I Miss Those Days

There are many reasons I like being a Dad.  But one of things I like most is that I get to do Dad things, make Dad jokes, bitch about Dad stuff and talk about things from a Dad perspective.

It’s a good life.  I’m not gonna lie.

For example, I enjoy making fun of snapchat filters.  I love stating with absolute certainty that teenagers are stupid.  I watch I Want My 80’s on MTV Classic all the time.  I honestly believe I can have an impact on the Steelers won/loss record based on what jersey or sweatshirt I wear and where I sit on the couch.  I’ve been known to casually mention that time I went bungee jumping in college.  I love wearing Asics.  I’ll make fun of you if you drink White Claws instead of beer.  I like driving by rest stops when the girls have to go the bathroom while saying, “Damn I missed it, you better hold it!”  I like flying my Don’t Tread On Me flag.  And my Betsy Ross flag.  I fly my Cyclones flag on fall Saturdays.  I like free t-shirts.  Love going to Lowe’s.  Especially like flashing the horns to the girls while rocking out to AC DC.  I like belting out the lyrics to We Didn’t the Start Fire just to prove I still know them.  Even though it’s complete BS.  The boomers did start the fire and Gen X was left to put it out.  I like watching woker-than-thou progressives lose their minds at Bill Barr.  I like turning on Sugar Hill Gang’s Rapper’s Delight or Young MC’s Bust A Move whenever somebody talks about how today’s rap is better.  I like wearing my Oakley Half-Jackets.  And I think Star Wars is better than Harry Potter.

I also like Christmas.  But I miss the magic.  The almost unbelievable realization that Christmas Eve had arrived and the weeks of excruciating anticipation of Christmas itself were almost over.  I can’t answer for you, but the movies and shows from the golden days of yore help me stir up that magic.  Because we all dream of Christmases that we used to know.

ScroogedHollyScrooged.  Saw this with my high school buddies on Thanksgiving Break 1988.  We were all back home during our freshman year of college and we snuck a bottle of gin into the theater.  I know what you’re thinking – who in the hell brings gin into a theater?  Nobody but professionals drink gin.  Or, as the fates would allow, 18 year old morons.  Regardless, Scrooged brings back those memories of seeing my buddies every time I watch it.  It is Bill Murray at the peak of his powers.  You don’t realize how much you quote this movie until you watch it.

home-alone-AHome Alone.  Saw this my junior year in college.  Twice.  Not at all ashamed to admit it.  During Christmas of 1990 this movie was a force of nature.  I know it’s all cool and everything to dump on Home Alone like you didn’t like it when you were younger.  But that just makes you the Uncle Frank of Home Alone fans.  Kinda like Bernie Sanders is the Uncle Frank of the Democrat primary.  But I always remember Gus Polinski (John Candy) giving Kevin’s mom a ride home for the sole reason that “It’s Christmastime.”  And take a quick look at Kevin’s house next time you watch it.  That is A LOT of Christmas decor in the house.

George Bailey-1It’s A Wonderful Life.  Now I can’t be the only one who gets nervous every time Uncle Billy loses the $8000 deposit at Old Man Potter’s bank.  Happens to me every single time.  Like whenever I see a highlight of Jerome Bettis fumbling in the closing minutes of the 2005 playoff game between the Colts and Steelers.  I mean, I know Roethlisberger is going to make the tackle…but what if he doesn’t?  Seriously I may never have recovered emotionally.  Similar to It’s A Wonderful Life.  What if all George’s friends don’t show up with baskets of cash?  I know they do because George is an awesome dude with a hot wife but, you know, what if they don’t?  Regardless, that closing scene of everybody singing Christmas carols chokes me up every single time.  That’s the moment when the magic is back.  Only lasts a second or two, but it’s back.

IdliketobuytheworldacokeBut here’s where it get weird.  Does anybody else go back and watch old Christmas commercials?  The Miller High Life ad with I”ll Be Home For Christmas?  The Coca-Cola ad where they teach the world to sing in perfect harmony?  The Folgers ad where Peter comes home for Christmas?  No?  Well, I guess there are more communists in America than I thought…Petercomeshome



Thanksgiving Part 2

The college soph is home for Thanksgiving.  She gets the whole week.  Having her home  is one of the cool parts of Thanksgiving.  I’m also pretty sure coming home is what solidified Thanksgiving as my favorite holiday.

