Magnum and Hallmark

The 15 year-old said something recently that got me thinking.  I mean legitimately made me stop and think.  It was like the opposite of what happens to me when Kamala Harris speaks or when the girls watch The Bachelor.  Anyway, Mom and I were watching Magnum.  Yes, I realize that I’ve previously stated how it was predetermined that the reboot would suck.  I also am fairly certain that I was not alone in this assumption.  Mostly because nearly every attempt to recreate the awesomeness of any original 80’s movie or TV show has utterly and completely crashed and burned.

Red Dawn. The communists are bad.  America, with all her imperfections, is awesome.  Solid premise.  Also I’m pretty sure the original would have come true if Carter had been re-elected in 1980.  But the remake was awful.  Like if I laid out a scale of 80’s awesomeness and at one end you had Mel Gibson’s hair in Lethal Weapon and at the other end you had Walter Mondale’s acceptance speech at the ’84 DNC, the Red Dawn remake wouldn’t even be even with Mondale.

The A-Team.  Since Taken, Liam Neeson normally makes things awesome.  Not so in The A-Team reboot.  It’s not like it was hard to take the premise of the TV show and turn it into an awesome movie.  The Equalizer was essentially the same TV show and they managed to turn that into a freaking bad ass movie.

Miami Vice.  C’mon Hollywood.  This thing was, for all intents and purposes, a manual on how to absolutely and entirely ruin something awesome so completely that anyone who actually watched the TV show is now unable to ever explain to their kids that Miami Vice was, at one point, the coolest thing on the planet.  So pretty much what lefty academia is doing to free speech on college campuses.

Not that they always get it wrong.  The Goldberg’s is great and their attention to 80’s detail is extremely satisfying.  Stranger Things is one of the greatest shows of all time and having it set in the mid 80’s only makes it better.  Although Season 2 consistently got the music wrong.  They were a year off.  Season 2 takes place in November of ’84.  At the Snow Ball, they feature Twist of Fate by Olivia Newton-John.  The song was the theme to the extremely underappreciated Two of a Kind…which came out in 1983.  Perfect song for moment but they were a year off.  And Ready Player One is an 80’s trivia nerd’s dream.  So naturally, I liked it.

If the rumors are right then we’ll be seeing remakes of Escape From New York, War Games and Weird Science.  Which fills me with a great sense of anticipation…and also feelings of incredible dread.  Basically the same feelings I get when watching Chris Boswell kick field goals for the Steelers.

Regardless, there we were watching Magnum.  And the 15 year comes downstairs and says, “Is this Magnum?”  To which was naturally answer, “yeah, be quiet.”  To which she responds, “This show is basically a Hallmark movie.  It’s exactly the same thing.”

MagnumHigginsSo two things.  1)  Higgins is hot.  Not something I’d have said about the original but a stone cold fact in reference to the reboot.  I mean one of the main reasons I watch the show is because of Higgins’ British accent and hotness.  And I don’t care what you say, that is a perfectly legit reason to watch the show.  Same reason why I’ll watch just about anything with Salma Hayek.

2) Magnum is not a freaking Hallmark movie.  I mean clearly it isn’t Christmas.  And nowhere is there a woman who recently broke up with a long-time boyfriend who works in New York at an investment bank who also is really, really wrapped up in his career and the all the status that goes along with that.  Also nowhere to be seen is the small hometown to which the recently single woman must return to visit her parents or her ailing grandmother or to save the Christmas Tree Farm that is about to be bulldozed by the investment bank to put up some environmentally ignorant condos.  And surprisingly, she runs into an old high school boyfriend who never left the hometown but has a successful carpentry business and wonderful old house who also desperately believes the Christmas Tree Farm must saved from the corporate a-holes in NYC.

Magnum is an ex-Navy Seal who had a rough experience in Afghanistan.  Along with his buddies Rick and TC, they use their training to crack cases and help the underdog on the island of Oahu.  All of them have a few skeletons in the closet that are tough to talk about.  And yes, things do get wrapped up in the end but not so tightly that there aren’t a few loose ends that always come back to haunt Magnum from his past…hey, wait a minute…


Full Disclosure

Gotta admit something…I’ve watched both episodes of the new Magnum, P.I.  Both of them.  And here’s the thing…I don’t hate it.  I sorta like it.  It’s not nearly as cool as the original but it really isn’t bad.  But that’s not really what I wanted to write about.

High school yearbooks and the remarks contained within are evidently the latest thing we all need to worry about.

With this in mind, I took a look at my high school yearbook from senior year.  I don’t remember the last time I did this.  But after the last couple weeks, all of our senior year high school yearbooks have become the code breaker for our DNA.  They are evidently filled with clairvoyance.  These amazingly prophetic crystal balls foretell our activities and conduct for the rest of lives.  Which is weird because after talking with some friends, it turns out nobody wanted to be judged on what was in their yearbooks.  Regardless, let’s examine mine.

Turns out, at least according to the wise teenage sages who detailed my senior year through written notes in said yearbook, beer and parties were our main interests.  Now I’m just spitballin’ here but that qualifies me for exactly one job…an 18 year old high school senior boy.  Weird, I know.  In fact my senior picture was adored by a hand sketched arm holding a beer.  Still not sure who drew that.  But judge away I guess…

Second sentence of the very first note written in the yearbook on the inside front cover was by a guy who is still a great friend and has gone on to become a respectable husband, father and public servant.  Nonetheless, he thoughtlessly wrote – “Now we have to get out and party all summer but we can’t get in any more trouble with the cops or we’re toast.  We need to get wasted!”

