Hey Pele, this ain’t the World Cup.

Editor’s note: the following is a very non-meaningful, nonsensical, get it off my chest, rant. AYSO is a fine organization as I’m sure are the people who run it. Never the less, proceed at your own risk.

<begin rant>

Look man, I’m all for team sports. Although not nearly as fun, educational, and downright awesome as golf, team sports teach a lot of life lessons for our kids. Futbol, or soccer, is one of my favorites. An addict of the Premier League and fervent fan of the Arsenal Football Club, I think it’s a great sport, especially for my kids. So just remember this little intro as you read what’s coming.

Youth Soccer ain’t that important. It just isn’t. And I type that as I watch Crystal Palace v West Bromwich Albion.

As hurricane Joaquin was bearing down on the US, the south started getting the rain. It’s been raining in Knoxville since Thursday. The storm has since moved on but not before causing the cancellation of several Major League Baseball games and causing the NCAA to put plans in place for the altering of their Saturday college football schedule.

You get that? College football was planning to alter their schedule because of the storm. The irony of all that? I was planning on some serious football (both types) watching on this rainy, no wait, rained out Saturday. So imagine my surprise when my phone lights up at 7:45 in the AM with a text message from the good people at AYSO. That’s American Youth Soccer Organization for the uninitiated. The text, in short, read:

“U5 U6 and U8 games are on. All other games are off.”

End transmission.

U5 denotes age group. So U5 means all kids under the age of five. U8 is kids under the age of 8 but older than 6. You get the idea. I’m sure by now you also get the idea that my son Frank falls into one of those Game On category’s. U8 to be exact. Game time 8:30 in the AM on a field that floods from a heavy dew. It’s been raining for two days and it has just stopped raining. Here’s a peep at the weather in our part of the world this morning at game time.

No thanks.

No thanks.

That ain't England. It's a storm.

That ain’t England. It’s a storm.

So cloudy and 55. As I said the rain had just stopped. But take a peek and the bottom left of the first picture. The little radar map. I blew it up for you.

We are the middle red dot. See all that yellow and green on the right and the little green and blue to the left, that’s the storm window AYSO was trying to squeeze the littlest kid’s games into. Mind you that weather is moving east to west because of the hurricane. So yeah, the big stuff was yet to come.

And yeah I get it. Kids are soft, American is weak, the next generation is nothing like those that came befzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. Yo man, he has school on Monday. You can stuff all that soft nonsense. Rain and cold on Saturday equals sick and absent on Monday.

My standard of toughness has changed. The nurse who ran the first baby class we went to as we waited for Frank to appear gave us all a good rule of thumb for baby comfort and safety. If the temp in the house is too cold for you, it’s too cold for them. If the bath water is too hot for you, it’s too hot for them, etc… Man that is quality advice.

I now adapt that to events like AYSO soccer. If it’s not weather I would golf in, it’s not weather for my 6 year old to be playing soccer in. Trust me, I’ve golfed in some serious weather. Ask anyone I’ve teed it up with. But if you have already made a conscious choice to cancel all the other games because of the impending weather why are you trying to jam the smallest kids in your program on the field?

These games have no playoff implications. There are no World Cup standings being affected. These games are not important enough for 6 year olds to play if you already know the weather will be too bad for the 12 year olds to play.

Of course I have no doubt the issue is money. We pay for the kids to play so missed games have to be made up. Parents no doubt want their money’s worth. Cancelling games altogether is problematic I would imagine. So the fewer games you have to make up the better. I get it.

But dammit man! It’s 55 and cloudy and the field is a muddy mess and Bournmouth v Watford starts at 10:00am on NBC SN and more weather is coming. Sitting in my barcolounger watching adults play futbol/soccer from the climate controlled comfort of my living room sounds so much nicer.

So, I made the decision. He stayed home.

And it was glorious.

<end rant>




One Actionable Thing

Back to Maui, our honeymoon spot, for anny #3

And she can write too.

Editors note: Well buckle up my friends. Frank’s Place has it’s first guest author. We don’t just dip our toe in. We got a heavy hitter who is weighing in on a heavy subject. Mrs Frank’s Place is letting it all flow out on the latest mass shooting in America.

I don’t generally write on intense topics because I don’t have the voice for it. I feel wholly and uniquely unqualified. Maybe that’s just an excuse. But it’s one I’ve come to accept.

My wife, as those that know her will attest, has the voice for it. I can tell you she is way out of her comfort zone going public with her thoughts. It’s a tough thing to lay your thoughts out in the public sphere. But she stepped out there and I’m honored she did it here. So I offer you her voice without reservation or disclaimer.


