Parents / Family Fun — In her job as a physician’s assistant, my wife has been required to work in the E.R., get ready for 6 a.m. surgeries, and be on call—all things that have led to a rewarding career but nothing close to what our parents called a “normal work schedule.” As such, it’s often just our two sons and me, the three Vrabel men, waking up to a day full of endless possibility and promise. And these days tend to begin the same way: with me making breakfast and asking, “So what’s on the agenda today?” and the boys responding with…well, abject silence, since they’re upstairs furiously Minecraftingwhile I talk to a stack of speedily cooling Belgian waffles.
Given the opportunity, my sons would be pretty well satisfied devoting one to 48 hours of their day to Minecraft, Roblox, and some curious digital pastime known to me only as “Goat Simulator.” (I once asked the 6-year-old how to play it, and he responded by tilting his head, looking at me as though I’d just sprouted a second head, and saying, “Uh, you simulate goats.” I’d never been so shut down by such a weird sentence.)
Every dad wants to fill his children’s hours with activities that will empower and enrich them; every parent has stared at a wall repeating, “Yeah, I have no idea what that is.” To that end—and to celebrate Father’s Day—here’s an incomplete list of DAD THINGS TO DO WITH YOUR KIDS, as written by actual dads, prominent bloggers, musicians, and me, a humble writer-slash-Belgian-waffle aficionado.
The Loop / Golf Digest — INDIANAPOLIS — I’m standing in line to get my fancy “American Ninja Warrior” media pass, a red clip-on badge that announces to everyone, “F**k no I’m not doing this, it would aggravate my back arthritis,” but the kid behind me talks to me anyway, glancing quizzically at my snappy blazer/jeans combo before asking if I’m running the course. No no, I say, joking that I’m too old for that kind of thing. “Nah man, it’s OK,” he shoots back with a trainer’s enthusiasm, “Lots of old people run it.” Lots. Lots of OLD PEOPLE. Break an arm falling from a steel trapeze, pipsqueak, and don’t come crying to me in 15 years when all your energy-drink sugar turns into side fat and diabetes.
Now in its 10th season, NBC’s “American Ninja Warrior” spends its springs traveling to a half-dozen cities before resolving into its finals in Las Vegas. Tonight they’re in Indy, dropping a giant obstacle course onto Monument Circle and lighting the surrounding buildings with appropriate Hollywood fervor.
Golf Digest — The Indianapolis 500 goes green this Memorial Day weekend, as it has (just about) every Memorial Day weekend since 1911. To pay tribute, here’s a quick refresher lap around two-and-a-half miles of pure, unbridled America.
What is it?
The 102nd running of the Indianapolis 500, still the Largest Single-Day Sporting Event in the World, no matter what those jerks from Wrestlemania try to tell you. The race remains the sports pride of the state, although the Pacers basically coming one blown goaltending call away from toppling LeBron is a real good second.
Is this still a big deal?
WE IN INDIANA WILL HAVE YOU KNOW that the 500 remains the biggest event in our state AND yours: More than 300,000 cooler-toting jorts-rocking sunstroke-developing exhaust-sniffing Race Fans will begin streaming into the Indianapolis Motor Speedway at 6 a.m. on Sunday, when an actual cannon is fired to signal the opening of the gates and wake up every last dog in Speedway (the town containing the Speedway is actually called Speedway, because we are proud literal folk.)
Indianapolis Monthly — Fun fact: In addition to hosting the Largest One-Day Sporting Event in the World, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway holds the Largest One-Day Volume of Chicken Tenders Put in the Mouths of 300,000 Humans. There are untold regions from which to obtain chicken tenders here: There are tents devoted to them, and concession counters flush with them. I’m pretty sure you can get some from Letterman’s luxury box. Today, on Fast Friday, I am simply sitting in Pagoda Plaza in the midst of a chicken-tender Fantasyland that would paralyze my children with joy.
But I am here in search of OTHER FOODS, the non-vaguely identified poultry parts that make up the culinary options at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. To do so, I wandered the Pagoda Plaza and drifted down Georgetown Road like a creeper, circumventing the entire outside of the oval and doing my due journalistic diligence while pre-emptively working off turkey legs (HA. Just kidding; to do so I’d need to walk 3,499 more laps). Sure, IMS houses plenty of traditional concessions—your tenders-on-a-bed-of-waffle-fries ($10), your burger-esque objects ($10), and your Indy Dogs ($5), which are like regular hot dogs, except made of pollen. But my assignment was to wander a bit off the track (SEE WHAT I DID THERE) and see what I could find.
GQ — In the mid-1800s, a Polish doctor inspecting laborers from a local salt mine started noticing something consistent and strange: Everybody looked fantastic. Clear skin, no rashes. No colds, no flu, no coughs. People were breathing just fine—not even fine but perfectly. For sweaty Polish miners who spent their days underground hacking away with axes, this was a surprise.
The Loop / Golf Digest — For many people, the RBC Heritage is the official name for That Tournament After the Masters, the one with fewer big names, 100% less Tiger and … more expensive drink prices. (To be fair, after you’ve spent 95 minutes traveling there, $12 Bud Lights don’t look so bad). For those of us who lived on Hilton Head Island, this is dumb and wrong and also dumb! Now in its 50thyear, the RBC (it’s a Canadian bank, we guess) Heritage beautifully fills the post-Masters space with a laid-back weekend in lush Hilton Head, a near-perfect destination for people trying to flee a DEATHLESS WINTER THAT WON’T STOP. If this sounds like you, read on.
