Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Get Away From Me, Freak!

I hope you don't mind, but it's time to sound like an old guy. 

Please read on, though, because a lot of you are also old, and if you aren't, this could prove useful. It doesn't hurt to look ahead a little, because as our good friend Russ Wilson likes to say, "The separation is in the preparation."

At age twenty-one, a lot of us would've proven grossly incapable of predicting our lifestyles thirty years down life's unpaved road. I'm pretty sure if I hopped into the DeLorean, sped back to 1984 and asked a certain college junior for a couple of prognostications, it would be clear where the term "shallow pond" was derived. 

Here's what I mean:

So, twenty-one-year-old Tim, what type of car do you picture yourself driving in thirty years?

Wow, that's a long time. That's totally after the year 2000, right? 

Yes, that would be 2014.

Hell, then, I don’t know. It won't be an American car or a minivan, that's for sure. A moped would be sweet, or one of those new Camaros.

Right, but they won't be new in thirty years.

This is boring.

Okay, well, just to let you know, you will In fact drive a minivan. It will be manufactured in Korea, and your daughter will call it "Kiath."

That's bizarre. I'm having a daughter?

Yes, two, actually.

I don't want two daughters. How old are they?

One is a college freshman and the other is in eighth grade.

Listen, man, my fraternity is having a party tonight and I'm pretty sure there will be a few freshman girls hanging out. Thanks for making me think of them as my daughters, ass wipe. I must rise above this. 

Hang on a sec, I need to turn down the stereo. It's hard not to crank Sister Christian on these sweet woofers I just got from Speakerlab. You like Night Ranger, old man?


Hey! You're not as crusty as you look.  What else did you want to ask me? I need to run down to 7-11 for some Copenhagen.

Okay, I'll be quick. How about cooking—who will do most of the cooking for your family in thirty years?

I don't know, man. It might just be like the Jetsons where you just push a button and boom—piping hot lasagna. But if that's not the case, if my wife cooks four nights a week, I don't mind ordering pizza the other three. My kids would appreciate it, I'm sure. Gross, did I just say "my wife" and "my kids" in the same sentence? Freaking shoot me.

What if I told you that you'll be the primary grocery shopper and cook for your family? How about if your wife is a fifth grade teacher who works harder than Chris Christie's heart?

Who's Chris Christie? That's a stupid name.

It doesn't matter. You just need to know that your wife will be such a dedicated educator that a couple of times, you'll wonder if she's actually spending an hour before school and three afterward, playing 21 Jump Street with Johnny Depp.

Who's Johnny Depp? That's a stupid name.

Well, he's merely the love of your wife's life, a youthful bad-boy actor who smells of Lucky Strikes and pieces of eight. 


Never mind. Listen, I'll let you go, but here's some more food for thought. You've actually gotten a couple of recipes from a naked guy at the YMCA.

What? What's wrong with you?

Sorry, let me explain. You'll often see this guy in the locker room after your morning workout.

Hey, man, the words "morning" and "workout" should never be used together.

Anyway, he's into cooking and he's usually naked when relating recipes to you. You're occasionally nude as well.

Holy shit. Time for you to leave, Uncle Perverick. What the hell recipe did this wanker give you—pulled pork?

Umm, well, yes.

Get your ass out of my bean bag chair and hit the street before I grab my numchucks, got me?

Will do. Take care, clueless colt.

That didn't go well. Hopefully after this experiment, you won't hate yourself like I apparently do.

Monday, January 20, 2014

The Seattle SuperSeahawks

Start spreading the news. 

The Blue Jerseys are coming to New Jersey—a fortnight for Richard Sherman to gnaw the Big Apple to a mealy sauce.

Or as Ted Suess Geisel might say, "The room is abloom with the Legion of Boom." 

The NFC champion Seattle Seahawks will play the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII. 

Holy bastard of Roosevelt! The Super Bowl? Are you kidding me? 

