Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Darkest Night

My 13-year-old son and I had been talking about the new Batman film for months.
So much so that we had big plans to see the midnight debut last Friday.
Thankfully we didn't.
We could've gone to the Century 16 Theater in Aurora, Colorado.
Thankfully we didn't.
Why we didn't?
That's easy.
The Aurora theater is not our local theater.
Even though it's just 20 minutes from where we live.
But instead of making that drive, it was a whole lot easier to pick one of the theaters closer to our home.
It wasn't until late Thursday afternoon that I decided to put a kibosh on our big plans.
I finally came to the realization that a 45-year-old man and 13-year-old boy wouldn't enjoy a movie that starts at midnight.
As much as we would enjoy the 10:30am show.
The one we ended up seeing.
Not to mention, I wasn't willing to spend $25 to watch him fall asleep ten minutes into a three-hour film.
Now there was a point on Thursday when I did plan on looking into other theaters with cheaper tickets.
Thankfully I got distracted.
And never did.
Because had I checked a little closer I would've seen the Century 16 theater selling tickets at $6.50 a pop.
Far less than what everyone else was charging.
And knowing me, that would've been enough of a reason to give my son a movie experience he would never forget.
Thankfully I didn't.
Thank God I didn't.
What transpired at the Aurora theater last Friday is something that no one could've ever imagined.
Something no one will ever comprehend.
Certainly not my kids.
All three of them.
As you might imagine, the local coverage of the shooting has been wall-to-wall.
There's just no escaping it.
Even sports radio is covering it.
How could they not?
And while you might think a story like this would have the kids running the other way.
For my kids it's had the opposite effect.
They are watching the news.
When they NEVER watched the news.
They are talking about guns.
When they NEVER talked about guns.
They are genuinely scared.
When they were NEVER scared.
I was sitting in my office last night.
Late last night.
Writing this blog.
When my eight-year-old daughter walked in.
In tears.
"I can't sleep dad," she whispered.  
"I'm scared of James Holmes."
I immediately gave her a hug.
Told her that he was in jail.
And made sure she knew there was nothing for her to be scared about..
Then I made a couple of fart jokes.
And that did the trick.
This time.
But the fact that she even knows his name is terrible.
And the fact that she can't sleep because of this despicable excuse of human waste.
That's crushing.
When word first came out that the suspect was a neuroscience major, my 15-year-old daughter was appalled.
She's the brains in the family.
"He is so smart," she said.
"Why didn't he use his brain to cure cancer instead of killing people?"
I didn't have an answer.
Is there an answer?
From the moment we learned of this tragedy I have been up front with the kids.
Answering every question they ask.
Or at least trying to.
And there have been many.
My son and I were back in the theater early Friday morning.
To see that 10:30 showing.
We arrived a little after 10.
Which we never do.
He was wondering if it was safe to go.
That's when I told him the safest day to fly is the day after a plane crash.
I had to say something.
Since we arrived in the theater so early we had plenty of time to talk.
And that's what we did.
We talked.
We talked about Batman.
We talked about where the exit doors were located.
And we talked about what had taken place ten hours earlier.
Just 21 miles away.
Things no 13-year-old should ever have to think about.
And no 15-year-old.
And certainly no eight-year-old.
But instead of pretending that it never happened.
And just flipping on Disney Channel.
I've been just trying to help make some sense of this whole thing.
I just wish someone could explain this all to me.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Death of a Salesman

Penn State didn’t have the book thrown at them on Monday morning.
It was more like the Encyclopedia Britannica.
And it is certain to leave quite the mark on a once storied football program:
  • $60 Million Fine
  • Four-Year Post-Season Ban
  • Lose 40+ Football Scholarships
  • Five years probation
  • All wins vacated 1998-2011
Definitely not in that order.
Let’s be clear here.
The NCAA is sending one giant message.
Joe Paterno is a loser.
Oh sure, all of the other stuff will cripple a football program that was once considered one of the best.
And one of the cleanest.
But the poster-child for these penalties will be one Joseph Vincent Paterno.
And even though he died the winningest coach in college football history.
He won’t rest that way.
History books can be changed.
And Monday morning they were.
111 wins wiped away from Penn State.
111 wins wiped away from Joe Paterno.
And with those wins no longer there, Paterno’s claim to fame is no longer a claim at all.
Joe Paterno is not the winningest coach in college football history.
He is the biggest loser.
The NCAA put the final nail in his coffin on Monday.
Erasing a man’s legacy.
Whatever was left of it.
His alma mater, Brown University, had already taken his name off a prestigious award.
Nike did the same with their child care center.
And after a debate more talked about than health care reform.
Penn State finally decided to tear down a statue of their former leader.
Saddam style.
When we first learned that the NCAA had finally reached a verdict on how they would penalize the university.
The punishment was called “unprecedented.”
Monday morning they didn’t disappoint.
Handing down penalties that will destroy the past, present and most definitely the future of Penn State Football.
The NCAA is sending a message that for 14 years Pennsylvania State University harbored an abuser.
Oh not Jerry Sandusky.
Although he will pay a price too.
A hefty price.
Behind bars.
The message here is that even though the actions of Sandusky are among the most heinous we could imagine.
It was Paterno who committed the ultimate crime.
Looking the other way while his friend was molesting young boys.
Protecting a criminal to avoid bad publicity for his castle.
Pretending there is no fire, while his friend is burning down the lives of dozens of innocent victims.
And when the kitchen got too hot.
Paterno took the easy way out.
He died.
There was some talk that Penn State football might too get the death penalty.
That’s where the school gets banned from competing in a sport for at least one year.
But according to most of the so-called experts, what they got was far worse.
Instead of killing the victim.
The NCAA is letting them suffer.
Sandusky style.
Paterno may no longer be with us, supposedly he’s in a better place.
But anytime his name is mentioned in the future, there will be no mention of anything he’s done on a football field.
No mention of the undefeated season in 1968.
Or 1969.
Or the one in 1973.
Or the one in 1986.
Or the one in 1994.
No mention of the national championship in 1983.
Or the one four years later.
Nobody will remember the 409 wins.

