Tuesday, October 6, 2015

And Then Everything Changed for the Monster

Everything Is About to Change...

So for my son, Grennan the Green Monster, everything has changed.

After we returned from Germany in early September, where the kids had been invited to perform on a German television show, his mother and I decided we were no longer happy with the all-boys school he has been attending the past seven years. This was not an easy decision for us - but extenuating circumstances forced us to make a move - and so we did.

For the first time, our son is attending a mix-gender school that does not require uniforms!

No, this is not the first time he has dealt with females in his life. Just because he went to an all-boys school does not mean he has not had contact with the opposite sex! With my kids' religious studies classes & swim team, along our shows and travels all over the country and world, neither of them is missing out on any human interaction.

Last year, my son even invited a couple of young ladies from his religion class to come to his big birthday/end of the school year bash at our house. I know some of you were asking how it went -- unfortunately, the ladies had soccer games and did not come. Sometimes I think soccer is what is ruining most young people's social interactions these days...

It is true that my son did tell a girl that he liked her. And she, in turn, told him that she liked him. It happened on July 4th during the fireworks display. Then after confessing their feelings for each other, they just stood side by side and watched the explosions. Kind of brought a tear to my eye...

What? Oh... yes, in case you were wondering, he and the young lady are not "dating" or "hanging out," "chilling with Netflix" or anything of that sort. They like each other - are friends - and do end up in the same place at the same time with each other... Where I keep a close eye on them!

BUT now my son was off to his first day at the new school... dressed to impress (see picture above)... and a little nervous about how it was going to go. His mother and I, plus his grandparents, all accompanied him to the new school, met with the principal, and even walked upstairs to see his classroom. Again, he was nervous, but in pretty good spirits. So were all of us!

THEN I looked into his classroom - and immediately saw her: a cute girl with green hair sitting in one of the seats.

I told his mom, I was like, "this is it." She did not notice the girl - but I sure did. And, sure enough, as soon as he arrived home and we asked how school was... Guess what? He could only talk about the green-haired girl in his class.

Oh, man.

Since the first day, it has only escalated. At one point our son proudly told us how he had been invited to join an all-girl group at recess (led by the green-haired girl). He said he was their new "Manscot." His mother was like, "I don't know what that means."

I was like, "I know EXACTLY what that means."

As the stories continued over the next week, and it was revealed that the girl had made my son her "robot protector" and had a "remote control" for his actions I finally had to pull him aside and tell him an inherent truth: "It's a slippery slope, kid. A slippery slope."

Next thing you know, you're wearing silly hats...

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Do NOT Move Out of the Way


Moral of the story:  wear comfortable shoes, square your shoulders, and walk live you've been sent to kill Captain America. 

I saw this post a while ago and it really connected with me. Connected with how we are trying to raise our daughter. 

Because we are raising our daughter to NOT step out of the way. Of anyone or anything. Teaching her to be badass. 

A comment I saw from a young woman who "walks like The Winter Soldier," especially caught my attention. That is how my daughter will walk. And fight. 

This is what she thinks of you, person who may potentially put her down. 

Friday, June 5, 2015

It Is Not As "Easy As All" That In Rape Culture

Note to self: I AM the princess...

Did I really NEVER write a post in May?!?! What the heck is wrong with me!?

Oh, right. My calendar exploded. I have been having a HUGE amount of issues with my electronics (seriously. my email accounts have ALL been totally screwed.). And travel... lots of travel.

One of my travels was to my beloved New Orleans to appear in a show there: "Storyville Rising." Sorry, I do not really have any pictures from it. but trust me: I was AMAZING!

Honestly, how could I not be?
A few days before I left, my baby mama and I were having some dealings with our son's school - which became an involved process of calling the principal, then the superintendent, then the school board, then the janitorial services department... and so on and so forth. Trying to get a lot of issues we have noticed nailed down. One of the issues is that there have not been enough substitute teachers. Now, this is something I had tried to get signed in to do at the beginning of the school year (I have some experience at it), but there were all these certifications needed by the school system, and I was like "screw this nonsense," and it never went anywhere. BUT, apparently, a few months ago system began outsourcing substitute hiring to an outside company -- and so we signed up! Which led to a conversation with a young lady at that office, which led to this:

We told her, "Hey! There is this great restaurant our friend owns just down the street from this office. You should go there for lunch."

To which she replied, "I don't like to leave the office because sometimes  men follow me down the street trying to talk to me."

We were astounded. She would not walk one block to a restaurant on the chance that she might get catcalled?! Especially in our crappy little "city" - if you can really call it that... less than 155,000 people. How can it possibly be that bad?!

