Tuesday, November 01, 2016

Why Not?

One week. It is closing time, and America, in all her beer goggled glory is taking somebody home. Unfortunately, this one night stand lasts four years. Will it be the Power Grabber or the P&$*y Grabber?  The candidate full of bull or the candidate full of bull? According to the pundits, it is midnight in the USA, the end is nigh, the Liberty Bell tolls for thee.  According to my friends and neighbors, I should board up my house and move to Canada.  Of course, it doesn't have to be this way. I, along with the rest of the Off-Broadway Third Party Players are also still sitting at the bar waiting to share a cab, to be asked up for "coffee."  America, you don't have to regret your decision in the morning.  As the lyrical genius Eddie Money once said, Take Me (and my patriotic red pants) Home Tonight.

As we hit the one week home stretch, here are Seven Thoughts for Seven Days:

1) You wanna talk issues? I've got issues. I'll be the Mental Health President. Don't worry  folks, I'll worry for you!
2) Being the World's Policeman leads only to more excuses to be the World's Policeman.
3) The phrase "Black Lives Matter" does not sow division, but reminds us there is still division that needs to be healed.
4) I engage in "locker room talk."  I think most men and women have or do.  However, that locker room talk does not include doing anything without consent.  I say two (or three, or six) adults can get as freaky as they want AS LONG AS THERE IS CONSENT.  And, if two of them fall in love, they should be able to legally marry no matter the parts between their legs.
5) Freedom of religion also means freedom from religion.
6) Not everyone's American Dream is 2.5 kids and a picket fence. 
7) I don't believe the Oval Office should be a decades-long, dynastic ego pursuit or another acquisition in a businessman's ledger. I was given not a silver spoon, but a wooden spoon covered in cookie dough.  I'm more everyman than elegant.  I have this crazy notion that our President should serve the interests of the people not his own.  I'm ready to serve.  If you give me your write-in vote (Of which I've been assured I already have one. Suck it, Evan McMullin!), I promise to stow the doom and gloom the punditry loves to peddle.  Let's make America FUN again.

#Hailey4America #EverForward #WhyNot

Saturday, October 08, 2016

I'm Too Sexy For This Oval Office.

At first, I thought there was no way Donald Trump would make it to March, let alone November. Next, I thought he, like every politician, was saying anything to get elected.  Then I thought he was saying everything to ensure he would NOT be elected.  Now I realize Trump does not give a flying leap what I, you, any of us thinks.  He looks out for one person.  His every move is self serving.  He's on a Mission from Don.

The video of lewd remarks that surfaced yesterday serves as another reminder that Donald Trump is an orange, unrestrained ball of id. He is America's Tyler Durden. An unrestrained ball of Tyler Durden has no business in the Oval Office. Make no mistake this kind of "guy" talk is what leads to an expectant, entitled culture among young men.    Even if it is common, this talk is not harmless. It can not be dismissed as mere locker room banter.  Fathers, use this video as a teachable moment with your sons. Use this as an example of what's is important - always make sure your mic is turned off. Kidding, of course. The real lesson is make sure you pop a few Tic-Tacs before you head out to grab some      p%*$y. Or maybe we could just settle for  teaching our young men to treat women with respect and teaching our young women to expect to be treated with respect.

Predictably, I have seen comments excusing Trump's boorish behavior. Oh, this video is ten years old.  Oh, it's just boys being boys.  Oh, you know, Bill Clinton was a bad guy, too.  His supporters hold their nose because there are real problems in this world and he can fix them!  As if Trump has provided any evidence of a plan to do so. I've been accused of being distracted by the media, of buying into their phony outrage.  I'm not outraged, phony or otherwise. I'm embarrassed that the GOP, for which I have voted often, could select no better candidate than this media-whoring, women-insulting, self-congratulating blowhard.  If the Democrats had chosen nearly any other candidate to run, he or she would be wiping the floor with Trump.  If they nominated a poodle, we would be reviewing applications for Official White House Pooper Scooper right now.  That the Republicans couldn't nominate a candidate that could wrest the moral high ground from the Clintons(!) is as laughable as it is unthinkable.  Hillary Clinton's Wall Street speeches and Donald Trump's limelight- driven, reality star power tripping ("when you're a star.. you can do anything") show exactly how out of touch these two clowns are with a large chunk of the people they claim to want to lead. We are left with two candidates hungry to ascend to the highest office, while scraping the bottom of the barrel.

