Sunday Funday . . .

There are few songs as universally appealing and satisfying as "The Weight". There are also fewer songs that are so universally covered - often in unappealing and unsastisfying ways. 

There there is this fantastic version - featuring young and old - from the Grammy's a few years ago. There is no embed code for this one but it is worth a click over to another site. Please to enjoy - with thanks to SLF for sharing it with me. 


Angsty, Caged Fool . . .

So powerful and mighty I bore myself.
I, too often to really admit and yet too often to really deny, sit in my otherwise quiet moments and mentally, emotionally pace. 

Like a teenager in the mid-90s on the corded phone in the family's kitchen, I try to keep what I'm saying/thinking/doing to myself but all too often, especially now that I'm sharing a home and the otherwise quiet moments of my life with another adult, the grumps leak out into the air (by way of audible grumbles). 

There are any number of things that can set me off . . . a Tweet, a sequence in a TV show we are binge watching on the Roku, a glance at her scrolling up and down Facebook like real life and breaking news are happening there, an article in one of my millions of unread magazines, a change in air flow without explanation, my sock not staying all the way up on my calves. ALL the important stuff but every now and again (and it should be more often than not) I will find myself mid-rant and just get tired of my own schtick.

WHY do I care about the things I claim are impossible to care less about? WHY do I let things that truly don't matter to me (like war, poverty, and equality (I kid, I kid)) get me so upset? WHY do I give mental energy that I could spend on my plan for world domination and/or the ultimate plan to fade in to the shadows on "stuff"? WHY do I get so worked up about something that I can eventually just talk my own way out of by simply listening to my own crap?

There is a simple solution . . . go back in to therapy. There is a slightly more complicated, yet still shockingly easy solution . . . medication. There is a better solution that doesn't require co-pays or the abuse of chemistry for my petty brain . . . running more often. There is a slightly less tiresome, slightly less energy consuming solution . . . ignoring stuff. There is a slightly more realistic solution . . . oh crap, what was I ranting about anyway? 


To the Moon . . .

For the record - Ralph never actually hit Alice on The Honeymooners.
I have something horribly tragic to tell you . . . Special Lady Friend (SLF) has (and I'm quoting) "NO" interest in going to the moon. None.

She doesn't want to go - she won't go. No way. No how. Not going. Nuh-uh. No way. Fugghedaboud.

And this, for some strange reason that makes NO sense, hurts my fragile, dark, barely-beating heart.

NOT because I think any of us have a chance to go to the moon any time soon (let's be honest - no one has ever, ever been TO the moon). NOT because even if we were going to the moon I think SLF or I would be on the list of good candidates to make the trip (every ounce counts in space travel). NOT because I am chomping at the bit to go to the moon (I don't like flying to Dallas . . . all 40 minutes of airtime that are involved).

No. I'm not upset because she is, as always, being honest and who she is but because to decline the opportunity to go to the moon so emphatically and without any consideration, for me, seemed very closed-off and unimaginative.

I want to believe that a woman I'm building my life with will always be open to discussion on things like a trip to the moon, how many licks it takes to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop, if she would F.M. or K. Oprah, Rosie O'Donnell, or Rachel Ray, and if there is any chance that the egg really came before the chicken. I wanna believe that there is an openness and imagination in that scientifically-governed head of hers.

I should point out she disclosed this weekend that she would "happily" abandon her education, career, and everything else for a billion dollars and to be the kept woman of a Koch magnate/monster. Maybe her spirit is in better shape than I thought. We'll live to love another day.

In the meantime, if anyone wants a morbidly obese man to go to the moon . . . sign. me. up.


Female Authors . . .

There are dozens of forms of sexism that are more and less acceptable than others. There is the man-rushing-to-hold-a-door-for-a-woman-who-doesn't-wish-to-have-the-door-held-open-for-her form and then there is the man-rushing-to-get-in-the-way-of-a-woman-getting-equal-pay form. I could argue that one is more harmful than the other but that is not (as a white, middle-aged, middle-class, white male) my place. It is sexism for me to presume that I have a useful opinion on this issue (you've read my Gran Torino rant, right?).

