Sunday, June 29, 2008

Hey Baby, I’m Your Handyman

A friend of mine tells a story about a phone call she once made to her brother. Her 5-year-old nephew answered the phone and she spent a few moments chatting with him and then inquired as to whether his father was nearby and could come to the phone. Since she grew up on the West side of Cincinnati, she phrased the question like this: “Is your dad handy?” Her nephew replied, “Nope, Mama says he can’t fix nothin’.”
That’s one of those amusing family stories that gets told and retold and I would have found it funnier if I hadn’t known that the brother’s lack of handiness was due to his being an unemployable alcoholic. My vision of the poor nephew growing up in poverty and squalor dampened my appreciation of the humor.
But I tell the story here to support my belief that dads are expected to be handy, in the sense of being able to build things and fix stuff, which I am not. My wife and daughter are not handy either, though it doesn’t matter for them; they are women. Not that women can’t do that stuff; many do and I say, “More power tools to ‘em.” It’s just that women in our society are not expected to do those things, but men are.
Contrary to this norm, I don't fix the car or patch the drywall or mend the child's broken bones. We must resort to hiring professionals for these tasks. Oh, I can accomplish some repairs: I recently overturned a lifetime ban from household plumbing, which was imposed by my wife after an unfortunate run-in I had with the kitchen pipes, resulting in a large roto-rooter bill. Last month, I replaced the faucet in my daughter’s bathroom and, if it remains leak-free one more month, I am allowed to try and figure out what’s wrong with the garbage disposal.
Some household repairs are fairly easy, like replacing a doorknob. Nevertheless, when the closet door in the entryway got stuck closed last week, I found it more challenging than expected. I’ve replaced doorknobs before, so I knew that the first step was too remove the old knob. However, this closet doorknob did not have any visible screws, bolts or latch springs: things that are essential to undo in order to take off the knob.
In the family we bought this house from, 20-some years ago, the husband was handy. In fact, he built the closet I was dealing with and put the door in. Perhaps for aesthetic reasons, he put the knob with the screws accessible on the inside of the closet. I took smug satisfaction in knowing that, if I had done that, it would not have been from a misguided sense of style, it would have been ignorance!
So the task seemed hopeless, but I am resourceful; I removed the hinge pins, thinking the door would just open on the other side. Unfortunately, you need a little room, such as is afforded when the door is open, to remove it that way. The door was still stuck.
It was like one of those puzzles we heard or made up when we were kids: “You are in a room with no windows and no doors. There is a table in the room with a mirror on it. How do you get out?” The answer is, “You look in the mirror and see what you saw. You take the saw and cut the table into two halves. Two halves make a whole and you use the hole to get out of the room. That was brilliant when I was seven, but homonyms were useless to me now.
With the hinge pins out, I did have a little more room to see the broken latch. I stuck a screwdriver in the space between the door and the strike plate and was able to press it against the latch and lever back toward the door. The latch moved! Two more such moves and the latch slid out of it’s hole, the door opened and the broken latch flew out onto the floor followed by a spring and a random piece of metal.
Strangers assume that, because I’m tall, I must have played basketball in school. I did not, because, while I love playing, I lack most of the required skills other than proximity to the basket. One time in college, playing with my buddies, I got the ball at the top of the key, dribbled down the lane, avoided defenders on either side of me and laid the ball up and in. My friends were astounded. I, too, had no idea how I’d done it, but I was thrilled with my performance.
That is the same high I felt when the closet door popped open. That feeling was short-lived. You may recall that I had removed the hinge pins. With no connection on either side, and with the door frame built to prevent it opening in, the door had nowhere to go but out toward where I was crouched down with my handy screwdriver.
Hearing a loud noise, my daughter, who is home from school for Summer and happened to be handy, in the sense of nearby, looked up from her book, saw me supine under a slab of wood, and asked, “Dad? What are you doing?”
In a somewhat muffled but sarcastic tone I stated what I thought was obvious, “I’m fixing the closet door.”
With perfect timing, she paused, said, “Good job,” and went back to her book.
I may not have taught her to be useful around the house, but I’ve passed on some comedy skills, which can be handy in a crisis. I could not have been more proud.

