Tuesday, January 02, 2018

In-vest-ment Strategy

Ah, the holiday season. A time to pause for reflection and self-examination. To ask myself important questions. How's life? Am I doing good work? Am I vest guy? (Seriously, never underestimate my knack for focusing on the frivolous or mundane.)
 
Yeah, a vest guy.  No, not a sweater vest guy.  Or A cowboy.   More of a gentleman who wears a sleeveless winter garment.  As I roamed the halls of retail prior to Christmas (me and the, like, three other people who don't do the bulk of their shopping online), I started looking for a new winter coat.  This is a bit of a departure for me.  As a rule, I hate wearing coats. They are too bulky in the car, I have to keep track of them once indoors, and they admit surrender at the hands of Weather.  In the past I'd rather take my chances freezing while crossing a parking lot than carrying a heavy coat through the grocery store.  However, one of the concessions I've made to age is that I can't fight the cold as easily. The harsh wind cuts through to the bone. Gone are the days of wearing shorts in December. So, I was looking for something warm, yet comfortable.  Cozy, but light. Utilitarian, yet stylish. Not that I would know stylish if it fell on my head like a cartoon anvil.

The more I browsed coats, the more I bumped into vests.  I tried on a few.  Hmm, snug as a cocoon and I can move my arms freely? Nice. Lightweight and waterproof?  Hey hey, we might onto something here. As I stood in the middle of Boscov's test-flailing my arms around like a twin turbine windmill, I realized a vest might just be the outerwear that possesses both the warmth and the unencumbered free range of motion I desire.

But I needed to proceed with caution; being a vest guy comes with some inherent dangers.  One, I run the risk of being a hypocrite.  For years I have made fun of my wife for wearing winter vests.  Each fall I break out my oh so clever little quips: Forget your sleeves? Still paying full price for half a coat?  Marty McFly called, he wants to take his life preserver back to the future.  Buying myself a vest would admit that all those insults were hollow or that my wife was right.  Not sure we can have that.
Secondly, a vest guy carries a certain air about him, doesn't he?  Maybe a vest guy is a little too "bro", a little too douchy.  Like Chaz the Obnoxious  Ski Instructor or a model for an outdoor menswear catalog.  Let's face it, the only menswear catalog I could ever model for might be L.L. Beef.  Finally, what if a winter vest serves as a gateway garment? "Sun's out, Guns out" is like the crystal meth of fashion advice. It's possible I'll stop wearing sleeves altogether.  Leather biker vests, cutoff denim shirts, Larry the Cable Guy shirts, muscle shirts, tank tops - nobody, and I mean nobody, wants to see that looming train wreck. 

As the holiday season dragged on, I stalked men's department mirrors wondering if each vest was too Chaz, too McFly, or just right.  I ultimately decided to hold off on a coat purchase in case Santa's elves had already made me one.  It was a good call because Amanda and Grace had indeed bought me a warm, puffy sleeveless jacket. Thanks to my wife's sense of humor or irony, I'm now a vest guy!  Hope I can pull it off. Now I'm off to the gym to get these biceps ready for Summer.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Please pick up your official White House souvenir smallpox blanket on the way out.


I was asked Monday what I thought of Donald Trump's Navajo Code Talker gaffe. My holiday retail work schedule kept from piecing together a response until today. First, I don't consider it a gaffe, a boner, or a goof. I consider it the action of a man unconcerned with and/or untrained in simple, civil human interaction.  I don't think Donald Trump conspired with the Russians (though members of his campaign staff may have.)  I don't believe he's foolish enough to start a nuclear war.  But, whatever we're calling it, it's THIS  embarrassing crap I knew we'd be subject to with Trump as the face of our country.  It's the direct consequence of electing an ill-mannered, gold-plated, empty-headed game show host. 

No, empty-headed probably isn't accurate. I imagine anytime the president speaks his brain is like Gilligan riding a Coconut Bicycle Public Speaking Machine the professor pieced together with bamboo and jungle vines. Gilligan starts pedaling, the lights flicker, the motor begins to whirr as Trump's lazy synapses begin to fire.  The president struggles to connect with the people before him. As Gilligan pedals faster, Trump searches his vast vocabulary and wealth of charm to stitch together a sentence.  'Okay, they are indians. C'mon Donnie, people are counting on you. Indian summer...Indian motorcycles...Indian corn.'  By now Gilligan is  pedaling so hard smoke is pouring from the coconuts. 'Cowboys and Indians...Cleveland Indians...Aha! Pocohantas!'

