Dear Jack: Initiating Trampoline Football During Christmas Break

9 years, 1 month.

Dear Jack,

It is customary that I always keep a Nerf football in my Jeep. The main reason is it help secures the convertible roof panels when I remove them and store them in the back.

But also, you never know when you might want to throw a football around.

During Christmas break, you saw me taking the top off the Jeep and noticed the football there and asked if you could play with it.

I replied, “Of course! That’s what it’s there for!”.

You then set up a simultaneous game with your sister and cousins on the trampoline. From what I can understand, the concept was this:

As you and your older cousin Calla saw how many times you could throw the football back and forth without missing, your sister and your younger cousin tried not to fall over.

I am proud of you for initiating this game and activity!

Love,

Daddy

New Infographic: College Tailgating Traditions in the U.S.

I admit, I’m not a huge sports fan. However, I quickly and proudly identify myself as a Bama fan. If you’ve followed my blog throughout the years, you’ve probably noticed the subtle product placement of “Roll Tide” apparel on my son; as well as his now much faded Bama sippy cup.

Not to mention, there’s my wife’s keychain as well as my front license plate are both Unversity of Alabama.

If you were born in the state of Alabama, like I was, it was pre-determined by your family before you were born whether you were by default either a Bama or an Auburn fan.

I was born into the Crimson Tide. Of course, it’s so easy to be a Bama fan because of their winning record… so that’s convenient.

In addition to being a Bama fan, I’m also a fan of infographics… and I feel like it’s been a while since I shared a new one.

With all the negative stuff we’ve been seeing in the news here lately, maybe it’s time to just distract ourselves for a minute with some quirky, sports-related info…

With not further ado, today I share with you a new infographic about college tailgating traditions in America; none of which I previously knew about.

Enjoy, sports fans!

Courtesy of: SelfStorage.com

The Curious Case of the Sports Agnostic: Some Guys Just Don’t Care About Sports and They’re Okay with That

Religion and sports are alike in that while they both consist of plenty of true followers (the sincerely devoted), they have their fair share of agnostics (the apathetic yet open-minded) and naturally, some atheists (the passionately opposed).

I was born into a family where sports, for all practical purposes, simply did not exist.  We never talked about them, never watched them, and really, never played them.  Of course there was my 2nd grade year playing baseball- turns out, I was pretty decent.  And my 5th and 6th grade years of basketball- not so decent. There was no lofty moral issue we had against sports; it’s just that virtually no one on either side of my family gave them any thought.  Except my Uncle Al.

My mom’s brother Al has always been a huge University of Alabama football team fan- for every year of my childhood, thanks to him, I never was without several Alabama t-shirts, sweatshirts, stickers, and whatever else kind of proper memorabilia I would need as a kid growing up in the state of Alabama, where deciding your allegiance to either the University of Alabama or Auburn was only second to whether or not you had accepted Jesus Christ as your Savior.

Even now, on the front license plate holder of my Honda Element, I have a University of Alabama fan plate.  Beyond knowing the coach’s name (Nick Saban; easy name to remember since it’s so similar to mine), I can’t tell you much about the team in recent years other than last year was good for them, as was 1992, and that Bear Bryant died in 1983, less than a month after he retired.  But I am an Alabama fan, as opposed to Auburn.  And even if I’m their worst fan ever, I’m still a fan.  But that is the extent of my affiliation with anything in the world of sports.

There’s no way around it: I’m weird for being a guy who doesn’t care about sports.  Guys are clearly supposed to care about sports.  Throughout my whole life, I’ve tried to convince myself that I’m missing out.  That all those Saturday afternoons and Monday nights when I’m spending my time and efforts doing anything else, I should be in front of the TV watching the game.  And that for all the games I miss, I should if nothing else, check the scores online to have something to talk about with other guys the next day.

That despite the fact that team players are traded every season, I myself should stay loyal to certain teams.  Despite the fact that sports stars are multimillionaires while school teachers often make less $40,000 a year, I should still worship sports figures.  And though the outcome of each game and each season doesn’t actually affect reality, it does in the minds of sports fans, so therefore it should matter in my mind.

