Tag Archives: Kids

The World According to Rob

This Facebook status update caught my eye:

Chris Rooney doesn’t like when cars drive too fast down his street.

Have you ever heard anyone complain that they drive too slow? Of course not. We all think they drive too fast —but what are you going to do chase after them and get all up in their grill, so to speak? That may have worked for T.S. Garp but it’s not a good idea these days.

In The World According to Garp, Garp gets into the habit of chasing after cars speeding through his neighborhood. In the book he’d catch up to them at the stop sign and give them a piece of his mind. It worked. Try that today and they’ll run you over.

Years ago the town showed up and yanked out the stop signs on the corner where I live. When I complained they helpfully explained that the signs created an unsafe situation and actually encouraged people to drive faster. I don’t know about that —but I do know that as soon as the signs came down the speed of the cars went up.

I decided to take matters into my own hands and request people slow down by yelling at them when they drove past. This did nothing to slow the cars but a number of people did return to yell back, threaten me, etc.

Now when they zip past I keep my mouth shut —instead seeking revenge by doddering along that road like an 80-year-old, driving a speed safe and reasonable for a place teeming with kids:  20 MPH.

Ringing Ears, Smoke Machines, and Drum Solos

Do you remember you first concert? I do. It was a 1977 show by Todd Rundgren’s Utopia at the Calderone Theater on Long Island. This was the band’s legendary Ra tour, featuring a 20 foot gold Sphinx and lots of smoke and lasers. The highlight was Mr. Rundgren playing a guitar solo on top of a giant steel pyramid —and then tumbling through the air and landing on stage. It was awesome —and thanks to YouTube you can get a taste of what it was like.

It all came rushing back when I took my 13-year-old son Zack to his first concert Friday night. We went to see The Decemberists play at the Amherst College gym. Since it was general admission I led him to a spot against the barrier in front of the stage and imparted a little advice from the old man: “At a show like this you get right up front.”

Despite the smelly and annoying guy next to him, an atrocious opening act, and a long stretch of time on his feet he had a great time. I’ve seen enough concerts from Row Y or Section 301 to know that there is absolutely nothing like standing right in front of the band you’ve spent so many hours listening to on your iPod —or your turntable.

There were no pyramids or laser shooting Sphinxes but The Decemberists rock out live; they opened with the same song seen in this video from a performance in Austin last month.

Splinter Group

Cub Scout Pinewood Derby has figured large in my life. Between my two sons, I have built many advised on the construction of many Pinewood Derby cars, worked on numerous Pinewood events, and spent countless hours at the races. That’s why this Subaru commercial sort of moved me. Mostly.

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As you can see, the young lad who takes first place built his own car —unlike his rival whose car was obviously made by dad. It’s unfortunate when these events become a contest between the fathers instead of one between the boys —but what’s more unfortunate is that the scouts in this commercial are wearing Brownie vests.

Yes, Brownie vests. If you are unfamiliar with what Brownie vests look like, please click this link. Then look at the commercial again. And look at the link again. I rest my case. Brownie vests.

Is this someone’s idea of a joke, portraying the industrious boys in this commercial wearing girl uniforms? An underhand shot at the Boy Scouts of America, maybe? Call me a nut, but the truth is that scouting has been under assault for years.

Sure, I understand that maybe you couldn’t get permission to use a Cub Scout uniform —but it doesn’t take much imagination to come up with a knock-off. Putting the boys in Brownie vests? With all due respect to the Brownies, that’s just wrong.

UPDATE: Watch South Park’s take on Pinewood. It’s spot on!

Anyone Can Whistle

I kinda swore that I would never coach soccer again, but guess what I’m doing this season? The soccer club sent out an appeal for volunteers last week saying they’d drop a team if they couldn’t find another coach. I was afraid I was on their sh*t list after making fun of their logo, goofing on annoying soccer parents, and bragging about my losing record, but I guess all is forgiven.

What I’ve learned from being a wiseass is that people who take something seriously take it very seriously. Michael Kinahan of Scituate, MA learned this lesson a little too late.

Maybe you heard of the tongue  in cheek email Kinahan sent to the parents of his 7-year-old soccer players? It’s the one where he dubbed his team “Green Death” and said he expects the girls to play “like a Michael Vick pit bull.”

Here’s a sample of his letter:

I expect that the ladies be put on a diet of fish, undercooked red meat and lots of veggies. No junk food. Protein shakes are encouraged, and while blood doping and HGH use is frowned upon, there is no testing policy.

You can read the whole thing here. Bottom line is that some of the parents didn’t get that it was intended to be humorous and Mr. Kinahan ended up quitting.

In his resignation he explained that the email was  “Meant in jest and with the goal of giving the parents a chuckle while enduring yet another round of organized youth sports. It was also meant as a satire of those who take youth sports too seriously for the wrong reasons.”

He goes on: “While I am sorry some people failed to see the humor, I do not apologize for my actions; I wrote it, I think it’s funny and I do have a distaste for the tediousness of overbearing political correctness.”

You and me both, brother.

Up in Smoke

My 13-year-old son claims he and his friends were hollered at for pretending to smoke in the schoolyard. It was a cold day so they held twigs up to their mouths and made like their breath was smoke. Can’t kids enjoy anything these days?

When I was little , we used to love candy cigarettes. From a candy standpoint they were not delicious with their weird chalky consistency, but who could beat the fun you had handing them around to your friends? Candy makers stopped calling them candy cigarettes at some point but you can still get them. I’m thinking I may buy some for next Halloween.

