Star Wars

A No-No in NoCal

(Some language as always will be a little salty and slightly NSFW.  Just so you know.)

“IF YOU DON’T STOP, I’M GOING TO LOSE MY SH*T!”

I don’t know how often I’ve ever used the phrase “lose my sh*t”.  It doesn’t really feel like me, nor something I’d share loudly with my wife and kids in a car outside of San Francisco.  But after several days of driving and family time merged with a sinus infectious that made my head feel like the house at the end of POLTERGEIST, I couldn’t deal with it any more.  Not the brain-grinding whining over playing a trivia quiz where there were no points or competition.  Not when each kid will pick from a multiple choice answer, then when they find out it’s wrong, they angrily shrill, “No!  I meant the other one!”  Then the other kid will argue that the other one didn’t and is cheating.  Then on the next question, the other one gets it wrong and the younger one goes at him like he did before and it repeats itself into the most annoying infinity loop ever.  It’s like WHO'S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF with talking kid wolves that refuse to kill you and put you out of your misery.

And to make confined long road trips with my family in an unfamiliar locale even more challenging, I also had to deal with a sinus infection that was kicking my head’s ass.  A sinus infection that struck so bad that, while sleeping, I actually sneezed myself awake.  I’d never done that before in my life.  To go from my peaceful slumbering fetal position to snapping wide awake is like chewing gum and blowing a bubble out your ear.  At least, this nasal terror ONLY happened several times a night! 

On top of that, during my awake periods, when I would blow my big fat nose, the missus would come in from another room and ask if I heard someone scream. 

Nope.  Just my nose blowing. 

Then another time I blew my nose, she came into the room and asked if I was talking to her. 

Nope.  Just my jalopy sinuses and the aural apocalypses that my requisite snot-blowing can create.  Ben Burtt should come record my snot-blows to be the language of a new STAR WARS creature.  Or maybe just Jabba the Hutt with a cold.

Me after blowing my nose for three days straight.

Me after blowing my nose for three days straight.

So, I wasn’t at the top of my game physically.  Wasn’t sleeping well. 

To be terribly honest, I have immense difficulty being a human being dealing with humans as it is.  Thus, when my kids' incessant braying of cheating rose to a level that punched the balls of my brain repeatedly while I also tried to navigate through some sludgy slow-ass San Francisco claustrophobic traffic surrounded by giant semi’s and trailers (and even a pick-up truck suspiciously hauling a giant fresh-off-the-boat trailer behind it like it was stocked full of plutonium and sadness), it was much too much. 

All families argue on trips.

All families argue on trips.

Whiny kids whining over the nothingest nothing, crappy traffic in a foreign land of Day Five of family fun time travel, and a sinus infection so bad I thought my eyes would pop out like Schwarzenegger’s in TOTAL RECALL, it was just too much for me.  I know as some kind of grown-ass man I should have been better.  But I wasn’t.  And that silence that I achieved after shouting like an idiot was actually… nice.  Quite nice.  Quite nice with a tangible amount of embarrassing guilt.  But it was peaceful.  I knew I had to apologize later.  (And I did.)  But it was the bubble of mind space needed to get through that moment.  Which there should be for everyone all the time.

There should be an iPhone app that puts a bubble around you where everything around you slows and a sense of calmness surrounds you as Enya sings and gently combs your goatee.  In fact, it’s a down right shame that programmers everywhere have not spent EVERY moment making such an app happen instead of provoking birds with anger issues and allowing fingers to swipe their way to instant courtship.  

Perhaps that’s one of the problems with our modern world not being modern enough.  We’re not having A.I. / EX MACHINA robot kids yet and so these biological wonders don’t do everything you want them to do when you want them to.  They’re unpredictable and not prone to wait until you’re really ready to deal with them when your brain is less snot-filled and there’s less traffic. 

