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Sunday, May 10, 2015

It's Mother's Day, And I Can't Stop Thinking About My Dad

Today is my dad's birthday.

If he's still alive, he's turning 62. I haven't seen him since late December, 2005.

I hate the guy.  I've never liked him. I always considered him the sperm donor that just kept showing up for dinner. I'm glad that I had an example growing up of how NOT to be a father.  I grew up telling myself, "I am never going to be like him".

And, I'm not.

Happy birthday, dad. Thank you for (inadvertently) showing me how to be a good parent.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Sesame Street Takes On (Big) Birdman

In spectacular fashion, I might add...

Great attempt at copying the style of 'Birdman' cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki. Lubezki did a much better job at making it seem like a single take, of course.  But, for a two minute clip on a children's show on public television, it's a brilliant parody.

BTW, in case you don't know, Caroll Spinney has been the voice of Big Bird (and Oscar the Grouch) since 1969.

Monday, February 2, 2015

How Many Days Does Bill Murray Spend Stuck In 'Groundhog Day'? The Answer Will Shock You.

Every year on February 2nd, TBS shows the movie 'Groundhog Day' umpteen million times.  You know you watch it every year.  I usually see it on TV a couple of times a year.  Inevitably, the question pops up in my mind, at least once, "I wonder how long Bill Murray kept repeating that same day over and over again".

Well, wonder no more.  Years ago, when director Harold Ramis recorded the commentary for the 'Groundhog Day' DVD, he estimated that Phil Connors "spent about 10 years trapped in his own little corner of Hell".  Later, in June of 2009, a blogger took the time to dissect the film, and came up with the estimate that Bill Murray relived that single day in Punxsatawney 3176 times.  That breaks down to 8 years, 8 months, and 16 days.

Ramis read the blog post, and responded in an interview, disagreeing with both the blogger and his own earlier estimate:
"I think the 10-year estimate is too short. It takes at least 10 years to get good at anything, and allotting for the down time and misguided years he spent, it had to be more like 30 or 40 years… People [like the blogger] have way too much time on their hands. They could be learning to play the piano or speak French or sculpt." 
The issue seemed to have been settled.  Then came an article in February 2011, by Simon Gallagher of the blog  He poured over the film time and time again.  It turned a light-hearted movie into an arduous task:
"For anyone who wants to check all of this, I really don’t suggest watching Groundhog Day in this manner. It’s not the best way to enjoy what is essentially a light-hearted comedy whose metaphysical concerns are supposed to be enjoyed in fun, and not worked out mathematically. Normal people should be happy to just watch, and accept that Phil Connors is stuck repeating his one day endlessly over and over until he finds himself- but then, I don’t think I’m normal."
After taking into consideration scene changes, lines of dialogue, and skills that Phil had taught himself over the course of the movie, Simon had determined that Phil Connors had actually been stuck in a perpetual day of repetition for 12,403 days.  Taking into consideration for leap years, and you have 33 years, 358 days.

In a way, knowing that doesn't make the movie funny anymore.

What I'm Listening To:

Every Day is Exactly the Same by Nine Inch Nails, from the album 'With Teeth'

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Happy Genocide Of Indigenous People's Day

Sure, let's have a holiday to honor someone that was so lost, he thought he was in India, falsely claimed to have discovered this country, and started a 400 year campaign of enslavement and genocide.

On second thought, that sounds like the quintessential American hero...

Friday, August 15, 2014

If Shakespeare Were A Dad Act 1, Scene 1

"O Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo? Seriously, ROMEO?!?  Where the hell are you?  Stop hiding.  This isn't funny anymore."

- Romeo and Juliet Act 2, Scene 2

Thursday, August 14, 2014

The Time Freddie Mercury And I Almost Killed My Daughter

To say that I haven't written lately would be an understatement.  It's been right at six weeks since my last post.  Having a newborn in the home sucks any time, energy, or motivation that you would otherwise have out of the room.

