Monday, April 30, 2012

Need a snappy Rap Title.

I had some downtime recently. By downtime I mean I was driving either to or from work and there was no fight going on about who had the Barbie first. As I was driving , a song came on the local radio station and it got me thinking. Thinking deeper than I have in quite some time, I asked myself "Who is the Greatest Rapper of All Time?" If I were tweeting this on the Twitter I would immediately tag this as #whitepeopleproblems. It is a bit a a dilemma for me to ask this you see. Being a white dude that lives in suburbia I have absolutely no street cred to voice my opinion on this subject. Well, being that I own this blog (half of it at least) I feel that I can go through my top 5 with the 17 of you that will read this and not face much scrutiny for voicing my opinion on this edgy topic. Oh and in case you were wondering how this deals with Parenting and/or Fatherhood, its because I can't really listen to rap anymore now that I am a father.

I could use this time to build you up on how much of an authority figure I am on this subject by going through my Catholic grade school and Rural Missouri Public High School background. However, I will jump right into this pantheon of lyrical bad-arses*. Also I am just going to keep this to solo rappers and not groups because I think we all would agree WU-Tang is/was the greatest group of all time shortly followed by RUN D.M.C. The only reason for this is volume. If RUN DMC was 7 members deep, they win. Also, I think the list of solo rappers will cause a bit more dialect from our commentators.

*Please note the use of "arse" instead of the more commonly used word in order to keep the "Safe for Work" code of ethics we strive daily to achieve.

5) Rakim - With this selection I have either solidified myself as an idiot or a guy who knows what he is talking about. I will continue as if I know what I am talking about. Rakim, yes, was part of the "group" of Eric B & Rakim, but Rakim was the front man for the group and his delivery was amazing. What's funny is that Rakim's lyrics were/are probably some of the most quoted & sampled in hip-hop history yet not many may know who he is.

4) 2Pac - I will be the first to admit that I was not a huge 2Pac fan until more recently. When his albums were released, I just wasn't into the whole Thug Life movement. I was (and still am) into more of the light-hearted rap. However, looking back at his collection of work, its pretty remarkable what he was able to accomplish. He was also part of the "light-hearted" Digital Underground. So that bumps him up in my book.

3) Snoop - Going completely in the opposite direction of Rakim, is Snoop. He's about the most commercial rapper out there. When he got his start with Dre back in the 90's he brought something new to the table. I don't know what to call it, but I'll just label it "the dizzle." He single-handedly introduced a new way of rapping & talking. His lyrics span a wide variety of comical to serious, and he seems to be the most laid back person in the world.

2) Jay-Z - While I can't stand people that retire and then come out of retirement, I think this coming out was well worth it. I also think he needs to be up here for the simple fact that he put out something like 8 albums in the span of 8 years making him one of the most successful Rappers of the 2000's. **Note that I was going to put NAS in this count down, but admittedly, I haven't had much time to listen to his stuff and didn't think I could accurately place him on my lack of knowledge.

And finally Number One:

Notorious B.I.G - I really don't think there has been anyone better. He could do it all. I can see how this No. 1 ranking could be debated as he only released 1 album while he was living, but from just the small sampling of what he has done I think he can be placed here.

So, what do you think? Am I completely off my rocker?

Monday, April 23, 2012

Road Trip

Those of you who follow the blog know that I've grappling with teaching my kids how to be fans of both the Cavs and Heat. This last weekend I added the Memphis Grizzlies into the fray. Why you ask? My boys are sports nuts, and my recently-turned 6 year old son is really big on basketball right now. I wanted to take him to a game for his birthday, and Memphis is the most attractive city/team within driving distance. (Indianapolis isn't much fun, Milwaukee has too much beer for me to be the designated driver and I still remember Chicago doing this). Memphis also allowed us some great seats at great prices, and I knew they'd still have something to play for at that point in the season.

We decided early on this was gonna just be a great "man" road trip. When we got hungry, we ate. When we were thirsty, we drank. When we wanted to switch from watching Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone to Disney's Dinosaur we did it. Living on the edge ain't easy, but somebody had to do it.

We made it to Memphis in time to walk up Beale and grab some dinner before heading into the game. I was really proud watching Michael play the mentor role to his little brother on topics ranging from holding his hand while crossing the street all the way to why it was really important to eat his shrimp even though it was a little spicy and had some potato salad on it and it had chicken breading on it.

I was also pretty impressed by Lucas who noted -- about 2 minutes into his first live NBA game -- that it was cool how the announcer was said the scorer's name a lot louder when the home team made a basket.
After the game we were all pretty pumped (the game was actually really exciting, we got to eat snacks TWICE during the game, and we brought home a winner), but I was able to talk the boys out of putting me to bed and heading back out on Beale. Amazingly, we didn't get security called on us.
It was a long ride home, but we'd all do again. Who knows, maybe next time we'll even bring Cooper along. 

Monday, April 16, 2012

Sports Loyalty

Let me begin by apologizing to any St. Louis readers: I know that most of you aren't even sure that they still play professional basketball in this country, but they do, and I really like it. This post is gonna be about that.

I am a fan of the Cleveland Cavaliers. I grew up in Canton, Ohio, an hour down the road from Cleveland. I was raised to like the Cavs and Browns (fortunately we weren't a big baseball family). The Cavs are the team that used to employ LeBron James. I am also a fan of the Miami Heat. They are the team that currently employs LeBron James (you may remember some of the brouhaha surrounding his changing jobs a few summers ago). I'm not actually a big Heat fan per se, but I am a big LeBron fan, so I root for the Heat by proxy.

