Sunday, February 18, 2018

Today is "National Drink Wine Day"

Pop those corks and drink up everybody!

Thursday, February 15, 2018

The American Gun Problem, As Seen From a Foreigner...

I am loathe to get into the gun debate. It's too emotional of an issue to talk about with the majority of Americans and anyone who knows me knows that I am an emotionless lump. I learned long ago not to engage in internet debates because...well...most sane people have learned by now what a huge waste of time those are. So when a tragedy like a school shooting happens in the US, the last thing I will do is go on Facebook or Twitter to talk about it. Instead, I seek out people who I know I can have a rational discussion with. Ironically, the most rational friend I have who I can talk about anything with, without fear of being judged, labeled, or subjected to irrational fear or emotion, is a European friend. He is completely removed from the US yet he speaks very good English and is very astute on the dynamics of what makes our country what it is. Sometimes he seems to understand my home country better than even I do. I asked him for his thoughts on the gun problem in the US and, to be honest, I fully expected a strong anti-gun diatribe as he was born and raised in one of the most anti-gun countries in the world (The Netherlands). What I received, however, was some wise words that took me completely by surprise and really illustrated what a complicated problem guns are in the US. The last paragraph (upon which the emphasis is mine), in particular, really sums up the problem to me. Here are his thoughts...

"The way I see it, guns merely facilitate these insane killings. Access to the guns is not the cause. The root cause is something sociopsychological. 

The fact guns are so easily accessible in the US makes for some spectacular outbursts, obviously. If you take away the guns, you will somewhat limit the number of mass killings, I'm absolutely sure. But, for me the way more important and unsettling question is; What causes these people to go down a mental path which leads to this sort of behavior? 

That's something nobody cares to talk about it seems. All news agencies try to put their own spin on the news and "cover" the situation as a "gun rights" issue. A couple of days pass, the news drops the fake outrage about what happened (yes, fake, because shit, how often can something happen before it becomes the norm?) and the entire nation is back to waiting for this shit to happen again like a bunch of mindless drones. 

When I look at American history in general and the way you guys as a society arrived at this point where so much emphasis and importance is put on shallow things (Always bigger and better, always the most beautiful and best, always be part of our team or you are against us) and the, in my opinion, fake patriotism... That inevitably has to lead to people not being able to make the right choices. 

When you teach kids that kind of thinking, the kids that cannot fit into "the group" (for whatever reason) will fall harder and deeper than in other countries. Plus detecting and properly guiding those people is often times difficult to do because, well, we don't look at the outsiders, right? "They're out their out of their own volition. If you want to be popular (and check all of the boxes our society has deemed important) you can always try out for the team!"

Don't get me wrong btw, I absolutely hate equality of outcome philosophies. But I can see why the US (very hesitant to say 'your' here, because I feel you exist outside of US society despite of your American passport) society breeds people who commit these sorts of acts. Throw a bunch of guns at a group of socially neurotic people and how can you expect anything else than what we're seeing over and over again? 

Shit, even the fact that Americans are simply unable to distance themselves from this fake "Guns for all! v.s. Gun Laws for all!" issue enough to see how fucked up it is that this happens over and over again, is proof that the US can't think properly. It's sick. When you hit your mailbox everyday when backing out of the driveway, what do you do? Move the mailbox and thus remove the 'problem', or say you have a right to put your mailbox there and keep hitting it? 

.... I'd ask the question "What the fuck is wrong with you that you can't back out of the driveway without hitting something? Why don't we fix that instead."

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Friday, February 09, 2018

A Fatherhood Moment.

