We Made it

It’s over.  We made it.  And not unlike the ’80 Steelers, there will be a few last gasps which sow doubt on its demise, but winter has lost.  The light has returned.  It’s like the night, on the forest moon of Endor, when  the second Death Star was destroyed.  We made it to March.  Regardless of what calendar traditionalists will have you believe, March 1 is the first day of spring.  It doesn’t matter what winter does from here because the only thing that will happen is winter losing.

March 1, along with the opening Sunday of the NFL season, the last day of school and whatever day you win the Powerball, is the happiest day of the year.  March Madness , with the conference basketball tournaments and the Big Dance, is imminent.  Which means its the only time of year when you can watch basketball at the office and have it be totally within the bounds of all in-house policies inside your workplace.  Plus, we’ll get a 70 degree day in there in the next few weeks that lands on a Friday and literally everybody goes to the bar.  It’s almost magical.  But if we’re really, really lucky, it’ll get unseasonably warm for an extended period of time and we’ll get to mow our lawns!  Just once in my entire life have I been blessed with the opportunity to mow my lawn in the month of March.  Just once.  2010.  And it was glorious!

Quick update on my playlist time machine – I was briefly stuck in the spring of ’90 this morning.  Heard these three:

Dangerous by Roxette.  Aside from Marie Fredricksson’s killer hair in the video, this is just a really catchy song.  It is exactly the kind of stuff the morons who dig the depressing dark brooding of grunge hate.  Which, of course, makes it more appealing to me.  I watched the video like 6 times this morning.  Felt more like spring every time.

Bust a Move by Young MC.  Go get a pen and start making a list of the songs you know the words to but can’t really figure out how.  This song is on that list every time.  “She’s dressed in yellow, she says Hello, come sit next to me you fine fellow.  You run over there without a second to lose, And what comes next hey bust a move.”  Sure you can make a case that Ice Ice Baby or maybe Just a Friend by Biz Markie are on that list too but Bust a Move is on everybody’s list.  I mean, c’mon man, I’m singing those lyrics right now.

Coming of Age by Damn Yankees.  Truth be told this wasn’t the song that was going to pop up next this morning.  But its one of my favorite songs of all time so I made an editorial decision to leapfrog O.P.P.  Tommy Shaw, Jack Blades and Uncle Ted.  Tough to get cooler than that.  But the best thing about this song is that it just punches you in the face with guitar and drums and hair and denim and a really big American eagle statue in the video.  Yeah, it’s that awesome.

 

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I got stuck in 1986…

Most people, I assume anyways, develop playlists for various activities in which they engage.  Driving, running the treadmill, folding laundry, etc.  I don’t do that.  I tend to watch DVR’d episodes of The Goldberg’s when I fold laundry.  Regardless, I’m not really sure why but I just don’t make playlists.  It isn’t really a conscious decision either because if I chose to do so, I’d have playlists for all kinds of stupid crap.  Like I’m pretty sure I’d have one for driving home from work on Fridays that would feature Loverboy with Working for the Weekend, Prince with Let’s Go Crazy and Shot of Poison from Lita Ford.  And, if I’m being honest, I’d also have Firewoman from The Cult in there because that song is f’ing badass.

But I don’t have a Friday afternoon drive home playlist.  Instead, out of what is most likely laziness and indifference, I do it old school.  I’ll listen to the radio…or…brace yourselves…I just play the CDs that are stacked up in the CD player in my truck.  So it’s a playlist but just how we did it in 1992.