June Bug was born on July 9th.  A few days after birth, she developed a nasty case of jaundice.  All she wanted to do was sleep.  Had no interest in eating.  In a matter of a week, she lost 13.2% of her total body weight.  The last four weeks have been a constant cycle of high calorie feedings every two hours, and daily weigh ins at the pediatrician's office.  She finally caught up to her birth weight this week.  We aren't out of the woods, yet.  But, things are getting better.

In any event, I wanted to be able to share something on the site, so that, if nothing else, I wouldn't feel like I gave up on my blog.

This is a post I wrote on my other site, in September of 2009, about my first daughter.  She was a little over a year old at the time.  Thought this would make a great Throwback Thursday post.  Enjoy.

"The last few days, every time our daughter says "Mama", my wife and I both say, "Ooh ooh ooh ooh". We're hoping to have her know all the words to 'Bohemian Rhapsody' by the time she is two. We're sick like that.

Anyway, my wife was indisposed, and the baby had a poopy diaper. So, I picked up the baby and laid her down on her changing table to be changed. As I am changing her, I start singing 'Bohemian Rhapsody'. I'm doing the voices and everything. She's loving it.

I get to the "Galileo" part, and I'm zooming in and out in front of her face. She's cracking up. Her eyes are bigger than I have ever seen them. Her mouth is open wide and going back and forth between a smile and a big "O" shape.

By the time I'm singing "Let him go!", I've forgotten about putting the new diaper back on. She's hysterical. She has the hiccups from laughing so hard, and is clapping.

Then comes the greatest line of one of the most legendary rock songs ever written: "Beelzebub has a devil put a side for me...for meeee.....FOR MEEEEEEEEEE!!!!" Just as I hit the high note, my daughter's face goes from a look of pure joy to "I'm not so sure about this".

Suddenly, thick chunky dark green sludge launched about eight inches out of my daughter's mouth. It covers my arms, my hands, her stomach, shirt, face and hair. My first thought: "HOLY FUCK!". Second thought: "Jimi Hendrix, Jimi Hendrix". My daughter was still on her back and she was choking on her own vomit. I turned her over on her stomach, gave her a couple of good thwacks on the back until she started breathing OK, and stood her up.

I was as cool and as calm as could be, like I had done this a hundred times. Any other time, I would have been blowing chunks all over the bedroom, but I grabbed a handful of baby wipes, and started cleaning the little squirt down. This was the first time she had puked and was old enough to be aware of what was going on. I was cleaning her off. She looked at me, slowly looked down at herself, and yelled "Mama". And into the shower she went.

I was so proud of myself. I handled it like a pro. Almost more like a roadie than a dad. Let's put it this way...if I would have been on Janis Joplin's detail, she'd probably still be alive."

Thursday, July 3, 2014

"I Learned It From Watching You!"

My kid drives me absolutely INSANE sometimes.

We're watching 'Modern Family', and every thirty seconds she's repeating a funny line from the show.  It's driving me nuts.  Then, about three minutes later, I catch myself doing the exact same thing.

Oh my god, I can't imagine how annoying I am to watch TV with.  And, my wife has been watching TV and movies with me for nine years.  And, she still slept with me!  Twice!!!

I guess you can say that my wife taught me a lesson in patience today.  Because, I would have dumped my annoying ass eight and a half years ago....

This Is Why We Can't Have Nice Things

On Tuesday, buses of immigrant children were met by angry protesters, outside a DHS facility in Murietta, California. As you might expect, most of the crowd was comprised of folks that had a GED, rather than a Ph.D.
The vast majority of signs I've seen mention something about protecting our kids from diseases.  I can only imagine this is a result of the coverage from Fox News and Breitbart, who have accused these poor kids of carrying everything from chicken pox, to TB, to scabies.  In fact, if you Google "immigration scabies", you'll pull up a who's who of conservative blogs.  

You know, even if these children are infected with everything under the sun, you wouldn't have anything to worry about if you VACCINATED YOUR FUCKING KIDS.

But, then again, you can't even spell at a fourth grade level, so I'm guessing middle school biology isn't your strong suit.