If you don't live in Seattle, trust me on this: championships here are as rare as a Michael Crabtree reception. In the past forty-five years of my Seattle sports fandom, only three teams have held the grail. The '79 Sonics won it all, as did the WNBA Storm, twice. Hell yes, I count the Storm, especially after ten years of watching the greatness of Sue Bird to Lauren Jackson.

We've come close on occasion. The Sonics reached the Finals two other times, including 1996, when they faced a couple of guys named Michael and Scottie—and lost. The NASL Sounders squared off in Soccerbowl 77 against the Pélé-led New York Cosmos—and lost.

But the Hawks' 2006 appearance in Super Bowl XL proved itself to be the greasy-haired step nephew of all Seattle's championship quests. Dropped passes and criminal officiating decided the outcome, delving my City of Moist into a dark, foggy hangover that no amount of breakfast burritos and tater tots could soothe.

Oh, sorry, forgot to mention the Mariners. Wait, no I didn't. Despite a Cinderella trip to the ALCS in 1995 and dominating teams in 2000 and 2001, the Mariners have yet to play in a World Series.

Anyway, so now we're back. By "we," I mean yeah, I'm every bit a part of the squad as Pete Carroll's chinos. I'm convinced that watching movies on Friday nights and wearing the same clothes for the games have contributed to and quite possibly assured victory the past two weekends. Perhaps my daughter's Russell Wilson t-shirt is the difference, who knows? Maybe the mojo comes when my wife puts her hair up like she did yesterday for the game.

If you have superstitious ritual, an outfit or any other weird thing you do to propel the team to our first Super Bowl victory, you bear the same responsibility as the rest of us. Please give, early and often. 

You could be the difference.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Letter From an Eighth Grader: Why I Should Get an iPhone.

I don't own a smart phone. In fact, my cell phone is so old, I have to connect with Clara the operator before placing a call ("Clara, I need you to get me Hank at the slaughterhouse. This can't be beef.").

While my wife also has, for lack of a better term, a dumb phone, college freshman daughter number one is the first member to benefit from perpetual Internet availability. And ever since she received an iPhone for high school graduation, thirteen-year-old daughter number two has pined for one, dropping enough hints to put Ralphie to shame. At least every two weeks for the last nine months she's been trying to grease the parental wheels with well-placed selling points about the benefits to her—and of course us—of buying her a smart phone.

And now this— actual documentation. For the record, I received her permission to publish, but you know, I didn't confirm:

Why I should get an Iphone
An essay by L. H.

Hello there. So your probably very hesitant to read this, but I’m telling you, keep pushing through. I know your whole thing with an Iphone is that I don’t need it, I need to pay for it, etc. Your probably looking at each other with a skeptical look right now. Again please push through. In this I will convince you why I should get an Iphone.

Ok the first reason why I should get an Iphone is for school. At school I’m always faced with the issue of not having a smartphone to research something. The teachers always say “Ok if you have a smart phone you can pull it out and use it for the ___” The reason they say this is because they have the problem of not having enough computers for kids. This is due to budgets that Seattle Schools gives them. (Stupid Seattle Schools.) So if I had an Iphone, I could just whip it out and save the day. Just kidding it wouldn’t actually save the day, but it would be a lot more convient for everyone.

The second reason why I should get an Iphone is for the actual phone part. My phone that I currently have now doesn’t really work. It doesn’t receive all calls or texts. When I do answer calls they the sound quality isn’t the best. Iphones are known for the outstanding quality in service. They also are known for amazing picture quality as well. So when you need me to I could take my phone out and take an amazing picture that could be in our family for generations; for example our Christmas card picture. Z took our beautiful candid shot with her handy dandy Iphone.

