VIPKID: The Truth About Online Teaching.

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VIPKID: American Teachers teaching Chinese Children English.

THE TRUTH.

Look, there are a lot of people who paint a rosy picture of things who purposely omit material information. There are always reasons for that, and they’re not always good reasons. Being a former reporter, I dig a little deeper and uncover the truth. It may sound snarky, it may offend some folks, but it’s important to know the entire story before dedicating your time and effort to a new job that could be the best thing you’ve ever done. This is the article I wish I had found before beginning my own VIPKID experience.

In a land where it’s widely known that those who can’t do, teach. And those who can’t teach, teach gym, you’ll inevitably find many unsanctioned opinions regarding VIPKID and its policies. Rather than listen to a gym teacher spout off poor advice, I offer a second look. I have studied marketing and psychology and wrote four books on parenting and human relationships. Perhaps my viewpoint may fill in the blanks between dodgeball and push-ups.

As of this writing, I’ve taught over 500 classes over three months, and I love it. It’s fun! The kids are awesome. The money isn’t awful. There are hangups and some issues, and this blog post will uncover all that. Sit down, cast aside your judgment and dispersions temporarily, and take this momentary journey with me before you begin your new teaching career.

THE VIPKID EXPERIENCE

Some genius in China figured out that since there was such a large demand for English tutors for children in today’s global economy, in which China is poised to dominate in a few short years, there was a better way to offer affordable and immersive English lessons to a mass audience. Since the unaffected North America accent is preferred over the British, Australian, or Indian dialects, VIPKID created an online teaching platform that enlists North American teachers. No, you do not need to be a certified teacher. You will need at least a bachelor’s degree in anything, and at least some applicable experience teaching, training, mentoring, or coaching children. And no, you do not need to speak a lick of Mandarin. It is nice if you can hit a nĭ hăo once in a blue moon, but it is not required and completely unnecessary.

VIPKID is a wonderful opportunity for experienced and non-experienced American teachers to earn between $16-$22 an hour from home. Is it for everyone? Absolutely not. But if you’re a patient person that has a knack for communicating with little minds, this may be the perfect opportunity for you to work from home and earn some pretty decent money.

It’s important to recognize that you will not be an employee – you will be hired as an independent contractor. That means no benefits, no sick days, no regular raises, and no W2 form at the end of the year. You will be sent a 1099 form, which means for all intents and purposes you are a consultant. That means you are officially a small business owner! Congratulations! You will need to file a slightly more complicated tax return to report your earnings, and you’ll be responsible for pre-paying any federal income taxes to avoid an end of year penalty. Chat with your tax peeps for more scoop on that headache.

The truth is VIPKID grew from zero to more than 30,000 teachers in a few short years. Like any company blessed with generous funding leading to quick and unrestrained growth, you’ll find there is a vibrant infrastructure with many gaps – unfortunately most of which are in the training arena. Teachers cannot be sure of company policies or the real intent of the educational development team due to a lack of modeling and a significant language barrier. If that information is out there, I sure as heck cannot find it anywhere in the confusing mess they call the Hutong.

VIPKID has enlisted the aid of a few “mentors” who may or may not have applicable training, teaching, or mentoring experience. In turn, those mentors offer online workshops that encourage participants to share ideas. Thanks to a lucrative referral bonus, several marketers have created their own social media groups, posts, and YouTube videos that further spread their non-sanctioned policies and opinions. In some cases, you end up with a lot of misguided and occasionally damaging information. Ironically, young American teachers seem to be the worst offenders. Like I was, you may become incredibly frustrated with this situation, hence this article to help explain exactly what’s going on. So let’s jump in.

THE HOURS

Yes, my American friends, the earth is indeed round, and there are actually people living on the other side of it. And believe it or not, the whole world doesn’t shut down for Christmas. Naturally, you’re going to have a significant time difference. If you’re on the east coast of the United States of Murica, know that Shanghai is 13 hours ahead of you. When you’re eating lunch, it’s the middle of the night there. VIPKID offers Prime Time slots between 7 and 9 PM Beijing time that are the most popular. Unfortunately, that’s 6 – 8 AM Eastern, so it’s a wee bit early for our Central, Mountain, and West Coast peeps. I teach from 4 AM until 9 AM seven days a week, but you probably don’t have as much insane energy as I do. VIPKID shuts down after 9 PM Beijing, and re-opens at 9 AM the following morning. Theoretically, you could teach 12 hours straight from 9 AM until 9 PM (8 PM until 9 AM Eastern), but that’s just nutty. I’ve done it twice.

THE KIDS

Chinese culture has been carefully crafted to ensure the safety and wellness of its citizens. Yes, it is a modified communist society. It’s not perfect, but it seems to be working better than most societies. Americans are always taught that communism is bad – although we’re never taught why. That’s an entirely different blog post. Complete freedom isn’t always the best way to raise children, as we’re learning here in the States with two to three generations of idiots who firmly believe all news is fake news, rap is music, Kim Kardashian is talented, and Donald Trump is a hero.

Chinese children are pushed hard. Before they’ll see your smiley-happy face, they’ve probably been to school, attended an extracurricular activity or music lessons, done a ton of homework, and watched a pre-class VIPKID video to prepare them for the lesson you’re about to give. Most of these children are exceptionally bright and very well behaved. Sure, there are the outliers. After all, they are just children. But for the most part, your heart will melt when their bright eyes stare into yours seeking your guidance in the English language.

