Lollapalooza

This August Lollapalooza is in Chicago.  Our 18 year-old recent high school graduate would like to go the concert.  So a couple things here:

1-What do you know about Lollapalooza?  Here’s the extent of my knowledge – Its been around for about 20 years and has never had a band that I liked.  Pretty sure it started out as festival for the weird alternative kids.  Now its morphed into a teen infested concert of top 40 acts criticized by by the pretentious music snobs who like to condescend about the musical tastes of the masses.  Or how the liberal coastal elites talk about everyone who is not them.

2-Its in Chicago.  According to the Chicago Police Department the number of murders across the city is up 38% over the last 4 years.  The number of sexual assaults during the same time period is up 57%.  It is one of the most gang infested cities in the nation.  Otherwise, I hear its super safe.

3-Setting a car load of 18 year-old girls loose at a concert where liquor is readily available seems likely to end in the same place as Johnny Manziel’s NFL career.

So she’s not going.  Turns out we scheduled vacation during the same week as the concert.  So it was a just a flat “no” instead of a “no” accompanied by the aforementioned facts.

 

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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.

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…

I got stuck in 1986…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Have You Guys Heard About This?

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

jtpantsFriends is unacceptable.

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

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

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

WTF?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My Christmas List

I’ve written a little about the practicality and usefulness of Christmas lists in the past – https://chroniclesofdad.wordpress.com/2015/12/22/christmas-lists-2/

I’ll never understand why some of you deliberately avoid using a list whilst purchasing gifts and/or are offended when someone provides you with a list.  The list maker obviously put thought and effort into the construction of the list because not everything makes it onto the list.  That means it was done in a thoughtful manner.  By shunning the list, the message you are sending is that you are trying to one-up the list maker because you not only know what they’d like but what they need.

Anyway, I think as we get older our Christmas lists get shorter but more expensive.  For example, I’d like a new mower.  Preferably one with a much more reliable self propelled drive mechanism.  But nobody is getting me a new mower.  Mostly because it’s way too expensive and I really want full control over all aspects of the decision making process when it comes my mower.  So it is not on my list.

The other thing about lists is that as we get older I think, if we’re being honest, they become a bit impractical.  Which, as we know, is the opposite of what the Christmas list is supposed to be.  The list is there for the ease of the user.  It should make the gift purchasing process easier to understand.  Like the rules on what a legal catch in the NFL should be.  I mean if it’s a catch in flag-football, high school football and college football, it’s probably reasonably a catch in the NFL…unless you’re wearing #81 for the Steelers and playing for the Patriots. Anyway…

Here’s what I mean by our lists getting impractical.  I’d like a million dollars cash, tax free.  Right now.  But I doubt that’s going to happen because I don’t really know Santa’s relationship with the IRS.  While it undoubtedly is better now than it was under Lois Lerner, I’m guessing that big bags of cash are out as a potential gift under the tree.

But here’s what I’d really like this Christmas:

1-A channel on Direct TV where I could watch Scooby Doo, Thundarr the Barbarian, Johnny Quest and Schoolhouse Rock.  And the Superfriends.  Yes, I realize there are variations of what I’m describing here on Hulu, Amazon Prime and Netflix.  But none exactly as I’ve described.  And it’s my damn list.  So instead of dismissively shaking your head at me, think about the awesomeness of what I’m describing.

Scooby EbenezerScooby, whether you’ll admit it or not, is definitive cartoon of Generation X.  It was on Saturday morning. It was on after school.  It taught us problem solving skills, perseverance, and teamwork.  And there are so many versions of it.  There’s the original series Scooby-Doo Where Are You?  Favorite episode?  Close race between Go Away Ghost Ship with Redbeard the Pirate and Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Werewolf?  Then there was The New Scooby-Doo Movies.  Kinda hard to pick a favorite here.  But Jerry Reed played Snowman and had  a dog named flash in Smokey and the Bandit so that kinda gives him a leg up.  Then we had The New Scooby Doo Show and the High Rise Hair Raiser and the Headless Horseman of Halloween.  Both of which were legit scary-ass creepy episodes for a third grader.  Of course it wasn’t too much longer until the eventual, although regrettable, introduction of Scrappy Doo.  Next to the implementation of the federal income tax, the casting of Hayden Christensen as Anakin Skywalker and the decision by the Steelers to take Gabe Rivera instead of Dan Marino #1 in 1983 this is likely worst decision in American history.  Realistically you probably have to count those Scrappy Doo shows as actual Scooby episodes.  But I refuse to count the Laff-a-Lympics.