My girl, of course, gets approached all the time. She is generally amused by the horrid attempts to engage her in conversation (with guys yelling their telephone number at her, asking her if she has a man, complimenting her butt, that kind of thing... honestly, dude - why do you think that's going to work?), . My girl is not afraid to say "thanks but, no thanks." And when they start getting vulgar, or try to push it too far, she is really quick to shut them down. Hard, if need be.

“Do you talk to your mother like that?!”

Basically, publicly shaming the guy. All based on the idea that a bully, if confronted fearlessly, will inevitably retreat.

Cut to a few days later, I am in now New Orleans and around the breakfast table with three spectacular female burlesque performers and the discussion becomes about the nature of sexuality, sex work, performance, etc. (the show we are doing, Storyville Rising, is an immersive production set in a brothel in the infamous Storyville area of New Orleans, where prostitution and other acts were made legal for a time). I tell these ladies the story above, how my girl handles cat callers, and about how I hope to teach my own children to be strong and to handle bullying.

But instead of the approval I expect to receive, I am met by stony silence.

(uncomfortable silence)

So – what else could I do – I asked the ladies to enlighten me about what is wrong with my thought process about it. And I am glad that I did.

During the stories that followed of cat-callers not "getting the hint," and proceeding to follow, harass, and inevitably threaten these young ladies -- sometimes in full view of other members of the public who did nothing to step in (even with words) and stop it -- but, worse, often when no one was around... the threatening behaviors escalating while these women feared for their health, safety, and lives. It made me mad. It made me want to find everyone of these guys and bust their heads. 

As I was listening to these stories, I realized several times that I wanted to interject several times with my opinions -- which made me have to face a truth: I am just as infected with the white man's privilege as any other guy (luckily, I was smart enough to keep it shut). As you may have realized from the photos above, I am pretty pale, no matter what my ancestry may include. "The complexion for protection," is what I have been told it is. I am also pretty burly, and a trained fighter (so is my girl - she served in the military, and is pretty tough for being such a delicate flower).

One delightful lass from Ireland – who I just find so adorable that I could spread her on toast and eat her (which… now that I say that… seems kind of rape-y. ug.) said that she has never seen harassment like this in Ireland. Mostly, she felt, because Irish boys are raised to be more polite AND because Ireland just isn’t that big. So everyone sort of knows everyone, or at least knows someone of your family. Bad behaviors are going to get back to your granny eventually…

Her idea (and it is genius) is that when someone yells their digits at you, remember & memorize those digits!  THEN let her know them and she will call that person up as your elderly Irish granny (thick accent and everything) to interrogate that person as only your old granny can about their intentions to “court” you.

She had us rolling on the floor.

Afterward, though, as I bicycled around New Orleans a little bit, I really took some time to evaluate my general opinions... really measuring what my feelings were, as opposed to the hard information I got from other people. Their experiences, compared & contrasted with my own. Their feelings, compared & contrasted with my own. It helped that soon afterward, one of my friends shared this link to the Gentlemen's Guide to Rape Culture:

Written by a man, it explores a variety of issues and is a good read. As I read it, though, I was like, "is this how it really is...? "What the hell...?!" And then I have to wonder - am I that much of an a-hole as well?? I am trying to teach my kids important stuff: I do not want my son to be an a-hole. I want him to be respectful of women, willing to stand up for what's right, and to treat everyone fair & equally no matter what. I want my daughter to be strong. Demand equal treatment in all ways, and also to stand up for what is right... and not just what is right - but to have NO FEAR and to STAND UP FOR HERSELF AGAINST ANY AND ALL COMERS.

She better become an MMA fighter.

Though she'd rather be a Luchadore.

So I was upset. I really had to reevaluate. Luckily, the friend who posted this article was also kind enough - in between agreeing that I can be an a-hole at times - to point out that because of what I do and where I come from (in life... not geographically), I am a little more understanding of the dangers and empathetic to the plight of others.

But, my feelings of fighting fire with fire is not a feeling everyone else has... that Irish lass described me at one point when I was telling stories about my travel abroad as "a typical ugly American." That kinda made me sad to think I may, indeed, be that.

I have been talking with a number of friends about the whys and wherefores of "rape culture," and there is one thing that keeps coming up. So many of the messages that are foisted upon women can be summed up as: "you need to be afraid." Afraid to report assaults & harassment, because you will not be believed. Afraid to fight back in any way, because you will be judged by others. Afraid to stand up for yourself, because no one will back you up. Afraid of every man, because he is probably a rapist. And, god forbid, if you find yourself being raped - just go along with it, let him do whatever he wants... just try to come out of it alive (better just a rape than a murder). Accept your position as a victim of rape, violence, and harassment.

This is, to my mind, the absolute worst of the advice. Ever.

The lesson to my children is and always will be: Better to die on your feet than live on your knees. If that is what, in the end, makes me an outlaw - and, in turn, my children & family outlaws as well... then so be it.