You can see the moment in the video when his intracranial CPU (Clown Processing Unit) latches onto what he assumes is this delightfully clever answer. Trump is so pleased with himself to be able to work in an insulting jab against a political opponent while "honoring" the code talkers.  To be clear, I don't care if Elizabeth Warren is zero percent Cherokee or one hundred percent. This isn't about her. It's also not a left/right, Democrat/Republican issue.  My beef is with the Nitwit-in-chief having a complete lack of understanding of context or couth.

We know the guy uses Pocohantas as a pejorative to be dismissive of Warren, but he likewise insults the very men he supposedly honors by saying it the way he does at the ceremony. Men who admirably and bravely served our nation in a way the president refused.  All done under the watchful gaze of a portrait of Andrew Jackson.  (I half expected the portrait come alive. With an evil cackle, Head of Jackson would shoot lasers from its eyes, chasing the Navajo heroes from the Oval Office while bellowing, "Trail of Tears 2.0, Mother F*$#ers!") Context, people.

The event was a golden opportunity for Trump to leap over the absurdly low bar of acting presidential. In golf parlance even he can understand, the ball was set on a tee waiting to be crushed down the fairway.  Step one: Welcome heroes. Step two: Say something nice about heroes and their service. Step three: Pose for photo with heroes. This is the easy part of the job. As I heard it described the other day, in this situation the president is a representative of all U.S. citizens in that we don't get the opportunity to honor and thank these soldiers personally; the president is doing it for all of us. That's why his role in this ceremony is important. And he can't even be a goodwill ambassador for five flippin' minutes without making it political or about himself. Just like after Charlottesville, he couldn't execute the simple task of having a normal human reaction or interaction. It's not a gaffe or a goof, and it certainly isn't surprising, only disappointing.

Wednesday, November 08, 2017

2020 Vision

Happy Anniversary!  On this day last year, Drunk America staggered from the voting booth, covered in Cheeto dust and remorse, to make the long walk of shame.  It was a landmark day with seismic implications. The victor, our nation's new public face to the world, possesses a cringe-worthy degree of decorum akin to a fart at a funeral.  His vanquished oppponent, so certain coronation day would have all the suspense of a Hallmark Channel Christmas movie, couldn't even find the class to deliver a concession speech, instead leaving her disbelieving supporters to weep together in an auditorium stunned into silence. (Which, by the way, was quite a fun scene to behold. Unfortunately, most of the joy of the moment was robbed by the realization the moment could only occur because Donald Trump had actually been elected.)  What the hell happened? How did we actually elect a childish, boorish, id-driven, insult-tossing pig-man President of THESE United States? 

There's plenty of blame to go around, of course.  A conventional Republican field, meek in the face of his insults and lies, was paralyzed by the swinging dick bravado of Trump the Outsider.  A Democratic Party that, whether by sinister design or not, selected a general election candidate despised by a good chunk of the electorate. Let's face it, soooo many Trump votes were anti-Hillary votes.   The Republicans could have selected The Demogorgon to oppose Hillary and many people would have said, "Oh, I think the Upside Down looks like a delightful place." We can also blame a powerful self-perpetuating two party system that chokes out the chances of legitimate third party challengers. 

Which brings me to the factor I blame the most: me.  I'm not usually one to dwell on the past, wallowing about mistakes, pondering what might have been. (Actually, that's exactly who I am.) However, I have to look upon my failed candidacy with a critical eye. The questions are myriad. Were the pants too red? Did I make the campaign buttons too late in the game? Should I have left my goofy mug off of said buttons? Surely, my third party bid didn't fail because I am grossly unprepared to be President. That sin doesn't seem to be a disqualifying factor any longer, does it?