Or the 111 that were taken away.
Joe Paterno will be remembered for one thing.
His biggest loss.
And that’s the way it should be.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012


Jeremy Lin is now a member of the Houston Rockets.

And I couldn't be happier.
As a basketball fan.
As a fantasy basketball owner.
And as a guy who finds it completely impossible to root for the overrated shooting star titled Carmelo Anthony.
There’s never been a player who has accomplished less, by thinking he's more, than Lin's former teammate Carmelo Anthony.
Since joining the Association in 2003, Anthony has been the poster child for that old golf saying:
You drive for show, but you putt for dough.
Despite scoring nearly 16,000 points in the regular season, Carmelo has never been able to win the big one.
Actually he’s never been able to win the little one either.
Sure, he’s made the playoffs every year.
But considering that more than half of the league does that, that’s not really saying much.
And in every one of those years, except one, Carmelo was eliminated in the first round.
In fact, Anthony’s post-season win percentage is the lowest of any NBA player who has ever laced up the sneakers.
Well any player who has played 50 or more playoff games.
But still.
Even with that abysmal record, that hasn’t stopped NBA owners from throwing money at him.
LOTS of money at him.
In 2007, the Denver Nuggets signed Anthony to a five-year $80 million dollar deal.
Anthony rewarded the team by demanding a trade in 2010.
And then again in 2011.
In February of that year, the Nuggets finally gave in.
Shipping Anthony to New York for five guys, three draft picks and a chunk of cash.
Before the ink was dry on the deal, the Knicks rewarded Carmelo with a three-year contract extension.
Worth another $65 million.
Carmelo may not know much about winning in the NBA, but he certainly knows how to get paid.
And maybe that’s what has me so fired up about this story.
When the word came out a few days ago that Houston had offered Lin a three-year deal worth $25 million.
Everybody had an opinion.
Especially Carmelo.
When asked what he thought of the offer, Anthony called it “ridiculous.”
Generous, maybe.
Magnanimous, perhaps.
But ridiculous?
Paying a guy like Anthony who has a whopping 17 playoff wins over nine seasons nearly $22 million a year.
That’s ridiculous.
Paying the most marketable NBA player since Michael Jordan a third of that.
That’s plain brilliant.
The fact that the Knicks didn’t match the Lin offer, or perhaps couldn’t match the offer.
Because they had too much cash locked up in Anthony’s monster contract.
Well, that’s nobody’s fault but the Knicks.
If anything is ridiculous about this situation, it’s the fact that  the Knicks were sitting on a goldmine.
And they flushed it down the sewer.
New York City has the largest Chinese population of any city outside of Asia.
And Jeremy Lin is Chinese.
Holy Gene Rayburn Batman.
We have a match.
Unfortunately the Knicks took that perfect match and lit their franchise on fire.
Don’t blame Jeremy Lin for signing the best deal he could.
And don’t blame the Rockets for giving it to him.
Even if Houston had no idea what they had in Lin when they released him just eight months ago.
Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey tweeted as much back in February:
Daryl Morey@dmorey
@jlin7 Did not know he was this good.  Anyone who says they knew misleading U 
I guess he ran out of characters.
But the point was well taken.
Jeremy Lin came out of nowhere.
Well, he came out of Harvard.
Which in the NBA, is out of nowhere.
And the fact that he’s an Asian point guard.

Well, that really stacked the odds against him.
But during the 25 starts he made with the Knicks this past season, Lin showed that he can really play in this league.
Like February 4th.
When he scored 25 points off the bench to beat the Nets.
Or February 6th.
When he had 28 points and eight assists to beat the Jazz.
Or February 8th.
When he had 23 and 10 in a win against Washington.