We do not reject the law - but we understand that we are forced to live outside of it, because it is wrong. We must do what we can at any and all times to try and change it.

Now, my baby mama did substitute teach several times during the last couple weeks of school. Within the first day or two, a 6-year-old first grade boy called her a "bitch," and told her she could not tell him what to do. 

How did she handle it?

She called security the moment he started being defiant - and once the word bitch left his pie-hole, she was like, "I'm calling your mom." Additionally, she did the school equivalent of "pressing charges" against him. Got him kicked out of school for a couple days. To which I say, GOOD! But she said the kid's mother did not apologize for her son's behavior or anything. Basically just said, "Oh well." 

And that is the real problem in the situation - no discipline in the home.

Let me share this link with you: it is to a video of a father dealing with his 18-year-old son who he caught smoking pot in the house. Son tried to "step up" to his dad and throw down on him. And, obviously, his dad had no choice to but to teach him some respect:  https://www.facebook.com/burtrell/videos/vb.717474509/10153386632054510/?type=2&theater

NOTE:  I do not condone violence except as a last resort!! But that kid had plenty of chances to run away or fight back (since that is, apparently, what he wanted to do in the first place). And once he sat down, that was it. Not one more punch thrown (plus, his dad never kicked him, locked him up, choked him, or anything - this was a man-to-man, one-on-one fair fight in every sense of the word). I found it interesting in the comments how it split evenly between those who were like "kid got what he deserved," and how many were like "violence is never the answer." THAT latter attitude while, in theory, is great - when you come down to it, and you have tried everything else, violence may be the answer.

Teach your children, teach yourself:  Be strong. Stand up. Never be afraid to fight. Always fight back.

I'm gonna put your dick in the dirt... (photo by Dark Mannequin Designs)

Monday, April 27, 2015

Once You Fall Off --


Monday means blog entry. 

Even though I am on the road (again) and swamped with stuff - I gotta keep up on this!

This morning I found out a good friend of mine and his wife got divorced last year. It is pretty sad news - they seemed so happy! I do not know - or even presume to know - what happened. I know they moved far away to be close to her family; and I am sure there was a lot of culture shock in living in a new place, and her having her family around more - those are the kinds of things that change relationships. Not always for the worst, of course. Just as often for the better. 

But it reminds me that relationships take work!  The only thing constant is change.

When I talk to folks who are always saying things like, "we are waiting until we achieve x, before we do y," or folks who have this checklist of achievements & goals that their prospective mate has to have attained to be considered, I am ALWAYS like: what is wrong with you?

That big house with the great property value? A single thing could ruin it all: bad neighbor moves in, disaster strikes, the bubble bursts...

Good job? Company gets sold, lay-offs happen, market changes & they go out of business...

Doesn't want (or wants) kids? Circumstances change, goals change, or just holding a baby puts the baby clock in countdown (I've seen it happen)...

Good career or prospects? Goal oriented? That's all fine and good until they realize it is NOT what they want to do, or those goals change, or you all discover it does not pay what you thought it would. 

Suddenly, you need to return home to take care of elderly parents. Suddenly, the feds show up and it turns out your boss has been stealing for the from the company and framed you for it. Suddenly, you find out someone you trusted has wrecked your credit because they've been stealing from you. It happens. 

Humans biggest fault is that they think they can control what cannot be controlled: the future, the weather, human nature... Not gonna happen. 

Once you fall off, you just have to get back on. 

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Young Love (and Other Things)

Today I met both my son's crush and my daughter's nemise. 

My kids attends a Sunday school at the insistence of both their grandmothers. Not that I feel it is not important, it is just that it is REALLY early in the morning for me and their mom. Just saying. 

But we keep up on it. Help them learn their prayers and go over the details of their instruction (I answer a fair amount of morality questions... Let that thought take hold). However, we are really not very active in their actual classrooms, or interact with their teachers or the other students. 

This last week was the end of this school year, though, and my son's class had a breakfast for all the parents so, as parents, we were obliged to go. My son kept acting squirrelly, though, so finally I confronted him:

"Hey man," I said. "Do you not want your mom and I to go to this thing?"

"No," he replied.

"You sure? Cause we really don't want to go."

"No, I want you to go... Wait - you don't want to go?"

"We are not going to embarrass you or anything? You're not ashamed to be seen with us? Cause you are kind of embarrassing."

"Nothing like that... Wait - I'm embarrassing."

"Don't say things like that, you'll get a complex. Then what is the deal with you? You're all squirrelly."

"Dad... Can I ask you a question?"

"Get the candy first, son."

"Not that... What should I do of I lurk a girl...?"

That was it! The world might as well have been ending. His mother burst into tears. The dog howled forlornly. The cat hissed and arched its back. I stood up pointing accusingly:

"I know this day would come! You're gonna go to jail, son!!"