Thanksgiving my sophomore year of college was 1989.  And my friends and I did what everybody did that week.  We went to see Back to the Future II to find what in hell happened to Doc Brown.  The day after Turkey Day, my friends and I loaded into a buddy’s car and drove down to the Illinois Class 2A high school state championship game.  Why?  Well, our old high school was playing…and it gave us an excuse to drink a case of Milwaukee’s Best Light on our way down.  And on our way back if I remember correctly.  And, yes, it was just as awesome as it sounds.  Nothing, other than Keystone Light I suppose, says 1989 more than case of cold MBL’s.  Seriously, when Young MC’s Bust a Move was in the Top 10 and Motley Crue’s Kickstart My Heart had just debuted on the charts, how could it not be?  MBL’s and Young MC?  “This here’s a jam for all the fellas, Tryin’ to do what those ladies tell us.”

Prior to that Thanksgiving, the holiday pretty much consisted of gravy, football and putting up the Christmas tree the day after.  All of which was, of course, awesome but none of it included MBL’s.

A few years later in 1992 I was only a few weeks from graduating.  I had a buddy who was staying with us over Thanksgiving so we did what any 22 year-olds with almost no responsibilities and a lot of free time would do, we sat around all day playing Sega NHL Hockey and then went to the bar in the evening.  A few miles from my house was a bar called Sneakers.  Once we all turned 21, my friends and I spent a fair amount of time there when we were all home.  And by fair amount, I mean all the time.  All of it.  Anyway, for the first few days before Thanksgiving and after we’d exhausted ourselves playing Sega, four of us would meet at Sneakers for pitchers of Miller Lite.  But this particular Friday after Thanksgiving is what really made it my favorite holiday.  It began like the rest of week in that we’d all met at Sneakers again.  First, I figured out our waitress was a girl I went to grade school with who was two years older than me and was good friends with my older sister.  One of those cool Thanksgiving coincidences that happen when you come home.  Then, a few at a time, some of our friends from high school began to show up.

And remember this is before cellphones.  We weren’t texting each other or posting pics of ourselves announcing our location.  For whatever reason, we all just showed up.  Smaller groups.  Bigger groups.  People we hadn’t seen in awhile.  It was like Field of Dreams.  Except instead of a baseball field in a corn field, it was a bar off Rt. 14 in Crystal Lake, Illinois with cheap pitchers of Miller Lite.

hoyasjacketFor whatever reason the thing I remember the most clearly was this guy we went to high school with shows up in this really nice brand new navy blue Georgetown Hoyas Starter jacket.  Remember this was 1992 so Starter was relatively new and still pretty cool.  And the jacket had this big hood.  He was standing with his back to me and a buddy and every time he’d turn, his hood would sorta smack me in the face.  The spacing was less than optimal but this was your typical small townie bar that would get taken over by college kids during our various breaks.  Anyway, I’d finally kinda had it with the hood smacks and I said to him that he needed to either re-position himself or just move.  After all we were the first ones there and had staked out our spot and had no intention of giving it up.  I mean our waitress could come right over and hand us new pitchers without having to reach or yell over anybody.  Good spot and we were keeping it.

Turns out this guy really didn’t want to move either.  So through the night we slowly filled that big hood on his starter jacket with beer.  When he finally left the bar we were amazed he never noticed the added weight.  The jacket was water proof so it held the beer pretty well for awhile.  Still wonder if it kinda soaked him when he got in the car to leave.

And then we did the same thing on Saturday night only more of us showed up.  Because, if you drink it, they will come.  I honestly can’t remember if Georgetown Hoyas jacket guy showed up on Saturday or not.  If he did, there must not have been any hard feelings.  Or he just never really noticed his hood smelled like stale Miller Lite.

But then again, who didn’t smell like stale Miller Lite after an unplanned high school reunion at the local townie bar during Thanksgiving Break in college?




Thanksgiving Part 1

Everybody has their favorite holidays.  Most people seem to pick Christmas or Halloween.  Some of you pick Independence Day.  A few of us use to pick opening Sunday of NFL season until Roger Goodell started tinkering with the rule book and collective bargaining agreement.  While most of the progressives I know pick February 7.  That’s the birthday of the Green New Deal and introduced us to Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez’ quest to ban white guys in their late 40’s who like tailgating, hair metal and the Constitution.