THE HIRING PROCESS

You’ve probably been bombarded by smooth-talking social media mavens who will promise you great riches if you click on their referral link. Some supposedly offer coaching too. Here’s how all that works.

First of all, your new best friend gets a $50 – $100 kickback if you get signed with VIPKID and actually teach a class. She’s not bringing you on because she likes you, you’re talented, or the great person your momma thinks you are. You’re nothing more than a meal ticket to her. #Truth.

VIPKID will have one of their untrained mentors evaluate you during an online “mock interview,” where a middle-aged woman will sit there on camera, stare at you blankly, and pretend to be a 4-year-old Chinese girl who speaks no English. Yeah, it’s totally Twilight Zone weird, bro. She’ll make some notes and let you know how you did. If you pass that test, you’ll move on to a second interview, if needed, or directly to a background screening.

You’ll be assigned to a particular level from 1 through 6. The more energetic folks will be assigned to Levels 1 and 2. That’s awesome, because that’s where the lion’s share of the VIPKIDs end up, so you’ll have the opportunity to teach more often.

VIPKID did request copies of my college transcripts to prove I graduated. They also did a background check to see if I had a criminal record. You will need to provide a bunch of personal information to proceed to the next level. If you’re not comfortable giving your life story and social security number to a foreign national online, you might want to hang it up now.

It takes a week or two to process all this cray, and they’ll only contact you via email.

YOU’RE HIRED!

Congratulations! You’ve passed the muster and you’re now one of the not-so-few VIPKID teachers. Now what?

The single biggest complaint is new teachers failing to get any classes to teach. If you don’t teach, you won’t get paid. That dingaling from the social media thing didn’t mention that, did she? Figures.

The first thing you’ll need to do is set up your marketing profile. You’ll need some hopefully professional photographs showing you as you hopefully look today. It’s probably not a good idea to set expectations using your 1997 prom photos if you look nothing like that today. You’ll need one really great profile picture, and two miscellaneous pictures of you teaching or doing something creative. Some yentas say use pictures of you and your family, but that doesn’t sell. Everyone has a family, but not everyone can teach.

Secondly, you’ll need a brief bio. Here’s where you’ll tell people where you’re from, what your degree is in, and any applicable experience. Keep it short and fluffy. Remember – English translated to Mandarin is often weird. Run your bio through one or more online translation programs to ensure it reads the way you intended.

Finally, your cornerstone will be a short 15-40 second video of you introducing yourself. You’ll want this to be fun, energetic, and as professional as possible. This is very important, since it’s what Chinese parents and children use to choose the teachers they want. There is a company in Florida that can script and edit your video for $295 – it was the best $300 I have ever spent. I’ve been sold out for MONTHS. Contact brevardmarketing321@gmail.com for the skinny.

When all that has been completed, you’ll go to the VIPKID website and open up your schedule. If you can open those prime time slots, you’ll have better luck getting bookings.

AM I TOO OLD?

HA! Here’s where age trumps beauty. Unlike your more familiar surroundings, Chinese culture values age and wisdom. Younger teachers are routinely skipped for us older folks, because we are smarter, more experienced, and more patient. Here’s the thing – you can be older, but make sure you’re still patient with children, and you have a ton of energy.

If you’re a dude, that’s a good thing. Since there are very few male teachers on VIPKID, you’ll be scooped up quickly.

Yes, younger teachers are hired too. It’s really based on your profile and your video.

WHAT WILL I NEED?

You’ll need a decent computer with a webcam, or a later model iPad for the best experience. You’ll also need a stable and hopefully fast broadband internet connection, since we are streaming video in this platform. Think at least 12 Mbps. Faster is better. You can check AT&T’s offerings in your neighborhood here: https://www.att.com/local/

Standard webcams in most laptops aren’t great. Here’s a link to a terrific HD webcam with a built-in microphone: http://amzn.to/2FM0gwF

And always use headphones. Any headphones. Even the earbuds that came with your smartphone. Feedback from your speakers into your microphone is incredibly distracting.

You’ll need a dedicated area in your home or work that is free of distractions – especially those of the moving or audible varietals. No television on in the background. No children running around screaming. No barking dogs in the background. No gunshots, ambulance sirens, kickboxing classes, or rap battles please. Find a quiet room, even if it’s a closet, and make it your teaching space.

Some yentas preach you need an “educational background,” but I wholeheartedly disagree. I’d rather see a blank wall than shelves filled with doodads and knick-knacks that will distract your student’s attention.

THE CLASSES

I teach primarily Level 1 and Level 2 classes, known previously as “Pre-VIPKID,” whatever that means. Children are placed by age and not ability, so you’ll need to adjust your teaching based on your evaluation of their abilities. In Level 1, you’ll see children as young as three and as old as seven. I have two seven-year-olds in my classes, even though my mentor tells me that’s impossible. See what I mean?

Level 1 has recently updated is curriculum to an “interactive” platform. While the rest of the VIPKID training platform is static PowerPoint slides with words and pictures, Level 1 offers limited sounds and the ability to drag-and-drop certain elements on the screen. You’ll have to sing unit songs you won’t know on non-interactive slides, so be prepared for that. Sometimes the interactivity helps the lesson. And other times it’s incredibly useless and even distracting. You can turn off the student’s mouse in the interactive platform, and you’ll learn from experience exactly when you should do that. I’ve offered to redesign the poorly designed slides, but I have been shunned on several occasions. Now they’re gonna have to pay me.

