High School Graduation and it’s Trappings

Our oldest graduated from high school.  This a major rite of passage for any kid.

It is also a rite of passage for parents.  Because it’s weird.  They are kids for a long time.  Then they get to high school and you’re all, “holy crap I can’t believe I have a kid old enough to be in high school.”  Then, in a flash, they start driving and then they graduate and are getting ready for college.  And yes, it kinda feels like it happens that fast.  So all the graduation stuff starts getting thrown at you the summer before they graduate.  You have to make sure they take the ACT and/or SAT.  You have to get applications in for college.  You have to apply for scholarships.  You have to get all registered for financial aid.  You have figure how much to drink to make the stress of tuition payments go away.  It is all very disconcerting.  Not because it is especially complicated – it isn’t – but because you’re just not ready for it.  So it all feels foreign.  Like James Comey and the truth.

Anyway, you navigate your way through all that crap and then you get to May of your kid’s senior year – and graduation is literally days away.  But first you have to do something.

Have a grad party.

Yeah, this is a thing.  Some of you are reading this and saying – aloud – “Yeah, no sh*t Sherlock.  And guess what else?  Water is wet, socialism always fails and golf is stupid.”  Well, I didn’t know that.  I mean of course I knew water was wet and that socialism always fails and that golf is stupid.  But I didn’t know grad parties were such big freaking deal.  Now, those of you who just mocked me incredulously for not knowing grad parties are a thing, are now incredulously mocking me for admitting it.  Because here’s the deal – I didn’t have one.  I don’t really remember going to any.  Disclaimer – if you had a grad party in 1988 and it is a really special memory for you and I attended but now don’t remember attending – I sincerely apologize.  My brain is mostly filled with useless facts and movie quotes.  So I didn’t realize the importance or enormity of the grad party then or now.

But it is a big f*%king deal.

All of our senior’s friends had parties starting the first week in May going all the way through the first week in June.  Every weekend.  There was even one on a Thursday night.  We’d ask what she was doing and the answer was always, “going to grad parties.”

weirdsciencepartyNow just so we’re clear, as you’ve likely assumed, I did not realize how big of deal this was.  I was thinking, yeah, we’ll order some pizzas, get some gatorades for the kids and I’ll have a cooler of Miller Lites handy for me and other bewildered Dads.  Because in my head, channeling the 18 year old in me who sometimes shows up unexpectedly, I was thinking that most of these high school seniors want to have a grad party that is similar Wyatt and Gary’s blowout in Weird Science.

I got yelled at for this.

And not in a funny TV sitcom, “oh Dad you’re so silly” kinda way.  It was in a “you stupid ignorant moron” kinda way.  Which I thought was unfair.  I mean how the hell was I supposed to know the attention to detail that was about to commence in preparation to this party.  Because, as I mentioned above, a party to me is friends, beers, and I suppose other stuff.  But I’m a simple guy with uncomplicated thoughts on parties.

But that is clearly not the way these things work.

Here how it works – the kids stagger the starts of their parties using some kind of shared  – but secret – matrix.  Then marauding packs of high school seniors party hop from one house to another.  The family hosting the party invites family friends, family members, neighbors – mostly people who have some connection to the graduating senior.  Then the senior invites EVERYBODY THEY KNOW.  If the senior has siblings, the siblings invite a few of their friends too.  The hosting family is to provide some type of food and drinks along with seating.

But that’s the easy part.

We had to pick out invitations, pick out pictures for the invitations and then mail them.  There was a whole editing process.  Which we of course screwed by putting the wrong date on the invitations.

Then one of the mandatory things you are supposed to create are picture boards.  Mom was on me like Joe Dumars on Jordan in the ’88 playoffs to go through old pictures.  My response?  I did virtually nothing.  Which is my go to move in situations like this.  Kobe had the step back jumper, I have the lazy possum.  She poured through pictures.  She was like a Bletchely Park analyst going through reconnaissance photos of the D-Day landing beaches looking for obstacles for the amphibious landing craft.  She did it for days.  Our 18 year-old did the same.  So much so that they created two.  One with pics of her as a little tiny kid – titled the throwback board –  and one with all her high school friends.  Oh and did I mention that we had a double party.  Yeah, we combined graduation parties.  So our senior and her best friend had their parties at our house.

