Memorial Day 2017: The Loss of A Personal Hero

It has been quite a while since I last wrote in this space, as I discontinued my short-lived blog for lack of time. My family has experienced a significant loss, though, about which I feel utterly compelled to write. 

It is Memorial Day 2017, and a few days ago, we also commemorated Yom Yerushalaim. These two Independence Days, for the U.S. and for Israel, respectively, are the days in which we remember all the brave souls who gave their lives in the battles to free their nations from hostile enemies. It is fitting that on this same day of commemoration of fallen heroes, then, that I remember one of my personal heroes, who unfortunately just passed away this weekend; my Uncle Albert.


Of course, my Uncle Albert was not a soldier, and the battles he fought were not for the liberation of a country.  That is not to say that he did not fight his own personal battles, though, and do so valiantly, at that.

For the last several years of his life, my Uncle was afflicted with a variety of serious ailments, and was in and out of the hospital constantly, undergoing countless surgeries, procedures, therapies, and more. He went through all of these difficult proceedings  with a brave face and without complaints, and no matter how dire the situation, he never lost hope, and never lost his optimism. Others in his place might have lost faith, given up on life, or fallen into deep depression and despair. Not Uncle Albert. If anything, he was the one cheering us up when we’d visit him, and entertaining us with his j’oir de vive.

If that type of bravery and steadfastness in the face of grave danger doesn’t define a hero, I’m not sure what does.

It was not only Uncle Albert’s optimism in the midst of all his medical travails in his final years that defined him, though, or that made me admire him so much. Rather, it was the type of man he was from our earliest years and on that made him one of my primary role models throughout my life; he was the definition of a gentleman.

Uncle Albert was everything a gentleman should be. He was kind, caring, warm, patient, respectful, and generous. He was a fixture in our home in my younger years, and always came bearing gifts. I remember that he always brought the best things, and then spent the extra time with us setting the toys up, teaching us how to use them, and sitting and playing with us for hours on end. One of my all time favorite toys as a child was a train set he got me, which I played with for years, and which my own son now plays with today.

My uncle was also very even tempered, and rarely ever got mad or upset. I remember one time when I was little, and Uncle Albert had just got an expensive new car that he was really excited about. I was in the back seat of this fancy new car, and suddenly got motion sickness and projectile vomitted all over the fine leather seats. He took one look back, and stopped to get a tissue and wipe my face, leather seats be damned.

In all our years, and through all his subsequent trials and tribulations, I don’t think I ever saw him lose his temper. No matter how bad the situation, he was always the calmest one in the room, and was always the voice of reason. 

He always had a great perspective on things, and even when he needed to be stern or to reprimand us, he would do so calmly and sincerely. And his reproofs were all ways followed by a bit of humor, to soften the blow, and make the proverbial medicine go down easier. His temperament was a model of which I would always try to emulate.  

In addition to all that, Uncle Albert always carried himself with a certain grace and elegance that was uncommon and unique. This gracefulness was heightened by the fact that he was so humble, and was combined with a keen sense of humor. He was approachable at all times, and would listen to what you had to say, and reply with both empathy, compassion, and humor.

Uncle Albert was also a real family man. His greatest joys were his wife and daughters, and in more recent years, also his son-in-law and two grandchildren. He doted on his daughters and grandchildren, and they were his pride and joy, and largely what motivated him to stay so positive in spite of his many maladies in his final years.

My wife and I had the privilege of having our first child just hours before Uncle Albert’s first grandchild was born, with the visiting family members going back and forth between our hospital room and theirs. I’m honored by this connection that I was able to share with Uncle Albert and his family.

Another connection between us that was less apparent to me until recently was the physical similarities between Uncle Albert and me. I always thought I was a copy of my dad, but have now started to see a lot of physical commonality between my uncle and me. And for that, I am very proud. I hope that I can in some small way also live up to the high standard he set as being the true model of a gentleman.

I offer my sincerest condolences to his family, and wish them comfort and peace after his untimely loss at the relatively young age of 65. Despite its untimeliness, though, I think that if Uncle Albert had to leave us, the timing of it has additional resonance, being overlayed with Memorial Day, and running into the holiday of Shavout, which is one of the most celebratory and joyous holidays of the year. My family and I will celebrate with Uncle Albert in mind. May his memory be a blessing. Baruch Dayan Ha’Emet.

Advertisements

Is Donald Trump Really Lex Luthor?

Is the United States inching closer to having a President Donald Trump?  It’s not as far fetched an idea as one might think.

