SNES Classic!

First thing’s first: I gotta shout out Kapono, a world-class line-waiter who hooked me up with an SNES Classic. Kapono is a first-ballot Black Friday Hall of Famer and he’s coming to a Best Buy near you. It was great to see you and Dawn – even if our kids had no idea what was happening.

I am most excited to play Super Mario World for incredibly nostalgic reasons. I started with Street Fighter II Turbo, but the rust was too strong. Madison wandered into the room to see what all the fuss was about so I switched to Mario Kart in hopes of hooking her. Well, she’s in the bedroom playing games by herself, so I’d say mission accomplished.

At some point, Lynnette found us and got in on the action. I had more fun watching the two of them play than playing myself.

1Mario Kart – If this afternoon as any kind of indication of Madison’s driving prowess, I am not looking forward to teaching her how to drive in her teen years. Mad couldn’t stay on the road and showed significantly delayed reactions. The turns would show themselves in the distance and Madison wouldn’t bother to turn until well after she’d reached the dirt. Then, when she actually tried to turn, she’d completely overcompensate until she was moving in the wrong direction. It was pretty amusing to watch her turn the controller over left and right like a steering wheel, though. Lynnette also showed some signs of rust, making wide turns and skidding into obstacles repeatedly. She’s a much better driver in real life, thank goodness.

2Street Fighter II Turbo – I never knew Lynnette ever had any kind of interest in fighting games. Honestly, I don’t think she does, she just wanted to beat someone at something, even if it was her 9-year old daughter. Lynnette quickly picked Chun-Li leaving Madison flustered to choose between all-male fighters. “You can pick Chun-Li, too, Mad,” Lynnette said. But that would have required Madison to know what the hell a Chun-Li is. “I’ll just pick this guy,” Mad said, opting for Vega – possibly because he has long hair. Once the bout was underway, It was clear Lynnette would get her victory. Madison has not played video games much over the course of her life and this lack of life experience manifests itself in her inability to use both hands at the same time. She can move her fighter or make her fighter punch/kick, but not simultaneously. Lynnette dispatched with Madison quickly, refusing to give seconds. Just a classless, disgusting act.

3Super Mario World -Lynnette totally redeemed herself while playing this classic. Lynnette understands the premise of the game and has played it before, but she’s not very good at it. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a video game savant. I’m not good, either. But Lynnette is HILARIOUS. She lifts her hands and swings her arms when she wants Mario to jump. She was so excited to have found Yoshi, then immediately ran into a Koopa which sent Yoshi running. This triggered a 30-second sequence during which Lynnette attempted to jump on Yoshi repeatedly and went from Caped Mario to Super Mario to Mario and nearly died before finally, mercifully getting back on Yoshi. Madison couldn’t stop laughing. “C’mon, Mom! she said between snorts.

“Watching you trying to get back on Yoshi was the saddest thing I’ve ever seen,” I said to Lynnette over dinner. “Oh really? Sadder than the Mets losing the World Series in 2015?” she shot back. We’re still married and Lynnette’s still alive. But still. Just a classless, disgusting act.

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Sorry Not Sorry

Lynnette doesn’t want me to post this picture or any of the others that came out of today’s impromptu kitchen photo shoot. I took a few pictures of the kids, then turned the camera on her. “Philip!” she shouted. “C’mon!” I shouted back. I guess her deep-seated modeling instincts took over because she furiously banged out a series of textbook poses. She wants to keep these images a secret, but obviously not because she looks terrible in them. I mean, just look at her:

5I would wash the hell out of those dishes.

I suppose the reason Lynnette threatens my life  whenever I tease posting photos like this one is that she has to keep up appearances. She’s got to maintain that veneer of sophistication and professionalism, two things I wouldn’t even pretend. Okay, maybe I would pretend the second. Five times a week. From 8:00 to 2:35. But you get what I mean. Lynnette’s got to keep up appearances and while I am certain I will hear my name screamed in anger at some point later tonight, I’m going to expose her anyway.