I don't know exactly how I would have performed if elected, but I have reflected upon how I would have handled some circumstances encountered by our Tweeter-in-Chief.  I would grant interviews to networks other than Faux News and CBN. I wouldn't wait days to make  a canned statement I didn't really believe in the wake of the Charlottesville violence.  I would refrain from insulting war heroes and war widows alike. I wouldn't assume kneeling during the national anthem is disrespecting the troops.  I would keep the FBI director.  I would not host a bogus, photo-op cabinet meeting to demand fealty from my secretaries. (Maybe cupcakes, but never blind loyalty.) I would seek to reassure and aid the citizens of Puerto Rico. I would not Twitter bicker with members of my own party or the crazy kid across the Pacific.  Yes, I would have done a few things differently.  Alas, the past is past. We don't get mulligans in election years. After all, it is only hindsight that is 20/20.

Speaking of 2020, in a not-at-all forced segue, I'm once again ready for action.  On this infamous anniversary, I hereby officially declare my 2020 presidential campaign has begun.  If you are one of the three people who voted for me last year, I hope I can count on your support again.  To you other 200 million registered voters, I say, "Welcome aboard the Ever Forward Express. It's time to right some wrongs."  Campaign donations in the form of cash, checks, or chicken wings can be made directly to @Hailey4America.
#EverForward #NeverTooEarly #BreaksOver 

Wednesday, October 04, 2017

Opening Night Mailbag

As Navin Johnson might say, were he a National Hockey League fan, "The new hockey season is here, the new hockey season is here!"  As the curtain goes up on the NHL's centennial season, I thought it was a good time to open up the old That's No Moon Mailbag to answer some questions submitted by actual Washington Capitals fans.

Hi Bryan, Do you think the Caps overpaid to keep T.J. Oshie in Washington?- Apprehensive in Alexandria

Thanks for the question, Apprehensive.  It's no secret that with all the departures (Williams, Alzner, Shattenkirk, MoJo),  there is real pressure on Oshie this season.  Sure, the team allegedly has two of the best players in the game (Ovi and Backstrom) and has two players that need to blossom further (Kuzy and Burky), but Oshie is the one that scored a big contract based on posting a career high in goals.  He is energetic, a talented grinder, and, by all accounts, a good guy for the locker room and the city.  Did the team overpay? Probably.  Did they need to in order to stave off full blown hysteria given all the other departures?  Probably.  However, when assessing contracts and deals of this nature I always defer to the D.C. resident known for making great deals, the best deals.  Rumor has it, while ignoring the real workings of the federal government, the big guy, in addition to pounding Big Macs and digesting Fox News, dabbles in fantasy hockey. I sent a quick message over to @hailtothecovfefe to see if he liked the Oshie signing.  I think his one word answer accompanying this picture message says it all: "Swish!"

Good morning Bryan, How mad do you think GMBM was when George McPhee selected Nate Schmidt in the expansion draft?-Worried in Warrenton

Good morning, Worried.  Who can tell?  I mean, GMBM's brow may have been slightly more furrowed and eyebrows more craggy, but again, who can tell?  These two photos show him on the happiest days of his career: when he was hired and when he found a Sidney Crosby voodoo doll in his Cracker Jack. I defy you to identify his emotions at any given time.



I think Schmidt's departure will hurt, though.  Is he the second coming of Bobby Orr? Of course, not.  But Nate was a serviceable defenseman on a great contract.  He had come into his own defensively, pushed the offense with his speed, and has that super smile.  Honestly, I think the Caps would have been better served to have kept their blue line intact last season, keeping Schmidtty in the lineup instead of acquiring Kevin "Putting the Shat In" Shattenkirk.  After watching the preseason, I think GMBM would take four Nate Schmidts for his blueline.

Dear Mr. Moon, I think a slimmed down Barry Trotz, a lighter Alex Ovechkin, and lowered expectations are the recipe for success this season.  I don't think the team's dropoff will be nearly as catastrophic as some doomsayers predict.-Optimistic in Odenton

No need to be so formal, Optimistic.  We're all just fans slurping from the same Gatorade water bottle here.  I think Barry Trotz is slimmer from all his time spent sweating on the hot seat this summer.  We can point to a dozen excuses   reasons, but the fact remains this team, built for a Cup or Bust, has underachieved the last two seasons.  Maybe Trotz's only flaw is having the hubris to think he could outrun this franchise's springtime curse.  Nonetheless, the pressure is on for Trotz to succeed.  I wish I shared your optimism in regards to potential dropoff.  If your definition of success is not becoming the Winnipeg Jets East, then maybe I agree.  I think the team is looking at a serious step backwards.  The division is tougher and other Eastern Conference teams like Ottawa and Toronto are on the rise.  I don't think the Caps can take for granted making the playoffs.  While they would make a dangerous low seed in the playoffs, I think they are going to have to grind it out just to get to April. I hope I'm wrong.

