An Awesome Time Machine

Time travel is cool.  And thanks to the magic of Youtube it is possible.

I can’t be the only person who has sat down and watch an episode or two of Magnum, P.I. and Riptide on Youtube.  I mean c’mon, Nick and Cody lived on a freaking boat in L.A.! Nor can I be the only one who has watched the Monday Night Football game from October 20, 1980 between the Raiders and the Steelers when we all realized the dynasty was over.  And there’s no way I’m alone watching old MTV videos.  Now, don’t get me wrong, if given the choice I’m watching old NFL Films highlights all day.  And maybe a couple of the Riptide episodes when the all-female crew of the Barefoot Contessa were featured.  But if you really want to go back in time, go watch the videos.

Like this doesn’t take you right back to the May of ’83?

How about May of ’85?

May of ’87?

But here’s the thing, it is still just a video.  You’re not there.  Granted, you’re experiencing nostalgia at awesome levels.  Actual time travel, while elusive, is possible.  You can get there.

Again, if you went to high school or college with me in the 80’s and early 90’s, this might make some sense…especially after watching that Poison video.  Mom and I went to Def Leppard, Poison and Tesla a few weeks ago.  Five years ago we went to a similar version of this concert when we saw Def Leppard, Poison and Lita Ford.  The common factor – I mean besides the fact that Phil Collen is like 57 years old and still doesn’t wear a damn shirt – is going to these concerts is like experiencing an awesome time machine.  Its like you’re in one big giant DeLorean.  I love going.  Because just for a few hours, you’re back! Which, at our ages, is really all we can handle at this point anyway.

You get into the arena and you immediately do two things that you didn’t do in high school or your first couple years of college.  You go buy a couple of these:

Defleppardbeers

That’s $18 worth of Miller Lite right there.  You need a salary and health insurance to afford these.  You don’t have that in high school or college.

Then you buy a $36 concert t-shirt because its freaking worth it. Here’s mine:

deflepconcertt

After you get your second 25 oz Miller Lite you head to your seats.  The first beer is a walking beer.  Meaning its the beer you drink while walking to get your sweet new concert tee.  Once in your seats I always take a look around at the folks sitting in my immediate area.  I like to know who will be rocking it old school with me, flashing the horns and belting out every single freaking lyric.  Who are my co-pilots on this awesome journey back to the late 80’s and early 90’s?  Also its good to get a feel for those who won’t be doing that so you have an idea who you are going to be annoying for next 3 hours or so.

Tesla is first.  I wanted to hear 4 songs – Getting Better, Little Suzi, Signs and What You Give.  Ending up hitting .500 as they left the stage without singing Getting Better and What You Give.  And I gotta be honest, it felt a little empty without hearing Getting Better. But…Little Suzi, well she’s on the up.  It was awesome.  And the only person who probably liked it better than me was the woman in the row below us and off to the right who was absolutely rocking.  She was belting out those lyrics so loud she was shaming the rest of us.  We became immediate friends.

When they hit the first few chords of Signs there was an impressive roar from the Gen X dominated crowd.  And we clearly – CLEARLY – preferred the unedited version as we sang, “So I made up my f*#&ing sign!”

Poison was next.  And Bret Michaels obviously understands who his audience is.  No messing around with their new stuff.  Listen, it was a good thing they can dial it back a bit with Every Rose Has Its Thorn and Something to Believe In because I probably would have needed to take a knee just to regroup.  Ride the Wind, Fallen Angel and then Nothing But A Good Time…I was exhausted.  I mean that’s A LOT of air guitar.  My fingers were cramping up.  Plus Nothing But A Good Time is synonymous with the summer of ’88…along with my sweet ’81 diesel Volkswagen Rabbit, Stroh Light and the Lakers going back to back.

Then Def Leppard.

DefLeppardSugarDef Leppard dominated my senior year of high school. Dominated.  Like Markie Post’s hotness dominated the set of Night Court.  Sure Micheal Jackson got in there with Man in the Mirror and David Lee Roth kicked our asses with Just Like Paradise and Arnold Schwarzenegger was in every freaking movie. Anybody else think they should remake The Running Man?  No?  Just me then. Anyway, point being Def Leppard was awesome in the ’87-’88 school year and they are still awesome. Armaggedon It is a like flamethrower showering us with late 80’s nostalgia.  Plus it melts your face off. Pour Some Sugar On Me hits you like city bus filled with all your high school memories.  Like the time my buddy Pete almost blew his finger off in the front seat of my car as he lit a bottle rocket that recorded a total travel distance of his side of the dashboard to mine and then exploded. Or The Longest Day (Feb. 27, 1988) when my buddies and I, allegedly, used fake IDs to load up at EJ’s Liquors to keep us hydrated throughout an entire Saturday.