I'll vote for neither, but at least with Clinton we have someone polished enough to actually resemble a president.  Donald Trump is a an oaf, a pig that not only slings mud, but enjoys rolling around in it.  We can argue all day about the role of a president in our government. Is the president an executor with real power to govern or more a figurehead? You make the call. If even only a figurehead, though, our president should be someone who  represents us well to the world.  A President's speech should be respectful of all citizens, bestowing dignity on all Americans.  A President's voice should be inspirational, aspirational, lofty. Our President should desire to raise us up, not tear us down.  A President Trump (shudder) wallowing in the muck is not the face I want to show the world. How about you?

Thursday, September 22, 2016

The Last Charge of the Orange Brigade

A week ago, coming off a series victory in Boston, the Orioles opened an eleven game homestand only one game behind the Sox in the race for the American League East.  After a 2-5 start to the homestand, the Orioles have ceded any hope of winning the division, clinging to a perilous lead for the final Wild Card spot.  With ten games remaining in  their season, including three each with the Jays and the Damn Yankees, the Birds must begin their last stand tonight in their final game with Boston.  So as a fun summer slips into a desperate autumn, I apologize to Tennyson for butchering his beautiful war poem which served as my inspiration for:

                                       The Last Charge of the Orange Brigade

Half a league, half a league,
With half a league closing behind,
All into the Yard,
Strode the Baltimore Nine.

"Forward the Orange Brigade!"
"Charge for the fences!" cried Buck.
Into the Yard,
Strode the Baltimore Nine.

Homers to the right of them,
Homers to the left of them,
Homers in front of them,
The Red Stockings have been unkind;
Struck down by Porcello with ease,
Swarmed under by the young Killer B's.
For one more chance, against the lefty Price,
Into the hearty laugh of Ortiz,
Strode the Baltimore Nine.

Valiantly staying in the pennant chase,
Desperately trying to keep pace,
Pinning all hopes on the arm of their Ace. 
Charging the field,
Holding the line.
Swinging for the wall,
Tracking each high fly ball,
Jonesy, Manny, and Trumbo
Enduring every strike call.
Just what is left,
Of the Baltimore Nine?

What shot at glory can they take?
O the Wild Card can the make?
A fan base looks for a sign.
Honor the charge they made,
Honor the Orange Brigade,
Tonight, cheer the Baltimore Nine.

And, when you're done cheering the Baltimore Nine, read Tennyson's haunting tribute to six hundred men of the Light Brigade.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Dance Party

I recently stumbled upon a  2014 Washington Post article detailing how Hillary Clinton has not driven a car since 1996.  It seems unlikely, for the same reasons laid out in the Post story, that she has driven in the ensuing two years.  This is only mildly surprising considering as a former First Lady she is under constant Secret Service protection.  Although, you would think at some point she, or anyone in a similar position, would tell Agent Earpiece to hop in the passenger seat and pass the keys.  Driving is too much fun to pass on for twenty years.  Not driving in two decades illustrates, in a minor way, how out of a touch Clinton, like most powerful politicians, is with the everyday existence of their constituents.  America, you need a candidate that's going to keep it real.  Donald Trump?  Hardly.  Whether he's actually worth one billion or ten billion, he's still at least a billion ahead of most of us.  Of all the deceptions he's pulled off during this long con he calls a campaign, convincing millions of hard working regular Joes that he has their back is perhaps the most impressive.  The closest Trump gets to relating to those Joes is bilking them out of thousands of dollars for his "University" or suing them so he doesn't have to pay for contracting work they have completed on his buildings.