Who wins more games this season, Vegas or Washington?- Genuinely Curious in Georgetown

DON'T. EVEN. WANT. TO. THINK. ABOUT. IT.

Hello Bryan, When do you think Tom Wilson will get his head out of  his ass?-Frustrated in Frederick

Great question, Frustrated.  I'm split on how to answer this question. On one hand, I feel legitimate hitting and physicality is being drained from the game.  Clean hits are being penalized more frequently.  It seems every time a hard, clean check is delivered guys want to fight about it.  Sometimes you just lick your wounds, put your bucket back on, and keep skating.  I don't want Wilson to have his aggressiveness disciplined out of him by the league office.  Scott Stevens must puke when he sees the ways checking is penalized these days.  Or maybe that's the post-concussion syndrome.  Because that's really the other side of this, right?  As we learn much more about the lasting dangers of even minor head injuries, the NHL should be protecting players.  Bigger, faster players are damn near lethal weapons on skates. Dirty infractions should be penalized harshly.  Unfortunately, I think the league is wildly erratic in how they mete out justice.  Despite video explanation from the league office, I often find myself confused as to how punishment is imposed.  I no more know what is suspension-worthy in the NHL than I know what qualifies as a reception in the NFL these days.  That said, Wilson's hit for which he received his four game suspension was dirty and worthy of suspension.  Four games worthy, I don't know.  But Wilson has put himself in the unenviable spotlight  known as Repeat Offender.  He needs to figure out a middle ground.  His penalty killing and potential offensive growth are to important to Washington for him to spend half the season in the press box.



Yo Beezer, what is the maximum number of  games I can watch and still claim to "not care" about the Caps?-Kevin in Indiana.

*sigh*

Hey B, I drove by your house and saw the new Caps flag hanging from the porch.  When do you think the mighty Red Rockers get to hoist a real banner of their own?-Spying on you in Salisbury 




Well, I'm sure there will be the President's Trophy banner raised before Saturday's home opener.  And Uncle Ted probably already had a championship banner on order last Spring, so maybe they could just convert that into a First Round Champ banner for the rafters.  Or they could pick up the same flag I picked up for one dollar on clearance last June.  As for a real, genuine, Grade A, Stanley Cup winner banner?  Good luck predicting that. I now simply assume it will never happen.  That doesn't mean we can't enjoy the journey, though.  Let's not forget, we aren't quite reliving the days of Doig and Heward.  Of Nycholat and Clymer.  Of Hanlon and the Screaming Eagle in Cornflower Blue.  I'll take Kuzy, Holtbeast, the Great 8, and hope that springs eternal.

Rock the Red. Let's Go Caps!










Monday, October 02, 2017

Help, My Daughter Loves DUDE PERFECT!

My eight-year-old daughter, Grace, recently discovered the rabbit hole known as YouTube.  My wife and I let her access the kid's version and, like any of us, my kid now gets sucked into the stupefying array of videos available.  Some of the channels (watching others play with Barbies) are inane.  Some (cake-making tutorials or instructions for DIY fidget spinners) have inspired her to create.  Then there's Dude Perfect.  I discovered Dude Perfect when I heard a bunch of shouting coming from the television.  Dude Perfect, in case you are unfamiliar with the internet stars billing themselves as Five Best Friends and a Panda, are athletic trick shot artists (and a guy in a panda costume).  They film themselves making impossible golf and basketball shots, attempting to set Guinness records, and many more feats of athletic prowess.   The shouting I heard was from the elaborate, high-volume, theatrical celebrations of pulling off their latest stunt.  Lots of fist pumps and chest bumps.  Lots of mesh shorts and perfectly manicured beards.  More shouted Woooos than a Flair family reunion.  Quite the Bro-fest.  It seemed like some weird witch's brew of sports, party games, and Nickelodeon's Double Dare.  A Jackass for the G-rated set.