It all hits you.  You feel it.  And for a few fleeting instances, you’re there.  You’re really there. And then you realize you’ve spent $54 dollars on a six pack of 25 oz Miller Lites and you have to be up early to make sure your 7th grader has a ride to school.

But it was still awesome…

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.

The Vortex

Quick thought…how do the Poles and the rest of eastern Europe not walk through the opening ceremonies giving the double middle finger salute to everyone associated with the Soviets in that stadium? Not kidding either.

Anyway, recently I mentioned that I found a new radio station which plays old stuff from the 80’s and 90’s. While not always on the money with cool stuff, here’s last Friday’s ride in music on 94.1: Paula Abdul with Straight Up, Robbie Nevil singing C’est La Vie, Traveling Wilbury’s doing, well doing something. I honestly can’t remember. Mostly because I thought the Wilbury’s were awful. I’m sure they had a good time working together. But virtually no one had a good time listening to them. So I treat them with the same deference I normally show Drunk Uncle Biden. But right after the Wilbury’s, Duran Duran came on with Something I Should Know and finally U2 doing I Have Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For. To be perfectly honest, I was kinda disappointed. Straight Up is one of Paula Abdul’s best. Arsenio’s in the video. Boom. Also reminds me of spring semester of freshman year of college. But, it’s Paula Abdul. If I’m going to pick a song from say, February of ’89, I’m picking Paradise City by Guns N’ Roses. Oh and I’m never picking Robbie Nevil. My older sister is going to be a bit heartbroken about that. Granted, Limousines is a good song. But, seriously, I’m never picking Robbie Nevil. If the summer of ’86 needs me to pick a song, its going to be Take It Easy by Andy Taylor from the American Anthem soundtrack. I’m not bragging. It is obviously somewhat embarrassing. Kinda surprised I even admitted it. After that you have Duran Duran singing something that isn’t Hungry Like Like The Wolf, which of course means its terrible. What? Name a song that you like by Duran Duran. Union of the Snake? Nobody likes that song. The Reflex? Tough to get past all that terrible 1984 clothing. Yeah, so my point stands. I like U2. And songs from The Joshua Tree are mostly good. But if we’re going to start talking about what we liked in 1987 then yesterday is an interesting story.

The ride in music peaked with Let’s Go by Wang Chung. Which led me to youtube and I immediately was lost in the youtube vortex. The youtube vortex is a wonderful place and considering how much time I spend there, you’d think I’d know my way around enough not to get lost. I mean I’ll be watching an old episode of Magnum, P.I. and then just sitting right there off to the right are some suggested videos. I’m powerless to resist them. Powerless I say! The full game broadcast of Browns-Colts from November 9, 1980? Hell yes, I’ll watch that. One of Bill Cowher’s 4 NFL starts at linebacker. Do I want to watch an aerial tour of Nikumaroro the island on which it is theorized that Amelia Earhart was marooned and died? Hells to the Yes! It was about this point that I remembered why I was inside the vortex in the first place. But listen, watching the Let’s Go video really is the gateway drug to 1987 nostalgia. And it reminds you of the dangerously high level of cheesiness in 80’s videos and, well, the vortex is a confusing but alluring place. Let’s Go turned into Hypnotize Me, which led to Midnight Blue which led to You’re Jammin Me, which led to Heart and Soul, which lead to I Know What I Like which led to Should’ve Know Better. And listen if you’re going to end up somewhere singing along with Richard Marx, well, you best be alone. Thankfully, I was. But Dammit man! How are you not impressed with Jack Hues’ leather fringed jacket in the Hypnotize Me video? You can’t. It’s simply too cool.

You’re going to the youtube vortex now aren’t you…

Check Please

Ok, just one thing before I get started. Mom and the girls are watching the Grammys. Why does Keith Urban wear eye liner? And Giuliana Rancic is desperate need of a cheeseburger.

SteelersBengals1976So, unless you are self-serving douche like Wendy Davis, being a parent doesn’t give you the option of bailing. When they give you the baby to hold in the hospital, it doesn’t come with an ejection handle. Unless, again, you’re a douchebag. But for the rest of us, that option doesn’t exist. In fact, I’d argue the only real option you have is the opposite. You have to dig in. You’re like the 101st at Bastogne. You’re like the ’76 Steelers after the 1-4 start. You’re like John McClane in the Nakatomi Building.

You can’t surrender. Retreat does not exist as an alternative. You don’t really get reinforcements. Except for Mom I guess. But she’s already here. Maybe your folks and Mom’s folks. And parenthood doesn’t care. It just keeps coming. Like blitzes from the ’85 Bears. Then, just when you’ve deluded yourself into believing you actually figured this whole Dadhood thing out, life hits you like Hulk Hogan bodyslamming The Iron Sheik in the ’84 WWF championship.

