Donald Trump and the Michael Bayification of America

Looking at the presidential election from a distance, you’d probably be surprised that most polls have the race as being close. You’d probably wonder why this is even a contest considering one candidate seems to be insanely qualified for the job, while the other is an unethical businessman and television host with no experience in politics.

The first debate went about how I predicted. Most of my friends (thankfully) agreed with me that Hillary Clinton was the winner of the election, but based on social media, it’s clear that plenty of other people disagreed. According to some, Trump was “forceful” and “took over” despite spending much of his time promoting un-Constitutional policies, admitting he doesn’t pay taxes, and making fun of Rosie O’Donnell.

The real threat facing America! (Image source)

The real threat facing America! (Image source)

I understand that no matter how incompetent he may seem, Trump is always going to have supporters. Any Republican candidate is going to get his share of votes simply because of party loyalty. And the more conservative leaning candidate will also get people to vote for him out of fear that the Supreme Court will soon get loaded with liberal judges who will make it easier for homosexuals to marry and carry out other immoral behavior.

Trump is also getting support from bigots, white supremacists, anti-Semites, and people who can’t stomach the thought of a woman actually being in charge of our country. (Hello, deplorables!)

If those groups were the only ones supporting Trump, this election would be the landslide that it should be. But it seems that Trump has a good deal of support from the non-deplorables as well.

I tried to figure out why Trump has so much support among people who seemingly aren’t . Yes, he talks a big game, but to me, he sounds like the “Italian Guy in Any Given Situation” from Family Guy:

He promotes big ideas that sound great (“We’re gonna stop ISIS!), but rarely provides any actual details about how he’s planning to execute these grandiose plans. He’s full of energy, but upon even minor scrutiny, it becomes obvious that there’s no substance to these claims.

Regardless, many Americans are eating it up. Are we really at the point where people just want loud noises and spectacle from our chief executive?

Sadly, the answer to this is probably yes. Want proof? Just check this out:

Rank Title (click to view) Studio Gross / Theaters Opening / Theaters Date
1 Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen P/DW $402,111,870 4,293 $108,966,307 4,234 6/24/09
2 Transformers: Dark of the Moon P/DW $352,390,543 4,088 $97,852,865 4,088 6/29/11
3 Transformers P/DW $319,246,193 4,050 $70,502,384 4,011 7/3/07
4 Transformers: Age of Extinction Par. $245,439,076 4,233 $100,038,390 4,233 6/27/14

There have been four live-action Transformers movies released, and the quality of them ranges from, “That wasn’t too bad” to “Why are they doing this to us?” None of them have been great movies, and in most cases, a sensible plot has been tossed aside in favor of SLOW MOTION ROBOT FIGHTS and EXPLOSIONS!!!!!

Has that stopped the American people from plunking down their hard-earned money to see these movies? Not at all. I can understand the first movie doing well, because nostalgia sells, and I don’t know if I’ve ever been more excited to see a movie in my life. Even after that was somewhat of a disappointment, we still had hope that the second movie would make everything better. (SPOILER ALERT: It didn’t)

Despite having no reason to think that Michael Bay would stop ruining our childhoods, we still lined up eagerly to see the third and fourth installments. In my defense, I saw the fourth one on Netflix. Perhaps it was the lowered expectations or the fact that I didn’t really spend any extra money on it, but I thought it was the most enjoyable of the bunch. Or maybe it’s because they finally gave us what we really wanted: The Transformers fighting Kelsey Grammer!

So the bad news is that thanks to Americans’ preference for loud noises over coherence, we’re probably headed for four years of President Trump. The good news is, we’ll be able to escape our worries by seeing Transformers: The Last Knight! In theaters on June 23rd, 2017!

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Top Five Week: Best Things Associated with Fridays

Sadly, we’ve come to the final day of Top Five Week. I hope you’ve enjoyed these lists. Since today is Friday, I’ll wrap up the week by discussing the top five things associated with Fridays.

5. King Friday XIII

King Friday XIII (Image source)

King Friday XIII (Image source)

On Mister Roger’s Neighborhood, they’d often visit the Neighborhood of Make Believe, which was ruled by the benevolent King Friday XIII. It says a bit about Friday’s humility that he called it the “Neighborhood of Make Believe” and not the “Kingdom of Make Believe.”