Friday, June 27, 2014

You Wouldn't Want Your Kid To Find Your Dildo, So...

If your kid somehow finds your stash of sex toys, worst case scenario, you're in for a ton of embarrassment. If your kid finds your gun, the consequences can be much worse.  Kids will play with the things they find.  That is the message coming from Evolve, in a comical (and eye-opening) PSA.

Evolve is a non-profit organization that focuses on gun safety, rather than the Second Amendment/legislative aspect of the debate.  Instead of getting involved in the political side of the discussion, they like to point out that there are many, many deaths each year attributed to accidents with guns inside the home.  Just look at the recent story of the five-year-old Kentucky boy that accidentally shot and killed his two-year-old sister. Or, the Canadian five-year-old that nearly killed his sister after shooting through her bedroom door.  In that case, authorities later found five unsecured guns in the home, along with hundreds of rounds of ammunition, and an assortment of swords, crossbows, and arrows.

It's a simple message:  If you don't want your kids playing with it, you need to do a damn good job at hiding it.

And the message is being heard. Nearly 1.3 million views in less than 48 hours.  It's too bad you'll never see anything like this allowed on television.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Sometimes, Even Superheroes Need Help (Update)

Update:  Earilier this week, we got word that Oren has stopped his treatment.  There's nothing else doctors are able to do. He has entered hospice and is spending his final days with his family. He might have weeks.  It might be just days.  But the inevitable is coming. At this point, it's a matter of trying to keep him as comfortable as possible.

Obviously, those of us in the dad blogger community are devastated.  I think many of us are at a loss for words to express how we're feeling. I wouldn't say that we're necessarily grieving just yet. If I could name any emotion, I think it would overwhelmingly be anger. A lot of times, the worst things happen to the best people. And, Oren really is a good guy.  Even as he's literally dieing, he's regularly taking time out of his day to help others. I don't know how were going to be able to let him go.

It looks as though the Give Forward page listed below is still active. If you have a moment, stop by and do what you can to help out Beth, Liam, and Madeline. The family will need money to cover medical bills and funeral costs.  Thank you.

Our children think their dads are invincible.  We are their superheroes.

They think that, regardless of our real abilities, we are faster, smarter, and stronger than any dad in the world.  My six-year-old daughter honestly believes that I'm bigger than the wrestlers of the WWE (I might be), I'm stronger than them (definitely not), and that I can beat any one of them in the ring (no chance in hell).

With all of the pride and self esteem our children bring us, we sometimes forget that we're human.  There are times in our lives where we need to admit that we can't always be Superman.  Every now and then, even superheroes need help.

No matter how strong we are, no one can go it alone all of the time.  There were times when even Superman needed the Justice League.  Occasionally, Batman needed help from Robin.  The X-Men had Wolverine's back on many instances in the comics.  Heck, even the 'Blind Side' kid needed Sandra Bullock.  There's nothing shameful in admitting defeat, or being vulnerable from time to time.  We just have to be strong enough (and honest enough) to be able to ask for help.

That is essentially what this post is about - helping.

A few weeks back, I had the pleasure of meeting Oren Miller.  Two years ago, he founded a group for dad bloggers on Facebook, as a way to support and encourage the growing number of dad writers online.  Today, nearly 800 members use the group as a way to share resources and ideas, along with tips and tricks of the trade. In the few short weeks that I've known these other dads, I have become a better writer, and a better father.  I consider these men my friends.  We share a common bond - a common goal - that is unique to only them.  And, I will be eternally grateful.

Late last month, Oren went to the ER, for back pain that he thought was a muscle spasm.  Instead, it turned out to be terminal cancer.  Doctors discovered Stage IV cancer in his lungs, kidneys, liver, lymph nodes, and his brain.  At best, he can expect to live another year.  He is currently undergoing radiation therapy, with the hope that he can at least slow the spread of cancer in his brain, long enough to be present and aware during the time spent with his family and friends.

A fundraising page was started, with the hopes of raising enough money to send Oren, his wife Beth, and their two children, Liam and Madeline, on a nice vacation.  As the fundraising progressed, it became apparent that funds would also be needed to pay for medical bills, and to help Beth and the kids in the weeks and months following Oren's death.