Each parenting challenge, if you boil it down, gives you three options.

1) You can ignore the challenge. Depending on the severity of the situation, sometimes this is warranted. For example your 11 year-old may be constantly telling you she is bored. The challenge isn’t to find them something to do, the challenge is to maintain your composure and not unleash the fury and thunder their whining rightfully deserves.
2) You can fight a delaying action. Like Buford’s cavalry holding Seminary Ridge on the first day of Gettysburg. Or the rebels during the Battle of Hoth in Empire Strikes Back. You’re objective is to delay the ultimate decision. Not because you’re using strategy #1 but simply because you don’t want to be bothered with being a parent at that particular point in time. This often happens to me during Steeler or Cyclone games. Also during The Walking Dead. Sometimes a delaying action results in you never having to make a decision. Or in layman’s terms, never having to be a parent. The problem resolves itself. Like turning on Chumbawumba when no one is on the dance floor. Truth be told, this is magical experience and is often described in dramatically hushed tones when parents talk amongst themselves. Like finding $100 in your pants. No, wait its better than that. Its like finding $100 in your pants that also happen to be time machine that you take back to 1981 and go all Biff Tannen in Vegas and bet it on the 49ers to beat the Bengals in the Super Bowl. Then you multiply your winnings several times, jump to 1987 and bring Def Leppard back with you and invite all your friends over.
3) You can attack. Well, maybe attack is strong word. Its not a blitzkrieg. You can engage. You can choose to charge. But make sure you know what you’re charging into or you could end up like Custer at Little Big Horn. You can flank. Schwarzkopf did it in the Gulf War and you can do it too. You can use a diversion. If Valentine and Winthorpe can outsmart Beeks to get the new crop report, you should be able to pull it off. You could try and execute a classic pincers movement in honor of Hannibal Smith. You can even launch a surprise attack like Washington at Trenton, Jackson at Chancellorsville, Belichick in Super Bowl 36. Whatever avenue of attack you choose, this means you have to be strong.

In the end though, you’re going to have to be a parent. Turns out there is no truth to the rumor that your offsprings’ vision is based on movement so staying completely still doesn’t work.

But every now and then I’d like to eject. Bail. Check the @#% out.

Why? Because there are times when I’m tired of answering questions and making decisions. I just want to shut down more of my neuro-functions and watch reruns of Saturday Night Live. But I can’t. Instead I’m faced with question after freaking question. Can I have a sleep over? Can I get an iPad? What is for dinner? Can I go to the mall? Can I go to the basketball game with friends? Can you drive and pick us up? Can I be a mime?

Yes, an effing mime.

This is a question that has never been asked of me. I have never posed this question myself. I’ve never been privy to a conversation in which this question has been asked. I’ve never even seen movie that joked about this question or the people proposing it. I’ve been in very few situations in which mimes or mime-like activities were a topic of discussion.

Therefore, I do not have an answer. I am unable to access my menu of parental clichés to answer this. In fact, I’m unable to retrieve any of the smart ass one-liners I’ve acquired through years of movie study and useless knowledge procurement.

Which means I have to actually do some parenting. Well, not really. Its really just a yes or no question and then the transportation hassle. Because mimes evidently can only practice in middle of the freaking night. I’m exaggerating. But I do have to leave the house at 6:15 to get Rye to mime practice. Or whatever it is mimes do. But I’m having a lot of trouble getting past the fact that there’s a mime club. When did mimes become a mainstream activity. I know its been 30 years since I was in 8th grade. And a lot of things have changed. There are actual adults walking around who have never seen Star Wars. Don’t remember when Hair Metal ruled the world. But mimes?

Mimes?

The Time Between Vacations

Lots of people call this work. I like to call it the three weeks in July between trips to Florida/July 4th week and the Ozarks. It’s also the three weeks when I have to shave for at least five consecutive days for those three weeks. After you spend about two weeks never having to save more than once a week, you kinda fall out of the habit. That’s what happened to me. Yesterday was the third consecutive Monday I’ve had to shave. Thankfully I did not have to do it today as Mom and I caved and agreed to let Kinsey take four of her friends to Adventureland. It’s a local amusement park and waterpark. I was not excited about it. Going to work sounded like a better option. Now don’t get me wrong. Going to Adventureland with Kinz and her friends is not like being in the trenches during the siege of Petersburg in 1865. I’ve not been asked to fight Apollo Creed for the Heavyweight Championship of the world. I didn’t grow up a Lions fan. But as a guy who likes routine, and is not a fan of supervising a gaggle of soon to be 6th grade girls along with Bails who gets to come along, this was not my Tuesday activity of choice.

Turned out fine. Weather cooled off, kids all behaved and there were no injuries. And that’s a win.