My apathy towards sports has a lot to do with the fact in my mind, sports aren’t logical.  I do see how sports feed that human instinct to replicate war in some way when we ourselves aren’t actually fighting, similar to how most young wild animals “play fight” to prepare each other to eventually kill for food and defend themselves and/or family members.   But I can’t see how or why sports should be relevant or important in my life to the degree that they are for so many people.  Clearly though, I’m the odd man out here.  And clearly, it’s my view of sports, not sports themselves, that is irrelevant.

I am a sports agnostic, not a sports atheist.  In other words, I’m cool about it.  I just know that people have fun playing and watching sports, so I respect that.  I’m still invited to Super Bowl Parties- because despite not knowing the rules of football, I can still have a good time with people who are having a good time, no matter what they’re doing.  And who knows, maybe in the back of their minds, sports fans hope to convert me once I finally see what I’m missing.  Maybe one day I will finally “get it”.

I have been asked since my first year of high school why it is that I can name any celebrity’s height or ethnicity, what year any song or movie came out, or why I have such a vivid memories of trivial conversations and events that no one else would ever care to remember.  Here’s why:  Most men occupy a good amount of their passion and their memories to sports.  I don’t.  I have to fill it with something.  My passion is writing, and those odd details and stories are the magic stuff of what I write.  If I cared about sports, this website wouldn’t exist, and you would have spent the last couple of minutes doing something else, instead of reading this.  Like watching sports.

dad from day one: Proud Papa

Twenty weeks.

*Did you hear about this blog from American Baby magazine?  If so, click here to get to the main page (table of contents) for “dad from day one”.  There’s a whole lot more where this come from…

During the closing credits of my favorite movie of all time, I Love You, Man, Barry (Jon Favreau) finds out his wife Denise (Jamie Pressly) is pregnant after she vomits on him at the wedding reception.  With puke on his shirt, he says to her, “Please, try to make it a boy.”  Barry is a Type A jerk, inhabiting every memory and idea of a typical beer-guzzling frat boy.  So of course, having a boy (instead of a girl) would be very important to him.

Being that I’m nothing like that character in the movie, instead being much more like the main character, Peter Klaven (Paul Rudd), I had just always assumed I would have all daughters.  Here’s the picture I had in my head of my future family: Me, wifey, three daughters, and two Cockapoos (or Labradoodles).

It just makes more sense that a guy who has no interest (or talent whatsoever) in sports or hunting (or anything proving I’m man enough by showing my “game face”), but instead has always been enthralled in everything artistic (drawing, entertaining, acting, singing, songwriting, writing) would somehow automatically make a better father to daughters instead of sons.  So that’s part of the reason I was so authentically surprised to learn that our baby is a boy.  Like somehow I deserved a son less because I’m not a certain macho stereotype I’ve memorized from three decades of watching sitcoms and movies.

And now, I have to admit, there’s a part of me that can’t help but laugh that without any preconceived hopes or crossed fingers, I get what every man secretly hopes for- a son.  There’s an unspoken concept (at least in my mind) that raising a son is a rite of passage for a man.  A coveted elective course, a special honorary badge, an engraved trophy so easily received- to be a father to a son.  A chance not so much to relive my own life, but to enhance another future man with all the life experience and knowledge I’ve learned the hard way.

The movie I Love You, Man is built around the fact that male friendships and bonds don’t often come so easily.  By a man having a son, he is automatically given that opportunity- to nurture a male the way every boy and man craves to be taught and directed.  What I lack in knowledge of fixing cars and football statistics and home repairs, I can make up for in teaching healthy communication skills and anything that falls under that categories of “literary”, “artistic”, “psychological”, and “entertainment”.