It's time to put on the cape and help another hero.

You can find Oren's fundraising page HERE.  Or, click the link on the right side of this page.

Please take a moment and donate to the fund.  You would be helping a man that helped so many other people. The dad blogging community and the Miller family thanks you.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Thank You, Dove Men+Care

BTW, this is NOT a sponsored post.  (Although, it would be nice to have a couple of sponsors around here.)

I generally can't relate to most Father's Day ads that I see.  I don't mow the lawn.  I DESPISE yard work.  I don't like sports.  With the exception of changing the occasional light bulb, I'm freaking clueless when it comes to fixing stuff around the house.  Heck, last time I tried to mount a shelf to the wall, it covered seven inches of the window next to it.

I don't own a tool set.  All the tools in our home were originally purchased by my wife.  Three Christmases ago, my in-laws got me a Dremel with a set of dozens of attachments.  I still haven't opened the box. I wouldn't know what to do in Sears. I feel more at home at a Cost Plus or Pier 1 Imports, than what I would at an "outdoor" store.

I don't wear ties.  I detest Dockers.  And, the only pair of shoes I own that isn't flip flops, is a pair of skate shoes.  Let's just say that when I see a commercial on television that is aimed at dads, I don't feel like they're speaking to me.  That's why I was blown away by Dove Men+Care.

On Monday, Dove Men+Care debuted a commercial on YouTube. I've seen it over a dozen times so far, and I'm not ashamed to admit that I've cried every single time.  Finally - FINALLY - someone has put out a Father's Day ad that shows us dads some genuine appreciation.

Too many times, dads are painted as the bumbling idiots that might not be capable of keeping the kid alive.  We're the babysitter (and the shitty one, at that).  We can only be trusted to grill burgers and kill spiders.  And for that, we get the big piece of chicken and the remote control.  The stereotype of the incompetent dad has been so overplayed, some companies are advertising directly to men while openly mocking them.  Take a look at this monstrosity that Bud Light aired a couple of months ago:

Dove's most recent ad treats dads as responsible and engaged, instead of the bumbling idiot that somehow has this little one with them.  It's quite refreshing to see.  Grab a tissue, and take a look at this wonderful advertisement:

I think I need to go buy some more body wash.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Is Disney Sexualizing Cinderella?

A couple of weeks ago, Disney revealed a poster and teaser trailer for their live-action Cinderella movie, coming in 2015.

My wife and I had the same reaction after seeing the trailer.  "When did Cinderella become a stripper?!?"

In fact, if you do a Google image search for "glass stripper shoe", not only will you get the above photo as a result, but you'll get a number of results of real world shoes that look very similar:

Now, if anyone is qualified to identify stripper shoes, it's me.  Before fatherhood, I made a living as a strip club DJ.  I have seen some of the most creative (and tacky) pairs of heels ever made. Oddly enough, I'm not the first to make the comparison.  The blog posts that I've read on the subject either blame Disney, or our society in general, for the gradual sexualization/pornification of everything under the sun.

Disney found themselves in hot water last year, when they released plans for a sexier Merida to be used in print.  After receiving thousands of complaints, they quietly removed the illustration from their sites.  The new and improved Merida had a lower cut dress, exposing her shoulders.  She also had wider hips.  Personally, I found the entire thing ironic, as her character in 'Brave' was one of the only Disney "princesses" that spent her time doing something other than swooning over a boy. In fact, Merida's character was so uninterested in the young men vying for her affection, that it created a massive online discussion over her sexual orientation.

Let's be honest here.  Disney, either intentionally or inadvertently, has been making their teen-aged princesses "sexy" from day one.   If you have any doubts, try watching 'The Little Mermaid' now without feeling uncomfortable. Hell, look at the original Cinderella, which Disney made in 1950. Remember the scene where Cinderella changes?  Was that necessary for the plot?