Just so there’s no misunderstanding of the terms used – when we say “cops” we mean local law enforcement.  When we say “wasted” we mean drinking to the point of being inebriated.  And just for some context, we considered getting wasted a worthwhile pursuit of happiness.  That pursuit of happiness often led us to participate in drinking games.  It was through these games that we were able to satisfy our toxic masculine desires to drink beer, compete in games of skill and yell movie quotes in loud voices.  Such is the life of the 18 year-old recently graduated high school senior.  But I graduated from a small suburban Catholic high school so judge away…

In another note, one of my buddies told me not to forget to ZEUS.  We used zeus as a euphemism for farting.  So two things here: not totally sure what Zeus has to do with farting and I’m not clear why I needed to “remember” to zeus as I’ve never really thought of farting as being a memory issue.  But that’s just me.  There’s also references to “blowing chow” and “booting” and “Q.P.T.” and a short note from my senior prom date who wrote that she just might take me up on the offer to pour a beer on my head.  Again, facts remain cloudy as to why I allegedly made that offer.  Again, just to be clear “blowing chow” or “booting” means throwing up.  In college we called it “honking” and it sometimes happened because you drank too much over the course of an evening.  Other times it was likely the result of a beer bong.  And I’m sure you’ll agree that not all stomachs react the same way to quick consumption of beer using what is essentially a hose.  “Q.P.T.” means quality party time.  It was also noted that Q.P.T. lasts until well after midnight.  The stamina for partying amongst high school seniors is astonishing.  Almost as astonishing as the amount of references to throwing up in my yearbook.  It’s almost as if we thought it was cool…

But these weren’t the only terms we used that became colloquialisms within our group.  I know, I know sounds like crazy talk.  For example, when something unfortunate would happen to one of us, the rest of us would derisively say “Dude, you failed to avoid the goon rush.”  Sometimes it was further slanged into “failed to avoid the GR” or to simply “gooned.”  I haven’t doubled checked its meaning in Urban Dictionary…

One of our favorite movies was Heartbreak Ridge.  And we dubbed ourselves the Recon Boys and the platoon that was featured in the movie.  Which, now that I write it, is astoundingly lame.  Nonetheless we came up with 46 Rules for Partying with the Recon Boys.  This list of unenforceable decrees was, and this might surprise you, laced with our preoccupation with beer and parties.

Rule #1: If you are there, then you drink — no exceptions.

Rule #7: Blowing chow is a positive experience — it makes room for more beer.

Rule #11: Never under any circumstances leave a half-finished beer sitting around.

Rule #21: If you spill, you clean it up.

Rule #30: If a keg is present, assume you are spending the night.

Rule#39: We are not totally worthless, we can always serve as a bad example.

It’s as if we thought beer actually gave us superpowers…

We even gave each other nicknames.  Our friend Rich was called “Sid” one year because another guy on the baseball team thought he looked like Mets pitcher Sid Fernandez when he pitched.  Another dude was “Gouk.”  And it was pronounced the same way a racial slur for Asians is pronounced.  But that’s not what we meant and our friend wasn’t Asian.  His first name was Matt.  Turns out that at the time we were in high school the head coach of the 76ers was Matty Goukas.  So we started calling our friend Matt “Goukas”  or “Gouk.”  I wonder how that would be interpreted in a Senate hearing?

There are references to parties at my house and parties at my friends’ houses, parties in cornfields, parties in an unoccupied house owned by a friends’ parents, parties in an undeveloped cul-de-sac we dubbed “The Circle.”  Lots of references to drinking at Prom and parties in hotel rooms we somehow were able to get.  A reference or two to the liquor store in the town north of our high school which thought our fake ID’s were good enough to sell us 30 packs of Stroh’s and cases of Milwaukee’s Best.  By fake IDs I mean small laminated cards with our actual pictures accompanied by made up names and addresses.  We used them to buy beer.  Because we were teenagers who liked to break rules and were impatient to be 21.

So current and future high school seniors…choose your words carefully I guess.  You never know…







Show Teeth Part 2: Needles

Finally, Mom arrives in the parking lot. Kinz takes off on a dead sprint to her car. And yes, right after the relief I felt knowing I wasn’t going to bleed all over my drive while driving myself to the ER, I made a mental note to tell Kinz that the speed she showed running down the sidewalk to Mom is the kind of speed she needs to show when she lays down a bunt.

“Mom why didn’t you answer your phone? I hit Dad in the mouth with a ball and his teeth are knocked out.”

Mom, obviously not expecting this turn of events, answers with, “Umm…what now?”

Then I show up. This was really the first time I looked down. I had left a pretty impressive blood trail up and down the sidewalk. If this were the zombie apocalypse, we’d be attracting them like crazy. I jump in the car, mindful not to bleed all over everything, and we take off for the emergency room. We stop quick at home to get my insurance card because we didn’t want any kind of delay and then head over. Thankfully for us, the softball fields, our house and ER are all with 10-15 minutes of each other.

We walk into the ER and the nice lady behind the desk says, “Nose bleed?”

And I’m pretty sure she was serious. What I was about to say before Mom cut me off: “Yeah, I came to the f’ing ER because I have a f’ing nose bleed!” Mom quickly says, “No. He got hit in the face with a line drive and it knocked his teeth out.”

She checks me in and then we stand there for a good 15 minutes before the nurse walks over and takes us into a room. A quick scan of the ER waiting room reveals exactly one person is bleeding from his face. It’s me. So yeah, I was kinda thinking I had pretty good chance at jumping up in line over some of these other people. Nurse comes out, takes a look at her sheet before looking up at me and says, “Now, you got hit the mouth and your teeth are loose?”

Without any hit of sarcasm I reach into my shorts pocket, retrieve the two items in there, and then extend my arm towards the nurse, “No, my teeth are in my pocket.”

“I’ll go ahead and get the doctor,” she says.