Inept handyman = Man, end thy pain

Humor blogs fix anything

the image above is from t-shirt humor

Friday, June 27, 2008

Lift Us Up Where We Be long

Erectile dysfunction treatment commercials are the feminine hygiene ads of the New Millennium: ubiquitous and embarrassing. But there is that one Cialis ad that I do pay attention to: the one where the couple has some sort of other-worldly sex, after which they wake up in matching claw-foot bathtubs on a ridge overlooking the ocean. You can’t watch that without wondering if perhaps Cialis has something in it besides the average E.D. ingredient (which I assume is just calcium, for strong bones).
I am not bragging, but I’ve never experienced E.D. I’m not bragging because I feel like that makes me weird and uncool. The E.D. med commercials have been on for years now and featured some of my favorite sports stars and even Bob Dole, who always has that pen in his hand, so you know he likes to keep busy. The E.D. guys on TV seem to attract a lot of pretty – and horny – women. I’m not interested in getting together with anyone besides my wife, but a little attention doesn’t hurt. I went to my doctor and asked him what is wrong with me. “I’ve never had erectile dysfunction, Doc. Why everyone else but me? I’m not normal.” I wanted to have a need for some Cialis, because I could use a day at the beach, so I asked if he could give me something to cause E.D. He said, “Here’s what I use to cause E.D.,” and he showed me a picture of his wife. That was just rude.
Then he told me, “JohnnyB, you do realize that some men just use those drugs recreationally, right?”
“Recreationally? What, do they go to some Viagra Dude Ranch and sit around a campfire in a circle, like a bunch of jerks, holding…um...hands, and singing cum-baya?
I didn’t end up getting any meds. I just went back home and watched a few, Levitra, Viagra and Cialis ads I had DVR’d so I could get the vicarious thrill of having a limp willy.
Then I noticed perhaps the strangest thing of all about the commercials. At the end, there is a disclaimer in text at the bottom of the screen that says something like, “This product will not prevent sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV.” Who out there thinks that an erection pill is going to have the benefits of a condom? Oh yeah, that would be men – men whose entire blood supply is being medically redirected to a region below the belt line, leaving the brain totally lacking in oxygen needed for reason and logic.

erectile dysfunction = I end soft unit (recycle)