I am a horrible father. I'm impatient. I'm short tempered. I'm selfish. I'm everything that a father should not be and I'm nothing that a father should be. I accepted this fact years ago when Xavier came along. When Luca arrived I thought maybe I'd learned and would be a better father but nope...still the same. Knowing that I was not meant for fatherhood, I wanted to stop there but the wife badgered me into having another one and I gave in because we both wanted a girl so bad; along came Max and here we are. My parenting skills have not gotten any better but I have learned a valuable lesson: I love my kids more than anything in this world. And that means a lot apparently. Sometimes that's all it takes to be a good father I guess. You have good moments and bad moments and everything in between. Basically you just try to do the best you can...but sometimes you do something really right and it makes it all worthwhile. If you're lucky, you see it happen and when you do it makes all the bullshit you deal with worth it. Tonight was just such a night for me...

Basketball Jones Luca

So Luca is my sporty guy. He's an outstanding soccer player which makes me proud as soccer has always been my sport. But as he gets older, he is branching out into other sports. He is planning on playing flag football this summer, he's asked me if he can play baseball this year and he is currently playing CYS basketball. He has never played before but that didn't stop him. He excitedly asked if I could sign him up and of course I did so in a heartbeat because I am 100% in favor of ANYTHING that gets my kids away from their tablets and sports, to me, are the absolute best thing a kid can do. I played all the major spots growing up - baseball, basketball, soccer, hockey on the frozen ponds, football, I did it all, and I've been hoping my kids would follow in my footsteps. I've accepted by now that this will never happen but I'll take anything I can get. And so I'm thrilled that Luca is so interested in sports. THRILLED. But when it comes to Basketball, Luca is raw. Very raw. He goes to practice twice a week but with all the other kids, he only gets so much instruction and practice. And so a couple weeks ago, I took him to the gym on a Saturday and practiced with him, worked with him on his dribbling and shooting. That week he was decidedly the best player on the court as his team won their first game and he scored two baskets. The following week he played ok but he had several chances where he stole the ball and ran for what should have been an easy layup but he went too fast and lost control or threw up a brick. 

And so, without even realizing it,  I decided to be a father.

I took all three kids to the gym last Sunday and we had fun shooting hoops and such but I worked with Luca specifically on his layups. I put him through several drills to help him. At one point, I made him run full speed at the basket for a layup. I made him do it until he was tired but I didn't push him too hard. I could see him getting better better with each turn. 

Tonight was his 4th game of the year and his team lost by two points. But during the course of the game, he scored 6 points, all of them on layups. He had three breakaways and he scored on all of them - all of them on layups, exactly like we practiced them. I could not be prouder of him. I sat there and watched him and saw him do everything that I had practiced with him, exactly as I tried to teach him. And he did it. HE DID IT. 

When the game was over, he didn't care that his team had lost, all he cared about was that he had finally learned how to make a layup and he was just so proud that he'd done it in the game, that he'd scored six points. When we were walking out, he hugged me and thanked me for helping him. I didn't realize it at that moment but that's what it's all about. Teaching my kids. Being hard on them for their own good. Sometimes it pays off, sometimes it doesn't. 

Tonight it paid off. 

Thursday, February 08, 2018

My Favorite 80's TV Shows, Part II: Dramas (and one romantic comedy)

While SITCOMs were my favorite TV shows in the 80's, there were so many others that I enjoyed. Here's a list of my favorite dramas (and one romantic comedy) from the 80's...

MY TOP TEN 80'S DRAMAS (And one romantic comedy):

1. The Love Boat: I really don't how to describe my love affair with The Love Boat. The time period. The stories. THE GUEST STARS. I swear, anybody who was anybody was on the Love Boat in the 70's and 80's. I could - and probably will - do an entire blog post on my love affair with The Love Boat, although most people who have been my Facebook friends for several years already know of this...

2. The A-Team: This was a must watch for every testosterone filled boy in the 80's. It was tough for me because NBC put it on Tuesday nights at 8:00, the same time as Happy Days. I had to make a choice and, well, let's just say that Potsie and the gang lost by a mile...

3. Moonlighting: The one romantic comedy on the list; I was addicted to this show. I wanted to be just like David Addison, even bought the same sunglasses he wore on the show. And I had a huge thing for Cybill Shepherd as well.