Anyway, I usually take a portable electronic device down to the basement in the morning when I work out.  I’ll go to youtube and let it play whatever video pops up.  Today, I got stuck in 1986.  Not literally of course.  I don’t have a DeLorean, I didn’t notice the northern lights combining with my HAM radio and I don’t have access to a Hot Tub Time Machine.  But ’86 wasn’t a bad year.  Reagan was still president.  Magnum was still on TV.  And the giant tech companies like Google, Facebook and Amazon didn’t spy on everyone through advanced computer algorithms which manipulate what we expose ourselves to online.  It was a simpler time.  Plus, 1986 was a good year for music.  Here’s what youtube gave me:

Kyrie.  I don’t care what you guys say.  This song is awesome.  Favorite line – “When I was young I thought of growing old, of what my life would mean to me.”  If there’s a song out there that is more winter of ’86, I’d like to know about it.  Sure you could throw out Life in a Northern Town or Take Me Home or even These Dreams…which is really emblematic of how awesome Heart’s self titled album was during my sophomore year of high school.  But Kyrie is just a really cool mid-80’s rock song/video…that features lead singer Richard Pope wearing a badass coat.

Take It Easy.  Yes, it was featured in a classic example of mid-80’s cheese in the movie American Anthem…which by the way featured a supremely hot Janet Jones before she married Wayne Gretzky.  But two things here: 1) The amount of faded, shredded up denim in the video makes me smile,  2) It features what would have been my senior quote in the yearbook…had my school actually put quotes in our yearbook – “Don’t give me reasons, and I won’t ask for nothing.”

Let’s Go All The Way.  If you are putting together a list of one-hit wonders from the 80’s you gotta include this song.  Plus Michael Camacho’s power mullet may only have been challenged by mullet enthusiast Mel Gibson’s stunning hair in Lethal Weapon.  For an 80’s top 10 hit, this song was preachy politically…but nobody cared because this damn song is too freaking catchy to upset anybody.

Perfect Way.  So nobody really remembers or cares about Scritti Politti but this was a fairly decent pop hit.  According to Wikipedia, these guys started as a “Marxist, DIY post-punk band.”  But like most Marxists in the 80’s, Reagan either crushed under red, white and blue American badassery or converted them into full-throated capitalists trying to make as much money as possible before their window of coolness closed for good.  Kinda like Rachel Maddow right now.

Take Me Home Tonight.  Eddie Freaking Money.  Granted, this isn’t his best song, but you have to admit it is damn close.  She Takes My Breath Away and Gimme Some Water are better and I have a soft spot for Walk on Water.  Don’t have a good explanation for that it just is what it is.  But when it comes to standing around your kitchen late Friday night hanging with your fellow Gen Xers whaling on the air guitar, you could do worse than belting out the lyrics to Take Me Home Tonight while disposing of a few Miller Lites.

Invisible Touch.  Okay, so Genesis is awesome.  Seriously.  These guys are freaking awesome.  I’d go see 1986 Genesis right now…as long as Phil Collins did some of his solo stuff.  Full disclosure – my favorite song on the Invisible Touch CD is Throwing It All Away but who isn’t happy after listening to Invisible Touch?  Who?  No one that’s who.  Because it is impossible not to smile while singing along.  You know why?  Because Phil Collins was cool.  He looked like your chemistry teacher but he could play drums and got to co-star in an episode of Miami Vice.  80’s baby!

And then outta nowhere…Yankee Rose.  This song really doesn’t get the respect it deserves.  It freaking rocks.  It’s literally about the Statue of Liberty.  Freedom.  America.  David Lee Roth.  What is there not to like?  Big giant guitar solo?  It’s in there.  Big giant drums?  Done.  Big giant screaming lyrics.  Boom.

Man, if I could get my hands on a Hot Tub…

Have You Guys Heard About This?

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

jtpantsFriends is unacceptable.

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

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

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

WTF?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Just a couple things…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Surprises

I don’t like surprises.  It’s against my nature.

So I walk into the gas station down the street from our new house to get my 44 oz. Diet Pepsi which I get nearly every morning on the way to work.  If you’re a pop nazi and feel a burning need to start lecturing me about all the horribly destructive stuff pop does to my teeth and esophagus, well, suck it.  I’m drinking it.  If Hillary is elected she’ll outlaw it anyway.  My beloved 44 ouncer costs $1.06.  I go in with exact change every morning.  What?  I have too much change in my truck and I’m trying to get rid of it.  Seriously.  I bet my gas mileage improves with every 44 ouncer I buy.  Not to mention the fact that I like to pay with cash (or coins when applicable).  Why?  Because it’s nobody’s business what, when or how often I buy stuff.  Corporate America and the government ain’t tracking my consumer purchases!

