My Memories of Robin.

To this day, it’s still a record for me. One that, I feel will never be broken. I remember the first time I went to see Aladdin in the theater. I went once with my dad, once with my mom. They were getting a divorce, and I was six. They took my sister and I each on their own. I went another time that I don’t remember at all. I know though, for certain, I went the the movies three times to see Aladdin. I have never gone to a movie in the theater more since.

I remember two things about that movie. I remember seeing the cave of wonders for the first time and being awestruck. I didn’t expect it. I did expect the second thing I remember. I remember Robin Williams making my sister and I squeal with laughter.

The sequel to Aladdin came out, but I had no interest. I had no interest because some other guy was voicing the genie. It wasn’t Robin Williams. Who was this impostor? I thought. I don’t remember that sequel at all. I do know they made a third movie, and Robin Williams reprised his role as genie. I don’t remember the movie, but that made me happy. Everything was in its rightful place.

For the past day, nothing has been in its rightful place. Robin Williams died, apparently by suicide. For the past day, it has felt like a part of my childhood, and a vital part of my life that used to bring me joy and make me smile had died. It felt like that because that was how important he was to the people who grew up in my generation. I don’t know how he was perceived by younger or older people, all I can attest to is what he did for us.

What he did for us, for me, was bring silly, essential joy. When we were kids he was our cartoons brought to life.  He was an adult that related to us. Made us laugh. Made us laugh in ways no other adult could. Our parents didn’t have that talent. We connected with him in that way, in a way we connect with people very rarely. He was the silly uncle to most of us, the kaleidoscope-voiced genie to all of us.

He taught us to laugh in Aladdin. He taught us to cherish and love everything we could in Jack. He taught us to value what we have in Jumanji. He taught us that, sometimes, love cannot save us always, but everything will still be OK in Mrs. Doubtfire. He, through his movies, taught so many of us as we grew up things we may have never learned on our own.

As we grew, that aspect of us grew as well. That funny shtick faded. We didn’t need that part of him anymore. What we got then was his earnestness. His heart, his center. There are so many times now, looking at his more recent performances, where I see a man who gives me subtlety, but honesty. Sincerity – it’s what we needed the most as we grew older, and he gave that to us.

One of the movies my family and I can sit together and watch, at any time, is The Birdcage. It is the one movie we can all agree upon. It is timeless to us, always makes us howl. It is sweet when it must be, raucous when it wants to be, and always fun. Robin Williams, I hear, tried out for the part Nathan Lane was cast for. I’m glad he played the part he did.

For us, for me, he was perfect when I needed him to be. When I needed him the most. I will miss him.

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LeBron Came Back; So Did Cadence Delicate

On the day when the world was wrapt in coverage of LeBron’s essay and return to Cleveland,

Cadence Delicate completed and released their second album.  

To considerably less acclaim.  

I appreciated LeBron’s essay.  If nothing else, it convinced me of his earnestness to return to Cleveland.  And his willingness to stay this time.  It’s a great story.

And Cadence Delicate’s second album, SUPERMACHINE, is only 7 dollars.  And I’m in the band, and I don’t think it’s so bad.

These two events are clearly related.  I don’t know how yet.  Thank you.

 

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Live Report and Review from the NFL Rookie Symposium in Aurora, OH

Full disclosure:  I live five minutes away from the hotel in which the NFL Rookie Symposium was being held this year.  I live here, and I don’t understand.  Anything about this.

I suppose Aurora put in a bid to host the symposium?  I don’t know.  All I know is I woke up in a fog on Monday before work, like I always do, turned on ESPN, like I unfortunately always do, and saw Aurora, OH.  I thought it was a dream.  Then I thought they were talking about me.  Because, of course they would be.

Then, as I do every day for work, I drove by the hotel it was in.  Only saw a sign that said “Closed for Private Function June BlahBlah – June BlahBlah”.  I guess this was true then.  Kept driving, past the abandoned transmission shop on the left, abandoned amusement park on the right, BMW MOTORCYCLE DEALERSHIP on the left, and blacked out the next 25 minutes until I got to work.

