Jacob Zinn :: journalist + photographer

Stuff Your Dad Likes: St. Patrick’s Day

Posted in Stuff Your Dad Likes by Jacob Zinn on March 12, 2012
Jacob Zinn can’t give you fatherly advice, but he can borrow your car and return it with an empty tank.

This Saturday is everyone’s excuse – Irish or not – to go out and get flat-out, straight-up, full-on, black-out drunk.

The annual St. Patrick’s Day celebrations often lead to heavy drinking and heavier upchucking of that nasty, green-dyed beer that most bars peddle every 17th of March. And even though your dad probably no longer pounds back brews until he’s incoherent, he remembers the days when he did.

Your old man might’ve spent hours searching for a four-leaf clover as a child, or had an irrational fear of leprechauns. It’s even likely he wore one of those green shirts that read “Kiss me, I’m shitfaced” and “Irish I had a Beer.”

Of course, only a minute percentage of those who wear those shirts are even part Irish, let alone full-blooded lads and lasses. In 2000, nearly 35 million Americans reported Irish ancestry – about six times the population of Ireland.

But pretending to be Irish is cool. It was cool when your dad was your age and it’s still cool now. Whether that means cheering for the Red Sox, listening to the Dropkick Murphy’s or eating an entire box of Lucky Charms, the Irish have shamrocked the world. (Or, in your case, it’s keeping down a pint of Guinness ‘cause your lightweight liver can hardly handle any beer darker than a pale ale.)

In promotion of healthy vital organs, your dad can’t recommend getting wasted, but he also sees it as a passing of the torch. If he drank ‘til his face was as green as his beer, then he knows it’s likely you’ll do the same – no matter how many times he tells you the vomit-stained consequences.

So as a disclaimer, please drink responsibly this St. Patrick’s Day. But if you’re going to drink irresponsibly, your sober dad will be more than happy to drive your drunk ass from the Blarney Stone/Doolin’s/Ceili’s to home.


Stuff Your Dad Likes: Hooters

Posted in Stuff Your Dad Likes by Jacob Zinn on March 8, 2012
Jacob Zinn can’t give you fatherly advice, but he can accidentally delete all your cell phone contacts.

The tight T-shirts. The orange short shorts. The bubbly (but often absent-minded) waitresses putting themselves through college.

Hooters is a white trash paradise built on American values such as freedom and chicken wings. It’s a two-star chain restaurant for the blue-collar working man to unwind after a hard day’s work with a beer in one hand and a burger in the other.

It’s home to both southern flavour and unabashed tastelessness, and if you’re dad’s a NASCAR-watching redneck at heart, he’s likely visited such a classy location.

I don’t think my dad has ever been to Hooters – or if he has, he says it was for the wings. But that doesn’t mean your dad hasn’t enjoyed a titillating Hooters Girl holding jugs in front of her jugs.

Hooters has pretty servers, cold beer on tap, sports on TV 24/7 and greasy, deep-fried U.S. delicacies. It’s the restaurant men escape to when their bachelor pad or man cave isn’t manly enough. (But don’t think it’s a restaurant for men only – every now and then, kids eat free!)

Sure, the food is subpar, but no one really goes there for the food. That would be like reading Hooters Magazine for the articles.

If your dad is like my dad and hasn’t been to Hooters, he’s at least been intrigued by seeing its impact in popular culture. From the running joke in Big Daddy to Lisa Simpson’s Hooters Manhattan Beach T-Shirt from Goodwill, the restaurant is a piece of Americana next to baseball and apple pie.

Even extended franchises aren’t safe from ridicule, like Larry the Cable Guy’s comedy bit on receiving “80,000 frequent boner miles” from Hooters Air, or the sad truth that the Hooters Casino Hotel on the Las Vegas strip has never made money from gambling.

Next year, Hooters will celebrate 30 years as America’s swankiest restaurant with hot pants-clad servers. And after three decades of ziplining orders to the kitchen and precariously carrying them out in front of their cleavage, the Hooters Girls are still orange with pride, and fathers everywhere are tipping them generously for it.

Because, like Hooters, your dad is delightfully tacky, yet unrefined.