Mr. Rogers was my favorite show growing up, and I know it was a sad day for my mother when I outgrew it and began to call the show “lame.” Sadly, I realize it won’t be long before my kids start outgrowing things too. Heck, it’s already happened with the Cutlet. Her obsession with princesses has largely faded, and she says she doesn’t even like the movie Frozen anymore. Sigh…moving on…

4. Endless Apps

TGI Friday’s introduced their Endless Apps promotion a couple of years ago. You could pick one of their appetizers and get endless refills during your stay. I have never actually partaken in this promotion, but from what I’ve heard, this may be one of those things that sounds better in theory than in practice. Honestly, why not just go to the superior Ruby Tuesday, and take unlimited trips to their excellent salad bar?

Speaking of salad, there’s been some debate in the Cutter house about what makes a good salad. To me, if you want to have a classic salad, you need broccoli, cheese, egg, and if you’re really feeling adventurous, sprinkle some croutons on top. Other people in my family just fill a bowl with cabbage and a few cucumbers and call it a day.

3. Jason Voorhees

Jason, the villain from the Friday the 13th series, gets a lot of hype, but is it deserved? After all, he’s really somewhat of a generic “monster.” Yes, he’s difficult to kill, but aren’t all movie monsters? All he does is walk around slowly and cut people. The only thing distinctive about him is his iconic hockey mask, and he didn’t even start wearing that until the third movie. Heck, he wasn’t even the killer in the first movie! (Sorry, SPOILER ALERT if I ruined a nearly 40 year old movie for you.)

Compare that to Freddy Krueger who had all sorts of cool powers and was somewhat funny. When the two of them squared off, it should have been a one-sided battle. But apparently, it ended in a standoff. That’s bulls***.

2. Bob Saget

Back in the day, Friday nights were often spent in front of the TV watching ABC’s TGIF lineup. We all have fond memories of watching Full House as Danny Tanner taught his children – and by extension, us – important life lessons.

As everyone probably knows, Danny Tanner was the complete opposite of the persona Bob Saget used in his standup comedy. Here he is explaining that his Full House character – despite plenty of evidence to the contrary – wasn’t actually gay.

1. Ice Cube

I actually didn’t like the movie Friday when I first saw it. Due to my love of rap music, everyone assumed I’d love it, but I just couldn’t get into it. I don’t hold that against Ice Cube, as he’s a great rapper, and the titular song from the movie’s soundtrack was pretty good:

Speaking of Cube, I thought one part of the movie “Straight Outta Compton” was kind of strange: Ice Cube was famously portrayed by his son, and in one scene, Ice Cube Junior had to kiss the actress who was playing his mother. That seems uncomfortable.

Then again, by that point in his life, Cube Junior probably wasn’t fazed by much. After all, in “Today was a Good Day,” his mother was described as being able to “f*** all night.” How many times do you think he heard about that on the playground?

That concludes Top Five Week. I hope you enjoyed it, and hope you all have a happy Friday!

Posted in Pop Culture, Randomness | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Top Five Week: Favorite Nintendo Entertainment System Games

For today’s “Top Five Week” entry, I’ll take a look back to the glory days of video games: The era of the Nintendo Entertainment System. I’ve never really been much of a “gamer,” so the NES was the last console I was really into.

While there were many classic games released for the NES, these are the five I enjoyed playing the most.

5. Tecmo Super Bowl

Some people prefer the original Tecmo Bowl – and while it does have its charm – the sequel is clearly superior. They made the game slightly more realistic, while maintaining the easy and fun game play that made the original so popular.

They also got an official NFL license so unlike the original, all of the NFL teams were included. This was important because it allowed you to play as one of the greatest video game athletes of all time: QB Eagles.

4. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2: The Arcade Game

Adaptations of arcade games to home consoles have been hit or miss over the years. (Check out Atari’s version of Pac-Man if you don’t believe me.) Considering how awesome the Ninja Turtle arcade game was, the NES version had a lot to live up to. Thankfully, they came through, and turned an incredible arcade game into a very fun version for the NES.

The original TMNT game for the NES had major flaws, and this game was a huge improvement. The graphics were fun, game play was easy, and back when it was released I was super into anything involving the Ninja Turtles. I remember spending many afternoons with my friends playing this game while listening to Vanilla Ice. (Ah, the early 90’s!)

3. Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out

Punch-Out might be my favorite arcade game of all time. The NES wasn’t a direct adaptation – there were several differences in game play – but it was still a great game.

Mr. Sandman (image source)

Mr. Sandman (image source)

Despite Mike Tyson being the headliner, I consider Mr. Sandman to be the toughest opponent in the game. Tyson is obviously tough, but he’s actually pretty beatable once you figure out his patterns. For some reason, I could never get the timing down for Mr. Sandman, and even when I beat him, it was always a close call.

I downloaded this game onto my Wii, and found Sandman even tougher to beat. I’m not sure if it’s a delay caused by the HDTV or the Wii remote, but getting past Sandman is near impossible.

2. Baseball Stars

This was easily the best baseball game for the NES. I know there are fans of RBI Baseball out there, but this game is superior.

One of the reasons it was so great was because you could build custom teams. I spent a lot of time creating a replica of the 1991 Philadelphia Phillies and building up their stats. The real life 1991 Phillies might not have been a powerhouse, but their video game counterparts were awesome. I think about six players in their lineup had 40 home run power.

Some of my fondest memories involve beating my sister’s boyfriend repeatedly at this game. And I’d even let him play with the special “Hall of Fame” team.

1. Super Mario Bros.

This game was the main reason why I – and many other people – wanted to get a Nintendo in the first place. In some ways, Super Mario Bros. 3 is superior (but definitely not SMB2 – that game kind of sucks), but I still prefer the original.

I’m not sure what makes it so much fun. It’s just a plumber running around smashing bricks and stomping on turtles. But it’s near impossible to play it and not have a good time. Heck, I played it just a couple of weeks ago, and it’s still a lot of fun.

Posted in Pop Culture | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Top Five Week: Favorite Chappelle’s Show Skits

Top Five week continues as I take a look back at the short-lived but much-loved Chappelle’s Show. I considered putting at least one Chappelle’s Show episode on yesterday’s list, but it was tough to narrow it down to one definitive episode.

Every week throughout its glorious two season run (I know, there was kind of a third season, but it doesn’t really count), the show would seemingly deliver at least one classic skit. But which were the best? Here’s my opinion: (Be warned, most of these videos contain at least some NSFW material)

5. Mad Real World

Maybe I just like the skit because it features a character named Tron. To this day, if somebody asks me what kind of drink I’d like, I often ask for a banana cognac. (And to this day, I’ve never actually received one.)

http://www.cc.com/video-clips/jk2wol/chappelle-s-show–the-mad-real-world–pt–1—uncensored

4. Frontline – Clayton Bigsby

Featured on the first episode, I remember watching this and getting the same feeling I did when watching The Ben Stiller Show ten years earlier. I knew that if they could keep this up, it would be awesome.

http://www.cc.com/video-clips/7nnosh/chappelle-s-show–frontline—-clayton-bigsby-pt–1—uncensored

3. Wayne Brady – Training Day

Maybe I’m just a bit twisted, but watching Wayne Brady snap a police officer’s neck is one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen.

http://www.cc.com/video-clips/7fhjqd/chappelle-s-show-the-wayne-brady-show—uncensored

2. True Hollywood Stories – Prince

The Rick James THS skit got all the hype, and admittedly, it is awesome. But I think it may have gotten a bit played out. You can only hear people say, “I’m Rick James, bitch” so many times before you get tired of it.

I always found the Prince edition to be better. From fruity picks to “game, blouses,” there’s just so much greatness to be found here:

http://www.cc.com/video-clips/e748yj/chappelle-s-show-charlie-murphy-s-true-hollywood-stories—prince—uncensored

 

1. Kneehigh Park

Back in the good old days before Squinty moved to Las Vegas, we would often watch this skit during halftime of football games. And despite knowing what was coming, I’d still crack up every time.

Avenue Q got all the hype for their Sesame Street parody, but really, this came first and probably did it better. After all, Avenue Q didn’t feature Snoop Dogg.

http://www.cc.com/video-clips/02k2di/chappelle-s-show-kneehigh-park-pt–1—uncensored

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Top Five Week: Favorite TV Episodes of All Time

Continuing with Top Five Week, today’s list will be my “Top five favorite TV episodes of all-time.”