superfriends1Also, it’s not really Saturday morning in the late 70’s without the Challenge of the Superfriends.  Loved the battles with the Legion of Doom.  Didn’t love the Wondertwins.  And everybody loved the narrator…”Meanwhile at the Hall of Justice…”

 

johnnyquestThen there’s Johnny Quest.  I have this memory of waking up early on Saturday morning back in the fall of ’78, hopping on the couch under a blanket and watching Johnny Quest as I got ready to watch whatever college football game ABC decided to force feed us because there was literally no other choices.  Besides being the lead in to college football, Johnny Quest had two other things going for it; 1) Race Freaking Bannon.  Everybody who watched Johnny Quest learned how to be cool by watch Race Bannon, 2) They used guns.  In a cartoon.  While they helped America fight criminal warlords, terrorists and other agents of evil during the Cold War.  Really – along with Star Wars – it was everything a Gen X kid could ask while forming his idea of values, morals and ethics…although I pretty sure catholic school had a lot to do with this too.

thundarrNo cartoon channel worth a crap could ignore the coolest Saturday morning cartoon of the 80’s.  “In the year, 1994. From out of space, comes a runaway planet, hurtling between the Earth and the moon, unleashing cosmic destruction. Man’s civilization is cast in ruin. Two thousand years later, Earth is reborn. A strange new world rises from the old. A world of savagery, super-science, and sorcery. But one man bursts his bonds to fight for justice. With his companions, Ookla the Mok and Princess Ariel, he pits his strength, his courage, and his fabulous Sunsword, against the forces of evil. He is Thundarr, the Barbarian!”  Seriously, I’m getting all geeked up just thinking about it.

adverbsFinally there is Schoolhouse Rock.  Without which I would not have learned the preamble to the Constitution, the correct use and identification of adverbs, interjections and pronouns along with tricks to master the multiplication tables.  I think the lack of exposure to Schoolhouse Rock is among the key reasons as to why millennials suck so much.

But that’s just me.  And that’s what is on my Christmas list.  Right now.

 

Required Volunteering

Yeah so I’m pretty sure you know what I’m talking about.   Your kid plays on this team and this team is supposed to provide a certain number of volunteers to man the concessions, or clean up the stadium or do some other crappy task that nobody really wants to do.  So who ya gonna call?  Parent volunteers.

So there are at least two kinds of required volunteering.  The kind you do because somebody at the booster club is somehow in charge of making sure the dance team parents or softball team parents provide a certain number of volunteers to man the concessions.  Then there is the kind of volunteers who do something, like clean up the stadium after home games, as a way to raise money for the team so they can compete in regional competitions or pay for uniforms, etc.

Mom and I are both.  Not by choice though.  Nobody shares this eventual responsibility with you when you decide to have kids.  Other things nobody tells you when you decide to have kids?  That teenagers are, without question, God’s way of payback.  And this isn’t a theory.  Its a stone cold freaking fact.

Anyway, I thought I’d share a few observations should you ever find yourself in these kind of crappy volunteer situations.  Here’s what I learned doing the concessions:

If there is a choice between working the concessions for your school or the local Catholic school, go with the Catholics.  This isn’t because of some sort of religious favoritism.  Its a pure numbers game.  There are just fewer people.  And, as I found out, they don’t really like to buy too much at the concessions because the public school gets to keep the cash.  Less work for me.

Second thing I learned is that if you are presented with the option of working the front counter taking orders and money or working in the back getting the food, preparing the orders – pick the front.  Why?  Because nobody wants to deal with the freaking liquid cheese nacho dispenser.  The rate of dispersal is unpredictable.  The shut off valve doesn’t fully close.  The density of the cheese is variable.  And nobody wants to deliver a customer nachos with loose cheese.

Also do 2nd shift.  Yeah, I know logic dictates the opposite.  Everybody knows set up is easier than clean up.  Well who knew concessions work is counter-intuitive.  Like Facebook political activism.  You’d think the more you condescending preach to your friends across your social media platforms the more it would persuade them.  Anyway, turns out that clean up really only entails sweeping the floor and pulling down the garage-like door thereby separating you from the public.  Pretty sweet.

Finally, volunteer for last game of the season.  If you’re lucky, it’ll be freaking freezing.  Drives down attendance and the only thing anybody wants is hot chocolate.  You only have to memorize the price of one item and their is always a heater in the concessions.  That’s called winning.