The current election season in the U.S. has been so wild and unpredictable that non-traditional candidates like the aforementioned billionaire business tycoon Donald Trump, or even retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson have turned the road to the election upside down and inside out.

The American public has grown weary of the more traditional professional politicians like Jeb Bush and his ilk, and have cast them aside for plain-speaking businessmen like Donald Trump or leftist Bernie Sanders whom they feel reflect their own voices and concerns more fully, and in whom they feel they can more safely place their trust.

After last week’s Super Tuesday and Super Saturday nominating contests in several states, Donald Trump developed a strong lead among Republicans, and Hillary Clinton forged ahead among Democrats.  Trump’s ascendence has been so unexpected and yet so meteoric that the Republican Party is in turmoil, with other candidates like Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio pulling out all the stops to try to prevent The Donald from becoming totally unstoppable.

It may be too little, too late, though, as it seems to be just a matter of time before Donald Trump becomes the official Republican nominee to face off against the likely Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton to become the next president of the United States.

We may really be on the cusp of having President Donald J. Trump in the White House.

Or would we really be electing President Lex Luthor??

You don’t have to be a comic book nerd like I was when I was growing up to have heard of Lex Luthor, the evil genius billionaire business tycoon who was always the arch-nemesis of Superman in Metropolis, the comic book equivalent of New York City.


There have been countless stories with Superman and Lex Luthor over the years, with the Man of Steel always finding a super heroic way to foil Luthor’s evil schemes.


One of the more intriguing Lex Luthor storylines in recent years has seen him find a new direction for his evil genius and his wealth; getting elected as President Luthor, and using his new presidential powers to outlaw the super heroes or otherwise cause them unprecedented harm.

So as this topsy turvy election cycle winds closer to having someone like Donald Trump, a seemingly evil genius billionaire business tycoon, be the official nominee for one of the major political parties, the more it seems that art is imitating life and life is imitating art, and we are inching closer to the President Lex Luthor storyline becoming a reality.

What if we extend the super hero and super villain analogy to some of the other top candidates in the current election cycle (as well as other top names from pop culture), and find their analogs in the characters who will be appearing in the upcoming blockbuster super hero movies, Captain America: Civil War and Superman vs. Batman: The Dawn of Justice?  We actually find some interesting parallels.

Let’s start with the next most obvious parallel after Donald Trump and Lex Luthor.  That would be our real life Tony Stark, the boy genius turned billionaire inventor, Elon Musk of Tesla Motors and Space X.


While he is not involved in the elections, Elon Musk is single-handedly revolutionizing the automobile industry with his amazing electric Tesla cars, the aeronautics industry with his Space X space crafts, and potentially the light rail industry with his proposed Hyperloop system.  He is as close to a modern day Iron Man as it gets.


In the upcoming movie, Avengers teammates Iron Man and Captain America come into conflict after the government asks all super heroes to register and reveal their secret identities.

Who could be our modern day analog of Captain America, the World War II era hero frozen in ice for 60 years, before being thawed out and once again becoming a crusader, and symbol of justice and freedom, despite his advanced chronological age?


Getting back to the current crop of candidates, how about Bernie Sanders, the 78 year young Dynamo who is a tireless champion of the people?

  

Let’s switch over from the Marvel movies to those from DC, and their most popular hero, the Dark Knight himself, Batman.

Batman is the brooding super hero with no real super powers, but with lots of money, lots of cool gadgets, and an outsized interest in working out.  He also has an unusual penchant for having wayward young men wanting to hang out or work out with him, and in questionable clothing, to boot.

Who would be the closest equivalent in modern day politics?  I would suggest Paul Ryan, the zealous Republican congressman and new House Speaker who is known for leading other young congressman in fishy early morning “workouts.”

If Paul Ryan is our Batman, then who is his Boy Wonder, Robin?
You know, Robin, the young boy who becomes Batman‘s apprentice, and who has odd taste in boots?  Look no further than Republican boy wonder Marco Rubio, who recently raised eyebrows with his curious footwear choices on the campaign trail.


If we’re discussing Marco Rubio as an analog for Robin, then what about the other major challenger for Donald Trump among the Republican nominees, Ted Cruz?

Ted Cruz recently axed his top adviser for playing too dirty on the campaign trail, but it doesn’t take too long of watching Cruz or listening to his speeches to realize that there’s something dark and disturbing bubbling underneath the surface with him.  He seems like a madman with an eerie calm to him, but always on the brink of exploding.  Ted Cruz is our Joker.