In my almost 40 years on this planet, I’ve watched a lot of television. Most of those shows and their episodes barely made an impact and were forgotten as soon as they were over. For one reason or another, these five episodes made a lasting impact on me.

5. The Cosby Show – Happy Anniversary

I know we’re probably not supposed to talk about the work of Bill Cosby in glowing terms anymore, but it’s tough to deny that The Cosby Show was one of the greatest sitcoms of all time. I’m curious: When Cosby dies, are we going to give him the Michael Jackson treatment, in which we sort of ignore all the shady stuff, and just reflect on his brilliant work as an entertainer?

This episode featured the Huxtable clan trying to wish Cliff’s parents a happy anniversary. The episode was just okay until the end when the family did an elaborate lip sync routine to Ray Charles’ “The Night Time is the Right Time.”

4. The Simpsons – Last Exit to Springfield

Season four of the Simpsons may be the best season of a TV series ever. Just about every episode is a classic, and “Last Exit” is probably the best of the bunch.

It’s hard to remember, considering he turned into somewhat of an irredeemable jerk in later seasons, but early Homer was an overall good guy. He was still an oaf, and still uncouth, but he seemed to mean well. He often ended up doing to right thing, if only by accident. This episode probably sums up that version of Homer.

Despite being horribly outmatched, Homer becomes head of the labor union, and somehow ends up winning the standoff with Mr. Burns. There are so many good moments in this one, including the classic Lisa at the dentist/Joker scene.

3. Family Matters – Laura’s First Date

Steve Urkel (Image source)

Steve Urkel (Image source)

Family Matters began as a spinoff of Perfect Strangers. At first, it was a generic sitcom about the life of the Winslow family. And then came this episode, in which Laura Winslow needed a date to the dance, and one potential suitor was her nerdy classmate Steve Urkel.

I re-watched the episode recently, and sadly, it hasn’t held up that well. But I assure you that at the time, I have never laughed as hard at a TV show as I did when watching this.

Apparently, I wasn’t the only one who felt that way. Urkel – intended to be a one-off character – was soon brought back, and eventually made the main character of the show. Sadly, this soon led to overexposure, and Urkel eventually became one of the most annoying characters ever. But his debut? That was comedy gold.

2. The Ben Stiller Show – Pilot

The Ben Stiller show was before its time. Had the show debuted in the You Tube age, it might have had a chance to build up a following via viral sharing of clips. Unfortunately, in 1993, a sketch comedy show on Fox didn’t have much of a chance to build a huge following.

I remember seeing the pilot episode and being blown away by just how clever it was. First, they had a great mash-up of Cape Fear and the Munsters:

Next came a “Rockumentary” that combined U2 and The Patridge Family. It doesn’t sound like it should work, but it does:

And this might be the best non-Yankovic song parody ever made:

The rest of the show’s one season run was good, but honestly, I always felt a bit disappointed after watching it. The pilot episode was so good that they set a standard that was almost impossible to match.

1. Transformers – Heavy Metal War

Devastator remains one of the coolest things I've ever seen (Image source)

Devastator remains one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen (Image source)

The Transformers were my absolute favorite toy/pop culture phenomenon (and is there really a difference?) growing up. I thought season one of the tie-in cartoon was the pinnacle of entertainment. And then, in the final episode of the season, they somehow managed to raise the bar even higher.

The episode introduced a new group of bad guys: The Constructicons. Normally, I’d say there was nothing special about robots changing into construction vehicles. After all, we already had robots who changed into planes and guns. But toward the end of the episode, they did something unexpected, and it just about blew my mind.

The Constructicons were fighting the Dinobots (And don’t think I wasn’t already pretty pumped about seeing robots who changed into dinosaurs) when they combined into a giant robot named Devastator. My seven-year old brain just about overloaded. I was watching robot dinosaurs fight a super-robot, and it was the awesomest thing ever. And that is why it remains my favorite episode of all time.

Posted in Pop Culture | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Top Five Week: My Five Favorite Philadelphia Eagles Players of All-Time

Apropos of nothing, I’ve decided to make this “Top Five Week” at the Cutter Rambles. Each day, I will list five of my favorite things in a given category.

