Parents know what it’s like to rush from work to ball games and school events. Maybe you don’t have to be there, but it’s the right thing to do.
I was already destined to be late for a lacrosse game this week because it was all the way in Amsterdam and scheduled to start at 4:30. It didn’t help to get out of work an hour late, but I said I’d be there. After driving like hell to get there, I rolled in with seven minutes left in the fourth quarter.
But my son’s team looked a bit smaller for some reason — and the coach, who can usually be heard from the parking lot, seemed oddly reserved. Maybe some of the kids couldn’t make it. Weird. And did the coach finally give himself laryngitis. Could be.
When the clock wound down and the PA announcer intoned, “And the final score… Amsterdam 6, LaSalle 9.”
Wait… LaSalle? I’m at the wrong game!
I’d been told early that morning that it was in Amsterdam — and don’t you know that Amsterdam’s uniforms are the same purple and gold as our own? It looked like I was in the right place, and I was so blissfully ignorant that I even took some pictures.
- I have no idea who this kid is…
So… eventually I figured out that the game was actually in Schenectady.
The take away here is always check and double check and check again. No big deal, though. I was at somebody’s game, and I guess that’s worth something.
The warmest room in our house is the half bath on the first floor. The heat pours into this closet-sized space like nobody’s business — and even when the rest of the house is freezing, the tiny bathroom is delightful. Could I put a TV in there, maybe?
This has also become our go-to spot for drying gloves, hats, and soaked running shoes, so naturally when my son came home drenched from lacrosse practice, I neatly arranged his gear in front of the heating register.
The next morning I opened the door to stench so horrid I nearly retched. For a second I though maybe one of the cats peed in there — or ALL of the cats – but no, this terrible smell was wafting up from the lacrosse gear.
Now, don’t get me wrong. Under normal circumstances the stuff doesn’t smell great, but it’s acceptable; the application of heat unleashed a monster.
I’ve finally shaken that stink out of my head and learned a valuable lesson about drying athletic equipment: if you put wet, sweaty things in a hot little box don’t be surprised when you open the door.
This time last year I called Elf on the Shelf out for what it is: a tool of extortion. This year, Santa’s little informant is getting even more popular — and hence, more annoying. There’s no point in arguing against this creepy little fink to parents, so for the first time ever, I am directing a blog post toward our children:
Hey, kids! Do you have an Elf on the Shelf in your house? What did you name him? Rudy? Bingo? Dave?
He sure is cute, and it’s so much fun to get up in the morning and see where he’s hiding. Every night he flies to the North Pole and tells Santa if you’ve been naughty or nice. Your Elf makes Christmas special!
But how do you know if he’s telling Santa the truth?
Some elves are evil, and they make up nasty stories about children. And when they fly to the North Pole every night, they tell tell Santa lies about you. These terrible stories make Santa think you’ve been bad, and that means he will bring you less toys.
There’s only one thing you can do: make you elf go away.
When everyone is sleeping, grab your elf before he flies to the North Pole and stop him. One thing you can do is go outside and put him in the garbage can. Or throw him down the sewer. Do you have a dog that likes to chew things? Give him the elf.
You can even put him under your mattress. That way he won’t be able to fly to the North Pole and tell Santa lies about you and ruin Christmas.
Remember: the elf is there to stop you from getting more toys. And after he’s gone if someone asks if you’ve seen him, deny, deny, deny.
People were asking this week if we get a lot of trick-or-treaters. I wasn’t sure what to say because the truth is I’ve never actually counted — until last night.
In an effort to apply a little science to Halloween, I kept track of how many trick-or-treaters received candy, and took notes on their costumes to see if I could pick out any cultural trend among the local children.
We served a total of 63 trick-or-treaters. There was one adult, who was either dressed as a biker or an S&M enthusiast. I was not sure and did not want to ask.
The greatest number of costumes recorded fall into the category “unknown.” These were either impossible to distinguish by observation, or incomprehensible after explanation. This may reflect a cultural bias on the part of the examiner who is not up on every aspect of pre-teen culture.
A note on methodology. I tried not to ask young kids what they were dressed as. Generally speaking, adults should avoid chatting with young children who come to their door because it’s creepy. When I was growing up, there was one creepy guy who insisted that we do a “trick” to get our “treat.” He clearly misunderstood Halloween, which is about handing out a “treat” so you don’t become the target of a “trick.” I remember walking away flummoxed because I didn’t know any tricks. What a jerk! I hope somebody egged his house.
Anyway, the diversity of costumes was impressive. There were more than 40 different identifiable costume character types represented and it is difficult to establish any sort of pattern. Surprisingly, there was only one vampire — and there were no politically themed costumes. Here are the top costume categories:
||Type of Costume
All of this makes me wish I’d started recording this data ten years ago, because it’s only with that sort of history that you can pick out trends. Expect another blog post like this in 2022.
I don’t think any teenagers read this blog — hell, hardly anybody reads it at all. My overseer at the Times Union was right: leaving their esteemed website cast me into blog purgatory, a place where only my “friends and family” will bother with my nonsense.
But I digress.
If teenagers did read this, I’d offer some advice: you do not need to use a new towel every time you get wet. This became stunningly clear on Saturday morning as I started washing dirty sheets and towels before heading home from vacation. Everywhere I looked I found another towel. Beach towels, bath towels, face towels, wash cloths… What should have been one load of towels became — I have no idea how many. So anyway, here are some procedures:
1. Use towel.
2. Hang up and allow to dry.
3. Re-use towel.
Next year I may ration the towels and only distribute what is needed — or charge for each additional towel. Better yet? Teach them how to use the darn washer and dryer.
