Group Hug

April 30th, 2012 § Leave a Comment

Remember that First Thing? I wrote a couple weeks back that if you want to love your kids, love their mother. If you live under the same roof, try this little experiment. Walk up to your wife, and hug her. Hold her awhile, smiling the whole time. Do it, and make sure your kids see you do it. Then make careful observations: See what your kids do, what they say.

Our intro to that barest of all essentials – our intro to relationship is Mom and Dad. Even before Mom and me or Dad and me, it was Mom and Dad. They were already there. Into their union, you were born. The most powerful force I’ve seen in this world is love. Less powerful, but far more pervasive is its adversary, fear. Where ever there is relationship, there is both love and fear. Ever present, but unable to co-exist. They rage against each other, no where with greater ferocity than in the relationship between man and wife. Makes sense: It’s the most primal of relationships – the very cradle of civilization.

Into this, this cradle a child is born. Your relationship is their first, and so it leaves an indelible mark. The boy, the girl is introduced to either a world where love conquers all or where fear is the irresistible force.

If your kids are anything like mine, they’ll smile. The sight of you locked in an embrace with their mom will make them instantly happy. For years, in our home, our kids would come running from all corners of our place yelling, “Group Hug!”


Fantasy Friday

April 28th, 2012 § Leave a Comment

2012 NFL Draft

If there were any lingering questions as to which professional sport reigns supreme in sports crazed America, the coverage of the NFL Draft ought to have put those questions to rest. Forget what they say about Nascar. It’s Pro Football, hands down. No other sport comes close. What other sport has the audacity to rent out Radio City Music Hall and put their draft on prime time TV? Not one night, but multiple. ESPN knows, it will draw. They’re right; the Draft is high drama. As these men cross the stage, give the Commish the bear hug, put on the lids and hold up the jerseys, we’re watching dreams realized, millionaires made, and the hopes of franchises pinned. All in “On the Clock” rapid succession. Live and in high def. Man, hand me the remote.

Aargh, missed it. Worked late. So tuned into the the highlights. From a fantasy perspective however, the Draft doesn’t interest me. Why? Well, rookies are an unreliable lot. Yeah, I know what Cam Newton did last season. And I know AJ Green and Julio Jones put up some respectable numbers. But I’m not going to be lured to that watering hole ’cause a couple guys got a good drink last season. I’ve seen what happens at that watering hole. I’m betting if I cozy up to sneak a drink with RG3, good chance something jumps up and bites my head off. No thanks.

With all that said, I must admit, Trent Richardson does intrigue me. He’s being touted the most complete RB since Adrian Peterson. Peterson if I recall had a stellar rookie campaign. Hmm… But here’s the thing: Richardson is going to one of the worst scoring offenses in the NFL. Looks like he’ll be paired with a rookie QB. And the pair will be “cutting their teeth” against the AFC North – Pitt, Cincy, and Balitmore. Yeah, no, not in the early rounds. You go ahead; you drink first.


When In Doubt

April 25th, 2012 § Leave a Comment

She’s wearing a hat. It’s one of those floppy, brimmed hats fishermen wear to keep the sun off their necks. She is holding her belly as expectant mothers often do during the third trimester. By the ninth month, the skin is drawn so impossibly taut; the constant touch is there to almost reassure herself. And in this photo, she is smiling big. I remember that moment so vividly. So clear that you’re told, “No, you’re confusing memory with seeing the photo over the years.” No, I remember it. I can hear the sounds. The beach. We talked near the showers where I rinsed off the sand and salt. The overcast was clearing; the warm late summer sun breaking through.

But maybe this I do see in the picture, or maybe it is in my memory and so I project it when I look at that photo. Past the big smile and the playful hat, way back in her eyes there’s some anxiety. It was the due date. She woke me that morning animated. There was some wetness. Did her water break? But it was more a few drops than a puddle. And it stopped. After some debate, we decided to go for a long walk at the beach. You know, get her going. Later that evening, the baby showing no sign of budging, she decided to call just to be sure. We were told to come in. The test came back as trace amniotic fluid. The amniotic sac can spring a pin hole sized leak. Who knew? In our case, the trickle that stopped was explained by the baby’s positioning pressing against and thus plugging the hole.