Lately there’s a huge uproar over kids pretending to smoke by crushing Smarties and then blowing Smarty powder out of their mouths. When I first heard about this I thought it was a hoax, but then news reports started emerging —and I found that the internet is full of videos of kids showing you how it works. It’s hilarious!

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Before you start going off on me about kids learning to smoke by pretending to smoke (and I know you will) consider this: kids don’t grow up and do everything they pretend to do while playing. My friend Raymond T used to like pretending he was a werewolf and chasing after us through the neighborhood —and he’s never actually attacked anyone as an adult. It was great fun, and afterward we’d all relax with a candy cigarette.

Random Notes

GOTTA SERVE SOMEONE Zack surprised us on the way out of Mass Sunday, announcing that he’d like to be a lector someday. We were really impressed by this because we’ve worked so hard to keep him interested in church. I was halfway to the car before I realized why he was suddenly so keen on getting involved —and it had everything to do with first reading, Zechariah 9:9-10:

See, your king shall come to you; a just savior is he, Meek, and riding on an ass, on a colt, the foal of an ass.

Like every 12-year-old, he just wants to say ass in church.

ON THE INTERNET, NOBODY KNOWS YOUR A DOG I don’t really have time for it, but I’ve gotten myself involved in another online project: Dog 365. For the next year, I will post one picture a day of Scarlett, the Australian Shepherd who can’t manage to keep her tongue out of my mouth. I’d like to tell you that this is some sort of satire about the relationship we have with our pets, but like a lot of things I’ve done online, I didn’t really put that much thought into it.

POST TIME Madeo couldn’t quite get it done at the May 24 Alydar Stakes, losing by a neck to long shot Trevor’s Clever. His owners and trainer continue to have high hopes for the three-year-old, who’s entered in Saturday’s $350,000 Swaps Stakes at Hollywood Park. Madeo won’t be the favorite this time. Among the entries are Kentucky Derby horse Colonel John, who will likely head to The Travers if he wins this race. Does that mean Madeo could end up in the Travers if he wins? Not likely, especially considering he’s never run on dirt.

All Creatures Great and Small

There was a bumblebee perched on the kneeler in the pew in front of us at church. Ann and Zack urged me to kill it because they were worried it would sting somebody.

Jesus wouldn’t kill that bee, I told them.

“Jesus overturned the tables of the money changers,” Zack whispered. “One of them could have landed on a bee.” That would be an accident, I whispered back. Besides, if there was a bee in the temple, Jesus would have sent it to sting the money changers.

He was satisfied by that, so we watched and waited and made dumb jokes, like “Peace BEE with you,” and “Thanks BEE to God.” We get a big kick out of ourselves. When mass was over, we grabbed a plastic cup and went to capture the bee. He asked if I was afraid of being stung. I pulled out the reply I use whenever the kids question my manhood:

“Zack, I go into burning buildings and stare down the red devil. I’m not afraid of a bee.” Shuts then up every time.

We carefully transported the bee outside and before releasing it into the wild showed it to the priest. I guess we figured he would commend us for saving a life, but instead he says, “Nice work, St. Francis. I would have just smooshed it.”

Unfinished Business

5/26/08 – Written on Back of Napkin
Why’s David Paterson so popular with the ladies? He has a cute glaucoma.

4/23/08 – Dinner Conversation
Zack: If Alex was on death row, would you make him his favorite food as a last meal?
Ann: Did he try to kill me, too?
Zack: No, he just killed someone else.
Ann: Yes.

4/19/08 – Unfinished Blog Post
Getting old. It blows, doesn’t it? I’ve been fighting aging by acting more immature, but the jury’s still out on how this is working out.

Undated – Scrawled on Back of Deposit Slip
Xcuse me? Are you off your meds?

Undated – Folded Up Post It Note
ortho bucks…ipods…needles…eyelids…has mono “i’m not getting mono”…jesus c.s…group discuss…

5/2/08 – Unfinished Blog Post
So Zack whispers to me in church, “That’s cool.” Cool? “Yeah, cool.”
I have no idea what he’s talking about.
“The axe. It’s cool.” What?!
“The axe of the Apostles. You know. They had axes. That’s cool.”

The Eagle Has Landed

Bethlehem Soccer Club

I’m no designer but there’s something about this logo on Zack’s new soccer shirt that’s a little troubling. Hmmm…what could it be? Oh, I know: it reminds me of something from NAZI GERMANY.

I’m sure that’s not the effect the Bethlehem Soccer Club was after, but there’s no denying that it has a very Teutonic feel. This graphic is a direct reference to the coat of arms of Germany, and it’s especially similar to the eagle used by their federal government. OK, fine. However, showing the eagle above a circular image, just as the Nazis displayed the eagle over a wreathed swastika, is maybe a little creepy.

Bethlehem’s teams are known as the eagles, and you have to admit, that’s one cool eagle. When I was ten me and my friends would draw pictures of World War II battles, complete with all sorts of swastika emblazoned flags and airplanes. We loved anything to do with World War II, and we would have found that logo extremely cool.

Images are powerful, and certain images carry a lasting connotation. If I showed you that eagle without the soccer ball, what would you think? And from a marketing and advertising perspective, I’m not sure that’s the icon you would pick to symbolize your company or organization.