In honor of the Philadelphia Eagles’ win yesterday, today’s list will be my five favorite Eagles players of all-time.

5. Keith Byars

byarsIn the late ’80’s/early ’90’s, the Eagles’ offense was a little unorthodox. They had a quarterback – Randall Cunningham – who was more famous for running the ball than passing it. And their primary running back was used more of a receiver than a rusher.

Despite being a star in college, Keith Byars’ lack of game-breaking speed kept him from ever becoming a top rusher in the NFL. However, he made up for that by becoming one of the best pass-catching backs in the NFL. He recorded 819 receiving yards in the 1990, which was almost unheard of for a running back.

4. Donovan McNabb

Every Eagles fan knows the story: The Eagles had the #2 pick in the 1999 draft and the fans desperately wanted them to take Heisman Trophy winning running back Ricky Williams. Head coach Andy Reid had other ideas, and decided that Syracuse quarterback Donovan McNabb would be the new franchise centerpiece. A busload of Eagles fans went to watch the draft in person, and were very vocal about the selection of McNabb.

As it turned out, it was the right pick. McNabb had a very good career. No, he didn’t lead the Eagles to a Super Bowl win, and he probably won’t make the Hall of Fame. But considering how many flawed options the Eagles have run out at the position since, it’s made Eagles fans appreciate him a bit more.

I wonder if McNabb would have had more success under a different coach. While Reid does deserve some credit for his development, his flawed offensive game plans also hurt the team at times. Also, if McNabb had been given better receivers, or the team had leaned on the running game more, he might have been able to get the team that elusive championship. (On a related note, I was always somewhat of a McNabb apologist.)

3. William Thomas

I may have only liked William Thomas because “William Thomas” just sounds like the name of a football player. As it turned out, the William Thomas who played for the Eagles happened to be an excellent football player. He was excellent at covering linebackers, and was a mainstay of the mid-90’s teams.

 2. Roger Ruzek

ruzekFor some reason, I became very enamored of Roger Ruzek when he served as the Eagles’ kicker in the early ’90’s. Before every field goal attempt, I would shot out “Roger!” and more often than not, he would reward my faith by giving the Eagles three points.

I was quite upset when the team replaced him with journeyman Matt Bahr mid-way through the 1993 season. I was very pleased when Bahr proceeded to suck, and the team brought back Ruzek a few games later. That pleasure didn’t last long as the team got rid of Ruzek once again after the season.

Inspired by Ruzek, I once had dreams of becoming an NFL kicker. I got a kicking tee for my birthday one year and would repeatedly attempt to kick the ball. As it turns out, I don’t exactly have a strong kicking leg, so that dream quickly died.

1. Brent Celek

Brent Celek – who went to school at the University of Cincinnati – was drafted before the 2007 season and quickly became my favorite Eagle. There was a lot to like. Not only would Celek make tough catches, but he was also extremely tough to bring down, and always fought for extra yards.

When McNabb was traded after the 2009 season, I needed a new Eagles jersey, and it was a pretty easy call as to which player to get. It’s clear that I made a good choice. Despite the massive amount of turnover with the rest of the roster, Celek remains on the team.

Honestly, I’ve gotten pretty lucky with my last two jersey choices. McNabb and Celek both spent over ten seasons with the team, and that’s an eternity as far as NFL careers go. And because I’ll be over 40 years old when Celek finally leaves, there’s a chance that this will be the last one I ever have.

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Saint Grammy

Today is the twins’ second birthday! We have plenty of reasons to celebrate as things seem to have stabilized in the Cutter house – All the kids have gone to school as scheduled and nobody has thrown up in over a week! (Knocking heavily on wood.)

This is quite a change from a couple of weeks ago when it seemed like somebody threw up every night and we weren’t sure who was going to be watching the kids during the day. You may wonder how we made it through that time. I’d like to say that Mrs. Cutter and I rallied together, worked hard, and got through a tough situation together. But what really happened is that we were saved by my mother.

Teresa's got nothing on my mother (Image source)

Teresa’s got nothing on my mother (Image source)

When my mother heard we would be without an au pair for a couple of weeks, she volunteered to come down and stay with the children for a week. Theoretically, it wouldn’t be that hard for her: The Cutlet would be in camp, and the twins would go to preschool three of the days. Of course that didn’t actually happen. Thanks to pneumonia and strep throat, she had the kids home with her for most of the time.