There have been storylines where the Joker and Lex Luthor team up to try to defeat Batman and Superman, but they end up fighting with each other, instead.  Right now, Ted Cruz and Donald Trump are slugging it out, but how much scarier would it be if they joined forces, with Trump as the presidential nominee, and Cruz as his Vice President?


Let’s move to the next biggest DC hero to be introduced in the upcoming Superman vs. Batman movie, Wonder Woman, the super powerful Amazonian princess?

She’s the strongest of all female super hero characters, and prefers to fly around in an invisible jet.

Well, the most powerful woman in American politics, and the likely Democratic presidential nominee, is undoubtedly Hillary Clinton.

But the most powerful woman in world politics may be German chancellor Angela Merkel.

I’d stick with Hillary though.  If only because Wonder Woman and Superman have a vague love interest with each other.  And I don’t see Angela Merkel having a love interest with anyone, super or not.

Oh right, that begs the question of who is Superman.

golden_age_superman_base_color

We’ve got to go with Bill Clinton, who has a similarly vague romance with Hillary Clinton as Superman has with Wonder Woman.

And like in the comics and movies, everyone knows Superman has his Kryptonite.  And we all know Bill Clinton‘s…


Come to think of it, given how sad our group of super hero analogs mostly are, maybe President Lex Luthor… err… President Donald Trump wouldn’t be such a scary scenario after all.

 

Who Was the Real Winner of the Oscars?

Last night, the American film industry had its biggest night of the year, the Academy Awards, also known as the Oscars.  The Oscars is the ultimate awards show, in the sense that is both the last in a series of awards shows such as the Golden Globe Awards and the Director’s Guild Awards, and by far the biggest, flashiest, and most important awards show in the world of film.

This year, the Oscars have been mired in controversy, as many black actors and directors have objected to the lack of diversity in the Oscar nominations, decrying the fact that black and minority actors are underrepresented, and that virtually every Oscar nominee in every major category was a white actor, with the black actors having been completely overlooked and forgotten.  The hashtag #oscarsowhite started trending online, and director Spike Lee, actress Jada Pinkett-Smith and others vowed to boycott the show.

Spike-Lee-oscars

When Chris Rock was named as the host of the Oscars telecast, significant pressure was put on him from members of this boycott, suggesting that he, as a black actor and comedian, should also boycott the show.  Ultimately, Chris Rock stayed on as host and made many pointed jokes that highlighted the race issue, and dealt with it in a humorous way.

oscars-2016-chris-rock

The show itself went more or less as expected, with some famous faces winning the big prizes.  Mark Rylance, a British actor known across the pond as one of the finest Shakespearean actors alive, won Best Supporting Actor for his role in Bridge of Spies.  This was a major upset, as the favorite was a resurgent Sylvester Stallone for the Rocky sequel, Creed.  Nonetheless, Rylance took home the Oscar, and history was made.

mark-rylance-oscars-2016

That’s a big, big win for people like me who love classical British actors, but Rylance‘s win was nowhere near as big as that of actor Leonardo DiCaprio and director Alejandro G. Inarritu for their film, The Revenant, for which they won awards for the bold decision to showcase an early settler’s tender relationship with a misunderstood and lonely bear.

oscar-winners

Most people would say that Leonardo DiCaprio‘s status as Hollywood’s #1 leading man was officially confirmed with this, his first Oscar win after many nominations.  His acceptance speech was assured, confident, and emphatically discussed the dangers of climate change.  These are all the signs of being Mr. Hollywood; winning the Best Actor Oscar, giving a suave and confident speech, and discussing earth-first political issues.  Check, check, check for Leo.  He covered all those bases and can truly call himself the King of the World.

leonardo-oscar-today-160229.nbcnews-video-reststate-560

Or can he?

Was Leonardo DiCaprio really the big winner at the 2016 Academy Awards?  He won the top acting award, and his film won Best Director.  But did his win quell the outrage about the lack of diversity in Hollywood and the white out of black and minority actors??

There were several overtures made throughout the show that were aimed at ameliorating the diversity issue, including having the head of the Academy, a black woman, come out and talk about change and about an increased representation of black and minority actors in the future.

There were many jokes from host Chris Rock about the issue, including a series of video snippets comically interjecting black actors into scenes from the nominated movies, and a controversial bit where Rock brought out three Asian children and referred to as the accountants and lawyers for the Academy.

That was not enough.

All one has to do to see the lingering racial inequality inherent in the Oscars is to look at the Oscar statuette, itself.

Academy_Award_trophy

 

Just look at this thing.  It’s supposed to be a golden knight holding a sword, but it looks like a castrated android.  Maybe Leonardo DiCaprio might look like this if he shaves off all his hair and gets a really good tan, but which actor of color is supposed to identify with this thing?  Would Idris Elba look at this thing and see his own reflection?