A long time ago, Lynnette figured out before I did that one of the things I was looking for in a partner was simply someone to play stupid games with. I still remember when she said it aloud for the first time. “Whaaaaat?!” I said in a pitch several octaves higher than my normal voice. “It’s true. You just want somebody who will go along with your dumb ideas.” She was right. It blew my mind. I thought about my entire existence as a young adult and holy crap, she was right.

Lynnette isn’t silly by nature. She’s got it in her, but it’s not her default setting in the same way it is for other people like her husband. We don’t have the same sense of humor; the only thing that we can agree is consistently funny is the randomness of our family life. She will say and do silly things, but 90% of the time, only if they are jokes at my expense. Her silly side has to be coaxed outside, encouraged, and celebrated. Basically, I have to treat Lynnette’s silliness the same way I would try to get Cole and Avery (and, if we’re being honest, Madison too) to look and smile at the camera. After being with Lynnette for so long, I know that it’s easier for her to keep the silly side locked up rather than let it out. But sometimes she lets it out anyway. Just for me. That’s real love, right there, when you put yourself out there for the person you love. It’s true and real and deserves to be exposed.

I love you, Lynnette. Thanks for going along with so many of my dumb ideas.

Wednesday is For the Family

Madison has dance class every Wednesday and this single wrinkle in our weekly schedule is solely responsible for what might be the best family dinner of the week. I try to stay at work twice a week to grade a bunch of stuff. There are always a ton of dishes to be done when we cook dinner. But on Wednesday night, the sink is empty.

On Wednesdays I head to Costco to make the run before Mad’s dance class ends. I go to Costco, then I go to Shay’s Restaurant, then I go to Coffee or Tea?, then I double back to get Madison, then I drive home and pick up something for Madison and/or me.

124You see, the very best part of Wednesday night dinner is the total lack of prep work. Lynnette, Madison and I carry the food and Costco items upstairs, put them away, then tear our food our of their packaging.

Cole was napping when Madison and I got home. By the time I got upstairs, Avery had a fry in her mouth and was standing next to Cole. She started kicking him in the head. Ordinarily, Cole would have awoken in a rage like some long-slumbering dragon isolated for years in a silent and pitch black cave. But since french fries were involved, he popped up and pointed at the McDonald’s bag and shouted some nonsense like an in-his-prime Peyton Manning singling out the middle linebacker and audibling into four verts against a single high safety look.

Avery still likes chicken nuggets, so she’ll eat those, but Cole is a purist. He only wants to eat the fries. I should have taken video of his face while eating his fries. I can only assume this is exactly what my own face looks like when I inhale sushi.

Madison’s graduated to 8/9 piece Chicken McNugget meals which aren’t on the menu but are basically her own 6-piece and however many Cole and Avery leave behind. She’s also started to make a dent in her french fry carton so maybe she’s grown an appetite in addition to the whatever that necessitated the purchase of her bras. I can’t even bring myself to type it, shake my head.

Obviously, not pictured is my meal which sadly did not align with my food goals. I would say that today was a “cheat day”, but that would imply it is somehow different from any of the other days. It’s not. I have no discipline.

3McDonald’s is several tiers beneath Lynnette so I pick up her dinner from Shay’s Restaurant. This is how she gets her Filipino food kick since neither I nor Madison particularly enjoy eating it. She texts me her order and I pick it up. She deserves this kind of special treatment since she is such a diligent mother. Also, look how cute she in her fancy top with that rope thing! We’ve been together for so long that sometimes I forget how lucky I am to have swindled her into marrying me. Sometimes when I’m walking with Lynnette through a mall as I hold her hand, I think about this exact con job and start walking with a limp, with one foot tilted inward. I take a few steps like this and gradually straighten my leg and walk normally. “What’s wrong?” she’ll ask if she sees it. “Nothing,” I say. And like that *blows on fingers* he’s gone.