As a new teacher, you will probably be saddled-up with “trial” classes. These are for Chinese kids who haven’t decided if they’re going to sign up for the VIPKID experience just yet. Personally, I’d use this as a marketing opportunity and place my best and brightest teachers here to increase conversion. VIPKID doesn’t see it that way. Expect a lot of no-shows and completely awkward classroom situations due to the combined inexperience of you and your student.

You will be able to preview your classes on a PC up to several days in advance. I definitely recommend doing that. This eliminates awkward pauses while attempting to decipher what the class architect had in mind while designing the class, because there are no modeling videos. Remember, there are not only cultural learning differences, but a language and translation barrier too. The preview better prepares you and your students for a better English learning experience. The iPad limits you to a certain number of hours prior to a class, so use a PC if you can.

Some of the vocabulary words will not make sense. Try to avoid frowning when the word YURT appears in Level 1, and FOP comes up in your Level 2 classes.

Oh, and there’s this thing called incidental language. Basically, these are English words outside the lesson plan that you should not use to enhance or explain what you’re trying to teach. Remember, these children do not know much English. The more you throw at them, the more confused they’ll be. Keep it simple, even if you risk sounding like a caveperson.

Level 1 contains 12 individual units with 8 classes each. Students in the lower levels will probably be younger, but I’ve seen a wide range at this point. Mentors keep talking about some “silent period” where lower-level students may remain silent throughout your 25-minute class. Think that bad 80s horror movie where people just stare at you and their heads explode… oh, nevermind. I have a ton of three-year-olds in my classes, and in over 500 classes, I have yet to encounter this situation. Maybe those women are just scary people. Who knows.

TPR

No, that’s not an acronym for Toilet Paper Roll or Texas Public Radio. Although, the way it’s treated on VIPKID social media sites, it could be either. You’ll hear a LOT about Total Physical Response (TPR). So much, in fact, that you’ll think it’s the best thing since sliced bread. The cure-all to all ailments. The second coming of Jesus. The truth is TPR is not all that revolutionary or complicated, and it is not as important as many of these inexperienced and non-sanctioned mentors say it is. TPR does help the learning process in certain situations, but it’s useless in many others.

tpr

Basically, TPR is an ancient learning mechanism explained by some 1960s trippy psychology bro that involves eliciting a physical response from your student – hence the word response. No, you cupping your ears, pointing, jumping, dancing, or whatever is you think is TPR is not TPR. Total physical response requires your student to act out and perform the desired result in conjunction with the word, term, or phrase you’re trying to teach to enhance understanding. You can model the desired response, but it’s not TPR unless that kid is doing it too. Think explaining the word RUN. You run in place, and if your student also runs while saying the word run, that’s TPR in full effect. Good job. You get a trophy.

When the yentas scream “USE TPR!”, what they really mean is for you to use physical movements, or a modified form of sign language to help your students understand what you’re teaching. When you want them to speak, you cup your ear. When you want them to look, you encircle your own eyes. When you attempt to explain the terms THROW, GRAB, and CATCH to a small child over ten thousand miles away via a two-dimensional screen, well, teach gym! Sometimes it works, and other times it won’t. Do the best you can.

If you really want to learn more about TPR so you can impress your social media pals, pick up James Asher’s book here: http://amzn.to/2DIwOa9. I’ve read it. Don’t bother.

PROPS

prop

Another textbook example of the Dunning-Kruger effect (Google it) displayed by certain mentors involves an exaggerated reliance on teaching aids, or props. Props may include puppets, printed pictures, flashcards, realia, or whatever you think might enhance your lesson and further a student’s understanding.

In many instances, props are more of an unnecessary distraction than a learning aid. If you’ve got the word APPLE displayed along with a clear illustration of an apple on the screen during your lesson, it’s pretty darn clear that it’s an apple. Why would you need an external prop of an apple? That would take the child’s focus away from the word on the screen you’re trying to teach and places it on the cheap plastic dollar store crap in your stupid hand. Although ironically your prop was probably made in China, it’s not necessary to enhance the lesson in this example.

When would a prop be helpful? Perhaps in certain situations better explained with a three-dimensional example. Think throw, grab, and catch, which is unfortunately a VIPKID favorite Level 1 topic. A real ball, a piece of crumpled paper, and a cup help explain this and other silly games covered in some Level 1 lessons. Crumpled is incidental language and not a vocabulary word. Good luck with that one. This lesson should be saved for Level 2, but it ain’t. I’ll fix this later when I’m promoted to Director of Education in six months. You can thank me later.

Another online teaching platform I’ve interviewed with makes props mandatory. Ostensibly, they’re admitting their teaching materials are lacking content and not effective. Unfortunately, they refuse to supply or recommend appropriate props. Yeah, it’s that kind of industry.

REWARD SYSTEMS

In a land where everyone gets a trophy for breathing, another ridiculous emphasis you’ll see on social media is placed on secondary reward systems. Old-school teachers and social media Sallies go NUTS on this one. In one workshop, I giggled as one woman bragged she baked a cake for one of her students as a reward. Think about that for a moment. She showed him the cake she supposedly baked for him on the screen. I imagine immediately after that class, that teacher added two or three slices to her already extended waistline.

Sure, rewarding students for a job well done is a powerful motivational tool. But conventional rewards are effective only when they’re sitting in front of you in person, and displayed in front of peers. A one-on-one situation during a cross-cultural video call renders most of the traditional teacher rewards ineffective. Verbal praise is often misunderstood and considered incidental language.