Humor Blogs lift you up

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

A Few No Good Men

GOD: (SIGH) Yes, Dobson.
DOBSON: (SHRIEK) Who’s there?
GOD: Who were you calling? You believe you have my ear, why wouldn’t I talk to you?
DOBSON: Well, I, uh, of course you would……You’re not actually Satan, or, or, Dick Cheney, trying to fool me are you?
GOD: (SIGHS) What is it you want, Dobson?
DOBSON: They’re messing with You again.
GOD: With Me?
DOBSON: With Your word. It’s that Barack Obama again. He argues that the religiously motivated must frame debates over issues like abortion, not just in their own religion's terms, but in arguments accessible to all people. He has a fruitcake interpretation of the Constitution.
GOD: I didn’t write the Constitution. They intentionally left Me out of it, thank Me.
DOBSON: Well, yes, but that wasn’t the main thing. Obama proposes absurd ideas. He asks, "Even if we did have only Christians in our midst, if we expelled every non-Christian from the United States of America, whose Christianity would we teach in the schools? Would we go with James Dobson's or Al Sharpton's?" He asks if biblical passages should guide policy when chapters like Leviticus suggest slavery is OK and eating shellfish is an abomination.
GOD: Those are good questions.
DOBSON: It’s fruitcake! Obama was equating Old Testament texts and dietary codes that no longer apply to Jesus' teachings in the New Testament
GOD: So you accept that some passages written in the Bible long ago don’t apply literally now?
DOBSON: Of course!
GOD: Such as the part about homosexual relations being an abomination?
DOBSON: Well, uh, I mean that one is your literal word.
GOD: I didn’t write the Bible either.
DOBSON: What? That’s blasphemy!
GOD: Seriously? Get off your pulpit, I’m not the media.
DOBSON: What about Creation? Are you suggesting that the Creation story is an invention of man? An interpretation of how you started Life on Earth?
GOD: What do you think?
DOBSON: I don’t think. I have faith. Stop testing me. Is Creation literal? I need to know.
GOD: You want answers?
DOBSON: I think I'm entitled to them.
GOD: You want answers?
DOBSON: I want the truth!
GOD: You can't handle the truth! Dobson, I created a world that has flaws. And those flaws have to be embraced by men with compassion. Who's gonna do it? You? You, James Dobson? I have a greater responsibility than you can possibly fathom. You weep for so-called “Christian right” and you curse the Obamas of the world. You have that luxury. You have the luxury of not knowing what I know: that the Christian right’s downfall, while self-inflicted, probably will save your country from a stupid war. And my existence, while greater than you imagine and incomprehensible to you, values all lives...You don't want the truth. Because deep down, in places you don't talk about on Fox News, you want me to love the flaws. You, of all people, need me to love the flaws.
Real believers use words like faith, love and peace...they use these words as the backbone to a life spent creating something. You use 'em as a punchline. I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very forgiveness I provide, then questions the manner in which I provide it! I'd rather you just said thank you and went on your way. Otherwise, I suggest you pick up a handcart and ride to Hell. Either way, I don't give a damn what you think you're entitled to!
DOBSON: Did you create Man through evolution?
GOD: (quietly) I do the job Man created Me to do.
DOBSON: Did you create Man through evolution!?
GOD: You're Me damn right I did!!

conversation with God = idiots who can't govern

Humor Blogs is omnipotent

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

A Place For My Stuff and Stuff For All My Places

My wife and I took a long weekend to get away from our stuff for a while. We were going to drive to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, but what with the price of gas and all the trouble in Darfur, we decided to stick to Southern Ohio.
We spent our time on two quests. The first was to stuff ourselves by discovering some diners, drive-ins and dives, featuring comfort (fatty) foods. The best of these were Beaugard’s Southern BBQ in Wilmington, Ohio and Joe’s U.S. Route 40 Grille in Springfield, Ohio, where we asked what kind of food they had and the waitress said, "Everything". (It is true - the website is woefully deficient in showing what they offer). The worst was the Oasis CafĂ© in Xenia, Ohio, where the waitress hid her mouth with her pad as she listed the salads and soups. This should have been a clue.
The second mission was to acquire more stuff. This was done initially by going to Columbus and buying some Ohio State paraphernalia to brand us as Ohio State parents, as much as this goes against my SoCal DNA. Second, we did what I have to describe as “antiquing”, because that is a short, descriptive term, so it’s convenient, even if not accurately descriptive of what we did. We went to a giant antique mall to shop, though we are not buyers of antiques in the common use of the term: old furniture or valuable works of art. We were in the market for collectibles; old knick-knacks and worthless, nostalgic possessions.
The term “collectibles” was coined by the antique mall industry because it conjures the image of “valuables” while drawing in buyers with lesser means. But collectibles are merely things that can be collected, like dust or grass clippings. “Collectibles” is a half-step up from “recyclables”, which is just trash with a reprieve.
My wife and I already have several collections that we were seeking to add to. For reasons too mushy to elaborate on, we have a collection of bunnies, or, more accurately, representations of bunnies. We have fabric bunnies and wooden bunnies and plastic bunnies and pictures of bunnies on plates and cups and bowls. If the bunnies are named Peter or Wiggly, the representations are more valuable expensive.
We have bottles that once contained milk from dairies we’ve never heard of. But they have amusing slogans or, perhaps, pictures of bunnies. We have collections too numerous to list, which all started at some antique store or another. We have a collection of little notebooks in which we could catalog the collectibles and where we collected them. But we haevn’t.
We also have collections that weren’t spawned in antique malls. I have my old Sports Illustrated magazines in the basement, between the comics and the Playboys. I collected each of those at different phases in my life, with some overlapping.
A collection is anything you have more than two of, just as it takes at least three cats to make a crazy lady. And once you have a collection of item X, according to my wife, you have to buy more. You can easily do that on eBay and save gas, but then you would miss a world of opportunity. In 1968, I saw Don Drysdale break the record for consecutive shutout games. Walking down a random aisle in the antique mall, I spotted a Sports Illustrated that had Drysdale’s picture on it, with a row of 9 zeroes above his head. I had gone 40 years without realizing that I wanted and needed that magazine. I never would have stumbled on it while cruising eBay. Furthermore, I may have that issue in my basement - Don Drysdale, somewhere between Donald Duck and a pair of double D’s - but I would never have thought to look for it. It was much easier to pay $4 for it in a store than try to dig it out of a box.
We also bought an old bottle, that had once contained chocolate milk, because it had a cute picture of a cow on it. How would we have known to look for that on eBay? We collected some nice memories, but not much stuff. In regards to stuff, it was not a very successful trip, considering the cost of gas to get around. However, we did eat all our vegetables at every meal, which, someone's mother would have assured me, benefited the starving children of Africa.