In other words, I have a feeling I will be raising  the likeness of a future Jewish comedic actor, maybe the next Joseph Gordon-Levitt, the next Shia LaBeouf, the next James Franco…

A well-rounded people-person who is confident in who he is, that’s who I predict he will become.  Who knows?  Maybe he’ll be a quiet, mild-mannered, studious, future accountant.  But with a dad as quirky and Hawaiian-shirt-wearing as me, I just don’t think he has a chance of being anything like Clark Kent.

Baby Jack's body is the length of a cantaloupe this week.

Here’s what The Bump says about Week 20:

Baby’s digestive system is busy creating meconium (a tarry black substance made of swallowed amniotic fluid, digestive secretion and dead cells), which will fill the first diaper after birth. And, speaking of the diaper situation… baby’s genitals are now fully formed!

To return to the “dad from day one” main page, click here.

All pictures with the “JHP” logo were taken by Joe Hendricks Photography:

Blog- www.photojoeblog.com

Website- www.joehendricks.com

How to Wear Dress Pants, If You’re a Guy: Don’t Wear Them With Sneakers and Avoid Khakis

Despite what you heard, don’t wear khakis.  Just because these men’s pants are classic, it doesn’t mean they’re timeless.  In fact, they’re starting to represent a dull and generic image for men’s attire.

Some articles of clothing go with anything, like Chuck Taylor’s.  Then there are specimens like Hawaiian shirts, that arguably go with anything simply because they clash with everything, technically meaning they go with everything.  And then there are khaki pants, which truly look good with anything they’re paired with, in theory.

But not for me.  I’m very particular when it comes to wearing khakis:

1)     They’re the same color as my legs, so I kinda feel like I’m not wearing pants at all.

2)     Because of their good reputation (“you can’t go wrong with khaki’s”) and popularity, they are a bit boring by now.  It’s assumed that a man automatically looks better because he’s wearing tan pants.  I say, not creative enough.  Deduct one point unless worn in moderation.

3)     Despite popular belief, they don’t truly look good with anything.

What has put these thoughts in my head?  Surely just random observances over the last twelve years:

1)     In high school, every Friday the football coach had all the football players wear khaki pants, a white dress shirt, and preferably a tie.  But  many of them wore running shoes.  It came across as predictable and forced to me (which it indeed was).  You want to look nice?  At least change the shoes.

2)     In the movie 40 Year-Old Virgin, Andy (the lead character played by Steve Carell) wears khaki pants in almost every seen.  His attire is most noticeably awful when he first goes to the night club wearing a yellow polo and khakis.  Nerdy, man.  Nerdy.  Same thing in Sideways with Miles (played by Paul Giamatti).

3)     In the past 15 years, khakis and polo shirts have become the official uniform for employees of places like Best Buy.  So now khakis are starting to represent a dull, generic work uniform.

Instead of khakis, try this. Note: Black shoes with black pants. Not brown shoes.

Khakis have become part of a stereotyped outfit of an outdated man from the year 2000: Khaki pants, faded polo shirt, cell phone holder on belt.

Noted, there is a difference between what a man wears to work and what he wears to every other public events.  I know for myself, I don’t care that much what my coworkers see my wearing as long as I don’t look like a slouch.  So yes, I do resort to polo shirts and once every week or two, I’ll wear khakis.

But for many, work isn’t as a professional environment as we often pretend for it to be.  I don’t take as good of care on the clothes I wear day in and day out to work.  Who cares if they’re faded or a little wrinkled?

Bottom line: For a man to truly dress nicely, and appear to be modern yet not trying too hard, he should simply try doing so sans khaki pants.

How?  Charcoal colored pants.  Dark brown pants.  Slate (very dark blue/gray) pants.  But not tan.  Heck, even dark jeans can look better than khakis when done right.

P.S.  If you must resort to wearing khaki pants in an attempt to look nice, do not be temped to wear a navy blazer or jacket with it.  That’s for CEO’s who are 61 years old and don’t realize that it’s no longer cool.  Wearing a navy jacket with khaki pants is for guys still wearing Levi’s jeans similar to Jerry Seinfeld in 1994.

