Monday, December 28, 2015

Christmas in the JMR Household 2015!

It's that time of year again.  Time for the annual (or semiannual) Christmas Journal featuring C, G and DLG.  It was a banner year in the JMR household as I think we got presents that all three of them enjoyed and actually smiled about.  Usually our Christmases feature complaining, whining and general unhappiness at the prizes that we get for the kids, but this year things were different.  And I only had to go to sleep at 1:00am in the morning to put everything together.

Presents for all 3.  It was Santa's turn to take a front seat this year.  The presents that Santa brought for all three kids were pretty good if not size appropriate.  A ping pong table that was too big and a table pool set that was too small.  Their Mom thought that the ping pong table would fit where she thought it would (I measured the table and it fit!), but she didn't measure around the table to make sure that humans could fit around the table.  So far, I just have a couple of bruised fingers from banging my hand into the wall making a shot. Despite our obligatory fight during the set up process we all enjoyed the game on Christmas day.  Everyone got to play the game. 

But the real winner was the table top pool table.  The fraction of the size of an actual table, with balls the fraction of the size, the table made me laugh in a pathetic way.  I felt sorry for the table as it was destined to take its place in the trash within 6 months.  But it was actually a bigger hit than the ping pong table.  My bad back and visions of balls bouncing out of the corners demonstrate how much DLG loved the game.  Although I was down and out for the two of the three days with the stomach flu, I was still able to play 15 games with her.  Maybe 20.  I don't remember.

C.  Of course he got sneakers and Vineyard Vines clothing from Mom and Dad.  The real win was the TV for his room.  And of course, Comcast can come the next day to hook everything up.  I just need to get rid of our subscription to HBO and Cinemax.

G.  Despite warnings of fires and falls, the hover board was an inevitable choice for G.  Starting on September 1, the echoes of getting this fire trap for him was constantly heard in the JMR house hold.  Despite its cost (Grandma shared in the cost, to our delight).  We of course got the thing for him.  It matched his sneakers and his clothes.  Hopefully Mom won't try to ride it again as I think she sustained a concussion on her first attempt to ride it.  She may have fractured her arm too.

DLG.  Although she did not get a spectacular one gift, she did get this cool robot that dances and moves around with a phone app.  Only a year or so before she starts demanding a phone, I suspect.  The funniest thing was that every time it lost its balance, it made this sound of "Uh oh!" Like a funny child.  A telescope was also hers, although I do not plan to watch the stars in the sky with 30 mph winds shipping across our backyards.  Maybe in the summer sweetheart.  Clothes were hers to have as well.

LC.  I ended up getting Mom tickets to see Adele in September.  Although she was excited by the tickets, I think she was more excited by the prospect of selling the tickets to some schmuck for 4 times face value.  Hey, it would save me from hearing "Hello" for the 7 millionth time.

Yours truly got a beer making kit.  It had been 15 years since I last made beer.  Imperial Stout for all when it's ready.

Maybe, I'll age it until next Christmas.

photo courtesy of Mashable

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Is Odell Beckham Jr to Blame for His Hysteria?

It all started with a take down by Josh Norman.  Or maybe it started with that black bat that the Panthers bring on to the field pregame to intimidate the opposition (er I mean honor a fallen teammate).  Maybe it started with the homophobic slurs that the Panthers allegedly lobbed Beckham's way before the game.  Maybe it all started with that "Catch" last year.

When I would throw the football around with C, G or DLG, all three of them have at one time or another asked me to throw them an "Odell."  What is an Odell, you ask?  It is a pass that makes the receiver contort and catch the ball over his head while falling backward.  It is a pass that I have had to throw so many times that my arm hurts.  Hey I get it.  Odell Beckham Jr. made one of the most famous catches in football history and ever since that catch has become bigger than the game.  I am reading that after Tom Brady, the biggest selling jersey in the Boston area is Beckham's Number 13.


With that as a back drop, I can imagine a cornerback like Josh Norman, viewed as one of the cornerbacks in the game, taking umbrage at Beckham's notoriety.  His thought process is that someone like Beckham, who is as brash as his skill should dictate, will not be a factor in the game.  One way to a take a receiver out of his game is to physically dominate him and mentally take him out of his game.  It takes a certain type to be WR in the NFL, and one of the stereo types is that they are soft and diva like - right Dez and TO?  Further, team's philosophies are often dominated on a game-to-game basis by the belief that you don't let a team's best player beat you.  Eli Manning is shaking his head at that thought somewhere - why aren't they trying to take me out?

On one of the first plays of the game, Norman immediately started with the physical confrontation to take Beckham out of his game.  Couple that with the "where there's smoke, there's fire" belief that the Panthers were taunting Beckham before the game even started and you had the makings of a diva-like split from reality.  It has happened to Britney Spears, Whitney Houston and to Mariah Carey.  If the stress becomes too much, the diva loses his or her shit.  And that's what happened here. 

Beckham, frustrated by his play and by the dominating defense, snapped.  Punches were thrown and Beckham speared Norman in a blatant escape from reality.  He wanted to hurt Norman and that was his response.  Should Beckham be suspended?  Yes.  Should he have been thrown out of the game?  Yes. But can you blame him?  No.  When you are a diva, when you have kids emulating you day after day, you start to believe that no one can touch you.  But Beckham is not talking to his cleaning staff or his producer.  He is taking this attitude out on the field with tough guys who don't mind hurting colleagues to gain an edge.  Guys with egos the size of New York.  I'm just surprised it didn't happen earlier.