She comes back quickly and takes the teeth and puts them in a cup of milk. Evidently it is how you preserve teeth. If I actually was a hockey player or a boxer I guess, I’d have already know this. I happen to walk by a mirror and get a look at myself. I looked like Balboa after 15 rounds with Creed. I looked like Carter after the last debate with Reagan. I looked like Isaiah Robertson trying to tackle Earl Campbell in the Astrodome back in September of ’78. Blood all over my shirt, dried blood on my face and arms. Some even on my shoes.

Doc comes in, takes a look, and says he’s going to stitch up my lip and suggests we call our dentist ASAP. Mom makes the call. We get the answering service who tells us we’ll probably have to wait until morning. Mom politely, but sternly, explains that simply is unacceptable. A couple minutes later we get a call from the dentist who clearly understood the nature of the situation better than the answering service. Our dentists are a husband and wife team. They actually have evening hours on Thursdays and we were hoping that we could get them while still at the office. Turns out we just missed them still being in the office. Mom explains the situation to Dr. Mindy who then tells us that she’ll tell her husband to turn around and head back to the office and meet us there. Which, by the way, was really, really awesome. If you ever need a dentist, I know two of them who are bad asses.

So getting stitches isn’t a big deal. You’ve probably had some at some point in your life. Getting stitches in your lip, with all the nerve endings, requires a fairly healthy amount of anesthetic. So he sticks me with the needle on both sides of my nose but just above my top lip and in the roof of my mouth. So, in case you were curious, a needle in the roof of your mouth is unpleasant. You might want to write that down so you don’t forget.

Anyway, he gives me about 10 minutes or so for the stuff to kick in and he gets to work. Doc puts one stitch in the inside of my bottom lip. A whole line of them horizontally across the inside of top lip. Then a couple vertically on the inside of my top lip. On the outside of the top lip, I had an arc-shaped cut right in the middle. He stitched the two ends of the arc then essentially used some kind of glue on the rest of the cut. We grabbed the cup holding my teeth and headed to the dentist. Right before leaving I had one more question for the ER doc regarding the length of time I should expect the anesthetic to work. “Don’t worry, it’ll last well after you get to the dentist.”

By the way, during the stitching, Mom calls our neighbors to ask them if they can run down to the fields and pick up Kinz and Bails. Because, remember, they are still there practicing. Unfortunately, our neighbors were on their way to Minnesota to see family. Also Mom evidently has a natural tendency for cliffhangers.

“Brian, hey, can you pick up the girls at the fields at 8:30? We’re in the emergency room. Kinz hit a line a drive and…hold on the doctor just came back into the room, I’ll call you back.” Click.

She calls back a couple minutes later and explains the whole situation. Then they explain that they can’t pick up the girls because they’re half way to Minnesota. Thankfully Kinz’ coach drove them both home. But right before Mom hangs up the phone, our neighbors ask, “Hey, before they fix everything take a picture and send it to me.”

Yeah, so that’s what they wanted. A pic of me with a smashed mouth, covered in blood and no teeth. Mom walks over with the phone to actually take the pic. I turn towards her and she realizes two things: 1) my lip is so swollen that it can’t physically be moved to the show my lack of teeth without causing additional – and unnecessary – pain. 2) I evidently have a pretty good “No f’ing way” look that I shot at her.

Listen, I was doing a pretty good job of being a fairly good sport about this whole ordeal. But I’m not letting Mom take a pic so it can live forever on freaking social media. Even less than an hour after impact, I was pretty sure this episode was something that didn’t require any visual reminders.

Somehow, she still managed to get one pic:

The First Ten Amendments

Recently, while Mom and I were watching TV, we heard some whining from the kitchen table. This is not unusual. Neither the whining or the TV watching. Mom and I watch TV all the time. In fact, I find it somewhat unsettling when I find out other people don’t watch TV. I mean, how does that even happen?

For example, if you have a problem, if no one else can help, and if you can find them, maybe you can hire…who?

The A-Team. The freaking A-Team. That’s who hire.

But if you never watched TV, you’ll end up hiring the B Team. Which, if I’m not mistaken, is like hiring Zito and Switek to take over for Crockett and Tubbs.

Anyway, back to the whining. Because that is what really got to me. Anytime at least two of the girls occupy chairs at the table, whining is a common occurrence. A general lack of consideration for each other? Typical. Nastiness? Routine. So we didn’t pay much attention until the tears, crying and snorting started. Turns out Bails was doing some homework, didn’t understand it and Rye evidently thought telling her to “zip it” was an effective helping strategy.

Finally, I couldn’t take it and walked over to the table, sat down next to Bails and asked if I could help. I was stunned to look at the worksheet on the table. It was titled “The First 10 Amendments.” Naturally I had assumed she was working on some type of math homework. I mean only math can induce the high levels of frustration and helplessness which cause crying and snorting. And it was that snorting that happens when they are crying, and their nose is running, and they kinda lose their breath so it sounds like a snort/cough/hack. Or the sound a millennial makes when a Gen Xer ridicules grunge.

Anyway, I look down and think “The Bill of Rights? How could this frustrate anybody except the Obama White House? Everybody likes the Bill of Rights.”

The front side was one of those match-up exercises where they had to draw a line from the amendment to the correct description. For example: Amendment 1 is matched up with Freedom of Speech and Religion. Amendment 2 is matched up with the Right to Possess Arms. You get the idea. Well I assume you get the idea. The results on the last presidential election clearly indicates some of you don’t.

On the back side is an invisible treasure map. Kidding. The back side contains ten hypothetical situations which pertain to a certain amendment in the Bill of Rights. Here’s an example:

“Elias wrote a nice lengthy article for the Daily News describing the changes students would like to see at Roosevelt Middle School. The principal tried to stop Elias’s article from being published in the local newspaper but she was unsuccessful.”