Sometimes the coach of your kids’ team will be presented with the opportunity to clean the stadium after home football games as a way to raise money.  I’m only going to say this once and its going to be fast so pay attention.  Do it.  Do it every chance you get.  Easy money.  Nobody bothers you.  Takes about 20 minutes.  Stop at the gas station on the way home and pick up some beers.

Seriously.  Easiest involuntary volunteering you’ll ever do.  But here’s the catch.  Only do it if it is the high school football stadium.  If they want you to do the local Triple A baseball team, don’t do it.  Ever.  Under any circumstances.  Got it?

Now you know what I know.  Use this knowledge wisely.

So I have a question…

When is it appropriate to call a meeting with a high school teacher and how is it done as to avoid any negative blowback on the student in question?

High school is different than junior high.  Junior high is different than grade school.  In grade school it was easy.  Junior high also pretty straight forward.  If there is a problem, whatever that problem may be, you send an email and set up a meeting.  Situation is addressed and everybody moves on.  Teachers expect, and sometimes even welcome, parents to be involved and keep track of their kids’ academic and social progress.

I don’t want to offend any teachers out there who might think it is belittling or maybe flat out preposterous to suggest a teacher would be so unprofessional as to retaliate against a student whose parents choose to disagree with the teacher on a particular matter.

Columbus Day for example.  Or Thanksgiving since I’m sure we’ll be engaged in that annual battle with the PC illuminati.

We’re sitting in church last month and I mention that Monday is Columbus Day and that the girls don’t have school so they can sleep in.  Bails responds with, “Columbus Day?  Gross.”

“Gross?  Why?  No school!”

She responds, “After Columbus got here millions of native Americans died because of disease and other bad things.”

Bails’ social studies is a Bernie supporter.  Good teacher and otherwise good dude.  But he’s a gullibly idealistic millennial.  Last fall her social studies teacher, different guy but also a naive lefty millennial, barely could teach the class the day after the election.  Still makes me smile.  Anyway, her teacher this year has evidently “taught” the class – and by “taught” I mean deconstructing American history through a PC disinfectant – that Columbus’ intent upon sailing from Spain was to enslave and infect any indigenous peoples he might need to overrun while he was stealing land for the rich oppressive elites in the super white European aristocracy.  And that any of the current flaws America currently suffers from are, in fact, the fault of Columbus.

This shallow misunderstanding of basic American history conveniently forgets that Columbus himself was an Italian Catholic.  Italian Catholics, if you recall, weren’t exactly popular with the Anglo-Saxon nativists during their emigration to America in the late 1800’s.  Columbus was a source of pride for this persecuted minority.  And, in an ironic and confusing twist to modern PC stormtroopers, an article in The Atlantic pointed out that Columbus Day parades in the early 20th century were a way to advance the goal of assimilating immigrants into a single American identity.  Local newspapers even “celebrated it as an important step in combating prejudice and bigotry, but it was much more. It served as a formal acknowledgment that immigrants could preserve their own ethnic identities and simultaneously embrace their new nation.”

Weird how a lack of historical perspective leads to a lack of, well, perspective.

Of course my on-going frustrations with millennial PC snowflakery aren’t the only source of consternation in relation to contacting high school teachers.  What about a biology teacher who only teaches biology in a way which makes it literally, not virtually, impossible for anyone to get better than a C.

How is that teaching?  I mean, and I’m just spitballin’ here, I thought the point of teaching was to impart knowledge.  Knowledge that the pupil will be able to recall and use.  Knowledge that helps them become a functioning and contributing part of American society.  Knowledge which makes them a well rounded citizen while also helping the pupil slowly but surely narrow down their academic interests in such a way that it allows them to decide which way to take their future education thereby determining the direction of the professional lives.

Nowhere do I remember in either the formal or informal definitions of teaching making the pupil hate the subject in question with same intensity Jack Lambert hated quarterbacks in the 70’s.  Nowhere do I remember the teacher purposely putting things on tests that were deliberately glossed over in the class in order to give the teacher the pleasure of abundant red pen usage.

But that’s is what is happening.  So we’re put in a position of having to challenge the teacher.  Gotta admit I kinda resent it.  So instead of going all Beverly Goldberg on the teachers, I’m writing about it here.

And yes I realize this blog post solves nothing.  Whatever…

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…

Sleep and Other Stuff

I’ve never run a marathon.  Never been through Navy Seal training.  Never had to listen to a full speech from Elizabeth Warren.  All these things require endurance.  And in the case of the last example the ability to suppress audible laughter.  Staying awake also requires endurance.  Because staying awake can be hard.  It doesn’t matter if you’re watching golf, listening to Ed Sheeran, or staying at work for nearly 24 consecutive hours.