Instead I'll admit, here, that I'm guilty of a form of sexism that may not even be recognized on the door-hold/career-hold-back scale . . . I'm a literature sexist. I can honestly tell you in the 34 (or so) years I've been literate and the probably 1,000 books I've read in those years I've read MAYBE thirty books by female authors. And I didn't even like all of them.

I know, I know . . . I should be (and AM) ashamed. Here are the books by women I can remember reading and enjoying off the top of my head (I'm sure there are more):

  1. Ann Packer's "The Dive From Clausen's Pier". It really was magical in its momenty.
  2. ANYTHING Alice Munro has ever written (short stories vs. full-length books) with emphasis on "Hateship, Friendship, Courtsthip, Loveship, Marriage". She's truly terrific.
  3. Harper Lee's "To Kill a Mockingbird". Because to not like it is disrespectful.
  4. "Pride and Prejudice" by Jane Austen. Because, well, sexism. 
  5. "The Magic Treehouse" (Vol. 1 - 35 and counting) by Mary Pope Osborne (but those are mainly for my daughter's sake)
  6. Ayn Rand's "Atlas Shrugged". I'm still, years on, in the process of reading it and I disagree with a good chunk of it but it is well written stuff - no doubt about that.
  7. Virginia Woolf's "Mrs. Dalloway". TOUGH reading (her sentence structure is insane) but she writes her ass off.
  8. "A Wrinkle In Time" By Madeline L'Engle. Going OLD SCHOOL on you. 
I have a few ideas for why this "is" (note that they will all remove me from any personal responsibility) including theories on female authors having clearer paths to success (certainly there are millions of women out there who can and do write exceptionally well) in genres as categories that I don't appreciate as much or that are not "for" me like Young Adult literature (something that was almost non-existent when I was a "young adult") and children's books (those maternal instincts - yes, I'm aware this is sexism but it is a theory). I also think that, traditionally speaking, we (men and women) sort of appreciate similar perspectives to our own even in a world of fiction and hijinx. I could also, sadly, make the same clarification that I traditionally enjoy white, male authors. 

So here's what I'm doing . . . I'm going to start a 50% rule for my reading. Henceforth (and based on averages) 50% of the books I read will be written by women and/or minorities as a way to force me to discover the thousands and thousands of books that are, to date, unknown.

Any suggestions to get me going?


Garage Sale . . .

There are a handful of things in the world that excite me . . . even fewer if you remove adolescent terms for human mammaries (note that is adolescent TERMS for ADULT mammaries) . . . more than garage sales.

I'm not even kidding. I truly LOVE garage sales. Okay, fine, not ALL garage sales. Maybe only some . . . They have to happen between mid-March and mid-June or mid-September and mid-November. That way the weather is not too hot/cold (you'll find even the hosts of these things don't take them as seriously when the weather is less than idyllic). They have to be at least two-family garage sales. You get more inventory and you can run "game" on the hosts by bidding down the pricing on items while negotiating with the host that isn't the one parting with Sweet Aunt Lydia's crap. They also have to be in middle class neighborhoods. Too rich . . . they miss the point of a garage sale (I want at least ONE thing on the table with a fast food chain logo on it). Too poor . . . they miss the point of a garage sale (stop trying to sell me food with fast food chain logos on the packaging). Then, of course, you have to hit the sweet spot where the hosts haven't had a sale in at least a year-ish but they also haven't gone more than a few years without a sale (feast or famine, folks). Last thing . . . they have to be a Friday/Saturday sale. I don't like the Thursday/Friday/Saturday sales. I'm not taking the day off from work to sift through your stuff.