After I finished reading this example, I naturally thought this was a good time to explain the IRS scandal and how the Obama administration uses the power of the federal government to eliminate any group from articulating an argument opposed to the President’s agenda. Just like the principal at Roosevelt Middle School tried to do to Elias. As is usually the case, my additional information did not clarify things for Bails.

“What is the IRS?”

“Remember when I told you about taxes? Well, the IRS is the agency that collects all our taxes. They know all kinds of things about us. Where we live, how much money we have, what we do with our money, what we care about. Lots of stuff. Then once a year…”

“Wait, so these people know all that stuff?”


“Do we know this stuff about them?”

“Well, no.”

“Dad, I don’t even like people knowing my middle name. Its nobody’s business. If they know my middle name they can find me and kidnap me. And now you are saying that some people know all kinds of private stuff about us. I don’t like that AT ALL.”

Only you know how you would react to this information presented to you by your 5th grade daughter. Maybe you’d refocus the discussion on the question at hand. Maybe you’d go into a more detailed explanation of the IRS and the federal income tax…if you did do this I’m sure you’d include all the ridicule due Woodrow Wilson and his status as the worst president in American history. Or maybe you’d do what I did.

magnumI smiled. Widely and broadly. Her reaction is so awesome, its hard to fathom. Like the rumored cross-over show between Quantum Leap and Magnum, PI with Sam Beckett leaping into Thomas Magnum. Yeah, that almost happened. For real. I know. Try going to sleep thinking about that!

But instead of adding that to conversation I said, “You’re dang right Bails. I don’t like people knowing stuff either that isn’t any of their business and I especially don’t like it when the president says those people are allowed to snoop around in your business and make threats against you so you’ll stop saying things that president don’t like.”

“But what does that have to do with my homework.”

“Because its all about the 1st Amendment. Just like Elias’ principal shouldn’t be allowed to censor his article because the principal doesn’t like it (to be completely honest I’m really not sure I agree with this example but that’s beside the point) the president doesn’t have the right to stop me from saying or doing things by threatening me with legal action from the IRS.”

“So the IRS knows all this private stuff about us and we have to pay them taxes? Dad, I don’t like taxes. Especially those taxes you were talking about that we have to pay because we have a house.”

“Property taxes?”

“Yeah, those are dumb. Why do we have to pay them just because we have a house?”

“Well they go to pay for things like schools, police, fire even the garbage guys. The police protect us, the fire department puts out fires and the garbage guys pick up our garbage. I don’t really see a problem with paying them for that kind of stuff. But they also pay for schools and teachers. You go to school and that costs money.”

“Well when I’m a grown up and I don’t have any kids, I’m not paying property taxes. I don’t have kids, so I shouldn’t have to pay those taxes for schools. That’s like paying for nothing.”

Wide broad smiles. Bailey’s natural opposition to paying taxes, especially ones for which she perceives no benefit, was heartwarming. Gratifying. Freaking awesome. She’s only in 5th grade and she’s already mad about taxes. Imagine what she’ll be like when she’s 40!? I don’t remember her teaching that. Sure she’s heard Mom and I discuss various topics, and she’s heard me talk about my distaste for elitist narcissist a-holes who like to lecture me about the public good while defining what the public good is.

But this is just who she is. And I ain’t coaching that outta her.

Halloween ’14

Before I even get to Halloween this year, who watched The Goldberg’s this week? They nailed it.  Again.  Who doesn’t love this show?  If you were between or around the ages of 10-20 during the 80’s you love this show.  If somehow you came through that decade as a teenager and don’t love this show, you my delusional friend cannot claim any affilitation, relationship or link to or with the 80’s, Gen X or, and let’s be honest, any amount of coolness.  You can’t.  You just can’t.  I’m sure you’ll argue this point.  And you will lose.  It’s like trying to show off you’re knowledge of hair bands while bringing up Winger and stating with confidence that Seventeen is their best song.  Again wrong.  Can’t Get Enuff.  Suck it.  Winger by the way just played live locally a couple days ago.  Just saying…

Seriously though The Goldbergs is The Wonder Years for Gen Xers. Pop rocks, Coke and Mikey from Life Cereal?  The ghost in the VHS tape of Three Men and a Baby?  Freaking excellent.  You can only hear that rumor about Mikey so many times before it just becomes part of the fabric of time and space itself.

So as many of you know, we live in Des Moines which has the tradition of Beggar’s Night. Which is nothing more than trick or treating on the night before Halloween.

Yes, it is stupid. And I mean stupid in the strongest most literal sense.  But if you go back and research the reasons behind Beggar’s Night you are really left with one conclusion.  It has outlived its usefulness.  Like public employee unions.  It was put into place by a well-meaning individual to stop vandalism and other assorted acts of hooliganism.  But then the do-gooders took up the cause and screwed it up like taking Thundarr the Barbarian off the air because, well, nobody really knows why but it sucked.

Anyway, because Halloween is awesome, I left work early to carve pumpkins. Went with a traditional geometric design.  Triangles for eyes, square nose with a wide fanged smile.  I’ve found that an ice cream scooper is the best tool for cleaning out the pumpkin brains.  Bails and Kinz, much to my dismay, decided to carve their own this year.  Not bad for their first entirely independent foray in the art of pumpkin carving.  I mean all I did was cut the hole in the top and then engaged in a little bit of trim work and clean up after they were done.  A couple years ago I used some of those glow sticks to light them.  Sounded like a good idea.  Turns out it wasn’t.  Not enough wattage.  So this year, after digging through a couple drawers we have that are filled with candles and other assorted seasonal stuff, I went with the plethora of mini Yankee candles we have.  Sure the jack-o-lanterns smell like mistletoe and balsam fir but whatever.  They looked awesome and stayed lit until well after the trick or treaters were done.

