The 12 Plays of Christmas (4 of 12)

Introducing…the 12 Plays of Christmas. Over the next 12 days, I will write 12 one-act plays that illustrate life in the Nuckols home. Additionally, we will perform these plays for you and put them up on the site.

 

Smell?

ALEX and MIKE are on the couch watching The Flash. They are both snuggled together and transfixed.

SHANI enters through the front door.

SHANI
I’m home! Do you guys smell a food smell in here?

MIKE AND ALEX (not looking up)
No.

SHANI crosses and exits for the kitchen. Pause a beat. She returns.

SHANI
I just went to the grocery store yesterday. Did you guys eat all the grapes?

MIKE AND ALEX (not looking up)
Yes.

Pause another beat as she stares at them. They stay fixed on the screen. SHANI leaves.

 

END SCENE.

The 12 Plays of Christmas (3 of 12)

Introducing…the 12 Plays of Christmas. Over the next 12 days, I will write 12 one-act plays that illustrate life in the Nuckols home. Additionally, we will perform these plays for you and put them up on the site.

 

Drink?

MIKE and SHANI sit on the couch. Both are on their phones.

MIKE
Hey, would you…

SHANI
Hang on.

Shani needs to finish what she’s doing on her phone. Mike nods and goes back to his phone.

SHANI
Oh, I forgot…

MIKE
Just one sec.

Now Mike is finishing something on his phone. Shani nods and goes back to her phone.

SHANI
What do you think about a glass of wine?

MIKE
That sounds good.

Mike looks up at her. She is still on her phone. He stares at her and waits. She stares up at him, then goes back to her phone.

MIKE
Ok…

He gets up.

MIKE
Red or white?

SHANI
Red please.

 

END SCENE.

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The 12 Plays of Christmas (2 of 12)

Introducing…the 12 Plays of Christmas. Over the next 12 days, I will write 12 one-act plays that illustrate life in the Nuckols home. Additionally, we will perform these plays for you and put them up on the site.

 

SAFETY

JACK, ALEX, and SHANI are in the living room. ALEX and JACK are on their phones. Shani is reading.

Jack FARTS.

SHANI
Ew!

ALEX
Safety.

JACK
I say safety, you say doorknob, genius.

ALEX
Darn it.

Jack FARTS.

SHANI
Ew! Gross!

ALEX
Safety.

JACK
Doorknob! You have to say doorknob! God, you’re an idiot.

Alex FARTS.

SHANI
Yuck!

JACK
Safety!

ALEX
Safety!

JACK
Now you’ve got me all confused.

Mike enter. He FARTS.

SHANI
Doorknob!

MIKE
Huh?

Alex, Jack, and Shani all attack Mike.

 

END SCENE.

 

The 12 Plays of Christmas (1 of 12)

 

Introducing…the 12 Plays of Christmas. Over the next 12 days, I will write 12 one-act plays that illustrate life in the Nuckols home. Additionally, we will perform these plays for you and put them up on the site (probably this weekend).

 

BRUSHED

Morning. MIKE and SHANI are in the kitchen. JACK enters.

NARRATOR (played by Alex)
It is morning. Mike and Shani are eating breakfast. Jack enters.

MIKE
Morning, bubba.

SHANI
Hi, sweetie. Teeth brushed?

JACK
I did it.

NARRATOR
It is a lie. Shani knows it. Mike knows it. Jack knows it. We freeze and hear their thoughts.

Stage goes dark. Spotlight appears on each individual as they reveal their thoughts.

SHANI
My perfect child is ruining his teeth. All that money on braces and he’s going to have colored squares.

JACK
Don’t they understand that I need to figure out the Yankees 2027 lineup so I can find out if I’m batting 1st or 2nd! I’ve been poring over stats for days trying to lock this down.

Stage goes back to regular kitchen lighting.

NARRATOR
We go back to the scene at hand. Jack goes to the refrigerator. Shani reaches out to grab him.

SHANI
Come here, Jack Nuckols. I need a hug.

NARRATOR
It is a lie. Shani knows it. Mike knows it. Jack knows it. The two struggle in an awkward hug.

SHANI
I’m trying to hug you.

JACK
You’re trying to smell my breath.

SHANI
No. No I’m not.

JACK
You are!

SHANI
I don’t think you brushed your teeth.

JACK
Get off me!

NARRATOR
We freeze and hear Mike’s thoughts.

Stage goes dark. Spotlight appears on MIKE.

MIKE
If I had received the proper training when I was a boy, I really believe that today I would be a ninja.

 

END SCENE.

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Why Trump will Lose

(I’m going to save my f-bomb for the end on this one [see apology here].)