First we had to set up tables and chairs.  And table cloths and center pieces.  My reaction to the center pieces was basically WTF.  I can’t be alone in my thought process here.  I mean if I line up 10 people, 5 people at most are going to notice the center pieces enough to mention them.  To me they are just one more thing to clean up.

Then came the food.  Right, so I’m thinking a bowl of pretzels.  And, well, maybe Cheetos I guess?  Little smokies?  Once again, my instincts proved incorrect.

We had homemade salsa, guac and queso with chips, cups of custom made ice cream and specially designed cookies with the girls names on them.  Yeah.  Fancy.  Then coolers of pop. water, gatorade and…beers.  Yes!  But we somehow had to keep the 18 year-olds out of the beers.  Did pretty well.  But that lies mostly with a couple our daughter’s friends who caught a few people trying to sneak beers out of the basement fridge.  So they laid the smack down and took care of business.  It was mostly a stare down and pointed comments, not the Chuck Norris roundhouse I was hoping for…but I still managed to avoid being the parent who allowed the seniors to drink beers at the grad party.

Lasted about 3, maybe 4 hours.  Had to give some grudging respect to our 16 year old’s friends who stopped by the party early then left for another party but then came back because the food at our party was kick ass.  It was.  I was eating homemade guac for days afterwards.  Also the Dads might stop back later to help you finish the beers.  Regardless, it marked the official end of high school stuff for our oldest daughter.

It was a quick transition too.  A few weeks after the grad party we did college orientation.  So I have some thoughts on that too…

 

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Low Key Bad Ass

While driving to play in a softball tournament Mom and I were discussing various things with our 16 year-old daughter.  I’m sure we using the discussion as some sort of parenting moment to impart knowledge and wisdom.  Also sure the 16 year-old was rolling her eyes.  Regardless, the topic of bungee jumping somehow came up.  I nonchalantly let it slip that I did that once while in college.

Stunned silence from the back seat.  But then the 16 year-old gave me what might have been the greatest compliment she’s ever tossed out in my direction.  “Whoa, Dad, you’re really a low key bad ass.”

First thing that came to mind is that a teenager throwing a compliment their Dad’s way is kinda like seeing a unicorn.  Or an NFL team running out of the split-back formation.  Or Stephen Colbert being funny.  Second thing is, “Hells yes, I’m a low key bad ass.”

Even though I’m not real sure what it means.  I know what bad ass means.  Bruce Willis in the Die Hard movies.  Bad Ass.  Rocky Bleier was a 16th round draft pick then got his foot blow off in Vietnam and came back to run for 1,000 yards in 1976 when everybody knew the Steelers were running the ball becarockybleiernamuse Terry Bradshaw was out for most of the season.  Bad Ass.  Thundarr the Barbarian used his fabulous sun sword to fight savagery, super science and sorcery in a apocalyptic world.  Bad Ass.

But “low key” bad ass?  WTF?  My guess is that it means your daughter, and by extension her friends I assume, see you as a easy going, generally friendly, straight-laced Dad who does Dad things and says Dad stuff.  Never does it cross anyone’s mind that you may or may not have bungee jumped off a crane in relatively high winds over a grocery store parking lot.  Or that you might have naked cliff jumped while fishing in Manitoba one summer, or that you possibly snuck out of accounting class with another kid, went to DQ, then snuck back into class without being noticed.

“You’ve done some cool stuff but you never talk about it.  That’s so low-key bad ass.”