Then there’s the name Oscar.  How much whiter can the award get than to be named Oscar?  How did the name Oscar even become synonymous with the Academy Awards?  Take a look at this Wikipedia page, and you’ll see that even that is in question, as there are varying theories as to where the name Oscar came from in association with this award, but nobody is really quite sure.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Academy_Awards

So if the Academy Awards are still mired in controversy about racial inequality among the nominees and Leonardo DiCaprio‘s big win didn’t somehow magically solve all those issues, then who really won last night’s Oscars?

Was it Spike Lee and the black actors boycotting the show?  Was it host Chris Rock, or maybe his daughters whose Girl Scout Cookies sold for upwards of $64,000?  Was it any of the individual actors or directors who won the big awards, like Mark Rylance, Alejandro G. Inarritu, or king Leonardo DiCaprio?  Or was it the Academy itself?

The real answer will surprise you.  It’s the only group that bridges all of the entities mentioned above, as both superlative actors who happen to be actors of color, and being the rare ones that can seamlessly cross color barriers and be considered part of any group.  They are the only ones who can heal the deep divisions in Hollywood, and make the Academy Awards the truly honorable, racially inclusive show that it should be.  And they kind of look like the Oscar statuettes.  One of them might even be named Oscar.

They are….

The Minions.

minions-at-oscars

 

 

 

How Matt Damon Made Me Realize My Children Are Geniuses

Ask any parent about his or her children, and chances are, they’ll tell you that their child is a genius.  They may say it in hushed tones, so as not to let the secret out too widely, or not to offend other parents whose children might be of inferior intellectual prowess, or maybe even not to jinx their children, or not to incur the dreaded “evil eye.”  But since we all believe our children are Baby Geniuses, how can anyone really tell which child truly is a genius, and which one is not?

Obviously, there are different kinds of tests that can be done, and some children who do exceedingly well on their evaluations are put into “gifted and talented programs,” or are even allowed to skip grades in school.  These children are put ahead so that their higher intellectual level can be nurtured and challenged, and so that they can be allowed to advance at a level better suited to their superior intelligence.

Poppycock!

I am here today to tell you that I do not need any of those fancy tests or evaluations to tell you that my children are super geniuses.  Yes, I know it’s arrogant to say, but here I am saying it.  How can I be so brash as to make this bold claim??  Because Matt Damon told me so!

That’s right, thanks to superstar Hollywood actor, Matt Damon, I now know that my children are of vastly superior intellect to any other children, including those of Matt Damon himself, and especially those of his buddy, Ben Affleck.

You’re obviously wondering what Matt Damon could possibly know about my children, much less how he could evaluate their intelligence level, given that none of us have ever even met Matt Damon in person.  I have three words for you:

Good.  Will.  Hunting.

That’s right, Good Will Hunting, the 1997 movie written by and starring Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, is the key.  In this critically acclaimed movie, which made superstars out of both Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, the titular main character, played by Damon, is a lowly janitor who is really a math prodigy, needing his genius to be discovered and nurtured by knowing professors played by the late great Robin Williams and by Stellan Skarsgard.

One of the most instantly recognizable scenes in the movie is when the tortured genius played by Matt Damon is so taken by his insatiable need to work out the impossible math problem he sees on the professor’s chalk board, that he starts writing it out and solving it on any and every surface possible, including this bathroom mirror:

Good-Will-Hunting-good-will-hunting-27190949-1024-768

Later in the movie, the professors realize that the unusually handsome yet lowly janitor, Matt Damon, is such a super genius that only he can solve the professor’s impossible math problem, whereas none of the other better educated and more socially accepted students can.

A few years later, in 2001, a similar phenomenon appeared in another critically acclaimed movie, A Beautiful Mind.  In that film, another tortured genius, played this time by Russell Crowe, is also so overtaken by his need to work out the highly advanced mathematics of his imagined conspiracy theories, that like Matt Damon before him, he would start writing out the equations on glass and other such unconventional surfaces, as seen below:

A Beautiful Mind - Drawing on Window

This motif would be reused in many films after these first two (including the ridiculous one with a now geriatric Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson somehow being accepted as improbable interns at Google), where it has become an accepted visual motif in the cinema that writing out math equations on glass or mirrors signifies a tortured super genius.