But if I can get all those things together in a Super Saturday Sale Setting (that's alliteration, suhn) I'm in. I dig it. I dig it the MOST. And I'm digging on and for (that is figurative literalism, suhn) the following items - somewhat exclusively:
  1. Paintings. The stuff your depressed wife did. The thing you did in college when you went through your "weed" phase. The painting that was really en vogue in the late 80s and has hung on your living room wall since. There is beauty in the ugly. 
  2. Glass Art. Vases, paperweights, ships in bottles, glass-bottomed lamps, stained glass panels or lamps, Grimace glasses from McDonald's.
  3. Books. I'm obsessed with books in general but if you tell me that they are suddenly $0.25 or $0.50/book I'm even more obsessed. Jane Fonda's autobiography? Sure. An un-authorized biography about Jane Fonda? That, too. A signed copy of Newt Gingrich's third book? I'll take it. A coffee table book (complete with coffee rings on the dust jacket) of Elton John's clothing auction from the late-90s? Yep. Give me all the books.
  4. Video Game Systems. I've never really played them (other than a serious passion for all-things Mario for my entire life, NBA Jam in the mid-90s, and Tiger Wood's Golf in the early 00s) and I never really will but I'll still thumb through the consoles, games, etc. that people have amassed over the years. Fascinating how quickly those things depreciate. 
  5. Things That I Presume MUST Be Valuable. Admit it - for the same reason that we buy scratch tickets - we are really just hoping to find an actual Monet amidst the crap your wife painted. So, yeah, paintings and china and baseball cards and all that crap. I'll just look and look and look - all the while having NO idea what I'm really even looking at.
  6. Musical Instruments. I can play many instruments (not well but I play them) and I'm always wrestling with my urges to buy your old trumpet or snare drum. And, seriously, if you ever see a bassoon or xylophone at ANY price - call me IMMEDIATELY. I'm in. 
  7. Collectibles. Marbles, pool balls, post cards, coffee mugs with NPR-affiliate logos, and LEGO blocks. Yep. I'll take all them and more. Not sure what I'm going to do with them but I'm going to buy them through you.


Shoe Search . . .

It is (already) that time again . . . time for a new pair of running shoes. The "average" runner can put as many as 500 miles on a pair of kicks but I'm only good for about 300 - 350 (I've got over 280 on my current pair) miles before I have to replace. I've talked about my shoes too much lately BUT I am at this weird crossroads where I can't figure out what to buy.

My limited mandates for my shoes is that they can't be Asics (my first pair of running shoes were Asics and the guy who did my "fitting" was clearly not paying attention because they were horrible for me) and they can't be Nike (I don't like the day-glo, knit bologna and I've never read anything good about Nike shoes on fat men's feet), they have to be good for stability/stride correction, they have to be cushiony enough to support 4-mile (average) daily runs with some runs up to, well, 13.1 miles, and they have to be somewhat universal in terms of clothes you can wear with them (No, I don't want to "match" my running outfits but some basic color harmony is how I am wired - see my obsession with neutrals and basic colors in daily life).

Here are the finalists I have "narrowed" it down too.


My current shoe just in, well, a different color scheme. I don't even LIKE my current shoes (I miss my beloved Trance (Brooks "replaced" the Trance with the Transcend) so everything else is just compare/contrast. They served me well. Still injury free. They are also on clearance for like $80. This is a STEAL in the world of running shoes.


The second edition to the Transcend. The reviews on line show many improvements in people's pleasure with the shoe but they are still just a knock-off of the Trance and, well, they are f*cking RED.  Of all the colors in Roy G. Biv's name I hate red the most. By a mile. And I have to log 300 miles in shoes. Life is too short to hate your running shoe but, well, creature of habit so Brooks is the way to go. I think (more on that later).


Many Brooks loyalists believe these are the Trance's real spirit animal. They've been around as long as (longer, technically) but they, like all shoe models, have evolved. These supposedly have great support and stability but when I tried a pair on in February - I was underwhelmed at the implied "safety" of them (I roll my ankles constantly so I need good guide rails/stability).


My "other" sneakers (trainers, etc.) have been NB for years and years and I love them. These shoes get good praise for stability and do fairly well for cushioning concerns but get mixed reviews for longevity.

NEW BALANCE 1260v4 (Option A)

The premiere NB for cushioning and stability (save the foam-soled b.s. they are pushing right now) these shoes are likely going to be the ones that move ALL my athletic footwear over to the New Balance family.

NEW BALANCE 1260v4 (Option B)

The same thing as above (with all their pros and cons) but these are a little more "flashy" in color scheme (those soles look like actual flames) and I'm not sure I can pull off flame soles while running so slowly (No - that is NOT irony.).

Well? Thoughts, comments, suggestions? I only have a few more weeks to figure this out and while I can/do get up at 4:45 AM (I've been lazy these last few weeks but I'm back at it now) and give an hour, or two, or THREE each day to running I can't seem to "find" the time to "run" (get it?) to the running store to try on any of these shoes or even get opinions beyond a few running-related web sites. Clock is ticking. One more thing . . . Special Lady Friend is buying me this pair so don't let price be an issue (evil, evil laugh).