Some thoughts on this.  First, I don’t talk much about “Just Between You and Me” by April Wine but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a bad ass power ballad.  I also don’t talk much about FACs in college because virtually nothing that happened during or after those FACs is particulary helpful when it comes to being the Dad of teenage daughters.  But that doesn’t mean they weren’t bad ass.  I don’t talk much about my vintage faded shredded up jean shorts that I’ve kept since 1991 but that doesn’t mean they are totally bad ass.

But here’s the thing, its still pretty cool that your 16 year-old daughter came to the conclusion that you are, in fact, a low key bad ass.

And that, my friends, is pretty freakin’ bad ass…in any key.

 

The Glamorous Life of the 1st Base Coach

The girls have played softball since about 2010.  Two of the three are still playing.  Our oldest, after a few years of softball and an extremely brief foray into basketball decided to stick with dance.  Which meant I was of no help whatsoever.  Dance is a lot like wrestling to me.  I cheer and clap when everybody else does and look confused when the crowd gets restless over subjective decision-making that I have little if any context with which to translate the restlessness.

Regardless, this spring our sophomore played on a 16U team put together by the high school varsity coach that more or less makes up the JV team that is playing right now.  Somehow it was decided that I might be helpful to some degree.  Yeah, I was just as surprised as you.  In fact, and this is a direct quote, here’s what I said when I was asked to help coach the team, “Listen, I don’t have a whole lot to offer the girls outside of a few well placed Major League quotes.”

Surprisingly that was enough to get me the job.  We started practicing once a week in February and after we got past spring break we went to twice a week.   Indoor softball practice is weird by the way.  But we wanted to be ready to start playing in March.  We scheduled five weekend tournaments but only played in three because, and you may have heard this before, spring weather is unpredictable.  The temps hovered between 35 and 48 degrees in the first tournament.  Yeah, super fun.  But we won the last one and the girls got rings!

The guy who was the head coach played baseball in college and knows the game pretty well.  The other guy who helped coach called pitches and has some coaching experience.  Then there’s me.  I didn’t play baseball.  I have no coaching experience.  Although I once had my two front teeth knocked by our 16 year-old when I was throwing batting practice to her three years ago.  Evidently, that qualifies me.

Anyway, I was assigned 1st base coaching duties.  And as far as I can tell, here are the responsibilities of the 1st base.

1-Know the count, the number of outs and the signs.

Sounds simple.  And it relatively is assuming you are paying attention.  Turns out a team of 15 and 16-year-old girls don’t always know the count.  Or the number of outs.  Or the signs.  Or the score.  And sometimes the batting order.  So I reminded them.  A lot.

2-Hold elbow and ankle protectors.

Turns out I’m good at holding stuff.  So no issues here.

3-Yell loudly using softball slang.

This was kinda fun.  My favorite was to yell “GET HERE!” whenever it looked like the play at first might be close.  Which, if you think about, it is the equivalent of yelling “MAKE IT” every time your kid shoots the ball in the basketball.  Or “FREEZE! THEIR VISION IS BASED ON MOVEMENT” if confronted by a T-Rex.  Or “NO ONE CARES ABOUT YOUR FEELINGS!” to your millennial co-workers.  It’s a completely ridiculous thing to say because of its unconditional obviousness.  Like the kid doesn’t already know where to run.  Or that they don’t know they’re supposed to beat the throw to the bag.  But if you’ve been around youth softball, you know that there are an astounding number of parents who think yelling is analogous to coaching.  And since I don’t know jacksh*t about coaching softball, my vocabulary was limited to the following phrases:

“Turn and look”

“TWO!”

“Wow, you really hit the crap outta that one.”  I liked to use my impression of Cleveland Indians manager Lou Brown’s voice on this one.loubrownmajorleague

Sometimes I got to call timeout for a courtesy runner for our catcher.

But the real test was the weekend I got to be the head coach.  Which meant I had to set the lineups, make in-game decisions and coach third base.  Which meant I had to give the signs instead of just read them.  So here’s what I learned:

Making out the batting order/lineup takes time more thought than I expected.  15 and 16 year-old girls behave like 15 and 16 year girls regardless if they are in the dugout, on first base or at the mall.  And the girls really, really don’t like using the signs…and nobody likes to bunt.