This is where the connection between super genius Matt Damon and my super genius children can easily be established.  My children, like their cinematic forebears delineated above, are such super geniuses that their expressions of their advanced intellect cannot be limited to mere paper, but must also occur on unconventional surfaces, like walls, glass, and even TV screens, as evidenced below:



As you can plainly see in these three images, my super genius children have such amazing things going on in their heads, that they must be expressed on walls and TVs.

You might now make the argument that these are just the random scribblings of children, and not any advanced mathematical equation!

To that I say poppycock once again!!

What anyone who makes such a childish and feeble argument is blatantly ignoring is the difference between left brain and right brain inclination, with left brain being related to math and science, and right brain being related to artistic expression:

So we can clearly and indisputably deduce that my children are right brain geniuses, whose artistic genius rivals (or even exceeds?!?) those of Pablo Picasso and Jackson Pollock!

That being established, I can also now proudly say that I have several items by budding genius artists for sale, including a TV with artistic crayon all over it.

Any buyers??

How about you, Matt Damon?!

The Ultimate List of Valentine’s Day Hacks

Today is Sunday February 14th, Valentine’s Day! What does that mean? For those of you who are single and dating, or perhaps recently engaged, it’s a wondrous day of love, chocolate, roses, and a memorable date at a highly regarded restaurant, or a day of adventure and amour.

For those of you who are hopelessly single (which I was for many a year before meeting my wife), it’s an agonizing day of loneliness and longing, searching through whatever channels are available to find that special someone with whom to share this most romantic of days.  So, Tinder.

What about those of you who, like me, are married with children?  What kind of joyous wonders await us?  Well, if you’re like me, with your hands full with precocious toddlers tearing around the house from the wee early hours of the morning until the late hours of the night, with nary any rest in between, having anything remotely resembling a romantic Valentine’s Day can be a serious challenge.

For my wife and I, our Valentine’s Days for the past years have been full of such joys as potty-training children leaving their “marks” on the carpet, children with ear infections being sick and vomiting throughout the home, children not taking their much needed naps, having food and drink spilled and smeared in every direction possible, having phone and tablet screens shattered, and many more such similar shots from Cupid‘s oddly aimed arrows.

So here, for my fellow beleaguered fathers and husbands, is a series of my own personally designed hacks that are crafted to assure you and your wives a truly romantic Valentine’s Day, but without breaking the bank, and without the need to leave your kids with an expensive babysitter or ship them off to grandma’s to be able to enjoy the day.

Ladies, while I appreciate your support of my blog, and your interest in reading the steps I have delineated below, please avert your eyes now, so that the gifts I am instructing your husbands to give you are not diminished by your foreknowledge of them.  Okay?  No, really, I insist.  Please.  Why don’t we…  Umm how about you…  JUST STOP READING, WOMAN!

Okay guys, now that your wives have stopped reading this Valentine’s Day Guide for Husbands and Fathers, let’s get down to the nitty gritty.  Here’s what you need to do, and you need to do it pronto.  Follow these instructions to the letter!

VALENTINE’S DAY HACK #1: FLOWERS

Flowers are a must, guys.  If you don’t your wife get flowers on Valentine’s Day, be prepared to go straight to the dog house.  Here’s how to get flowers that are sure to impress, but without breaking the bank.  If you’ve already ordered by phone or online, 2 points for you!  Here’s what you do.  Let your wife enjoy the flowers all day today, and make sure they’re displayed in a prominent location.

Tomorrow, call the flower company and complain that the wrong flowers arrived, that they were dead, that the vase was broken, or that the chocolates that came with the flowers made your wife vomit, and completely ruined your Valentine’s Day.  Threaten to sue or to bash them on social media.  They will hurriedly credit you for your order, and maybe even send you another set of flowers to make up for the error.  Boom!  Free flowers!

Alternately, if you’re a complete moron and waited till half way through Valentine’s Day itself to realize you need flowers, you can achieve the same thing by getting your dumb ass down to Costco, buying her some last minute flowers pronto, and returning them to Costco later in the week.  It requires more leg work and an explanation as to why her Valentine’s Day flowers have suddenly disappeared, but it’s still free, and will save your hide if your hide needs saving.

VALENTINE’S DAY HACK #2: DINNER

Okay, let’s face it guys, you need to treat your wife to a great dinner on Valentine’s Day.  Chances are, though, that the restaurants you want to take her to are either already booked solid, or out of your budget.  Here’s what you do.

You tell your wife that you want to show her how much you appreciate all the home-cooked meals she’s made for you and your family throughout the year, and that it’s her turn to relax, kick her feet up, and let you do the cooking.