More importantly, did you notice the feet?  Cinderella and her stepsisters, Drizella and Anastasia, were relatively the same height and build.  But when her stepsisters tried on the glass slipper, you would think that Shaquille O'Neal was sitting there in a dress.

However, when Cinderella went to try on the slipper:

Her feet were drawn unrealistically tiny.  They're so small, in fact, that they can fit into a single hand of the prince's servant.  It's no secret that men find small feet sexually attractive.  Chinese women figured that out in the 10th or 11th century, and spent the next thousand years binding their feet, to make them as small as possible.

Of course, it nearly impossible to point the finger at any one group or any company in particular.  As our society has focused more importance on our physical appearance - it practically determines your worth as a person - has Disney just followed the trend?  Or, are they a willing accomplice in creating such a shallow society?  After all, they have an eighty year history of creating protagonists that you would want to screw, and villains that remind you of your mother-in-law.

I can tell you one thing:  Little girls want to wear what their heroes are wearing.  They don't have the ability to process common sense at their age.  They're not going to look at that Cinderella poster and think, "Those heels look ridiculous.  No wonder she left one behind.  How are you even supposed to dance in those things?".  They're going to see those "slippers" and immediately say, "Daddy, I want high heels". (Which my six-year-old has already done.)

And, I'm not going to do anything that will encourage those thoughts.  Even if it means having my daughter miss out on watching a Cinderella movie.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Of Hamsters And Little Girls

Lennon and George were friends.

She named him George after watching the cartoon with the Abominable Snowman and Bugs Bunny.  "And I'll love him, and squeeze him, and call him George, and pat him on his little head."  I didn't even make the 'Of Mice and Men' connection (Lenny and George) until long after we got him.

George died last week.

I walked up to start cleaning his habitat, and saw him balled up in his giant ferris wheel.  I thought at first that he might be sleeping.  I moved the wheel around a bit, and he just tumbled around inside.

We had George exactly nine months.  When we got him, we were told that most dwarf hamsters live to be about two years old. George was attacked by another hamster at the pet store, so they weren't expecting him to live to his full life expectancy. We prepared her for his death from day one.  We explained that the smaller an animal is, the shorter their lives are.

Six-year-olds can't process grief.  Lennon paced around the living room for a few seconds, and said, "He was a good hamster".  Then, she cried for a total of maybe thirty seconds.  She wiped her eyes, and the only other mention of the subject was that we should throw him away, before he starts to smell.

Meanwhile, I found myself getting choked up quite a few times thinking about him.  And, I sobbed.  All the way to the trash can outside and back.  He was a neat little guy.  We enjoyed having him in our home.

I would like to think that my funeral is kinder than George's.  Then again, I hope that when I die, I'm not lodged inside a plastic tube, with no way to be fished out.

I'll have to remember that before getting on any water slides.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

I'm Still Here......Barely

It's been a rough couple of weeks.

I'm having a flare up, either with my lupus or the Sjogren's, and it's kicking my ass.  I'm constantly in pain, and the brain fog is really messing with me.  Most times, I can't put a complete sentence together.  It's frustrating.

Add to that having our kindergarten graduate home for the summer.  I'm trying to be the best dad possible, and we're having a few little "field trips" per week.  Every Thursday morning, we're watching a movie at a local theater.  Tuesdays are library days.  Monday is museum day.

Then, to top it all of, I have been having so many problems with my laptop.  I was without it for two weeks, while it was getting repaired.  Had it home for two days, and it seems like the A/C connection isn't working.  Also, the computer isn't recognizing the battery.  This time around, I'm sending it in directly to HP for repairs.  I received the packaging today, to send the unit in.  They estimate it being back to me in 7-10 business days.  Another two weeks without this thing.  Blogger leaves you with some really shitty options to use if you're not around your computer.  Their Android and iPad apps suck.  They make it nearly impossible to post any video or photos.  And, let's face it, text only posts (like this one) are boring.  But hey, you work with what you've got.

The family hamster died over the weekend.  I'd like to write about him while I can still remember the little guy.  Ha ha ha.  That sounds pathetic.

Such is my life....