So we didn’t bunt.  At all.  For seven games.  What?  Nobody drags their tired butt outta bed to play an 8 a.m. Sunday morning game to bunt.  Also, if the signs you give the batter are the double finger guns while using the “pew pew” sound effect, they get that confused smile but it relaxes them.  Also if the sign you use is the under the arm fart  move, the coaches on the other team will both laugh and think you’re an idiot.  And finally if you do the Captain Morgan pose every time there’s a lefty up, the other team’s 3rd baseman will absolutely begin to believe that it’s a real sign and some crazy play is on.

I also decided if there was even a remote chance of somebody scoring from third on a throw to the plate, I was sending the girls home.  Every girl, every time.  Went six for six on plays at the plate.  Which the parents chalked up to aggressive coaching when in reality I just enjoyed doing the windmill with my left arm while yelling “you better run the wind blows!”

But nobody got hurt…seriously…and we went 4-3 the weekend ostensibly in charge.  So it was pretty fun.  But the jury is still out on whether or not they ask me to do it again…

Small Things

I have three daughters.  Which means, in my case anyway, I don’t do the same things with my kids that my Dad did with me.  I have two sisters so my Dad wasn’t totally off the hook but the difference, of course, is that I have no sons and three freaking daughters.  I’m like the 82nd Airborne at Bastogne most of the time.  My Dad had at least one escape route.  For example, I have spent a lot time waiting in various places and rooms to watch our oldest kid dance.  My Dad never did that.  He spent a good deal of time in small gymnasiums watching me play basketball.  I, on the other hand, have gone to high school football and basketball games for halftime so I could watch the dance team. As such, I have a far lower opinion of the jackwagons who stand up in front of me at halftime.  FYI, I guess.

Also I have had the privilege and opportunity to pick up feminine hygiene products and that pink and green Maybelline mascara brush or applicator or whatever the hell it is.  I have been the target of eye rolls of such disdain that I’ve had to mentally review the 5th Commandment in order to stay out of jail.  I am now acutely aware of the douche-tastic behavior of teenage boys in way I never was as a teenage boy myself.  I have wondered, aloud, how in the name of the sweet baby Jesus can they possibly get that much make-up on everything in the bathroom.  Serious, what the f*#k?!

While our 8th grader thinks farts are as funny as I do and our sophomore liked the 80’s mini-series North and South just as much as I did, there is still some confusion on my part in regards to the interests that the girls developed.  I mean, I really thought that just through sheer volume of exposure that at least one of the girls would want to play basketball or at the very least enjoy watching football.  I’ve had the damn NFL Sunday Ticket since the last term of W’s administration.  They’ve been forced, when they needed money anyway, to interrupt me while I watched weekly highlights on youtube from the ’83 NFL season.  Man, there was a helluva class of rookies that year.  You’d think that they’d somehow develop at least a passing interest in Steelers and Cyclones games due to my utterly immature reactions to said games.  Oddly, they just don’t hold college football and basketball in the same ritualistic reverence that I do.  I can describe, in detail, my first college football game.  Pitt-Navy, October 15, 1977.  Pitt won 34-17.  I still smile remembering my Dad and I predicting the scores of every NFL game each Sunday.  We did it every year from ’78 through ’85.  While two of the girls did come with me to see Dunkirk with me, it wasn’t really the same as when my Dad took me to see Red Dawn.  Although with the current hold idealistic progressive saps hold on social studies teaching positions, they might have ended up cheering for the Soviets in that movie.

None of them wanted to play catch with the football like I did with my Dad.  Although in the interest of full disclosure, I’m not sure my Dad really enjoyed those games of catches.  Mostly because, when I was little, that unless the ball was thrown right to me, it really wasn’t a game of catch.  It was me yelling and crying about how he wasn’t throwing it right.  So, I guess, I was behaving exactly the same as pretty much EVERY SINGLE wide receiver in the NFL right now.  Although I did get roped into helping coach our sophomore’s 16U softball team.  So I do get to play catch with my kids.  But not with a football.