antiquing trip = piquant, tiring

Hey, try something for me: click over here once or twice

Monday, June 23, 2008

The Seven Worst Words I Wish They Couldn't Say on Television.

George Carlin is dead at age seventy-one. I grew up in a family that appreciated intelligence and loved words. Puns abounded and massive dictionaries were handy. We were introduced early to Scrabble and to the original "Password" on television.
George Carlin was known for words. He did the classic "Seven Dirty Words" routine. That routine is at the end of "Class Clown" and, as he starts into it, the audience applauds: this is what they were waiting for. "The other stuff was very funny, but now he's going to say those words. Those dirty words."
There are many comedians who use the word "motherfucker" as a punchline. The great thing about Carlin is that he didn't use those words just to titillate (heh, heh, that word has "tit" in it *snicker*). His routine was about the effect they have and the way people react to them. My favorite part was when he pointed out the words that go both ways and you have to be careful with: "you can talk about pricking your finger, but not fingering your prick."
Carlin talked about words a lot. He had a routine about contradictory terms such as "jumbo shrimp" and "military intelligence". It's hard to pick a favorite Carlin routine, but "Baseball and Football" is right up there for me, with the comparison of "diamonds" and "gridirons", "ups" and "downs" and how the words represent the sports. That was the thing, though, he talked about what words represent: ideas. He explored religion through the words, "Heaven, Hell, Purgatory and Limbo" (seriously, get the album, I'm not linking to every routine he ever did).
Carlin is the most intelligent comedian I can think of. He will be eulogized equally by lovers of comedy and by lovers of words and ideas.
I wish he'd lived to 105, a much funnier age.

George Carlin passes = one grasps sacrilege

Thursday, June 19, 2008

The Game Is a Foot

Perhaps Sherlock Holmes is needed for this one. Or maybe these guys:
This is the city:Vancouver, British Columbia, Canadia. Vancouver is down by the bay, where some dare not go. You never know what you might see: a whale, with a polka dot tail; a bear, combing his hair. I’ve seen it all. My name is Friday, I carry a badge.
Eight a.m. Wednesday morning: I was working the day watch out of foot patrol for the Royal Canadian Dismounted Police. My partner, Bill Gannon walked in with something in his hand.
"They found another foot."
“Looks like a shoe.”
“There’s a foot inside.”
“I am holding still.”
“Not ‘pause’, ‘paws.’ They’re finding paws in the water.”
“The other ones were human feet. This one is an animal foot.”
“Not a bear foot.”
“No. Not big enough for a bear.”
“Not ‘bear’, ‘bare’. Not a bare foot. It had a shoe.”
“I see. Any ideas who might have done it?”
“Look for someone who recently acquired a few inches.”
“How’s that?”
“Someone about whom it might be said, ‘Give him an inch, he’ll take a foot.”
“I get it.”
“What do the Mounties say?”
“Let’s find out.”
Eight fifteen, Wednesday morning. We were in the office of RCMP spokeswoman Annie Linteau: "In the first four cases, we did not find any evidence the feet were severed."
“You found four feet?’
“No body.”
Somebody found them.”
“I mean you found no bodies in the water with the feet.”
“And they weren’t severed?”
“Didn’t appear to be.”
“Just detached, ma’am?”
“Then you know who I’d look for?”
“Someone footloose and fancy free.
Eight thirty, Wednesday morning. My partner and I were back in our office. He had a theory.
“I suspect that the feet are from victims of Snidely Whiplash: people he had tied to a train track or a log in the sawmill. Got their feet cut off.
“Maybe. But I know one thing.”
“What’s that?”
“Those Royal Canadian Mounted Police always get their man.”
“Yeah. Now they are just doing it one piece at a time.”
The story you have just heard is true. The names have been changed to protect the innocent soles.