No, America, neither Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump have the desire to understand your experience.  Guess what?  You're in luck.  I know a guy that drives himself (in a car that he and his wife paid for, no less).  He cuts his own grass, packs his own lunch (remember, make the peanut butter pocket to lock in the jelly), and drinks beer from a can.  He sometimes argues with his wife and kid.  He often yells at the screen during televised sporting events.  Yep, he's real.  He is me and I am him.  And I/him/me/he/Hailey4America am ready to help. I know how you live, what you need, and what you want.  Better yet, I'm willing to listen to what you have to say.  Yes, I'm an average Joe.  But I'm an average Joe with specific experience that, while hardly unique, makes me qualified to lead:  I'm a Dance Dad.

Hear me out.  I have distinct skills forged in the fiery cauldron of this Dance Dad life:

*Peace Keeper (AKA Knowing where my bread is buttered):  The Future First Lady is a kick-ass Dance Mom in her own right, but by taking Grace to classes during the week, I can cross at least one thing off Amanda's weekend to-do list.

* Handling Tense, Last-Minute Negotiations:  Arguing about which leotard/tutu combo The Girl needs or wants to wear never occurs an hour before class, only when we are already supposed to be in the car.

*Fiscal Responsibility:  I finally wised up and learned that I can take the same, if not better, photos than the professional portraits on Picture Day.  And mine are free! 

*Good Judgement:  The Future First Lady and I (okay, we all know it was Amanda that did all the legwork) selected a dance studio with a non-competitive environment that does not expect young girls to be all tarted up for the recital.

*Demonstrating a willingness to accept help:  The other girls' moms have bailed me out a few times over the last five years.  They've helped by going in the changing room or ladies' restroom, fixing Grace's hair or the unfortunate moment when I helped Grace, then age three, put her costume on backwards exposing WAY too much of her toddler chest. 

*Patience:  Each Tuesday I spend an hour or two in the waiting room while Grace dances.  There are long periods of waiting periodically interrupted by a gaggle of cart-wheeling seven-year-old girls chatting, giggling, and shouting as they change their shoes.  I know patience.

*Details:  Even though Grace is old enough to responsibly pack her own gear, if I don't double check her bag, we will inevitably forget a shoe or a tutu or a water bottle or a headband or the other kind of shoe or hip hop pants or yet another kind of shoe.  See America?  It's all about the details

*Diplomacy:  The studio waiting room has televisions on which we can watch our daughters dance.  Often, instead of watching, I am chatting, reading or writing.  But you can bet when Grace asks me if I saw her doing dance move X,Y, or Z I say something like, "Of course... I'm aware... that you were dancing... in there."  Diplomacy is also required when she asks how she did.  Let's just say that Grace's name belies her actual physical realities.  She tries hard and has a blast, but her hip hop freestyle moves are less BeyoncĂ© and more a squirrel on PCP.  Unfortunately, I think she inherited my dance floor flow instead of her mother's.  Though, she is still a much better dancer than Corey Feldman. Hopefully she'll grow into her feet and become smooth like her mama.  Until then, Diplomacy!

America, we're in this together.  Just a few million regular Joes and Janes.  Let the billionaires argue while we save this country.  Then we can all dance down Pennsylvania Avenue together, one crazy hip hop move at a time (because my guess is they won't let me drive.)

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

I'm Not Amused

Remember, America, you have another choice this November.  I'm your man.  And I'm my own man.  There's no body double here.  I am 100%, Grade A,  All-American from the tip of my giant proboscis to my average size hands.  From the star-spangled Uncle Sam tattoo on my  gggggg to the tiny part of my brain that knows Aleppo is not a dog food.  Come give me the once over; tell me if you like what you see.  We're all about transparency over here at Hailey4America.  No hidden medical records.  No refusal to release tax returns.  In fact, in the name of honesty and transparency, despite the risk to my candidacy, I am about to reveal a fact about me that might turn off a large portion of the electorate:  I don't enjoy Amusement Parks.

