. Man’s civilization is cast in ruin. Two thousand years later, Earth is reborn. A strange new world rises from the old. A world of savagery, super-science, and sorcery. But one man bursts his bonds to fight for justice. With his companions, Ookla the Mok and Princess Ariel, he pits his strength, his courage, and his fabulous Sunsword, against the forces of evil. He is Thundarr, the Barbarian!”  Seriously, I’m getting all geeked up just thinking about it.

adverbsFinally there is Schoolhouse Rock.  Without which I would not have learned the preamble to the Constitution, the correct use and identification of adverbs, interjections and pronouns along with tricks to master the multiplication tables.  I think the lack of exposure to Schoolhouse Rock is among the key reasons as to why millennials suck so much.

But that’s just me.  And that’s what is on my Christmas list.  Right now.

 

Christmas 1983

Heard Owner of a Lonely Heart by Yes on the radio a couple days ago while driving the 8th grader to school.  Turns out that despite the weird freaky video this was my favorite song back in December of ’83 during my 8th grade Christmas.  Other things going on in December of ’83?  I was wearing these:

8th grade shoes

Big Country was shooting up the charts while P.Y.T. was sliding down, Eric Dickerson was setting a rooking rushing record wearing rec specs and Olivia Newton John was not only caught up a in a strange Twist of Fate she was killing it with this hair:

ONJ Two of a Kind

That’s a lotta hotness for a 13 year-old boy to deal with.

Not totally sure of what I was asking Santa to leave under the tree that particular December.  Cool BMX bike accessories?  Terry Bradshaw’s elbow to heal so the Steelers wouldn’t be subjected to Cliff Stoudt’s affinity for interceptions.  Actual brake dancing abilities.  Parachute pants.   A higher appreciation for Journey’s Ask the Lonely.

Bails wants a cat.  And candy.  But mostly a cat.  I’d probably be down with getting her a cat made out of candy but she’s not getting an actual cat.  I don’t want a pet.  I don’t need anything else to take care of.  I have a mortgage and three teenage daughters.  Three teenage daughters who routinely engage in petty sister on sister apparel thievery and depending on their position in the aforementioned thievery feign innocence or demand retribution.  Plus there is the rampant dismissive sarcasm which gives me a full tank when it comes other living things that ignore directions.  I don’t need a cat looking up at me after it pees in the corner of my office the same way Jake Tapper looks at Kellyanne Conaway.

conwaytapper

Now don’t misunderstand me.  I don’t dislike cats.  We had cats my whole life growing up.  We had Thursday, Bandit, Smokey (see what we did there), Spooky, Sneaker and then there was Muffy.  I liked all of these cats.  Well except for Muffy.  Nobody liked her.  Which seemed to suit her fine since she also disliked all the other living things in the house.

But I don’t want a cat in our house.  We have dark wood floor for pete’s sake.  Do know what kind of havoc cat hair can wreak on dark wood floors!  Trust me, it’s gross.  That stuff starts blowing across it like tumbleweed.  And I like clean floors.  Everybody has their weird stuff and one of mine is clean floors.  Cats are the sworn enemy of clean floors.  Like bumbling villains and meddling kids.  Like Lynn Swann and George Atkinson.  Like B.A. Baracus and flying.  Plus, despite all the girls’ assurances that they will take care of the cat, I’m pretty damn sure it’ll be me who makes sure the cat not only learns to use the litter pan but also cleans it out.

Yeah, I’m not doing that.  I did poopy diapers for about 5 years.  I’m done dealing with poop.

If I were to ever agree to a cat, I would never, ever, never, ever, never make it a Christmas present.  That’s crazier than pretending to be a native American to land a spot on the Harvard faculty.  Why would I attach the sentimentality of Christmas, of all holidays, to a pet which I have clearly explained is only around to cause me grief.  That’s not very Christmasy.  Also if I was somehow duped into getting a cat, it would be an outside only cat.  The kind that hangs in the garage, kills rodents and scares away rabbits.  The kind that rains death upon the interlopers in my yard that eat the plants.  We could name it Van Damme…

More Complicated?