Anyway, the pop costs $1.06.  Until today.  I reach over to hand the guy behind the counter my $1.06 and he  says “$1.58.”

Upon recognition of my look of both dismay and resigned realization of the inevitability of a cost increase, he – not surprisingly – says, “Price went up today.”

No sh*t.

I give him a $1.60, which isn’t exact change, and I leave.  I mean, they got me.  I’m going to this gas station to get pop.  I’m not changing my morning routine.  I like routines.  They eliminate decisions.  And right now, at work, I’m making decisions all freaking day.  So in the morning I don’t want to have to add unneeded and unnecessary decisions to an already decisiony  day.  So the question is, “who decided that 52 cent increase was justified for my 44 oz pop?”

I’m blaming Obamacare.  It has raised the cost of everything.  And Hillary.  Any day now there will be an email released detailing her role in the price increase.  Probably Kurt Cobain and all those assholes in Seattle who killed hair metal had something to do with it too.  The idiot who brought Emerald Ash Borer to the Midwest and killed all the ash trees is guilty too.  And while I’m at it…George Atkinson for prematurely ending Lynn Swann’s career due to concussions.  The mid-90’s for the general suckitude of the music.  Francisco Cabrera.  Smartphones.  The creators of MTV’s The Real World for coming up the genre of reality TV.  Millennials.  Big 10 commissioner Jim Delaney.  And whoever is responsible for the death of Saturday morning cartoons.

Done.

Some Things Don’t Change

Seven weeks in the new house. I know everybody tells you moving is a huge hassle, and the truth is…its worse. Unless, of course, you’re old neighbors were Keith Olbermann, Bill Belichick and Elizabeth Warren. Then moving is glorious. But outside of that, moving just sucks. Not along the lines of working in a coal mine in the early 1900’s, watching golf or being a Bengals fan but still pretty crappy. I’m still somewhat, but not totally, amazed that we actually pulled it off.

The main reason we moved was sheer square footage. In the new house, each girl has her own room and now they have two bathrooms to fight over instead of one. But, and this is key, there are three sinks. In case you’re having trouble with the math, that means each kid can be in front of a sink at the SAME FREAKING TIME. Literally, not figuratively, life changing. The garage is bigger so now we don’t have to play musical chairs with the cars every morning to get out of the garage/driveway and lastly, the basement is now big enough that the girls can invite more than one friend over at a time.

But some things simply don’t change.

Millenials suck. Skynet will eventually become self-aware. And the girls still steal each other’s clothes and shoes and deny it happened.

They’re like Soviet diplomats in the 80’s. Did you take Rye’s shirt and wear it to school? I’m sorry, I’m not sure I understand the question. But if I did accurately understand it, I have no knowledge of any shirt, let alone the shirt in question. Furthermore you have provided nothing that demonstrates my involvement and I am forced to conclude that this is yet another attempt by a corrupt and greedy western system to undermine the proletariat.

Also, they refuse to put their shoes in their rooms. Refuse! Now, see if you can follow me here – they get ticked off at each other when one of them absconds with a pair of shoes that is not their own. They complain – loudly – and insist on the involvement of Mom and I to officiate the annoyance and then keep score regarding the number of times their shoes have been pilfered. Keeping their own shoes in their own rooms provides a degree of security that the small area in front of the door to garage does not. Yet that is where the shoes end up.  It’s as if their wi-fi connectivity depends on their shoes not being in their rooms. Their actions can only be construed as an outright repudiation of the principals of The Drop Zone. As I’ve previously mentioned, our new house has this sweet drop zone as you walk in from the garage. It has three hooks, a bench and plenty of space beneath the bench to TEMPORARILY locate 4 pairs of shoes. Maybe 5 if they’re small. Plus right next to the drop zone, and I mean literally right next to it, is a coat closet. So shoes, jackets, backpacks all have a place in which they can be put. None of those places can, in any reasonable way, be misinterpreted as piling them on top of each other in such a manner than they resemble the county dump. I have to use the door to the garage as a snow plow to push the shoes out of my way when I get home. Bails has more shoes in the drop zone than she does in her closet. Not kidding. I asked her why all her shoes on in the drop zone instead of in her closet. Her answer?