I quickly dismissed these Frat House Olympians as more self-promoting internet blowhards.  If Grace wants to check out blatant internet cries for attention, she can read this blog.  If she wants to witness a bunch of young, testosterone-fueled wannabe superstars trash talking each other, I can drop her at the intramural fields at the local university.  These millennial jocksniffers weren't going to poison my little girl's brain with their antics.  And, what's the deal with that panda?

I watched for a few minutes with the intention of making Grace change the channel when the current video was over.  Then I realized something between all the Bro Slo Mo and high-fives: these guys are awesome.  It's amazing what can happen when you don't judge a book by it's backwards ball cap.  The men of  Dude Perfect are actually living the dream.    These five guys have made an industry of screwing around on the playing field.  They are paid handsomely to hang out and do the goofy stuff my friends and I would putter around with after an afternoon of pick-up basketball or street hockey.  (Remember rollerbasketball or shopping cart races, fellas?) This is Letterman having pro QBs throwing footballs into the windows of moving taxis.  This is MJ and Larry shooting for Big Macs. These dudes have turned the playground challenge, "I bet you can't do this", into a full-time job.  Not only that, but after only a few minutes of actually watching, I figured out these guys are positive influences.  The trash talk is lighthearted, not mean-spirited.  The overzealous, borderline silly celebrations are just that - celebrations of a buddy's success.  Sure, there is a bit of "rah-rah, look at me", but it is all done with a wink.   They encourage and root for each other.  Plus, there is a lesson in perseverance.  I explained to Grace how many takes are probably required to nail the perfect shot or catch.  Not to mention the practice involved to be athletic enough to pull them off.  I would much rather Grace watch Dude Perfect than the rude children on most tween shows.  (I'm looking at you Jessie and Henry Danger.)  We've even started planning what events we could play at a Dude Perfect kid birthday party.  So, I apologize Dude Perfect.  Keep duding what you are duding.  And if you need an Old Dude, I'm ready to turn my ball cap backwards.

Friday, September 15, 2017

The Summer of Uno

I love my kid.  I love hanging out with her.  We play outside, we hit the beach, and we go to ball games.  We bake, we cook, and we paint rocks.  But she has one pastime that makes me cringe: board games.  With few exceptions, I classify these games (I include card games like Skip-Bo and even video games, too) as "bored games".   I understand I'm in the minority.  Board games are enjoying a resurgence among adults.  Game nights can be fun social gatherings.  Most games simply don't catch my attention.

I admit part of the problem is my lack of patience.  In this instant, drive-thru, Amazon drone dropping world we live in, I want faster results.  (It's a wonder I love baseball.) Risk? What were there no thousand piece puzzles available? Sorry? More like, "Sorry, I only have time for a Gone With the Wind/Titanic double feature.  Monopoly? You must be joking.  Do I look like I have a week of my life of devote to this endeavor?  Another piece of the problem is that Grace tends to get obsessed with a particular game and runs it into the ground.  Yahtzee is not terrible, but rattling dice in a cup over and over and over again robs what little joy it brings.   Grace's current obsession, spreading like a plague from the family game basket, is Uno.

Uno, a colorful kaleidoscope of revenge, treachery, and underhanded strategy.  Uno, called such because it may take you that many hours to complete one hand.  Uno, the first card game from which I needed a vacation.  I vaguely remember enjoying playing Uno as a kid.  Of course, as a kid I was also skinny, wore sleeveless shirts, and thought  Garfield was cool.  Things change, people.  We played so much Uno this summer I saw DRAW TWO cards in my sleep.  DRAW TWO cards that Grace played with great glee.  When you only have two players, Uno games can be interminable.  Every move is magnified.  Every SKIP or REVERSE skips YOU.  Every DRAW TWO or DRAW FOUR means YOU are picking up cards.  As patience fades, resentment builds.  Early on, I made the mistake of, when Grace got a little frustrated, reminding her that it was part of the game.  Now every time I mutter while going from holding one card to holding fifteen, she is sure to remind me, "That's just how the game goes!"  Fortunately, I could now hide my grimace and under-my-breath retort behind the array of cards fanned in front of my face. I'm not usually one to intentionally let my kid beat me at anything, but when a hand of Uno is working on its third time through the deck, and I've grown so weary of playing that I'd rather be a Peeping Tom as Ted Cruz checks his Twitter feed than continue playing, I will totally play a card that will help Grace.  Simply surviving becomes more important than winning.