Severed foot = toes overfed

Monday, June 16, 2008

Java Jive

I like coffee. I also crave the patina of coolness that comes from hanging at Starbucks, wifi-ing your way to work and grooving to a fresh CD of some aged jazz legend dueting with rappers and pop stars. But I have a problem at Starbucks. It's not that I don't speak Fritalian or that I can't afford the overpriced lattechinomochalous; it's that I like coffee. Black coffee. I don't even ask them to leave room for soy milk or a shot of maple syrup or a stuffed bear. Going to Starbucks and getting just black coffee, though, is like going to Dunkin Donuts and buying a donut; it's embarrassing, as if you can't think of something more creative and hip.
I just want coffee to wake me up and start my day. But this morning I saw this story. Instead of waking up and smelling the coffee, all I have to do is smell the coffee to wake up. In the same way as you get cancer from second-hand smoke.
So this morning my friend comes and asks if I want some Starbucks. I go with him and just wait while he orders. "You don't want anything?" "No," I say,"you know I don't like to just get black coffee here."
"But that's what I'm getting -- c'mon, we can be freaks together."
"Can I just smell yours?" I ask.
"I just want to smell it." I take his coffee and pop the lid and stick my nose down practically touching the liquid as I inhale the aroma. "I read that this is just as good as actually drinking it. The smell wakes you up."
"So, you wannna give me 2 bucks for your share of the coffee?"
"What? I only smelled it."
"If you're getting a contact high off my coffee, you ought to pay for it."
I thought about it for a bit. I did feel bad, as though I'd just taken some fable he wrote and used it in my blog as my own material.
"Okay, I owe you. Here's two bucks." I took two bills out of my wallet and snapped them a couple times. Then I pocketed them.
"What was that?"
"I took the aroma of your coffee - and bought it with the sound of my money. Here's your tip," I said as I bounced a quarter off the table and back into my hand.