Here now Mrs Frank’s Place on the latest mass shooting in America.

My husband and I belong to an unofficial group of people that no one ever wants to join. It is informal yet exclusive. Circumstances vary vastly on how we became part yet our empathy and compassion run deep for each other. Although we don't truly understand each other completely we can identify with the pain, agony, despair, darkness and unimaginable places that we know each other has been and may continue to live part or all of each day. We can tell you that you do not want to be part of this group and you do not want your family or friends to be part of it either.

My husband and I are parents that have lost a child.

I write this today after yesterday. And after all the yesterdays I have seen since we lost our Linda Claire. I think that often I can't do something because it is little or I don't have time or I don't have the energy or what will people say or I don't want to go deep in a public space or mostly because I don't want to expose my own pain or any other excuse I could come up with . . . . However, today I decided to let all my excuses go and make my request.

Please do whatever it is that you feel you should actively do to stop our children from being gunned down. I don't know what that is for you. I do know that it doesn't seem to be stopping & it doesn't seem that anyone is immune. So I ask - please do one thing to help your community and our nation so that another parent does not have to experience the loss of a child.

One actionable thing.


Mrs Frank’s Place

The Breakfast Inequality

I grew up in a family that could cook. My mom, my dad, they could both throw down in the kitchen. All of my other 7 brothers and sisters can as well. Sundays were usually my dad making us pancakes and bacon, waffles, eggs you name it. He’d have the griddle going, dish towel draped over his shoulder, singing the same two lines to the same Italian song, and giving my sister Mary Grace the same joke when she appeared in the kitchen; “Mary Grace Mary Grace, all the chickens are having a race.”

I can still hear my dad giving me the business because I always asked for fried eggs when he was making scrambled, then I would cut the fried eggs up to minuscule bits. He would go nuts. “There is no difference between that and a scrambled egg!” Yes dad yes there is. The yoke is different when it’s fried compared to it being scrambled. It does make the egg taste different. It does, I’m tellin ya!

That was breakfast at our house way back when. Much more way back, much more when.

Adam & Eve on a raft! Wreck em!

Adam & Eve on a raft! Wreck em!

Basically by osmosis I learned to cook too. Not so much a wannabe chef as I am a short order cook in the style Vic Tayback from Mel’s diner. Turns out it was good training for having kids. The day both kids agree on what they want for breakfast is the day humanity achieves the singularity, and thus signals the end of humanity. Who knew pancakes vs waffles could be so pivotal.

Anyway, with school starting the tables have turned a bit. No surprise here, Anne Marie is the beneficiary of the breakfast inequality.

With Frank having to be at the bus stop by 7:00am coupled with his desire to sleep till 8:00 am, his breakfast options are limited. Many was the day that me and some of my familial tribe ran out the door as my brother screeched, “Bus is at the corner!” with nothing more than a pop-tart in our hands. By the way, the bus was NEVER at the corner.

I’m not too concerned that Frank is retracing the path of some of his tribe. He’s a cinnamon iced pop-tart man like we were. There are times he’ll  sleep-eat his way though a yogurt or cereal. It’s those moments that make me proud of my parental skills. Yogurt, hell that almost makes him a health food nut job.

Both eating cereal at the same time. Holy cow!

Both eating cereal at the same time. Holy cow!

The inequality comes in after Frank gets on the bus at 7:05. Anne Marie doesn’t have to be to school until 9:00. And she is much more demanding and short on humor at that hour.

“Daddy I’m hungry!”

Well miss hungry what do you want?

“I’m not miss hungry! I’m Anne Marie Linardo!”

Yes I’m aware. What would you like to eat Anne Maire Linardo?

“Can I have eggs and sauseeeeeege daddy?”

No sauseeeege today. Just bacon.


And so it goes. In minutes the bacon is sizzlin and the eggs are being cracked. Then the request. “Daddy can I have cinnamon toast while I wait for my pancakes?”

You asked for eggs Anne Marie.

“But I want pancakes!”

Sorry the cook does not recognize the phrase “I want.” And your tone will get you back in your room. Try again.

“Daddy can I please have pancakes?”

See I am the king of my domain. Sort of. OK I guess I’m eating eggs and she’s having pancakes I’m about to start making. Either way she’s eating much better than Frank. And when I say better I am in no way speaking of nutritional value. I never consider nutritional value. All I’m saying is a dry pop-tart can’t really compare to pancakes and Benton’s bacon with a side of eat while you wait cinnamon toast.