He looked surprised. "For liking a girl?!?"

His mother sobbed harder. The dog hunkered on the floor and covered its eyes with its paws. The cat jumped down and ran off. I sat back down. 

"Oh, liked. I thought you were getting involved in stalking someone."

"Is that bad?"

"I'm my experience, it is very time consuming. But never mind that now - who is this girl?"

So the story came out: there was a girl in Grennan's class that he thought was cute. Over his mother's sobs, he gushed about this girl. What she did. Who her friend was. Blah blah blah...

Whatever. They are 9-years-old. Not a lot or world-changing revelations there. 

But it was cute and he wa adorable talking about her. But, eventually, I had to ask him why we were having this discussion. 

My son's birthday comes at the end of the school year. It has become something of a tradition to make his birthday party a big cook-out/summer kick-off with his mates, school chums and their families, as well as with our extended families (invitations go out to second cousins, great-aunts, the whole gamut) and friends of the family, as well as out of town friends who find themselves even remotely close to our house. It is huge.

So it came down to my son wanting to invite this girl to this big 10th birthday party. THIS was a  step in a direction, for sure.

So now our attendance at the breakfast had another purpose: to help him ask the girl to the party. 

While we were there it was cute, as he tried to surreptitiously watch her to see if she was looking at him. Rehearsing what he wanted to say to her. U.S. Discussing how he should present himself to her parents (who were there). I pointed out to him that her best friend never left we side - so he was going to have to ask both of them, not just to be polite - but also so she could have someone she was comfortable with at his party, too, until she got to know everyone. 

But we could not get him to talk to her! Shyness was winning over his game - and when her family (and her friend & friend's family) stood up to leave early, disaster almost struck. Luckily, I fear neither man, devil, or Buddha - so I sidled up to the parents and managed to get my son's invitation across.

Now, we see what happens at the party. 

After the breakfast and party invite, we headed to my daughter's classroom. My daughter looked adorable in a summer-y dress that set off her blue eyes and blonde hair, and cute sandals. But I noticed her giving sideways looks at a girl in her class wearing a cute summer-y dress that set off her dark hair and brown eyes, with cute sandals -- all mayhaps a wee touch more stylish than what my daughter wore.

Sideways looks turned into a glare when this girl was given a prize bag for good attendance to class. 

Later, in the car getting ready to head home, I asked my daughter who the girl was and if they were friends. She spit ou the girls name like it was a curse, and said with exaggerated enunciation:

"She is my nemesis!"

7-year-old girls are scary enough, I am not looking forward to the teenage years.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

It's All About the Family

We have judged you & found you wanting.

Here is something I want you to think about, if your significant other's parents hate your guts (I don't mean just dislike you, I mean really, really HATE you), then this is my advice to you: DO NOT GET MARRIED!

Seriously, and I speak from experience, if your significant other's parents hate you, this is the first of many signs that your relationship is doomed to failure. Give it up. Walk away. No harm, no foul.

Why is it doomed to failure, you may ask?

Whether they mean to or not, they will undermine you at every chance that they get. And, seeing as they are the filter to meeting you for all of their family friends as well as extended family, you really stand no chance.

In nearly every case I have been involved or observed, too - there is a REASON these people dislike you, and do not think you should be dating their child.

I am painting this in pretty broad strokes, but think about this: the person that you are dating has a history that you do not know about. I do not mean necessarily exes, or drama, but I do mean habits. Maybe they have habits and family history that precludes you from being the perfect mate for them. You may not see that. The person you are dating may not be able to see it. But friends and family? They can see it.

Because when I say family, I don't just mean blood relatives. I'm also talking about close friends, church family, and maybe even people in their scene. These people have all known the person that you are dating longer than you have. They can see things that you cannot. 

I myself, was dating this girl and her parents hated my guts. Not because I was a bad person necessarily, but because they could see that we were just two totally opposite things. Now initially, I think I took this as a challenge.

After all, who does not like being painted as the bad boy or the rebel?

But I did try to be fair to her parents. They questioned our relationship several times and counseled her to break up with me on a couple of occasions. I told her that she should listen to them. They are her parents after all. And she had a good relationship with them. Their advice came from the heart. But in the end, she did not break up with me.

When the people at our school, where she and I both attended, they still had her best interests at heart. They told me the same thing.  But neither of us would listen to them. Her church pretty much threw every roadblock they could in our way!

So you see where this is going? 

Eventually, we would get married after dating for five years. And then, finally, things ended. It turned out we were not compatible after all. And…

Well, it was ugly.

After we split, my parents (who did not dislike this girl) told me that they were not surprised that we had to split up. And I asked them why they didn't say anything while we were dating. And they were pretty frank with me:

"we told you," they said. "but you just would not listen."