Stuff Your Dad Likes: (Senior-Friendly) Technology

Posted in Stuff Your Dad Likes by Jacob Zinn on February 27, 2012
Jacob Zinn can’t give you fatherly advice, but he can eat your share of the leftover pizza.

There is often a generational gap when it comes to understanding high-tech gadgets.

Generations Y and Z have mastered touchscreens, state-of-the-art video game consoles and lightspeed texting. But the older you go, the more computer illiterate people become.

Most everyone born during the Reagan years knows how to surf the Internet (or, at the risk of sounding dated, even how to program a VCR), but there are curmudgeonly Baby Boomers who don’t even know how to use a microwave.

The truth is, my dad is a rather tech-savvy individual. As an engineer, he uses a powerful PC for the array of drafting software required for his day-to-day assignments.

Except he has the resolution set to 800 x 600.

Even with his prescription glasses on, he likes the large, easy-to-see desktop icons. He magnifies the text on websites, awkwardly stretching and skewing the images.

He doesn’t have time to squint at smartphones, either. It’s not to the point that my dad’s cell phone is a Jitterbug, but it’s a near-future possibility. The tiny keys on a Blackberry just weren’t designed for his stubby, stubborn fingers.

Set the default text size to 20 points, with a legible font like Helvetica! (Maybe that’s why so many seniors are using iPads – to them, it’s like a jumbo-sized iPhone.)

I fear that as my dad gets older, he may need more 65-plus technology. I picture him flipping through Sears catalogues from the ‘80s in search of LifeAlert or the Clapper, quoting the original prices over the phone and giving the customer service representatives a headache. To stay active in retirement, he may buy a Nintendo Wii and only play Wii Sports – the game that came with the Wii.

But at some point, my parents won’t be able to look after themselves, and there’s no amount of readily available senior-friendly technology to enable their future lifestyle. So allow me to sign off with a quick letter to my father:

Dear Dad,

Sorry you had to find out this way, but if you become incontinent and there’s no technology to help that, I’m putting you in a home. (One with a Nintendo Wii hooked up to a Clapper.)

Your Son,

Jacob Zinn

Stuff Your Dad Likes: Slam Dunk Contests

Posted in Basketball, Sports, Stuff Your Dad Likes by Jacob Zinn on February 20, 2012
Jacob Zinn can’t give you fatherly advice, but he can give you the awkward and explicit sex talk.

In 1984, the National Basketball Association started their official annual slam dunk contest. It changed the sport of basketball – and the sale of Nike shoes – forever.

For 28 years, the Sprite Slam Dunk Contest has brought the boomshakalaka to the NBA All-Star Weekend, with this year’s being held at Orlando, Florida’s Amway Center. Paul George, Derrick Williams, Iman Shumpert and Chase Budinger will be taking to the hoop Saturday night with bragging rights on the line.

Ever since the slam dunk contest’s inception, your dad has watched the likes of Dr. J and Wilt Chamberlain get nothing but net, dunking that orange Spalding basketball and hearing that satisfying swoosh. My dad’s personal favourite was the five-foot seven-inch underdog winner of the 1986 competition, Spud Webb. (That guy had mad hops!)

Even at six-feet two-inches tall, my dad couldn’t dunk. For him, the saying “white men can’t jump” was true, despite the 1992 buddy comedy of the same name about a streetball hustling Woody Harrelson.

That’s why he likes the slam dunk competition – the whole thing is a highlight reel of grandstanding and showboating, some of the best parts of basketball. Watching dunk after dunk by professional ballers is exhilarating, even for people who don’t watch basketball year-round.

When you first learned about Michael Jordan through Space Jam, your dad had already seen him win the slam dunk contest. Twice.

The contest has a long history of windmills, between-the-legs, 360s and free-throw line dunks, and the young guys nowadays are progressing the contest even further.

Kobe Bryant became the youngest slam dunk champion at 18 in his rookie season in 1997, and following a two-year hiatus of the competition, Vince Carter won the 2000 competition with a perfect score of 100 while showcasing the Honey Dip, hanging from the rim with his arm in the basket.

Dwight Howard’s Superman dunk, Gerald Green’s birthday cake slam, and last year’s winner, Blake Griffin’s alley-oop dunk over a car have continued to impress your dad, even if they aren’t the same players from back then.