“How am I supposed to know what shoes I’m going to want to wear everyday? It’s easier if they’re all just downstairs.”

So, in case you’re not following along, her convenience is the primary directive on which we’re operating.

I think Missing Persons pretty much nailed my conclusions in their 1982 new wave hit Words.

“Do you hear me, Do you care…I might as well go up and talk to a wall ’cause all the words are having no effect at all…What are words for when no one listens it’s no use talkin at all…My lips are moving and the sound’s coming out, The words are audible but I have my doubts.”

You know I’m saying…

Independence Day Ramblings

When it comes to discussions and debates about the awesomeness of summer, it is difficult to overstate the significance of the Fourth of July. It is to summer days what Mean Joe Greene was to the Super Steelers of the 70’s. Its what Joe Elliot was to shredded jeans my senior year of high school. What Dr. Venkman was to the Ghostbusters.

Many of you have your own traditions. As do I. They mostly involve Miller Lite, sparklers and an incoherent rant about the systematic and relentless creep of federal intrusion into the lives of everyday Americans who just want to be left the hell alone. Sometimes I’ll veer off and get lost in my disgust for FDR’s economic advisors and Woodrow Wilson’s passage of the income tax. But, just as easily, I’ll be diverted into a discussion about the cars I’d buy if I hit the lottery. What? Like you don’t have your own top 3…in no particular order, Bandit’s ’77 black Trans-Am from Smokey and the Bandit, Blake Shelton’s truck in the Boys ‘Round Here video and then the black Lamborghini in Cannonball Run. Pretty sure if you were a teenage boy in the 80’s, you had a poster of a Lambo on your wall.

Anyway, as with most holidays, I enjoy them. You have traditional favorites like Thanksgiving, Christmas and Independence Day. Some of you will have Halloween in there. Others will list Valentine’s Day thereby admitting their susceptibility to corporate America’s marketing schemes. Then you may have your own personal partialities. For example I’m looking forward to Opening Sunday of the NFL Season, Season Premiere For The Walking Dead (Oct. 11 btw) and whatever day it is that Rock Bottom starts selling Pumpkin Ale. And then there’s Every Single Friday Afternoon. Is there a time of the week Americans look forward to more than that period of time right after you leave work on Friday? Because, just like Loverboy said back in 1983, everybody really is working for the weekend. And everybody really does just want to get it right, get it right…

The girls have made this year’s Independence Day celebration a sort of homage to Lewis and Clark. They’ve spent the last couple of days sleeping on the neighbor’s trampoline with friends. They said its comfortable. I don’t believe them. But they have everything America’s westward explorers had – blankets, gunpowder, oiled cloth, snacks, i-Pods, etc. All without the threat of grizzly bears. Although Bails insists she saw a bobcat in our backyard at one point…

Something about 1987 and remembering things

Have you ever really gone through the list of top 40 songs from 1987? Not that you’d ever really have reason to do that but you know, hypothetically speaking. Kind of like going back through every weekend of the 1977 NFL season and seeing which days you actually remember based on the games played that day. Weird how many of those days I have distinct memories of.

Anyway, if you’re like me and the fall of ’87 happened to be the fall of your senior year in high school, you remember that particular autumn fondly. Except for the NFL strike, the replacement players and the Steelers mired in year 3 of a 4 year stretch of suck. That all sucked. And you know what else sucked? The songs. Not kidding. It’s embarrassing. Not as embarrassing as my 9th grader defending some of the stuff in the top 40 now, but embarrassing nonetheless.