But then something happened this morning.  In the grand timeline of my tenure as a Dad it probably won’t occupy a key spot on the chronology.  Then again, maybe it will.  This morning our 18 year-old came into our bedroom as I was brushing my teeth and said, “Dad, can I wear one of your flannels to school today?”

Not to go on a tangent, but here’s the deal – I have several flannels.  They are not only awesome but serve a variety of roles.  And I like versatility.  I like utility players in baseball.  Before he was an all-star centerfielder for the Pirates, Andy Van Slyke played 5 positions for the Cardinals.  I like 3rd down backs in football.  I know he played for the Chargers and the Bengals but man I liked James Brooks.  He could return kicks, line up in the “I” or even split out.  I like swing guards in college basketball who play the point in a pinch but also matchup on a 6-5 wing and play lock down defense.  Flannels are like that.  Are they a sweatshirt?  A light jacket?  You can even get away with wearing one to work certain times of the year.

Anyway, my smile probably gave it away, but it was as if she walked up to me on the couch and said, “Dad, can I watch the Steelers with you while you explain to me – in detail – why they are the greatest dynasty in the history of the NFL post-merger?”  Not joking, it kinda felt like that.  She’s a senior.  She graduates in 7 weeks.  Like most seniors, she doesn’t spend that much of her free time at home.  And when she asks me for something, it is almost always money or for some assistance in the suppression and subjugation of her two younger sisters.  So in the long and spotty history of Dads and their 18 year-old daughters, this might just be a footnote…but I thought it was pretty damn cool.

Remembering Spring Break…

As you know, I kinda have an issue with being steamrolled into allowing – (read PAYING FOR) a senior year spring break trip.  Everybody arrived safely and appear to be having a good time.  Mom sent me some pics of their hotel room.  It is nicer than anything I lived prior to the age of 46.  So I’m a bit concerned our senior might have some outlandish expectations of what her living conditions are going be like in college and her 20’s.  But, then again, I may have contributed to her unrealistic view of the world when I sent her to Mexico.  On spring break.  While she’s still in high school.  Truth be told, I’m a firm believer in setting expectations low so this whole spring break situation has me unnerved.

Anyway, as result of this situation I’ve decided to go back to one of things that makes me the most happy.  No, it isn’t beer.  Although that was a solid first guess.  But listen, beer has been a solid first guess when it comes to me since 1987.  Seriously, how am I not a part of owner of Miller Brewing?  It also is not a full court binge on conference tournament basketball…although I am actually doing that while I write this.  No, I’ve decided to go back to the 80’s.  Again.  Quick aside, I’m psyched to see Ready Player One in a couple weeks.  Totally going to nerd out on 80’s pop culture.

The girls are, in descending order in 12th grade, 10th grade and 8th grade.  Aside from being totally outnumbered by teenage girls who go out of their way to pick fights with each other while also outwardly mocking everything that isn’t important to them, it gives me a frame of reference into spring break.

8th grade – 1984.  Ren McCormack was the coolest, Lionel Ritchie wanted to know if it was him we were looking for and Berlin had No More Words.  I was modeling my coolness after Nick Ryder and Cody Allen.  Riptide was, and remains, a manly source of coolness.  Not ashamed to admit this.  Nick and Cody fought Charlie in Viet Nam, they lived on boat, owned a helicopter and drove a ’60 Corvette with flames on the side.  And in a weird twist of fate, they kinda introduced me to Mom.  Go on youtube and look for Season 1 Episode 4.  Originally aired 1-17-84.  Skip all the way to the end and you’ll see an inconsequential appearance by waitress played by Rosalind Allen (credited as Rosalind Ingeldew).  Despite Mom’s objections, she looks exactly the same.  They’re dopplegangers.  Not kidding.