coffee aroma = fear moo face

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Teach Your Children

Read to your kids; it is one of the greatest influences you can have on them. But beware: the literature I read to my daughter led her to love a movie that embraces anarchy and violence.
We know that what we read to our kids shapes their lives. That's why we read to them at bedtime: it helps prepare them for being 50 years old, sitting in a comfortable chair reading the same page for an hour and a half because you keep nodding off in the same place and now it's well past 10 pm, time to go to bed, and you don't have a clue what the book is about.
Winnie the Pooh was probably my favorite book among those my father read to us. When I tried to share the original Pooh stories with my daughter, she would tolerate only those involving Eeyore because, apparently, I do a very fine impression of a morose, passive-aggressive, donkey with his tail nailed to his ass (no pun intended). Young Allie was more a fan of the Disney Pooh, which was sacrilege in my family, what with the Rabbit character being made into a Bug Bunny/Roger Rabbit mutant and the introduction of Gopher (why? What earthly improvement over the classic Pooh cast does he bring? None, that's what.) She still loves Pooh today, but I don't think the Pooh stories I read her had much influence on who she is now.
The earliest real favorite "book" of Allie's that I remember was an FAO Schwartz catalog. I "read" this to her so many times that it eventually fell apart. She was young enough that she was just learning new words. She would point at pictures, I would say the item and she would repeat all or part of it. That's how she learned to say "Boop" because Betty Boop was enjoying a resurgent popularity that year in the form of childrens' toys because, I suppose, Betty was an equally good role model as Barbie (if you never actually saw the sex-and-drug-influenced early Betty). Our shared catalog reading heavily influenced her later years. I believe she is pursuing her education to enter a lucrative career that will provide money for incessant shopping sprees. And catalogs: Victoria's Secret catalog is her favorite reading material now, just judging by the number of editions we have around the house. But we never sit on the couch with this one, paging through it, pointing at the pictures and saying "Boop".
Somehow, Allie became interested in the New Yorker cartoons and I had several of those books that had belonged to my parents. I would read her those and try to explain them. She loved Charles Addams' and his "Addams' Family" characters. It is because of these cartoons, I believe, that my daughter wants to live in New York someday; all the people there are so witty and weird and gothic.
Finally we got into Calvin and Hobbes which influenced Allie to become funny and ironic and cynical, just like her dad. We read every one of those comic collections we could get our hands on and we still haven't forgiven Bill Watterson for quitting. But it was Calvin and his tiger who led Allie and me later in life to an appreciation of the violence-laden, anarchy-endorsing movie "Fight Club". How is that related to Calvin and Hobbes? Well, under rule #1, I can't talk about it, but I can link you to this.

FAO Schwartz catalog = a frog waltz act: Chaos!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Keep Off the Grass

Study: Marijuana potency reaches 30-year high in 2007" Heh,heh: 30-year high, get it? John Walters, director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy said, "Today's report makes it more important than ever that we get past outdated, anachronistic views of marijuana." Would that be the anachronistic views expressed in Refer Madness, that marijuana would lead to "shocking acts of violence and incurable insanity"? Or the anachronistic views of the 70's they tried to sell us - that we'd all become heroin addicts? In high school, in 1972, we saw an anti-marijuana message featuring Sonny and Cher, because naturally we all found them incredibly cool role models. We laughed at these messages - ah, probably we were stoned.
If there is an anachronistic view of marijuana that we would pass on to our children when we learn that their pot is more potent than ours was, it is this:
"Son, back in my day, we had it tough. The dope wasn't like it is nowadays. We had to toke a lot harder and a lot longer to get high. And we had to cut little circles out of our window screens to put in the bowl of the bong. Flies would get in the house and shit, but we sorta got fascinated, just watching them buzz round and round and buzz while we were getting buzzed, that was so cool, they're buzzing and we're buzzing, and bzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.........We had to walk miles barefoot to get to the store for chocolate chip cookies and Doritos, and they didn't have the sour cream and onion kind then. But we would find this one Dorito that was a perfect triangle and then just stare at it and, like, dude, it is SO triangular...... triiianguuulaaar. That word is weird. So, what I was saying, the only advantage we had was that album covers were a lot bigger - good space for cleaning seeds and stems out of your dope. No way you can use these damn tiny CD jewel boxes. I can't even see the seeds anymore without my glasses. And what're you gonna do with an iPod? The downer was that one side of a vinyl album is only 20 minutes and we had to get up and turn the f'ing record over all the time. Though sometimes it was kind of hypnotizing hearing the needle at the end of the track...skzzzzzzz..chi-clunk..skzzzzz..chi-clunk..skzzzz.......where was I?"