That all being said, an interesting and entirely unrelated question occurred to me the other night while I was watching The Breakfast Club on AMC.

When should we let Riley, or any of the girls, start watching John Hughes movies? I don’t mean Uncle Buck and Home Alone either. I mean the ones that defined the teenagerdom of Gen Xers. The Breakfast Club. Sixteen Candles. Pretty in Pink. Ferris Bueller. Weird Science. Okay, not Weird Science, that’s for dudes. Sixteen Candles came out when I was finishing 8th grade. Rye will be starting 8th grade this fall. Too early to let her watch them? She went to see World War Z the other night so I’m not sure Long Duk Dong is going to warp her in any sort of permanent life defining way. And truth be told I don’t screen every movie she watches. Which means she’s already been exposed to the same stuff I’m worried about. Which in turn makes my initial question somewhat less interesting. But here’s the thing, I’m all in favor of not only Riley, but all the girls watching these movies. Just not sure its time yet. Especially after watching The Breakfast Club and Sixteen Candles for the first time in awhile. I love The Breakfast Club. One of my favorite movies of all time. It’s lands on the all-time list somewhere after Hoosiers, It’s a Wonderful Life and Patton. It could be fourth. Then again, it might not be. Red Dawn, The Blues Brothers and The Hunt for Red October are pretty good movies too.

Have you seen TBC lately? Go watch it again. Now that I have a 13 year-old daughter my perspective on this movie has changed. I really didn’t expect this. I mean I watched it plenty of times since the girls were born. But this was the first time I watched it while I was father a daughter whose age end in “teen.”

That changes a man.

John Bender is far more frightening and menacing now than he was when I was 15. Plus with today’s anti-bullying and harassment laws, he’s a walking lawsuit. Dick, excuse me, Vice-Principal Richard Vernon is so fired if he did any of that stuff in 2013. Back in ’85, I guess it just made him a douchebag. But the movie is still relevant to teenagers even after 28 years because it still deals with all the crap that teenagers think about and deal with. Which, if you recall, is not stuff you really want to do twice.

Second question that we recently discussed involves dancing. Rye and her friend Madison are going to dance a duet this coming dance season in addition to being on the various pom and hip hop dance teams. As far as I can tell the largest impact of this decision is on my wallet as another costume will be purchased and another set of classes/practices will be paid for. Hoo. Ray. The most interesting thing about the duet is that they have to pick a song. Bailey suggested Physical from Olivia Newton-John. Which we thought was hilarious. Also disconcerting. How does Bails – age 9 – know Physical? Has Disney assimilated this song into its empire and sanitized it’s lyrics? Mom suggested PYT by Michael Jackson. Somebody mentioned Express Yourself by Madonna. I had three suggestions. The first was Highway to Hell by AC DC. It was summarily dismissed. Next I suggested Ride the Wind by Poison. It did not gain the necessary traction to be part of the debate. Finally I suggested Let’s Go Crazy by Prince and the Revolution.

Mom seemed intrigued. Riley not so much. However – mitigating factor – she’s never heard the song. So I attempted to explain its awesomeness.

“Back in ’84 at the nightclub, the Kid and his band, also known as the Revolution, were big rivals with Morris Day and his band The Time. The Kid had all kinds heavy, depressing, emotional issues to deal with at home. And there were doubts he’d ever realize his potential on the stage. Then, in one awesome night, he freaking belted out Purple Rain, I Would Die 4 U and then Let’s Go Crazy. And, as I’m sure you assumed, Let’s Go Crazy blew everything else out of the water. Oh and its awesome to dance to and the judges being of similar age to Mom and I will be unable to contain their smiles, enthusiasm and outright love for this song choice. BOOM!”

I was unpersuasive. They picked some song called Dance With Me Tonight by Olly Murs. Yeah, I never really heard of this guy either. And if he got in my car and starting singing the song right there in the passenger seat I not only still wouldn’t recognize it but I’d have to call 911 to report aggravated face punchisizing.

So there’s that.

Satisfaction

It doesn’t happen all that often. And when it does you often fail to recognize it because it is so rare. Like Jay Carney displaying something other than condescension. But you’ll be brushing your teeth, looking at yourself in the mirror and its hits you. So you smirk, tilt your head slightly and nod in actual and true satisfaction.

This happened to me this morning. And I’m not talking about the satisfaction you feel when the Patriots lose. That’s something else. Or the satisfaction you feel when you perfectly place an Anchorman quote into a serious conversation at work and only the guy across the table gets it. That’s something else too. It’s not even the satisfaction you get when you finally remember the actress that Mom looks like. Google Rosalind Allen. She’s Mom’s doppelganger. She was in Seaquest DSV. Even had appearences on Riptide, LA Law and was the “it girl” in Seinfeld. Seriously, this is Mom in the mid-90’s. I’d post a pic but they all have some kind of copyright.

