Monday, December 30, 2013

So How Was It?

Still a couple of days to go, but are you already living in 2014? I'd say I am.

Before we trade in the old year for a newer model, hows about we take a little stock. Let's pry open the dented door of the station wagon that is 2013, and see what kind of memories are wedged behind the seats or stuck to the floor mats.

Let's talk about 2013. How was yours?

Did you cry during the year? Did you laugh until you cried during the year? Did someone's crying make you laugh during the year? Sorry, that's enough. I cried just last week, in fact. It was an ESPN show about an eighth grade kid with Down Syndrome, who worked as the basketball team's manager. He never missed a practice, never missed a game. He cleaned up, kept the balls pumped up, swept the court; he just wanted to be around the game he loves as often as possible.

The coach decides to let him suit up for the team's final home game. That's all I'm going to say. Check it out here if you're in a place where you can whimper like a Harbaugh.

I'm not sure how many times I laughed myself to tears, but I'll go ahead and guess between seven and ten occurrences of this in 2013. Thankfully, no snorts this time around.

During 2013, did you say "I love you" to someone for the first time? I didn't, but at least I've still got 37 hours to find either Jennifer Lawrence or Richard Sherman.

How was your health in 2013? I have to ask you this because I'm old now. Any new issues with the back? The hips? The knees? Did you experience rash or unprecedented hair growth in formerly pristine skin areas?

Yeah, me neither.

Were you a good parent? And by parent, I'm including you moms and dads of feline and canine children, because seriously, owning a dog looks a little harder.

I'd give myself a C+/B- grade in the parenting department. Definitely not a spectacular fathering year, but I did let the kids watch some fantastic football games. Someday, my younger daughter will appreciate this. It's not really necessary to grade myself, since I'm evaluated on a daily basis by some tough teenage professors. Sometimes they'll grade me based on their moods, while in others,  my final grade is contingent upon their moods.

They're loud and hilarious and they rely heavily a term known as "cleanish," and boy do I ever love those fiery souls I live with. 

It was a good year.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Santa Isn't Just White. I Have Proof.

“For all you kids watching at home, Santa just is white. Just because it makes you feel uncomfortable doesn’t mean it has to change, you know? I mean, Jesus was a white man too. He was a historical figure, that’s a verifiable fact, as is Santa—I just want the kids watching to know that.”

-Megyn Kelly, Fox News television host

Apparently, Ms. Kelly felt obligated to set the record straight. Her comment arose in response to a column for Slate last week by Aisha Harris, in which Harris wrote that she had always been confused as a child because the Santa in her home had brown skin like her, but the Santa in malls and on television was always white. 

If you've read my shtick before, you're probably expecting the same old formula, right? I post the ignorant quote, then spend the next three thousand characters lampooning it…

…which would be so very easy in this case, but no need to this time. A very special someone else has stepped up to ease the burden, and this someone packs some heavyweight caché.

I hung with Santa last night. I really did. That's not some euphemism to describe a random freeway rest stop encounter with a fat guy. I chatted with The Kris Kringle, legendary President and CEO of North Pole Air Freight. We always exchange a few pleasantries while my kids place their orders, something that has gone down every year since they were small enough to gum dust bunnies:

But last night was different. The moment my eyes met Saint Nick's, I could tell the chap was chapped. His cheeks weren't the usual cheery cherry, they were  more of a pissed off purple, much like the enduring facial tint of Tom Caughlin, New York Giants head coach.

Then I remembered—he was still feeling salty about Kelly's comment. The ignoramus had obviously gotten to him a little. Skipping the usual small talk, he reached into his fuzzy lapel, pulled out a note and thrust it in my direction. It smelled of mint and single malt. "I need you to share this with the world. I'm only going to say it once," he said. As my daughters propped themselves onto his lap, his mood changed instantly.

But I had a job to do, and by Dasher and Dancer, who can say no to the Godfather of Gastric Bypass? So here it is—Santa Claus' response to Megyn Kelly, word for word:

Dear Ms. Kelly:

Let me tell you, I don't watch your network, but since I assoicate with multitudes of pointy-eared goblins, many around me do. I think it was that dentist elf that brought your comments to my attention, and I felt the need to respond.

Usually I prefer to travel the high road. Do I take it personally when some kid thinks I'm Ted Bundy in tinsel?

Nah. Usually, they just want to get through the photo op fast so they can fill my ears with pleas for pink and purple plastic shit.

Here's what steams my humbow, Kelly—what gives you the right to label me as white? Does this look white to you?

Or this?

Remember, it's totally cool. Even my elves get a little separation anxiety while waiting on the roof.

I'm freaking Santa Claus. If I can manage to reverse burgle a billion houses in one night, why wouldn't I be able to change my ethnicity?  Let me tell you something, toots, nothing keeps a marriage fresh like turning into Spanish Santa after putting the reindeer to bed.