Your dad’s nostalgia is with the feeling of excitement of the contest, not with seeing the greats of his time try for another glory dunk.

No 60-year-old retired pro should risk breaking a hip on a layup. Leave the innovation to the kids.

Stuff Your Dad Likes: English Humour

Posted in Stuff Your Dad Likes by Jacob Zinn on February 13, 2012
Jacob Zinn can’t give you fatherly advice, but he can fall asleep during your dance recital.

I never really got into English humour. Aside from Rowan Atkinson’s signature character Mr. Bean, I admittedly didn’t find the satire particularly gut-busting. There were only so many times I could laugh at someone with an exaggerated accent or a man in a dress.

My dad, however, grew up on the stuff, and he made sure I grew up on it too. You probably got your sense of humour from your dad, and he got his from the British.

The truth is, the Brits were historically funny people. Dating back to the silent film era, Charlie Chaplin’s bumbling vagrant known as The Tramp captivated American audiences and taught the world slapstick in films like The Gold Rush and City Lights.

But unless your dad is 80 years old, you’re probably more familiar with The Benny Hill Show, with its increasingly ridiculous uptempo pursuits, or Fawlty Towers, highlighting the futile efforts of John Cleese’s character to “raise the tone” of hotel.

The holy grail of British comedies is, well, The Holy Grail. Monty Python’s critically acclaimed 1974 sophomore film is widely considered one of the funniest films of all time. Even for someone like myself who can’t fully appreciate humour, there’s something to laugh at between the vicious bunny rabbit, the so-called town witch, the bridge of death and the knights who say “Ni!”

The comedy group returned to the box office with more sarcasm and wit in 1979’s Life of Brian and 1983’s The Meaning of Life.

Nowadays, British humour seems more Americanized, with such successes as Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz garnering North American audiences, and with the HBO-developed American version of Da Ali G Show.

But your dad didn’t grow up with Sacha Baron Cohen’s character acting. Traditional British humour doesn’t rely on racist, anti-Semetic or homophobic jokes to get a laugh.

The BBC still regularly airs current British sitcoms like Little Britain, but even that can’t compare to the nostalgic hilarity of the dead parrot sketch.

“And now, frontal nudity.”

Stuff Your Dad Likes: Power Ballads

Posted in Classic Rock, Heavy Metal, Music, Stuff Your Dad Likes by Jacob Zinn on February 7, 2012
Jacob Zinn can’t give you fatherly advice, but he can eat your girlfriend’s Valentine’s Day candy.

You know it’s coming up soon. That one day per year when you’re either in love and affectionate or you’re lonely and miserable: Valentine’s Day.

With February the 14th approaching, couples young and old are giving each other flowers, planning romantic evenings and buying lubricant by the bottle. While you might be courting someone with chocolate and roses, your dad may’ve courted your mom with power ballads.

Extreme’s “More Than Words”. Mötley Crüe’s “Home Sweet Home”. Cinderella’s “Don’t Know What You Got (Till It’s Gone)”. The sole purpose of these songs was to get into women’s pants. Poison’s “Every Rose Has Its Thorn” may be the sappiest, most cliché power ballad of the era, but it opened a lot of… opportunities.

There’s a good chance you might have been conceived to one of these songs.

However, odds are your dad had better taste in power ballads than the hair metal ones. Aerosmith’s “What It Takes” or “Angel” might’ve been rotating on his record player.

Or maybe he was more upfront with sexually explicit and implicit songs like Def Leppard’s “Pour Some Sugar on Me” or AC/DC’s “You Shook Me All Night Long”. Perhaps he traded Warrant’s “Heaven” for a slice of that sweet “Cherry Pie”. (Oh yeah!)

Either way, power ballads got him laid. He may not like power ballads, but the down-tempo, three-chord, lyricized high school love notes were saturated with just enough passion to bring star-crossed lovers together. And if your parents got married in the late ‘80s, you can bet someone requested “I’ll Be There for You” by Bon Jovi at their wedding.

Now that power ballads are often only played as joke songs at weddings and karaoke nights, they’re no longer the genre of choice for bedding mates.