This was a refrain I heard from a lot of friends in the months and years afterward. Heck, there were people I trusted saying that to me the night before our wedding. But I was just so caught up that I would not listen. But I realize now, that all of the signs were there. This girl's family did not like me, her friends did not like me, and even her church did not like me. But I would not listen. 

My friends and family, while they did not dislike her, continually were like, "what are you doing!"

Even as I look back on it, I realize that my dog did not particularly like her either.

So there you have it. Learn to recognize the signs. And, again, if it does not work out that's just the way it goes. There is no blame. Just accept that some people are just not compatible.

Most of all, listen to your dog!

Bitch, please...

Monday, April 6, 2015

Riding Is Running Your Own Life

It had been my goal to do two posts a week. One in Monday & one in Friday. It's turning out to be harder than I thought. 

Sometimes I get a bit ahead, but between shows, work, and everything else... whew!

Yesterday (Easter Sunday) we went to our friend's house, who was cleaning out one of his garages. He had set aside a bike for me, and was going through some of the many bikes, motorcycles and minibikes. The kids were thrilled, of course, upon seeing the minibikes. 

And, honestly, who could blame them?

I was most pleased to see my daughter, even in the dress she had picked out to wear for dinner with my parents along with my sister and her husband, was not dissuaded from jumping on and wanting to ride herself. NOT wanting to be on the back as a passenger. 

This was true even for the full-size bikes. 

Her mother and I worked with her a bit about what it will mean for her to be a good passenger, when the time comes. Sitting close, holding on, and leaning into the turns. But overall, she is way more interested in riding herself. 

And, I like to think, run her own life.

Easy Rider for the 21st Century. 

Monday, March 30, 2015

Believe in your self

Today, I am getting ready to head out of town once again. There is another show to do. There is another adventure to have. The biggest down the side of it, is that I have to do it by myself.

That is something I really want you to be comfortable with, and that is being alone. 

When I think about it the more important point of dating, what always comes to mind is that you cannot be needy. I don't even mean to needy, I just mean needy at all. You have to know your self. You have to know who you are, and what you want. This is one of the most important things for dating.

I am not saying that it will always be easy. There will be times when someone that you think you want you will want to change for. But I am going to counsel you against that, son and a daughter of mine. It never works out when you try to change your self to fit someone else's ideal. Now, I am not saying that you should not be open to new experiences, And break out of your comfort zone doing new things. How else are you going to find out what you really like to do?

Limiting yourself is something you absolutely do not want to do. And by that, I mean deciding that you are only going to date people in your social group. Or, deciding that you will never date people in your social group. Or in your town. Or add to your school. Why limit yourself?

 And frankly, some people are just not going to like you for who you are. And that is their loss. As long as you are comfortable with your self, you will always come out on top.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Subjugation Is NOT the Answer!

Oh, jeez... These ones are mine. 

As I look at my daughter I see the star quality in her eyes. I see how great she can really be. In one of the parts of our show we use a line from the movie Conan the Barbarian, where Charlotte is asked, "What is best in life?" To which she responds (in her best Arnold Schwarzenegger voice) "To crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and hear the lamentations of their women."

This is something we've gotten her to do on stage a number of times, always to huge applause. 

My concern for her as she grows up and she begins dating and begins being concerned in relationships (or, as I should to say, since she is already interested in that kind of thing. Because, apparently there is a boy in Sunday school that she thinks is cute) my concern again comes that she will subdue her greatness to somehow fit into some kind of mold. The sort of made up mold of expectation about what a young lady should be imposed by either society or this hypothetical individual. This is something that I do not want to happen. 

When I started this blog, a friend of mine (a performer that I have worked with often, even though we do not work together in the same show, we often find ourselves in the same places and working the same gigs), wrote to tell me how much she likes this blog and how, specifically, she wanted me to talk about the problem of female performers finding it necessary to subjugate themselves to  male performers. Now, this tied in with my blog entry about the "Hot Trap," and with good reason. See, her concern is that being a fine performer in her own right she feel relegated to be nothing more than a sidekick to the male performers that she inevitably ends up working for or with. 

Somehow, she finds herself relegated to that position no matter how it starts out, her ideas not taken seriously, and in the end not feeling that she is a part of the show in the part and parcel with which she should be. And, I understand what she means. I think my only girl could write an entire years worth of blogs maybe even a series of best-selling series of books all about how she feels I have relegated her to a secondary position that she should not be in. 

It becomes that problem with the person who has the vision in the beginning, or at least thinks they are the visionary, start calling all of the shots as well. Especially - and this is where we get into the crux of the issue - when you are in a relationship with said person, and you take that secondary role to support that person's "vision," you end up often times finding yourself unable to break free of that role. 