Catch Me (I’m Falling) from Pretty Poison? How did we let this happen Gen X? What in the hell is that song? Answer? It’s the genetic seed of the suckitude which now fills the top 40. But you know what sucks worse than that song? When I hear it, I can feel the tension in my brain between my natural affinity for nostalgia and that horrible burning sensation in my esophagus that stomach acid leaves when vomit starts to creep up. I mean the same fall that we embrace Animal from Def Leppard and Is this Love from Whitesnake, we let Pretty Poison onto the chart? Expose was in there twice! I’m ashamed. And you should be ashamed too Class of ’88. But this is why you have to go back and look at history. Things aren’t always the way you remember them.

For example, I remember Stroh’s Light not tasting all that bad. I don’t remember at all being upset that turtle necks were so popular. I remember seeing the premiere of thirtysomething and thinking, “that must suck.” More recently, I remember saying, “Man, I’m never being one of those Dads whose life consists of carting kids from thing to the next.” Turns out there are some things that inevitably happen. Troy Polamalu is getting slower. My propensity for making fun of millennials is getting higher. And if you were in high school in the fall of ’87, you will remember the words to Belinda Carlise’s Heaven is a Place on Earth. Whether you want to or not. Weird but true. You also are pretty damn sure Running Man is good movie.

Anyway, last a couple Wednesdays ago I wake up early to take Mom to the airport. She’s going to Houston. Quick check with my brain reveals that a major city in Texas is infested with Ebola…or so says the mainstream media. I remember that city is Dallas. Crisis averted and I get Mom to the airport at 5 a.m. Drive back home, read the sports section of the paper for 20 minutes, run upstairs to make sure Kinz is out of bed, then take Rye to dance team practice at her school at 6:00 a.m. Come back home, complete daily morning workout, wake up Bails, shower, dress and…wait why is Kinz still home? Her bus is probably already at the…

“Did you miss the bus?”

“Yes.”

“Awesome. How much time until you have to be at school?”

“About 20 minutes.”

“Excellent.”

Then I hear Bails, “Dad remember we have to go over my Age of Exploration stuff before I go to school because my test is today.”

Right. It’s tough to keep Coronado, Ponce De Leon and Hernando De Soto straight.

I shower, shave and brush my teeth, get dressed, get Kinz to school on time and then head back home to help Bails study. It goes well enough that I’m optimistic she’ll do well.

So to recap, I have transported 3 of 4 other people who live in my house to their various activities and helped the other one identify at least 15 different explorers of the New World. All before 8 a.m.

Get home from work and my folks are in town. They are on their way from Florida to Colorado to Texas to Florida. So they stopped for a day. It was cool. But there is an issue. Kinz is laying on the couch saying she feels sick. Which later proved to be accurate when she walked into the family room holding a garbage can full of barf. And garbage. Awesome that should be easy to clean up.

But remember Ebola is spreading. So I do a Level 1 Surface Scrub Down Containment Protocol, dispose of the vomit, and get on with my evening.

Thursday I wake up, work out, call the school to the tell them Kinz won’t be there due to the whole vomit/garbage can state of affairs. Get ready to take Bails to school early because Thursday morning is orchestra day. We make it. On time. That’s a win. Make it through my day unscathed until I walk out of work look under the back of my truck and realize that I have an issue. Throughout the week it appeared that something was leaking from under my back axle. Some kind of fluid. But now this leak seems to have become worse because there is a puddle under my truck. I get home and ask my neighbor to check it out. He jacks up the truck, crawls under and says, “here’s your problem” while he points to a drain seal that had been clearly loosened and left that way. Turns out the dudes at Jiffy Lube forgot to tighten that bad boy up when they were checking fluid levels. I call them up and say, “hey I’ve been driving around all week since you guys changed the oil and checked the fluid last Saturday morning and now I have a puddle of fluid under my truck that has a red tint.”