People don’t believe me when I tell them I once owned an alligator.
It was the 1970s — when laws about buying and selling exotic animals were more relaxed — and something possessed my father to bring home an alligator. I’m sure it wasn’t MY idea, because I would have never have said something so crazy as , “I want an alligator.” My father was a wonderful man, but wildly unpredictable in the use of his hands, and saying nutty things in front of him was not always a great idea.
Anyway, this was a tiny little thing, less than a foot long, and it pretty much sat in its tank all day and did nothing. We grew tired of it quickly.
Eventually the day came along when we weren’t even sure it was still alive and my father took it out to the corner and deposited it into the sewer. Word got around the neighborhood and people would stop by one at a time to peer down at the dead alligator in the sewer.
When it started moving around down there we were all surprised. A teenager named Kenny got a rake and managed to scooped it up. He offered to return it to us, but by that time we were pretty much done with alligators and allowed him to bring it home with him.
I like to imagine what would have happened if the alligator had slithered down deep into the pipes of the storm sewers and taken up residency. He could have spent years stalking around below the streets of Long Island feasting on rats, once an unwanted pet, but now an urban legend.
There are a small group of guys at every lacrosse game — middle aged, normal in every aspect — who are the loudest people in the stands. They gather on the top row of the bleachers at midfield and shout, and shout, and shout. It’s terrific that people show up and support their team; lacrosse games are not an event like Friday night football, so it’s good to see an enthusiastic crowd.
But like everything, sometimes it goes too far.
I was at a game recently where the loud guys crossed from cheering for their squad to taunting individual players on the opposing team. For example, a shot on goal would sail high and they’d yell, “Hey, number 11! Nice job!”
That’s not cool.
Maybe we shouldn’t be surprised that adults don’t know what’s appropriate and what is not. I used to coach in a youth soccer rec league, a place where we barely kept score, and parents would sometimes yell at the teenage refs officiating the game. Unbelievable.
Look, you want to go to an NFL game and scream out ridiculous sh*t for three hours, have at it — but these are just kids, so do us all a favor and keep it to cheering for your team. And if you can’t do that, just shut up.
If your local TV station is working extra hard lately, that’s because it’s February sweeps. When I toiled in the business of marketing TV news, I used to love sweeps and all its sensational over the top stories. It made my job fun. And though it meant more work, it was work that came easy to me.
I’ve seen it all, some of it good journalism and some of it tawdry and awful — and some of it very, very flimsy — like WNYT’s story on the dangers of comic books.
Sex? Violence? Corrupting the minds of children? The points raised in this piece are precisely the same as those brought up when a US Senate subcommittee grilled comic book publishers at hearings in 1954. The hysteria they drummed up worked; the publishing industry created the Comics Code Authority to enforce a set of self-imposed standards of decency. Purists believe it ruined the business.
That the story completely ingnored the history of comics and how they were censored in the past really tells me something. It tells me someone did zero research — but can you really expect context from a story that doesn’t offer one shred of fact to support its premise?
And is it true that Comic Book Content Causes Concern for Some? Yes, in the story there’s a psychologist who’s concerned, and some comic-loving parents who understand the definition of age appropriateness — but I’d say they are only mildly concerned.
The takeaway? Monitor what your kids are doing so you can protect them from inapproprate material. OK, I guess the story did do one thing really well: it did a great job of overstating the obvious. There’s some news you can use.
By the way, if you’re interested in comics and how they were censored in the 50s, get a copy of The Ten Cent Plague. This is a must read for comic fans — and an eye opening look at what happens when you let social conservatives start running things.
My son, Alex, is training in Mississippi, and while the Army has plenty to keep him him busy, he asked for some reading material to help pass his free time. I sent two books, a novel, The Given Day by Dennis Lehane — and because he asked for something on investing, A Random Walk Down Wall Street by Burton Malkiel.
Oh, yes, and a few magazines:
- Guns and Ammo Handguns Annual
- National Review
- Journal of Counter Terrorism & Homeland Security
- The Economist
That’s eclectic. I need to put together another package to send this week; your suggestions are most welcome.
One of the nice things about Christmas is its extortion value over children.
If you have young ones you’ve probably done it: played the “naughty or nice” card to keep your kids in line. Well, in recent years this has taken a new turn with Elf on the Shelf. It is, in short, an elf that you put on the shelf to do Santa’s spying.
Elf on the Shelf was the brainchild of author/entrprenuers Carol Aebersold and Chanda Bell, who in 2005 published a children’s book of the same name. Each book comes complete with a little elf doll who, like in the story, will report misdeeds back to his boss at the North Pole.
The elf gets its magic power when named by your child. Isn’t that sweet?
I suppose it won’t be long before these come equipped with a hidden camera, because then you could actually use the elf to do some real spying. Imagine the fun of feeding your local department store Santa a nugget of two of information:
“HO! HO! HO! You know, little missy… I saw you take those cookies off the counter. And you know it’s not nice to pull the cat’s tail!”
That will make them true believers, won’t it? In fact, it could be effective enough to last all year long. Santa is always watching. And he could probably send a postcard or two during the year, little reminders that that he sees all, and is indeed keeping a list.