Was Christmas less complicated when we were kids?  I mean pretty much all you did was agonizingly count down the days before Christmas Break, watch the Bob Hope Christmas Special and wait for Santa to deliver the loot.  Now it seems we either get overwhelmed or it sneaks up on us.  Although to be honest, if Christmas sneaks up on you there is really no one to blame but yourself.  C’mon the decorations are up in October.  It’s not like Christmas arrives all stealthy.  The songs have been on the radio since before Thanksgiving and the decorations are up in all the stores minutes after Halloween is over.

I think what really happens is we let it overwhelm us.  Every year we vow to shop earlier, get the Christmas cards done over Thanksgiving and to help Mom wrap the presents.  Well, that last part is a complete falsehood.  I’ve never done that.  I stick the labels on the gifts.  That is extent to which Mom trusts my wrapping skills.  I’m a strong proponent of the widespread use of gift bags.

Now I’m must spitballin’ here but I’m pretty sure my appreciation for gift bag usage is based in the Christmas story.  And I’m not talking about the 1983 movie in which Ralphie told us, “”Christmas was on its way. Lovely, glorious, beautiful Christmas, upon which the entire kid year revolved.”  No, I’m talking about the traditional telling of the actual Christmas story…updated for levity during this busy time of year.

Feel free to let me know if you remember it a bit differently.

According to yuletide folklore, Mary and Joseph traveled a long way to Bethlehem, inadvertently obligating couples from thenceforth to the customary holiday journey to visit family and friends while dealing with delayed flights, snowy roads and impatient whining children.  Or, depending on your current parental situation, know-it-all, eye-rolling teenagers.  Nary a mention of wrapping gifts.  Also no condemnation of the rampant use of gift bags in place of traditional wrapping.  Go back and look.  Pretty sure the Biblical scholars are going to back me up on this.   Mary made a list of what they needed and Joseph stupidly viewed the list as suggestions and instead only brought egg nog, chips and a list of where all the rest areas were located.  Thankfully he was smart enough to observe a star in the sky which guided them to the Inn where they were told their reservations had somehow been lost and had been “upgraded” to the stable.

Anyway, Mary and Joseph, settled in next to the manger in which they placed the baby Jesus.  Next to the manager was a small conifer.  In this case, a fir.  Possibly a spruce.  Biblical arborists disagree.  Regardless, Joseph, having driven the cart all the way from Nazareth to Bethlehem, suggested that they just put all Christmas gifts for family and friends in gift bags.  After all it would be quicker and the important thing is the gift not the wrapping paper.

Thankfully, the three Wise Men also saw the star and began their trek to see the baby Jesus.  Lesser known is the story of the Wise Men.  They saw a star and began a trek to bring gifts to the baby Jesus.  This, of course, began the age-old practice of dudes everywhere driving aimlessly through mall parking lots searching for open spots whilst their wives and girlfriends incessantly sent them pics asking which gifts they should buy.  Unbeknownst to them at the time, the three Wise Men doomed husbands and boyfriends throughout the ages to consistent criticism for the gift decisions because of their weird gifts choice of gold, frankincense and myrrh .  Maybe some 0-6 month onesies or some diapers?  Or even a gift card to Rock Bottom for Mary and Joseph would’ve been nice.  I mean they are going to want to get out of the stable for a few hours here and there.

Anyway, key thing to remember is the story does not include anything about:  1) wrapping gifts, and 2) saving Christmas cookies for some unnamed post-holiday reason.

So, feel free to use gifts bags for any type of gift and don’t worry about saving any Christmas cookies for later.  Nobody makes New Year’s cookies…unless they help with hangovers…

 

Surviving Thanksgiving?

Hey it’s tomorrow. Thanksgiving. Best holiday of the year.  However, I’ve been reading how Americans are dreading the day this time around.  And I really can’t blame them.  Sooner or later somebody is going to bring up Colin Kaepernick, Harvey Weinstein or Clint Longely.