Last night I played poker with a group of educated, white, suburban men (mostly republicans) and they are universally voting for Hillary. It wasn’t even a topic of debate. So that made me feel pretty good.

But here’s what really made me start to feel good yesterday…

Actually…stay with me. We’re going to have to cover a few different topics on this one. We’re going for a ride.

Topic #1: My marriage

Shani and I have this…agreement. She handles all the worrying. She worries at me and I tell her: “ahh, it’ll be fine.” However, this agreement only works because I don’t worry about anything. Which is why this election is so messed up. Shani worries at me, expecting reassurance, and I can’t do it. I’m barely holding myself out of the pit of gloom and doom. I can’t add the weight of her worry on top of mine and I certainly don’t have leverage to pull her up.

It’s a mess.

Topic #2: W.B. Yeats

Yeats wrote a bunch of cool poems about the end of the world. He believed that every 2000 years mankind destroys itself in a catastrophic bloodbath. In fact, Yeats described the birth of Christ (year 0) as the last one to occur.

In other words, Yeats would say we’re about due to destroy ourselves. He described that event in a poem called The Second Coming that my friend Ed Gallagher recently posted on Facebook. The poem describes that destruction as a time when “the best lack all conviction while the worst are filled with passionate intensity.”

That line has haunted me every time I see the euphoric glory of people at Trump rallies (Jew-S-A! Jew-S-A!). While at the same time the John McCains and Paul Ryans are MIA. The church leaders are silent.

Topic #3: American Democracy

Here’s how our democracy works:

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100% of Americans bitch about politics and the issues. It’s our fundamental, God-given, Constitutionally-created right in America to express disgust at politicians and the government. ALL Americans exercise this right.

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54% of Americans actually take the time and effort to vote for President.

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36% of Americans actually take the time and effort to vote in elections without a President being decided.

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Then there are the people who actually run the country. That’s about 1%.

The direction of our government is not a product of the general population. Yes, everyone has opinions, but that’s pretty much where it ends. It’s really just a handful of people who actively participate in the creation of policy.

You know these people. They’re the ones who have looked into the details of the laws being passed in your area. They go to those awful, tedious town meetings. They run for school board. They’re the ones organizing events at your school and getting everyone else to help out.

This 1% of people have enormous and far-reaching impact while the rest of us sit on our asses and bitch.

Want to know how I learned this? My wife taught me. Hang on, I’ll show you.

7 years ago, Shani was really worked up about nutrition in our elementary school. She was bitching about it and so were lots of people.

Then one night I came home to find 6 moms around my dining room table. In her jittery, friendly, adorable way, Shani was leading a meeting on what to do about nutrition.

Next thing I knew I was at the school for a “work weekend” with dozens of volunteers building this incredible garden. Those moms had gotten the lumber and plants donated. They organized rotations for watering and weeding. It was amazing.

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Every grade incorporated the garden into their science curriculum and had classes outside. The school started having “salad day” every month. This all happened in less than a year and it all continues to this day.

2 years ago, Shani really started getting more and more upset by all the shootings. Like a lot of people, she was bitching about the NRA and the need for better gun control…but Shani doesn’t just bitch about stuff. That’s not how a one-percenter rolls.

She got involved in a group called Moms Demand Action. She went to meetings. She started making calls to organize volunteers. She went to a march in Brooklyn. She’s organized events in our town.

And I’ve watched Shani and a small group of other one-percenter moms achieve remarkable things. They got Kroger’s (big grocery chain in the south) to officially prohibit guns in their store. They’ve affected legislation in states and towns across the country. They’ve been labelled “the NRA’s worst nightmare” in the press. Democrats in Congress (who for years wouldn’t even say the words “gun control” out loud) staged a sit in. In the 3rd presidential debate, Hillary Clinton spoke their “sensible gun control” talking points word-for-word.

One percent. That’s who gets things done. Which brings me to my overall point and hopefully brings these three topics together….

Conclusion

When it comes to this election, my wife is doing more than just worrying. Oh, she’s been bitching about Trump…but then after the “grab ’em by the pussy” video came out, Trump put out a snarky little tweet. And that did it.

Shani’s been making calls for the campaign for weeks — recruiting volunteers, organizing voters, getting shit done. She’s been out canvassing on weekends, going door-to-door and in her jittery, friendly, adorable was making the case for Hillary Clinton and making sure Trump doesn’t get anywhere near the White House. In fact, Shani is literally canvassing in the Philly suburbs as I write this.