At this point, she will laugh at you because you have no ability to cook anything whatsoever, and can barely boil water without her assistance.  Be brave, hold firm, don’t panic, and insist that you’re serious, and that you’ve been secretly planning to do this for weeks, and have really been practicing.  Assure her it will be great, and to leave the kids with you, and to go enjoy an hour of time to herself.

When she finally, reluctantly leaves you in charge of both the kitchen and the children, take a deep breath, and if necessary, take a shot of something strong.  Then, bring your kids to the table, and let them help you start mixing flour, eggs, and water in a bowl.  That’s it.  No other ingredients.  And no smocks or drop cloths, either.

Let this mixing go on for a ridiculously long time, until your children have become tired and have lost interest in it, you are all covered in flour and egg, and the kitchen is completely destroyed.

At this point, and this part is very important, say loudly enough for your wife to hear, “Great job kids, we really did it! Together! As a family!”

Your wife will instinctively sense that nothing good can be happening in the kitchen, but will be so overtaken with pride and respect that you actually tried to do something that included the kids in a safe and healthy way, that she will be momentarily blinded to the huge mess in front of her.

Start to put whatever atrocity you’ve created in the mixing bowl in the oven, no matter what it looks like.  She’ll stop you, take one look, throw it right in the garbage, and send you off to clean all the flour, egg and water off your children.

She will be disgusted by the mess you’ve made, which she will finally notice, but will have been so touched by your effort to actually do something for her on your own, that she will insist on making something for dinner by herself.

At this point, make a half-spirited offer to take her out to dinner, and say she shouldn’t be cooking on Valentine’s Day of all days.  She will say no, thank you for your attempt at cooking, and whip up something amazing.

So there you go, dinner is taken care of, at no cost to you, except maybe the loss of your pride!  Easy!  And your kids will be so worn out from the hour of mixing and kneading your Frankenstein-like food creation that they’ll be tuckered out and ready for bed.

Two birds, one stone.  You’re welcome.

VALENTINE’S DAY HACK #3: MOVIE

Okay, now that you’ve taken care of your wife with the free flowers and conned her into staying home and making you dinner, all while exhausting your children and getting them to fall asleep, the next big step is choosing the entertainment for the rest of the evening.

It being Valentine’s Day, you must of course watch a romantic comedy, and in most cases, a chick flick.  Pay close attention, because these next steps require precision.

If by some chance you still watch movies via DVD, you have the best chances here, because you can take your copy of The Notebook and put it in the DVD player upside down, or scratch the bottom of the disc so it won’t play properly.  When the disc doesn’t work, start fiddling with the DVD player and disconnecting and reconnecting all the wires, and use some nonsense technical jargon to explain why this particular DVD will no longer work with your system.

If you are using Netflix, are streaming online, or are watching a movie on demand, it’s really the same thing as with the DVD, but without the steps listed above.  Let your wife choose whatever chick flick she wants to watch, and then make up an excuse using some technical lingo about why that particular movie isn’t compatible with your system, or isn’t available for download, or has some buffering issues that simply can’t be resolved with your system’s limited RAM, etc.

Here’s the point.  At this critical juncture, you tell your wife about a whimsical new romantic comedy that would be absolutely perfect for Valentine’s Day, but you tell her to trust you and let you surprise her.  The trust and surprise card may be limited by how well you handled the dinner-making fiasco, but regardless, the goal is to turn on the ultimate romantic comedy, Avengers: The Age of Ultron.

Once it’s on, you really don’t have to do much to justify how it could possibly be classified as a romantic comedy.  Your wife will be so mesmerized by the movie’s outrageously handsome cast, including Robert Downey, Jr., Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, and Jeremy Renner, and she will be so swept up in the Beauty and the Beast love story between The Hulk and The Scarlett Witch, that she won’t even notice it’s really a superhero movie you wanted to watch but that she’s been vetoing for weeks.  Everyone wins!!!

[Editor’s note: X-Men: The Days of Future Past is an equally good alternative with an equally handsome cast, and can be substituted safely for the Avengers here.]

VALENTINE’S DAY HACK #4: DESSERT

The last step to making your Valentine’s Day both memorable and affordable is to cap things off with a great dessert.  This is the most crucial part to pull off successfully, and absolutely the most important.  Why?  Because no matter how badly you might have screwed up all the other parts of the day, if you do this last step right, it will redeem you, and will end your night on a positive note.

The answer is two-fold, but not difficult to accomplish, relative to the other steps delineated above.  It requires these two non-negotiable elements:

  1. CHOCOLATE
  2. ICE CREAM

Make sure you know what kind of chocolate and what flavor of ice cream your wife likes.  DO NOT MESS THAT PART UP.  You might have to part with a few shekels at the grocery store to get this part right, but MAKE SURE YOU DO GET THE RIGHT ONES.