And nobody engenders more heated discussion, at my house anyway, than Clint Longley.  Only thing that comes remotely close is lack of 70’s throwbacks.  Well, to be honest, that is a sore point throughout the year.  Go ahead and keep pushing those mostly terrible color rush uni’s. Regardless, Longley came out nowhere back in ’74 to engineer a crazy Cowboy comeback over the Redskins.  Longely went to accomplish exactly nothing as a QB later in his career.  Kinda like Eric Holder’s tenure at AG. Anyway, many misguided observers will try and convince you that Longely’s unexpected performance constitutes the best Thanksgiving Day game in NFL history.  Which, as we all know, is like saying Frank Stallone’s Stayin’ Alive is somehow better than Olivia Newton John’s Twist of Fate  when it comes to post Saturday Night Fever John Travolta movie theme songs.

Because we all know the best Turkey Day NFL game is Lions-Bears in 1980.  First, it happened in the 80’s which as all know is the best decade in the history of decades.  Also, during halftime of this game, Pat Summerall interviewed a newly elected Ronald Reagan.  Doubt CBS and the NFL would allow a Republican president the same opportunity now.  Anyway, if you remember your Thanksgiving Day NFL history – and judging by the NFL’s ratings this season most of you don’t – Vince Evans scrambled in for the tying touchdown as time ran out.  Then the Lions kicked off and the Bears’ Dave Williams took the overtime kick back for a touchdown.

So listen I don’t know anything about anything but I’m going to go ahead suggest that if your going to go head to head with some random family member let it be about Clint Longley.  Or cranberry sauce.  Which as we all know isn’t a sauce.  Or a food if you’re being honest with yourself.  Also I suppose some of you spend time arguing about oven roasting, smoking or deep frying your bird.  Which, like arguing over whether or not to serve beer, is a pointless debate.  Like making the case that Woodrow Wilson’s decision to implement the income tax was somehow a good decision. We all know there is no wrong answer on bird prep.  Also learned some of you evidently have issues with each other when it comes to gravy placement.  On the mashed potatoes, on the taters and the bird, or pretty much on everything.  I mean its gravy.  It doesn’t ruin stuff.  It’s like hair metal.  Or the ability to consistently run the football. It only helps.

So remember that tomorrow.  Or don’t.  I’m eating bird either way…

 

Published in: on November 22, 2017 at 9:06 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Required Volunteering

Yeah so I’m pretty sure you know what I’m talking about.   Your kid plays on this team and this team is supposed to provide a certain number of volunteers to man the concessions, or clean up the stadium or do some other crappy task that nobody really wants to do.  So who ya gonna call?  Parent volunteers.

So there are at least two kinds of required volunteering.  The kind you do because somebody at the booster club is somehow in charge of making sure the dance team parents or softball team parents provide a certain number of volunteers to man the concessions.  Then there is the kind of volunteers who do something, like clean up the stadium after home games, as a way to raise money for the team so they can compete in regional competitions or pay for uniforms, etc.

Mom and I are both.  Not by choice though.  Nobody shares this eventual responsibility with you when you decide to have kids.  Other things nobody tells you when you decide to have kids?  That teenagers are, without question, God’s way of payback.  And this isn’t a theory.  Its a stone cold freaking fact.

Anyway, I thought I’d share a few observations should you ever find yourself in these kind of crappy volunteer situations.  Here’s what I learned doing the concessions:

If there is a choice between working the concessions for your school or the local Catholic school, go with the Catholics.  This isn’t because of some sort of religious favoritism.  Its a pure numbers game.  There are just fewer people.  And, as I found out, they don’t really like to buy too much at the concessions because the public school gets to keep the cash.  Less work for me.

Second thing I learned is that if you are presented with the option of working the front counter taking orders and money or working in the back getting the food, preparing the orders – pick the front.  Why?  Because nobody wants to deal with the freaking liquid cheese nacho dispenser.  The rate of dispersal is unpredictable.  The shut off valve doesn’t fully close.  The density of the cheese is variable.  And nobody wants to deliver a customer nachos with loose cheese.