That didn’t faze her at all. As it turns out, all those years she spent as a stay-at-home mom paid off. She’s actually really good with them; probably much better than their parents are. Not only did she capably watch over them and attend to their basic needs, but the kids seemed to really enjoy spending time with their Grammy.

Not only did she take care of the kids, but somehow she managed to get our house in the best condition it’s ever been in. My mother is apparently incapable of sitting still. The only time she relaxes is when General Hospital is on. (Sorry, kids. When Grammy’s stories are on, that’s her time.) The rest of the time she actively seeks out work to do. She cleaned up, organized the bookshelves, weeded the patio, and even found some time to plant flowers in the backyard.

Don't bother Grammy when General Hospital is on! (Image source)

Don’t bother Grammy when General Hospital is on! (Image source)

On a related note, it was nice to have the silverware properly loaded in the dishwasher for once. The forks should go in the back section of the silverware holder, with the knives in the middle, and the spoons in the front. Mrs. Cutter and the au pair normally just put everything in randomly and the result is a disorganized mess.

Unfortunately, Grammy was only supposed to stay with us for a week. We had made arrangements for the following week to send the twins to preschool for five days instead of their normal three, but Mrs. Cutter and I would still have to come home and watch them in the afternoon.

Realizing that we still needed a considerable amount of help, Grammy decided to put her own plans on hold and stay an extra week. We felt bad about making her change her schedule, but we also weren’t in any place to turn down the assistance. It was especially nice when Cujo once again had to stay home from school due to another night of vomiting.

By the end of those two weeks, our house had never been cleaner or more organized. We were actually on top of things, and if you didn’t know better, you’d think Mrs. Cutter and I were organized and responsible parents. (The following week when we somehow didn’t realize that preschool was closed was a more accurate representation of our abilities.)

Unfortunately, there was some collateral damage. My nephew was supposed to stay with my parents for the week, and without Grammy around, my father had to handle him alone. When he talked to us at the end of the week, he related his struggle.

Apparently, watching a ten-year old was a lot of work. Not only did he have to attend to the many needs of my nephew, he also had to feed and clean up after the cats ALL BY HIMSELF. While I’m sure it wasn’t easy, it was amusing to hear him complain about this to a woman who had been busy looking after one-year old twins all week.

Upon hearing his tale of woe, Mrs. Cutter and I both thought of this video:

Sadly, after those two weeks, Grammy had to finally return home, and we were once again left to fend for ourselves. We’ve managed okay, but the house has already lost much of its organization and cleanliness. I guess we’re just going to have to deal with the mess until October when Grammy will make another visit.

Posted in The Cutlet, Twins | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Kanye West, G.I.Joe, and Bravery: My Thoughts on the Colin Kaepernick Situation

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick has drawn criticism for his refusal to stand during the national anthem before games. He has described this action as a protest against what he feels is systematic racism in the police system, and the oppression of minorities in America.

Many people have taken offense to Kaepernick’s protest. From what I can tell, most are offended for one (or both) of the following reasons:

  1. As an athlete paid millions to play a game, Kaepernick has no reason to feel oppressed.
  2. By not standing during the national anthem, he’s disrespecting the nation, and by extension, the military who fight to protect the nation.

I will take a closer look at both of these.

He has no reason to feel oppressed

Image source

Colin Kaepernick Image source

As a white man, I really can’t speak about what it’s like to live as a person of color in America, so I find it strange that so many of my fellow white people seem to have strong opinions on the subject. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that Kaepernick – who is mixed race – knows a lot more about how minorities are treated in America.

Yes, Kaepernick is wealthy and famous. In some ways, that probably makes his life better than most people’s. But money can’t buy everything, and being rich and famous doesn’t shield people from racism. Don’t believe me? Check out Kaepernick’s Twitter feed before this saga began.

Kaepernick isn’t the first celebrity to feel this way. I believe Kanye West summed up the situation in his song “All Falls Down:”

We shine because they hate us, floss cause they degrade us
We trying to buy back our 40 acres
And for that paper, look how low we a’stoop
Even if you in a Benz, you still a n**** in a coupe

Even if you think Kapernick is full of crap and has never personally experienced racism, it’s admirable that he’s sticking up for those less fortunate than himself. I believe that race relations in America aren’t where they should be, and there likely is still some oppression of minorities. Throughout history, oppression generally hasn’t ended until those who are not oppressed stand up (or in this case, sit down) to support those who are.