Because the sterile environment had been compromised all day, they put her and the baby on antibiotics. Our son was born meconium and with an elevated temperature. I do not want to be an alarmist. And having been one, I know that expectant, 1st time parents comprise as jumpy a group as there is. So calmly, I suggest: Near your due date, when in doubt, check it out.

Scares Me

April 23rd, 2012 § Leave a Comment

It’s happening. He’s taller than his Mom now. And creeping on me. The voice is changing – deep and squeaky. He’s getting thicker and hairier. The kid eats like a horse. Anything and everything; anytime, anywhere. The other day, he went to the movies and killed a large box of popcorn. Got sick, passed out, woke up, and ate some more. As their appetite grows, I’d heard they stop talking. Wasn’t convinced. You know, it’s so tempting to believe your child is going to be the exception. Nope. “I don’t know.” “Dude, don’t you know anything?” “I don’t know.” But the speech loss is only around adults. It’s not so much a loss in the ability to speak; it’s an allergic reaction to you, the adult. Get him around some friends, and they’ll talk for hours and hours about boogers. I’d also heard you see less and less of ’em. Sure enough, the first chance he gets; he’s out. The whole thing scares the crap out of me.

It’s happening. She can wear her mother’s shoes. The last six months, she’s hit a growth spurt. Fingers, no more stubby, chubby childlike. They’re stretched, long like a woman’s. I have to be careful about going into her room. At school there’s drama with the girlfriends. This one thinks this about that one. And that one is best friends with the other, but doesn’t like this one, which means she can’t be with this one without getting that one pissy.  Geez. Pre-teen Soap. Yeah, and I’d heard this for years. “Man, you better get yourself a shotgun.” She is pretty. Sure enough, the prepubescent little dogs are sniffing around. They’re not much of a threat yet – vastly under gunned in both physical and emotional development. They look like excited Beagles around well groomed Collies. Comical now, but I know they’re coming. In a couple years, big, black Rotts. The whole thing scares the crap out of me.

No matter how scared, I can’t become a buddy dad. You know, the one who tries by being a buddy – the cool dad which is to say, permissive dad. “They’re gonna be teens; they’re gonna mess around some. Relax.” Hell no. If ever they needed a father, it is now. I can’t become that grumpy dad either. The one who scowls and shakes his head for five years. That’s not working. Can’t let the fear leverage me. I need to stand; stand here and figure this out. I suspect with knees knocking and bowels emptied all the way through.




Girls will be Boys and Boys will be Girls

April 19th, 2012 § 6 Comments

Lola by the Kinks. Good song. If you haven’t; give it a listen. It’s hilarious. The song is about the confusion caused by gender lines being blurred to non-existence. Supposedly, it’s based on a true story of the Kinks’ manager’s regretful encounter with a transvestite. As the story goes, the man was so hammered, he spent an entire evening with a … um, dude and didn’t realize the dude was a dude. Right. Fair warning: You let yourself get that inebriated, all bets are off. But, I must contend: Life is confusing enough; we don’t need one of the most basic things to be a trick question. Do we?

Well I’m not the world’s most physical guy
But when she squeezed me tight she nearly broke my spine
Oh my Lola lo-lo-lo-lo Lola
Well I’m not dumb but I can’t understand
Why she walked like a woman and talked like a man
Oh my Lola lo-lo-lo-lo Lola lo-lo-lo-lo Lola

A lasting impression of my visit to Korea will be the alarming proliferation of effeminate dudes. When I was growing up, Koreans didn’t have much. Not much international clout. Not much money. We weren’t particularly known for anything. If nothing else, what we had were some dudes: Men were men. Yes, agree, to a fault. It did demand a swing in the other direction. Good. But that’s the trouble with pendulums, right? The momentum. Swinging the other direction, that momentum carries it flying past the “happy” medium. What I saw in Korea was a gender pendulum blown off the hinge, careening out of control – way out there to where … well, where Lola lives.

Well I’m not the worlds most masculine man
But I know what I am and I’m glad I’m a man
And so is Lola

And so is this dude.
Call me old fashioned, but we don’t need more of …
Girls will be boys and boys will be girls
It’s a mixed up muddled up shook up world … lo-lo Lola

My Seoul

April 17th, 2012 § Leave a Comment

The last place we lived before our family immigrated to the States was in a town called Noh Nyun Dong. It was a two story house on what was then the outskirts of Seoul. My parents scrimped and saved on their modest teachers’ salaries to purchase it. It sat on an unpaved street with an open sewer running through the middle. One in a row of homes hidden from the street by concrete walls. Each with its own front gate leading to an inner court, and then to the house.