I thought, is the NFL having it here so they can scare the players straight?  As in, if they don’t take this opportunity seriously, they could end up in a place…just…like…THIS??? MWAH HAHAHAHA…

Maybe it was just the bid.  The rest of the week I saw banners for the NFL welcoming the rookies, and nothing else.  No cars dropping anybody off, picking anybody up.  No one outside except for one property security guard, one security guard car, and one guy with a lanyard at a table at the entrance, apparently to check the no people showing up.

But they were there.  And, sadly, I was unable to get an interview.  Yes, unfortunately, I was unable to obtain an interview…with a kid who is at least – at LEAST – five years younger than me, who is about to be a million – at LEAST – times richer than me, at a function I never attended.  

I didn’t get to talk to Johnny Football.  And I am very disheartened by that.

 

And this is, without question, one of the biggest events – if not THE biggest event – ever hosted in Aurora, Ohio history.  Well, unless you count that one time we payed an unthinkable amount of money to Jack Nicklaus to design the private golf course and provide those very rich who attend said golf course the privilege of his twenty minute appearance once every year.  

Yes, either a bunch of twentysomethings about to play professional football, permanently damaging themselves for our entertainment or the greatest golfer ever touching down on a flyby – Aurora, Ohio was the perfect place for the NFL Rookie Symposium.  I hope those kids were properly scared.

 

And I didn’t even get an autograph.

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“Bill Simmons Faces Karmaic Judgement”, or “Hope is Precious in Cleveland”

I was so excited to rub it in his face.  I couldn’t wait to tell him that God may “Hate Cleveland,” but the Sports God hates haters more.  God hates Cleveland, but God knows it’s the owners that are really terrible.  The fans’ hearts are in the right place.  Unlike Philly fans.

I wanted to thank him for his karmaic blessing right before the lottery, trashing the Cavs and their hopes for winning.  And whether or not they actually deserved the top pick.  I wanted to say yeah, the owner of the team is a dolt, and the previous regime was terrible at their jobs.  They don’t deserve any second, or third, or fourth chances to get their team right.  But the fans deserve it.

I would have referenced that old 2007 Sports Illustrated special magazine dedicated to Cleveland, and told him that if he wanted to bring us down again in as easy a fashion as possible, just throw the cover of that edition at us.  I understood where I was coming from, and what this hope I had about all our teams really meant.

But, as you can tell already, this e-mail was going to take too long.  And it was far too serious for sports.  So I didn’t send it to him.  

And he wouldn’t have read it anyway.  

But these are the things that pass as hope in Cleveland sports.  I know I have written before about what a fan cheers for, but it had very little to do with what we define as hope.  Hope to a Cleveland fan is drafting a football player who is popular, who is my size, and who “wants to be here.”  Hope to a Cleveland fan is getting the top pick in an NBA draft lottery that is supposed to be one of the better drafts of the last fifteen years, when we only had a 1.7% chance of getting the pick.

Hope to a Cleveland fan is sweeping a first place Detroit Tigers team to put us only 7.5 games behind them.  In May.

Hope is relative.  As you can see.

And hope comes in small slivers for Cleveland sports fans.  Did I feel like I won the Super Bowl when we drafted Johnny Manziel?  No.  I didn’t feel that the next morning either.  We didn’t win any games at all because of the draft.

But you all saw it.  Well, those of you who watched the NFL draft.  You saw the elation in Berea, where the Cleveland Browns draft party for the fans was happening.  Those people erupted like, I assume, New York Giants fans did when they won one of their two Super Bowls.  Or New England fans.  Or Pittsburgh fans.  None of these fan bases erupted during the draft.  They are beyond that, because they haven’t had to face fifty years of futility.  

We handle hope in small doses because we have those 2007 Sports Illustrateds checkered all over the past fifty years.  50 years.  Hope is dashed so quickly and harshly.  So this week has been a generous week to us.  Will Joel Embiid be the savior of the Cavs fans, or Andrew Wiggins?  Will we make a trade with the top pick so the already embarrassed, shamed fans can grovel in front of LeBron James and kiss his ass just so we can win?  Yikes.