Duck Dominance . . .

Our Eternal Flame and our sunlights. Beautiful, no?!
I was sitting in services Friday evening - just minding my own business and basking in the peace, joy, and happiness that comes with Erev Shabbat Service.

This service was particularly wonderful as a young congregant was being Bar Mitzvahed (point of order, my Goys, you ARE a bar/bat mitzvah . . . you don't "have" one). Here he was, on the bema, at the pulpit, and dropping Hebrew like a boss (cracking voice and all) when, just as we were preparing for the Torah portion of the service. All of the sudden and with very little initial clarity for myself and others in the sanctuary, we heard this horrible squealing sound that was a cross between the sound of ample buttocks sliding in or out of a bathtub and nails on a chalkboard connected to a microphone connected to a reverb machine.

It lasted a few seconds and then it stopped. We all went back to what we were doing. Then it happened again. Then again and again. Soon enough all of our eyes were looking straight up to the roof of our inverted-bucket-shaped House of G-d. And there we saw the noisemaker on high.

What was it? A duck (don't you read the names of the posts?) trying to perch itself perfectly atop the wet sunlight of the temple only to slide down the globe-ous shape to stride back up and try it again, to slide back down again. After about eight attempts my Rabbi (who is not easily shaken) even had to make a joke so we could all move on.

I doubt the duck knew that he was making all that noise. I doubt, more, that he had any idea there were dozens of people below him trying to enjoy something quiet, reserved, and beautiful. I doubt, the most, that the duck would have tried and tried to get atop that extra 18" of height if it knew we were below trying to get our worship on. No. Not because ducks are reverent but because it seems I will assign ducks the human trait of honoring those things that, while not important to us, are important to others.

As the duck gave up and Rabbi got back down to business (a wonderful sermon about the ever-shrinking-yet-ever-strong practicing Jewish population in the United States (1.9% yet the second largest group to Christians)) I wondered . . . have I ever been the duck on the roof of someone's religious home interrupting the most important rite of passage of a young man's life? Okay, fine, better question - when was the LAST time I was said duck?

Oy vey iz mir.


Enjoy Your Mani-Pedi, Ladies . . .

While we were living our middle class, entitled lives - a few weeks ago - a report came out, thanks to some terrific reporting on the part of The New York Times.

It seems at a shock to noone who really thinks these things through, that the mani-pedi industry in New York City (and let's presume all fifty of these nifty United States) is nothing to be proud of.

Some highlights from the report to consider as you book your next appointment at the local salon:

  1. Many women working in the industry fit the internationally accepted definition of SLAVERY.
  2. The money you pay to "get your nails did" turns from several dollars to a few pennies for the women grinding down your dead skin and breathing the toxic chemicals that put that shine on you.
  3. There is actual racism at play inside many salons where only certain foods can be consumed and only certain languages can be uttered while age and beauty are openly coveted. Good luck getting away with that in almost any other workplace in America (no offense, Hooters and Twin Peaks).

I can't figure out, for the life of me, how the mani-pedi industry has become the force that it is (worth billions a year if you clump in those ridiculous Jamberry stickers women buy at house parties and stick on their dead hair cells in the privacy of their own home). And yet . . . there it is. In all its high-shine, well-lacquered glory.

I would never, ever get a professional pedicure.

  1. My feet are actually disgusting. I mean GROSS.
  2. I don't like being touched by strangers - or people I know and love.
  3. I don't want strangers touching my gross feet.
The most "troubling" pat of this report, for me, was not how much it made me cringe to consider having someone touch my gross feet while living the life of an actual slave but, more horribly, it was the reaction of women (calm down, Sheryl Sandberg - the fact is over 96% of the entire "nail industry" in the US is spent by and on women) asked to, well, react to the report.

It turns out they had the same defense we all hate the most . . . "That would not happen at my salon. All the women are happy to work there, make great money, and see a positive career path ahead of them that will leave them wealthy and comfortable later in life." (Okay, okay . . . paraphrasing). 

Stick to the Jamberry stickers, ladies. At least in that scenario less people suffer. 