Plus, there are no emotional sneeze guards for kids.  They sneeze emotions on you all the time, making you feel their feelings.  (Not to mention all their real sneezes that cover you no matter how many times you tell them to do a vampire sneeze.  Back in my day there were no "vampire sneezes".  You just covered your nose with your hand and then that hand carried the germs everywhere you went spreading sickness around the world like the dirty booger-wipin’ animals we are.  But in this modern future, you sneeze into your anti-elbow area like you’re the Count counting all the chocolate marshmallows in Count Chocula.)

(In full disclosure, I am a Frankenberry man myself.)    

(In full disclosure, I am a Frankenberry man myself.)    

But the kids get under your skin in ways you can’t ever imagine.  Because you love them more than you do yourself.   But they also remind you of yourself more than yourself.  Their immaturities are yours.  Their foul behaviors learned from you.  They do not do what you say, but they do what you do and when you do do bad do’s they do so in a way that’s the emotional equivalent of the ultimate “Why are you hitting yourself “conundrum. 

Basically, it’s our inappropriate education system that gives us Spring Breaks where we have to actually parent our kids that’s at fault.  School is the place that keeps your kids for a few hours to make you like them more when you see them later.  It’s like an emotional depressurization chamber. (Oh, and they possibly learn something there, too.  Hypothetically.)  And school helps foster that whole “absence makes the heart grow fonder” because it does make your kids fonder to you. 

Because once your reality kids head off to school, your reality kids turn into abstract kids.  They’re your kids but in the abstract (and in their absence), they become idealized and perfect little beacons of cherubic bliss.  Because your abstract kids are always doting and listening and cheerful and funny and not like reality kids.  Reality kids have those moments, but they also have moments of yelling, crying, whining, pooping, peeing, arguing, blaming, screaming, puking, and talking endlessly about Minecraft in ways that make you scream “Pong!!!” to the heavens with a greater sense of revenge than Kirk ever did shouting: “Khannnnnnnnnnn!!!”

So basically traveling has taught me I’m still growing.  That I’m childlike in ways that aren’t great.  But that in the end, I can only do what I’ve done so far.  Try my best.  Apologize when I’m a dick.  And every once in awhile, lock myself in a cone of silence until I can deal with everyone again once more and they can pretend to stand me.

Star Wars Is Christmas

(Read to the end or skip to the end, there'll be a Kindle treat for anyone who wants it.)

(Some language as always will be a little salty and slightly NSFW.  Just so you know.)

When I showed my son the Star Wars Trilogy for the first time, I expected him to enjoy it.  More than that, I wanted him to love it.  But I didn't expected I'd get all weepy in front of him.  And it wasn't for the usual reason of just sharing it with him.  When it got to the end of Return of the Jedi and Vader sacrificed himself for his son, it hit me.  Hit me hard.  And as my eyes watered with pools that could end the California drought, my four-year-old son looked over at me with a mix of confusion and embarrassment.  Then, thankfully, he turned back to the film and rightfully ignored me.  Never before had that moment really hit me so hard.  And this from a set of films I knew better than anything else.

Here's a picture of me and my kid in fifteen years.

Here's a picture of me and my kid in fifteen years.

Because Star Wars changed me as a kid.  In ways that have defined who I am, what I am, and how I am.  Twenty-some years ago, I saw the movie in a way that would shock and confound most kids.  You see, little squirts today can take their ArcLight IMAX THX super-duper eye-bustin', ear-bleedin', comfy-lean back chairs movie experience and shove it right up their Bantha Tracks.  Because I witnessed Star Wars in a car, a million parsecs (see what I did there - proudly wrongly, too!) away from the screen with a tin speaker you could barely hear anything out of. 

I was probably four when I saw it.  Maybe five.  It was Nebraska and it could have even been later as we were as close to Tatooine in being as far from the center of the universe as possible and probably got movies later than the rest of the country.  But despite viewing this movie in a way that would be like watching it for the first time on a grubby highway gas station men's bathroom mirror today, it was transcendent.  It turned me into something else, someone else.  It gave me purpose, it gave me guidance, it gave me hope.  (A New Hope at that, even though it wasn't "A New Hope" back then. It was just an unEpisode numbered scrawl of prologue.)