 

stars

VIPKID’s platform offers the option to provide students with up to five digital stars for each lesson. That digital currency supposedly enables students to purchase branded swag from a special store available only to them. That reward is really the only thing necessary to promote great performance. However, you’ll hear a book-sized tirade about secondary reward systems. Some teachers offer hand-drawn tigers’ teeth, emoji stickers, small statues, and a quiver of other silly things that don’t really provide an educational boost or any real semblance of motivational value.

I must admit I did succumb to pressure and came up with a supplementary, not secondary, reward system. I picked up a bag of sparkly adhesive stars at Michael’s. My stars are different colors, so I use them as an educational aid to help teach the English name of colors. When I issue a colored sparkly star, I ask or mention the color of it, then accompany it with some flair and always a digital VIPKID star.

Regardless of your student’s performance or behavior in the class, suck it up buttercup and always award five VIPKID digital stars, located in the upper right corner of your digital classroom. If you don’t, there may be parental repercussions.

HOW ABOUT THEM APPLES?

You’ll be required to evaluate your student after each class, checkpoint, and assessment. It’s a short evaluation, so don’t be nervous. You should always provide great fluffery, always praising the child for the tremendous progress towards complete English fluency she made during your 25-minute session, as well as noting the shortfalls you emphasized that may require a little more out-of-class practice.

 

feedback

In turn, Mom will rank you from one to five apples, and she gets the opportunity to write a review on your performance. Some of these mothers are mean. I’ve been scolded for ending a class at 25 minutes rather than 28, for being “dull with no sparks for collision,” and many other strange translations I cannot seem to decipher. Yet in others, I’ve been invited to spend a week in China with a family, and I think I received an offer to date a student’s mother. It may have been a weird and inaccurate translation, but I’m going with that.

You will spend your VIPKID career striving for apples. Anything less than five apples is a failure. This is important when it comes to renewing your contract. Pay raises are based on your subjective performance as rated by Tiger Moms throughout China. Don’t crash and burn – learn to be as obsequious as possible, and utilize several translation programs so your messages are always positive, happy, complementary, and clear. Great student feedback can save an off-kilter teaching performance. We all have bad days.

PITFALLS

cupofmilk

Lower level classes were recently updated to accommodate the interactive platform. Many good changes were made. But many poor teaching examples remain. Level 1 students are expected to repeat single words. Full sentences are not required. If your student can hang and speak in complete sentences, that’s awesome. Most can construct simple sentences. Many cannot. Some of the phrases and terms in Level 1 classes are ridiculously cumbersome for the younger students. I’ve wasted countless hours trying to help younger Level 1 students assemble the phrases cup of milk and look at my face. I have learned to skip past those unless my kids are ready for such trivial complexity and save those for Level 2.

Every student is different. You will need to evaluate your students and their aptitude accordingly. Some kids will breeze through your lessons, leaving you with up to ten minutes of awkward silence to fill, because it’s a huge no-no to end class before the 25 minute mark. Here’s where you’ll need to be prepared to extend your lessons. Add some relevant terms or sentences. Have them write letters or words on-screen. Converse with them if they’re ready. In other cases, you may find it difficult to end your class in 28 minutes because your students cannot seem to grasp the lesson materials – but it’s more likely that you weren’t aware what you could skip. In that case, you’ll learn to sneakily skip some slides so that Tiger Mom thinks you have everything under control.

Don’t worry – familiarity comes with experience.  The more classes you teach, the more things you’ll experience, and the easier this entire fiasco will become.

THE FUTURE

VIPKID records your classes. It’s no secret that they’re watching everything. And since it’s largely funded by venture capitalist groups, they’re seeking a healthy profit relatively soon. VIPKID’s largest expense is its contractor payroll – us teachers. You’d be a fool if you didn’t think they’re not thinking about taking all that recorded footage, analyzing it with big data and artificial intelligence, and planning for a future with smart algorithms that will eventually replace teachers altogether. This isn’t rocket science, folks. A few years ago, Siri was a dream. With existing facial recognition and virtual reality technology, we’re just a few short years away from automated animated teaching with a perfect American English accent. Jump on this gravy train while you still can, and invest those earnings into AI. That’s exactly what I’m doing.

I do recommend taking the plunge. It’s a great gig, and you can’t beat the convenience. They pay in full and on time before the 15th of the next month. I have never had a problem. No, I will not provide my referral link here, because I am not a referral whore, and it won’t do a darn thing for you either. But I am sure you can find one if you really want one.

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A Stepdad’s Ode to A Single Mother.

Look, I’ll be the first to admit, mothers will forever do a whole helluva lot more that fathers will in raising a child. Most fathers don’t give a crap about raising kids. I learned that cold, hard fact when my book, Diary of an Angry Father, failed miserably in its first release. Didn’t rank high in the evolutionary process I suppose. Ironically, I rewrote my book under a female pseudonym and a different title and it’s kicking ass. It’s the same damn book. Whatever.

What’s troubling is how unappreciated many single mothers really are. During the past decade, I’ve witnessed two teenage girls reach adulthood. They’re basically wonderful kids, but the mental abuse they’re inflicting on their mother is taking a horrendous toll. I’m sure her daughters cannot comprehend what they’re doing to her. So let me lay it the f*ck out for you, because I know you’re listening.

Although Child #1 pulled most of the same shit, child #2 is the worse offender. Once she turned 18, she must have magically blossomed into some full-grown, self-sufficient adult. She now comes and goes as she pleases, and conveniently forgets that Mom still stays up late awaiting her safe arrival home. When Mom asks about her whereabouts, she offers patronizing comments and few answers.