I’m not really sure when Thanksgiving became my favorite holiday.  It might have happened while I was in college but I can’t be sure.  It’s like when you try and figure out when Hollywood started ruining movie franchises.  You know it’s the case but you’re just not sure when it started.

Growing up Thanksgiving was awesome but it was always overshadowed by the higher profile flashier holidays.  Its like the John Stallworth of holidays.  Steady and dependable with the occasional threat of outright awesomeness.  I mean Christmas has the presents and decorations and Rudolph, John McClane and the Wet Bandits.  Halloween has candy, pumpkins, Michael Myers and a whole month of scary movies.  The 4th of July has the cookouts, high explosives and the threat of third degree burns.

wkrpturkeydropSure, Thanksgiving has a parade of giant balloons, the Detroit Lions and the WKRP in Cincinnati Thanksgiving episode from 1978.  But it seems to me that America’s newest Thanksgiving tradition putting up your Christmas decorations before Turkey Day.  Malls have been doing this for years.  But your normal everyday homeowner, you know the the deplorable people who cling to their religion and guns, are doing it too.  And you know what?  That’s just too f’ing early.

I get it.  You love Christmas.  I love Christmas.  But I also love tacos.  And we all know what happens when you eat too many tacos.  You show up at work the next day doing your best impression of Eric Swalwell #EricShartwell.  I know you want to enjoy all your Christmas crap for as many days as possible.  But Thanksgiving is our holiday.  It’s America’s holiday.  Yes, I realize Canada has a Thanksgiving Day too.  But its on a Monday and they eat boiled meat and split pea pudding.  Its weird and hard to explain.  Like most of what Joe Biden says.

I also understand the logic of taking advantage of that nice 60 degree day in November to get all the lights up outside.  Makes sense.  And by making sense I mean it doesn’t.  Now to be clear, I think there’s sort of a sliding scale of premature decoration.  If you put up your lights before Halloween, you’re a communist.  I don’t know how else to put it.  If you put your lights up at any point after Halloween but before the weekend prior to Thanksgiving, I assume you’re also the person who parks outside the Bed, Bath & Beyond on Saturday morning waiting for it to open so you can beat the crowd.  If you wait until the Friday after Thanksgiving to get out the tree then you, I assume anyway, are a wonderful person who loves freedom, smiling, red solo cups, fire pits and bald eagles.

But that’s just me…

Things You Learn at Conferences

What is the easiest part of high school?  Seriously.  What is it?  For me it was probably developing an overabundance of unearned confidence.  But when you’re 17 and rocking the Reeboks and Levi’s jacket, its tough not to be cool.

Now I realize that high school was awesome for some people and horrible for others.  We all have our own story to tell…unless you’re Elizabeth Warren in which case you have a multitude of stories to tell depending upon which Democratic Primary voters on the intersectionality scale you hope to woo.  Weird how manufactured victimhood has become a lot like an exclusive country club in which only the most victimized are admitted.  But I’m just a simple midwestern Gen-X Dad who likes football and hair metal.  I’m sure I’m just not cultured enough to understand.  Anyway, easiest part of high school was what?

Senior year?  Good guess but my feeling is that it was more awesome than easy.  Lunch?  Maybe but then again I ate pizza every single day for 4 years.  Gym class?  Nope.  I had gym 1st hour freshman year and it sucked.  S-U-C-K-E-D…sucked!

Turning in your assignments.  That’s the easiest part.  You might be scoffing at that because you fought your way through geometry and Spanish and it was the opposite of easy.  But that’s not what I’m talking about.  I completely agree that some of those classes weren’t easy and doing the work was difficult.  But how hard is it to turn in your work after you’ve completed it?  I mean the actual act of turning it in.  Not doing the work.  The simple physical process of handing your teacher a piece of paper.  The simple process clicking on the attachment icon to place your already completed work into an email and then clicking the send button.

It is evidently harder for our sophomore to do that than it is for the NFL to figure out what in the hell constitutes pass interference.  C’mon Goodell, how in the hell do you keep getting worse at your job?  Recently, we had conferences at the high school.  Conferences consist of all the teachers sitting at tables located throughout the building in the hallways, cafeteria and library.  The parents drop by for 5 minute talks to get an update on what the hell their kids are actually doing in class.  I was initially skeptical of this process but it turns out it is really not so bad.  I mean aside from those parents who spend 20 minutes quizzing the teacher why their kid is getting an A- instead of an A.  Geez, people, just take the win…

But our kid seems to be honing a different and distinct skill.  The art of completing all your homework and other assignments on time but then just not turning them in.  It’s kinda like going 17-0 through the regular season and playoffs and losing the Super Bowl.  You gotta finish.  So when we went into the conferences last week, school had been going on for about 6 weeks.  As we moved from teacher to teacher a pattern developed.  The sophomore was doing well in all her classes.  All her teachers enjoyed having her in class.  But they were all a bit frustrated that she had so many missing assignments.  How many you ask?  She had 10 missing assignments.  Ten in six weeks.