The Loop / Golf Digest — For time immemorial, CBS’s Masters theme music has been a song called “The Masters Theme Music,” or, “You Know, the Masters Song, No I Don’t Know What the It’s Called and God Stop Asking Me, Doug.”
As it happens, this song bears an actual title, which is “Augusta.” It also has an actual composer, who is a man named Dave Loggins. And if that name just triggered an endorphin fire in the brain-storage unit reserved for Golf-Adjacent Songs of the Very Early 1980s, you’re alright: Dave is the third cousin of Kenny Loggins, the maple syrup-voiced and impeccably groomed beardsmith who provided the “Caddyshack” theme song, “I’m Alright,” as well as music for the decade’s most iconic films about Tomcat dogfights and underworld arm wrestling. Basically, if you were an adult Caucasian male between 1980-1987, your favorite song was probably written by a Loggins.
And even if not — maybe you were a “Rock Me Amadeus” kind of guy, whatever — how weird is this? Two Logginses, each with his own iconic golf-ish track, in the same epoch. How did these guys get here? And more importantly, how do they stack up against each other? Here, for the first time, we invent AND promptly end an All-Loggins Cage Match, a Golf Song Rumble in the Impeccably Landscaped Environs of an Affluent Golf Club. Wipe on the beard oil and let’s do this.
Indianapolis Monthly — Of all the weird things about “Weird Al” Yankovic, this may be the weirdest: While Coolio, Huey Lewis, and Michael Jackson really only had to worry about sounding like themselves, Weird Al and his criminally under-heralded band have to worry about sounding like The Collective Whole of 35 Years of American Pop Culture, plus Don McLean and Bob Dylan sometimes. There’s being diverse and then there’s being profoundly insane: I’ve never been in a band, but I imagine playing a set list that includes Chamillionaire, Madonna, an iconic grunge song, and a runaway polka is tougher than it looks, much like writing parody in the first place.
One guesses this was part of the drive behind Yankovic’s brilliant “Ridiculously Self-Indulgent Ill-Advised Vanity Tour,” which jam-packed the Palladium on Thursday night despite a preemptive barrage of reminders that humanity’s most iconic musical parodist—a guy whose name is synonymous with basically anything that contains some singing and is funny—would not be doing much of that.
The Loop / Golf Digest — See this ridiculous picture? This one picture right here is why I’m a Cubs fan, because of this moment, because of Harry, the ghost of an afternoon in Chicago and what is, conservatively estimating, 1983’s largest ball cap. (Seriously, it’s like my parents didn’t know hats came in sizes.) Chance and geography, a happy accident that led to four decades of living, which, it’s nice to remember on Opening Day, is how it goes for all of us.
Great and irrational value is ascribed to being a Cubs fan, because being a Cubs fan announces yourself as a stone-souled viking with the power to weather mythic proportions of loss. It’s a proof of worth, a declaration to other, flimsier folks that you’re made of stronger stuff than they are, that you’re morally superior, trophy or no trophy, to the pink-bellied chumps in Yankees hats. It broadcasts not just fanship but something approaching a complete psychological profile. It’s something so honest and sincere that Eddie Vedder wrote an acoustic song about it, for God’s sake.
But I didn’t become a fan for mythology, or to project the presumed worth that comes with loss, or because I liked their players, or their stripes, or their park, or because I was taken with their early-1900s spell of dominance. I became a Cubs fan for one reason.
The Loop / Golf Digest — Baseball’s 2018 opening day is weird: Instead of the traditional method of staggering their first games, all major league teams open on March 29 — the earliest date in MLB history, and one that will probably find you plopped at work understandably believing the season doesn’t start for another four days. But not to worry, baseball friends! You’ll miss nothing, as we have simulated the ENTIRE DAY already, using sabermetrics and psychotropic research and Theo Epstein’s algorithm-spitting robot from the future and TECHNOLOGY, by which we mean 15 baseball games made for the Nintendo Entertainment System.
LET US STOP YOU RIGHT THERE, because we know what you are about to WHINE: Many baseball teams from 30 years ago contained ENTIRELY DIFFERENT PLAYERS! Many of your favorite squads and also the Marlins didn’t even EXIST THEN! And many video game companies didn’t even spring for MLB RIGHTS so your “Pittsburgh Pirates” might actually be VIOLENT DROIDS WITH ARM CANNONS AND TREADS. To all you haterz we say: This is the INTERNET, where facts don’t stand a CHANCE against cheap nostalgia, so of COURSE much of this is wrong. You can shove your facts into the baseball beat writer at your “hometown newspaper,” hahahaha just kidding, you don’t have one.
Writer: GQ, Men’s Health,
the Washington Post, Garden & Gun, Indianapolis Monthly, Golf Digest, Vice, BruceSpringsteen.net,
the Indy 500, Fatherly, etc. Proud owner of a Bruce-related Guinness World Record. Even longer bio/clips.