Also do 2nd shift.  Yeah, I know logic dictates the opposite.  Everybody knows set up is easier than clean up.  Well who knew concessions work is counter-intuitive.  Like Facebook political activism.  You’d think the more you condescending preach to your friends across your social media platforms the more it would persuade them.  Anyway, turns out that clean up really only entails sweeping the floor and pulling down the garage-like door thereby separating you from the public.  Pretty sweet.

Finally, volunteer for last game of the season.  If you’re lucky, it’ll be freaking freezing.  Drives down attendance and the only thing anybody wants is hot chocolate.  You only have to memorize the price of one item and their is always a heater in the concessions.  That’s called winning.

Sometimes the coach of your kids’ team will be presented with the opportunity to clean the stadium after home football games as a way to raise money.  I’m only going to say this once and its going to be fast so pay attention.  Do it.  Do it every chance you get.  Easy money.  Nobody bothers you.  Takes about 20 minutes.  Stop at the gas station on the way home and pick up some beers.

Seriously.  Easiest involuntary volunteering you’ll ever do.  But here’s the catch.  Only do it if it is the high school football stadium.  If they want you to do the local Triple A baseball team, don’t do it.  Ever.  Under any circumstances.  Got it?

Now you know what I know.  Use this knowledge wisely.

So I have a question…

When is it appropriate to call a meeting with a high school teacher and how is it done as to avoid any negative blowback on the student in question?

High school is different than junior high.  Junior high is different than grade school.  In grade school it was easy.  Junior high also pretty straight forward.  If there is a problem, whatever that problem may be, you send an email and set up a meeting.  Situation is addressed and everybody moves on.  Teachers expect, and sometimes even welcome, parents to be involved and keep track of their kids’ academic and social progress.

I don’t want to offend any teachers out there who might think it is belittling or maybe flat out preposterous to suggest a teacher would be so unprofessional as to retaliate against a student whose parents choose to disagree with the teacher on a particular matter.

Columbus Day for example.  Or Thanksgiving since I’m sure we’ll be engaged in that annual battle with the PC illuminati.

We’re sitting in church last month and I mention that Monday is Columbus Day and that the girls don’t have school so they can sleep in.  Bails responds with, “Columbus Day?  Gross.”

“Gross?  Why?  No school!”

She responds, “After Columbus got here millions of native Americans died because of disease and other bad things.”

Bails’ social studies is a Bernie supporter.  Good teacher and otherwise good dude.  But he’s a gullibly idealistic millennial.  Last fall her social studies teacher, different guy but also a naive lefty millennial, barely could teach the class the day after the election.  Still makes me smile.  Anyway, her teacher this year has evidently “taught” the class – and by “taught” I mean deconstructing American history through a PC disinfectant – that Columbus’ intent upon sailing from Spain was to enslave and infect any indigenous peoples he might need to overrun while he was stealing land for the rich oppressive elites in the super white European aristocracy.  And that any of the current flaws America currently suffers from are, in fact, the fault of Columbus.

This shallow misunderstanding of basic American history conveniently forgets that Columbus himself was an Italian Catholic.  Italian Catholics, if you recall, weren’t exactly popular with the Anglo-Saxon nativists during their emigration to America in the late 1800’s.  Columbus was a source of pride for this persecuted minority.  And, in an ironic and confusing twist to modern PC stormtroopers, an article in The Atlantic pointed out that Columbus Day parades in the early 20th century were a way to advance the goal of assimilating immigrants into a single American identity.  Local newspapers even “celebrated it as an important step in combating prejudice and bigotry, but it was much more. It served as a formal acknowledgment that immigrants could preserve their own ethnic identities and simultaneously embrace their new nation.”

Weird how a lack of historical perspective leads to a lack of, well, perspective.

Of course my on-going frustrations with millennial PC snowflakery aren’t the only source of consternation in relation to contacting high school teachers.  What about a biology teacher who only teaches biology in a way which makes it literally, not virtually, impossible for anyone to get better than a C.