Anyway, the highlight of tonight’s dinner was Avery’s steadfast refusal to give me a high-five. She gave Lynnette a high-five. She gave Madison a high-five. I tried unsuccessfully a bunch of times. In fact, she seems to be trolling me. She’d slowly extend her hand before drawing it back. I would exaggerate my disappointed reaction, she’d clap and squeal. She’s like a savant who has a preternatural understanding of how to piss me off and/or hurt my feelings. She really is my little PITA Girl. But eventually:

Star-Crossed Lovers? Or Maybe Just Some Ice Cream?

Avery had some digestive pyrotechnics on display today but aside from that, the kids were well enough to do some adventuring past the end of the freeway.

12I took Madison and Cole out to the playground while Lynnette cruised in the AC with a napping Avery. The Gravy Boat has been the slowest to recover from the illness that conquered out household last week. In lingered into this week by afflicting Lynnette and me. I was at my worst on Wednesday and Thursday. It all started on Tuesday. I had that sneeze where it feels like something breaks in your nose and you immediately know you’re going to be sick. This urgency led to my ill-fated decision to unwittingly take Tylenol PM at 2:00 on Tuesday afternoon. Don’t worry, Lynnette already chewed me out for being so careless. Yes, I am a moron. No, I don’t know how I hoodwinked such a sophisticated woman into marrying me. Anyway, I finished out the school day, worked with a student returning from absence for about 30 minutes, then passed out in my desk chair. I woke up at 4:45 to get dinner, then went back to work to do some more work.

I’m just glad I came out of it in time for Friday’s football game against Iolani. It was an instant classic. The Monarchs were down 28-0 in the first quarter but won the game 42-35 in overtime. This morning I was happy to watch Madison ascend to the top of the netting structure. Cole paced up and down the stairs repeatedly until he worked up the courage to jump off from the second step rather than the one closest to the ground. It wasn’t pretty. He didn’t land on his feet but he didn’t faceplant, either, so we’re marking that one up as a win.

34We ate at Sophie’s Gourmet Hawaiian Pizzeria. It was great. The ingredient options were great, the service was quick and friendly, and the prices were reasonable. In fact, that only criticism I have is that they proudly serve the Pepsi Cola family of products. Lynnette and I got the “Sophie’sticated”:

THIN GUAVA-INFUSED CRUST. Brushed with fresh herb olive oil, layered with parmesan, mozzarella, tomatoes, spiced salami and fresh arugula. Finished with dry-aged goat cheese shavings and truffle oil.

Bomb. It was Lynnette’s choice and I agreed without really looking at the description because I didn’t want to get into that husband-wife game of First Time at a New Restaurant Meal Compromise in which a married couple attempts to decide on a single entree which suits both their individual tastes only to discover that no such item exists on the menu. The game would then progress to the stage where both parties would attempt to find an entree each could “live with” only to discover that neither enjoys this compromise while both silently wish they had just gone to a familiar spot and ordered their go-to dishes. My decision to say “sure” was the equivalent of using the same answer twice in a matching section on a test; I assured that one of us would be happy rather than risk both of us being disappointed.

Madison ordered a bacon and cheese half-pizza that she said was fantastic – which is impressive because Madison’s super power is finding something, anything to complain about. Cole had bites of Madison’s pizza and Avery stuck with her dry cereal. We’ll definitely be back to Sophie’s when we’re back on that side of the island. Hopefully after a great morning at the beach or a hike that’s for sure not Koko Head.

5Once we filled our bellies, we headed back westward into Kaimuki to complete our mission for the day. Lynnette won an Instagram contest a few weeks ago. Pipeline Bakery offered an exclusive ice cream flavor called “Romeo and Juliet”. I don’t know what it consists of, but based on its name, I’ll say it’s two flavors that don’t mix, two huge cornballs, and surprise ingredients at the bottom of the pint that would put you in a coma so real that it would cause your significant other to believe you were dead and force them to take their life seconds before you come out of said coma and realize your significant other is now dead and so you get so sad that you eat more of the ice cream. I just checked with Lynnette. Romeo and Juliet is strawberry with chocolate chunks and chocolate chips. Alas.