Now, this is predominantly my assumption based upon what I have been told by a variety of female performers who have partnered up with a male performer. And I do not believe this is just in entertainment, I believe this transfers both into business and marriage... and even dating as well. That somehow the female part of the duo ends up becoming the secondary performer. This is something that I am often concerned about and try to take an active part in not making happen. However, in the end, I am just a man, and I am afraid that often times it is without malice that I take this particular role of being bossy and relegating others to secondary position. It just turned out that way. I have a very strong personality, and it is easy to intimidate people into following along. And I don't mean intimidate in a bad way, necessarily, as my ideas are just so strong somehow I just end up winning out with my creative vision.

I want to open a dialogue about gender roles with everyone -- how much is nature... How much nurture? Societal training? Shrug -- you tell me...

Something that I feel very strongly about is the world of Burlesque. I, personally, an not comfortable with the idea or practice of me telling a burlesque dancer what they should or should not be doing. This is even in an educational sense, based off of choreography or any of the other things that I do know and have training in. I for one am supportive of the idea that modern Burlesque should be almost entirely female run. I don't think that it is right for a man to produce a burlesque show. I can see partnering with a female producer in order to create the product, but I cannot see trying to do it without any input from a female producer/Burlesque aficionado. 

It is not a matter of feeling that everyone should "have their place," but more the idea of abandoning the traditional gender role of mail a producer, female performer. But it is not easy! Like it or not, it is still mostly a male run world out there, ladies, and it is up to you to make that change.

With that said, here is my dating tip for YOU, daughter of mine:  Never let any man (or anyone) just boss you around. Establish the dynamics of your relationship - whatever it may be - from the beginning, and keep constant, frank communication to keep that balance going. Perhaps your choice will be to subjugate yourself, and that is fine - as long as it is YOUR choice! Never suffer a fool, kiddo...

And for YOU, son of mine:  Do not be that guy. Treat your partners as equals. Establish your boundaries and keep communication open. Treat your employees (if that's what they are) well. 

Actually, seeing as how my daughter will be running everything - that last piece of advice is for HER, too (as well as for you, gentle reader)!

Suck it, Dad. We've already stopped listening. 

Monday, March 23, 2015

How Far Are You Willing To Go?

In the winter time, our off-season for shows, I grow a beard. 

No one is happy about it at my house, but I get tired of shaving (which involves having to sculpt my psychobilly side chops, which I am constantly messing up and making uneven and the most inappropriate times), and it gets cold. I don't like being cold. 

When I was younger and rode motorcycles all the time, I tended to grow a beard in the winter, then shave every summer. Again - cause it is cold. I used to get crap at this one place I worked because they felt the beard to be unprofessional. Like my hair braided down to my waist fit in with their office culture (NOT!). 

I am lucky - I can grow a pretty impressive beard in a very short amount of time. So traditionally, I stop shaving in November, and by December I look pretty burly. Usually, then, I have to shave in January when shows start up again. 

Not this year, though. 

This year, I opted to keep the beard a while longer. After all, it was terribly cold this winter!! Sub-zero weather made the thought of shaving unbearable. So I didn't. 

While my daughter does like me having a beard, her mother does not. The complaints began while my chin was scruffy & scratchy, continuing as my upper lip disappeared under a thick mustache, and continued as I took a straighter to my beard to make it "stretch" as long as possible. 

When I was not combing it the wrong way. 

Or making it do funny things. 

Or taking pics of myself in the Cracker Barrel bathroom. Like a nutjob. 

There are other NSFW photos of me and my beard... I'm saving them for TMZ. 

So though I was having fun with it, and liked the way it looked, my girl was decidedly not enjoying it. And while she said that it was up to me what I wanted to do -- 

Well, that coupled with the fact that my beard was also a huge fire risk for me at every show (though I did get stellar advice from fellow performer Tyler Fyre how to treat it to keep it from burning, which totally worked for the shows I did with the beard) -- on the first day of spring, I decided it was time to shave. 

So I invited my girl to help me out - and we shaved away! Here are some highlights:

Until, somewhat, back to "normal."

We really had a great time together, removing my beard - and now my lips are fully kissable!

However, ever since that day, I catch her looking at me wistfully and saying, "You know - I really miss your beard."

Sigh. You just can't win!

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Monday, March 9, 2015

Respect - Got to Give It to Get It!

Let it be known that I do not respect the snow...

Probably the most significant concern my baby mama and I have regarding our daughter is that she get... And demand, respect. For our son, we want to make sure he grows up having a healthy respect for women. That all starts with how he respects his mother and his sister. 

If there is a hard part to this, it is trying to make sure that our daughter ALSO shows proper respect. As it is due, anyway...

Teaching both kids that respect, above and beyond all else, is one of the most important things to give and receive. It should not be given lightly - and that it has to be earned...