How is that teaching?  I mean, and I’m just spitballin’ here, I thought the point of teaching was to impart knowledge.  Knowledge that the pupil will be able to recall and use.  Knowledge that helps them become a functioning and contributing part of American society.  Knowledge which makes them a well rounded citizen while also helping the pupil slowly but surely narrow down their academic interests in such a way that it allows them to decide which way to take their future education thereby determining the direction of the professional lives.

Nowhere do I remember in either the formal or informal definitions of teaching making the pupil hate the subject in question with same intensity Jack Lambert hated quarterbacks in the 70’s.  Nowhere do I remember the teacher purposely putting things on tests that were deliberately glossed over in the class in order to give the teacher the pleasure of abundant red pen usage.

But that’s is what is happening.  So we’re put in a position of having to challenge the teacher.  Gotta admit I kinda resent it.  So instead of going all Beverly Goldberg on the teachers, I’m writing about it here.

And yes I realize this blog post solves nothing.  Whatever…

Just a couple things…

Every day there are a couple things for which I’m grateful.  Well, that’s not true, there’s more than a couple.  Like pumpkin beer being back at Rock Bottom!  But that’s kind of an aside.  And probably a bit of stretch.  I’m not really thankful for pumpkin beer every single day.  That’s ridiculous.  Probably most days in the fall though…

FrankDonHowardMNFAnyway, better example?  Hmmm…Monday Night Football when it was a big deal with Frank, Howard and Dandy Don.  Literally the only good thing about Monday when I was a kid.  I mean what the hell else are you looking forward to on the Monday morning bus ride to school?  Eventually on Tuesdays we’d have The A-Team and Riptide making Tuesday somewhat tolerable.  For a couple years we had WKRP on Wednesdays and, of course, Thursdays we had Cheers and Magnum.  Which made Thursday the best day of week not named Friday or Saturday or Sunday.  But MNF was a big awesome deal.  In fact, if I could do anything over again, it would be to have Frank Gifford introduce Mom and I at our wedding reception to the theme from Monday Night Football.

Also grateful I was part of the generation which had Saturday morning cartoons in the 70’s and 80’s.  Our kids don’t have those.  I get up on Saturday morning now and the news is on.  The effing news.  And it’s a travesty.  A disgrace.  Where are the damn Superfriends!? Since Saturday morning cartoons went away, kids have been robbed of a valuable cultural lesson.  Commonality.  We all watched them.  Then we went outside and played together and talked about them.  Gen Xers had this cool period of time carved out of American culture that was ours.  And everybody knew it.  It was one of the reasons why the weekend was, well, the weekend.  For 3 or so hours every Saturday morning, we’d get Thundarr, Johnny Quest and Scooby.  And in between, we got Schoolhouse Rock.  Don’t really remember anything about kneeling for the anthem in Schoolhouse Rock

But Saturday morning cartoons were a cultural touchstone for all of us – then and now.  Kids don’t have that time today.  They have social media, which turns out, is the opposite of commonality.

Which brings me back to the couple of things for which I’m grateful for everyday:

1- I went to high school and college before the rise of social media.  Let’s face it Gen X, we’re the last of the old breed.  We could turn off the world.  We’d do something stupid and against the rules, providing our folks with solid reasons to ground us for a month and, if we made it home with only our fellow morons (friends) knowing, then that was it.  It was over.  We got away with it.  Nothing to see here, time to move on.

Not now.  Our kids can’t escape.  There’s no shelter.  Yet, we have somehow all decided that the yet to be fully developed teenager brain can fully process the pros and cons of permanent digital evidence of their bad decision making.  Which must only get worse in college.   Can you imagine high school and college with the hammer of shareable evidence hanging over your head?  Pics, videos, etc.  In the late 80’s and early 90’s there wasn’t any easily created or obtained proof.  Now there is digital verification within seconds.   You go back to some random weekend during my senior year in high school during the fall of ’87, and it would not have been to hard to get a pic of me holding a Stroh’s.  Or a video of me and my friends playing Chandeliers.  Which, if I remember correctly, wasn’t exactly within the confines of the legal drinking age.  Now I (arguably) have the wisdom that comes with experience.  Which teaches all of us not to drink Stroh’s.  I mean I’d rather listen to Stephen Colbert continue to be unfunny than drink a Stroh’s.  Wait, do they even still brew Stroh’s?  Or has it retired to the same crappy beer retirement community with Lowenbrau, Miller Genuine Draft and Blatz?

