I Think I Know How Uncle Joe Feels

So as we all know by now, Joe Biden isn’t going to win the socialists – I mean Democrats nomination for president.  America’s drunk uncle simply isn’t at the top of his game anymore.

There is one thing that I kinda sympathized with him.  A couple weeks ago a young voter who seemed to believe that old Joe could no longer win the nomination after the Iowa Caucuses asked him why voters should believe that he was still a viable candidate.  Biden in turn asked the voter if she had ever attended a caucus.  The voter falsely claimed that she had.  She claimed it was an innocent mistake made under the pressure of asking the former veep a question.  Not that my opinion matters but I don’t believe her.  The way the crazy left deliberately sets people up with deception and shady tactics, I think she meant what she said in order to give herself more credibility asking the question.  Biden didn’t believe her either and called her a “lying dog-faced pony soldier.”

Which, truth be told, is what I’m calling everybody now.  That was sarcasm by the way.  Anyway, Uncle Joe got killed for this comment.  Not because he called a young liberal female a lair but because of his weird quote.  So a few things here: 1) It’s Joe Biden.  It could have been even weirder.  He could have rubbed her shoulders and fondled her hair.  2) If I’m understanding the lefties primary correctly, I thought it was capital crime and punishable by social media feeding-frenzy if you called a young female liberal anything other than what the young female liberal specifically conveyed to you through some sort of new legal outline of how the left permits humans to address each other.  3), WTF was Joe talking about?

Turns out it’s movie quote.  Sorta.  Which means Joe is quoting movies to answer questions.  Which, if you grew up the 80’s, sounds perfectly normal.  But here’s the thing.  Joe apparently quoted a movie from the early 50’s.  You know what was happening in the early 50’s?  The Korean War.  When we sent Americans to stop the spread of communism.  Because communism is bad.  Now we have a diet-communist leading the Dems freaking primary.

The various social media detectives seemed to settle on the 1952 movie Pony Soldier in which a character says “The pony soldier speaks with a tongue of the snake that rattles.”  Or possibly the 1953 John Wayne movie Hondo in which a character says “pony soldier” in reference to lying.  So two things here: 1) Can you imagine if Uncle Joe actually attempted to quote the movie verbatim?  I mean who the hell knows what would have come out.  Its Joe Freaking Biden.  He says weird stuff all the time.  He’s like Will Ferrell in Old School.  Except he’s he’s running for the democratic nomination for president instead of streaking through the quad.  2) I think we can all agree that Joe Biden’s brain is not a place we’d like to be.

randywatsonBut here’s the thing.  I quote movies all the time.  Most of them go right over the heads of the twentysomethings I work with.  I’ll quote Top Gun or Beverly Hills Cop and nobody knows what the hell I’m talking about.  I’ll drop a “You tryin’ to say Jesus Christ can’t hit a curve ball?” and I get really confused looks.  Or I’ll say “You know him as Joe the policeman on the “What’s goin’ down” episode of That’s My Mama. Put your hands together for Jackson Heights own Mr. Randy Watson!” and everyone says Randy who?  If I’m really on my game I’ll slip in a “Do you have the Beatles’ White Album? Never mind, just bring me a cup of hot fat. And the head of Alfredo Garcia while you’re at it.”  That’ll cause people to literally shake their heads and turn and leave the room.

So while I’ve seen Mean Girls, I can’t quote it.  And I’ve only seen one of the Harry Potter movies.  If I quote Anchorman, most of them get it.  But not all of them…

So while we all laughed at Creepy Joe’s mangled movie quote, I think there’s a few of you out there who have the experienced the derisive millennial blank stares when you refer to anything that occurred prior to smartphones…

The 8 Symbols of Christmas

On the way home from church yesterday, my mother-in-law asked us if we knew the eight symbols of Christmas.  Naturally, I didn’t know what she was talking about.  But this is a thing I guess.  There are eight symbols of Christmas – like the tree for example – and some folks have pointed out how each symbol represents Christ.   No idea if this is a recent deal or if people have been talking about it for awhile.  Regardless, I was unaware.  Which isn’t really a surprise.  I’m unaware of a lot of things.  Like I was unaware that Russell Wilson is a complete moron when it comes to facing a Kliff Kingsbury coached defense.  Yeah, college guys have been running up the score on Kliff for a decade but when I have Russell starting for my fantasy with a birth in the fantasy bowl on the line, he craps his pants.  Thanks for nothing.  Jerk.

Anyway, here’s a brief summary of the eight symbols.

Santa.  He’s a symbol of giving who hopes to instill joy and a love of peace and goodwill.  Tough to argue with that.

Candles.  Candles burn bright so we will not stray.  God leads us with his light.  Lightness good.  Darkness bad.  Got it.

Christmas Tree.  Christmas trees point to God high above.  Okay, I’ll buy it.  Tough to make this list without including the tree.

Star.  It is a heavenly sign shown to all on Christmas Eve, a shining hope guiding us.  And it goes on top of the tree.  Coincidence?  I think not.

Candy Cane. Like a shepherd’s crook used to guide his lambs, we serve each other with helping hands.  This seems like somebody just made up a rhyme as a way to put candy canes on this list.