And this didn't just happen to me.  It happened to tons of kids who saw the film back then and from then on.  It provoked a mutation in all of us who had that gene to become something different.  I'm not sure how it worked with regular kids, regular boys.  Most boys seemed really into football - living in Nebraska that was pretty much as big a religion as religion.  But I couldn't tell you a Husker from a busker but I could tell a Bantha from a Jawa and name all the bounty hunters Vader brought for a special pow-wow on his Super Star Destroyer.  Hell, I even got excited when my second grade teacher had the same last name as the director of Empire Strikes Back.  I mean, what second grader in Nebraska knew that and nearly peed his pants in excitement when he even considered his teacher could be related to the Irvin Kershner? 

That Death Star still might be the best present I ever got.  (Haircuts provided by bowl.)

That Death Star still might be the best present I ever got.  (Haircuts provided by bowl.)

But loving Star Wars wasn't easy back then.  Not like now.  Pre-internet, pre-geek days, it was a tough slog.  I was an outcast.  A nerd.  A dork.  A neomaxizoondweebie.  But I didn't care.  That's what happens when you love something so much.  It didn't stop me from every Christmas having there be nothing I wanted more than Star Wars stuff. I wanted toys, books, records, everything. I watched the Star Wars Holiday Special when it was on.  (And I kinda loved it.  At least the Boba Fett cartoon and I couldn't be more happy just to see Han, Luke, and Leia again as you couldn't just watch whatever you wanted back then.  It was like living in the Dark Ages but with a bubonic plague of the soul due to the lack of constant media like now.)

One Christmas, I was a turd to my grandma.  As a young 8-year-old boy, I really wanted The Empire Strikes Back record.  And when I got it from her for Christmas, I pouted and turded it up.  Because she got me the wrong one.  Back then, you couldn't watch movies anytime you wanted.  VCR's were still a little ways off for us to have one and even then there wasn't a ton of movies out.  But I lived Star Wars through books and comics and through the albums that told the story in two different ways.  One record had really fake actors that made me angry and another album that actually just took the sound from the movies.  She didn't get me either of those.  She got me the soundtrack.  The two-album soundtrack.  One of the best scores for anything ever made and she got it for me.  At the time, it felt like a lightsaber chopped off my chubby eight-year-old and then carbon froze my heart.  But in in the end, it was one of the greatest gifts ever.  I listened to that thing on my Fisher-Price record player a billion or two times, each time allowing my imagination to deepen the Star Wars universe in my psyche in a way the story album never could.  (Although I got that too eventually, because, come on, I like really loved Star Wars.) 

But I grew a little away from Star Wars as I got older.  It was also a post-Return of the Jedi world where there was no more Star Wars outside of the occasional Ewok movie.  I got into G.I. Joe - those figures arms and legs could bend and swivel! - I constantly went to the movies ("Hey, there, Ghostbusters, Back to the Future, and the Goonies, you'll make me happy!"), I got into movie soundtracks and bought nothing but movie soundtracks.  (Like all Midwestern boys do.)  Then I got into music and went to high school and then college.  And considering I went to the same college a certain George Lucas did, it was still clear Star Wars lived on strong in me.  It was as much of me as my spleen and a ton more useful. 

In college, things changed with Star Wars for me.  I was in a dorky writer in the theatre school in a class where students put on their own plays at the end of the semester.  Over the previous summer, I had done a Tom Stoppard play called The Fifteen Minute Hamlet so when this class started that was still fresh on my mind while Star Wars was always on my mind.  Thus the idea of fusing those two things like my peanut butter in your chocolate was born and that semester, I wrote and directed and Yoda-ed Star Wars Trilogy in 30 Minutes.  (I even cast myself as Han Solo for a second until I realized that would have been the worst casting of any casting in any Star Wars thing ever.  Which is actually really saying something.) It was just supposed to be a goofy college play.  Done three times in front of a few friends and that was it.