Clearly, most people feel differently about Uno.  After all, it is one of the 2017 nominees to be inducted into the National Toy Hall of Fame.  To me, this is a bit like Spam being inducted into the food hall of fame, or me be inducted into the basketball hall of fame, but whatever.  Maybe if the Rainbow Menace is inducted, we can add the Toy Hall of Fame to our Cooperstown and Toronto hall of fame pilgrimage. (Actually, that's not a crazy idea.)  Until then, I'll be over here drawing four cards.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Crap!

This past Saturday, Amanda, Grace, and I hit Ocean City for a fun night on the beach and boardwalk.  An impromptu farewell to summer.  Of course, I posted photos online for all the world to see.  However, beneath that perfect Facebook Facade, trouble lurked.  A moment occurred Saturday that I have been dreading for a long time.  Grace asked THE question.  A question I've been putting off facing.  No, she didn't ask where babies come from. That explanation would have taken less time.  No, she looked me straight in the eye and asked if she could redeem the arcade tickets she has been stockpiling all summer.

This might not be a big deal in your household, but my daughter is a slow motion shopper. Possessing a fistful of tickets, she paces the prize counter perusing the wildly overpriced junk treasures with the care reserved for selecting a new car. I've seen people be less discerning when picking a grad school.   I hate the endless selection process so much I tried to convince Grace, each time we went to the arcade over the summer, to save her tickets for a bigger prize down the road.  Being a master procrastinator, I was able move her in that direction more often than not.   Unfortunately, the master procrastinator also knows the bill always comes due.  Well, Saturday night was time to pay up.  Thanks to good karma, the generosity of strangers, and LOTS of quarters my kid had accumulated almost 1500 tickets.  That buys a mess of trinkets.  Fearing that I'm going to spend an hour watching her purchase a bucketload of vampire teeth, superballs, and gooey wacky wall walkers, I tried steering Grace towards one big purchase.  Surely, there was a big stuffed animal or something she could plunk down her 1500 tickets for so we could get back to the boardwalk.

Unimpressed by my suggestion to splurge on a set of, uh, some sort of ceramic bowls for 1400 tickets, Grace rolled her eyes and began her slow, perusing stroll up and down the counter.  I could see the "Beautiful Mind" mathematical calculations processing in her head as she sought maximize the junk to ticket ratio.  What an array of garbage there is to choose from!  Plush, plastic, and, no doubt, lead-covered straight out of China.  She broke the ice with a plush cube decorated with emojis. (What is it with kids and the emoji worship these days?  I swear if there was an Emojesus
 Grace would ask to transfer to that church.)  Next, she reached for a cheap plastic, Barbie-sized mermaid.  I stopped her, reminding her she has plenty of dolls.

Shut up, you idiot! That plastic fish lady costs 300 tix, or one-fifth of her budget.  Do you want to get out of here or not?

Good point, Voice In My Head!  Who cares if I'll be tripping over it later tonight?  The mermaid was in, as were some dolphin earrings, and a beach scene "sand globe."  Suddenly, we were actually shopping at a decent pace.  Then I heard an excited squeal of delight.  I had to double-check it wasn't me happy at the prospect of almost being finished.  No, it was a shriek that could only be elicited by the discovery of a poop emoji.  In this case, a plush poop emoji keychain.  I'm pretty laid back, but I can't stand the poop emoji.  I think it is dumb, gross, and likely portends the end of civilized society as we know it.  Maybe it was the clamor of the arcade machines and all the flashing casino lights, maybe it was the idea that the only thing that stood between me and escaping the prize counter until next summer was a 200 ticket key ring.  Whatever the reason, I gave the thumbs up and we got the heck out of there.  I'm not sure whose smile was wider-mine, Grace's, or the grinning swirl of poo in her prize bag.

 And if trading a giant stack of tickets for a pile of shit isn't symbolic of our trip to the arcade, I don't know what is.