Top costumes this year? Ninja turtles and zombies.  Surprisingly not a single Elsa.  No wookies either.  One kid was James Dean.  Not kidding.  He walked up and we asked if he was The Fonz.  His response?  “Well that was my original idea but I decided more people would know who James Dean is.”

What? You’re like 10 years old.  James F’ing Dean?  Seriously kid just go ahead declare Theater as your major now.  As he walked away, he stops, turns and says, “Hey, I’m surprised you guys know who The Fonz is.”

Again, what? The Fonz?  I’m 44.  I know who The Freaking Fonz is.  I know who Potsie is.  I know who Pinky Tuscadero is and I know what the freaking Malachi Crunch is.  I know Laverne and Shirley worked at Shotz Brewery in Milwaukee.  I know Jack, Janet and Chrissy spent a lot of time at The Regal Beagle.   I know BA ain’t flyin’ on no plane!  I know Nick and Cody lived on a boat and I know what the Blue Freaking Moon Detective Agency is.  Don’t freaking test me on Tuesday night TV lineups of the 70’s and 80’s son.

Geez. Do I know who The Fonz is…

One kid looked exactly like one of the clowns from Killer Klowns from Outer Space. Safe to say we kept our eyes on him until he was gone.  Additionally I made the mistake of eating nothing but candy for about 4 hours.  I don’t recommend this.  Nobody is built to consume that much candy.

However the best thing, or worst depending on your perspective, was when my neighbor ordered pizza. Normal standard pizza delivery as the pizza guy pulled into the driveway, got out and walked the pizza up to us as we were sitting in the garage.  However as he was handing the pizza over his van started to roll forward.  Towards the house.

Yeah, he either forgot to put the van in park or it shifted itself into drive.

Pizza guy freaks out and attempts to use his super human pizza guy strength to stop the van from rolling forward with body.  Not kidding, he tried to stop the van with his girth.  And listen this guy was blessed a fine amount girth.  But he’s not stopping a mini van.  Eventually he realizes this and moves with speed he only likely dreamed about and jumps into the driver’s seat.  At this point the rest of us had moved towards the van as well.  None of us however attempted to step in front of the vehicle.  I mean we all were in agreement that the van needed to be stopped and everything it was just that after a quick list of pros and cons, we all kinda decided against the standing in front of the van strategy.  But as fate would have it the van rolled by the corner of the garage and misses it by about six inches and keeps rolling over the walk up to the front door and assumes a collision course with the front window.  Luckily the left front wheel of the van hits a retaining wall.  The grass slopes away from the walk so when the wall engaged in a battle of physics with the van, the wheel had to overcome about a five inch wall.  The van won but the speed was reduced allowing the pizza guy to recover.  But not without incident.  Instead of standing on the brake he accidently hits the gas.  I assume by accident.  Thankfully the amount of adrenaline coursing through his body allowed him to immediately switch his foot to the brake and stop the van from hitting the house.  A couple feet short.  We scored that a win.  Then pizza guy decides that he not only needs to back away from the house but he needs to do it quickly.  So the van again narrowly misses the corner of the garage again…except going the opposite direction at rate of speed that was probably unnecessary.  Unfortunately the excitement was at such a high level I forgot to find out if the pizza was free…

Okinawa and our Basement

So we’re sitting on the couch in the family room watching The Goldberg’s on Tuesday night. Once again, the show was hilarious. Amazing how they nail it every single time. But while we’re enjoying the show a skinny blond 4th grader appears behind us. And she’s in tears. Sobbing. The kind of sobbing that is so powerful she can’t really form words without inadvertent snorts and the signs of hyperventilation occurring.

“I keep ruining everything!”

Now regardless of what is happening at the moment in time when you hear this, you are not expecting the result to be positive. All that you’re wondering is whether you’re going to be unhappy or pissed off when you find out what it is that has occurred to elicit this statement. I mean it is a 4th grader that uttered the words. She could have torn her favorite pajama pants. She could have let all her sharpie markers dry out by not securing the caps after the last use. Really, the words about ruining everything, and the volume at which they are spoken, are not themselves cause for rage.

magnumBut there are times throughout our lives when our mettle is tested. It happened to the marines in Hue back in ’68. It happened to the Steelers on that cold December day just before Christmas in ’72. It happened to Magnum in ’82 when he was forced to kill Ivan to prevent him triggering more Communist sleeper agents in the U.S. And it happened to Mom and I on Tuesday night.

“Bails, what are you talking about?”

“I was painting my toenails and…”

If you have girls, never in the history of parenting has anything that combined hysterical sobbing and a reference to toenail painting ever ended in something awesome. NEVER. No 4th grade girl has ever said while sobbing, “Dad I was painting my toenails and I remembered that you got a phone call last night from Bruce Willis, Lynn Swann and Paul Ryan. They wanted you to go lunch with them and maybe hang out afterwards.” That has never happened.

You know what does happen when a sobbing 4th grader tells you she was painting her toenails? You voice, in rising alarm, the following sentence:


The answer you’re looking for involves the phrase, “on top of a plastic tarp.” Instead we hear this:

“In the basement and…”

Quickness, turns out, is highly influenced by circumstances. Also turns out purple nail polish does not blend into the sandy colored carpet in our basement. What purple nail polish does do however is form itself into a stain roughly the shape of Okinawa. On a smaller scale of course.

Other relevant facts to this situation include the fact that during the fall Bails decided to paint her fingernails on the kitchen table. The only thing between the kitchen table and the nail polish was a single sheet of newspaper. Turns out newspaper is powerless against the destructive chemical agents present in Fuchsia Shock. Other things that yield to the power of nail polish? The finish on our kitchen table.

So, learning from that mistake and what was sternly explained to her, Bails decides that painting her nails on the brand new family room coffee table this winter is a better idea. Now in possession of the information regarding the uselessness of newspaper to defend against the muscle of finger nail centric cosmetics, she figured that a single paper towel would do the trick.