Now getting down to the nitty gritty. I don’t think I spelled that right but whateves. The cost. Yes for Iphone you do have to pay a fee of $30 a month. As you know I get an allowance of $40 a month. I could pay for my data with my allowance and have balance of $10, but for the amount of food I need to buy each month I don’t think that would be the most preferred method. But I also would be willing to work as many chores as you like, no questions asked. Not even one. Not a single one. Ok I think you get the point .So that was my essay on why I should get an Iphone. I hope you guys enjoyed this because I honestly put a lot of thought and effort into making this. PLEASE take this into consideration. If you don’t I will respect the decision as mature adults.

         Thanks! Love,
         Your daughter L. H.

Hmm. Pretty convincing. We received her proposal Saturday night and slept on it. Sunday morning, following further negotiations and a few tweaks regarding exactly what housework would be required and how much of a dent the purchase would make in her coming birthday present, the two parties reached a settlement. 

Did we cave as some parents do for their second children? Are we too worn out to rekindle battles of yore? Maybe.

It could simply be a decision made by mature adults.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Surviving Asthmagate.

I didn't write about this when it happened, mostly because I prefer to use this forum to cast my gray-haired carcass in the best possible light. I'm a little too insecure to write stuff that leaves you thinking, "Wow, Tim sure is a dick."

And had I written it before today, that’s just what you may have thought.

A couple of weeks ago, I stood chugging on an elliptical trainer, one of the many iron maidens line the cardio room at the local Y. My asthma had been acting up all morning, and by the time I was halfway into the workout, it worsened. Some people cough or wheeze during a flare up, but I clear my throat, loudly and often. It feels sort of like when you accidentally inhale a beverage and you're just trying to bark out all the irritation. It's really obnoxious if you aren'† used to it, but the regulars who exercise are usually very cool about my respiratory Turrette's.

As my phlegmmy symphony built to its zenith, I noticed the woman next to me, first slowing and then stopping her machine. She stepped off and walked over to me. 

"Excuse me." She looked a little like Skyler on Breaking Bad. "Maybe you need some water or something. Maybe something to help you stop coughing."

I yanked out my earbuds. Of all the times for her to choose to address the issue, twenty-five minutes into my workout might not be in the top eleven thousand.

"I've got asthma," I said flatly between deep huffs of air.

"Well, maybe some water might help…"

"Don't worry about it, okay?" I felt my pace quickening.

"Well, you don't have to listen to it!" Her passive-aggressive tack vaporized like so much fog on the drippy windows. Now she was pissed.

"Look," I said quietly but intensely, "I do what I can. Leave me alone."

She backed away and re-mounted her machine, looking intently at her smart phone and punching in digits. 

"Shit," I thought. "She's probably texting or emailing the Y and complaining about the crabby guy next to her and his disgusting bird flu. Most likely, I can count on some YMCA intervention in the near future."

A couple of weeks passed. I saw Skyler a handful of uncomfortable times, yet didn't hear another word regarding Asthmagate. My indignation gradually lessened and melted into remorse,. "Man, you cannot talk to people that way," I thought. "No matter how angry you are, always keep a dialogue. Get people on your side and things always turn out better."

This morning, I entered the aerobic area, looked to my left and there she was—Skyler, standing by herself, staring at the magazine rack, the first person I saw. 

Have you ever just gotten an impulse and felt like something else was controlling your behavior, like you were just along for the ride? That's how I felt as I approached her. "Excuse me."

She turned and faced me.

"Um, I just want to apologize for acting like a five-year-old the other day. I know it's pretty nasty to have to hear that and I was an idiot to talk to you that way."

"Oh," she said, "Actually, I wanted to apologize to you. What you have is very personal and I shouldn't have handled it the way I did." She extended her hand. "What's your name? I'm Sarah."

I just realized this is starting to sound like Dear Playboy. Not the case, however. As we parted ways, I hacked up a stringy lung lizard and honked it onto the carpet, it's outer tentacles splattering her shoe. She chuckled at my indiscretion and wrapped me in a warm, damp bear hug.