10th grade – 1986.  I’ve made this argument several times but 1986, as a year, is totally overlooked.  It gave us Top Gun, Ferris Bueller and Running Scared.  Along with the criminally underrated Heartbreak Ridge.  I had a pair of these:reebokclassics

Bought one of these at County Seat: fadeddenim

Despite it marking the end of Riptide, the spring of ’86 asked us if all Mike & the Mechanics needed was a miracle, if Honeymoon Suite was feeling it again and we once again totally understood the social strata based conflicts in Pretty in Pink.  Plus, and this kinda throws a bit of doubt on my consternation regarding the unrealistic expectations developed by our senior, but my Dad took the whole family to Hawaii during spring break of ’86.  My Dad traveled a lot.  And he built up what can only be described a f*ck ton of miles and he got free roundtrip tickets to Hawaii for not only my sisters, me and my Mom but my Grandma too.  Turns out my Grandma always wanted to go to Hawaii and when my Dad had the chance to take her, he did.  He’s a good dude.  Despite my record as a parent, I do in fact have a good example.

12th grade – 1988.  White Lion wanted us to Wait and David Lee Roth thought this was just like Living in Paradise.  I do remember putting away a 12 pack of Meister Brau with a couple buddies.  It probably was because Rick Astley and Billy Ocean both somehow had hits songs over spring break my senior year. But best of all, Man in the Mirror was topping the charts.  And I don’t care what you guys say, this is a great song.  Here’s the thing though, aside from those Meister Braus, I don’t really recall a whole lot from my senior year spring break.  But I’m pretty sure Mom and our senior will.  And that makes me smile.

Spring Breaking

Evidently a spring break trip senior year is a thing.

Did you know this?  I sure as hell did not.  But it is an actual thing.  As least where we live.  Most seniors, as least the ones that our high school senior is friends with, are going somewhere on spring break.  My feelings regarding 18 year-olds and spring break have evolved over the years.  Mostly because my impressions of Spring Break, like most things, were heavily influenced by cheesy 80’s movies.  In this case, Spring Break, Hot Dog The Movie and Up the Creek.  Pretty cool when I was 18, now with a daughter who is 18?  Not so much.

But here’s the thing, you know where I went on my senior year spring break?  Crystal Lake, IL.  Or, as I remember it, NOWHERE.  I stayed home.  Why?  Because I was an 18 year-old high school senior with two interests – beer and girls.  And my parents were sane  and also pragmatic with their dollars.  Closest I got to the beach was Surfing magazine.  And truth be told, I had done virtually nothing during my junior and senior years of high school to engender any kind of confidence in my parents to believe that I could conduct myself responsibly under my own supervision.  And if I were to throw around some rough estimates the chances that my folks would have forked out the cash and traveled with me and my friends, along with their parents, to go somewhere warm and beery on spring break in March of 1988 would be in the vicinity of 0.0 percent.  And that might be generous.

But that is exactly what I did.  I fully admit my weakness.  I caved.  Gave in.  I stood my ground about as firmly as Oilers defense vs. the Bills in the ’92 playoffs.  Way back last fall, our oldest daughter started talking about spring break and how some of her friends were going Florida and some others were headed to Mexico and few others were going to California.  Naturally my first question was “by themselves?”  The answer surprised me more than had she actually answered “yes.”  Apparently these high school seniors had somehow used  some sort of senior year sorcery to trick their unsuspecting parents into not only paying for this ill-conceived idea but to also JOIN THEM.  I know!  How is this remotely fun for the parents?  But its true.  So after a few weeks of incessant badgering, whining and other assorted infuriating behaviors Mom comes over and tells me that I better get used to the idea of her going somewhere on spring break.  If I remember correctly, here was my response:

“Are you f$#@ing nuts?  I’m not paying for that sh*t.”

This was of course translated as, “Thanks for agreeing, I’ll let you know the total cost of the trip.”