It didn’t.

Lucky for her I happened to walk into the family room at almost the exact instant she realized that some polish had found its way onto the paper towel and had begun the devastating process of literally eating its way through the paper towel, the coffee table’s finish, the coffee table itself, the first floor of our house and likely all the way to China. As a reminder we have a very small remnant of the aforementioned paper towel still stubbornly clinging to the coffee table. Damn thing is like the Congressional Dems insisting the IRS and Lois Lerner didn’t target conservative groups.

All of this is going through my mind as I look at the purple map of Okinawa on our basement carpet. So here are some things that don’t help remove nail polish from carpet. Swearing. It doesn’t help. I tested it. Repeatedly. Intuitively you think it should. But its just one of those weird things that just doesn’t do the things you hoped it would. Crying also doesn’t help. Bails tested it. A lot. Saying “This is the THIRD FREAKING TIME!” over and over again while increasing your volume doesn’t help. Also not helpful is your 6th grader sitting on the couch watching TV while all of this happens. Seriously. She claimed ignorance. Didn’t see the spill, didn’t see the botched clean-up effort from Bails, barely noticed she left the room in tears.

Turns out, thanks to the internet, I learned rubbing alcohol is helpful. Once I got to the stain and tested the swearing theory I ran back up the stairs, grabbled my laptop and googled “removing nail polish from carpet.”

Supplies needed: paper towels, sponge, rubbing alcohol. Also clearly outlined was the need to act quickly. You soak up any excess polish by dabbing, not rubbing, the carpet strands with the paper towel. Then you put some rubbing alcohol on the sponge and slowly and patiently dab the carpet until the stain is removed – providing you acted quickly enough in the first place. Then when the stain is no longer visible, you use paper towel to soak up any excess rubbing alcohol. Lastly you consume alcohol in beer form to celebrate your victory. I added that last part.

So it turns out getting nail polish out of carpet isn’t impossible. Who knew?

Generational Differences

adverbsGenerational differences within an office are often hard to navigate for managers. People of varying ages have different expectations of behavior. We have different cultural reference points. For example, if its lunch time and I say, “Dude, I am hungry like the wolf,”not everybody is going to get it. If I’m singing, “Lolly, lolly, lolly get your adverbs here,” everybody under 40 thinks I’m weird. If I make a reference to Guido the Killer Pimp I get raised eyebrows. And this irritates me. But not as much as learning that one of the guys you hired hasn’t seen Caddyshack, Animal House, The Blues Brothers or Stripes. Or Fletch. Or Beverly Hills Cop 1 or 2. Or Coming to America. Or Major League. Or Weird Science.

He hadn’t even heard of Fletch. Not hadn’t seen it, hadn’t even heard of it.

Let that process for a second. I’m not sure my friends from high school and college, to this day, are able to hold a conversation without a Fletch reference or quote making its way in there.

Stunning. Absolutely stunning. Hadn’t even heard of it. Flatly astonishing. Next thing you know is that he’ll start claiming Kobe is better than Jordan. Or that the Red Dawn remake is better than the original. I mean I was so astounded I was fearful to ask about Scrooged, Ghostbusters and The Naked Gun. And listen I was really just focusing on the comedies. He had not seen The Breakfast Club either until I sent him home with an assignment to watch it before he came back work. Oh and come back he did with a “I don’t really understand the big deal about the movie” argument. Almost fired him. I didn’t know this but this is what happens when you get into your 40’s and you start working with people in their 20’s.

I’m now fairly certain this is why millennials kinda piss me off. They are in their 20’s. And your 20’s sure start out a lot like your teens except now you have a car and some cash so you can finance your questionable decisions. And listen when you’re in your 20’s, you are completely and utterly oblivious to the fact that the only people who think you’re cool are other twentysomethings. Literally EVERYONE else thinks you suck. Not kidding. It’s science. Back then, I didn’t know this either.

The simple fact is that it is difficult for me take someone seriously if they do not understand the overall cultural impact and awesomeness of Magnum, P.I., Moonlighting and MacGyver. Not to mention to global political corollaries of Star Wars and the 80’s. If don’t have a soft spot for a certain TV mini-series known as North and South Book I and II you have a hole in heart. What? It’s about the Civil War, had Swayze’s hair and it was Jimmy Stewart’s last movie role. But you probably don’t know who Jimmy Stewart is because you’ve never taken the time to watch It’s a Wonderful Life at Christmas because its too long and you can’t find Jimmy Stewart on Twitter.

Regardless, the guy I work with now has a list of movies that he needs to watch to return to work in good standing.

Flag Day and Father’s Day

In case you missed it, and judging by the number of houses not displaying the Stars and Stripes you probably did, last Friday was Flag Day. If your first question upon reading this is “what flag?” someone, to be as blunt and honest as possible, needs to come by your desk at work and punch you in the face.

Anyway, I like flag day. I like displaying the flag. All kinds of flags. I have three different American flags. Really like the Betsy Ross flag. Also have my fall football Friday flag which is a very sharp cardinal and gold Cyclone flag. I am, however, a bit embarrassed to admit that I do not own a Steelers flag. So I’m sometimes flagless on Sunday. You’d be surprised at how difficult it is to find a simple gold or black flag with the Steelers logo on it. This flag either isn’t produced in large numbers or is so popular you can’t find it anywhere. Like Old Frothingslosh beer in Pittsburgh back in the 70’s. Or a Love Boat episode without Morgan Fairchild guest starring. Anyway, in addition to my affection for flying flags, I like to teach the girls about the flag. Which is why I was really, really proud of Kinsey.