MicronesiaAnyway, this morning I’m walking into Kinsey’s and Bailey’s room to wake them up. Except the door opens as it should. As in there wasn’t any resistance. I’m temporarily stunned. Like Apollo when Rocky lands that left upper cut in round one of their first fight. Normally, I open the door and a dirty sock, a head band and a pair of shorts get caught between the bottom of the door and carpet and become one of those makeshift door anchors. It gets weirder. Then, after entering the room, I see the carpet. A nearly total and unobstructed view of the carpet. Most of the time the carpet resembles the Federated States of Micronesia and you have to navigate the islands of clothes, shoes, books, blankets and other assorted crap.

But the room appears to be clean.

I slowly back out, shake my head violently to make sure I’m conscious, then I physically touch the walls in the hallway to make sure I’m not in some kind of hologram training room like in X-Men. Hmm, things appear normal. So I flip the light switch tell the girls its time to get up. I execute a 90 degree left turn to go back down the hallway to my room. That’s when I saw it.

The bathroom directly across the hall from the girls’ room also appears to be clean.

“What the f…ukodome is going on here?”

If I didn’t know better, it looks as if the only thing on the counter is Riley’s flat-iron. Or maybe it’s Mom’s? But that’s irrelevant. What is relevant is the bathroom, aside from all the shampoo, conditioner and soap containers in the shower/bathtub, looks like it’s being staged for a home showing.

Now I begin to get a little woozy. I tell Mom, “Hey, when Bails was up here by herself last night, I think she did some cleaning.”

“I think you’re right.”

But the weirdest thing is that NOBODY ASKED HER TO DO IT. She just did it. When questioned about it she said, “Well, it was dirty, I thought it needed to be cleaned.”

Hallelujah!

Actual evidence that something we taught them actually took hold. Um, which parents know what they’re doing? We do. Boom. That just happened.

Then I realized that my influence was even more profound. I had to pick up Rye from dance last night and on the way home we had to swing by and get Kinz from softball hitting practice. And it was kinda on the way home so I was already counting it as a win. One of the CD’s I have in my truck is Tesla’s Greatest. Rye gets in and The Way It Is comes on. From a parenting perspective, this song’s message is actually pretty good. And, FYI, it freaking rocks.

I am, however, expecting the normal eye rolls, feigned disgust and general 13 year-old condescension aimed at all the music recorded while I was in college. But it doesn’t happen. By the end she’s kinda humming along.

“Hey Dad, that was actually kinda good.”

I was like the guy in the AT&T commercial after the girl tells him about the werewolf.

“Um, what?”

So I put on Little Suzi as we arrive at hitting practice. We go in and get Kinz. As we’re walking back to the truck Rye says, “Kinsey, we’re listening to a rock song. It’s pretty good.”

Did you see what just happened there? Not only did Tesla’s awesomeness cut through generational lines and possibly even the fabric of time and space itself, but my 7th grader acknowledged out loud and in front of me that something I like actually is good. And she did it without sarcasm.

Boom. Shaka. Laka.

Despite the best efforts of my kids, the secular left and my penchant to use the 70’s Steelers as my parenting guide, I have in fact managed to positively influence my kids.

I believe my work is done for the day…

Drop offs, Pick ups and Zombies

Tell me if you’re Thursday went like this:
3:45: Leave work early in order to pick up 3rd grader and 5th grader so 3rd grader makes it to dance class on time. Reason? School bus transportation lacks urgency.

4:00: Pick up 3rd grader and 5th grader from school after waiting behind the Mom who breaks the “pick-up” rules by parking her car in the pick-up line and going into the school. This is the reason otherwise mild-mannered sane people key other people’s cars.

4:20: Leave house with 3rd grader for dance class. Thankfully 3rd grader is so conditioned to this routine, I do not even have to remind her or double check once in the truck to see if she remembered to bring the dance bag and a snack/water bottle.

4:40: Arrive 5 minutes early to dance class! Woo Hoo! Subtlety congratulate self on logistical awesomeness.

4:41: Ignore crying newborn, thank the dear Lord Jesus Christ that we do not currently have a newborn in our house and under our care and then continue reading World War Z while waiting. Some people are drawn to the zombie genre because they like dark, ghoulish stories. Some just think its cool. Others, like me, simply can’t stop themselves. The Zombie Apocalypse is quite possibly the scariest thing I can think of. Nancy Pelosi back in as Speaker of the House, what the 70’s Steelers would have been like without the ’74 draft, having three teenage daughters in the house at the same time…all terrifying in their own right. But the Zombie Apocalypse, especially how it is described in World War Z, is not Michael Myers offing teenagers in Haddonfield, IL scary, it is disturbingly scary because it is so believable the way it plays out. Anyway…

5:10: Leave dance at Dance Studio #1 to go pick up 7th grader at Dance Studio #2. Curse Thursday yet again for being ridiculous with its after school activities. C’mon folks, there are six other days in the week. Monday is going to start suing over neglect if we don’t get some crap moved over there.