The Kids Aren’t Alright (They’re All Sick)

I spent all week approaching every Broncos fan I knew in order to apologize to them for starting 1-1. Well. The Broncos dismantled the Cowboys and the receipts immediately began pouring on over social media. I deserve it. Where the Cardinals fans at? Come get some.

12Instead of some rollicking adventure, we’ve been running errands and staying home because all of the kids are sick. Madison couldn’t handle WWE Live or something because she had a runny nose and cough by Thursday afternoon. It was only a matter of time before the twins got sick, and that’s exactly where we are now.

Cole and Avery are both capable of blowing bubbles with their nostrils. They don’t even need a wand or bubble solution. They just have to breathe.

About an hour ago the twins were feeling miserable. Cole found Lynnette in the kitchen first and went to her for comfort. Avery was only a few steps behind and did not like it when she saw Cole already in Lynnette’s arms. In fact, that’s putting it mildly. She went ballistic. She threw herself onto the carpet, rolled around a bunch of books, and thrust kicked an innocent fan repeatedly. Every once in a while, she’d sit up to look up to see Cole still in Lynnette’s embrace, then throw herself back onto the floor with an intensified tantrum. Avery doesn’t have very many words, but if she did, I am positive one of them would have been “betrayal”.

34Eventually, though, Lynnette had to resume the meal prep. That left me in the living room with two people who like Lynnette way more than they like me. And they let me know it. “Why doesn’t anyone like Daddy?” Lynnette lamented from the kitchen. She was including herself in this question. I didn’t take offense, though. I like Lynnette way more than I like myself also.

I let Avery cry it out because there’s no stopping her if she wants to be in a bad mood. I plopped Cole down in my lap and switched from the Packers/Falcons game to the Furchester Hotel. I mean, they were about equally entertaining by this point, and one had a chance of getting Cole to stop his shouting. It worked. Five minutes later when I tried to slide Cole off my lap so I could help Lynnette in the kitchen, he shouted, turned around, and jammed the top of my head into my chest. He reclaimed his place on his throne as I muttered “Sorry, sorry, sorry, sorry…”

But no one’s crying right now! Cole and Avery had dinner and are in various states of contentment. Madison’s eating soup but it’s hilarious because she’s about three feet away from me and I can hear her sniffle then slurp her soup every 30 seconds or so and it’s so gross. But not as gross as it’s going to be when I get sick. It’s all but guaranteed now.

WWE Live 2017!

Lynnette did the job last night, agreeing to watch Cole and Avery so that Madison and I could attend WWW Live at the Blasidell. I don’t profess myself as some kind of relationship guru or master of the love languages, but damn if this kind of sacrifice isn’t the truest form of love. Je t’aime, girl.

IMG_1919New Day (Big E & Kofi Kingston) vs. Dolph Ziggler & Baron Corbin – The ring announcer began the night by telling the crowd that the event would feature 3 title matches. This was the first. When New Day was announced, I expected the Usos to follow, but instead got the team of No Heat, Baron Corbin and Dolph Ziggler, two guys whose names were also generated by my copy of NCAA Football for PS3 a decade ago. Ziggler wasn’t doing any of his sarcastic gimmick stuff and Corbin was just Corbin. As always. The match was choppy and featured way too many swiveling sets of hips for my tastes, but Madison found them hilarious. To the surprise of absolutely no one, New Day retained. After the match University of Hawaii head football coach Nick Rolovich appeared in-ring with New Day to present one of his players with a full scholarship. The set-up could have been better, but it was still a really cool moment. The best bit happened mid-match, though. The crowd started chanting “New Day Rocks!” But the cadence was wrong. People chanted as if they were plainly counting “1-2-3” – evenly and without any kind of inflection. Xavier Woods heard it and made a face like he just caught wind of a nasty fart. He formed his hand into a blade and cut the air with the proper timing “New dayrocks! New dayrocks!” He smiled and gave a thumbs up when the chant corrected itself.