Oh, and as far as you're concerned, Fox News news fox, I could be Typhoid Leper Santa as long as you find your friends Dolcé and Gabanna under the tree in the morning. 

Why do you even care what color I am? What does it matter? Look at me now—Bam! Asian Santa:

And by the way, historical Jesus was about as white as a milk chocolate Toblerone.

Step off, Barbie. 

Thursday, December 12, 2013

My Wife and Daughters: A Date With Macklemore.

I have to admit, I was fairly skeptical when my wife told me her plan. In fact, had I actually verbalized my feelings, I may have said something like...
"Yeah, and monkeys might fly out of my butt." 
Even twenty years later, I've not found a human being capable of turning a phrase with the raw candor of Wayne Campbell from Aurora, Illinois. Party on, Wayne.

Yeah, so anyway, a little backstory—every female in my house is enamored with a man named Macklemore. Who is this Macklemore guy, you ask? This Rasputin who drives the mother ship like Han freaking Solo?

If you guessed it's the gritty utility infielder from that brief era of major league baseball in Seattle, that's a solid stab, but you're thinking of Mark McLemore:

This is the guy I'm talking about.

His real name is Ben Haggerty, but he's decided to adopt that hip single-name moniker, like Madonna, Pelé or Fil, the shop teacher at our local alternative middle school.

The dude is talented and I like his stuff, too, don't get me wrong. Just not to the stratospheric level it sends my wife and daughters.

Which, thanks to my long-windedness, returns me to my original point. I'm the only family member not currently at his right now.

And here's the kicker—they're together. Yes, my wife orchestrated the whole deal, so right now, those monkeys flying out of my butt feel more like winged orangutans with sandpaper capes.

I actually think it's fantastic, especially since we're experiencing an era of palpable friction between my bride and our thirteen-year-old. Anything that bonds them during this season of malice and confusion is an emotional Vicks Vaporub.

It's just a little strange that three people so unalike can find this common ground. My parents hated my music like Fox News hates black Santa Claus. The only tune we could agree on was maybe the happy birthday song, but it couldn't include any drums.

Sure, if I put an album on the top of my wish list, they'd relent and buy it, but their scowls of bewilderment as I peeled back the wrapping paper to expose Angus Young's snarling mug on Highway to Hell is carved into the thickest bark of my brain stem.

My mom's arched eyebrows and deep frown lines seemed to silently yelp, "He was such a nice boy, Lionel. He just hasn't been the same since his brother hit him in the head with the pet rock."

And then, to raise things a notch, can you imagine back in the day, actually going to a rock show with your mom? Holy shit, talk about awk to the ward. Bless her Charlie Pride-loving heart, I can just hear her now, freshly frisked and entering the smoggy arena. "Honey, I think something's burning. I'm not sure we can stay, you know, with your asthma and all. Frozen malt? My treat.

"And why do you kids only like groups named after places, like Kansas and Boston, and why would Mrs. Tull have wanted to name her son Jethro?"

I love you, Mom. Glad we acknowledged our creative differences and moved on.

But the three most important people in my life are in one spot as we speak, and although I'm sure they'll have a great time, I can guarantee my wife has probably embarrassed our younger kid at least three times.

They may not even be out of the car yet.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Nelson Mandela: Some Thoughts from a White American Guy.

Today is a day to celebrate a man. And Nelson Mandela was just that—a man, not a messiah, not even a prophet—a guy, harboring the same flaws and fears as any of the rest of us. 

And then the similarities between him and just about every other human whose gonads live outside their bodies skew a bit. Mr. Mandela opted to forgo the helmet and lessons, skiing that dangerous ungroomed route down to the extreme end of the bell-shaped curve. 

Along with Martin Luther King, a fellow hero resolved to die for his ideals, the two never actually met. The closest they came happened in 1966. Accepting invitations to address South African university students and religious groups about the South African government's apartheid policies, Dr. King's visa application was summarily denied. Yeah, big surprise, right? In King's words, "In South Africa today, all opposition to white supremacy is condemned as communism, and in its name, due process is destroyed."

How right he was. Although King's life ended abruptly twenty years prior to the abolishment of apartheid, there was a kinship between the two. Mandela wrote in his autobiography of being inspired by Martin Luther King, and I'm inclined to think the feeling was mutual.

After King's voice was silenced in April of 1968, our own conservative leaders seized upon the opportunity to combine the civil rights movement along with the lawless, communist behavior of anarchist war protesters and drug-addled hippies with a shiny new logo—Red Scare, Part II. And Tricky Dick was tanned, rested and ready for the title of spokesmodel.

With Mandela already sentenced to life in prison and safely tucked away, National Review columnist Russell Kirk argued that "Democracy in South Africa would bring anarchy and the collapse of civilization” and the government “would be dominated by witch doctors."