5:25 Get gas for truck. When do we start seeing the impact of all the drilling going on in North Dakota at the pump?

5:36: 7th grader enters truck for transportation back to Dance Studio #1. 7th grader has two dance classes at two separate dance studios on Thursdays. Regrettably, American scientists have not developed teleportation technology, not officially anyway, allowing me to get 7th grader to dance class at 4:30 and 3rd grader to dance class at 4:45. Thankfully, a friend’s mom takes her to the 4:30 class. 7th grader tells me Fire Woman by The Cult “isn’t really her vibe.” Asks to change radio station. Request denied.

5:47: Arrive back at Dance Studio #1. 7th grader dropped off, 3rd grader picked up. 3rd wants to wear shorts to school on Friday. Of course 3rd grader wants to wear shorts to school in January. Short discussion about the appropriate air temp for shorts. Decision tabled until further info is available.

6:04: Arrive home. Scavenge for food. Looks like its cottage cheese for dinner for me. Seems that 3rd grader is again dining at Dad’s Deli – turkey sandwich, chips, a pickle and some water. Mom lets me know that she dropped off 5th grader at rec league softball practice. She also lets me know that 5th grader decided to walk around the kitchen in her cleats. The same cleats she wore last Saturday during two games played on a muddy field. Translation? Please clean the kitchen floor while Mom goes to Dance Studio #2 for a “team dinner” and information session on this weekend’s dance competition in Omaha. Remind Mom not to forget to bring her assigned food contribution – a fruit plate. Thank all those concerned that I do not have to go to this “team dinner.”

6:43: 3rd grader is fed so leave to pick up 5th grader. 3rd grader insists on staying home instead of accompanying me. “Okay, but no answering the door, no going outside. Take a shower and then watch TV until I get back.” Think to self that this 3rd grader is pretty independent. Also think to self that I would never have left 7th grader home by herself when she was a 3rd grader. Funny what experience and fatigue will do.

6:58: Leave rec league softball practice with 5th grader in order to take said 5th grader to tournament league softball hitting practice. Because, naturally, one softball team isn’t enough.

7:06: Read text message from Mom asking me to pick up 7th grader at Dance Studio #1 and bring her to Dance Studio #2. She evidently needs to be there for some reason. Read text message from 7th grader asking me to pick her up from Dance Studio #1 and take her to Dance Studio #2 so she can be there for something. Drop head and slump shoulders as I realize multiple women telling me what to do is pretty much what I can expect until 3rd grader leaves for college in 2022.

7:17: After applauding myself for making excellent time to Dance Studio #1 while outsmarting the mobile speed camera cleverly mounted on the dashboard of a clearly marked local police car, I pick up 7th grader a bit early from her class and transport her back to Dance Studio #2. No extra revenue from me coppers!

7:31: Drop off 7th grader at Dance Studio #2. Read email from 3rd grader’s rec league softball coach about four practices scheduled between Sunday the 7th and Tuesday the 16th. Three of the four create no logistical issues. That is a win baby! Crank Cinderella’s Gypsy Road.

7:44: Arrive back at hitting practice, pick up World War Z and read for 15 minutes before entering batting cages. Check for zombies after exiting vehicle.

8:04: Leave hitting practice while 5th grader compliments herself on an excellent display of hitting at both of her practices. “Dad, at the first practice I was hitting them clear into the outfield. Then at hitting practice, even though my hands were super tired, I didn’t miss any from the pitching machine.”

8:16: Arrive home. Watch the NIT Finals. Then realize I missed Person of Interest. You know, John in Person of Interest is exactly the kind of guy who survives World War Z…

Questions

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

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

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

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

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

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

Favorites

So I noticed the girls were having a serious discussion the other day about favorites.  It sounded a lot like when my sisters and I used to do Mad Libs back in the day.  But different.  So maybe it wasn’t like Mad Libs at all.  Anyway, Kinz stapled together 14 Post-It notes.  Each Post-It alternated between a question and that question’s answer.  For example the first question asked you for your favorite TV show.  And she was quizzing Bails, Rye, our neighbor and anybody else who was around.  And well I couldn’t really help myself.  I mean she was essentially conducting an opinion poll and I really like opinion data and I don’t mind at all registering my opinion in said data.  So I engaged.