It was the second of two homes in Korea I can recall. When we moved in, I remember being awed by the indoor plumbing – my first ever toilet. Oh, and when we got our first refrigerator. I remember repeatedly sticking my hand in it in disbelief, laughing, “Oohing” and “Aahing”. We heated and cooked with coal, and sat in front of a little black and white TV with programming starting in the early evening. Out front, we played for hours in the dirt, games created by poor kids with rocks and sticks. We ran around on the hill behind our house catching frogs and grasshoppers. And the concrete bridge over the sewer became the neighborhood pitch, an old flat volleyball, the soccer ball.

Boys walked around, arms draped over shoulder, even holding hands. Old men squatted in circles, talking story. And the young rose for their elders.

Are they real – my memories? Did these things really happen? Or are they pieces of my past, polished to a glow beyond reality by that narcotic optimism – the optimism of a child?

Just got back yesterday from a short trip to Korea … back from where I once belonged. The Seoul of my youth – my dirty, poor, living Seoul I discovered was hidden behind a guantlet of cold, glass high-rises; the plain, humble people replaced by walking mannequins. I had to get on foot, look down alleys to see the lingering vestiges of my Seoul. And wondered, “If this is progress, what’s all the rush?”

Fantasy Friday

April 13th, 2012 § Leave a Comment

Quarterbacks Continued: Get Your Man

Nobody really knows. If we’d all known, we would’ve made Chris Johnson the number one overall pick in 09. Michael Vick would not have gone undrafted in 2010. And Eli Manning would not have been a 7th rounder last year. The unknown is an undeniable element of fantasy football. Just think about all the first round busts last season: Chris Johnson, Jamaal Charles, Andre Johnson, Michael Vick, Rashard Mendenhall.

In this uncertain landscape, the Quarterback position stands as the last remaining beacon of stability. Drew Brees is the closest thing to a sure thing you’ll get in fantasy football. With about half dozen sure fire 250+ pt QBs, really the best thing to do is grab one with your first or second round pick. At least then you know, you’re starting each week with 20+ pts. The fact that it is consistently the highest scoring position only bolsters the argument to grab one early and run.

Two things give me pause. I’ve already mentioned the first: The traditional variation in pts between 1st and 2nd tier QBs is not as great as other positions. The other thing that gives me pause is in most leagues, you can only start one QB. Making that traditionally small margin even smaller. Definitely covet the consistency and predictability of a Aaron Rodgers. But if I think I can get solid production – putting me within five to ten pts every week – at a value price, I’ll take it.

A word of advice if you go the risky route: Get your man. The position is too important to just “wing it” at the draft. Think of a couple QBs you think will give you mid-round value, and target them. In targeting, it helps to track the QB position during the draft. Once the 1st tier QBs are off the board, that’s when the clock starts on your man. Your league’s draft will dictate which round you jump in. One more thing: It wouldn’t hurt to take anther solid QB in the next round. Take out the insurance.

A huge pick. Miss it, you could be starting Sexy Rex on your 2-4 mid-season loser.


The First Thing

April 10th, 2012 § Leave a Comment

You know that horrific hypothetical scenario in which a person is caught in a tragic situation with only enough time and resources to save one of two drowning loved ones? You know that thing we’ve all thought about in our moment of morbid soul sifting? Well, put a child in that scenario on the dock, holding the floatation instrument, that child will not give it a moment’s thought before tossing that styrofoam donut toward … you guessed it, Mom. That’s right., Dad goes down. As well he should. A child loves his/her Mom. It’s just the way it is, man. It’s not personal. Not that they don’t love you; it’s just that they don’t love anything, anyone more than Mom.

A generalization. Yes. But also generally true. It stands to reason then that the first thing in fatherhood is loving the Mom. I think things are way more connected than we’d like to believe. As much as we’d like to fragment our lives and deal with them in pieces as they best suit us, life just doesn’t seem to work like that. Tell a child, “I really can’t stand your mom, but remember, I love you.” That child, if he/she could, would say, “That’s dumb dad.” They may not know exactly how, and they may not yet possess the ability to articulate the reasons why, but they know something’s wrong with that statement.