But your dad doesn’t know that. If he digs out his crate of vinyl records from the basement, it might be to set the tone of the evening.

Whether or not you have a date on Valentine’s Day, I highly suggest that you make plans to go out and stay out past curfew until you’re certain both of your parents are asleep. You’ll thank me later.

Stuff Your Dad Likes: Dad Beer

Posted in Stuff Your Dad Likes by Jacob Zinn on January 24, 2012
Jacob Zinn can’t give you fatherly advice, but he can teach you armpit farts.

The existence of beer has been documented in ancient Chinese, Egyptian and Mesopotamian civilizations, dating as far back as 9500 BC. But dad beer dates back to the ‘70s.

That’s when your old man started drinking Schlitz, Blatz and other obscure brands that ended with z’s.

At the time, kegs were only beginning to catch on and bottles and cans were still the way to go. You can bet your dad and his friends tailgated outside hockey games in your uncle’s wood-panel Volkswagen hippie van and polished off a twofer of Pabst Blue Ribbon back when PBR wasn’t hipster alcohol.

He may never admit it, but your dad could also shotgun with the best of ‘em. His share of the liquid gold was gone before the first solo of Boston’s “More Than a Feeling” came through the eight-track player.

And you know that game 99 bottles of beer on the wall? He invented it.

Your dad laid the foundation for beer pong, kegstands and Animal House-style fraternizing – all while double fisting bottles of Carlsberg. Heck, he was the inspiration for the most interesting man in the world.

Nowadays, he may very well still drink Bass or Hacker-Pschorr if he can still find them at the liquor store. Sure, he also tried Budweiser, Coors and Miller Genuine Draft as a young man, but those aren’t the classic beers he loved.

He doesn’t care about the “wassup” ad campaign. He wants to stock his mini fridge with that smooth, refreshing, easy-drinking taste he had when he was your age – and he won’t settle for light beer.

You may have never heard of his favourite lager, but from the way he tells you about it, you know it puts your cervezas and silver bullets to shame.

Or, maybe you’ve tried any of these relic beverages and scowled at the fermented aftertaste. That just means you’re either used to crappy beer or haven’t had a man’s beer before.

It’s an acquired taste, so acquire some taste, pick up a six-pack of Spaten and have a drink with your dad in his shag-carpeted rec room. (Because his old-time watering hole is probably a Walmart now.)

Stuff Your Dad Likes: Redoing Resolutions

Posted in Holidays, Stuff Your Dad Likes by Jacob Zinn on January 16, 2012
Jacob Zinn can’t give you fatherly advice, but he can give you socks for Christmas. Twice.

With every new year, there’s a new year’s resolution to be made and subsequently broken.

No one is good at keeping their resolutions, your dad included. But the new year is his second, third, 16th chance to a) lose weight b) eat healthier or c) finally build that backyard deck your mother’s been nagging him about since their honeymoon.

Our family has never been one to make new year’s resolutions. It’s like creating a one-item to-do list that takes a year to cross off.

With the end so far from sight, how can anyone expect your dad to stick to his workout regimen or dirt-flavoured diet? There’s no time for using the Shake Weight or calorie counting between his 40-hour-per-week job, his regular around-the-house chores and his crime drama reruns.

Your dad might be like my dad, in that he sets smaller goals for himself throughout the year. He’ll change his eating habits/exercise routine/hygiene slightly to reach short-term achievements.

Let’s face it: your dad can only handle so much of something at a time. He’s old, and he’s not meant to try P90X or Insanity. If unstacking the dishwasher is an accomplishment to him, let him have his moment.

That’s not to say he should get off that easy for his new year’s resolution. If your dad’s been resolving to do something bigger like get in better shape, give him a kick in the pants and be his coach, the same way he probably coached your hockey team, baseball practice or child beauty pageant.

Deep down, your dad really does want to get his resolution done—he just doesn’t want to adjust his lifestyle. Dare him to finish the resolution he’s been working on since before you were born, and if he reaches that far, dare him to start another in 2013.

It’s a clean slate for resolution do-overs. Sure, your dad’s resolution may be as old as you, but it doesn’t have to be. Two decades is long enough to put something off.

And while you’re at it, get him to finish building that deck before your mom starts asking you to do it.