Stop me if this also happened to you a couple weeks ago.  You show up at work at 8 a.m. Friday morning.  With me so far?  Then you leave work at 7:15…a.m. Saturday morning. Sound fun?  How about this – starting Monday morning April 17 and ending Saturday morning April 22, I put in exactly 80 hours at work.  Which made me curious as to how many hours actually passed between the time I arrived that Monday morning and when I made it home alive the following Saturday.  There are only 119.25 hours in that time frame.  80 hours at work, 39ish hours for everything else.  That includes about 25 hours for sleep.

You may be asking yourself how dumb my job is.  Fair question.  April is normally my busiest month.  By the time we finish up the busy season I usually reset my personal bests for caffeine consumption use of the “f” word.  But lots of people have busy jobs, busy lives with kids’ activities and other assorted bullsh*t.  Mine all just happened on the same freaking day.

On my drive home I was trying to do some rudimentary math because I suck at it and because I had a pretty busy Saturday about to commence.  I’ll get home about 7:20, Bails softball schedule for Saturday is 8, 9:30, 2, 3:30.  Also happened to be Prom weekend for Rye.  Pics downtown at 5:30.  Then Mom stupidly volunteered for the After Prom Committee so we have to pick up subs from Jersey Mike’s at 8:45 and be at the high school at 9.  Then work the After Prom party until…wait for it…3 a.m.  Then be up at 6 a.m. Sunday to get to the softball fields by 7 a.m. for another set of games at 8 and 9:30. Once that’s done I needed to mow the lawn because it looked like Vietnam out there.

I walk into the house and two things are of the utmost importance.  1) I’m hungry.  2) I have never wanted out of a jacket and tie this much in my life. Not even when I went through first communion back in ’78 and I had one of those clip-on ties and those little blue sport coats that make every other Mom comment on your cuteness.  No boy wants comments on his cute mini-me grown up clothes.  Its uncomfortable.  Anyway, after eating what was easily the best two pieces of toast I’ve ever tasted in my life and shedding my work clothes I got in bed.

Now I’m sure there are some super Dads out there who in the name of proper parenting would’ve thrown on jeans and a sweatshirt and headed right out to the 8:00 softball game because nothing is more important than showing your kids that they are your #1 priority and you’d do anything for them.

Turns out I’m not that guy.  Adversity struck and I hit the sack faster than the donations to the Clinton Foundation dried up the day after the election.

Two things though  – 1) once you’ve missed your sleep window, its not that easy to force yourself into a peaceful slumber, and 2) the brightness of the morning sun spikes your aggravation levels to unhealthy heights.

So I, and I’m not exaggerating, totally buried myself under blankets and pillows in order to simulate darkness.  Worked for a couple hours until Mom, Bails and Kinz got home after the first two games with Chinese food for lunch.

eggrolldust

I made my way downstairs and without warning attacked the egg rolls.  I looked like a wood chipper clearing a street after a tornado.  Instead of sawdust it was remnants of egg rolls and fried rice.

Then it was out to the softball fields for the last two games of the day.  Its weird how Saturday feels when you really didn’t have a normal Friday.  My Fridays in the spring normally consist of me getting home, drinking more than one can of the variety of summer seasonal beers I like to populate my basement fridge with, watching Youtube videos of classic NFL games from the 70’s and 80’s and then waiting for Mom to get home.  Its a tried and true system that has consistently served me well.  So not only was I knocked off my routine but I was working on 2 hours of sleep fueled only by grocery store Chinese food.  I surprised myself with my coherence.  Didn’t have too much trouble speaking in complete sentences.  But eliminating the “f” word from your normal parlance is difficult after it becomes so culturally accepted in nearly every setting when you’re at work for 23.5 consecutive hours.  Normally walking into a room at work and asking, “Who is the asshat who called this f*&$ing meeting?” isn’t a thing that is heard without eliciting some kind of response.  But that’s what happens.  Unfortunately that doesn’t translate to a 14U softball game.  You can’t sit there behind home plate and comment in a conversational volume that, “this f*&$ing ump couldn’t find his ass with both hands, no chance he finds the strike zone.  He’s missed a f*&$load of calls already.”

So I decided to be silent with my feedback.  And I was able to stay awake…but the 5 or 6 Diet Pepsi’s probably had something to do with that.

Last game ends and we head for home for about 30 minutes to be there in time for Rye’s date to pick her up before we head downtown for Prom pics…

Next blog…After Prom…