I know, that's totally un-American, right?  We want our presidents to have nerves of steel, yet I am asking you to cast your vote for a man who skips the log flume that "looks a little steep."  Not exactly Teddy Roosevelt and the Rough Riders material.  The truth is, I really don't enjoy amusement park RIDES.  Mostly because they are associated with terrifying concepts like "upside down" and "shoulder restraints." I hate the feeling when the bottom drops out and your stomach launches itself into your throat.   You know, the feeling you get on every big ride?  I understand that feeling puts the "thrill" in thrill rides for coaster enthusiasts, but it is not for me.  I get motion sickness on a playground swing.  Driving on hilly roads sometimes sends my tummy twirling.  IF I want to turn green, I'll hit up the greasy chocolate fountain at the end of the Golden Corral buffet.  With two feet planted firmly on the ground.

Even if I was inclined to test the endurance of my digestion system, I'm frightened of the physics of these rides.  I am not fooled by the quaint names coasters are given.  The parks try to lure me in with gentle names like the Himalayan Hike or Firecracker because they know no one would ride something called the Free Falling Neck Whipper or Twisty Murder Machine.  (Actually, I know people who probably would ride the Twisty Murder Machine.)  I don't want to be on the Pirate Ship the day it goes flying off its arm on the downswing.  I don't particularly want to be in the middle of a loopty-loo when the decades-old lap bar disengages.  I'm afraid to be in the Gondola car when it figures out that nothing but magic and a little spit is keeping it balanced on the thin steel cable.  I'd much rather watch these incidents unfold from the safety of the monorail.  On our recent trip to Hersheypark, I did actually ride a few simple rides, including the Kissing Tower.  I suggested to park officials they may want to consider putting "Kissing" in front of all their big ride names because there is a chance you can kiss your ass goodbye every time you board one.  They were not amused. 

Another reason theme parks are not my ideal pastime is the cost.  For me, they are often a waste of money and time.  For the $75 admission, the girls get thrills and memories for a lifetime.  I get the opportunity to purchase an $8 slice of rubbery pizza and sit in the Splash Zone! to watch marine biology dropouts toss fish at an elderly sea lion until he waves his flipper at the crowd.  My money would be better spent paying a homeless man outside the park to share his bus stop bench for the day.  After all, I spend the bulk of my visit (by choice, obviously) sitting around.  Sometimes I make myself useful by watching the kids that pass on a big ride.  I'm also a damn fine purse holder.  But mostly I sit and I wait.  And as Tom Petty said, "the waiting is the hardest part."  Which is perhaps what I find most stupefying about theme parks.  Are the coasters really worth an hour in line?  Isn't it disappointing to wait all that  time for two minutes of action?  (I guess I could ask my poor wife.  BA-DUM-TISH! Hey, if I didn't say it, one of you dear readers would have.  Self-deprecation is the best defense.) 

I know what you are all thinking:  How could I possibly vote for this ninny?  Rest assured, if elected, I will not do anything drastic like shutter all theme parks.  At worst, I'll issue some sort of decree sending my family to the front of the line.  Heck, my body double I might even jump on a few rides.  How's that for presidential?