Sunday Funday . . .

No. No. No. No-no. NO. NOOOO! I said "NO!" Enough with this insanity - seriously. Stop it. No. STOP IT. No. Noooooooooooo.


Loathe List . . .

It has been a good, long while (or at least a few months) since I last posted a "loathe" list. You know loathing, right? You might even feel it. It is that emotion that creeps up inside you and - while often confused for "hate" - is really about the inability to just ignore something or go "whole hog" with it enough to hate (which is a waste of emotion and energy, for the record.

I loathe LOTS of things - I used to loathe people but that, like hate, is a waste of time and energy. I can't help it. It is not that I'm not deeply loathe-worthy in my thoughts, deeds, words, and actions. It is not that I can't understand why the world is full of diverse people with their own wants/needs/etc. Nope - it is simply because I can't NOT loathe stuff. 

Here, without context, are some of the things weighing on my loathsome mind as we "speak"?
  1. That feeling when you are not sure if you are getting sick or not and you are not sure if you want to get sick or not or how quickly you do (or not) want to get sick and how long you do (or don't) want to stay sick.
  2. Vegetables. Other than fried potatoes, corn, and fried corn.
  3. That songs I remember, very well, from my own lifetime are now considered "Classic Rock".
  4. Classic Rock.
  5. When you tell a runner you aren't really a runner and don't buy in to the whole "runner culture" and they still go on to ask you about your "training" (running) schedule or your "nutrition" (eating) or "hydration" (drinking) or get in to gear and PRs and blah, blah, blah.
  6. Jewelry shopping. So many options. So few obvious choices. So much pressure.
  7. The term "deflategate". And that it takes up mental bandwidth for people. Or any one person, for that matter.
  8. People who don't see the BEAUTY in milk with ice cubes in it.
  9. That people don't know the difference between cleavage and decolletage.
  10. Running shoe shopping. So many options. So few obvious choices. So expensive.
  11. That, even more than a third of a way through 2015, cops still kill people during otherwise-routine interactions. Often with race an obvious or presumed factor. 
  12. My somewhat-frequent confusion of sukkot and shavu'ot. To your point - they are NOTHING alike other that first letter. Judaism is hard, yo.
  13. That McDonald's is seen as junk food but Panera is perceived as healthy food despite similar caloric (and other nutritional indicator) counts.
  14. When the toothpaste tube is low but not quite empty and you can't tell when to jump ship to the new tube and when to keep squeezing.
  15. The cliche "that orange ain't worth the squeeze".
  16. That acrylic, polyester, and man-made fabrics are on the rise in American "fashion".
  17. Chafing. 
  18. That I have been out of college longer than the incoming class at my alma mater has been alive.
  19. Domestic abuse.
  20. That "Susan G. Komen" is so blatantly NOT committed to research or curing cancer that they not only dropped the "Foundation" from their name but even the "For the Cure" (which was the name they went to when they stopped being a "Foundation") yet people just keep giving them more and more money for them to market themselves so they can make more money. 
I'll stop at twenty - otherwise I will go to 1,000. 


The Jelly Packet Rule . . .

There is a very funny, very cranky man out there on the "left coast" named Adam Carolla. I first became a fan of Carolla in the late-90's when he was the co-host (with Dr. Drew Pinsky) of the late-evening radio show called "Love Line". I liked his no-nonsense approach. In the sixteen-or-so-years-since, he's changed a lot (and stayed the same even more) and while I don't agree with everything he says and does his let's just cut the crap approach to life continues to impress me.

Here's the point . . . Adam Carolla has a handful of on-going rants where he criticizes the system and the status quo of the system and my favorite example of his blatantly-obvious-yet-unseen nature is Jelly Packets.

You know those things that sit in stacks or baskets on diner tables and near the toasters in bagel shops and so on? He has this theory that there is REALLY only a need for grape and strawberry. He argues, probably correctly, that the ONLY reason "mixed berry" or "apple" or "orange marmalade" are consumed is because the grape and strawberry run out.

Sure, sure - people "like" those other jellies/jams/preserves but they really just want the basics and the tried-and-true. The rest are only consumed because the people that run the restaurants get the bulk packs that come in varieties of predetermined ratio and they are too stubborn and cheap to replenish before it is all gone. But what if the geniuses at Smucker's just sold the grape and strawberry? Would they make more money? Less? Sell faster? Slower?