Sometimes I wonder what will happen if and when Frank stumbles across this blog in a few years. Don’t think for a second I’m not trying to figure a way to blame this all on her. I know she’ll do the same to me.

Order up!





September 11th 2015

“Everybody’s shot! … let’s go!”

The quote is from the movie Black Hawk Down. After receiving an order, a young private looks at his Colonel in disbelief and says, “But I’m shot.” The Colonel returns that now famous line.

I remember a writer, in the Philadelphia Inquirer I think, using that line as a metaphor for September 11th. I won’t be able to do it justice here. So I’ll just steal his idea and pile my own words around it.

We remember this day for a lot of reasons. Face Book lights up with various pictures. Several channels replay the events, some like MSNBC play it real time. President Bush’s then press secretary Ari Fleischer tweets the events in real time. He starts with the closing hours of his day on September 10th and then picks up when he woke up on September 11th 2001. It’s compelling. Find his twitter feed here: @AriFleischer

September 11th 2001 might be the singular most horrible day in the history of all of us who lived through it. So why do we relight the flame as it were? Why do we drudge up the memories of such a frightful event? Why are people, like me, hooked on watching all the news coverage over and over again on this day, now 14 years removed from the actual event?

Well, I’m not sure exactly but I think it’s because we all were shot on that day of days.

Me, I was hold up at the Noncomissioned Officers Academy in Knoxville Tennessee, as were a bunch of my friends, watching and not believing. Honestly we didn’t know it then, but we were not in harms way. Safely huddled around a TV, watching and not believing. We didn’t know it then, but we were all shot on that day. It’s important to accept that, to realize that. This wasn’t confined to New York, the Pentagon, or Shanksville. We were all shot on that day. So we remember.

The second part of the Colonel’s response is just as important. Let’s Go! I know you’re shot. I’m shot, she’s shot, everybody’s shot! Let’s go, keep going. Let’s get on with getting on.

And we have gotten on with it, on with recovery, on with life again. Obviously there are some amazing stories of triumph on and since that day. So, we remember. We remember as low as we sank, as high as we climbed, and that life did get on with it. And so did we.


Knowing that makes it safe to remember.



What do you remember most from that day of days?









Soccer, Piano, & Scouts: Oh My!

Tis the season. The season to overload the boy in any way imaginable. Let me be clear on this, and I mean actually clear, not presidential candidate clear. I’m all for extra curricular activities. I wish I had done more and been interested more as a kid. My laziness has been well documented here. My hope is against all odds the kids won’t be.

So I’m glad Frank is showing interest in things other than the iPad or his favorite show on TV. But we’ve gone from his father being a lazy, least resistance path taker to let’s join everything. I got tired just typing that sentence. It’s not just joining so many things at once, it’s what he’s joining.

I mean soccer I get. Me and the runt (my 3yr old daughter) have become hooked on Premier League Football. Go Arsenal! Sometimes Frank will watch with us for a bit and that may have encouraged he renewed interest in playing. I dig it.

Piano was not something I would have thought interested him. Grammy has a piano and he bangs on that once in a while. But that sounds more like a very cheap vase breaking as it bounces down the stairwell of a parking garage than anything resembling music. However, having said that, the kid has an aptitude with math. As it turns out kids good with one can be easily drawn to the other. Plus the piano teacher has a son a year or two older and Frank busted through the door after his first lesson yapping about making a new friend.

So victory on day one of piano. My back is already breaking when I think of the next logical step in the piano learning of my oldest spawn. Oh, if you’ve read this blog at all you know what’s coming. I imagine I won’t even be notified by management until the damn thing needs to be moved into the house. Frank’s next door buddy got drums for Christmas, so maybe there is a garage band in our hood’s future once the piano arrives.

Of course I’m not sure when he’ll have time to play since it appears we’ll be camping and helping old people and selling popcorn marked up at astoundingly high prices. That’s right the boy is in scouting. Cub Scouts to be exact, he’s a Tiger in Den 1.

I absolutely cannot believe I just typed that last sentence with a straight face, devoid of snark.

So yeah, scouting. Needless to say I was never a cub scout, weeblo, boy scout or what have you. To be honest I don’t know much other than their popcorn prices make the girl scout cookies seem like a fire sale. I have no issue with scouts in general. I’m just surprised how excited he was/is about it.

That's a good looking Scout right there.

That’s a good looking Scout right there.

Apparently the head shed of the Great Smokey Mountain Council went to Frank’s school and pitched to all the classes. Well this guy must be a great salesman cause Frank ran home from the bus waving his sign up form. Again he was yammering about bow & arrow, BB Guns, and camping. Only golf used to get him that excited.