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

America v. The Black Quarterback

I LOVE AMERICA!  THERE IS NO PLACE I WOULD RATHER LIVE!  I AM GRATEFUL TO OUR VETERANS!  I STAND, WITH HAND OVER HEART, DURING THE NATIONAL ANTHEM!  ROCKY IV IS MY FAVORITE ROCKY MOVIE, I SWEAR!  Sorry for the shouting, sometimes it is the only way to be heard these days.  I needed to get those five points on the record lest readers assume that my less-than-full-throated endorsement of EVERYTHING about America signals a hatred of my homeland.   Nuance seems less appreciated in an era when sledgehammers and earplugs are our favored tools of debate.  In the case of America v. The Black Quarterback there seems to be two different debates emerging, at least on Twitter and the Meme-fest called Facebook.  One, more closely related to the discourse Colin Kaepernick hoped to stoke about race, has centered on the level of oppression a millionaire can feel.  The second, which has many with their red, white, and blue panties in a bunch, focuses on what it means to be patriotic.  To be honest, Kaepernick lost me when he showed up to his press conference in a Fidel Castro t-shirt and spouted vague generalities.  He may not be the best representative for his concerns.  That doesn't mean the two debates are not worth discussing.

I'm not here to argue about the shooting of unarmed black men by police.  The news, video, and statistics speak for themselves.  There is a problem.  Instead, I want to know why people feel a millionaire quarterback shouldn't stand up (or in this case, sit down) to oppression.  The same people that rip Kaepernick's non-violent protest rail against other forms of Black Lives Matter protesting.  Better he should block traffic or throw bricks at cops?  Or, maybe, he should simply know his place and shut up.  After all, what does he know about oppression?  He's just a guy who gets paid millions of dollars to play a game, right?  Being a millionaire athlete does not make you immune to mistreatment.  Former pro tennis player James Blake was mistakenly arrested and assaulted by the NYPD last year.  His millions and privilege didn't protect him from police overreach.  I, for one, respect Colin Kaepernick for taking his stance.  In the face of backlash, ridicule, and possible loss of endorsements  he is using his platform as a (minor) celebrity to give voice to an issue about which he feels strongly.  A voice that may not be heard otherwise.  Agree or disagree with his premise, he deserves credit for willing to shine a light despite the ensuing reaction.

The more troubling aspect of the Kaepernick Sit-Down is the notion that you're with America or you're against us.  I know, there is that pesky nuance I was talking about earlier.  Yes, the flag and the national anthem are symbols representing the United States, and her citizens, including those that have died fighting to protect her and her citizens.  Yes, I stand during the anthem and honor the flag.  The flag is emblematic of our resilience, generosity, ingenuity, and leadership.  It represents freedom and hope.  It is shorthand for The American Dream.  So, yes, I stand for the anthem and honor the flag.  But my standing is not a blank check.  My standing is not a blind loyalty.  My standing is not an endorsement of everything "American."  Awful things have been done by men and women wearing American flags on their lapels or on their shoulders.  Terrible decisions have been made in buildings over which that banner waves.  I can simultaneously be thankful for our veterans and question the actions of our government. I understand why someone may sit during the anthem or stay silent during the Pledge of Allegiance.  It's not my choice, but I understand.  It doesn't make those objectors "un-American."  It doesn't mean they don't love their country.  It doesn't mean they should leave.  It doesn't make them bad people.  It means they disagree and, last I checked, that was still legal.  If your entire measure of a person is whether he stands during the national anthem, may I suggest that it is you who should rethink your priorities.    

Sunday, August 21, 2016


The looming specter has arrived.  It's Decision Time.  Choices we make in the coming days will provoke arguments and turn family members against one another.  Our selections will have lasting ramifications.  Debating and bargaining will make you question everything.  As Summer melts into Autumn, we must face our fears and do that which we know must be done.  Election Season?  Fantasy Football draft?  No, Back to School Shopping. 