Bells.  Lost sheep are found by the sound of the bell as we’re never lost to God.  Silver Bells is also one of my favorite Christmas songs.  It’s Christmas time in the city…

Gifts.  God’s greatest gift was given to all.  True.  Even if you only show up at church on Christmas Eve and Easter.

Wreath.  A circle with an endless connection.  Also they are way easier to string with lights than the damn treee.

But, if you’re like me, and by “like me” I mean an annoying smart ass who is mentally incapable of simply listening and learning what the eight symbols of Christmas are without adding your own needless commentary.

So without further delay, here are my suggestions for the eight symbols of Christmas.

John McClane.  Hero of the 1988 Nakatomi Corporation Christmas Party.  Symbol of selflessness and hilarious one-liners in stressful holiday party situations.

Kevin McCallister.  Dweller in the most Christmasy House in history.  Defender of the magic of Christmas.  Diner of delicious mac and cheese.

Frank Cross.  Well, listen, as a fan of sarcasm and dead pan humor, 1980’s Bill Murray is a personal hero.  And by the time Christmas gets here, admit it, you become a little bit of a bah humbug enthusiast just like Frank Cross.  But he repents, gets to wear a top hat adored with holly and saves Christmas.

NFL Electronic Football.  The 70’s were a great time for Christmas.  For me anyway.  Mostly because I was little and not paying 20% interest rates.  It did always seem like it was snowing though.  Not kidding.  That’s most of what I remember from Christmas in the 70’s.  Snow.  Also the most strategically pointless and useless game ever invented.  Geez, it was awesome.  Devising a play for your team must be a lot like watching Pelosi give directions to congressional Democrats inside their caucus room.  Doesn’t matter what she does, they are going to roam irrationally and aimlessly for hours…

Miller High Life Commercial.  You want to experience Christmas in 60 seconds?  Miller High Life Christmas Commercial.  Your welcome.

Bowl Games.   You know, back in the day, this was your only chance to watch somebody other than Michigan or Alabama.  Which reminded an entire generation of young Gen X college football fans, to think of the less-watched and non-televised during the holiday season.

Christmas Catalogs.  They arrived in August but the magical anticipation lasted until December.  Sure the jersey quality was low but everybody still wanted one.  I, of course, had three of the jerseys in the pic below.

1980SearsCatalog1

The Bob Hope Christmas Special.  Recently I realized they still have these.  Not Bob Hope of course, that would be weird.  But Christmas specials.  I thought they had gone the way of Hollywood movies without wokeness permeating every line of dialog.  Idina Menzel just had one on CBS.  She didn’t the college football AP All-American Team but I hear was still watchable anyway.

Well, here’s to you coming up with your own list of Christmas symbols!

 

I Miss Those Days

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

It’s a good life.  I’m not gonna lie.

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

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

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

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

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

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

MillerHighLife

 

Thanksgiving Part 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

http://www.chroniclesofdad.wordpress.com

 

 

Thanksgiving Part 1

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

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

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

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

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

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

But that’s just me…

Why Sports Matter

October 13, 1960.

Just over 59 years ago.  Some of you know the significance of that date.  Most of you don’t.  But that was a big day.

Here’s why.

In America, we have many people who insist that we, as a society, place too much emphasis on sports.  This skewed emphasis means we willfully allow sports to play an unjustified and outsized role in our culture.  Whether it’s 10U softball, paid coaches for youth soccer, or high school football, they all seem to be higher up on the ladder of importance than say…math, science or English.  Actually, the way public schools are teaching English right now is a rant for another day because they SUCK at it worse than Hans Gruber sucks at eliminating barefoot rogue New York cops in the Nakatomi Building.  Regardless of my feelings on the lack of vocabulary building and English usage instruction, we are told sports are just a game and we need to keep sports in perspective.  It is okay to be disappointed if your team loses, but it can’t define your outlook.  It can’t define who you are.  If your team loses Game 7 of the World Series, it isn’t the end of the world.

Unless, of course, if it is.

October 13, 1960.  Thursday.  Pittsburgh, PA.  Forbes Field.  Temps in the low 70’s.  3:36 p.m.

Just a mere 2 1/2 weeks earlier the country had watched the famous Kennedy-Nixon debate which ushered in the power of television in presidential elections.  The third Kennedy-Nixon debate would take place on the evening of the 13th.  On October 3rd, the Andy Griffith Show was televised for the first time.  And the day before, on Oct. 12th, Soviet Premier Nikita Krushchev pounded his shoe on the table during a meeting at the U.N. marking the first time a communist/socialist nutjob threw a tantrum when he heard something he didn’t like.  That last part is just conjecture on my part…

PittsburghcathedraldowntownForbes Field wasn’t located in downtown Pittsburgh where most of us remember Three River Stadium and where PNC Park and Heinz Field currently sit.  It was located on the southern part of the University of Pittsburgh on Schenley Drive.  In the above pic, look at that tower near the bottom left.  That’s the Cathedral of Learning at Pitt.  Forbes Field was right next to it on the left.  Today the campus library and some dorms sit on the site.  Interestingly, Babe Ruth played his last game in Forbes Field where he also hit his last three home runs cementing a spot in baseball history.