No, the world does not mysteriously change and bend around you upon your eighteenth trip around the sun. No, you are not smart enough, wise enough, or wealthy enough to live on your own. No, you are not mature enough to make smart decisions about things that will affect the rest of your life. That’s why eighteen still has the word TEEN in it. And guess what? So does nineTEEN. No matter how bad-ass you think you are, you’re still a goddamned child.

Little darlings, your mother is one of the finest, most generous, most caring and considerate human beings I have EVER met. You learn a whole lot about people after being in three wrecked marriages. I was incredibly cautious before asking her to be my fourth. She passed all my tests with flying colors. Ten years later, she still shines like a diamond. You have no idea how lucky you girls are. I have seen a perfect example of an awful mother. She’s so far gone that I now don’t expect the phone call telling me her now heroin-addicted daughter didn’t survive her last overdose. It truly breaks my heart, but I refuse to let it take me down too.

Mom made huge sacrifices you may never understand. Since today’s youth are lazy and don’t read anything except texts and Snap Chat messages, I’ll compartmentalize them for you in a few succinct bullet points.

  • She gave up her career for you. Mom decided against the career path that would have her in senior management right now. Why? She wanted to be there for you. Upward mobility requires a lot of travel.
  • She gave up her body for you. Every mom knows her body may never be the same after giving birth. Stretch marks, gained weight, and crazy hormones take a tremendous toll on some women. But she decided you were worth all that.
  • She gave up her happiness for you. Countless sleepless nights. Forgoing amazing vacation opportunities. Spending money on your tuition rather than massages and ritzy dinners. She always thought you were more important.
  • She’s giving up her health for you. It’s been medically proven that stress takes a horrible toll on your body. It creates high blood pressure, lower resistance, and ultimately a lower life span.

What’s most amazing is that she has absolutely no regrets. And I know she means that.

Children don’t realize that everyone has their limit. When you treat someone like shit for a long time, eventually, she’s gonna pop. And one day, when you figure out that you need Mom for something, she’s not going to come running. You’ll be on your own, Princess, and that’s gonna suck.

When she said “I love you to the moon and back,” she meant it. It’s your fault that distance now may only get you half-way across the block.

Stupid All-American Wastes of Time, Money, and Energy.

I made the mistake of watching and reading the news last weekend. I try to avoid it because it’s entirely depressing. Our current domestic issues are terribly embarrassing and troubling. But that’s not what gets me. It’s the constant barrage of shit that doesn’t matter. The promotion of time-wasting activities that do nothing good for society or its inhabitants. The prolonged delay of the maturation of our species from a rampant and wasteful adolescence to an enlightened populous that I am now convinced I will not see in my own lifetime.

We trust the shrinking number of supposedly free yet curiously well-funded news outlets to be the barometer of our society. Humans, by their very nature, are biased. And we always will be. And until we’ve become smart enough to develop a safe and unbiased artificial intelligence, humans will skew the readings of society’s barometer in a manner that benefits a particular person or a certain group. We have been conditioned not to ask questions and to blindly accept what we read and hear from those frighteningly powerful entities. Those who rise up and question authority are socially ridiculed and financially ruined.

Let’s begin with what is perhaps the single largest sexist atrocity against females — The Miss America pageant. We parade scantily clad women who have what we have been conditioned to see as attractive features and perfect bodies across a stage, completely ignoring intelligence and anything else that matters. Meanwhile, at home, the other 99% of the female population watches this spectacle on television. Most of that majority actually embraces and appreciates the contest and its lack of morals. A smaller percentage becomes depressed and rejected, realizing she can never aspire to the physical attributes of what the rest of the world considers beautiful. Beauty or lack thereof should be considered a form of discrimination. It’s obviously more subjective than someone’s gender or the color of of a woman’s skin, but I am sure we could come up with some sort of consensus. How liberating would that be for the other 99% of women worldwide?

Next, let’s take a look at Jeebus, or Yeebus, or whatever Kanye Omari West is calling himself today. The fact that an angry musician, if you can even call him a musician, who talks over a drum beat (I can’t call them “songs”) to offensive nonsense titled “Niggas in Paris” and yells at people in wheelchairs at his concerts is one of the world’s best-selling artists of all time, having sold more than 21 million albums, more than 60 million digital downloads, and earned over 20 Grammy Awards, is fucking disturbing. Where is the musical value in these songs? Keeby’s rhymes are monotone and devoid of emotion, and the words are barely cognizant. Apparently, none of that matters, because the national media and the recording industry’s association constantly lauds Mr. West with coverage and awards. And the consuming public has made him extremely wealthy. This is the new breed of hero we have engineered in our misguided society. This is what children aspire to become. Most will never make it. No worries, because the prison industrial complex will welcome their frustrated asses with open arms.

USA Today reports that the Blue Angels were scheduled to fly over Baltimore. The Blue Angels is the United States Navy’s flight demonstration squadron. Basically, six pilots fly six fighter jets in formation and do all kinds of aerial acrobatics to appease thousands of spectators who revel in the demonstration of military might. Although there are relatively few incidents, the practice is ridiculously dangerous. Twenty-six Blue Angels pilots have been killed in air show or training accidents. If that wasn’t wasteful enough, let’s consider the amount of time involved in planning these shows, money spent on modifying non-combat aircraft, salaries of support staff, benefits, marketing and advertising, transportation costs, and fuel costs that are expended that don’t do one damn thing in the defense of this great nation. I thought our government had finally come to its senses in 2013 when sequestration quashed these performances. But former Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, in his infinite wisdom, regards these shows as important for non-draft recruitment of underprivileged teenagers, so a “lite” version of the show was re-instituted in 2014.