IMG_2013Erick Rowan vs. Luke Harper – Neither of these two were featured on the site offering event information, so it was a surprise to see them. It was even more surprising to see them face off against each other considering their history as pals in the Wyatt Family. But it was a mostly entertaining match from bigger dudes. At one point Rowan broke out a spinning kick which elicited a “Where’d you learn that?!” from a guy in the row behind me. Harper also hit a super-plex which would have ranked as the second or third highest spot in the show last July. There were a lot of chops and a lot of beard stroking, but both of them have been off of television for so long, I wasn’t sure how I was supposed to feel about them, let alone process their feud. Harper won, and since I’m here, I’m just going to say it. Everytime I see Luke Harper, I think the same two things: Why is he dressed like Dean Ambrose? and This is what Brodie from Mallrats would look like if he grew a beard 231 times Banky from Chasing Amy then took ‘roids and didn’t bathe for 6 months.

IMG_2051Aiden English vs. Sami Zayn – I was excited to see Zayn for the first time, but English was much more entertaining. Like most of the show, English’s shtick just doesn’t translate over TV. He does this thing where he introduces himself as the “drama king” by singing a cappella. First, they turned his mic volume up so damned high that when he went for the high/loud notes, my ears actually hurt. Second, even though he sings the same song every time, it’s so stupid and irritating that it works. English doesn’t appear as musically-inclined as Elias Samson on Raw, but in my opinion, that’s what makes it work. “I know what painting his pants are supposed to be,” Madison said. “Oh, yeah?” “Yeah! I don’t know what it’s called, but I know it has a building and a starry sky,” she said. Good job, Mad. English spent a bunch of time telling the audience to shut up, but I saw Zayn hit the exploder into the turnbuckles and the helluva kick on English for the win, so that was pretty cool.

IMG_2363Rusev vs. Randy Orton – Before either contestant emerged, the bout was announced as a Last Man Standing Match. There was a pretty big pop when Rusev’s music hit, but it was dwarfed by the screaming for Randy Orton. The match featured kendo sticks, steel chairs, and a folding table, but that’s not why it was my favorite match of the night.

I have personally never found Randy Orton compelling. I’m not sure what his character is – even after all this time – and he always seems to be underperforming with regards to his considerable physical gifts. I realized these are common complaints of Orton, but it always seemed like Orton got a great reaction at live events. I never understood why. For a long time, David Shoemaker and Dave Schilling (two wrestling writers/podcasters) have been saying that Orton’s singular talent/value is his existence as the platonic ideal for what a professional wrestler is supposed to look like. I understood the argument, but I had never experienced it before last night.

When he walked up the steps and lingered on the ring apron outside the ropes, I actually said “Holy shit,” out loud. He’s not physical freak in the way Strowman and Lesnar are. He’s not ripped-to-shreds muscular like Rick Rude or the Ultimate Warrior were. He climbed the ropes before and after his match (which, of course he won with an RKO) to hit his signature pose. And I get it now. The gods stepped down from Olympus and sculpted Randy Orton from a slab of marble, then breathed life (but not the ability to cut solid promos) into him. He looks and feels like a wrestler in a way that AJ Styles, Kevin Owens, and even someone like Seth Rollins does not. I say this without hyperbole: it was an almost religious experience, to have an epiphany in the midst of all that emotion.

IMG_2422Naomi, Charlotte Flair, and Becky Lynch vs. Carmella, Tamina, Lana, and Natalya – It was a handicap match inside and outside of the ring because of the presence of the chinless James Ellsworth. The “good” girls brought out Asuka (in a sling) for a nice pop and so they could stand on all four corners when they eventually won.