Favorite TV Show – Kinsey’s answer was Full House.  Yeah, that Full House.  Didn’t really watch the show back in its prime.  I mean how many 19 year-old college dudes are watching Full House?  The ones who probably played Dungeons & Dragons.  Not this guy.  Too busy trying to earn the Beers Around the World t-shirt.  Just by drinking 325 different beers from around the world you get a free t-shirt.  What?  I wasn’t a math major.  Anyway, now that I’m a Dad I have a whole new appreciation for Full House.  This, my friends, is a wonderful show for your daughters to watch.  DVR it and make them watch it.  Do it.  Not kidding.  Enforce it as a house rule.  I didn’t realize it at the time but it’s a late 80’s/early 90’s version of the Brady Bunch.  Excellent lessons and messages are tackled in every episode.  It’s like having an extra parent around.  Who knew John Stamos was a role model and not just a hair model?  All three of the girls are watching the show.  And remember they range in age from 9 to 13.  But my answer wasn’t Full House.  It’s not my favorite show.  But it is my favorite show for the girls.  Mine?  Person of Interest.  It’s got a little bit of LOST in it.  Totally sucked into The Following too.  Also love The New Girl.  But Person of Interest, that’s my favorite.  Well, I mean if you aren’t including the NFL Network’s coverage of the Combine this weekend.

hedgerow cutterAlthough I gotta admit I’ve spent most of the last two weeks catching up on The Walking Dead.  Don’t do this.  Not being flippant here.  You can’t watch 15 episodes over 3 days and be the same guy.  This show changes you.  I backed out the garage on Sunday night to pick Bails and Kinz up from softball camp and I was seriously checking for walkers.  I was running through scenarios in my head about how to react if I came upon a herd of them.  Front of the truck needs to be modified with those hedgerow cutters our boys welded onto the fronts of their Shermans back in the Normandy bocage in ’44!

After all those episodes its pretty damn apparent that I am completely and utterly unprepared for the Zombie Apocolypse.  I don’t have the right kind of weapons.  Well, really any weapons of note.  I don’t have any supplies.  Not only would I have to keep Mom and the girls safe but myself too.  That’s five freaking people.  I wouldn’t last the first 48 hours.  Not ashamed to admit that its kind of stressing me out.  I spent ALL DAY at work on Monday thinking about The Walking Dead.  My house has way, way too many entry points that would need to be sealed off and barricaded.  It’s the suburbs so there are terrible sight lines.  There could be a herd of walkers down the street and we wouldn’t even know it.  No natural barriers exist.  And now I can’t keep myself from watching the trailer for World War Z.  Seriously, I gotta stop.

Next question was favorite band.  Kinsey’s?  One Direction.  Boo and boooooo.  Mine?  Close finish but probably Poison.  Def Leppard, Tesla, Guns N’ Roses and AC DC are all close finishers.  Kinda like Rick Springfield a little too.  And Huey Lewis.  Anway, it’s Poison.  Why?  Because they didn’t have any of the political statements or social commentary like all those asshat bands like Green Day.  They just wanted to rock out, drink beers and have a good time.   And when you consider that Poison was at it’s peak between ’88 and ’93 and when you also consider that I was between the ages of 18-23, I think the correlation is pretty clear.

Favorite Animal.  Hmm.  Well Kinsey’s was a dog.  Actually a puppy.  Mine?  Well I have two tied for first place.  Favorite animal 1A is one that isn’t my pet.  Love those animals.  Favorite animal 1B is one that will keep rabbits and chipmunks out of my yard, eat carrion and have the presence of mind not to live in the yard.  Used to be the Siamese cat that lived up the street.  Now it might be the opossum that lives in the neighborhood somewhere.  Both were pretty good enforcers.  Like Jason Statham but with fur.

Favorite Clothing Store.  Kinsey’s is Aeropostale.  I guess that’s fine.  If you’re 10.  And a girl.  Me?  Scheel’s.  Local sporting goods store.  Place has everything.  If it had its own microbrewery, I’d probably sleep in the store room.

Favorite Food.  This is a tough one.  Kinsey was really on target with her choice of donuts.  Can’t go wrong with donuts.  Some folks might go with pizza.  Myself?  Well, I considered a pizza made out of donuts.  But Donut Pizza isn’t really a thing.  Yet.  So naturally you’d move to cheesburgers here.  And I do like cheeseburgers.  But I’m really partial to one pot meals.  Or, in essence, a big pile of stuff I like mixed together.  Which is what nachos are.  Hence their perch atop my list of favorite foods.  Chips?  Good.  Cheese?  Good.  Jalapenos, black beans, onions, salsa, guacamole?  Also good.