One time as Yoda, I slid out on my knees and ended up in Luke's crotch.  The first line Luke had to say was: "Oh, no, we'll never get it out now."

One time as Yoda, I slid out on my knees and ended up in Luke's crotch.  The first line Luke had to say was: "Oh, no, we'll never get it out now."

But instead, like most things that you don't put too much stock in, it grew.  And grew.  And grew.  From a tiny creaky theatre at USC that burnt down a couple years after we did it, we've done this show all over the world for twenty years now, from Scotland to Skywalker Ranch.  So much of the laughs and fun and adventures that I've been on can directly or indirectly be linked to this show.  I went to Scotland and had my show performed on the Edinburgh Fringe, year after year.  The show's been done in Paris and Los Angeles and at countless Star Wars and other sci-fi conventions.  We've done it for George Lucas, Frank Oz, J.J. Abrams, and for so many others that have inspired and influenced me that it feels like some crazy dream. 

Me and my magnificent cast with some dude named George.

Me and my magnificent cast with some dude named George.

But in the end, the most important thing it's given me is friends.  So many of my closest friends have come from doing that show over the past twenty years. All because I loved Star Wars too much and knew how to hold my hands up by my head and walk on my knees and do a goofy Yoda voice.  And I'll use that to teach my kids something important.  Something important that contradicts Yoda completely with something Yoda's the most wrong about (and he and Obi-Wan were wrong about a lot of things.)

One's a weird dude that says incomprehensible things and the other's a puppet.

One's a weird dude that says incomprehensible things and the other's a puppet.

Yoda said: "Do or do not.  There is no try."

But he's wrong.  The Try is everything.  I get what he's saying.  Yoda's kinda being a big dicked football coach imploring Luke to completely believe in what you do or don't do it.  But that kind of confidence in everything in an all-or-nothing kind of way doesn't yield success in my eyes.  It's taking a chance on things you never knew could be.  It's doing something weird just to see what happens.  It's trying a new adventure that might end in your complete and total humiliating failure. 

Or it could lead to you doing a silly play about Star Wars in front of your heroes and friends and having a 2,500 person audience give you a whooping standing ovation that makes you feel like a rock star. 

So, come on... life's all about trying something.  Let's go give everything a try.

And forget that little green dude for a moment.

May the Force Be With You Always in this special Star Wars week.  See you on the other side.


And for getting all the way down here to the end of the bloggity-blog, my book on Kindle is free as a Life Day present to you or anyone who wants it.  Just click on the book cover for below and go McFury crazy!  Only for five days, so get it now before it's gone.  Or goes back to a truly unreasonable price of $2.99.  Please feel free to give it a read and if you like it, please say so on Goodreads, Amazon, and to anyone that will listen.

(And if you don't like the book, please recommend it to your enemies.  I'm not particular.)


Thanks again, folks, for giving this a read.  Hope you all have a brilliant Force Awakens week!

So long,

Patrick T.

the T stands for blaster

 

Episode V: We're Going to Be Friends (Or Enemies... we'll see)

(Some language as always will be a little salty and slightly NSFW.  Just so you know.)

As a parent, one of the most omnipresent worries before school starts is the worry of whether your kid will have friends.  They worry that, too. Nothing in school is more important to your child than not being alone and having a group of people to hang out with that they can count on, especially just to complain about those other kids who are clearly awful and will grow up to be the worst of the worst: criminals, star athletes, and politicians. They need new friends to grow emotionally and to protect themselves against everything school has to throw at them.