That's right. I'm a Cavs fan who still likes LeBron James. Did I like his decision? No. I would have much rather he had stayed in Cleveland, winning championships by the handful and seeding Northeast Ohio with his unquestionable genetic advantages. But he didn't. And I'm not burning his jerseys in the street. In fact, all of my boys still regularly wear them. When the Cavs are on, that is. When the Heat are on, they wear number 6 (of course if I didn't have League Pass, they'd never be able to watch my hometown team).

I'm OK with that. My wife actually bought us tickets to Game 5 in Dallas last year (which didn't exactly go according to plan). My 6 year old (basketball crazed currently) just had a birthday and got (from Grandma, per his wishes) a LeBron jersey in every color (so he could match whatever they were wearing on the TV), two LeBron books, a LeBron backpack, LeBron pajamas, and a personalized binder coordinating and collating all things LeBron. I was, to be honest, amazed that they sell that much stuff with one man's face on it.

There are those who would call me a sports bigamist. To them I say... well, pretty much nothing. I'm old enough I don't need to give a crap what most folks think about me. But I am open to share my rationalization for it. I generally deal with getting static about this by half-heartedly blowing it off by saying "hey, I left Cleveland, too, and I haven't won a championship yet, either," but the fact of the matter is that I spent 7 years (9, if you count his last two in high school) rooting for LeBron. He was King James. He was the Chosen One. He's a nice guy, a funny guy, a really good kid -- you know, like one of your friend's little brothers who everyone knew was gonna make good, only we was the little brother to the buddy of everyone in Northeast Ohio. He was the first guy from the neighborhood to go college, then he not only went to college, but he went to  med school, and not only did he go to med school, but then he became one of the greatest brain surgeons EVER. And now, just because he's decided to go move to a better hospital with a better staff (and where he can work with his buddies and make more money) I'm supposed to hate him? That doesn't make any sense.

Could LeBron have handled leaving Cleveland better? Absolutely. We've all been young, and stupid, and we've all made mistakes. I'm actually more embarrassed by the way Cleveland handled the whole thing. I have a hard time imagining anyone thinks LeBron handled leaving Cleveland right, but being classless throughout the fallout doesn't exactly make the case that he should have stuck around. If a girl breaks up with a guy, and that guy loses it and starts yelling at her in public and making everyone else uncomfortable, everyone knows she made the right choice leaving him. If he accepts his fate and holds it together while she struggles, then everyone knows she should have stuck around. Lot of parallels there. Just sayin'.

That said, I still love the Cavs. They're family. They've always been there, and they always will be. I'd rather have them win, but if they can't, I'd like for it to be LeBron. In the meantime, my boys can root for everybody -- I'm sure they'll get it right when it matters.


Thursday, April 5, 2012

This is what we are reduced to?

The wife and I have been busy lately. You know, with kid stuff, putting our house on the market, working, etc. It happens. Life gets to be so full of urine and stuffed animals that you almost forget that the chick you sleep with every night isn't just a roommate, but someone who at some point you actually could talk to and bounce ideas off of.

Its not always this easy.
We get so caught up in our kids lives that we don't really take the time necessary to hang out with the person that you actually made babies with. It sucks and if you don't do anything about it, its a slippery slope to having a sucky go at things.

So as the wife and I saw that we were potentially headed down the tunnel of suckiness, we decided to have a date night. In most parts of the world date nights are usually held on Friday or Saturday nights. This way you can stay out later, hang out longer, and pay your babysitter more. Well we decided to buck that trend and head out on a Monday. We pretty much had the pick of the litter when it comes to restaurants since Mondays aren't known for their going-out-ability. We hit up a nice local Italian place and had a nice dinner.

At one point during the meal, I looked my bride and said, "Is this what we have been reduced to in order to just hang out? A Monday date night..." She smiled ever so lovingly and said, "Yes, and if we have time, we are going to stop by Target to get some Easter clothes for the kids." Well, thankfully we had a lot of stuff to talk about and we didn't get to swing by Target. Damn. We then went home, washed our children, and were passed out by 9:30pm. Don't hate the player.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Camping Commandments

Went on a "hike" the other day with my kids. This walk was less than a mile and included passing all of ten feet of actual "nature". On this walk, my 4 year-old picked up a pine cone and said "Look guys! Squirrel nuts!"

This. Can. Not. Stand.
Not looking for my kids to be the next Bear Grylls (although I do love accents), but they do at least need to know how to live roughly. I camped with the kids in the backyard that night, but am planning a more robust trip for my boys this summer (the girl is only left out because she's still young enough to eat poison ivy if left to her own devices).

As such, here are the ten commandments for camping with kids. At least once.
  1. Thou shalt not plug anything in while you are camping. at all.
  2. Thou shalt not eat anything that requires more cooking utensils than a piece of aluminium foil and/or a stick.
  3. Thou shalt not bring that stick with you. The woods have plenty of sticks.
  4. Thou shalt not shower. If you're dirty, live with it. If you absolutely can't live with it, jump in the lake.
  5. Thou shalt not freak out when you child gets too close to the fire. We don't want anyone immolated, but nothing gives a child a healthy fear of fire like a little first degree burn.
  6. Thou shalt be ready for a month of steroids if that's what it takes to get your kids off of the beaten path.
  7. Thou shalt not scream like a horror movie bimbo if a spider ends up in your tent. It's a bad example to set.
  8. Thou shalt respect the environment. I'm not saying you have to go native here, but if you mess it up, clean it up. 
  9. Thou shalt make your kids bait their own hooks.
  10. Thou shalt not bring a checklist of activities into the woods. Thou ist out here to teach your kids that camping is fun. 
Happy camping everyone. Make the time to do it, have some fun, and be (largely) safe.

That's no pool, people.