Who in the hell does the work but doesn’t turn it in?  Who does the work but doesn’t care if they have anything to show for it?  I mean besides Adam Schiff.  I mean its not like she’s enjoying geometry.  If she’s going to do the work, she might as well get credit for it!  Nope.  Not the sophomore.

“Hey kiddo are you turning in your assignments at school?”

“Yes.  Why?”

“Because we just got back from conferences and you’re missing ten assignments.”

“Wait, what?  I’ve done all of them.  Everything.  I’m not behind in any of my classes.”

“Fair enough, but have you actually turned in the assignments?”

“What do you mean?”

“Have you transferred physical ownership of the assignments from yourself to your teachers?”

“Ah, I see where your going here.”

Turns out she really is doing just fine in all her classes but she evidently wants to keep that a secret from her teachers.  Bold strategy.  We’ll see how it works out for her…


More Thoughts On California

Here’s a few more details on our trip to the left coast.

On Wednesday, after deciding that I really didn’t need to see Once Upon A Time In Hollywood for a second time in two days – despite it’s obvious awesomeness –  I decided to head back to Erik’s Deli for lunch before driving the 10ish minutes down the highway to Santa Cruz.  Never been to Santa Cruz so I thought I’d take a look around.  As I mentioned in my previous post,  I didn’t have a lot to do while Mom was at her conference.

So here’s the thing about Erik’s Deli.  They evidently only serve one sandwich.  Oh, they have an entire menu of sandwiches.  Cold ones, warm ones.  Veggie sandwiches and various wraps.  But regardless of what you order, you get one sandwich.  Here’s the deal, Tuesday I ordered a sandwich called the Farmer’s Market.  It’s a veggie extravaganza.  It’s ingredients include 9-grain bread piled high with avocado, sunflower seeds, sliced pickles, mushrooms, grated carrots, red bell pepper, onions, tomato, clover sprouts, lettuce and Erik’s sweet hot mustard.  What I actually ate was a sandwich on 9-grain bread with avocado, turkey breast, Swiss cheese, red bell pepper, onions, tomato, clover sprouts and Erik’s sweet hot mustard.

But it was so good I didn’t complain.  Plus I don’t know the rules about complaining in California and I was afraid there was some state law about offending the sandwich artist’s sensibilities which would get me sent to Progressive Re-Education Camp.

Since I’m a staunch supporter of consistency, I went back on Wednesday.  This time I ordered a sandwich called the Sweet Liberty.  It consists of turkey breast, Swiss cheese, red bell pepper, onions, tomato, clover sprouts and Erik’s sweet hot mustard on hearty 9-grain bread.  Eerily similar to what I ate on Tuesday except it didn’t included the added Tuesday bonus of avocados.

What I ate was exactly the same sandwich I ate Tuesday.

So next time you’re in Scott’s Valley, remember, it doesn’t matter what you order at Erik’s, you’re getting turkey and avocados on everything.

With my new addiction to avocados taking hold, I drove down to Santa Cruz and sorta tooled around downtown a bit before stopping at a Patagonia Outlet and then at the local library to write a blog post and read my book about how Gen X needs to save America from millennials.  Because, well, we do.

Anyway, here’s what I noticed – downtown Santa Cruz is kinda crappy.  They clearly are in the midst of revitalizing parts of it but I’m not sure that’s gonna matter.  Why?  Homeless.  I don’t know how or why Californians put up with this.  As I was in the library at least three dudes wandered around loudly talking jibberish or some kind previously unheard language.  One dude, who wasn’t talking at all, but looked like an out of work extra from a surfer movie, sat down at the table next to me.  Put both hands flat on the table in front of him and sat there nearly motionless for the 30-40 minutes.  Wasn’t weird at all.