Potent marijuana = Puritan jam at one
Late for the sky = Fatherly tokes

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

He's Got the Hole World In His Hands

Iowa has corn, Cincinnati has cornhole. The cornhole is big around here, which is why the MOVIE centers around a national championship tournament held in Cincinnati. This movie is sure to be every bit as good as Dodgeball or The Waterboy. The website is a treasure trove of grammar errors, which may be intentional to make it look trashy. There is the one-line summary: "'Cornhole: The Movie' follows four teams as they make there way to the National Cornhole Championship in Cincinnati, Ohio.", this line in the psuedo history: "the Kipling’s would parish of starvation that very winter." and a few tortured sentence constructions you can find for yourself.
My neighbor, the one with the kegerator, has a cornhole set (two boards and the corn bags) and I have spent a few pleasant, humid, mosquito-infested evenings tossing sacks with him and our other neighbors. We live in Blue Ash, just North and East of Cincinnati, but, sometimes when the bags are flying and the beer is flowing, you might think you were lost on the West Side.

cornhole = her colon
Cornhole the Movie = cheer hot moon evil

Saturday, June 7, 2008

I Hope You Dance

Ken Griffey Jr. will soon hit his 600th home run. It won't be long after that that his career in his home town of Cincinnati comes to an end as the Reds turn to youth to rebuild a team. Nevertheless, yesterday I was more concerned with the career of another Cincinnati native son, when I told my family, "I think I am really going to miss Shane Sparks on 'So You Think You Can Dance'." Shane has been a judge and choreographer over the first three seasons of SYTYCD, but is now involved in other projects. When I talk about SYTYCD or Mr. Sparks with the guys (my boyz) I see the look in their eyes: "Why does he know so much - or even anything - about dance?"
I developed an interest in dance because of my daughter, who learned and performed and competed with the Studio For Dance in Cincinnati. Allie is an only child, who declared early on that she was not going to play "any sport involving a ball". So I ended up driving the minivan to dance competitions, toting dance bags, costumes and makeup, while the other dads were off coaching soccer games or watching their sons play baseball. The dads who did show up at the competitions tried to adopt the proper masculine response to a room full of satin and tulle (I swear I don't really know if that's what dance costumes are made of) by complaining conspicuously about having to watch this dance stuff ("stuff" here serves as a polite euphemism). The more troubled men would run up and down in front of the stage, as if it were a ballfield sideline, exhorting their little girls to "Dance faster! Don't let Amber get ahead of you! Knock her down! Don't be a pussy!", the last comment being inappropriately screamed out during a number from the Broadway show, "Cats". Meanwhile, I sat serenely enjoying the the whole spectacle, knowing that no matter how much testosterone they generated, they could not push back the tide of estrogen in the room. My life had prepared me to accept this state of being. And, I must say, sitting in a room full of women watching girls dance to "Singing in the Rain" is not such a bad way to spend a day as compared to, say, watching soccer in the rain. Besides, there were refreshments.
My daughter no longer dances with the studio (though she did take a tap class at Ohio State and you can see the class perform here and here. My daughter is the tall one on the right.) Looking back, I don't regret a minute of the time spent watching her dance all these years. And I still enjoy "So You Think You Can Dance", which she got us started watching, and I openly admire Shane Sparks. Some guys try to make excuses for me: "Well, Shane is hip hop, dude. Hip hop is a guy thing, so you cool, JohnnyB." True enough, but I also like Tyce Diorio and, girlfriend, I think he might be gay. I don't care, Shane might be too. Makes no difference, I'm still glad I discovered Shane in one of his other projects over at "America's Best Dance Crew" last season; I've got a new dance show to watch. Ken Griffey Jr. never was and never will be as athletic as those dancers. And sitting in the living room with my family, watching dance on a 92 degree summer day in Cincinnati is nicer than sweltering at the ball park. And the refreshments are cheaper.