Ralph Terry pitched in the majors for 12 seasons.  He was even the MVP of the 1962 World Series.  He was a big 6-3 dude from Big Cabin, OK.  In 1960 he started 23 games for the Yankees.  He wore #23.  On Oct. 13, 1960 he was on the mound in the bottom of the ninth as the Yankees fifth pitcher of the day.

Bill Mazeroski was born in Wheeling WV and went to high school in Tiltonsville OH, both of which are within 60 miles of Pittsburgh.  In 1960, he hit .273 with 11 homers.  He wore #9.  In 2001, he was selected for the Baseball Hall of Fame.  On this particular Thursday afternoon he was hitting in the 8 spot for the hometown Pirates but, as the baseball gods would have it, he was leading off the bottom of the ninth.

Center field in Forbes Field had a lot of real estate.  408 feet to right center, 435 to dead center and 406 to left center.  406 FT is still painted on the brick outfield wall as it was in 1960.  The wall has been relocated and restored and sits outside PNC Park in Pittsburgh.  Oh, and the wall was 18 feet high.

The Pirates had just scored 5 dramatic runs in the bottom of the 8th to take a 9-7 lead.  Back-up catcher Hal Smith smoked a two-strike pitch into the seats for a three run homer to take the lead.  But Hal Smith isn’t the reason for this story.  Why?  Because the Yankees scored 2 in the top of the ninth to tie the game.

Ralph Terry only threw two pitches to Mazeroski that particular Thursday.  The first was a ball.  The second was deposited over that 406 FT sign in left center.  He hit the ball hard enough to clear an 18 foot wall 406 feet from home plate.  It was a bomb.  It was also the first Game 7 walk off homer to win a World Series.  The Pirates won their first World Series in 35 years.  The Yankees were going for their 8th in 12.

So sports fans did what sports fan do when they win a championship.  They partied.  A lot.  If you go back and read media accounts for the day, everything from firecrackers to air raid sirens to confetti filled the scene around downtown.  The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette wrote: “The bedlam – and there is no other way to describe the scene downtown after the game-, continued on and on and on into the night.”

Life Magazine wrote: “For the next 12 hours, Pittsburgh seethed in celebration for the team that should have lost but wouldn’t. The people felt an uncontrollable urge to let go – and loud. Automobile horns began a non-stop honking and attics were ransacked for whistles, tubas, and Halloween noisemakers. The hordes converged on downtown Pittsburgh where paper hurled from office windows had bogged down trolley cars…By 9.pm. that evening, bridges and tunnels leading into the city had been closed, and downtown hotels were barring those without a room key from entering their lobbies.

Prior to that 9 p.m. hotel lobby ban, a certain 19 year old was working in the accounting department at Joseph Horne’s.  Horne’s was a department store in downtown Pittsburgh.  The 19 year-old and his five co-workers were listening to the game on the radio.  As people poured into downtown, on that warm fall afternoon, they did what 19 year-olds do.  They joined the party before running into some girls in front of the Pittsburgh Hilton which was only a short distance from Horne’s.  Turns out one of the guys he worked with knew one of the girls.  They both went to Duquesne University and she had some friends with her.  As fate would have it, they started to pair up and that 19 year-old found himself with a certain 18 year-old Duquesne student.  They were last ones left.

streetcarpittsburghThey decided to get something to eat but the 19 year-old only had fare for the streetcar.  If don’t know what a streetcar is go google Pittsburgh streetcars.  Anyway with only enough money for the streetcar he was in a bit of a predicament.  But he ran into his brother and cousin and borrowed $5 from them.  They ate, enjoyed the post-game celebration and eventually he walked the 18 year-old back to her dorm.  Since he spent all his money on this girl – as dudes are apt to do – he had to walk home.  The way he tells it is that it was quite the haul. And having spent a little bit time in Pittsburgh, the boy ain’t lying.

A week later he asked for a date.  She said yes.

Almost ten years after that I was born.

That 19 year-old was my Dad.  And that 18 year-old was my Mom.  My Dad worked with a dude who went to Duquesne.  That guy happened to know a girl in front of the Hilton which happened to be only a short distance from where they worked.  The math worked out allowing everybody to pair up.  My Dad and Mom were evidently so unimpressed with everyone else, they were the last two.  My Dad ran into his brother and cousin who had enough money to lend him so he could spend some time with this girl he just met.

But if Bill Mazeroski doesn’t hit the second pitch from Ralph Terry over the 406 FT sign in Forbes Field on that warm Thursday afternoon in October of 1960, I’m not telling you this story.

So when somebody tells me that sports don’t really matter, I usually smile politely and refrain from engaging in that discussion.  Because the bottom line is…well…they’re full of shit.

Things You Learn at Conferences

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Yes.  Why?”

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

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

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

“What do you mean?”

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

“Ah, I see where your going here.”

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

 

More Thoughts On California

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Geez, California, get your sh*t together.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I Decided to Tag Along…

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

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

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

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

Crazy Nights and Hamburgers

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

KISS

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

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

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

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