When I left to go pick up Mom back in Scott’s Valley – which, by the way, didn’t have any homeless people that I noticed – I had to walk out the front door and into a loosely congregated group of about 20-30 homeless people.  I was happy my car was parked in a lot off to the side so I was able to take a quick left turn and avoid the panhandling.  Don’t really have any thoughts on this other than most of these people don’t appear to be playing with a full deck.  Either they have some mental health issues and/or they’re really into amateur self-administered chemistry.

Geez, California, get your sh*t together.

I grabbed Mom and we headed over to Capitola, which after experiencing downtown Santa Cruz, is evidently the nice half of the town.  We ate dinner and walked around a little before heading to Monterey down Highway 1 to check into our hotel.

The hotel Mom booked?  Well, if you wanted to travel back in time to 1981 it was perfect.  Had it’s own wood burning fireplace, stocked with firewood and newspaper folded into a decorative fan shape and to top it off, we had a complimentary hot air popcorn popper.  Also they leave the door not only unlocked for you when you arrive, they leave it wide freaking open.  Which is pretty awesome for a unit located on the ground floor.  Plus, as a bonus, the windows didn’t lock.  So we unloaded the car and spent the next hour and a-half looking for another hotel.  We reloaded the car and politely checked out.  Ended up with a room a the Holiday Inn Express for nearly the same price and helluva lot closer to all the stuff we wanted to see.  In fact, it was within walking distance of the whale watching cruise we were schedule to do Thursday morning.

After leaving the Burglary Motel, we thought whale watching was going to be pretty fun.

montereywhalesWe showed up on time and the crew gave us the mandatory pre-cruise talk before departing for the 4 hour trip.  The boat’s crew included a couple naturalists and a marine biologist.  Pretty handy in case we see some marine wildlife.  Their talk included some key points of information.  First, most people will get a least a little seasick.  Second, some of those people will throw up.  Third, if you haven’t taken any seasickness medicine, take some.  Fourth, people are going to launch off the back of the boat.  And finally, when you are blowing chow don’t do it from the upper deck or the side of the boat.  Nobody wants to wear whatever you happened to eat for breakfast.  So do it from the back of the boat.

Turns out if you go to school to be a naturalist or a marine biologist and you work on a whale watching boat, part of your daily duties is to clean up barf.  Money well spent on that degree I guess.

So when you go whale watching off the coast of California, you’re on the open ocean.  The ocean is big.  The swells were big enough that when the boat was the bottom of the swell, the water at the top of swell was physically higher than us.  That was, um, disconcerting.  Especially the time the whale was at the top of the swell.  I took a pretty firm position near the back of the boat put my full faith in the anti-seasickness medicine.  I asked one of the naturalists how people normally shoot for distance off the back of the boat.  She said at least 2-3 every trip.  We evidently got lucky because I counted at least 7.

We drove down to Carmel to top off the trip before flying home on Friday.  Carmel is beautiful.  I’m not exaggerating.  It is literally beautiful.  Also expensive.  1,500 square foot houses going for $1.5 million too.  But you get these views.

So after much thought, I’ve decided to just look at these pics instead of dropping the $1.5 mil.  But that’s just me…

I Decided to Tag Along…

I haven’t been to California since 1988.  In fact, I’ve only been in the state a couple times.  Stayed a few days in San Francisco back in April of ’86 and then stayed a few days in Los Angeles for a few days in the summer of ’88.  Not only was that a really long time ago (California actually had a Republican governor during those years) but all I really saw were various portions of each city.  And if I remember correctly…they looked like, well, cities.

But, as luck would have it, Mom has a conference in the little town of Scott’s Valley this week.  We flew into San Jose and stayed downtown for a day.  Then drove down to the conference.  The town has about 12,000 people and sits just north of Santa Cruz.  So far what I’ve been able to tell is that it seems like a lot of towns about that size.  Except there seems to be a lot more people with gray hair who have pony tails.  But the town has a couple grocery stores, a small movie theater and some nice local restaurants.  Got a good sandwich at Erik’s Deli and went to see Once Upon A Time In Hollywood yesterday.  That’s a great movie by the way.  If you didn’t know, there is no CGI in the movie.  None.  Which is just incredible.  And awesome.  Also, in case you didn’t know, Brad Pitt’s character – Cliff Booth – is the coolest man on the planet.  If you care to disagree, well, I’m not sure we can be friends.  I’m serious.  If you hadn’t heard, the morally superior lefty finger waggers hate him.  It’s one of the reasons Cliff Booth is so cool.  Not kidding.  Caitlin Flanagan wrote in The Atlantic last month that Cliff shouldn’t be portrayed as a hero.  Why?  Because he’s a dude.  He’s cool, he’s tough, he drinks beer, he’s doesn’t really give a crap about much, he has a cool dog, he lives in a trailer and is pretty much a badass.  Or as Flanagan writes, “We can’t have a movie like this.  It affirms things the culture wants killed.”  Hmm.  Guess not lady.