Check out and Bloggers Choice

Shane Sparks = share spanks

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Free Falling

Way back at the beginning of the Presidential campaign (God, we were so innocent then)Hillary Clinton's biggest problem was what theme song to use. For a time, she was using Tom Petty's "American Girl", because people often don't really listen to lyrics. "American Girl" contains the wonderfully prophetic lyric, "God, it's so painful, Something that’s so close, And still so far out of reach.” At the time, Hillary's nomination was consideered inevitable. Now you can find myriad stories on "What went wrong?"
Was it this or this or this or this or this? People look at Obama without a flag lapel pin and decide that he is unpatriotic. Do people look at the fit of Hillary's pantsuits and decide that she must be smuggling illegal aliens strapped to her thighs (a practice which may or may not be un-American but is a crime of fashion, which is what women in public life are judged on)?
None of these is the reason she lost. She lost because she was considered inevitable. As soon as people got that message, Hillary Clinton became Bruce Willis in "The Sixth Sense". Some kid should have told her, "My secret is I see dead candidates." Barack Obama was the underdog. Americans love an underdog, right? Not exactly. The reason we root for the underdog is that we love to see the mighty fall. "The Tortoise and the Hare" is not a popular fable because tortoises are cute and cuddly (they are not); it is popular because we want to see the smug, self-assured hare take a fall. America loved Britney Spears until she became too successful, then we ate up the scandal rags who dragged her down. When Hillary became recognized as inevitable, she might as well have gotten drunk and driven around with Chelsea on her lap (a fantasy I've had ever since Chelsey matured).
Many years ago the Dallas Cowboys were dubbed "America's Team" and that's when America began to hate them. But the biggest sports evil is the New York Yankees, the "Damn Yankees" (they are so hated there is a play about the dream of their defeat.) The Yankees are hated because for so many years they have been the best team, the team to beat. We''ll root for any underdog to beat them. When Hillary Clinton began her long campaign for the Presidency, she moved to New York, became a Senator and adopted the Yankees are her favorite team. How could she miss the implications? Did it never occur to her to pick the Mets? And what state does Senator Obama represent? Illinois, home of the Cubs. Who wouldn't root for the Cubs to whip the Yankees? (Side note: the "inevitable" Republican nominee at the beginning was Rudy Giuliani, who is from what state?)
Toward the end, Hillary got it. Senator Obama became inevitable in some people's eyes. Hillary started comparing herself to Rocky going up against Apollo Creed. She switched Tom Petty songs and chose "Won't Back Down". It started to work, but it was too late. For a while she seemed to be "Runnin' Down a Dream", but she was actually just "Free Fallin'"

Underdog = grounded

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Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Mutual Admiration society

The brilliant Bill Brohaugh has critiqued and even recommended this very blog - and he doesn't even like blogs.
Seeing this language expert's links to some of my posts made me go back and check them over carefully. I had to hurriedly kick a couple errors under the bed and toss a few typos in the guestroom, behind closed doors, in the same way as I tidy my house when visitors are coming.
If you are one of those visitors and you also like this blog, please click here and add a vote for me.

Read Bill Brohaugh = bad, horrible laugh = rabbi laugh holder

Monday, June 2, 2008

F is For the Few Things That You Gave Him

It's June so, according to the card aisle and the gift tip web sites, it is time to celebrate "Dads and Grads". Yeah, we dads have to share the spotlight. Moms don't do that. May is not time for "Moms and Proms". Father's were an afterthought anyway. President Woodrow Wilson declared the first national Mothers' Day in 1914. President Calvin Coolidge recommended Father's Day as a national holiday in 1924. Not for nothing was he known as "Silent Cal"; no one heard him. It was over 50 years later that "in 1966, President Lyndon Johnson made Father's Day a holiday ... The holiday was not officially recognized until 1972, during the presidency of Richard Nixon." How can I feel good about any domestic policy of Richard Nixon?
Mother's Day is the most popular day for eating out at restaurants. And who pays? (Hint: Not the kids.) What record does Father's Day hold? Most collect calls.
The final insult is that Wikipedia claims that "Schools and other children's programs commonly have activities to make Father's Day gifts." Ha! Remember that part about "Dads and Grads"? Father's Day comes after the school year ends. In May, Dads get to smile and ooh and ahh over the gifts that the kids make in school and bring home to Mom. Come June the kids are home for summer and up early begging Dad to take them somewhere they can spend his money (and making collect calls to do it).
Back in 1972 there was a "generation gap", kids were peace-loving, pot-smoking, lazy-ass hippies and Dad's were the Establishment. Nixon made it an official holiday at a time when children were angry at their parents for making Nixon President in the first place. No wonder the holiday has never really caught on.

Father's Day = He Farts Day

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