He is disrespecting the country and military

Many people have taken issue with Kaepernick’s form of protest. They believe that by sitting during the national anthem, he’s disrespecting all of America.

I find it sadly ironic that many of the same people shouting “How dare Kaepernick disrespect America like that? He should get out if he thinks it’s so awful!” are the same ones who support the presidential candidate whose entire platform is that the country is in chaos and we need to “Make America Great Again.”

You can love something and still criticize it. For instance, I love my wife dearly, but as she’ll attest, I will also offer some criticisms at times. It doesn’t mean I want a divorce, it just means there might be a few things I might want to change.

I’m not sure if sitting for the national anthem is the best way to bring attention to his cause. On the other hand, if you want to effectively protest, you’ve got to do it in a way that makes people take notice, and Kaepernick has certainly achieved that.

Some critics say that his form of protest has been counterproductive, because people are talking more about the protest than the cause. Most of the conversation has indeed been about the protest, but there has also been a lot of talk about systematic racism and the police as well. It’s similar to how I felt about the Ice Bucket Challenge from a couple years back. If you can get more people talking about an issue, it should be viewed as a win.

I understand taking offense at Kaepernick’s actions, but it bothers me the way some Kaepernick critics have made his protest about the military. They claim that by not standing during the national anthem, he is disrespecting everyone who ever fought to protect the nation.

This feels somewhat disingenuous to me. It feels like people who didn’t like Kaepernick’s protest for whatever reason sought a way to make sure their viewpoint held the high moral ground. “If you’re against me, you’re against the military!”

I realize that Americans tend to get more patriotic during times of war, but when did the national anthem become a military theme? Is that all our national anthem and flag really represent to people – our ability to fight wars?

You may not like what Kaepernick has to say or how he’s saying it, but if we don’t allow him to do it, then our military truly is fighting for nothing. In some countries, Kaepernick would likely be jailed for such a protest. In America, he’s free to speak his mind.

As I often do, I’ll reference the tome of wisdom know as the G.I.Joe comic book. In issue 39 (Walk Through the Jungle), the Joes are sent to rescue a civil rights activist notorious for criticizing the military. A couple of the Joes voice displeasure in risking their lives to help someone who opposes what they do. Stalker, the group’s leader puts them in their place:

Get this through your head! We’re not fighting to have everybody think the way we do, we’re fighting so that people can think whatever they want! Even if they don’t agree with us!

As for those who are calling Kaepernick a coward, I think that is way off base.

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Yes, it is extremely brave to serve in the military. It might be the bravest action an American can take. But we should remember that it isn’t the only way to display bravery.

Kaepernick realizes that he may be destroying his career. He’s not guaranteed to make the 49ers, and becoming a “distraction” is often a good way to get cut from a team. It also seems unlikely that another team would pick him up this season unless truly desperate. To put his career at risk in order to stand up for a cause he believes in seems like a brave act to me.

Much like Kaepernick has the right to remain seated, you have the right to disagree with him or his method of protest. But if you automatically dismiss his message without actually taking the time to consider what he’s trying to say, then maybe you’re the one who is acting in an unpatriotic fashion.

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False Dawn

Remember when I wrote that after a few weeks of crappiness, things seemed to be getting better? As it turned out, that light we saw at the end of the tunnel was the headlight of a fast approaching train. We hoped that the worst was behind us; and honestly, it might have been. But we were still a long way from being good.

After a few vomit-free nights, we thought that everyone was getting healthy. But Cujo soon returned to his night-vomiting ways, and then the Cutlet woke up in the morning with a high fever.

The fever continued for a couple of days, until she woke up from a nap screaming in pain. She complained about a sharp pain in her abdomen, and our first thought was that she was suffering from appendicitis. A visit to the doctor fortunately indicated that the pain was on the wrong side for it to be her appendix. X-rays revealed that the illness had infected her lungs and she was suffering from pneumonia.

Fortunately, she recovered quickly, and seems to be doing much better. Perhaps most importantly, her appetite has returned. The stomach ailments had left her looking alarmingly thin, so it’s reassuring to see her eating again.