Finally, as if a weekly schedule of 16 NFL football games weren’t enough, men who tend to avoid their wives and families on Sundays can now continue to do so during the rest of the week as they manage a fantasy football world. Fantasy football is an interactive online competition in which users compete against each other as general managers of virtual football teams built from the imaginary drafting of real players. Time that could be spent cooking, cleaning, learning, improving the house, parenting, bonding with children, or volunteering in the community is now unavailable because Mike is very busy playing with his imaginary fucking friends.

What the hell is happening here, my fellow Americans? I haven’t even broached the subject of the jobless losers who have the spare time to participate in reality television, not to mention the millions of women who follow those shows, and I am certainly hoping I don’t have to. How have we become such a placated, zombie-esque, and lazy society over the past fifty years? And what can we do to fix this idiocracy?

Thankless.

Parenting is the single most thankless job in the entire universe. I wish someone had told me this as a child. Maybe they did, but I was too much of a dick to listen. Who knows.

I tried to explain to my kid that good grades, decent standardized test scores, and demonstrated leadership are no longer enough for a white kid to get admitted to a decent college. College admission officers are now looking for you to stand out and be “interesting,” whatever the fuck that means. As I attempted to have an adult discussion about a number of ways my own son could be interesting, he informed me that he was “getting tired of standing here” and wanted to retreat back to his boy cave. Words lost to the universe. Ideas completely ignored. Heart completely shattered once again.

Then I thought about it. I understand why some women have kids. Inbred narcissistic tendencies create a need for attention. Society is trained to make an immense fuss over pregnant women. Then the kid grows up and repeatedly breaks Mom’s heart. For men, it’s much more simple – the male orgasm is our own form of narcissism. There is nothing in this world (that I’ve tried anyway) that feels as good as an orgasm. It’s addictive! I’m sure the male orgasm has some sort of correlation with an opioid high.

But, come on. Is all that fuss worth the pain?

I wondered why we couldn’t genetically engineer sex to feel like shit. What if every time a woman had sex, she’d become weak and puke for three days? Actually, I think my last wife used that excuse. How about us men – what if we came down with a case of acid diarrhea that burned the rim of our sphincters every time we came? Nasty, right? Or worse yet, what if we just died after the orgasm? This way, if you wanted to have sex (or children), you’d really have to suffer to prove it. Talk about a deterrent… there’d never be a case of rape again.

I’ve prayed for this change, but God and I aren’t on the same page lately. Now I’m heading to my bio-engineering friends. Eight billion people are way too many – especially when 60 million zombies voted for a man like Trump to lead the “free world.” And they’re still supporting that idiot. And they’re still having kids. I can’t imagine those parents feel any less thankless – or they just don’t care.

So I’m a “podcaster” now.

DAFHEAD

I withheld. For YEARS. I mean, I’m a busy guy. Three businesses and a family. I ain’t got time for no parenting podcast! It took me months to finish the Diary of an Angry Father audiobook. I sure as hell didn’t want to do that again.

But then this guy at WDN tells me about a similar guy and his potential reach, and how many other fathers and mothers my words of wisdom might help, and… whatever. I’ve probably been snookered again.

But I did it. And it’s hot. It’s bad-ass. It’s honest. It’s snarky. It’s real. It’s me. And it’s here:
http://www.blogtalkradio.com/parenting-angryfather/2017/07/25/top-10-jobs-for-potheads

We air twice a week, at noon on Tuesday and Friday. But supposedly, you can download a podcast and listen to it whenever you want, so I suppose that’s a plus. Please listen, download, like, favorite, idolize, or do whatever it is people do with podcasts. Share it with someone you love. Or hate. Thanks again for your support.

-MG

Top 5 Documentaries To Save Your Life.

When I embarked on my search for truth in everything, I thought a good place to begin was with what I put in my mouth. Yeah, yeah, heard that one before, jackass. My cholesterol was high. My heart began to do strange things. And I was beginning to look like I was pregnant with a “food baby.” Not a good look for anyone. Before I committed to a lifelong date with statins, I decided I was going to see if there was another way to get healthy instead of masking my symptoms.

That research changed my life. My cholesterol is down. My heart is behaving. And I delivered my food baby through my ass. It’s not there any longer. My physician was blown away. Of course she was – medical school all but ignores nutrition, despite Hippocrates’ famous quote: Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.

Like me, you might have a difficult time starting out in your research. I mean, come on – we’re Americans. It’s not cool to sit in a library or write research papers, right? A great place to begin is on your fat ass, on your comfy couch, armed with a remote control and the cheapest Netflix account you can afford. See them in this order if you have a choice.

1. Supersize Me (2004, Morgan Spurlock)

Oscar-nominated Morgan Spurlock endeavors to use his own body as a human guinea pig in a dangerous game of supersizing. Supersize Me follows a 30-day period from during which he ate only McDonald’s food. The film documents this lifestyle’s drastic effect on Spurlock’s physical and psychological well-being, and explores the fast food industry’s corporate influence, including how it encourages poor nutrition for its own profit. As a result, the then-32-year-old Spurlock gained 24 pounds; increased his cholesterol to 230 mg/dL; and experienced mood swings, sexual dysfunction, and fat accumulation in his liver. It took Spurlock fourteen months to lose the weight gained from his experiment using a vegan diet supervised by his then-girlfriend, a chef who specializes in gourmet vegan dishes. This is a terrific place to begin your own journey to healthy living. It’s what got me started.

2. Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead (2010, Joe Cross)

100 pounds overweight, loaded up on steroids and suffering from a debilitating autoimmune disease, Joe Cross is at the end of his rope and the end of his hope. In the mirror he saw a 310 pound man with one foot already in the grave. With doctors and conventional medicines unable to help long-term, Joe turns to the only option left, the body’s ability to heal itself. He trades in the junk food and hits the road with juicer and generator in tow, vowing only to drink fresh fruit and vegetable juice for the next 60 days. Across 3,000 miles Joe has one goal in mind: To get off his pills and achieve a balanced lifestyle. At a truck stop in Arizona, Joe meets a truck driver who suffers from the same rare condition. Phil Staples is morbidly obese weighing in at 429 lbs. As Joe is recovering his health, Phil begins his own epic journey to get well. This is step two towards believing food is the cure.

3. Food, Inc. (2008, Robert Kenner)

This documentary addresses the issue of corporate farming in America—and as you’ll find out, it’s a very big problem to tackle. TThe film’s first segment examines the industrial production of meat (chicken, beef, and pork), calling it inhumane and economically and environmentally unsustainable. The second looks at the industrial production of grains and vegetables, again labeling this economically and environmentally unsustainable. The film’s final segment is about the economic and legal power, such as food labeling regulations, the heavy use of petroleum-based chemicals in pesticides and fertilizers, and the promotion of unhealthy food consumption habits by the American public. This film will begin to introduce you to the American food business game.

4. Forks Over Knives (2011, Lee Fulkerson)

What has happened to us? Despite the most advanced medical technology in the world, we are sicker than ever by nearly every measure. Two out of every three of us are overweight. Cases of diabetes are exploding, especially amongst our younger population. About half of us are taking at least one prescription drug. Major medical operations have become routine, helping to drive health care costs to astronomical levels. Forks Over Knives examines the profound claim that most, if not all, of the degenerative diseases that afflict us can be controlled, or even reversed, by rejecting our present menu of animal-based and processed foods. A top surgeon and head of the Breast Cancer Task Force at the world-renowned Cleveland Clinic, found that many of the diseases he routinely treated were virtually unknown in parts of the world where animal-based foods were rarely consumed. You’ll begin to see that we are what we eat.

5. Food Matters (2008, James Colquhoun)

Food Matters is a 2008 film about nutrition. The filmmakers interviewed several world leaders in nutrition and natural healing who claim that not only are we harming our bodies with improper nutrition, but that the right kind of foods, supplements and detoxification can be used to treat chronic illnesses as fatal as terminally diagnosed cancer. It tends to label the medical industry as a “sickness industry,” which profits more from treating the symptoms of illness than curing.

This is just the beginning. There are many more documentaries that all seem to spread the same message. Makes you wonder. Made me healthier.

Top 10 Family Movies of All Time

Watching news reports of a group of idiot teens watching a man drown in a lake not ten minutes from my home and doing nothing, I began to think – those kids didn’t have enough family time. Ostensibly, these children’s parents didn’t have the time, foresight, or opportunity to teach their children to have a moral compass. What’s left is four soulless children on the fast track to the prison industrial complex.

I’m not gonna lie – lassoing your kids up for a family night is difficult. There are so many distractions – video games, YouTube, social media, Pokemon. You need to find a common ground that satisfies their curiosity as well as entertaining you. And that’s hard! If you leave the room, there goes family time.

Today’s kids aren’t as childish as you would hope. As a parent, especially of a tween or teen, you’ll need to be ten times more creative than any other movie buff or stupid parent blogger to keep them in the same room for two hours. Plus, your damn kids prolly saw every new movie out already, so you’ll need to dig back. Way back. I’ll be the first to admit that old movies typically suck – but the ones I’ve recommended below are timeless.

A few caveats. The movie should be funny, but also needs to ultimately teach a moral lesson. If it ain’t funny, it needs to keep moving to keep people interested. I can’t count the times kids left the room 20 minutes in. Have everyone put their phones in a basket and turn them off. They aren’t going to die if they don’t have their phones for a couple hours. And have a family dinner before the movie if you’ve got the time. That’s a nice extended intro to chat about current happenings. You can’t really talk during a movie.

Some have a few sexual references, so make sure you’ve already had that talk. If you’re freaky about that kind of shit, watch them yourselves first.

Also, always opt for the original. Chances are your brats haven’t seen that version on Netflix. Plus, there’s a certain charm in the originals that seems to be lost with today’s directors.

Enjoy.

10. Home Alone (1990, Macaulay Culkin)

Home Alone is a 1990 American Christmas comedy film written and produced by John Hughes and directed by Chris Columbus. The film stars Macaulay Culkin as Kevin McCallister, a boy who is mistakenly left behind when his family flies to Paris for their Christmas vacation. Kevin initially relishes being home alone, but soon has to contend with two would-be burglars played by Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern. The film also features Catherine O’Hara and John Heard as Kevin’s parents.

Moral lesson: Always have a battle plan for adverse situations.