And would consumers really care? Probably not. Do you care that they only offer white, wheat, or X toast vs. olive oil, garlic, and parmesan sourdough? Do you care that Thomas' English Muffins are on the menu but Thomas' Corn Toast R Cakes are not? Are you in any way bothered that they have Rasin Bran and Corn Flakes but not C-3PO's.

No. You don't. Because you understand that life is not about  having every possible option and every possible opportunity. Life is about having what you need available at all times and the ability to go find and get what you want when you choose to apply the time, effort, and energy.


10 Rules for "Teaching" My Tween Daughter . . .

I had perhaps the WORST experience in my nearly-nine-year "life" as a parent on Saturday night. Truly horrible. What happened? Dance recital.

That's right - I went to my daughter's first dance recital and it. was. truly. horrible. No, no. She was fine. About as good and talented as a nearly-nine-year-old who has only taken classes for four months can be, at least. She and her cohort of six- to nine-year-olds danced a ballet-ish version of the Cinderella-taken "Bibbidi Bobbidi Boo" and I was proud of her for being an un-official leader of the other girls on stage.

Nope. The HORROR of the night came at the general experience. So - I've decided to lay out ten rules for "teaching" my tween daughter so that the grammatically disastoursly named MGM Studio of the Dance (the horrible place that it is - I watched one of the co-owners tell her husband she needed him to "step up and parent for a friggin' hour" a week or so ago) and I are on the same page when I yank my kid out of their strip mall purgatory when/if they violate the rules.

  1. These are our daughters (and sons - there were a handful of boys, much to my delight, in the production). They are not "PRINCESSES". Princess, you see, is an actual title "earned" when a female baby is born in to actual royalty. There is no "Princess Matilda of North Oliver and 29th Street". Just use their names. No need to cutesy these kids up with monikers and modifiers. The horrible, garish make up they are plastered with makes them "cute" enough.
  2. Choose music that is appropriate for these kids and their life experience. NO tween should ever dance to "Get Up Offa That Thing" the 1976 James Brown instruction manual on how to prolong the male orgasm. 
  3. Let me repeat - Choose music that is appropriate for these kids and their life experience. NO tween should ever be asked the execute choreography of her giving away her heart to a man or demanding a ring and flowers and other things like that in exchange for her buying groceries (are you familiar with "Dear Future Husband" because it has quickly become my least-favorite thing in the world). It's not cute. No. It is NOT. 
  4. Encourage the teachers/choreographers that put together these routines (that will, in the future, be set to age-inappropriate music) to at least take the edge off with appropriate "moves". When a tween puts her hands on her hips and dips and shifts her hips/pelvis in front of a few hundred strangers - that's a you problem. You're exploiting that little girl. Thing I'm being melodramatic? Have a kid do that any place other than a dance stage and watch the horrified reactions roll in.
  5. To that end, instructors/keepers of the class - Keep these KIDS off their backs (or at least restrict the thing where they are on their backs, legs in the air, and they are smiling back at the audience). There were sixteen different instances of little girls on their backs with their legs in the air in about two hours of dance last night. Once or twice? Maybe contextual. Sixteen times . . . hack crap. Teachers should expand the mind and skill set of dancers - not work their abs. I would encourage the "Age of Consent" rule to your productions. If a young person can't give themselves to another (sexually) under the eyes of the law, a dancer should not be sexualized at an even younger age. 
  6. Costumes and make up are certainly important. I'll give you that. But how do you arrive at the thigh-high boots and thigh-long flight attendant costumes the six year old girls are wearing while doing the hands-on-hips-dip thing? Don't say that it fits with the music. I saw the flowing tool skirts for the "Let It Go" medley. You have options. Use them. Want proof your costumes are inappropriate? There were parents making these nervous, involuntary cat calls and yelps when these young people took the stage. Know where else they do that? Strip clubs. 
  7. Be fair and consistent. Don't set one girl's solo performance to Lorde's "Yellow Flicker Beat" (complete with lyrics about every person that "ever laid a finger on me") while she rubs her blossoming bosom under spandex but have your own daughter, wearing something that looks like a first communion dress dipped in turquoise floating gently about (never touching her own chest or hip grinding - to her credit/praise) to "My Father's Heart" (a love letter to G-d, Jesus, and the miracles of nature and beauty). When are your kids above teen exhibitionism and gross feelings? Why aren't our kids?
  8. Stop pushing the notion that all you need is more money to excel in this world. Your dance palace is barely better than a pyramid scheme where parents scrape together nickels and dimes for every routine and opportunity for their kids and there is no direct feedback on how they are doing. They are given no critique. No insight in the value of time and progression of skills. Just another opportunity to spend $20 more (per kid) to participate int he "finale" (which, to clarify, is them running out on stage to free dance the final verse to the almost-too-fast-to-trite "Uptown Funk")). You're the "At the YMCA Everyone Gets a Trophy for Trying" of the dance world. Let kids realize life is hard, people have talents and abilities for some things and not others. Have hard talks with them about the need to practice, focus, take it seriously, etc. The quality of the evening would soar - and you can upsell more private/extra lessons/sessions. Ca-ching, ladies.
  9. Teaching should be about the potential of tomorrow at the expense of today. To that end - shame on you for charging parents $50 tuition/session for for "pre-dance" (Mommy-And-Me escapism with more expensive costumes) and don't make toddlers come out to blinding spotlights and chaos after their parents paid at least $100 for the class, costumes, make-up, etc. only to be dragged away by a grumpy older kid when they don't do their planned routine on the masking tape "X" at center stage. You call them "Future Stars" so you should eat the cost of their involvement. PLENTY of time to milk the teats of their parents in the decade to come.
  10. Make us proud. My ex-wife (one seat over from Special Lady Friend) tried - to NO avail - to make the point that I should stop complaining about, rolling my eyes at, and deep sighing in the direction of these songs, routines, costumes, and choices because there were "lots of proud parents" all around. I am going to argue they weren't. Or should not have been. Just like "Krystal" on Stage Two at the Spotted Llama Steakhouse and Dance Club doesn't invite her parents to see her dance - these parents were LIKELY uncomfortable to see their kids laying on the floor, feet in the air, lyrics about "bad girls" and "octopussy" thumping over their young heads and over-sprayed hair. Make us all as proud as you probably were to your daughter's Ode to Christ. 
SO, there you go MGM School of the Dance. You can have our $150/course in fees, costs, and associated expenses and I'll listen to you demean your husband in front of his children but you can't have an active role in taking away the natural progression of my daughter's sense of self.