The Indians swept the Detroit Tigers to get some much needed momentum going forward.  If the series ended up the other way?  If we were swept?  I would be as close as I ever had been to closing up shop on an Indians season this early.  

Johnny Manziel.  I don’t know about him, whether or not he will be the answer, but I know it looks like the team as a whole is moving in the right direction, and that is encouraging.  If Jimmy Haslam wasn’t the owner of the Cleveland Browns, we would all want his head.  It’s funny how little cheating millions of honest hardworking americans out of money matters when you want your sports team to win.  

But if he was convicted of whatever fraud he committed.  I don’t want to think about starting from scratch for the third time in five years.  

Yes, sports are trivial, and it was a hope filled week in Cleveland.  I don’t want to go any more in-depth on this because I not only am afraid of what would happen, but I am afraid I am taking this too seriously.

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In Open Defiance, I Ironically Talk About my Father’s Triple Bypass on the Internet

Last Thursday my dad went to the hospital to check on his heart.  He hadn’t been feeling well for the past few months and wanted to know what was going on.

The doctors found several(!) blockages in the arteries surrounding his heart.  They told him he had to stay in the hospital because one of his arteries – not the one that was huge and completely blocked – was so dangerous that he couldn’t leave as a precaution.  He stayed the weekend at the hospital, and is now having a triple bypass to fix the errors(!) of his ways.

I have been calm about this whole situation for its duration.  I have been consistently positive about the situation because I remind myself how much worse it could have been.  We are fortunate the problems he has were found this way, and not some other way(!)…

…and I haven’t really told anyone.  I haven’t really talked to anyone who wouldn’t directly care about the situation until right now.  Well, technically, I still haven’t, considering how many people read this blog.  Ha ha.  

 

And that’s the way I’d like to keep it.

 

From the moment he was admitted to the hospital, my stepmom and sister have been hard at work letting everyone who knows my dad know what is going on.  I suppose that is an important thing to do, and I know he has appreciated all the love and support, including all the people who have come to visit him at the hospital and wish him well.

I was entirely, justifiably, afraid of their potential to get carried away however.  I was afraid of – and fully prepared to become very angry about – my sister posting some very private information very publicly over the internet.  Private information that could be skeeewed - not so subtly – to allow sympathy for someone who doesn’t really deserve it.  Well wishes and prayers for the person who isn’t directly affected.

You know anyone like that?  I do.  And I…don’t like them for it.

So I spent from Thursday to basically Sunday not talking to anyone about it except for Ashley.  Well, Ashley and my sister(!) and stepmom.  I was directly opposed to that “sympathy call” I would be making, so I did the farthest thing from it I could.

I finally called my one friend (who entirely admires and loves my dad) on Sunday to tell him what was going on.  To say he was shocked would be to say I’m not rich.  Did that work?  I don’t know.

He was beyond shocked.  He was almost mortified.  I was fully surprised by this.  He said he wanted to come see my dad, and I told him I’d bring him after the surgery to see him.  He wished my dad well.

Was I wrong about how I felt about this whole thing?  I called another friend on Monday and just threw what was happening with my dad in the conversation.  

More mortification ensued.  He wished him well also.  

Had I been taking this too lightly?  I mean, I’m thankful he’s not dead, that they caught this problem before it was too late!  That’s all I have been is thankful.  I have not been a wreck like my sister, and even when I heard the news I felt less than shock.  I would venture to say I kind of expected it.

So am I thankful they found the problem and are fixing it before something terrible happened?  Yes.  The surgery itself is actually pretty low-risk as well – only about a one percent chance of some serious side effect taking place is possible, considering his youth (he’s sixty)(!).

It is splitting his chest open to work on his heart though.  That is scary.  I was in the shower last night and imagined the same thing happening to me.  Made me a little queasy I must say.

Regardless of the fear, the risk (be it low or high), the situation my dad finds himself in and the emotions swirling around it, I still find myself afraid and angry about someone(s) I know using the situation as a platform to gain personal sympathy.  That is where I am storing most of my anger, and where I am stationing my soapbox at this moment.