I liked it so much I almost went back to see it again today.  But yesterday was Terrific Tuesday at the Cinelux in Scott’s Valley.  So I got a $5 ticket and free popcorn.  And once you experience Terrific Tuesday live and in person, it’s tough to go back to old ways…

roadtoscottsvalleyAnyway, tonight we drive down to Monterey and stay there for a day or so.  Which should be fun.  But here’s the thing I’ve noticed more than anything about California.  California, at least what I’ve seen of it, is beautiful.  I mean it is really, really pretty.  Weather is great too.  But man, there’s a freaking warning label on everything.  Our rental car has a warning label.  It’s says “Look out dumbass, your car might be a Transformer!”  No, kidding, it doesn’t say that.  It would be cool if it did though.  The label warns us that motor vehicles contain chemicals that cause cancer and birth defects.  These chemicals are contained in the fuel, oil, brakes, batteries, paint and the engine exhaust and fumes.  Yet, despite the warning that Californians all voted through Prop 65 to have stuck on all rental cars.  People are still renting cars. Buying them too.  But I guess that might be because there is not a warning label.  Way to go California.  Nothing like do as I say, not as I do.  But you did give us Kamala Harris so I guess that’s not something we should be surprised about.

Crazy Nights and Hamburgers

So I went to see Kiss on Tuesday night.  It is, afterall, the Final Tour Ever.  First thing is Paul Stanley still sings everything.  No backup singers.  When I saw Motley Crue in 2012, Vince Neal barely sang anything.  He had two backup singers and I’m pretty damn sure those two ladies carried him through that entire concert.  Paul singing all the songs was almost as impressive as him wearing a vest throughout the show without a shirt underneath.  A 67 year-old dude in all his hairy chested glory.  Go Paul!


Second, Crazy Nights is a great song.  Never really realized it before but it kinda has the same message as We’re Not Gonna Take It.  And nobody likes a good solid rock song that gives the middle finger to the elite know-it-alls more than me.  The music snobs like to rip hair metal for its lack of sophistication, its lack of social messaging and its embrace of over the top cheesiness.  Well, screw you.  Go listen to Green Day and hang out with Pete Buttigieg and scold us for being part of the problem because we like to eat hamburgers.  And by the way, what the hell is the deal with the left and it’s war on tailgating?  AOC wants to ban cows, Mayor Pete says if you eat hamburgers you’re part of the problem.  Cows/hamburgers are the backbone of the American Tailgating Experience.  But again, I’m just a simple 49 year-old Midwestern Dad who likes football, hamburgers and hair metal.  If that means I’m part of the problem, well, like Paul sings in Crazy Nights – “And they try to tell us that we don’t belong, But that’s alright, we’re millions strong, You are my people, you are my crowd, this is our music, we love it loud.”

Third, you don’t see it much anymore but Kiss is just 3 guitars and drums.  And explosions.  And flamethrowers.  And Gene spitting blood.  And Paul suspended from a rope flying over the crowd.  It was pretty cool.

Last, nobody knows how to finish a show like Kiss.  Last song was I Wanna Rock And Roll All Night.  Complete with beach balls falling from the arena ceiling and about 15 confetti cannons going off during the song.  Add in the whole arena screaming at high volume and you have a recipe for pandemonium.  It was eerily reminiscent of my senior prom when one guy, a huge Kiss fan, got up on a table in white tux with tails and used his white cane as a microphone and belted out I Wanna Rock And Roll All Night when the DJ played it.  And that was also awesome.

I’m patiently waiting for the next hair metal band to stop in Des Moines.  Because I’m gonna be there.  And I’m gonna have a cheeseburger.  And a crappy non-craft beer.  And its gonna be freaking awesome.