9. Karate Kid (1984, Ralph Macchio)

The Karate Kid is a 1984 American martial arts drama film produced by Jerry Weintraub, directed by John G. Avildsen, written by Robert Mark Kamen, and stars Ralph Macchio, Pat Morita and Elisabeth Shue.[4][5] It is an underdog story in the mold of a previous success, the 1976 film Rocky, which Avildsen also directed. The film features the Gōjū-ryū style of karate.[6] The Karate Kid was a commercial success upon release and garnered critical acclaim, earning Morita an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor.

Moral lesson: There’s a specific order of things in Karate just like in nature. It is nature’s progression that allows animals to survive in the wild, and it’s Karate’s progression that would ultimately allow Daniel-san to succeed as a student.

8. Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971, Peter Ostrum)

Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory is a 1971 American musical fantasy film directed by Mel Stuart, and starring Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka. It is an adaptation of the 1964 novel Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl. David Seltzer, who went uncredited in the film, was brought in to re-work Dahl’s screenplay against his wishes, making major changes to the ending and adding musical numbers. These changes and other decisions made by the director led Dahl to disown the film. Seltzer’s changes were much better than the real story.

Moral lesson: Honesty is the best policy.

7. Wayne’s World (1992, Mike Myers)

Wayne’s World is a 1992 American comedy film directed by Penelope Spheeris, produced by Lorne Michaels and written by Mike Myers and Bonnie and Terry Turner. The film stars Myers as Wayne Campbell and Dana Carvey as Garth Algar. It was adapted from a sketch of the same name on NBC’s Saturday Night Live.[2][3] Wayne’s World follows Wayne Campbell, a young rock ‘n’ roll fan who lives with his parents and has a collection of hairnets and name tags from former jobs in the fast-food industry. However, he and his best friend Garth Algar, also a fan of rock ‘n’ roll, are producing a public-access television show titled Wayne’s World which they are broadcasting from Wayne’s parents’ basement. Everything changes when a studio decides to buy Wayne and Garth’s program in order to improve it. However, the studio slowly begins destroying the show. Wayne attempts to trust in his new girlfriend Cassandra and to save his channel.

Moral lesson: A flawless profile, a perfect body, the right clothes, and a great car can get you far in America, almost to the top, but it can’t get you everything.

5. Joe Dirt (2001, David Spade)

Joe Dirt is a 2001 American adventure comedy film starring David Spade, Dennis Miller, Christopher Walken, Adam Beach, Brian Thompson, Brittany Daniel, Jaime Pressly, Erik Per Sullivan, and Kid Rock. The film was written by Spade and Fred Wolf, and produced by Robert Simonds. The plot concerns a “white trash” young man, Joe Dirt, who at first seems to be a “loser”, a failure, an antihero. As he travels in search of his parents, his fine qualities are increasingly revealed. He ends up with a new “family” of close friends, people he has helped and who respect him. Critical reception was mostly negative, and the film was a modest financial success.

Moral lesson: Home is where you make it.

4. Ghostbusters (1984, Bill Murray)

When Doctors Venkman (Bill Murray), Stantz (Dan Aykroyd) and Spengler (Harold Ramis) suddenly find themselves downsized from the University’s parapsychology department, they decide to go the entrepreneurial route, chasing down ghosts and apparitions. But they face their greatest challenge when the beautiful Dana Barret (Sigourney Weaver) discovers her refrigerator door leads directly to the gates of hell. Now with the whole world watching, it’s up to the Ghostbusters to keep Manhattan from becoming a madhouse in this hilariously-haunting action-comedy.

Moral lesson: I ain’t afraid of no ghost. Hopefully your kids will no longer be either.

3. Big Daddy (Adam Sandler, 1999)

Immature 32-year-old bachelor slacker Sonny Koufax lives in New York City and refuses to take on adult responsibility. Despite having a law degree, he refuses to take the bar exam, works one day a week as a toll booth attendant and lives off a sizeable legal settlement from a minor accident. His girlfriend, Vanessa, threatens to break up with him unless he grows up. His roommate, Kevin Gerrity, proposes to his podiatrist girlfriend Corinne Maloney before he leaves for China for his law firm, and she accepts. Sonny constantly teases Corinne, especially about her former occupation at Hooters.

Moral lesson: You gotta grow up sometime, but who says you can’t have a little fun along the way?

2. Back to the Future (1985, Michael J. Fox)

Back to the Future is a 1985 American science-fiction adventure comedy film[6] directed by Robert Zemeckis and written by Zemeckis and Bob Gale. It stars Michael J. Fox as teenager Marty McFly, who is sent back in time to 1955, where he meets his future parents in high school and accidentally becomes his mother’s romantic interest. Christopher Lloyd portrays the eccentric scientist Dr. Emmett “Doc” Brown, Marty’s friend who helps him repair the damage to history by helping Marty cause his parents to fall in love. Marty and Doc must also find a way to return Marty to 1985. Bonus: there are two more films – more family time!

Moral lesson: Everything you do has repercussions throughout time.

1. Contact (1997, Jodie Foster)

Contact is a science fiction drama film directed by Robert Zemeckis. It is a film adaptation of Carl Sagan’s 1985 novel of the same name; Sagan and his wife Ann Druyan wrote the story outline for the film. Jodie Foster portrays the film’s protagonist, Dr. Eleanor “Ellie” Arroway, a SETI scientist who finds strong evidence of extraterrestrial life and is chosen to make first contact. The film also stars Matthew McConaughey, James Woods, Tom Skerritt, William Fichtner, John Hurt, Angela Bassett, Jake Busey, and David Morse.

Moral lesson: We’re all in this thing together.