Preparing for My High School Reunion

My high school class is holding its 20th year reunion this Saturday. When I first heard about it, I didn’t know if I would attend. Beyond the logistics – which haven’t been easy to figure out – I wasn’t entirely sure I really wanted to reunite with people from high school. As I’ve written before, there are a variety of reasons why I feel somewhat uncomfortable seeing people from high school.

The reunion will assuredly be exactly like this movie which I never saw (Image source)

The reunion will assuredly be exactly like this movie which I never saw (Image source)

The last time I attended a reunion was fifteen years ago, and I was underwhelmed by the experience. At that point, not much had changed for most of my classmates; Everyone was only a year out of college and either attending graduate school or just starting a career. By the end of the night, I found myself mostly congregating with the same people who I had hung out with during my school days.

But I didn’t want to let past regrets keep me from enjoying new experiences. And since – Facebook aside – I don’t regularly keep in touch with people from high school, I figure this will be a great chance to reinvent myself.

You may wonder why I want to reinvent myself. After all, I certainly don’t have anything to be ashamed about in my current life. I have a wonderful family, have a good job, and thanks to my youthful appearance, I probably look better than most of the people who will be in attendance.

On the other hand, my list of accomplishments is missing a “wow” factor. I need something to brag about that will make people say, “We really misjudged you in high school. We should have realized what an awesome guy you were and given you the proper respect and adulation.” So it looks like I’m going to have to make some stuff up.

The presence of Facebook makes this a little trickier. I count a few high school classmates among my Facebook friends, so if I make any claims that are too outlandish, people will be able to easily call me out. (I also realize that some people attending the reunion may be reading this post. If so, I ask you to be cool and just go along with it!)

At first, I was going to pretend that I helped invent a famous website or app, but I realized that I’d need to do some research on the app in question. Inevitably, one of my “techier” classmates would ask some sort of question which I wouldn’t be able to answer, and the ruse would be up. I also considered saying I was a YouTube celebrity, but I assume that everyone will have a smartphone, and would quickly be able to uncover my deception.

Ultimately, I decided that the best way to impress these people was to claim that I had sex with a celebrity.

I can picture it now: Everyone is talking, and a few people have mentioned some of the interesting things they’ve done or accomplished. And that’s when I would cut in by saying, “Ha ha, yeah. That was a terrific story, but would you like to hear about the time I had intercourse with a famous person?” I imagine I would instantly become the most interesting person in the room.

I consulted with a few friends to figure out what celebrity would be the best name to use. Here were some names suggested and why I didn’t think they’d work:

Minka Kelly – Way out of my league. Maybe if I was a bad boy (with a heart of gold!) football player like Tim Riggins, I’d have a chance, but in real life? No way.

Kristen Stewart – While believable in terms of acheivability, she’s too young. I’ve been married for nine(!) years which means that unless I was unfaithful to my wife, this encounter would have had to happen before 2007 when K-Stew was only 17. I want to impress these people, and I don’t think they’d be very impressed by either an adulterer or a pedophile.

Alison Pill – She’s a hit on the age and level of attractiveness, but I don’t think enough people have heard of her. It lessens the impact if everyone has to check Wikipedia just to figure out who I’m talking about.

Lindsay Lohan – Too obvious.

Brittany Murphy – She’s the right age, and seems JUST around the right level of attractiveness. Unfortunately, she’s deceased, and it would seem wrong to speak ill of the dead in such a manner.

Yeah, I might have a chance. (Image source)

Yeah, I might have a chance. (Image source)

Finally, I settled on Anna Faris. She’s the right age, and while she’s an attractive lady, she’s not so hot as to be unbelievable. Plus, she wasn’t that famous back in the early 2000’s, so maybe she felt like slumming one night?

I’m sure that once people hear about my tryst with Anna, they will be super impressed with me. In fact, I’ll probably be the hero of the reunion!

And if any of my classmates are reading this, once more, I ask you to be cool. If you can keep your mouth shut, I’ll make sure to acknowledge your presence, and allow you to bask in the reflective glow of my greatness.

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Seasons Change, Eras End

Time passes, seasons change, and the years roll on. My Jewish readers surely know that Rosh Hashanah began last night, which means that a new year of the Hebrew calendar has begun. (Happy new year to you all!) Marking the end of another sort of year, yesterday was also the end of the Major League Baseball regular season.

Baseball’s Opening Day often brings a sense of optimism. No matter how bleak your team’s chances appear, it’s tough to not get at least a little excited when the start of the season rolls around. Opening Day is also a sign that Spring has arrived, and that warmer weather is likely soon on its way.

Before you know it, the calendar has switched to October. The baseball season is over, and you’re left with a much different feeling. Unless you’re a lucky fan of a team that has qualified for the postseason (and the Phillies most assuredly did not), you’re faced with the reality that you won’t have a real rooting interest in a baseball game for another six months. And much like Opening Day heralds nicer weather, the season finale often brings colder, Fall weather with it.

Yesterday’s game was sadder than most season finales, as it was almost assuredly Ryan Howard’s final game in a Phillies uniform. Howard is one of the greatest players in Phillies history, as he ranks second in all-time home runs and he’s also near the top of the leader board in several other offensive categories.

Ten years ago, Howard was wrapping up perhaps the greatest single season ever by a Phillies’ hitter. He hit a team-record 58 home runs and won the MVP award. Although the Phillies missed the postseason for the 12th straight season in 2006, thanks largely to Howard, that streak would be broken the following year.

The Phillies would win the National League East for five straight seasons, and that stretch included two National League titles and one World Series championship. While those teams had plenty of great players, I always felt that Howard was the key to their offense. When he was hitting the ball well, the Phillies were the most dangerous offensive team in the league.

In his prime, Howard would periodically go on extremely hot streaks, and during those times, you never wanted to miss an at bat. Every time he came to the plate, you felt like a home run was imminent.

In 2009, I was walking through a shopping mall, and came across a television showing that afternoon’s game. I saw that Howard was due to come to the plate, and I remarked to another man watching the game that Howard was going to hit a home run. Sure enough, Howard sent a ball into the stands, and I exchanged an enthusiastic high five with my fellow game watcher.

Sadly, thanks to an injury to his Achilles tendon suffered in the 2011 playoffs, Howard’s play dropped off dramatically in the following years. He has spent a lot of time on the disabled list, and his production has been greatly reduced when he was able to play. Sure, there was the occasional hot streak, but his at bats were no longer “must watches.” It isn’t a coincidence that the Phillies haven’t been back to the playoffs in the five years since.

Howard’s contract is now up, and he will attempt to revive his career with another team. He was the last remaining member of the 2008 World Championship team, and with his departure, that era of greatness is truly over.

But enough dwelling on the past. As mentioned, today is the start of a new year, and with it, I have a renewed sense of optimism. Perhaps the next baseball season will be the one where the Phillies find their next superstar and the next era of greatness can finally begin.

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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!

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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.

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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.)–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.–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.—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:—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.–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.

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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.



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.

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