Or February 10.
When he dropped 38 on Kobe Bryant and the Lakers.
Or February 11.
When he put up 20 and eight against Minnesota.
Or February 14.
When he had 27 and 11 in Toronto, including a buzzer-beating three-point shot to win it.
Or February 15.
When he put up a career-high 13 assists to beat Sacramento.
Seven straight wins.
Six of which were without Anthony.
Who was nursing a “lingering groin injury.”
And when Anthony did come back.
The team lost eight out of 10.
Including six straight at one point.
I think not.
Now only time will tell if Jeremy Lin can recapture the magic that swept through New York five months ago.
The Linsanity, if you will.
But the bottom line for me is that Jeremy Lin is everything that is right about sports.
While Carmelo Anthony is everything that is wrong.
And anybody who says anything different, is just plain ridiculous.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Baby On Board

Where was I...
Oh yeah, my wife is pregnant.
Very pregnant.
32 weeks pregnant.
We go by weeks now.
But considering what it’s taken to get here, it’s more like day-to-day.
At the ripe old age of 42, getting pregnant is the last thing my wife expected.
Definitely not the last thing she wanted.
But after driving down this road many times, the only thing she could see was a dead end.
But for a reason way beyond us, this time it has worked.
There’s no explaining why it worked.
And considering it took me two tries to barely pass biology.
I’m definitely not the one to do the explaining.
I’ve left that part to the doctors.
And we saw plenty of them.
Including one of those reproductive specialists.
Dr. Bush.
(That still makes me laugh.)
(Come on, a reproductive doctor named Dr. Bush?)
Visit after visit.
We learned pretty much nothing about why.
Or in our case why not.
What I did learn is that doctors make my wife nervous.
So nervous, she makes up words.
Like, “examinating.”
Examine, that’s a word.
Examinating, not so much.
And she’s got a Master’s degree.

My wife and I are the proud parents of three children.
Three healthy, happy children.
We are blessed beyond belief.
But like Dick Van Patten, three was not enough for us.

We’d been trying for seven years to bring another member to this family.
Which may sound like fun to a horny teenager.
But it’s no fun when you are 44.
No fun for me.
Hell for my wife.
Maybe it’s a male/female thing.
Maybe it’s more than that.
My wife and I are very different.
And that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
I come from an extremely small family.
Both my mother and my father had no brothers.
And no sisters.
I have spent most of my life calling people Uncle and Aunt.
Even though we didn’t share the same blood.
My wife has a much bigger pool to pull from.
A brother and a sister.
Nieces and nephews.
Uncles and Aunts.
Real ones.
Cousins and more cousins.
But that’s hardly the only difference between us.
She was born in South Korea.
I was born in San Diego.
She was raised Catholic.
I am was raised Jewish.
Very Jewish.
She moved to the United States when she was three so that her parents could chase the the American dream.
My father was the first person to earn a ring from both the World Series AND Super Bowl.
Not bad for a 5-foot-9 white guy from Jersey City.
My wife and I met in college.
We were actually friends years before she fell in love with me.
What a concept.
We dated for a few years.
I proposed.
We got married.
We moved cross country for my job.
Did I leave out any details?
Maybe a few, but keep reading.
The year was 1997 and my wife and I decided that we were ready to start a family.
Three years after we got married.
I was approaching 30.   She had just turned 27.
On a Saturday morning we announced to the baby doctor that we were hoping to get pregnant.
Moments later the doc announced to us that we already were.

Wow, that doctor works fast.
We had no idea when we sat down in the office that nature had already taken its course.
But with a little test in a cup, we got the very exciting news.
40 or so weeks later, give or take, our little girl arrived.
It was a very normal pregnancy.
As pregnancies go.
The little guy was pretty much no different.
We met him 21 months later.
By that point we figured that getting pregnant was not only fun.
But easy.
So we tried again.
And again.
And again.
A couple of times it actually worked.
And then it didn’t.
Only my therapist gets those details.
But the bottom line is we had come to grips that if a pair was good enough for Noah.
It had to be good for us. 
Little did we know that in the fall of 2003, we’d turn that pair into three-of-a-kind.
Another beautiful baby girl.
Born in October of that year.
And funny too.
There wasn’t a day during that pregnancy that any of us took anything for granted.
I think we spent more time in the doctor’s office than Cliff Huxtable.
But the end result was a healthy child.
And that was all that mattered.
We knew for sure that she would be it for us.
Until now.
I’m not sure my wife really believed it when the test came back positive.
But with something the size of a basketball now sitting under her shirt, she’s a believer now.
And we couldn’t be more excited.
We, meaning my wife and I.
Our three other kids.... well, that’s been a work in progress.
Oh, don’t get me wrong, they are excited.
But each of them had a very different reaction when they first heard the news.
The youngest, eight.
Of course she was sold right away.
So happy about “the gift in mommy’s tummy.”
She credits Santa Claus.
As she should.
The boy, 13.
He was disgusted upon hearing the news.
After all, it was just a year earlier that his principal gave his class “The Talk.”

Yes, THAT talk.
And he had a hard time digesting that his parents were involved in such debauchery. 
Then there was our oldest.
The 15-year-old girl.
She was terrified.
Terrified that when this thing comes out.
And she has to take it to the grocery store.
Somebody might actually think it is hers.
Thanks MTV!
But even with the early hiccups, everyone is on board now.
We even have the crib.
Courtesy of some friends who don’t plan on getting pregnant at 42.
With a couple of months still to go, we are still taking it day-by-day.
But those days seems to be moving a lot faster now.