As an adult though, you don't really wonder if you're going to get any new friends.  Most likely, you're all set in the friend department.  You've reduced your friend interactions to mostly Facebooking and living passively at a distance with most of your acquaintances.  We all live in Facebookia, where we can all pretend that nothing too horrible happens, trust everything anyone posts on face value (that's what the "face" in Facebook stands for), and assume that everyone is a decent parent and has a decent job and a decent home and how-did-I-get-here sort of life.  But outside of having to muster up some yip-yapping chit-chat with someone on a plane or in a Soviet-like line at the supermarket, I generally don't meet or interact with people I don't know.  

Having kids changes all of that.  You have to deal with tons of people in ways you could never have considered before.  First off, you're part of the parenting club.  You are all over-connected with every parent everywhere and anyone seeing your kids can automatically ask how old they are.  And you HAVE to answer.  You are morally obliged to share with strangers your child's age in a way you'd never do with anything else.  You don't go around an old folks home randomly asking oldies how old they are or how near death they feel.  You don't show up at a holiday party and just start asking when people were born.  So with this nefarious parenting cabal, your children have born you into something you never thought you'd have to be part of.  A trip to the park is a trip where you not only have to have a variety of items for your child to play with or eat, but you must be equipped with the emotional wherewithal to talk to total strangers as though you're a person capable of not being a complete asshole.  

Not the exact kinda parklife one lives as a parent.

But that's just - as Blur would sing about - Parklife.  Then your kid starts schooling.  And then it kicks off a whole new set of parents that you have to be friendly with and be friendly with for years.  You hope your kid picks the right kid with the right parents, but you know you can totally get shafted with parents you'd like to throw off the Space Needle along with their bratty kid.  And then if you're totally cool with the parents, you're the parents that they loathe.  

I know for a fact that there was a pair of parents who couldn't stand us at pre-school.  I don't think we'd ever been mean to them or lock them and their kid in a room with a facehugger or did anything warranting them hating us worse than disco-dancing Nazi cockroaches.  Yet the contempt they held for us was never really hidden.  And although I didn't want to hang around with them either, for some reason their open dislike stuck in my plentiful craw.  Especially as we had to see them all the time and I didn't know what led to them to treat us this way.  But just like a pubescent teenager preoccupied with people liking them despite not liking those people at all, it hurt (or at the very least irritated like a hangnail on the heart.)  

But as this crusty cold war goes on, your child goes to a different school than theirs.  And you're freed.  Until you meet the new boss.  Same as the old boss.  Because if you're a weird kid like I was, you grow up to be a weird teenager.  Then you grow up to be a weird adult.  And a weird parent.  And even though for the most part "weird" is in (or at least everything that helped defined you as weird when young is totally accepted from comic books to Star Wars to Doctor Who), you still function as a person that's different from the rest.  

Especially here in Santa Monica, where even for a public school, the dads are keeping things tight.  Sure, there's a few of us chubs, but we're the minority to all the actors and other professionals who make a point of being totally in shape.  In the greater Los Angeles area, everyone is attractive.  From the police to the doctors to the folks who check the gas to the homeless, there is a sea of beauty here unlike anywhere else.  Whereas in the rest of America dads come in a standard slightly chunky size with doughy gallons-of-milk guts instead of six packs, here, they are all majestic adonises (or Adoni?).  So glorious in their presentation, you kinda hope that by you appearing to be a disfigured gargoyle in comparison will make YOU the rarity... the attractive one.  

(It does not.)

A picture of bald me next to every dad in Santa Monica.

A picture of bald me next to every dad in Santa Monica.

After wading through meeting billions of parents where you're all defined by your owner ("I'm Crispin's dad."  "I'm Lady's mom."  "I'm Lord Shitty-Shitty-Bang-Bang's father."), you do what we humans do best as a civilization: We make acquaintances.  And we do so with no expectations that they'll become friends.  However, even in the hodge-podge of random moms and dads and inbetweens, you will find a few on your same wavelength.  Who will laugh at the same thing.  Who will wear a t-shirt of a band you like, too.  Who will talk about Star Wars, but not like someone who just casually saw the movies, but someone who can rage out when you fear any word that starts with pre- will end with -quels.  All in all, you will find them.  And you will talk privately with gusto about the wretched other parents there are.  Griping about the entitled and slightly insane parents who yell at teachers not treating their kid like the messiah.  The uncaring, daredevil dickhole ones who drive Teslas too fast through the school parking lot.  The snotty ones who aren't as cool as all of you.  You, the cool parents.

