September 11th, 2014 § Leave a Comment
Monday, TMZ released the “in elevator” video clip of Ray Rice knocking out his then fiance, Janay Palmer. Hard to watch is putting it mildly. I’ll spare repeating what has been said and said again. All descriptors warranted … and then some.
What we saw on that video demands thorough, unqualified condemnation. It’s exactly what it got, but it didn’t end there. The vitriol has now spilled over into that most dangerous of mob moods – self-righteous indignation. Did I hear this right? Robert Mueller, the former director of the FBI is to lead an independent investigation of the handling of this abuse case. Former director of the FBI! This being about Ray and Janay Rice is long over. They’ve unwittingly been swept onto the poster as the new faces of domestic violence. And everyone is stepping up to scrawl their take.
Aside from the very real possibility that this thing was mishandled from the word Go, what I’m finding difficult to stomach is everyone coming out, dressed in white to wag the finger. I found particularly rich Ray Lewis and Robert Kraft’s pronouncement of judgment.
Lewis pushed forward amongst other current and former NFLers to hurl this bit, “There’s no comparison … there’s no comparison between me and Ray Rice. It’s night and day.” Yeah, you’re right Ray Ray. You were implicated in a double homicide. In exchange for rolling on your homies, you got to plead down to a misdemeanor obstruction charge. Night and day, Ray Ray. That ESPN analyst gig must be heightening your powers of analysis. You nailed it; double murder is not domestic violence.
And then there was Robert Kraft sitting smugly on the set of a nationally syndicated morning show. When asked if he believed Rice would ever play another game, responded that he thought Rice was done. Then went on to say that his Pats would not pick up Rice if he were ever reinstated. That’s rich Bob. You who presided over an organization that housed a dude currently awaiting two separate court dates on three murders is too good for Ray Rice. That was you, right? Yeah, that was you at the helm of the biggest criminal scandal to rock the NFL since OJ. With Hernandez yet to even be tried, how do you get in front of a mic, Bob?
Does Ray Rice left hooking his wife deserve condemnation? Certainly. A man hitting a woman is as wrong and as ugly as it gets. Should there have been heavier punishment levied? Yes. Jail time? Possibly. A year suspension? Hard to argue against it. But don’t we have to take into account Rice’s remorse? It seems genuine to me. Judging by his now wife’s response, they were working hard toward healing. If it’s a reasonable possibility, don’t we have to pull for rehabilitation, hope for restoration?
Judging by the faces and words of his current teammates and his head coach, I’d say that’s what they were hoping for. I guess in a world of TMZ and Ray Lewis, it’s a bit too much to ask.
August 27th, 2014 § 4 Comments
We’ve all seen this. And mostly, I’m guessing it’s fairly innocuous – especially, if it’s inconsistent with the rest of a given child’s experience. It does however illustrate how caring, thoughtful parents can for the sake of expediency turn to “techniques” that harness negative motivations.
A mother who’s obviously had a long day makes her last stop to pick up a prescription at one of those mega drug stores. On display next to the pharmacy is a rack of stuffed animals. While waiting for the prescription to be filled, her three-year old daughter rummages through the stuffed animals and settles on a pink pig. The mother happily allows for the distraction thinking, “Ah … a moment to myself …”
After a short wait, the prescription is filled. Already concerned about the groceries warming in the car, she tells her daughter to get moving. The call to move is ignored. In those five minutes, an unbreakable bond has formed between the girl and the pig. She’s not leaving without the pig. The girl is told in no uncertain terms to drop the pig and follow. Once again, the mother is ignored. Instead of compliance, she gets,
Mom, can I have this?
No. Honey, we need to go. The ice cream is melting in the car.
But mom, I want it.
Having neither the time nor the energy to reason with a three year old, the mother rips the pig from her daughter’s hand, grabs her by the arm and begins to proceed to the door. The little girl goes limp – the dreaded “dead weight” move.
Exasperated, the mother turns to the threat of abandonment. “Okay, I’m going. Bye.” She turns and begins to walk away. Of course she’ll glance back, but she knows she has to sell the abandonment to get the result. Before she’s out of sight, her daughter will cave. Has to. There’s too much a stake. “Hell with the pink pig, I need my mommy.”
For a child, abandonment is on a short list of the scariest possible things. The terror of it will garner immediate results, but at what price? Like I said, good chance this one is mostly innocuous. Mostly … I think. Couldn’t be sure, so we decided early on that we’re never going to do it. The commitment we made stems from our belief that the source matters. The thing to which their actions can be traced lies in that mysterious place where self and life are realized. Yeah, I think it’s worth it … think we’ll be taking the long road.