Just making sure you're still paying attention.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Kluweless in Minnesota.

It's the story of a professional athlete, but not of his performance on the field of play.

It's about the power of spin, but also about allegations no amount of spinning can remedy.

For eight years, Chris Kluwe was punter for the Minnesota Vikings. Punter is the strangest position on a football team. He can't score points, he doesn't block people or tackle people. His job is to kick the ball high enough and far enough to give the human missiles on his team enough time to launch themselves into the punt returner's most vulnerable sweetbreads.

Kluwe was good; few punters play eight seasons, let alone with the same team. At the end of the 2012 campaign, he was statistically one of the best in the game, still had a year left on his contract and felt good about his chances of hanging with the team for another year.

Then things went a bit sideways. Here's how it started, courtesy of Chris Kluwe's guest column for Deadspin:

"During the summer of 2012, I was approached by a group called Minnesotans for Marriage Equality, which asked if I would be interested in helping defeat what was known as the Minnesota Gay Marriage Amendment. The proposed amendment would have defined marriage as "only a union of one man and one woman." (It was voted down, and same-sex marriage is now legal in Minnesota.) I said yes, but that I would have to clear it with the team first. 

"After talking to the Vikings legal department, I was given the go-ahead to speak on the issue as long as I made it clear I was acting as a private citizen, not as a spokesman for the Vikings, which I felt was fair and complied with. I did several radio advertisements and a dinner appearance for Minnesotans for Marriage Equality. No one from the Vikings' legal department told me I was doing anything wrong or that I had to stop."

According to Kluwe, at the beginning of the 2012 football season, he was summoned to head coach Leslie Frazier's woodshed and told to keep his pie hole shut, that religion and politics should play no role in professional sports.

Kluwe respectfully told Frazier that he intended to continue standing up for his beliefs, and the meeting ended tensely. However, the following day,

"Viking owner  Zygi Wilf, came up to me, shook my hand, and told me: 'Chris, I'm proud of what you've done. Please feel free to keep speaking out. I just came from my son's best friend's wedding to his partner in New York, and it was one of the most beautiful things I've ever seen.'"

I think I'd feel pretty good at this point, wouldn't you? The guy who signs your paycheck tells you he's simpatico with what you're doing and you should keep it up.

Ummm...not so much. That's when another one of Kluwe's bosses, special teams coach Mike Priefer, decided to start acting like an actual Viking. You know, those guys whose idea of a fun Friday night is a few pints of grog over at the disembowling alley.

Sorry, Viking jokes are challenging.

Anyway, according to Kluwe, this Coach Preifer started harassing him about his views at practice, at one point even announcing during a team meeting, "We should round up all the gays, send them to an island, and then nuke it until it glows."

Sounds reasonable, but I wish he'd be more specific about the island. I live within nuclear fallout radius of quite a few and my straight friends and I would appreciate a little heads up from the Thomas Edison of that light bulb.

What do you think? Is Chris Kluwe telling the truth? Was he released from the Minnesota Vikings due to his political beliefs? The team claims it was a business decision, that an aging punter was released to make room under their salary cap.

That may be true, but what about the alleged behavior of his coaches? Do you believe that Kluwe could conceivably have fabricated these allegations as part of an endgame, a devious master plan to showcase his activism on its largest stage yet?

Look, we all know that the NFL packs more testosterone-infused sausage than the meat department of a freaking Super Wal-Mart. But these players are a bunch of kids, and most of them are quite a bit more accommodating to other points of view than we, the elder class. Something tells me they wouldn't have nearly the problem that these dinosaur coaches have.

Bigotry will never disappear, but we can shrink it, we can shrivel it up, one purple-hat-wearing moron at a time. If, according to a study by the New York Times, five percent of American males are gay, that translates to two or three players per professional football team, or a total of sixty to ninety closeted athletes living in fear of their employers.

Imagine that happening where you work.

I believe Chris Kluwe.