Favorite Sport.  Kinsey had gymnastics.  Which I considered a small upset over softball.  But I’d venture a guess that Kinz’ favorite sport sorta moves with the seasons.  Mine does not.  Football.  Now if you were to ask me about my favorite sport to play then the answer would be cricket.  No, I’m kidding.  Cricket?  C’mon man you gotta be smarter than that.  Basketball.  Loved playing basketball.  But a couple of rearrangements to God’s design inside my knee kinda set that aside.  But nothing beats watching football.  Especially the NFL.  I even kinda miss the USFL every year around this time.  College basketball finishes a strong second.

Favorite Color.  Blue.  No, yellooooooooooooow…  Monty Python reference.  Kinsey’s is hot pink.  Not real sure here when it comes to me.  Probably Houston Oiler/Carolina/UCLA blue.  Do like cardinal and gold on Saturdays.  And black and gold on Sundays…

So I guess there you have it.  You’ve gained almost nothing from reading this.  Other than now contemplating how unprepared you are for the impending zombie apocalypse.

An App?

Taking your kids to get haircuts is a long and well tested Dad tradition. Taking your boy down to the Barber Shop and have the same guy who cut your hair as a kid cut your boy’s. But I have girls. Now don’t get me wrong, back in the fall of ’88 I thought having a pony tail was a pretty sweet way to end my first semester of college. So I do have some experience when it comes to long hair. Unfortunately, I also now have some experience when it comes no hair. But putting that aside I don’t understand all the girl hair lingo. I am not schooled in the fundementals. Sure I grew up with two sisters. But that just teaches you to be a bathroom ninja. It does nothing in regards to basic knowledge of how girl hair works. So I ask for specific, yet simple, instructions regarding what is to be done to the girls hair.

Anyway, I’m sitting patiently waiting for Bails and Kinz to be finished when the two women cutting hair and the two guys who are getting their hair cut inquire about the song on the radio. Now these women are in their 20’s. Early 20’s. Maybe mid-20’s at the oldest. Although one of them has a pretty good Mary Stuart Masterson hair style from Some Kind of Wonderful going on. So I’ve already got a bit of 80’s/nostalgia vibe going on.

The song in question is “When it’s Love.”

Haircut guy #1 and the hair stylist without the cool Some Kind of Wonderful hair are debating if the song is a Sammy Hager tune or a Van Halen song?

Mary Stuart Masterson haircut stylist speculates about an app that allows you to identify songs.

An app? Frustrated I say, “It’s a Van Halen song. 1988. Off of OU812.”

They all kinda raise an eyebrow, acknowledge my information but with that look that says, “yeah, okay, not sure you’re right about that but I’m not going to argue about it either.”

As that is happening “Any Way You Want It” comes on. The familiar pipes of Steve Perry. Haircut guy #2 starts into a story about how he always remembers this song because its from Caddyshack and as everybody knows Caddyshack is great movie.

Caddyshack is a great movie. But the two hair stylists both mention how they think they’ve seen it but maybe not.

Um, what? Is this why test scores are down across the American public school system? Is this the root cause of the Great Recession? Makes sense. We have an entire generation entering their 20’s without the ability to converse through Caddyshack movie quotes alone. Not to mention the fact that somebody actually believes that one of Journey’s classics is from the movie.

I can’t help myself. “It’s not from the movie. I mean it was in the movie, in particular the scene where Judge Smails chucks his golf club and ruins a nice couple’s lunch. That aside, ‘Any Way You Want It’ is from Evolution or Departure I can’t really remember which album. But it was a top ten hit before it was in Caddyshack.”

I’d like to say what I got were looks of gratitude and adoration. But it was more like bewilderment.

Next song is “867-5309/Jenny” by Tommy Tutone.

Haircut guy #1 is paying his bill to his stylist when she says a little reluctantly, “Oh, this is an old one too.”

I add, “Sure is. One MTV’s original staples back in 1982. Tommy Tutone actually had another video on at the same time as ‘Jenny’ but I can’t remember what it was. Obviously, it wasn’t quite as catchy.”

Next song comes on. They all just look at me.

“The Cutting Crew. ‘I Just Died in Your Arms Tonight.’ Spring of ’87.”

This oddly brings up a discussion of Rock of Ages. The movie not the Def Lep song. Haircut guy #2 is asked by Some Kind of Wonderful hair stylist if he’s seen Rock of Ages with Tom Cruise. Great movie, great 80’s songs. He replies not by answering but with, “Why was Tom Cruise in a musical about the 80’s?”

Legit question. But its answered with another question from Some Kind of Wonderful, “Oh, what was his name in the move?”

Again, eyes move towards me.

“Stacee Jax. Lead singer of Arsenal.”

Finally as we’re leaving “Paradise City” from Guns N’ Roses starts up.

I take a peek back and both stylists say, “Guns N’ Roses!”

I smiled and left. My work here is done. That’s how I ride, I’m a cowboy, I’ve got the night on my side…