“Please bring your truck in right now. That’s transmission fluid.”

If a car place tells you that AFTER they’ve just performed their signature service on it, isn’t the natural reaction panic followed by a perplexed but justifiably boisterous “WTF?”

Plus I need my truck. I have to get Bails to her softball scrimmage in about 20 minutes and then I need to pick up Rye from dance and transport her from dance to the freshman football game and then I need to go the aforementioned scrimmage to watch Bails. Oh and then I need to take Bails home after the scrimmage and then go pick up Rye from the football game.

And then I need to pick up Mom at the airport at 11:30 p.m. Thankfully, I have a cool neighbor. He’s also the owner/operator of the DT. I may have mentioned that previously. Anyway, my neighbor takes Bails to her scrimmage and I take the truck to Jiffy Lube. They fix their mistake and I head to pick up Rye from dance. I’m driving down the on-ramp thinking how sweet it is that I got this potentially expensive transmission problem fixed for nothing more than a little bit of inconvenience. Right up until I noticed my hood wasn’t latched properly. If there is something that you do not expect to be moving while driving down a highway on-ramp, it is your hood. Driving with an unlatched hood is a bit unsettling. Like seeing Joe Biden anywhere near the Oval Office. But the hood has a safety latch so all it was doing was bouncing around a bit until I was able to get out and close it properly once I arrived at dance. Rest of the evening was pretty normal.

Right up until I started checking Mom’s flight status. Here’s the summary. Original flight lands at 11:30. They get to airport in Houston and realize they can hop on a flight that lands at 10:30. So they switch. Once on the plane, the pilot lets them know that door sensor says they have a door that will not close. I assume that the same guys who failed to properly execute the hood closing procedures on my truck do not have cousins working at the Houston airport, so I assume that this is just a glitch. Turns out it is. But it was a glitch that lasted an hour. So her new flight ends up landing at almost exactly the same time as her original flight. Except they got to deal with the aggravation of the door sensor. So bonus I guess. Also, since she switched flights at the airport, they had her check her bag. Which took an extra 30 minutes to make it to baggage claim area. So we didn’t get home till almost 12:30. Back in college getting home at 12:30 in the morning after going out on Thursday night just meant you were the first one home. Now it means I’m going to be worthless at work for the few hours of the day Friday morning. But it’s Friday morning. Which, and I’m just spitballin’ here, but isn’t it kind of an understood thing that we’re all worthless for a few hours on Friday morning? Like ESPN destroying college football rivalries and traditions. Or Green Day sucking. Or being able to stop whatever you’re doing when Shooter is on and not get yelled at.

Anyway, take heed, for it is inevitable. You will turn into that Dad who carts his kids around everywhere. And it happens whether you can remember lyrics from 1987 or not.

Independence Day 2014

The 4th of July, as holiday rankings go, is a pretty solid third for me. Thanksgiving and Christmas are 1 and 2 respectively. Although I gotta admit that it’s a pretty tight race for that top spot. It’s like deciding your favorite Def Leppard song. Photograph or Armageddon It? Tough call. Regardless, I think I’ve landed pretty squarely on Independence Day as my number 3. There was a spirited debate between The 4th and Halloween but in the end, grilled burgers, cold beers and high explosives won out. I am American after all. Plus I get to lecture everybody else about the glaring lack of patriotism on their houses as nearly everyone fails to display Old Glory. C’mon man, at the very least, pretend for one day, you have at least a conversational grasp of American history and traditions and hang the freaking Stars and Stripes out front. You can borrow one of my flags. I have three. A Gadsden Flag featuring the Don’t Tread on Me symbol depicting a rattlesnake. A rattlesnake, according to Benjamin Franklin, was a good symbol for America since America “never begins an attack, nor, when once engaged, ever surrenders.” The Betsy Ross Flag displaying the thirteen stars arranged in a circle. This is my favorite. And I have our current edition with 50 stars. Although I don’t think anybody would be that upset if we reduced it to 49 and let Illinois leave the union. I’m embarrassed to say I spent a good deal of my youth growing up in America’s most corrupt state. I feel bad for the all the folks in the Land of Lincoln not from Cook County yet have to deal with the waste from Rahm and Springfield.