And how right he was. Twenty years later, our own brand of democracy enabled Nancy Reagan's astrologer to ensure the First Couple's safe travels. Do me a favor, okay? Find that channel with the fortune teller and pledge a nice little holiday somthin' somethin' for those hard-working patriot psychics. Much obliged.

While we're on the subject of Ronald Reagan, who, ironically, was already well on his way to the type of mental decline of which he cast so many to lives of street bound homelessness, here's what old Dutch, former GE whore and monkey spooner said back in '81, after dubbing the African National Congress a terrorist organization: "Apartheid is a tribal policy more than a...racial policy."

What the hell does that mean, Ronny? Time to wrestle back the casinos from the tribes that overcooked your prime rib. But that one just north of Everett with crab legs every Tuesday night? Yeah, no apartheid for them just yet.

We've definitely made some progress. After all, here are a couple of laws not purged from the books until the '60s:

Prior to 1964 in Kentucky, the races of all candidates were to be written on the ballots. 

Before 1968, even in my lefty home of Washington state, no homeowner was allowed admission to a neighborhood if found liable of "potentially diminishing property values." Worded like a true Seattleite—full throttle passive aggressive.

But even now, The Grand Old Party, bastion of Honest Abe, Dan Quayle and reformed witches from Deleware, continues underwriting racism and subtle apartheid. Those Birthers might have gone outside for a smoke, but they're coming right back. 

In the aftermath of such a great human's death, we hail Nelson Mandela, as well we should. 

But don't, even for a blink, lie to yourself that we currently live in a "post-racial" society, because we don't. I know it's easy and makes us feel better about ourselves.

Your neighbor may be a meth dealer, but I'll bet he's white.

Monday, December 2, 2013

You'll Feel Better About Yourself After You Read This.

Hang on a second. 

Sorry about that, had to loosen up the belt a little. 

Okay, what the hell, I took it all the way off—it's been that kind of a weekend. 

What's the deal with belts, anyway? Oh sure, the man cons you into believing a belt is a useful accessory for keeping the old trou from sagging, but I submit that it's nothing more than an oppressive device whose roots can be traced to medieval dungeons. The belt is nothing more than an iron man maiden designed to punish my marbled middle.

Women seemed to have gotten the message years ago, burning not only their brassieres, but other confining devices propagated by men to keep them constricted and tamed. Girdles, curlers, high heels—even tweezers were shit -canned by a group of people fed up with a system which promotes torture in the name of fashion.

And that's why I'm about to burn my belt. I'm fed up—literally—from Thanksgiving weekend. During the past five days, I have exhibited the type of behavior that makes Caligula look like an even skinnier version of that chick who's married to Harrison Ford.

Fortunately, I've discovered there's actually a name for this culinary debauchery; I looked it up and it's called the "Nagev" diet. I know, it's sounds sort of Russian, but the term actually is "vegan" spelled backwards. It involves consuming only the bodies and byproducts of organisms which once had a face. 

It all started because I prepared Thanksgiving this year. All of it. Came up with the menu, shopped for it and cooked it all up. Fat was the common denominator. Each dish—turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes—contained at least an entire stick of butter, except the pumpkin pie, which I'm pretty sure still contained more lard than Rush Limbaugh tucks south of the elastic. 

I must have subconsciously decided that dairy products would not only stave off blandness, they would also curb any food-born hazards which may lie in wait for my bride and daughters. Ever since the e-coli scare with the under-toasted Pop Tarts, I've been a smidge paranoid.

The day went well, thankfully. Everything tasted pretty darned good, and nary a family member succumbed to the charms of our bathroom's only pottery not holding candles.

Still, everything would have been fine had I decided to eat with abandon on Thursday only. But when I rolled out of bed Friday morning, I'd barely nodded good morning to my wife and planted my swollen feet on the cold floor before pie had made me its breakfast bitch. 

From that moment on, every meal was a mini Thanksgiving. I understand I've taken a bit of journalistic license with this blog, but here's an indisputable fact: Out of the next four meals I ate, four of them were turkey, stuffing and mashed potatoes. By Saturday night, I'd thrown back so much sodium that I dreamed of Popsicle forests with Diet Coke waterfalls. 

My fifty-one-year-old body, after layering on a sedentary weekend of football watching, pleaded with me to purge the gelatinous globs of gluttony from its distressed bloodstream. By Sunday night, it begged me, "Dude, go to the gym. Or go for a walk. Hell, just move your toes."

Maybe I'll hold off on burning my belt for now. After all, what are the alternatives? A loosely tied rope? Nah, only Ellie Mae can pull that off. 

Suspenders? Nope, even though some guys can definitely rock that look, 

I don't think I'm one of them.

I'll see how things feel after a couple of salads.