August 19th, 2014 § 4 Comments
Back in the old country, corporal punishment was permitted in schools. Teachers doled out the pain in various ways but a preferred technique was the ruler across the hands. I’m not talking a flimsy, 12 inch ruler; I’m talking the big, honkin’ yard stick variety. Or am I remembering through my seven year old, terror filled eyes? Whatever. Either way it hurt. I can still hear that thing woosh as the little lady wrapped it into my palms. The thing to do was boldly open your palms up so that ruler caught all flesh. Of course, I was never very bold. My timid, flinching hands would cup to take most of the force on the thumbs. If you were one of those repeat offenders, you’d get the ruler to the back of the hands – right over your fingers and knuckles. I never got that; the palms were enough to straighten me out.
Most of my classroom experience in Korea lies disintegrated in the recesses of my mind, but one event remains pristinely preserved. I was late to class … about five minutes. When I walked in, my teacher, a woman I can’t even remember called me to the front. I got that “Oh no” hollow feeling in my gut that seems to sap the strength from your extremities. I’m pretty sure the most intense version of this is where we get the term “shittin’ in your pants.” When I got up to her, she slapped me. Really, it was more an open hand swat over the entire side of my face. I remember stumbling to retain my balance. The shock of it got me so disoriented, it was all I could do to keep from peeing in my pants. She said something about not ever being late again. I turned to walk to my seat; the classroom blurred. I kept my head down to hide the tears flowing down my cheeks.
I’m pretty sure I was never late again.
As fathers, we must figure out a way to motivate our children. We need to teach them to obey. Instill values. Build character. Most of this is at least initially an uphill proposition. Kids don’t naturally mature. This part of fatherhood takes focused, patient persistence. In the midst of it, you’ll be tempted to use “devices” – things that you know intuitively will get you an immediate response. In the end, these will be their undoing. If behavior modification is all you’re after, shaming your kid will work. Threats of abandonment will get them up and moving. Asking why they can’t be like so and so will get them so angry that they may actually do the work to prove you wrong.
In the immediate, yeah, you’ll get what you want. But at what cost? Take the long road. Love them. Tell them of all the good you see. Take the time to properly discipline without cruelty or shame. Push them to live up to who they are meant to be. Take the long road. Light that thing in them that will burn pure … pure and clean.
August 15th, 2014 § Leave a Comment
David Wilson’s brief career marked by flashes of both record setting brilliance and scowl inducing mishaps came to an abrupt end. After a Junior season at Virginia Tech in which he posted over 1,700 rushing yards with an “eye popping” 5.76 yards per, the New York Giants took Wilson in the first round of the 2012 NFL Draft. The 2011 ACC Offensive Player of the Year understandably entered his rookie season with a fair amount of buzz. On the second carry of his NFL career, Wilson put the ball on the ground. Tom Coughlin, a known hard ass of a coach, promptly stuffed Wilson in his “dog house”. Wilson didn’t set foot on the field the rest of the game.
With Ahmad Bradshaw’s foot which we all know is held together by glue and duct tape started to fail him, the door to the “dog house” was reluctantly unlocked. And Wilson busted out. In week 5 against Cleveland, Wilson gave the first glimpse of what garnered him a first round grade with a blurring 40 yard scamper on his first touch of the game. It foreshadowed his break out performance against the New Orleans Saints on December 9th. Wilson put up a gaudy 327 all purpose yards which included a 97 yard kick off return for a touchdown and a 52 yard rush for another TD. Those 327 yards is the Giants record for all purpose yards.
With Bradshaw off to Indianapolis, Wilson started the 2013 season as the lead back. In the first game of the season against division foe Dallas Cowboys, Wilson fumbling woes resurfaced. Coughlin eventually pulled the young, potential laden Wilson in favor of Da’Rel Scott. Who? I don’t know. Some dude named Da’Rel. Not Darrel or Darrelle. Da’Rel. Confidence in tatters, Wilson began running with both hands wrapped around the ball. It was sad; the kid looked like he was running in a straitjacket. His season sputtered along, until in week 5 he injured his neck in a collision in the end zone. Wilson was later diagnosed with spinal stenosis. After undergoing surgery in January of this year, Wilson jubilantly announced that he was cleared for all football activity. A week into training camp, Wilson suffered what was then termed a stinger. On August 6th, at the age of 23, in a tearful press conference, Wilson announced his retirement.