Ultimately, everything will be alright.  Beckham will apologize (or not) and we will all go on until the next controversy comes along.  Meanwhile, I will ice my arm getting ready to throw some more passes over my kids' heads.

Incidentally, C on our way home from basketball practice tonight, out of the blue tells me "Josh Norman is jerk. He should get suspended.  Beckham didn't do anything!"

All divas have their fans...

photo courtesy of

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Punta Cana Dreaming With Jose, Drake and Anibal

Punta Cana, Dominican Republic.

Our first vacation in almost a year!  Not since our adventure to Disney World in December 2012 had we actually flown anywhere on vacation.  LC and I both were thinking somewhere warm - and despite our original thoughts of the Turks and Caicos or the Bahamas; but we ultimately decided on the Dominican Republic - Punta Cana to be exact.  While the weather was basically the same, the price was a fraction of the cost of Atlantis or the Turks and Caicos.  It was a non-decision to me.  On to the DR we go!

San Pedro de Macoris anyone?

Saturday.  We arrive late afternoon after perhaps one of the most harrowing tax rides I have ever taken.  Swerving into oncoming traffic? Check.  Dodging mopeds going the wrong way? Check.  Indiscriminate passing and light flashing? Check!  LC and I were holding on to dear life barely noticing that we drove by a hard Rock and the Coco Bongo Circus nightclub.  Forget about the fact that our ride from the airport was life altering, the attention on check in made up for it.  I was half expecting someone to try and sell me a time share or a condominium, but instead we got hit with a bunch of deals and gold keys from our on-site concierge.  I thought this was all-inclusive?  Well to a point.  Dinner on the beach, you must pay.  Leave the grounds, you must pay.  After we get to our room, weary from our travels, we go to the steakhouse for a late dinner.  By the time we get out of there, we are all exhausted and crash in the rooms.

Sunday.  The kids immediately go to the Core Zone, or the Sports zone.  That is when we first meet Drake, who is a friendly guy that takes an immediately liking to C and G.  Saddled with Ping Pong, Pool, Archery, Foosball and basketball, we leave them to get some time in at the beach.  Although we are bombarded by guys trying to sell us crap, the beach is beautiful despite the warnings of rampant seaweed.  I hang out with LC and DLG biding time until the sports bar opens for football.  Free drinks and football?  Count me in.  When I arrive, I am already a couple of drinks in and I proceed to have a couple of more drinks.  I make some friends with guys from Chicago and Denver but ultimately leave a little "loaded." So loaded, unfortunately, that I fall asleep during the magic show later that night.  We eat lunch, have drinks at the preferred club and dinner at the Hibachi, pan Asian restaurant. A lot of fun was had by everyone, especially as a result of the guy who named himself "Super Waiter."  We watch (and when I say watch, make fun of) some salsa dancers at the outdoor bar.  OK, then.

Monday.  Rinse and Repeat.  Breakfast at the buffet, lunch at the buffet and drinks at the preferred club.  Instead of the beach, we head to the pool.  And instead of Asian Food though, we get some Italian food and are treated to one of the nicest guys we run into - Jose.  Perhaps one of the most attentive guys ever to help us out. Shortly thereafter, we watch the Patriots on Monday Night Football on a big screen at the beach.  We also found out exactly how many New Englanders there are at this resort.  There are about 100 people of the beach with us.  Maybe they were there for the nachos and hot dogs?  Who says this isn't Americanized for crying aloud!

Tuesday.  More beach, more pool, more sports zone and more buffets.  The kids are having a blast, playing in the kids zone (for DLG) and the Sportszone (for C and G).  So much so that LC and I try to get away to have a night to ourselves.  Even though the sickness is starting to take hold of my insides, we spend some time with Anibal at the Preferred Club and we take a stroll around the various bars and restaurants.  We come back and watch the kids play pool and ping pong, even partaking and showing off our respective skills.  It was a great night.

Wednesday.  More pool.  Forgetting about the guy who was pissed at us for taking his reserved lounge chairs, we had a great time going to the buffets and to the Sportszone.  I talk to Ramon, Drake's sidekick and the overall theme was that the kids made things interesting.  The best part was the garbage/septic smell that always permeated that area took the emphasis off of our own children who thought swimming in a pool was the same as showering.  While I tried to rally to go to the Hibachi and the circus show, things were not working out for me.  The kids seemed to love everything about the Hibachi.

Thursday.  Although it was our last day and it was Thanksgiving, we still enjoyed ourselves at the beach and buffets (who knew?).  We also were able to watch a borderline offensive show where staff dressed up as turkeys, pilgrims, chefs and Indians and everyone was chasing the Turkey around.  Huh?  After that though, we said goodbye to Superwaiter, Ramon, Anibal and Drake (who according to his Instagram is actually named Jesus), and started our slow journey back to the States.  Even C was sad to leave.  Never mind LC, DLG and G.  I was also sad to leave but also grateful to have an opportunity to get some drugs to fight off the "Revenge."

Although we are back home, the memories of that trip will always be with us.  Just don't drink the water, or eat the ice cubes or have undercooked food...