At some point during the viewing of the chick flick romantic comedy, The Avengers: The Age of Ultron [or X-Men: The Days of Future Past], discreetly excuse yourself to the other room.  When you return, bring the chocolate and the ice cream with you, with only one spoon.

Your wife will be excited about the dessert, and impressed with your thoughtfulness, but may be reluctant to indulge in the sweets.

This is where this most essential of steps has the potential to go off the rails.  Make sure you convince your wife that it’s okay to share in the chocolates and ice cream with you, that she’s beautiful and will always be beautiful, and that the important thing is that you indulge in the sweet treats TOGETHER, AS ONE.  That’s when you lift up the one spoon, and you give her the first spoonful of the delectable goodness.

From there, as long as you don’t start coasting and letting all your hard work from the day get wasted by forgetting yourself and starting to burp, fart, or otherwise ruin the mood, you should be good to go for one of the best Valentine’s Day ever!!!

That is, unless your wife is smart.  Like mine.  In that case, absolutely none of this hogwash will work.  You will be deeper in the dog house than ever if you try any of this nonsense, and will end up working twice as hard to dig yourself out of the hole you’ve just dug.

In that case, check back here for next week’s blog about HACKS TO GET YOURSELF OUT OF THE DOG HOUSE FROM WHEN YOU MESSED UP VALENTINE’S DAY, which I will be devising this week as I try to figure out how to clean up this mess…
 

It’s Super Bowl Sunday and I Don’t Care

If you live in the United States and have a pulse, you’ve undoubtedly been swept up in the excitement of the biggest sporting event of the year, the Super Bowl! The NFL’s championship game is the most anticipated and highly watched television extravaganza each year, with advertisers paying outrageous sums of money to get their products in front of our collective eyeballs.  And despite the fact that 99.9999% of all other males are frothing at the mouth with excitement, I am part of the .0001% that couldn’t care less.

I used to get very excited about Super Bowl, especially when the New York Giants were playing.  In past years, when the scrappy underdog Giants teams would pull a David and Goliath and upend the favored Buffalo Bills or New England Patriots, those were thrilling games, and I was hooked.  It was especially gratifying watching the Giants ruin Tom Brady’s perfect season a few years ago!

Since then, the New York Giants have been underwhelming at best, literally shooting themselves in the foot and blowing off their fingers rather than win, and the New York (or really New Jersey) Jets are a joke, with more focus on their rotating roster of celebrity Quarterbacks and Coaches than anything on the field.

New Yorkers’ enemy #1, Tom Brady, hasn’t suffered in the least despite his previous loss to the Giants, bouncing back to steal… err… win last year’s Super Bowl, regardless of all the hoopla about Deflate-Gate.  Even with all the proof that he tampered with footballs and cheated to win, the NFL’s resident pretty boy prom king had enough money and clout (and a good enough lawyer) to walk away unscathed, with no penalties sticking to him to make him pay for his underhandedness.

This year’s big storyline is that young lion (or Panther) Cam Newton will be trying to cement his status as an elite QB against veteran superstar QB Peyton Manning.  It’s young vs. old, new generation vs. veteran champion, and blah blah blah, who gives a flying fig.  The storyline is a classic one, and I’m sure the rest of the nation is overflowing with excitement about it, but it just doesn’t compel me to care.

Maybe it’s the fact that my hometown New York teams are not in the game.  Maybe it’s my disgust for the NFL’s inability to punish players like Tom Brady for their flagrant wrongdoing.  Maybe it’s because I’m busy with my family and all and don’t have time to really follow or get into it.

Maybe it’s that I just don’t want to.

While I enjoy hard hitting sports as much as the next guy (I’m a big UFC fan), with all the news about NFL players having higher levels of concussions and subsequent dementia and brain damage, I don’t know that it’s something I really care to follow.  Don’t get me wrong, when I used to play “Madden NFL” back in the day, the most fun part was sacking the other team’s QB so hard that an ambulance would come out and drive over all the other players to get the injured guy and cart him out.  In a video game, yes.  In reality, umm, not so much.

There’s also the disturbing news that each year, the city hosting the Super Bowl is filled with all manner of whores to accommodate the “needs” of the vast audience.  By many reports, a large percentage of those whores are sex slaves who are forced into town and prostituted against their wills.  I don’t remember that part being included in the video game…

Add to this that the NFL has had another major scandal it’s been trying to sweep under the rug, which is its sponsoring of the online betting sites FanDuel and DraftKings.  These sites were allegedly operating illegally and have been shut down by New York State.  There’s a lot that’s been said about the addictive quality of these sites, and how they victimized players and caused them financial ruin, all while being funded and backed by the NFL itself.