Yes, I’m afraid to inform you, Mr. Trump – you human shitstain, you asslick, you fecal mass — the best do not lack conviction in this election. The destruction of the world will have to come another time. You will lose, you will go back to your chintzy tower, and you will become irrelevant. My wife is making sure of it — and as I think of that it melts the dread away for me.

In Summary

I know that was a lot to take in, so let me wrap all this up for your little twitterbrain…

@realDonaldTrump: You pissed off my wife, which means that

YOU

ARE

FUCKED.

Drinking or Streaking

[Note: more election blathergush from me. Read the previous post for disclaimers and apologies.]

The podcasts were grim this morning on my way to work and I had to shut them off. Nate Silver was explaining the mathematical errors that the Clinton team had made in their ad buys. Couldn’t take it.

Anyhow…here’s how the next 4 days look for me:

  • Friday (today): Alex and I have tickets to go see Doctor Strange and then I’m playing poker with friends in town.
  • Saturday: Long bike ride, soccer game, small dinner party with some people that I genuinely like
  • Sunday: Canvasing in Philly
  • Monday: Going to a campaign event with Hillary, Bill, Barack, and Michelle. Shani’s so active in the Moms Demand Action group that we’ll get up in front. So awesome.
  • Tuesday: Election day. Maybe calling in sick so I can canvas. That night I will either drink myself into a puddle or streak the neighborhood howling with joy.

That’s a great couple of days lined up, right? I should be bouncing off the walls excited — but I’m not. I’m just locked up with the dread-lizard crawling around in my gut.

I woke up at 4:30 this morning and got up to surf the news. How mishandled emails is a bigger story than raping a minor is a source of such bafflement to me that I am literally speechless. How on Earth are there teams of reporters madly reviewing her emails and calling out any possible detail as news, and yet NO ONE seems to be spending any resources investigating AN ACTUAL RAPE CASE THAT IS GOING TO COURT IN A MONTH! HAS EVERYONE LOST THEIR FUCKING MINDS!?!

Minga.

And by the way, while I’m ranting, let me make a seemingly incongruous point: I’m pretty damn sure Hillary is going to win. It may not seem that way, but I do believe that. Her polls are better. Her ground game is remarkable. And on some level I still think when it comes down to it, the majority of America won’t be able to overlook how intensely and dangerously unfit Trump is to be our president.

With every debate, people saw them side-by-side and suddenly everyone went: “Wow – this isn’t even close.” I’m hoping that  reality hits when people actually go to vote. They’ll go: “You know, this is actually pretty serious.”

I’m hoping.

Thanks for bearing with me.

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When I needed it most

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Game 7 of the World Series – Cubs defeat the Indians 8-7 in extra innings. They are calling it the best game in baseball history. I watched it on the couch with Jack. We stayed up all the way through the last out at 1:05 AM (on a school night).

And from here…I’m going to make an apology. I know you signed up for a blog about baseball and fatherhood, but this election has consumed me. And I think I need to write my way through it. You’re an innocent bystander and I’m sorry. There will be curse words; it will be raw and poorly written; it will be highly partisan.

See, Shani and I don’t talk anymore. We sit and look at our phones, scrolling through Facebook and calling out newscast to each other.

“Did you see the Louis CK video?”

“The KKK is endorsing him. Perfect.”

“More evidence of voter suppression — it’s disgusting.”

I check FiveThirtyEight.com maniacally. I check it when I wake up. I check it when I drive. I check it when my kids are talking to me. I watch Hillary’s declining lead like it’s my supply of oxygen and I’m praying I’ve got enough to make it until Tuesday.

I find myself praying a lot, mostly when I’m driving. I pray for this to end. The idea of that person actually being our president — God, the embarrassment. How can this be even close to real?

I’m not dealing with this in a healthy way. A lot of the time my stomach feels like a towel being wrung out. I felt vaguely nauseous on my way to work this morning. I try to look at the fall colors (which are gorgeous right now) but my consciousness slides back to a poisoned sense of dread. I listen to political podcasts and hear interviews with undecided voters who “are not sure they can vote for Hillary given all the latest news on her emails.” I find myself wanting to grab these people by the shoulders, shake the shit out of them and shriek in their face: “Are you seriously that fucking stupid?!?!”

Last night the Cubs won the World Series after a 108-year drought. And they won it in game 7 –- a phenomenal game in a phenomenal series. God, what a game. A historic game. A game that years from now people will reminisce about where they were when they watched it.

I watched it on the couch and I watched it with my son. My son who loves baseball so deeply and fully and purely that I honestly can’t even comprehend it. He’s like a math genius thinking about equations that are so far above my head it’s not even real. I just watch him and marvel.