In this maybe my girl and I are a little old-fashioned (at least, for sure, I am). I was raised in the old ways about respect and the like. The idea of it. The up-on-a-pedestal version. But, in a way, that ideal does not really exist. Here's my example:

Like when the FBI used to investigate the Italian Mafia, and said they were, effectively, a bunch of track-suit wearing losers who would happily role over on each other for hardly a deal - all until Francis Ford Coppola's THE GODFATHER came out... After that it was all suits and silk ties, ring-kissing, and playing the movie soundtrack so loud that the FBI's bugs in their clubhouses were no longer effective. 

What does that mean? It means that the whole idea of "loyalty" in the mob is a Hollywood creation!! Just like the ideals of the "biker culture" (made up for THE WILD ONE), as well as serial killers, truckers, and samurai.

But does that mean this ideal is any less worthwhile? Less important to strive for?

I would say no. 

Most importantly - respect. People question respect all the time. Sometimes, I do not think that the regular civilians in this confusing white-trash culture foisted upon us by popular television culture (i.e., Jersey Shore, The Fast & The Furious, and so on) get to have any idea what that  means. Instead, respect is often confused with fear.

Fear is not the same thing as respect. 

This is how much I have respect for your horrible music choices when I'm driving.

My Personal Observations on Dating Between Socio-Political Groups

Who brought little kids to Bourbon St.?
And what did they do to get all those beads?!
This blog entry if filled with a lot of my personal observations, which may be tainted...

So while we were in New Orleans (sorry I was not able to post while we were there - having way too much fun) I had some time to think about dating and relationships. My son was enamored with several of the female performers who were at the conference we attended and performed at. And, of course, why shouldn't he be? It totally falls into my previous post about the trap of being hot (http://datingtipsfortossers.blogspot.com/2015/02/its-trap-heres-how-not-to-fall-into-it.html) that is a serious thing that I'm trying to teach him about.

Another issue that came up for me personally, in my observations, was the continued thinking about dating across the lines of very different cultures. Now I realize this may seem sort of weird, but I'm always reminded of my own experience as someone from the very North, dating and eventually marrying someone who was from the deep South. There were some very different cultural expectations of what was going on (note: the marriage barely lasted a year, despite we dated nearly 5 years prior). In my personal observations, I noticed that many women from the South are sort of trained to run just fast enough for him to catch her. I also noticed with many of the women that I met - it was almost like they were trained to look for a man's potential, and then it is their job as a woman to bring that potential out in him.

At the same time, it appeared the men are trained to be boys.  To have fun and do guy things until such time as a woman marries them, and then it is their job to let her train them to attain the potential that in them that she sees. Now, of course, this is not the way I have observed men and women are raised in the north... but more about that another time.

Now, this is not to say that one way is better than the other, but it is true that you get conflict because of these differences when you try to cross those (Mason Dixon) lines. Like I always said, if Jessica & Nick could not make it... what chance did any of the rest of us have?

I had a similar experience coming from the Midwest, and heading into Southern California and trying to date. There were really a lot of differences in the expectation of what a man does, versus what a woman does in the dating arena. And it is an arena, folks! Dating there is like gladiatorial combat - and, in the end, no one really wins.

Hey! It is not just me!! I had a sociology professor in college in SoCal that a big part of his class was telling us how different cultures have problems trying to date, marry and have children. His big example was that Italian women and Irish men should not marry because of this amazing cultural difference. Effectively saying that the way each is raised effectively develops how they will deal with things when they are older... and that, once ingrained, there is no overcoming nature OR nurture. I was trying to date an Italian girl at the time, so mayhaps I paid a bit too much attention.

I'm still not sure what he was getting that... and, to be fair, there really always seemed to be an undercurrent of racism in his class -  an undercurrent below everything he said. Also, he thought that the repealing of prohibition was the worst thing that ever happened to America, so maybe that's also why I never completely trusted him. 

But, certainly, some of what he said about the social standards and differences does have some truth to it. It's not to say that such things are impossible, but it is to say you have to be aware of it.

A subtle, but noticeable difference.
In my experience, there are just a lot of differences between men and women, period. I do not even think any of us really get a hand on it until we are older, with some life experience under our belts (or kilts, or whatever). Some of these differences & feelings are stemming from hundreds of thousands years of evolution - the primitive brain that keeps us doing these "social" things that really need no longer be the norm. The primitive brain we continually fight against to maintain our current (yet, ever changing) social order. Then, add on top of that, our social conditioning based upon region, social class, political beliefs, historical/tribal tradition... it's a wonder anyone ever gets born outside of their strict socio-political boundaries.

"So Reverend Tommy Gunn," you say, "what are we supposed to do?!"