And before any of you (readers or defenders of dance classes in general) accuse me of prudism or being out of touch - I TOTALLY get that my child will, in due time, be a fully awake and aware sexual being. She'll have all the time in the world - as that happens - to make informed, consensual, intentional decisions on how to dress, how to dance, what songs to dance to, and who to pelvic grind in front of.

I don't, as a father "like" the thought of it and I'm in no rush for it but I've got a father's daughter living with me and I'd be a hypocrite if I told you we only dance to Michael W. Smith with ankle-length tool costumes on - zipped to the chin. My disgust comes from the tone deaf nature of dismissing these songs and costumes and routines as just being part of "music today" or part of "kids maturing faster" or whatever other simple, casted-off dismissal you can give me. If the girls who danced to "Kinky Boot" asked why the lyrics talk about boots making an ass look perfect - would you explain it to her?

See you next semester, "teachers".


Sunday Funday . . .

Bernie Sanders, a true liberal who represents the great state of Vermont in the US Senate officially announced his Presidential intentions on Monday. I know I just wrote an open love letter to Hillary Clinton a few weeks ago but - in the last year I've done a lot of research on Senator Sanders and that he is running THRILLS me.

This speech - from about a year ago - where he discusses the "American Dream" is an example of why. He's not terribly handsome. He's not American Political rich. He's not overly connected or part of the machine. He's got, to many, NO shot at being a nominee much less a President but, for me, he's the ideal candidate to at least challenge the status quo, if not Hillary Clinton.


Bloodline . . .