But at the same time, there a part of that love for baseball that I do understand. I feel it so powerfully that I sometimes feel like I’m drowning in it.

This is Wayne Williams.

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Wayne’s father died in 1980. But they made a pact that when the Cubs finally won the World Series, they would listen to the game together. Wayne drove from North Carolina to Indiana and he listened to the game at his father’s grave.

That I understand.

Dear God, thank you for this game and thank you for letting me share it with my son. Help me make it through this offseason. Help me get through to election day — and please make sure that Donald Trump is never, ever our president.

14639687_1170601403031063_988204485054441969_n.jpg[Note to readers: more tortured and gibberish posts may follow in the next few days. I apologize in advance.]

Dating advice for the next 4 years

So, the election is pretty much over now. And as a parent, I’m thinking about the next 4 years in my boys’ lives. They are now 11 and 13, so over the next 4 years they may start dating. And it occurred to me, this election can actually help me guide them.

See, there will be girls who my boys should treat with respect — but they’re boys, right? They’re going to have needs. They may want to find some girls that you can just…you know. Just go for it; doesn’t matter what the girl wants.

If you’re a Trump supporter, I’ll know you’re OK with that kind of behavior. I mean, if you think someone who behaves that way is good enough to be president, it must be good enough for your daughter?

So just leave a comment for me in the comment section. And maybe leave me your daughter’s name. It’ll be a big help. Thanks.

Goodbye Big Papi

 

Attn: David “Big Papi” Ortiz

From: the NuckolBall editorial staff

As a Yankees fan, you have been the symbol of the enemy for me. I have loathed you for years. You have gut-punched me again and again. I have delighted when you failed and sworn until I’m red in the face when you succeeded. You were at the heart of the worst baseball experience of my life (2004 comeback).

You were a massive whiner. A cry-baby. You were nailed for steroids and the Boston press loved you so much that when you said “I’m going to get to the bottom of this,” that seemed to be all they needed to hear.

But unlike most cry-babies, you could deliver the goods.

You made baseball unbearable. You made it must-see. For years, watching a Yankees-Red Sox game was 3 hours of muscle-clenched agony. I tracked the entire games on where you were in the line up. Please don’t walk this guy or we face Papi next inning. Every time we got you out, I gasped in relief and then started to count all over again.

Baseball is about tension. People say it’s boring and hate the slow pace. But the slow pace is what so masterfully builds that tension. It’s like a great horror movie. It’s not the zombies that are scary – it’s the anticipation of them. It’s waiting for them to spring.

And Papi, you were the ultimate zombie. You were Freddy Krueger. You were Jason and Chuckie and Leatherface. I’d spend the entire game waiting for you to spring out of the shadows and smash a game-winning home run. And then I’d spend the entire next day thinking about the next game in the series.

 

And for all this…I thank you.

You’ve been an integral part of a golden time in my baseball life. NuckolBall will be officially voting for you as a first-ballot hall-of-famer. You broke my heart quite a few times, and I thank you for it.

Now listen to this and cry (good stuff starts around 1:25).

 

X-Rated Post from SF

 

To quote Alex: “Dad was cursing. A LOT!”

We just came home from a fantastic 2-week road trip vacation in California. And towards the end we hit AT&T Park in San Francisco, which is #2 on my park list. We got there 2 hours early for batting practice…which turned out to be the source of my foul language.

So…here is the typical thing you find at batting practice before a game. A bunch of kids trying to get balls and autographs. Warms my heart.

But take a look at some of the people in the crowd. Why do grown men have gloves with them?

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LOSERS! God, I’m getting all mad again as I write this. Grown men should not be trying to get balls. It’s embarrassing as hell. Wait…here’s my favorite shot. Look at how cool this guy thinks he is because he got a ball.

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He was literally tossing it up and down in the midst of a bunch of kids who were dying to catch a ball. What a putz. For God sakes, you’re a grown man. If you want a ball, buy it. On several occasions, I saw these buffoons swoop over kids to catch a ball.

It’s especially bad when a player actually tosses a ball to a kid and these guys grab the ball. Eventually I got so mad I headed down to say something to one of these guys, but Mets closer, Jeurys Familia, called the guy out and demanded the ball be handed over to a kid.

Anyhow…here are all the words I used to describe these guys as I was ranting in front of Alex. For the sake of avoiding an X-rating, I have typed them into my iPhone and let auto-correct fix them.

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Aside from my fury, the game itself was absolutely terrific fun. Actually, the whole 2-week trip was one of my favorite 2 weeks ever. But still, if you are a grown-up getting balls, you have to stop.

Here’s a video of Jack flipping the K placard.