So Mom and the 18 year-old are in Minneapolis tonight getting ready to fly out tomorrow morning on their way to a resort just south of Cancun.  Yeah, when I cave, I do it spectacularly.  I not only stupidly agreed to paying for this terrible idea, I have also agreed to do it TWO MORE FREAKING TIMES.  Because there ain’t no way the other two girls are going to somehow allow their senior year spring breaks to come and go without a trip somewhere.  In fact, the sophomore already was letting me know how awesome her spring break trip to Mexico will be.

Without hesitation I informed her that wherever it is that she goes on Spring Break two years from now, it will be within the international boundaries of the lower 48 of these United States.  With a little time to prepare myself, I’m more confident in my ability to stand my ground.  But then again, so was Custer.

Why am I limiting her to the good ol’ USA?  Well we met with some of the other parents who will be going on the trip.  Several of them are veterans of taking their kids to Mexico.  In addition to everybody telling us that the kids can’t go anywhere without adults both in the resort and outside the resort for safety reasons, we were told that at some point somebody is going to try and sell you and your kid some kind of illegal narcotics and at some point, in or around one of the clubs, prostitutes will find their way in.  Turns out more and more Americans aren’t leaving the resorts so the local, uh, merchants are finding their way in.  Also the kids can legally drink.  So Mom spent some time in the car explaining some of the rules.  Like how you never leave your drink unattended.  Don’t drink something given to you by somebody you don’t know.  If at all possible, drink something out of a can or a bottle and not a mixed drink.  Because nobody wants to drink the water.  I mean unless you’re a toilet enthusiast or something.

So I’m kinda freaked out about this even though Mom will down there.  They get back Wednesday.  We’ll see how it goes…

We Made it

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

I got stuck in 1986…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We’re Not Good At This

Mom and I have been married for 20 years.  That’s a pretty long time.  Over the course of these 20 years we’ve also learned we’re good at certain things and we’re not so good at some other things.

Here’s an example:  Mom is really good at getting stuff done.  To completion.  She’s also really good at the self congratulations about whatever she completed.  She’ll finish a book, weed the yard or paint a room and she’s pretty damn sure that not only did she do a really good job, she’s pretty sure that you’re sure she did the best damn job.  And she’s going to point it out to you.  When it comes to me, I’m really good at assessing risk.  At identifying the potholes or obstacles and how to avoid them.  Or as Rye would put it, pointing out everything that might go wrong or exaggerating the aforementioned obstacles that may present themselves thereby preventing us from having any fun.  And that’s fair.  Anyway, together we’re really good at kicking ass.  Kidding.  Together we’re really good at making fun of the shows the girls like to watch…like the Kardashians and the Bachelorette.

Here’s what we’re not good at.  If you watch a movie and think said movie is hilarious, you may think to yourself, “Hey you know who would enjoy this unrestrained hilariousness?”  If the answer to that question is Mom and I, you might decide to bring over the DVD or blue-ray because you know we’re too cheap to have Netflix.  You might also decide to leave that DVD or blue-ray in an obvious spot like the kitchen table or the middle of the most active spot on the kitchen counter.  Why?  Because you want us to watch the movie.  Because its funny and rehashing funny movies with your friends is not only funny but it is a wonderful reason to sit around a drink beers.

But we suck at that.  Not the drinking beers, we’re good at that.  Especially when we have no responsibilities the next morning.  But we suck at the whole actually viewing the movie.  Some good friends of ours gave us Ted to watch about 3 or 4 years ago.  We’ve never watched it.  Mom’s sister and her husband gave us The Change Up to watch 3 or 4 years ago.  We’ve never watched it.

I’m really not sure why.  I mean once we get into January and February we have quite a few unobligated Saturdays.  So we have time.  Maybe it’s the whole 2 hour commitment.  As we all know, Mom doesn’t just to do just one thing.  If she’s watching a movie at home, she also wants to be accomplishing something else.  Like reading a book or making her meals for the week or nagging the girls about their homework.  Plus, if she were being honest with herself, she’d really rather just watch HGTV.  All day.  Every.  Single.  Day.