Kinsey wrote an essay on the flag in May. Which, as you recall, is a month I missed and by the law of transference, missed learning about this essay until much later. Regardless, every 5th grader in the district wrote about what the flag means to them. She came running into our room during one of the last school nights of the year to tell Mom and I that she received a Top 10 award from the local American Legion for the essay. The award wasn’t a college scholarship unfortunately. Wasn’t even one of the sweet tiger-camo boonie hats. It was a certificate. Needless to say this award is a direct result of excellent parenting. Also my suspicions regarding the teaching of American history and government in the local public school district may be overblown. Or Kinz simply overcame the left wing indoctrination so rampant in teacher education programs at our major public universities and then perpetuated in the public school system.

But maybe that’s just me. A failure to articulate what the flag means to you is akin to living through the late 70’s and not remembering Ponch and Jon. Or Seven Mary Four and Seven Mary Three respectively.

Regardless, Kinz never was given the essay back yet so I haven’t been able to read it. Which means I don’t really know what she said. But I’m pretty sure it was awesome. It also makes me leery that the Pelosians may have conveniently disposed of the Top 10 essays so they wouldn’t influence other students and foil their neo-Marxist plan to program the next wave of mindless Obamabots.

Last Sunday was also Father’s Day. I’m sure you remembered. Interestingly, it doesn’t have a flag. Although if it did, it would almost undoubtedly be a flag of every Dad’s favorite NFL team. I suppose there are those of you who would choose to fly the flag of your favorite MLB team. Or NBA team. I guess hockey too. If you’re from the Confederacy, maybe NASCAR. But God help you if a Manchester United flag or some such crap was on the front of your house. Why don’t you just fly a flag with a picture of you spitting on a flag that says “Father’s Day?” Or a flag with Darth Vader wearing a cape emblazoned with the Soviet hammer & sickle while he smashes the Lombardi Trophy under his boot and shoots a bald eagle with an AK-47? It’s the same thing. And listen, while I understand not everybody watches youtube highlights of 1978 NFL Today shows and shares my deep appreciation of NFL history and how the sport is woven into the fabric of America itself, that doesn’t mean I accept that you don’t .

What? I’m not the one with the problem, you are.

The Fine Arts Dinner

What could be better than going to the Fine Arts Dinner at the local elementary school for three hours on one of the first Fridays of the spring with awesome weather? How about Mom bidding $50 over the minimum bid on the most expensive item in the silent action? It was a painting. By the kids. That is now hanging above our mantle. Here’s a pic:


Looks very 70’s to me. Anyway, the Fine Arts Dinner last Friday entailed dinner and performances by the students. And – bonus – we were in the gym. The dinner consisted of pork and chicken along with dinner rolls, a salad, and some other stuff I don’t remember. Oh, and homemade cake pops. The pork was surprisingly good. The chicken was expectedly dry. Salad? Good. Cakepops? Awesome. Bails had four.

After dinner we were treated to selected songs from the school’s production of Grease. I thought this was fairly brave. Not on our part for listening but on the teacher’s part for having a whole boatload of 5th and 6th graders take on Grease. The girls came home after the initial performance and said they loved it! So much that they wanted to go out and rent Grease so they could watch the movie. I figured nearly all of the sexual innuendo would go over their heads but what really surprised me was that they hadn’t already seen it. I mean hasn’t everybody pretty much seen it? I was just 8 when I saw it back in the summer of ’78 when it originally came out. Completely warped my idea of what high school was going to be like until I watched Porky’s. Which again skewed my theories on how my high school years would unfold. Until finally I saw Sixteen Candles and Red Dawn which got it all straightened out. Notwithstanding my expectations for the years in between and including 1984 and 1988, I guess it shouldn’t come as all that much of a revelation that someone has not seen Grease. I recently learned that there are actual Americans roaming this great nation of ours that have never seen Star Wars. I’m completely serious.

How do you go through childhood without the Empire and the Rebellion as reference points? Without Luke, Darth Vader and Han Solo anchoring your definitions of good, evil and smartassery?

But then again I just had a conversation at work with some early 30-somethings about who Tony Manero and Sonny Crockett are. Or were, I guess. They, and I’m not exaggerating, had no idea. None. I had to say “Don Johnson” to even get a nod of recognition. Rico Tubbs? Blank stares. Rick and AJ? Nothing. Carmine Ragusa…aka The Big Ragoo? Crickets. Joanie loving Chachi? The Regal Beagal? TJ Freaking Hooker!? It’s like I was talking to an empty depressing wasteland. A wilderness void of any knowledge gathered from the Carter and Reagan administrations.

Regardless of the alarmingly high rate of Gen Y idiocy at my place of employment, it didn’t change the fact that I spent my Friday evening at an elementary school watching 11 year-olds sing “Summer Loving” and “Beauty School Drop Out.” To be completely honest, the kids did a great job. Far better than I could have done. I mean if I had the guts to actually sing in front of people about girls when I was 11.

The girl who sang “Beauty School Drop Out” really could sing. Afterwards, we were treated to performances by the orchestra and the band. The 6th grade orchestra, the 5th and 6th grade orchestra, the 6th grade band, the 5th and 6th grade band, the school’s chorus and then there was the well-meaning teacher who felt the need to fill the time between performances with comments. Well, they are probably more accurately described as annotations. Because every 5th and 6th grade musical needs footnotes. To be as polite as possible, they were unnecessary. Like anything said by Joe Biden. I mean all you have to do is introduce who is performing. Done. We don’t need backstory. I’m already trying to follow the 2nd round of the NFL Draft on my phone and I want to avoid distractions. Robert Woods and Kevin Minter both went off the board before the Steelers picked. So I was thinking they might take Keenan Allen or even reach for Jonathan Franklin. Proving once again that the Steelers are smarter than me, they took LeVeon Bell! Great pick. Sadly though Ozzie Newsome in Baltimore is a freaking draft genius. Dude just keeps making the Ravens better.