And of course my prayers are with my dad at this moment, but I know he’ll be fine.  He doesn’t need my prayers, he needs good doctors – and he’s got that.

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Dad’s Hands

His hands clamped completely over mine. The sheer size of them swallowing mine every time I tried to shake them. Each of his fingers were equal to two of mine. Maybe three.  They were coarse, but gentle.  Like pillows in burlap sacks.  

I was young but I was still strong. I was fast, I was active. I was great at sports.  He was older.

I would try to show him how strong I was, how fast I was.  I would race him to the entrance of the grocery store.  I would always win.  

I know now he would let me win.  I do the same thing now with my young cousins.

I would squeeze his mammoth paw with all my might to show him what a strong handshake I had.  He would tell me good job.  Then he would squeeze just a little.  

His squeeze would get stronger and stronger.  Evenly until I gave up.  I would hold on until I couldn’t take any more and quit.  He could go farther but never would.  He would let go and smile.

His fingers felt like the inside of a blood pressure test machine against my fingers.  It was like experiencing a blood pressure test for the first time, but he could do it to my hand.  My hand that I put all my strength into, every bit I could muster.  He could take all of it, and with an ever so slight of hand return it to me tenfold.  And he could do it so calmly.  So smoothly.  He smiled, and I quit.  He taught me well.

This was twenty years ago.  I am a man now.  I am two feet taller.  One hundred fifty pounds heavier.  I am a man in every sense that word can mean to me.

Now I can beat him in a footrace fairly.  I can hit a golf ball farther than him by at least twenty yards.  I can throw a baseball faster than he ever could.  I can lift more weights than him.  Hell, I can do most anything better now than he can.  I should be able to.  I am twenty eight and he is sixty.

This was months ago now, but I still remember it clearly enough to write about it at this moment.  He was sitting on the couch on a Saturday.  The sun was out and the sky was blue.  There were no clouds.  He was done riding the lawnmower cutting the grass, inside for his two o’clock nap.  Even if he didn’t do any lawn work it was still time for his nap.

I had been waiting twenty years for that moment.  I stepped quietly up to him as if I were sneaking.  I was going to surprise him.  He was laying back.  His eyes were flickering.  His right hand was in the air.  

I reached for it and started to shake it.  Shake it firmly.  He smiled either knowingly or charmingly.  I couldn’t tell, but it made me nervous.  It was a warm smile as if he was just waking from his nap and he hadn’t seen me in years.  I smiled too.  I tried a wry smile.  My fingers were now almost two-thirds the size of his.  

I planted my feet.  Again I began to squeeze.  This time I squeezed with twenty years of built-up reprisal.  Twenty years of long formed man strength.  My extra twenty yards.  My supercharged fastball.  My two hundred pound bench press.  My hands that were now almost the same size.  I squeezed with all my power again.

He never stopped smiling.  He kept the same smile.  

He nodded a little.  He began to squeeze.  

So calmly, so evenly.  So smoothly.  

And again he began to crush my hand.  

I panicked as if I was eight all over again.  I gave up just as quickly.

I smiled and laughed as if I was joking the whole time.  As if I didn’t just try to prove something essential to him only to be rebuffed like a child.  

He smiled as if he knew.  As if he knew I was a now a man, but still and forever his child.  As if he knew I would always be his child no matter what kind of man I became.  As if he knew he would love me no matter how long I tried to beat him.  As if he knew he would always have those hands.  

And he would always squeeze but never crush.

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Why Do You Hate Obama?

I’m about to go to sleep soon.  I have to wake up at 5 to go be terrible at golf.  Before I do that though, I want to go pander to some bloggers.

I didn’t become heated about this just a few minutes ago, but I was thinking about this today, and it is something I have been thinking about for a while.  I’d say about six years.  

And, since this is my blog, and I write about things I think about, I can write about this.

At the place I work, there is a nice older lady who comes in a couple days a week to help us out with various menial labor.  I have never had a problem with her, and she has always been very outgoing and kind to me.  I helped her granddaughter out by buying Girl Scout cookies from her.