We brought Cujo to the doctor since he had developed a cough and skin rash to go along with his vomiting. The initial diagnosis was a series of stomach viruses, but a throat culture revealed that strep throat was the real culprit. We were quite surprised by this news since the rapid test came back negative and he had seemed to be improving.

Thanks to the wonders of modern medicine, everyone seems to be healthy now…but this wouldn’t be the first time I thought that. Considering that the Cutlet starts school today, I certainly hope she’s through with being sick.

Speaking of which, I suppose it was preferable for her to get sick during the summer so that she didn’t have to miss school. But it’s also frustrating to think how much money we’ve wasted on the summer camp over the past few weeks.

The au pair situation looks like it’s heading for a happy ending as well. Our fired au pair was able to find a new family that will hopefully be a better fit. We felt really bad about the whole situation as we liked her personally, and she seemed to do well with the children. Hopefully, the areas where we had problems with won’t be an issue with her new family.

That’s well and good for her, but we were still desperately in need of someone to watch the twins during the day. After a couple of weeks of scouring the database of available au pairs, we found one who seemed promising.

She was also searching for a new family, but her status seemed to be due to her original family not treating her very well. After a few Skype conversations and a little bit of background checking, we decided she was the right au pair for us. And fortunately, she felt the same way. She’ll be joining us midway through September. We hope this works out, because honestly, I’m not sure what we’ll do if she doesn’t.

I’d like to say that we’ve finally seen the light at the end of the tunnel, but after the past two weeks, I think it’s best if I avoid such declarations. After all, you never know when another train is heading your way.

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Parents and Children

A message to my children…

There’s going to come a time – and it will probably be much sooner than I expect – that you’re going to become curious about your father. You may want to find out more about the man you know as “Daddy,” and in your attempt to learn more, you may come across this blog. Hopefully this is one of the first posts you read because it contains a warning:

You don’t have to continue reading.

If you continue to read this blog, you will indeed learn more about me. You may be faced with a realization that I am an actual human being with an identity that doesn’t revolve entirely around raising three children. You may not particularly enjoy this realization, and may come to the conclusion that you liked it better when you knew me only as a father.

I’ll make a confession: Even at the age of 39, I still don’t truly know my own parents as people.  For the most part, I just consider them as “Mom” and “Dad,” and I have come to realize that it was a somewhat conscious decision on my part to keep it that way.

I haven’t remained completely ignorant of who they were. Along the way, I’ve learned things about them, or come to understand some of who they were beyond being parents. But I haven’t wanted to delve any deeper, because I’m not sure what good can really come of it.

As often happens when I become philosophical, I will reference an episode of The Simpsons. In the episode “Lisa the Iconoclast,” the town of Springfield is preparing to celebrate its bicentennial. During the preparations, Lisa discovers that revered town founder Jebediah Springfield was not what most people believed him to be. Instead of a brave and heroic pioneer, he was really a traitorous pirate named Hans Sprungfeld.

Jebediah SpringfieldImage source)

Jebediah Springfield (Image source)

Lisa plans to reveal the truth to the town, but decides against it at the last second. She realizes that the myth of Jebediah Springfield had more value than the truth. Celebrating the idealized version of Springfield made people happy and brought the townspeople together. Revealing the truth would likely ruin that and divide the people, with very little gained.

That’s kind of how I feel about my parents. I may not know everything about them, but I know that they were good parents who provided me with love and support. I had a happy childhood and was given every opportunity to succeed in life. Why would I really want to learn anything that might tarnish those good feelings?  If the truth happened to be that they weren’t as good of people as I believe them to be, what good does it do me to learn that? In this case, I feel ignorance really is bliss.

I understand if my warning hasn’t eliminated your sense of curiosity. The good news is, I don’t have any deep, dark secrets to hide. I may not be perfect, but I don’t think you’ll ever discover anything about you that will make you want to change your name or disavow any knowledge of me.

Also keep in mind that the person I was before I had children is not the same person I am today. The person who wrote this post is not the same person who wrote this, and is certainly not the same person who wrote this.

If you do choose to read on, I just want to make sure you remember one thing: I’ve tried to be a good father, and I love you all very much. You’ll have to decide if that’s all that really matters.

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