Stuff Your Dad Likes: Christmas Classics

Posted in Stuff Your Dad Likes, TV & Film by Jacob Zinn on December 6, 2011
Jacob Zinn can’t give you fatherly advice, but he can embarrass you in front of all your friends.

It’s that time of year.

The time when pine trees are cut down by the dozen. The time when eggnog is spiked with rum.

The time when the same, old, boring holiday specials are the only thing on TV, other than that fireplace loop on Channel 4.

You might be content with watching A Charlie Brown Christmas for the 16th time, but your dad isn’t. He saw it when it first aired in 1965. He’s lost all pity for Charlie and his twiggy tree.

He isn’t into the ho ho ho, chubby Santa Claus, Frosty the Snowman-type cartoon Christmas movies. He wants the greatest Christmas movie of all time: Die Hard.

(Spoiler alert! Stop reading now if you don’t know parts of the Die Hard series.)

Some are of the argument that Die Hard isn’t a Christmas movie, pointing out that it was a summer blockbuster and calling it an “action film.”

Those are accurate observations, but there’s something so heart-warming and seasonal in watching John McClane single-handedly kill 13 terrorists and save 30 hostages from a party gone wrong on Christmas Eve. New York’s finest cop makes it to Los Angeles just in time to spend the holidays with his family. If that’s not Christmassy, I don’t know what is.

Even if your dad is a last-minute gifter who pounds on closed storefronts on Dec. 24, he deserves a good present under the tree.

If your dad already has the 1988 film, perhaps you could get him other John McClane merchandise. Or, if you want something more subtle, how about an argyle sweater? (Get it?)

Be sure to pump Run-D.M.C.’s “Christmas in Hollis” when your dad comes home from work. If he truly loves Die Hard, he will catch the reference.

And when you watch the movie this month and your aunt asks, “Don’t you have any Christmas movies?” say, “This is a Christmas movie!” (And throw in a “Yippee kai yay, motherf**ker!”)

Let your dad watch a yuletide film that doesn’t make him want to stab himself in the eyes with icicles. A Christmas movie with a vengeance.

Stuff Your Dad Likes: Retro Gaming

Posted in Stuff Your Dad Likes, Video Games by Jacob Zinn on November 22, 2011
Jacob Zinn can’t give you fatherly advice, but he can drink Schlitz and tell you to quit blocking the TV.

Kids, start playing with your joysticks!

Back in the ‘70s and early ‘80s, the joystick was the controller of choice before Nintendo introduced the directional pad with A and B buttons. It’s what your dad used to play, and if he still has any classic consoles kicking around, it’s what you might have used to play too.

You and your dad may both like retro gaming, but that depends on your definition of “retro.”

You fondly remember Mario Kart 64. Your dad fondly remembers Pong.

Your dad may have been a teenager when gaming was getting its start in arcades, playing Pac-Man 25 cents at a time. Or maybe he preferred intergalactic games like Space Invaders or Asteroids on a wood-panel analog TV that got nine channels (and six of them were static).

My dad and my uncle had an Atari 2600, back when it was bleeding edge technology. (The iPhone 4S has four million times more RAM than the 2600.)

My uncle got more use out of it than my dad, but that doesn’t mean your dad wasn’t pwning n00bs before you were born.

Case in point: the 2007 documentary The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters. The film focused on Steve Wiebe, a Redmond, WA father of two after the button-mashing glory of holding the world record high score for Donkey Kong.

Sitting in his garage at an original, authentic Donkey Kong arcade cabinet, Wiebe wasted hours jumping over barrels and racking points until he reached the inevitable “kill screen” (a stage in which the game crashes due to a programming error in the hardware because it wasn’t designed to remember such a high score).

Advancements in technology over the last four decades have made access to retro titles as easy as Contra with the Konami Code.

Emulators and ROMs are all you need to play a 16-bit Super Nintendo games on your 1080p high-definition monitor that costs more than your car.

But maybe this year’s the year to dig out your dad’s ColecoVision or Magnavox Odyssey and experience gaming from five console generations ago. Authentic, Soviet Russian Tetris anyone?

(Besides, who wants to wait in line at midnight for another first-person shooter?)

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