Why do I dread back to school shopping?  It is pretty simple, really.  I love my kid.  I kinda love shopping.  I do not love shopping WITH my kid.  Grace and I have varied ideas of shopping.  I'm a cheapskate that enters a store focused, with a list, hoping to leave with some bargains.  Grace, having precious little concept of time or money, enters hoping to leave with, well, everything.  When Grace goes shopping her normal inclination is to show as much restraint as Donald Trump without a Teleprompter.  She wants every granola bar/stuffed animal/sparkly sandals/bottle of Gatorade we walk past.  I reel her in reminding her of the difference between needs and wants, while simultaneously now really wanting one of those damn granola bars I just made her put back on the shelf.  Usually, Amanda - Wife, Mother, Master Negotiator- is present to serve as a buffer.  This year, because I'm an idiot, I donned my red, white, and blue leather jumpsuit and Evil Knievel-ed the shit out of back to school shopping while Amanda was out of town.  Grace and I didn't exactly crash at the bottom of the Snake River Canyon, but it was exhausting nonetheless. 

Maybe it was exhausting because we have hit those dog days of summer when parental patience runs thin. Grace and I have done a ton of fun stuff this Summer, but two months of playing cruise director and head counselor at Camp Dad has left me tired, my creativity tapped. 

"Attention Campers- Today's activities include: whatever you come up with.  You'll find the television remote and a box of Ritz crackers in the center of the living room floor.  See you in September!"

Beleaguered, weary from motivating summer reading, traversing highways, and finding sand everywhere, we parents stumble towards the finish line.  Eager for school to start, yet knowing we have this one more task to complete before Day One. 

For our family, school shopping has two parts: uniforms and supplies.  I guess I should be thankful that Grace wears uniforms.  Otherwise, with her indecision and unlimited options, I would never make it out of the clothing store.   Even with fewer choices, there are still sizes, colors, styles and prices to navigate.  Shorts or skirts?  Long sleeve or short?  Light blue or dark?  Even though we I devised a game plan, Grace would happily pick one of each and duplicates for good measure. 

Game Plan?

Damn right, there is a game plan.  How are you going to know what you need if you haven't done a proper prior assessment?  Before heading out, I made Grace try on every piece of uniform from last year to see what is salvageable from first grade.  If an article of clothing wasn't stained or too small we didn't need to replace it.  (Note to self: Make her buy all navy blue so stains don't show.)  I'm not saying I made a chart of all her uniforms, but if you don't go into that store informed you are going to be overmatched.  I don't have all day to wrestle stacks of khaki pants. 

Part Two is where Grace and I really butted heads.  For weeks, every time we walked through Walmart or Target, Grace would beg me to pick out school supplies.  Those giant bins of notebooks in the aisle called to her with a siren song.  She asked to look at back packs in each store we walked through.  And, of course,  you need cute, dangly things to clip to your back pack.  The buying of the supplies truly does irk me.  I don't mind buying sanitizer or tissues for the classroom, but why does Grace need a brand new box of crayons when we have a basket of 643 broken (but usable) ones at home?  Why a specific set of blue folders?  Blue shirts.  Blue folders.  Is she going to school in a mushroom?  Watching Grace select her supplies makes the task more tedious.  She stands contemplating the wall of supplies as if she were examining a work of art in a museum.  Looking over the details of each white board marker as if her life depended on selecting the correct one.  I've seen her make faster selections at a boardwalk arcade prize counter.  (Where I usually pray we have enough tickets to purchase a recliner in which I can relax while she leisurely spends her remaining tickets.)  Each item becomes a negotiating point.  She requests a six-pack of glue sticks; I counter with two.  She picks up a new pencil case; not when she has three at home.  She asks to buy the $7 markers; I say yes, as long as, this week, she uses the toilet paper that your hand pokes through when you wipe.  I'm kidding.  Sort of.  Back and forth we spar until I want to simply hand her my debit card and go wait in the car.  Finally, we make it to the car armed with all we'll need for second grade having spent more than the game plan, but (a little) less than I would pay for a boat. 

We reach the car in time to take a phone call from Out-of-Town Mommy who, with a hint of sadness in her voice says wistfully, "Oh, school shopping.  I like to do that with her."

Somebody hand me my Evil Knievel helmet, I need to go bang my head against a wall.