My only issue at that moment was how much after school stuff he had going on, but no way I was going to throw a wet blanket on his excitement. Not overly thrilled about his excitement to shoot guns, BB or other wise. And yes I was in the military for 22 years and was trained and qualified to use a gun, the M-16 automatic rifle to be exact. I’m glad I never had to pull the trigger other than when I was required to qualify.

If he develops a love of guns through this I guess I’ll just appreciate all the safety they’ll teach him first. Ultimately that’s not even the big deal. The bigger deal is he’s only in 1st grade so that means I have to go with him to den and pack meetings and of course the big enchilada – camping trips.

Again let me remind you, I was in the Air Force. I went to Central America for the drug wars of the 1990’s. For the final two of those years I had my own room. I had a TV, a fridge, a phone. I had maid service and I ain’t ashamed of it. If it wasn’t for the blazing heat I probably would have gained weight.

All that to say this, dirt sleeping in the “wild” ain’t my idea of a trip. Hot dogs on a whittled stick over a fire ain’t my idea of dinner. The only fire I want to see is the one lightly licking my rib eye steak, bringing it to a medium rare perfection. Are cub scouts even allowed to eat steak?

Sharpie McSharpton

Sharpie McSharpton

Still I’ve never seen the kid so excited about anything. He was even stoked about the uniform. Anytime we get him some nice clothes he takes one look and gives us the stink eye, “I don’t want to wear that.” Not with his cub scout uniform. He couldn’t wait to try that on.

Of course that explains this little piece of art work to the left.

I wasn’t sure what he was thinking here. When I realized his age group is referred to as Tigers in the Scouts it all started to make sense. Sort of.

Gonna need a little work to earn the face painting badge I think.






1st Grade: Volunteering – My apology to Davey Crockett.

Seeing as I live in the great state of Tennessee, home of the greatest Volunteer in human history, one David ‘Davey’ Crockett, this post was tough to write. In fact I live about 40 minutes southwest of Rogersville in Hawkins County, where Davey’s father John relocated the family before Davey was born. If you are unfamiliar, here is a little sample of the Ballad of Davey Crockett:

Born on a mountain top in Tennessee, greenest state in the land of the free
Raised in the woods so’s he knew ev’ry tree, kilt him a b’ar when he was only three
Davy, Davy Crockett, king of the wild frontier!

If you’re not singing that tune in your head right now, you might be a communist.

Anyway, I’m not sure the King of The Wild Frontier would be very pleased with the thrust of this post. As it turns out elementary school has a side effect and it’s called volunteering. And it is, by every known definition, a double edged sword.

We sent the boy to preschool so he could develop socially. I get it. I could teach him anything, except how to be a kid. Although find some people from my past and they might tell you that’s all I could teach him. Regardless, the boy needed to be around other kids, so we shipped him off, at the age of two. I missed him.

I would get to the school about ten minutes before pick up so I could see how he interacted with other kids. It was fascinating. So when he went off to kindergarten and the chance to volunteer a little bit came up I thought, yeah that might be fun. And it was fun.

I was the hit of the Christmas party. My Bingo for Candy Canes game was an instant must play event. Only one kid out of 20 cried when he lost his stack of canes. That’s called success my friends. And he learned a valuable lesson that will serve him well 15 years from now the first time he’s using his kid’s college fund to beat the house in Vegas. I’m an educator. It’s what I do.

Now before Mrs Frank’s Place comes off the top rope with an elbow, I did not volunteer as much as she would have liked. I skipped the field trips. I picked those days to go on my own field trip, to the golf course. But I did one day a month, and I read some, I helped at the end of year party. Put it this way, I was in there a lot more than I ever expected to be. But I admit I was enjoying some 4+ hours of quiet in the house as the girl was gone most of the day as well, having started her first year of preschool.

The faces that killed the quiet and my volunteer spirit.

The faces that killed the quiet… and my volunteer spirit.

Then summer happened and the quiet died. It was assassinated actually. It was assassinated, ground up, and fed to the fishes in the briny deep, if we’re being honest. Then the longing set in. The longing for those bygone days of quiet, warm lunch, and the golf channel. It was a glorious time. It seemed like it would never return.

But then it did. The dog days of summer waned, school lists and schedules were published. The light at the end of the tunnel wasn’t an oncoming train after all. It was the light of fall and the first day of school and back to school night with the boy’s 1st grade teacher. 1st Grade!