I remember that prior to the start of last season, David Wilson was the talk of fantasy football. Most considered him a no brainer 2nd rounder with very good chance of returning 1st round production. In our draft, he was taken late in the first round. I also remember watching the disaster unfold in the season opener against Dallas – the game in which he was pulled for Da’Rel Scott. As I watched, I remember thinking how irate fantasy owners who’d spent their early round pick on Wilson must be. Those who hung on to him hoping as they suffered through week after excruciating week … how they must have cursed his name when he was placed on IR with two-thirds of the season still remaining. “Damn you Wilson!”
Then I saw the press conference. I watched as a young man of mere 23 … 23! trying to come to terms with giving up his life’s dream. A dream for which he had worked, sweated and bled for as long as he could remember. He had beat the odds and made it. Got to the NFL. And before he could stretch his legs, it was done. Over.
Watching the heart broken Wilson gallantly thanking his coaches and teammates made the whole fantasy football angle feel sillier than the silliness it already is. I’m no moralist. But c’mon, even as we play games, it’s good to put things in their proper place. Losing your mind because a catastrophic injury to a player is going to affect your fantasy team is wack.
August 12th, 2014 § Leave a Comment
I remember this one time my Father was so pissed, he chucked a football at me. And it wasn’t like he was planning on chucking a football. I’m thinking it was probably the first and last time he ever threw one. Just prior to chucking it, he did that spastic search for something within reach to clobber me with. To his disappointment, the only thing within arms length was this foreign, oblong ball. It was either that or try to contain whatever it was already blowing out sideways. He opted to make due.
If my memory serves, I believe the thing that got him unhinged was my less than average academic performance. By the 5th grade, I was a C student with a couple Ds sprinkled in. Over three years in the States meant the immigrant grace period had expired. Fluency achieved; no more excuses.
I don’t recall most of the conversation, except his last appeal. It embedded in my memory, I believe because of the unusually revealing nature of it. It was uncharacteristic of my Father to show me his heart, not even a little bit. The statement I remember was that he’d put himself through all this work, not so we could have a decent life but so we could have a better life than he. He wanted me and my brother to exceed him – go beyond him. Isn’t this every Father’s dream?
As he showed me his heart, I gave no sign of hearing. I sat there with my head down as I’d done countless times before. No movement. No gaze upward. Nothing to assure him that this desperate, out of character plea had penetrated. As far as he could tell, nothing was getting through. I think that’s when he snapped. Helpless and hopeless, he blew.
As a parent of teenagers, I must accept that I cannot make my son or daughter believe anything. I can talk incessantly, reason, stand on my head, present photographic evidence, whatever … nothing’s guaranteed. They can even agree with what you’re saying, but not get what you’re trying to get through. We don’t get that power. Learn to accept it or you’ll be chucking footballs.
August 9th, 2014 § Leave a Comment
Method to the Madness
Is it just me or did the NFL Season sneak up on us? The first slate of preseason games are already in the books. Happen to catch any? Me neither. Okay, no problem. Still plenty of time to get our fantasy football wits about us before the draft. Now, let’s see … right. The Seahawks won the Super Bowl. Denver made history and then historically flamed out. The wheels came off in Houston. And oh yeah, the Raiders still suck. Got it.
Let’s talk draft, shall we? A good number of us draft the way a five year old paints – just throw stuff at the canvas and see what sticks. Sometimes you get a beautiful piece of art; other times you get a piece of something else. If you’d rather not leave your Sunday afternoon happiness to chance, I suggest applying a bit of methodology to the madness that is the fantasy draft.
First, three suggestions in no particular order:
1. Do a mock draft. It’ll help in two ways: Remind you how unprepared you are and remind you of the virtues of thinking on your feet.
2. Have a plan and be flexible – not mutually exclusive concepts. Plan to take a RB but be nimble enough to grab Brandon Marshall who inexplicably falls to you late in the 3rd.
3. Do not be careless with D/ST and Kickers. Yes, difficult to predict but not a complete mystery.
4. Remember it’s a dumb game governed more by dumb luck than anything else. Don’t take it too seriously.
My method and the logic (Let’s just call it logic for now … a little optimism never hurt) behind it.
Rounds 1-5 RB heavy and then WR. Not opposed to going RBs in first three rounds. Logic: Scarcity at RB and the wide variance between top tier and 2nd tier scoring. WR scoring potential coupled with the sheer numbers rostered.