4. The Greatest American Hero: It inexplicably lasted only three seasons. I never understood why as I never missed an episode and seemed like it should have had at least a five year run. Awesome show. Should have lasted longer. Hell, I probably could've written an entire season or two by myself. 

5. Dukes of Hazzard: I mean come on, what kid my age didn't fall in love with this show? The fact that a white bread kid from the extended suburbs of Boston could love this show about rednecks from Georgia so much spoke volumes of how good it was. And Daisy Duke...jee-zus. 

 6. Hunter: Fred Dryer Achieved semi-stardom in the 80's. A former pro football player, he never quite got over the 'superstar' line but he sure had his moments. His TV show Hunter was a great show and I loved it..."Works for me".

 7. Spencer: For Hire: By itself, this was a great show but the fact that it took place in Boston got me completely hooked. Avery Brooks as Hawk kicked ass. Great show, much better than Urich's "Vegas", but I digress...

8. Dallas: Full disclosure; my mom watched this show religiously and so we watched because of that. But we got hooked and caught up in the whole "Who Shot JR?" madness. Two words: Charlene Tilton. (Two more words: Kristen Shepard)

9. CHiPs: Ponch and Jon, cops on motorcycles, what was not to like? The Valley Girl episode still sticks with me after all these years.

10. Matt Houston: Just thought he was so freaking cool with his Texan ways and such. 

Wednesday, February 07, 2018

My Favorite 80's TV shows, Part I: SITCOMs

Anyone who knows me well or who has followed the blog in the past knows what an 80's fanatic I am. For me, the 80's will always be THEE perfect decade. Best movies, best music, best fashion, best...pretty much everything. Since I'm feeling nostalgic lately, let's look back at the best decade in the history of time and space, starting with the TV shows I loved...


1. Cheers: It was past our bedtime the first few seasons and I remember being excited when summertime came because it meant we got to stay up late and watch Cheers. Of course being the local Boston television market really made the show feel like it was "ours". My absolute favorite sitcom of the 80's.

2. Family Ties: One of my all-time favorite shows. Not sure why I loved it so much but it was appointment viewing for me growing up, every Thursday at 8:30, right after the Cosby Show. I wanted so badly to be Alex P. Keaton and what young boy didn't have a crush on Mallory in the 80's?

3. WKRP in Cincinnati: I actually never watched this one when it aired, I discovered it sometime around the mid-80's when it was on in reruns but man did I love it. The writing was just brilliant. I have bootleg DVDs of the entire series and I still watch them occasionally. Another one of my all-time favorites.

4. Cosby Show: I was hooked on this one from the very first episode. Sure it was groundbreaking, but mostly it was just plain FUNNY.

5. Happy Days: This was really as much a 70's show as an 80's show but we never missed it, Tuesday nights at  8:00. I think everyone my age grew up with Happy Days.

6. Silver Spoons: Ricky Schroeder and I were the same age and shared a first name (yes, I was known as Ricky most of my childhood) so I was jealous of him growing up because he had his own TV show. And he was living our ultimate fantasy - mega rich kid who had a working mini train, all the toys he wanted and arcade sized video games in his living room. 

7. Growing Pains: My high school years coincided with the two older siblings on this show so I related to it I guess.

8. Too Close for Comfort: Sort of a forgotten 80's sitcom but I loved it. Monroe was the funniest part about it but of course I'm sure that Sarah the voluptuous blond daughter had more to do with why I watched it...

9. Diff'rent Strokes: Regular Saturday night viewing when I was a kid. "What'chu talkin' bout Willis?" Then they ruined it by adding Sam the redhead since Gary Coleman's cuteness had long since departed and the show died a painful death.

10. Valerie/The Hogan Family: I started watching from the beginning when it was called 'Valerie" and found it ok but when she left after the second season and it reinvented itself as "The Hogan Family" it got much funnier and appealing.

Tuesday, February 06, 2018