Here's my advice to you, kids: Do not give up! Respect is the key word. Communication is a close second. Realize there are differences - many of which you will not even realize until you are in it - and just work with it when you get there. I definitely do not think you should limit yourself in any way! If you meet someone you are interested in, see that mysterious stranger that you are drawn to, you definitely need to take the chance! If you only stick within your own socio-political group, you will eventually contribute to the "dumbing down" of our culture, our people, our species. Crossing the blood-lines is the only way to keep the human race moving forward... so get out there and date! You have my blessing.

Just don't be dumb about it. I will know...

Something tells me this relationship is just
NOT going to work... not even in Tijuana.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Treat a Lady Well (part 1)

DATE IDEA: A classic New Orleans tradition is to get a Po Boy and eat it on a shop's stoop until the owner chases you away. This is an experience to share!

Friday, February 27, 2015

Can't Post Today

Sorry. In New Orleans for the Southern Sideshow Hootenanny this week with NO time to write. A lot of driving --

This picture is during a break from driving...

Monday, February 23, 2015

FINALLY : This Year's Father Daughter Dance!

Sorry! Have been off schedule from posting twice a week as I originally planned -- but, after today, we should be back on track!
Matching corsages seemed VERY important this year!

Friday the 13th was the annual Father Daughter Dance at my daughter's all-girl academy. Once again, the pressure was on to make sure she had a wonderful experience.

Luckily, I thrive under pressure!!

No. Not really. Was very stressful. BUT we were intent on having a good time, and so that is exactly what we set out to do.

Last year there was a huge snowstorm that made the evening a little more stressful as I tried to get us to the restaurant, the dance, to another restaurant, and then home. Of course, all those places were very spread out from each other, so it was very difficult. This year, we opted to keep everything closer to the actual dance location.

Luckily - no snow storm! Unfortunately - sub-zero temperatures made being outside uncomfortable, to say the least!

Also, since the happens just before Valentine's Day, flower prices are through the roof! Last year, getting the corsages was pretty expensive, and we were not quite happy as we would have liked with it - so this year we took advantage of buying lots of flowers to hand make a couple of corsages exactly like we wanted.

Last year's picture at home before leaving. What a cutie!

This year's picture... She is growing up!
We were lucky we had much of the day to prepare. There was no school that day, so there was time for my daughter to really enjoy the excitement of getting ready for the big day: an outfit to pick out, bathing & primping, hair getting done...

I, too, took time to groom - showering, shaving, oiling up my hair and beard. Checking and rechecking my suit to make sure it was pressed (and lint rolling off any stray dog hair -- which is ALL over the place at our house). Shining shoes (mine AND hers). If you are wondering, I did check with my daughter a couple of times to make sure I was groomed enough (yes, I did offer to shave my beard if she wanted me to - but she did not), and that she approved of my outfit and accessory choices.

Time for pictures from her mother and the grandparents (who came to watch her prepare, adding to the festivities), then off to dinner.

Now, last year we went to a very upscale Japanese restaurant before the dance, and afterward went to a diner for milkshakes. Originally, my daughter wanted to head back to the sushi restaurant, but after reminding her how tired she was by the end of the evening last year and discussing how she would have to choose only one restaurant to go to - she opted for milkshakes beforehand!

Since I was not specific on how many milkshakes she could have - it got a little out of control.
So of course, being my daughter, she was double-fisting milkshakes through dinner and seriously ready to party by the time we got to the dance.

And a little indulgence... Every girl likes getting a ring.
Especially one out of the gumball machine by the door.
The first bit of the dance was filled with little girls running all over the dance floor - a lot of sitting around and waiting for something to happen. Then, at last, the DJ really got the music going - and everyone hit the floor dancing. It pretty much did not stop all night!

It is funny, though, how it seemed that when he played "old school" - some Missy Elliot (expertly edited for content, btw), Kriss Kross, and some others - that was when everybody really hit the floor!

My daughter's only complaint last year was that they never played any slow songs - so she never had a chance to just have a dance with me. I do not know if that was something that other people said, too - but this year the DJ made sure to play a couple of songs (I am sure typical ones for a bride's dance with her father at wedding receptions) so we could all have a quiet dance moment with our own daughter. It was great! But it did make me a little sad, too - that my girl is growing up.

One thing I really enjoy about this dance is seeing the excitement of the girls hanging there with their dads. Many of these dads wore outfits matching their daughter's outfits (my kudos to the father there with his three daughters - he managed to coordinate everything!). They escorted their daughters from room to room. Made sure they had everything they needed. Even while the girls were on the floor dancing to Justin Bieber & Katy Perry (which few self-respecting men would do), the dads were clustered around the floor, taking pictures & video, all looking very proud.

I should know - I was one of them.

So we were at the dance until it was over, over. My lovely date worn out by so much dancing and fun -- we were off to go home, where she fell asleep sharing my chair with me as we recounted our fun times for her mother. All in all - a perfect evening!

Honestly, Dad, I've just had enough of your crap.