There is one standing, well-known rule we have when the other guys I work with and I are around her:  don’t mention Obama.  She hates Obama.

You don’t even have to be a supporter of Obama, or an Obama fan.  I just wonder the same thing we all wonder when someone comes out and says they hate him:  why?

Why do you hate Barack Obama?

Perhaps it’s because he wants to take all your guns away.  Perhaps it’s because he hasn’t created enough jobs.  Perhaps he hasn’t fulfilled all the promises he made when he was campaigning.  Perhaps it’s Obamacare.  

Perhaps there are a lot of other half-baked insane ideas a person can come up with to disguise their anger towards a person that they can’t really explain.  Perhaps you just don’t like the guy.  

It doesn’t bother me whether or not you like or hate the guy – no president has ever been impeached because one person doesn’t like them.  What does bother me is unfounded rage.

I swear I’m not being naive here.  I know what the truth is behind the anger, and that bothers me too.  It scares me to think people like Cliven Bundy get to vote.  It scares me to think 25% of americans believe the sun revolves around the earth, and they get to vote.  It scares me to think some people believe Ukraine is in Iowa, and they have a vote.

It scares me to think that misinformed people believe in misinformed ideas, and they can decide the direction of our nation.

Let’s say Barack Obama actually wanted to take away everyone’s guns (he doesn’t).  Hypothetically, how would he be able to actually pull that off?  Let’s not even get into the notion of whether or not we would be safer against each other and our own government if we didn’t have our guns.  Let’s just stick with the idea of one man, in a government chock full of checks and balances, being able to do whatever he wanted and getting away with it.  It’s not possible…right?

So, guns aren’t going away; nothing will change that (sorry).  Let’s continue with that whole checks and balances thing.  Checks and balances gone awry in our country.  We are so checked and balanced, we cannot get anything done.  Especially in our government.  Without getting long-winded about this partisanship thing, and how to change it or make it different (read: “better”), we all can agree we’re kinda fucked here.  

Did anyone actually think Obama was going to be able to fulfill any of his promises when he first ran for election in 2008?  I mean, I know it’s a dumb question, but honestly.  I certainly didn’t.  I mean, I hoped, but I knew better.  There was no way he would be able to contend with the giant steam engine that is our terrible government.  That didn’t stop me from voting for him.  I appreciated his energy and his belief in trying to make this country better by any means.  

Note – I even liked McCain back then too; before he sold his soul for the Republican nomination I mean.  Would he have been able to make change happen?  Would Mitt have changed the country?  At all??

And how would one man be able to create jobs out of thin air.  Certainly not by lowering taxes on business owners – that would not allow them to hire more people.  Why would they.  I’m trying to talk simply here:  deregulation or tax cuts would not prevent outsourcing or any other form of exploitation (clearly it would have the opposite effect).  Again, simply:  we gotta have some industry to have work to have jobs.  We cannot just create jobs out of thin air.

I just ripped up some paper and threw it on the ground.  You pick it up.  I have created a job for you.  That is one job.  Add it to the imaginary “job creation” tally.

I’m really resisting getting technical here because I want to wrap up before I go to bed and wake up in five hours.  We have no new industry.  We have no new jobs.  We cannot create jobs where none exist.  We have to rebuild this country before we gain dollars and cents.  But that is ridiculous talk.

And obamacare:  I pay more now for healthcare.  Oh no.  But you know what?  My stepmom and dad pay less.  And my dad has to go to the hospital to have his heart checked out this week.  I’m glad to make the sacrifice of a few dollars and cents on my end so the people who really need it can afford it.

It was a simple idea from the beginning:  everyone should be entitled to healthcare.  I know, an awful idea.  We all knew that idea would become twisted and perverted before it ever could come to fruition.  Healthcare companies, lobbyists, people with deep pockets unable to bear seeing those pockets lightened even by a few pennies.  

Everyone should be entitled to healthcare.  It couldn’t be that simple.  No change in this country ever can be.  It will never be simple again.  

 

So why do you hate Barack Obama?

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