Who’s Excited for Summer?

wildthingSummer needs to get here.  Fast.  Not because of my impatience for Season 3 of Stranger Things but because it is entirely possible that our 15 and 17 year-olds aren’t going to make it.  Seriously, they just might not get there.  Not because school and activities are grinding them down, moreso because there are times I feel like Mitch Williams coming outta the ‘pen for the ’89 Cubs.  I’m volatile and unpredicatible with my parenting decisions.  And if you’re not paying attention, you might get a 99 mph fastball high and tight.

I mean, okay, maybe I’m overreacting.  Maybe its true that they’re worn out from 9 months of school.  Maybe all the studying for finals has them really stressed out.  Maybe those two things combined with track and softball is just overwhelming them.  Or, maybe, its just a whole helluva lot of whining and laziness.  And those two things mingling are really just the girls inviting me to punch them in the face.  Verbally of course.  I don’t want to give any of you online parenting stormtroopers the wrong idea…

Listen, I get that it becomes harder once the weather gets warm, the grass gets green and the grills get smokier.  A cold Miller Lite, a home grilled burger and Poison playing in the background makes me happy too.  School ends on May 31st and it remains unclear how the 15 year-old is going to make it.  Seriously, she’s checked out.  Like she might be more checked out from school than Jerry Nadler is from reality.  Okay, that’s not fair.  Nadler is living in a carefully constructed alternative universe in which he’s taken seriously.  The 15 year-old is only in the process of checking out of a universe in which she knows we don’t take her seriously.  She combats her ineptitude in getting us to take her pretend exhaustion seriously by being whiny and lazy.  As each day goes by, she’s checks out a little more.  Which, if you think about it, is f’ing crazy.  She’s 15.  She’s a freshman in high school.  What the hell is so hard about the life of a high school freshman?  Mortgage payments?  Paying cellphone and car insurance bills for 5 freaking people?  Being stuck in an age demographic that somehow thinks socialism doesn’t always end in theft, murder and poverty?  Okay, that last one does suck but it shouldn’t affect her energy levels.

Anyway, here’s an example.  She has to be in her desk in her first class at 8:20 a.m.  This has been the case since August and isn’t a real high bar to clear.  It’s like if you were a new member of congress and you proposed a giant socialist manifesto proclaiming your greener-than-thou moral superiority and the only bar you had to clear was to not back up the manifesto with arguments about banning cow farts.  Anyway, you’d think after about 9 months of school, the 15 year-old would be used to this.  Shouldn’t her internal clock have moved into autopilot and the whole getting up and having all your stuff ready to go be second nature?  Well, of course not you stupid moron!  Expecting a 15 year-old to show some semblance of consistency when the weather is warm would be stupid.  High level stupidness.  I mean you’d have to be a complete imbecile to somehow come to the conclusion that by the end of freaking May, your 15 year-old daughter would be able to get out of bed, walk the 12 feet to the bathroom, get ready for school, have her track and/or softball stuff ready for practice/meet/game and – and this is key – drive herself to school in a timely manner.  Yeah, she gets to drive to school even though she’s only 15.  School license.  She doesn’t even have to make it to a freaking bus stop.  She has to walk into the garage and succesfully back the car out of the driveway and make, totally serious here, 4 total turns to get to school.

But as I mentioned earlier, that would make you stupid.  Because here’s the thing, at some point in May, the autopilot begins to malfunction.  This is due to something called “Idon’tgiveacrapitis” and we’ve all been afflicted with this ailment.  In high school, in college, as a parent and at your job.  I understand it, you understand it.  And, truth be told, I like to fully and vigorously embrace it at times.  But, here’s where parenting is bullshit, the 15 year-old doesn’t get to do it.  When she’s a senior?  Sure, I’ll probably let it slide a bit.  But not now.  Her life is not hard.  Somehow we’ve allowed her to become soft.  She’s like the media’s questions for Obama after he weaponized the IRS to go after any organization who dared oppose his reign.

Regardless, I need summer to get here so the arguments can be limited to which of the three girls gets a car for the day.  Because the constant vigilance necessary to make sure they study, turn in their assignments, take advantage of any and all retakes/extra credit while also ensuring they are on time and have all the correct track and softball is bullshit.  Now, I know some of you are acting all bad ass and saying, “Yeah, whatever man, if they didn’t have the right gear – TOUGH!”  Yeah, okay, but you know you’re getting a call from the 15 year-old about an hour or so before her first softball game saying, “MOM, I forgot my uniform pants!  Can you bring them to the field?!!!”