I strolled into school armed with the knowledge that volunteering was a thing of the past. I have an inside source, an informant if you will, who I will not name. But she told me after kindergarten there is almost no volunteer time in the class room as there’s really no time for that in 1st grade.

And she was right. There was a nominal list for volunteering, but that amounted to reading to one kid at a time in the hallway for about 30 minutes. There were like a thousand parents in that room. I pulled the old ‘look the other way’ when the volunteer list came and it passed me by; much like the collection plate in church. Someone else will pony up.

So cool, we got the kid off to a good start, he’s riding the bus both ways, buying his lunch, and no need for a volunteer. Awesome.

Then a letter came home. The school library is in need of help. The pitch was, “Set your own schedule. Make it coincide with your child’s schedule so you can see them at school!” Not sure who wrote that, actually I am but I won’t name names. No matter, let’s just say this person is not destined for a career in public relations.

See your kid at school? Should I feel guilty that my first thought was, I see him enough at home, why on earth would I want to see him at school too? I probably should, but I don’t.

I think my laziness has been documented here several times. And I’m just lazy enough to blame those damn kids for beating it out of me over the summer. Yeah I know, I’m a horrible dad. But I just don’t have that volunteer spirit.

I’m the shame of Knox County. Maybe I should move back to Jersey.

Davey, I’m sorry.




1st Grade: Pestilence, parasites, and petri dishes.

Well it’s inevitable I guess. Believe it or not I’m still a little shell shocked from our bout with the stomach virus last year. It appears I will have to get over that in short order. Yep, school has started. The rise of the microbes is at hand.

Don't be fooled. This is the harbinger of intestinal distress.

Don’t be fooled. This is the harbinger of intestinal distress.

Whoops too late. Week two and the boy is already sick. Week one I put the wrong bus number on his form. I got a call, had to pick him up. Week two, he has a runny nose in the morning, pukes at school after lunch. I get a call, had to pick him up.

When I got there he was in the nurses office. His face actually had a green tint to it. He looked abominable. It looked like he would puke again at any moment. When he saw me he started to cry, the kid was in some serious distress. I wanted to hug and console the boy. I felt so bad for him. But he has the bug. Sorry Frank, engage your self-consoling application. I got no time for the germs you’re obviously harboring.

Once I gather his stuff we head for the door. The nurse says he can’t come back. In my head, at least I hope it was in my head, I’m like all “No shit Sherlock, I’m taking him home.” Outwardly I went with a very passive, “Ok” with a slightly confused quizzical look. “He can’t come back tomorrow because he threw up today.” Really? Hmm. Now it’s all about me. Again completely in my head, I hope.

Damn, there goes tomorrow’s trip to the pool. Hey why didn’t they have these rules when I was in Catholic School back in the day? I got screwed out of some days off. I hope he doesn’t blow chunks in the car. Damn man, I don’t want to get the stomach bug. But maybe I’ll drop a few lbs. Maybe I can drop him in the driveway and go spend a few nights in a hotel.

I was snapped back to reality by my green son who is moving toward the exit with a purpose. I ask after his condition and he grunts out, “I have to puke!” OK boy let’s get outside. There Frank, heave in those bushes, they look like they need a good feeding. Actually got a sideways aggravated look out of him for that one. Two quick dry heaves and then nothing. I set him up with a few Kroger bag type barf receptacles and were off, haulin the mail to the house.

Turns out he was fine by dinner. In fact he was begging for dinner. But no way I’m helping him reload the vomit gun. Nope, a little bread, some apples sauce and you have to fight the hunger till tomorrow my son.

The next day he stays home and his sister goes to school. Guess what she comes home with? Is it any surprise? There is a modicum of cleanliness in elementary school. And I mean modicum with a capital None. In preschool? Ha! It’s germ warfare in there. The likes of which the world has not experienced since the trench fighting of our Dough Boys in WWI. Preschool is where germs take their vacation from elementary school.

Any wonder by that afternoon I was slightly nauseous and dizzy, ears hot and unable to focus? Of course not. I had no chem gear, I had not bio protection. I walked into preschool a free breather, and walked out with any and all manner of parasite. Not even a quick wash down with hand sanitizer in the car before the drive home could  protect me. No puking though, so that’s good.

But hey it’s only the 2nd week of school. Plenty of time to get stomach virus, lice, whopping cough, smallpox. At some point the government will get serious and designate these kids as WMDs (Weapons of Mass Disease). These kids are like little weaponized terror bugs, little pestilence delivery systems, more efficient than any bio weapon created, developed, or being developed. It’s almost enough to make me consider homeschooling.