Being at the school was a distinct change from where I watched the last half of the First Round of the Draft however. Have you ever been to Twin Peaks? It’s a restaurant. They market their “Eats, drinks and scenic views.” The scenic views are the wait staff and bartenders who wear really short shorts and what is essentially a bikini top with a lumberjack pattern. Or the same pattern Lamar Alexander wore during his failed 1996 bid for the GOP presidential nomination. And their beer is chilled to 29 degrees. So its really cold. However, and I’m just spitballin’ here, I don’t think anybody is going to Twin Peaks for the coldness of the beer. But when you pretty much leave the location determination to two of the single guys in the league, this is where you end up.

So here’s the thing. I’m married with three daughters. Which means I’m living with four women. In college that would have been freaking awesome. Now? Not so much. I don’t really have a bathroom and nobody shares my appreciation for Fletch quotes. Now you add girls in their late teens and early to mid 20’s barely dressed. Me in college would have thought this was the best damn Friday night ever. Now? Its just dudes in their mid-40’s flirting and taking pics with girls in their late teens and early to mid 20’s. Tad bit creepy.

I also was told that the hostess was too young to serve alcohol which meant she was probably 17. My oldest daughter is 13. I’ve often said perspective is a wonderful teacher. And my perspective is that I am mentally unprepared for teenage girls. Mostly because I remember being a teenage boy.

Which brings me back to the Fine Arts Dinner. As I’ve become an adult, a husband and a father I’ve learned, often the hard way, that lapsing back into being a teenage boy becomes less acceptable. Not everyone thinks farts are funny, the versatile uses for the f-bomb aren’t appropriate and selfishness is regarded as you being an a-hole not simply part of the maturation process. As they are doing the silent auction, it became apparent that these fine educators had never done a silent auction or anything remotely related to one in any way. So it took far longer than it needed to take. While I’m standing there holding a couple music books, my phone displaying what is now the 3rd round of the NFL Draft and a violin, I keenly observed, in a totally self-congratulatory kind of way, that I’m am so much better at being a grown-up than I used to be. Back my late 20’s this kind of thing would have led to an impressive display of self-absorption and annoyance. I actually said, “Hey, I am way better at this stuff than I used to be. If this was 1999 I would be bitching up a freaking super storm.”

Instead I write this blog.

In the interest of full disclosure, teenage me, college me and Dad me do share at least one thing in common. Miller Lite. After getting back from the dinner, my neighbor is in his garage repainting his cabinet doors. He’s pretty handy and far more ambitious than myself. He asks how the dinner went. I respond by walking up his driveway, past the him and his cabinet doors, right to the fridge in his garage. It was then when I decided to liberate several Miller Lites from said fridge.

Rest of the night went pretty well.


Certain questions stick with you. Especially if you are the type of person who doesn’t like to make quick decisions. You ponder things. You collect relevant information. You run through scenarios. You contemplate. Then you deliberate. Unfortunately, one of the results of this kind of disposition is that all the questions you mull aren’t especially grand.

thundarrFor example, what wasn’t National Treasure a mini-series? It’s a great story that really needed to be developed to a far greater degree. Or what would have happened if Terry Bradshaw doesn’t throw that pick in the 4th quarter of the Steelers-Chargers ’82 playoff game? A 5th ring for the Super Steelers? What happens if the Steelers don’t pass on Dan Marino in the first round of the ’83 draft? Why don’t Marty McFly’s parents recognize that their 17 year-old son in 1985 looks exactly like that weird Calvin Klein kid they met back in high school in 1955? Furthermore, was Higgins really Robin Masters? What the hell did the numbers mean in LOST? Why hasn’t Thundarr the Barbarian come back in some form? And in the Mos Eisley Cantina why did George Lucas edit in Greedo firing the first shot at Han in the ’97 re-release when Han clearly fired the first shot in the original?

Then, of course, there’s the Fast Times at Ridgemont High question. Which, truth be told, I never really understood why it was such seminal movie for its time. I mean its in the United States National Film Registry listed by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”. What? I mean its not The Breakfast Club. Or Ferris Bueller. Its not even Weird Science. Anyway, at the end of the Fast Times we learn that Spicoli saved Brooke Shields from drowning and with the reward money he hired Van Halen to play his birthday party.

Would you hire Van Halen? Seriously, if you could hire a band to play your birthday party, who would you hire? This is not as easy as it sounds. For instance, do the laws of space and time apply? I mean I’m not hiring 1982 Van Halen. If I were hiring a band in 1982, I’d probably lean Billy Joel. But listen if I’m able to suspend the laws of space and time, I’m getting Journey. Maybe REO. But probably like 1987 Journey. Also some Apple stock. And I’m putting money on Villanova to win the ’85 NCAA Tournament.

But ’87 Journey is a good choice. Steve Perry is still in the band. You get all the cool 70’s stuff plus you stretch it out to include the songs from Raised on Radio. That’s an unappreciated effort from Neal Schon and the boys. Be Good to Yourself is a good song. You get Ask the Lonely from the Twist of Fate soundtrack plus Only the Young from Vision Quest. They could do like six encores of Don’t Stop Believin’ and Stone In Love. The only people not singing along would be the ones too overwhelmed by the awesomeness of Journey being at your birthday party. And probably the fact that they’d look like they hadn’t aged in about 25 years. Time travel is never easily accepted. And listen, I’m not dismissing the coolness of having the late 80’s version of REO perform, or a mid 90’s version of Billy Joel. Those guys would still be cool. Of course if I’m bound by the laws of space and time, then I’m just calling Bret Michaels, Dee Snyder and Lita Ford. Because they still rock.

So, anyway, that’s a question I’ve often pondered.