Seriously, that just happened.  She forgot her pants.  I wonder if Jerry Nadler forgets his pants when he freaks out about his meaningless subpoenas?




Ah, Spring…

So its spring.  The wonderful time of year when your allegies cause your brain to swell and your teenage daughter obessess over prom.  We’ve already been through three proms with the oldest.  So another prom didn’t seem like a big deal.  And, turns out, it really wasn’t.  The best part, for me anyway, was writing this.  Why?  Because nobody rolled their eyes at me while I meandered my way through my memories of April of ’87.  And, listen, I have three daughters.  I can identify an eye roll when I see one.  It is one of those skills that Dads of daughters involuntary master.  Like the selective hearing it takes to enjoy a game broadcast by Dan Dakich.  Or Jim Acosta and his unflappable ability to have zero self-awareness.

But back to prom and 1987.  Top Gun just came out on VHS.  George Michael and Aretha Franklin were singing I Knew You Were Waiting For Me.  And my friends and I somehow finagled a hotel room at a local hotel in which about 20 of us partied the night after prom.  I didn’t bring that up with the kids.  But I did bring up that Prom ’87 was the first time I heard Whitesnake’s Here I Go Again.  Because that’s a key moment for anyone who was in high school in the late 80’s.

The middle daughter, who happens to be on the edge of seventeen, had this whole thing planned out.  I’m not kidding.  She could teach a class on logistics and transportation.  They had a fairly decent sized group all going together.  The girls met at our house early to get ready.  She staggered the times a bit to make sure everyone had a sink and mirror in front of which to prepare.  To no one’s shock or amazement, I’m still perplexed at not only how long it takes teenage girls to get ready for prom, but also how much attention to detail they have during the getting ready process.  I’m a dude so the entire process of getting ready for prom for entailed taking a shower, putting on a rented tux and wearing these:

blue wayfarers

But with girls it is a process.  A process honed by hours and hours of practice.  It also include lots of discussion about various methods and different techniques of getting ready.  I assume it is the teenage girl version of an off-season meeting of defensive coordinators discussing the best ways to defend Tom Brady.

Regardless, I was happy to be uninvolved with all of it.  Similar to how I approach math homework.  Not a lot I can contribute, so I leave it up to Mom and provide a wide area in which she can operate.

Transporation from our house to the picture location was seemless too.  Again, mostly due to the tireless attention to detail provided by the 16 year-old and her fondness for planning.  Yeah, so instead of taking pics at the house, which is what I did back in the spring of ’87, they all pick out a picturesque locale in which to take the pics.  They picked a business close to the house that had a pond, decorative flower pots and fountain.  The picture taking process was made easier and far more enjoyable by the beers I drank prior.

The 16 year-old got pics with her boyfriend.  With each of her friends.  With most their dates.  Plus varying group pics, with assorted poses and looks – some planned, some unplanned.  When that was finally completed they ALL came back to our house to kill some time before they headed to dinner and the actual prom.  This was one of the few things that was not mapped out ahead of time by the 16 year-old.  So she volunteered our house as a spot where they could reorganize and, I assume anyway, be uncomfortable in their formal wear.  We left out a 30 pack of bottled water and some pop for them.  They were clearly and sternly informed that was all they were to drink. I also informed them of exactly how many cans of beer were in my basement fridge.  If any were missing, the only thing more obvious than the fact it was them who drank it is that Alexa is not only spying on you if she’s in your house but that she’s also the precursor to Skynet becoming self-aware.

So I’m not sure how they do it at your kids’ high school, but at ours there is generally a house where the group sleeps over.  Yeah boys and the girls.  I was as shocked as anyone to find this out three years ago.  Somebody’s parents host, and by host I mean they are tricked into having everybody stay overnight.  You generally provide some snacks and drinks for the promgoers and some semblance of a breakfast.  Your breakfast effort is largerly based on – 1) your devotion to breakfast, and 2) your skills at preparing breakfast.

A couple years ago we hosted the group after the Homecoming Dance.  We bought them some donuts and called it good.  The family that hosted the group after prom this year made them an actual breakfast.  Pancakes, eggs, etc.  Yeah, that’s just f’ing crazy.  I thought we were generous with the 2 dozen donuts.  They were Krispy Kremes.  The 16 year-old got home and if you were judging what the best part of prom based on what she talked about the most, it was the breakfast.

Teenagers can be easy to please…


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…