Now if somebody decides to scan and share a pic of me with actual hair in front of empty cans of Meisterbrau, it really isn’t proof of anything except teenagery.  And that the 80’s did, in fact, occur.

Anyway, any time I mention how happy I am I grew up without smartphones, I get this dumbfounded look from millennials and from my kids.  Same look I get when I argue that the mid-90’s were likely the worst period of music in the history of, well, music.  Yeah, grunge was and remains terrible.  Green Day sucks.  I don’t like Nirvana.  Yeah, I said it Xers.

2-I made it through college without any campus unrest.  Protests were sparse.  Violence from weird left wing black hooded anarchists wasn’t a thing.  When the Gulf War started in ’91, there were demonstrations in favor of the war.  Why?  Because like Rich Cohen wrote a couple months ago in Vanity Fair, Gen X is a revolt against the revolt.  Boomers revolted against power structures of America.  And, thank Christ, we’re not them.  I just finished watching Ken Burns’ The Vietnam War.  And, back me up here, I could not have been the only one who was crying like baby when they brought the POW’s home.  But what really struck me was the breadth of the insanity going down on college campuses.  I mean, let’s be honest, I went to college and the last people that should be deciding anything for anyone other than themselves are college students.  C’mon, if you’re willing to drink 9 Natural Lights and eat a half-thawed frozen pizza because you’re too impatient to wait the full 12 minutes for it to cook, you shouldn’t be trusted with determining items on the national agenda.

Now we have a Boomer president and a bunch millennial football players blaming each other in an argument so utterly devoid of reasonableness its dumbfounding.  We have Boomers running college campuses populated with Millennials and neither one has any respect or understanding for the First Amendment.  Instead, with no appreciation for karma, they are running headlong into some weird kind of smug totalitarian moralism.  It is exasperating that Gen X still cannot prevent Boomers and Millennials from deciding the national debate.  What we really need is the pragmatism, self sufficiency and natural problem solving of Xers to lead instead of allowing the naive and gullible idealism of Boomers and Millennials determine the issues.  Regardless of how you feel about Paul Ryan, you have to admire his Gen X stubbornness. While the President and millennial NFLers are yelling at each other about various issues, Ryan doggedly talks about health care, taxes and immigration.  Tell me again which generational leaders are serious?

Gen Xers, conservative and liberal, know how the story of socialism ends because it always ends the same way.  And, even though I don’t agree with some of Cohen’s takes, he makes a great Gen X point here, “we could not stand to hear the Utopian talk of the boomers as we cannot stand to hear the Utopian talk of the millennials.”  Or like Leslie Loftis wrote in a response to Cohen, “The Boomers lived richly and naively. They passed their idealistic ignorance on to their children, the Millennials.”

Thankfully, when Gen Xers were going through college we weren’t trying bring down LBJ or Nixon, we weren’t trying to burn the First Amendment in the name of social justice.  We watched Animal House, Up the Creek and Back to School.  We went to college because we wanted to party and make money when we were done.  Why?  So we could do whatever the hell it was we wanted to do.  Gen Xers are independent and self reliant.  It was, and remains, a simple clearly articulated plan of action.

Because, going back to Cohen one more time, “…even if you could tell other people what to say and what not to say, even if you could tell them how to live, even if you could enforce those rules through social pressure and public shaming, why would you want to? I mean, it’s just so uncool.”

Or to put a little differently like Loftis, “We will, like we always have, do whatever it is that needs doing.”

Because you can be damn sure the Boomers and Millennials will be doing something else.