In 2007 FX started running teasers for a TV show about a young, aspiring lawyer and the iconic lawyer of the time played by Glenn Close. The legal/crime/suspense/drama, called Damages ran for five seasons but really, in my opinion, peaked out after three. I loved Damages. It was twisty, turny, dark, and just-short-of-evil (imagine Ted Danson banging a prostitute in his car while telling her how much he loves and is committed to his wife - oh and he's doing bumps of blow off her chest at the same time). My favorite part of the show? NONE of the characters were even remotely "likeable" and yet you wanted all of them to come out clean. My favorite part of the story telling? That it was free of the space/time continuum. The show would jump back and forth and (generally) give you clues - filters and lighting changes, etc. - but not always tell you until much later that you were jumping around.

The show's creators - Glenn Kessler, Todd A. Kessler, and Daniel Zelman (or KZK as their production company identifies them) had captured my attention (I NEEDED to know who killed David and why/how) and then they ruined it by taking the show too far/long and diluted what I loved too much. I was dubious, frankly, when I heard they were making a show for Netflix called Bloodline. I'm very, very glad I gave it a chance.

Bloodline, set in the beautiful, idyllic Florida Keys tells the story of the Rayburn family - the lions of the Keys. They own a prominent resort, they are known good people, they are about to have a pier dedicated to their family name. They are a sham of a family. There are five kids (one is already dead as the curtain rises) and  none of them really seem to like each other and there is a father that we'll learn was horribly short-tempered and prone to abuse and a mother who was over-whelmed by her own family. The oldest brother, Danny, has been away for a long time but he's back for the pier dedication and that has everyone on edge.

It is NO spoiler to tell you (the show will in the first episode) that the second-oldest (and in many ways the "oldest") sibling, played by one of my favorite actors - Kyle Chandler - who is also a cop in town will, eventually, carry his dead brother through the swamp and set his body on fire on a boat. And you will be okay with this. You'll probably want the whole family on said boat, frankly. Yet you will, often, find yourself thinking "Poor Danny. He can't get a break." or "I would TOTALLY kill my brother if he did that."

THIS is why I love KZK. They want you to know that right up front and then they want you to spend twelve more hours figuring out why, how, and what the broken timeline narrative of the show makes you (foolishly) presume along the way.

Every single character on the show has demons. Every one of them a liar. Every one of them hoping and praying that their life is not exactly as it is but rather how it might be. As Kyle Chandler's John Rayburn points out "We're not bad people. We just did a bad thing."

This show is great. I HIGHLY suggest you give it a nod. There are GAPING holes in the story (but I can't wait for a potential season two to address/resolve them) but the casting, acting, and scripting are fantastic and the show feels truly made for the "binge watching" mindset many of us bring to Netflix. There is no more appropriate a venue for the show, in my opinion.

If you enjoy House of Cards (I was not in love with season three) or if you liked the early days of Damages, or - heck - if you just want a show to binge on while feeling better about your messed up family, check it out.


2015 Objectives (Update 4) . . .

"They" say that if you want to reach your goals - you should share them and your progress. Soooooo . . .

  1. Read 24 (or more) books (for ME - reading with my daughter doesn't count) 6.5 finished
  2. Run 10 miles/week (on average). Yes. That is 520 miles (or more) in 2015. 19 miles/week (368 total miles)
  3. Finish a half marathon in under three hours (as many tries at it takes). Missed it on 5/3 (by 26 minutes). Next change in October.
  4. Lose 100 Pounds. That's right. Get. Less. Fat. 33 pounds down (Lost six POUNDS in April).
  5. Reduce wasteful spending by 10% (this is actually more about not growing my spending - I'm pretty friggin' frugal now). Reduced overall spending by 28% year-to-date. I'm calling this one a victory. 
  6. Increase savings contributions by 12.5% (I've been pretty minimal on this one lately - time to grow my future). Updated 401K, IRA, 529, Investments, and Insurance products by 113%.
  7. Earn college credits (I'm going back to school, one way or another, in 2015). I have an application in at WSU. We'll see if they accept me. 
  8. Reduce social media time by 25% (10 minutes/day or less). Logging an average of just over 11 minutes/day (not including blogging, or efforts for work and/or my congregation). Down another minute in April.


Sunday Funday . . .

The Weepies are back. Sirens is a great little album and I'm so happy to FINALLY have some new music from one of my all-time favorites. Trouble . . . sometimes it needs ME!