Anyway, Independence Day, like most holidays is about traditions. This one just happens to be about America. And summer. Tough to extricate summer from the 4th. I’m writing this on the morning of our nation’s birthday and I’ve already heard firecrackers off in the distance. It won’t be long before I start smelling the sweet, sweet intoxicating aroma of grilled meat. Is there anything more 4th of July than Americans untrained in the use of explosives and gunpowder blowing stuff up while smoke from a grill rolls across the neighborhood backyards? I can still remember my Dad pulling the grill out onto the driveway, swearing at the charcoal as it failed to light and then running with my friends across the backyards of our neighbors as we nearly lost our minds in anticipation of fireworks. I still am somewhat befuddled by the anticipation and excitement for fireworks. I mean, for kids, anticipation and Christmas morning go together like the Obama administration and learning about scandals on the news just like the rest of us. That was sarcasm by the way. Regardless, Americans have been getting together for neighborhood parties since, well, since Lexington and Concord. Difference is back then the British showed up wearing the wrong colors for the party so a bunch of guys, fresh from the local tavern, walked out to meet them. After realizing they were outnumbered the Americans, as Americans sometimes do, talked some smack, flexed their guns and let them know in pointed terms to get the hell off our lawn. Also that taxes sucked. Especially when the money paid went to people who didn’t pay any taxes. Hey, wait a minute…

Anyway, the British, being the heavy favorites according to Vegas odds and not wanting to deal with all their jerkoff bosses back in Boston if they came home with a loss, decided these drunk, small town, animal skin wearing, Kid Rock looking hicks needed to be shown a lesson in manners and professional military combat maneuvers. And, after the typical back and forth jawing often seen at tailgate parties, Thanksgiving dinner and shows hosted by Bill O’Reilly…somebody decided to pop off a round. It was likely preceeded by the following statement, “Dude, hold this, I’m gonna try something.”

Upholding that tradition today are Americans at countless July 4th parties who, after a few cans of Sam Adams, pop off a strategically placed cuss words followed by some firecrackers and finally ending with an argument over whose fans are worse – the Red Sox or Yankees.

Today we show up with a cooler, our tailgate chairs and some deviled eggs and breakdown the top summer songs of the 80’s and early 90’s, discuss the inevitable disappointing exit from the 2014 NFL playoffs by the Peyton Manning led Broncos and the astounding level of douchiness shown by Harry Reid. This guy is like JR Ewing and Mr. Burns rolled together. We punctuate our arguments with f-bombs, our own renditions of Axl Rose’s slither dance and which beer, Miller Lite or Bud Light, really is the unofficial neighborhood get together beer. So its just like Lexington and Concord except nobody has muskets. I mean folks are drinking, talking smack, somebody shows up and causes a problem and the night ends with explosions and the smell of gunpowder. Nothing has really changed. I mean if you go ahead and forget all the unrelenting damage caused by the domestic policies of Woodrow Wilson, FDR and Obama.

And since I know you’re wondering about this – My thoughts on the topic of top summertime songs of the 80’s and early 90’s? Far, far too detailed to summarize here but, in no particular order, here’s a very short sampling of my favorites:

Midnight Blue
Technically not a summertime hit as it peaked at #5 on the charts in February of ’87. But I remember listening to it A LOT in the summer of ’87. So suck it real world timeline.

Summertime
Upon seeing this video for the first time our 14 year old daughter uttered, “Will Smith was a singer?”

Tainted Love
Nothing, absolutely nothing says summer 1982 like this song. I think their was some sort of suburban pool rule that said you had to hear this song at least once while swimming.

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:

“WHERE WERE YOU DOING THIS!?!?!?!?!”

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?