And one more thing… Now that you’ve read my take on pants, why not read my perspective on being a dad?  That’s right- parenting from a dad’s point of view.  I have been documenting my thoughts as a dad since the week we found out my wife was pregnant.  I formally invite you now to read my “dad blog” by clicking on the link below:

dad from day one

Manspeak, Volume 6: Law

This is my company’s first week in our new office.  In the old office, the men’s restroom consisted of only a “one seater”.  Complete privacy, no worries about anyone using a urinal next to me only three feet away on the other side of an inch thick stall.  Those days are gone.  The men’s restroom of the new office is much nicer than the other one, but contains one stall plus two urinals.


Today I half-jokingly told my co-worker Mark that I am planning to make a sign to put up on the outside of the stall door whenever I am in there that would say, “Nick Shell is in here, in case you wanted to know.”  That way I could enjoy my peace without having to hear heckling comments or even just having to deal with the annoying question, “Who’s in there?”  Mark replied, “But if you make that sign then you will be interfering with Man Law.  Pestering the person in the bathroom stall is a requirement if it’s someone you know in there.”


It’s hard to imagine I could make it through 5 volumes of Manspeak without mentioning Man Law.  (Here’s a refresher course I found…)

http://manlawguide.wordpress.com/


Man Law of course was officially outted and recognized by those Miller Lite beer commercials in 2006.  Laws like “a man shall not walk a dog that is smaller than a football” and “there shall be a minimum waiting period of at least 6 months before a man is permitted to start dating his best friend’s ex”.  These laws are taken from the Book of Man Law, a book that no man has actually ever read or even seen before.  A man is just sort of born knowing it.


While a man is hard-wired with his own built-in instruction manual which helps him know his own kind; he is not programmed to understand a woman.  That’s where trial and error comes in.  But at least for himself and his own kind, he does have some direction.


At the heart of Man Law is an effort to ultimately prevent any reason for a man to ever have a Misunderstanding with another man.  Which prevents the unspeakable Hurt Feelings and the play-it-cool Apology.  A man doesn’t go around thinking about and talking about his relationships with his other guy friends.  Man Law takes care of that.  It’s set up to keep things simple in male friendships.


Man Law not only keeps his fellow male relationships healthy but also helps keep a man from unnecessarily embarrassing himself more than he already does on a weekly basis.  One of the many reasons I can’t stop obsessing over the movie I Love You, Man is because of how right-on it addresses the quirky rules of what it takes to be a socially acceptable man among his male peers. It does this by having a cast full of men who constantly break Man Law.  In fact, it is ironically Andy Samberg’s openly gay character, Robby Klaven, who helps his brother Peter to know what a confident straight man is supposed to act like.


One of the best examples of a serial offender of Man Law is Peter’s annoying self-obsessed co-worker Tevin Downey who has highlights in his hair and a fake tan, sends annoying e-mail forwards, and sneaks up behind Peter and tickles him whenever he gets the chance.  He’s the epitome of what used to be called a jerk, but in this decade has evolved into what is now called a Tool or a Douchebag. This kind of guy is not physically threatening, nor is he effeminate.  He is simply completely oblivious to the importance of Man Law.


Understandably, Man Law is sometimes misinterpreted as a chauvinistic list of what it takes to be macho.  Not the case.  What’s much worse than being less than manly is being compared to Dane Cook or Spencer Pratt, two “men” I constantly make references to, usually mentioning how men around the world long to punch them in the face.


To outsiders, Man Law may seem like a finicky, strenuous system in which a person can become overwhelmed by trying to keep up with all the rules.  It can be, for those born with out the instincts.  Because after all, it is an issue of social survival.  For the men who were unfortunately born with Man Law Deficiency, there is hope:  Watch The Office on Thursday nights.  Pay special attention to Andy Bernard and Michael Scott.  Do the exact opposite of whatever they do.


All pictures with the “JHP” logo were taken by Joe Hendricks Photography:

Blog- www.photojoeblog.com

Website- www.joehendricks.com


Film Review I Love You Man