Rounds 6-8 QBs hope for an undervalued 2nd tier guy but not opposed to going with a tandem like Dalton and Fitzpatrick. Logic: Despite their lofty numbers, not a great variance between top tier and 2nd tier or even 3rd tier QBs. Unless you’re in two QB leagues, there is a surplus of usable options. And yeah, I didn’t learn from Scott Tolzien.
Rounds 9-12 D/ST, TE, Kicker. Logic: Seattle D/ST more of a sure thing than Saints 3rd WR option. After Graham and Gronk, they’re all the same.
Rounds 13-15 Flyers … likely to be on waivers by week 3.
August 4th, 2014 § Leave a Comment
While money can’t buy happiness, it certainly lets you choose your own form of misery. Groucho Marx
Let’s come clean: We, as in we people are a fearful lot. Good many of us spend our lives not in living but in managing our fears. That is to say we’re so busy concerning ourselves with the thing that we fear that we have no time or energy to give attention to that which we believe is good. The Great Wall of China is a monument to the human priority: Safety first! And how great is our fear? You can see the damn thing from space!
That’s where money comes in. Money mimics security like nothing else. Think about it. If ten million dollars were to miraculously appear in your bank account, would you not feel as though all your troubles were taken away? It would be difficult to believe otherwise.
I’ve heard that money consistently makes it on the list of the top causes of marital strife. It’s no wonder why. If money is so inextricably tied to security then messing with it means messing with one’s safety. Or to be more direct, messing with one’s fears. And how do people respond when that which we fear is wagged in our face? Yup, we freak out.
The trouble with all this is that it’s based more on our imaginings than on fact. Yeah, we all know money can’t buy happiness. Lesser known but equally true is that money can’t do much in the way of alleviating our fears either. Like Groucho says, it may be a different kind of fear…but make no mistake, it’ll be fear nonetheless.
August 1st, 2014 § 2 Comments
[Guest post from a fan of the CookedGoose]
I’ve been wondering where my weekly deliveries had gone. I had gotten used to receiving in my Inbox excellent perspectives on marriage, memoirs of fatherhood that often make me pause to reflect on my own relationship with my dad and own sons, and … the usually sage fantasy football advice that speaks to the obsessive nature of the author and the just how much raw time he was putting into analyzing every training camp update, contract discussion, injury report, personnel match up.
Well, it turns out a plug-in inadvertently got turned off. It’s back on now so if you receive this message in your Inbox, please come back and visit, and spread the word. And let us know if you want to contribute… Tada Tuesdays? WhyNot Wednesdays? Thrifty Thursdays?
July 14th, 2014 § Leave a Comment
It isn’t so much that marriage is hard as it is that all of life is hard. And living it well, requires a fair amount of “against the grain” effort. The problem with us is that we do not want to live the life we admire, the life worthy of praise. We do not want to follow our heroes. Instead, we want to go where we can’t be bothered and talk. And talk. And talk. That’s our problem.
A life well lived is hard and good. Why would marriage be any different?
June 30th, 2014 § Leave a Comment
There was an essay portion of the exam. It asked for a brief summary of the last book I had read. I wrote a little something about Escape from New York by Mike McQuay, the book made more famous by its film adaptation. If the random dotting of multiple choice answers somehow didn’t do it, I insured my fate with my ramblings about the virtues of Snake Plissken. It was a lock. I slept like a baby that night.
A couple weeks later, my parents told me what I already knew. I had failed the entrance exam to the exclusive prep boarding school. They were set to pour every penny they had and every penny they were going to make to maneuver us within striking distance of one of those Ivy League Schools. The private prep school. One tour of that place was all I needed to see. Dorm rooms with random kids. Dorks walking around in pleaded trousers, ties and loafers … well, they looked dorky to me at the time. A formal dining hall. What do you think the chances were of me finding a bowl of rice and some kimchee in that joint? Exactly. Moving from West LA to the Suburbs ripped us from ourselves. This? What was this going to do us? A month in that place, we’d hardly know ourselves. Forget it. No way I was going.
Our minds were made up; we were throwing that exam.
What I didn’t realize until I saw the look in my Father’s eyes was what the failure would mean to him. All I thought about was keeping myself out of that silly place. What he had to come to terms with was that his sons were dumb. The notice of failure came with it our scores. In my eagerness to keep my feet out of the fire as it were, I had been overzealous in portraying my stupidity. Of course I couldn’t tell him I threw the exam, he’d have wrung my neck. But now that I’ve seen my own children, you know, through that rosy lens only parents have, I wish I would’ve told him I threw it. It would’ve been worth taking the lumps to give my Father the relief of knowing that his son was not an idiot.