Some of us are thinking, “That’s a rough one.” The first thing is the thing that can’t be done. I get that. I don’t know your situation – in no position to pass judgement. And yet, I didn’t start writing to say “It’s all good.” You don’t need to look far to know, it’s not all good. And c’mon, you don’t want me to just tell you what you want to hear. Unless you want to hear the truth. Well, then I guess I am telling you what you want to hear. “Boy, didn’t we just tell you not to do that … well, alright then.”

Want to love your kids well? The first thing: Love their Mom. Do right by her.


Fantasy Friday

April 6th, 2012 § Leave a Comment


Let’s talk Quarterbacks, shall we? Just look at all the commotion around Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III, and you see the importance of the position. When Griffin ran that 4.41 40 at the combine, grown men – large grown men were positively giddy. GMs and coaches are jostling now, just look at ’em. Pushing, sliding, trying to wedge themselves to the doors. Like a horde of brides to be at the doors of a once a year Vera Wang factory sale.

Think about this: Carolina Panthers or Jacksonville Jaguars? Carolina, right? Both teams drafted QBs in the first round. Cam Newton was just all man, all season. Blaine Gabbert struggled mightily. There’s a buzz in Carolina. Fans are excited. Ron Rivera is smiling. Jacksonville? They whacked Jack Del Rio, and put up a “For Sale” sign. What were their records? Jacksonville 5-11. Carolina 6-10. One game. That’s it. And yet, just because of QB play, the forecast is sunny in Carolina and rainy in Jacksonville.

What does this mean for fantasy? For one, you’d better get yourself a productive player at QB. In drafting your fantasy QB, couple trends to keep in mind. One, they as a whole score more points than any other position. Go check. How many QBs were among the top 10 scorers last season? The answer is 8. Here’s another fact: Matt Ryan had more fantasy points than Arian Foster, Calvin Johnson, Rob Gronkowski. Surprising, right? The second thing you need to know is that traditionally there isn’t as much separation between the top QB and the 2nd tier QB. Meaning the variation in scoring between the top guys and the 2nd tier guys is not as great as the variation amongst RBs and WRs. Last year however was an exception. Was last season an anomaly or the beginnings of trending in a different direction? We’ll see.

You can take all this and go one of two ways: The overall points say, “Take a stud early.” The variation or the traditional lack thereof says, “Maybe a spot to take a risk.” Whichever way you go, remember, winning or not, it’s sunnier with Cam.

Humming Taylor Swift

April 5th, 2012 § Leave a Comment

Awhile back, I caught myself humming a line from a Taylor Swift song. Yes, I am a man. A forty-two year old man. Certainly, not a pretty man. You’re right, I should not be doing anything Taylor Swift. After some well deserved self-flagellation, I went to where lots of people go in times of self-loathing. Blame. “Why do my kids have such horrible taste in music?” They do, forgive me. And they bring this, this KIIS FM into my world. It bores a hole into my brain. Seeps in. Sounds of Taylor Swift, Usher, and Katy Perry take up residence. And while I’m engaged in mindless activity, guard down, it slips or … uh, hums out.

It’s rather disappointing. Where did it all go wrong? I tried to expose them to my taste, my eclectic pseudo cool: Dylan, Hendrix, Coltrane, Marley. Yeah, there was some Country there … well, truth be told, a lot of Country. Once again, gonna blame. With Country, it’s my wife’s fault. But even there, we tried to mix in some good with the Rascal Flatts: some Cash, Alison Krause. Despite all this, our kids want to listen to something you can dance to from some dude who decided to go with Bruno Mars as a stage name. Bruno Mars? C’mon man, really?

Then it hits you. Maybe your idea of cool isn’t so cool anymore. Maybe just like your Dad who couldn’t understand Prince and the Revolution or Run DMC, you can’t understand the Black Eyed Peas or, yeah, why not, Taylor Swift. …She wears short skirts, I wear t-shirts. She’s cheer captain and I’m on the bleachers … nana nanaa nana nana nanaa … what your looking for has been here the whole time. If you can see me…da, da, dada, da da. Yeah, I guess it’s kind of a catchy tune.

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