Also, I find it tremendously annoying that the NFL holds on to the Super Bowl name so tightly that nobody can even reference the event by name, and have to speak of it in general terms, calling it only The Big Game.  In fact, I’ll probably be sued by the NFL before this Blog is even posted for having the audacity to even speak the name “Super Bowl.”  Is this a sport, a religion, or a cult?!?

Honestly, at this point, with the failure to punish players for cheating, the danger of head trauma to the players, the prostituting of sex slaves, the hooking of fans to make them gamblers, and the cultish ownership of the Super Bowl name, I’d rather watch the Puppy Bowl than the Super Bowl, and am not excited about the ads or the Half Time Show. I stopped caring about the ads when the Bud Bowls were discontinued, and if anything of consequence happens at Half Time, it’s all over the Internet the next day, anyway.

So in summary, I really just don’t give a darn anymore!

Unless you invite us over to watch the game and have pizza.  Or a Big Sandwich. If either of those is involved, they nullify all my complaints.  Let’s go watch The Big Game!!

Jumping in Slushy Puddles

Having two toddlers, a four year old girl and a two year old boy, my wife and I have become quite familiar with the cartoons and other shows on TV that are aimed at the toddler audience.  Some of their favorite shows include PAW Patrol, Bubble Guppies, Blaze and the Monster Machines, and Peppa Pig.  On Peppa Pig, the title character, Peppa Pig, is a young British pig-girl about the same age as my daughter, with an even younger brother, George, who is about the age as my son.

Among the many cute, silly things that Peppa, George, and their family do on that show, one of the most consistent is to “Jump in Muddy Puddles.”  These little pig characters love to play in the mud, and it being set in England, they only need to wait so long before the weather turns to rain, and muddy puddles are formed for them to jump in.  The only caveat to this most favorite (or should we use the British “favourite”?) of activities is when Mommy Pig admonishes, “If you want to jump in muddy puddles, YOU MUST WEAR YOUR BOOTS!”

After the snow storm that walloped New York and the rest of the East Coast last week, New York City felt like it was a series of giant mountains of snow, interrupted by the occasional street light.  In the past several days, the weather has warmed considerably, and the giant mountains of snow have melted into even more giant lakes of slush.  Or as Peppa Pig might like to think of them, like “Slushy Puddles!”

Well, on my way to work today, as I attempted to begin the perilous journey across a particularly wide and slushy avenue, some genius in a sharp business suit who looks like the typical “work on Wall Street, drive a BMW, think he owns the world” stereotype, decided that the best way to avoid getting his ultra expensive shoes wet in the big slushy puddle in front of him was to do a giant leap over it.

I’m not much of an athlete, and I’m by no means a long jumper.  That being said, it didn’t take a pre-operative Bruce Jenner type former Olympic decathlete to predict that this particular jump was rather ill-advised, and not likely to end well.

Of course, when Mr. Entitlement landed, he was squarely in the middle of the giant slushy puddle, and he had splashed slush all over himself and everyone else within a five foot radius of him, including yours truly.  My less than ultra expensive shoes, pants, and coat were a mess, and I experienced the ultimate fear every New Yorker holds deep in his or her heart; street slush in the face!

I recoiled and tried to clear the filthy slush out of my face, and shake the cold wet goo off my clothes.  In that most disgusting of moments, I saw a sight that made this deepest, darkest of horrors at least somewhat tolerable.  The big jumper had dropped his super fancy smart phone (you know the type, the one that’s clearly not just a regular iPhone, but something custom made out of either a dinosaur fossil or out of Martin Shkreli’s singular copy of a Wu Tang Clan album), fell out of his clutches and into the slush when he landed.

Mr. Entitlement had to reluctantly stick his manicured hand in the slush and fish out the phone.  The slush-spattering my clothes took was well worth it, just to see the look of disgust on this guy’s face as he stuck his bare hand into the freezing slush and pulled out a soaked and frozen no-longer-smart-phone.  And an even more deliciously evil moment of schadenfreude was watching the Wall Street guy take off his completely wrecked $1,000 shoes off and waddle away in his soaked socks.  If he had only listened to Mommy Pig and worn his boots, perhaps he wouldn’t have suffered such a fate.  And I wouldn’t have had such a devious smile on my otherwise slush-covered face.