But last Saturday, as luck would have it, TBS was showing The Change Up.  And we watched it.  It was hilarious.  Like watch it 6 or 7 more times hilarious.  Probably shoulda just watched it when the DVD was left in our kitchen.  Next step is to watch the unedited version.  Favorite line courtesy of Ryan Reynolds when he perfectly summarizes helicopter parenting:

“These are called children, or dependents.  Never disparage your own child. Everything they do is miracle from God.   When they’re bad it’s only because they’re tired or going through a phase.  When other kids are bad, it’s because of indulgent parenting or innate defects in the child’s character.”

Then, this weekend, we watched Ted.  Again, hilarious.  And again, probably just shoulda just watched when the DVD was left in our kitchen.  Granted we’ve seen so many clips from it that a lot of the really funny stuff we’d seen before.  But it really didn’t matter.  Not sure how Mark Wahlberg sings the Thunder Buddy song without laughing.  Plus Ted’s derisive observations of the sound of 90’s music along with the fact you can sing any song from the 90’s with just vowels is not only hilarious but a statement of fact.  Because if we’re being honest, 90’s music sucked.  Really, really sucked.  Blues Traveler?  Awful.  Dave Matthews?  Terrible.  Green Day?  Amongst the crappiest music I’ve ever been forced to listen too.  Pearl Jam…Ok, maybe some of this was good.  Generally speaking the best thing that happened to music in the 90’s was that it gave us the death of grunge.  Not that boy bands were any better…

Anyway, I’m thinking there has to be a list of hilarious movies that we’ve missed…or ignored.

 

So What’s Up With This

Am I the only one who wonders why it is that during any week of the year you can easily find some channel showing The Day After Tomorrow?  I mean I went the entire Christmas season and did not stumble across Home Alone a single time.  It wasn’t on.  But I found The Day After Tomorrow several times.  Seriously.  If you chose to do so, you could watch the movie once a week all year.  It’s always on somewhere.  It’s like reruns of Friends.  Except not awesome but really, really awful.  Terrible.  Unless, I suppose, you are an Al Gore groupie or a strident fundamentalist regarding climate change or just a  lefty movie junkie.  All of which are fine.  For you anyway.  That’s just not me.

I do however wonder why The Day After Tomorrow is incessantly available to view while 13 Hours in Benghazi and Patriot’s Day are never on.  At least that I can’t recall.  But I’m 47 and like Kid Rock says, you can’t fight this getting older.  So unless you’re talking about NFL history from the 70’s and 80’s, I forget stuff sometimes.  But I don’t think I am on this.  Regardless, you might be grumbling right now that I’m complaining about commercially produced liberal crap made in the sexual harassment capital of the world (Hollywood) and distributed to unsuspecting Americans while pining for commercially produced conservative crap made in the sexual harassment capital of the world (Hollywood) and distributed to unsuspecting Americans.

And you’d be right.  But it doesn’t answer my question.  Why have I never stumbled across 13 Hours or Patriot’s Day some random Thursday night but avoiding The Day After Tomorrow is like trying to avoid watching Thriller on MTV in December of ’83.

I think its a legit question.  Because Mom loves The Day After Tomorrow the way old people like the early bird dinner at Dennys.  She turns it on like background music.  And listen, I generally like Dennis Quaid.  He was awesome in Frequency, Caveman and In Good Company – where he delivered the best Dad/Husband  advice ever doled out to aspiring Dads/Husbands:

“You just pick the right one to be in the foxhole with, and then when you’re outside of the foxhole you keep your dick in your pants.”

But none of that helps me in my investigation as to why the generally available channels seem to have blackballed 13 Hours or Patriot’s Day.  It may be due to some weird licensing/distribution agreement that some rich guy signed with another rich guy and therefore I can’t watch good movies but instead I’m provided with numerous opportunities to join the militant disciples of climate change disaster movies.

Whatever…maybe I’ll just watch my Red Dawn DVD…

Published in: on January 12, 2018 at 4:48 pm  Leave a Comment  
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