1. Lana is terrible.
2. Tamina – even as a heel – got a huge ovation. She had family in the audience. She broke out a chee huu! in the middle of the match and every single human in my section – and probably in the arena – gave it right back to her. Great moment.
3. Naomi’s glow/blacklight entrance really is something. Mad was looking forward to it the whole night.
4. Becky lifted her arm to throw her goggles in our direction. I saw it and stood before anyone else did. I got my hands on it, but at the last minute the guy on my right made a move for it. He whacked my hands and sent the goggles into the lap of the woman sitting in front of me who didn’t even notice what was happening until the goggles plopped down on her thigh. So unclutch.

IMG_2624Kevin Owens vs. AJ Styles – I figured it was would be these two and I was pretty excited about it. Sadly it was a short match that teased a few high spots, but ultimately didn’t deliver them. I suspect that since both worked pretty hard the night before – Smackdown Live was in Vegas on Tuesday night – they took it easy. I understand, I’m just bummed about it. Styles did hit the Phenomenal Forearm from the ring to the outside, then hit it again for the win. No Styles Clash, no 450, no pop-up power bomb, no 5-star frog splash. If last night Styles had the match with Tye Dillinger he had on Tuesday night, I would have been so stoked. Alas.

IMG_2671Jinder Mahal vs. Shinsuke Nakamura – Announced as the main event, it was (in my opinion) the worst match of the night. Mahal’s not a great wrestler and Nakamura was obviously protecting himself during the match, so that didn’t make for a particularly compelling physical contest. I was more frustrated with the tropes of a Jinder Mahal match because I’ve been watching them play out in exactly the same way for what feels like 6 months already.

The Singh Brothers came out to herald the Modern-Day Maharaja like they always do. A few guys in my section tried to start a “mahuraja” chant, but it didn’t take. I personally thought the money was with “Maha-raj-raj-raj-raj,” but that’s just me. Anyway, Mahal then cut the same promo he does before every single match, starting with “You people”, moving to a reminder that he’s our WWE champion, then closing by speaking to his people in his language. And then eventually the Singh Brothers interfered in the match which led to a loss for Nakamura. Again, has no one ever watched a single Jinder Mahal match? Because I have watched several. AND THEY’RE ALL EXACTLY THE SAME.

Still, it was a good night. I will probably go every time they return. Besides, it was a great date with Madison that ended at the Mililani Mauka McDonald’s at 11 PM. “So, two McDoubles, a 6-piece McNuggets, and we’ll share a fries?” I said. “Yeah,” Mad said. “And two waters?” I added. “Yeah, we don’t need to stay up any later than this,” she said. True.

Cole and Avery at 22 Months

The twins turned 22 months old this weekend. I waited until today to take pictures of them both because it’s NFL Opening Weekend and Cole and Avery would be decked out in their Sunday best.

12I have no way of proving this, but it seems like the twins have both made strides this month.

Cole’s been more responsive to direct commands and instructions. He appears to enjoy helping Madison put the toys and books away at the end of the night. He’s started pretend play by using a combination of our play toys and food and actual utensils to simulate cooking. He flips the laundry baskets over to make counters and stovetops, then mixes bead necklaces in pans and bowls before extending his spoons and forks in our direction. Whenever I take a bite, I exaggerate my enjoyment of the faux food, and Cole really seems to get a kick out of that.

Even Avery – for all the challenges she’s presented recently – has shown encouraging signs. She’s been interacting with us longer and more frequently. She’s brings both Lynnette and me books to read her. Her favorite titles include those which include different textures for her to touch. During a meal yesterday, I was eating and checking my phone. All of a sudden, Avery placed her and on mine. I looked up and her big brown eyes looked right into mine. “What’s up, Gravy?” I asked. She smiled. Then, I placed my hand on hers. She laughed and raspberried me.

“They’ll be two in a couple of months,” Lynnette said of the twins a few days ago. “I don’t know how that’s possible,” I said. Lynnette laughed; she felt the same way. “They should be 5 or something already,” I said. “I know, right?” Lynnette said. Maybe because there are two of them, it feels like time passes at twice the speed. Or 4 or 5 times.