It may seem you won't find your people.  It may seem that every other parent is an idiot or too involved in their kid or not enough involved in their kid or that they may wear t-shirts that seem at odds with any kind of taste or they may seem slightly sexist.  You may wander years without a parenting pal.  But then one day, you will arrange a playdate for your kid with another kid.  And you won't want to go to it.  You'd rather have a nap on a Sunday or do something that requires even less effort.  But because you love your son, you will go on that playdate.  And you will talk to those parents.  And you will realize they are awesome.  That they share your same thoughts on what a travesty MAN OF STEEL is.  How they also carry a first aid kit with them.  How they have awesome deeply enviable hair.

This is the only Zod.  I don't know what you're talking about when you mention this MAN OF STEEL business.

This is the only Zod.  I don't know what you're talking about when you mention this MAN OF STEEL business.

Then you return home.  Surprised to find some folks you actually like.  And then you wait by the magic email machine, hoping they'll email again.  You smile, pleased that you found some folks you won't mind talking to for the next ten years until your kids graduate and you become your own human again.  

(But then you worry all junior high style that YOU are their horrible parent that they don't want to deal with.  That you aren't cool enough for them.  That you talk too much and griped about a teacher they may actually like and that you're an obnoxious turd and it's amazing anyone likes you at all.  And right then, you realize that kids turn you into emotionally turbulent kids in all kinds of twisty horrible ways that makes Cronenberg's worst visions look like Play-Doh in comparison.)  

All you can do then is just put on the White Stripes "We're Going to Be Friends" and LCD Soundsystem's "All My Friends" and hope for the best.  (Well, that and that your kid doesn't become best friends with the son of a dickhead.  That would be the worst.)

My TCM-ing

Recently watched OVER THE EDGE, a late 70s film about discontent teens who rebel against their absentee parents and jerkhead authority figures.  If you've seen the sterling documentary about Kurt Cobain MONTAGE OF HECK, clips of this film are sprinkled through it, as it was Cobain's favorite film and one could see why.  It's actually the debut of a young Matt Dillon - wearing an always classy half-shirt.  The film actually works pretty well even today and helps me - as did that Cobain doc - to be hopefully be less of a dick parent hopefully.

That's all for now, folks.  Thanks for reading and hope you all have a week filled with so many extraordinary adventures that even J.K. Rowling looks on impressed.

So long,

Patrick T.

The T stands for Montage

Episode IV: The Great Pumpkin Is a Turd

(Some language as always will be a little salty and slightly NSFW.  Just so you know.)

(Also, to kinda protect my kids, I've changed their names. The oldest I'll just randomly call Han and the youngest Luke.)

I arrived at school at my regular time.  The same as usual.  But there was my youngest kid, openly weeping like Sophie just made a choice and it wasn't him.  I thought maybe another kindergartner stole something from him or was unnaturally mean to him.  That maybe one of the teachers said something horrible - like maybe he was "too adorable" or "too smart".  

One of Luke's friends told me that Luke he didn't think I was going to come to get him.  Instantly, I jumped at the belief that another student tricked him into this belief and was ready to lash out at the dirty turd who dared to trick my son into tears.  But no.  It wasn't any of that.  Luke believed I wasn't coming to get him.  He believed it was much later than usual and I wouldn't pick him up.  And so he started losing his shit - thankfully only metaphorically as with kids it can get literal and deeply unpleasant - and he told his tiny friends his worries which led to more worries and a full cascading of tears.  

The truth was that I was right on time.  He wasn't even close to the last kid picked up - in fact there were tons of kids still there waiting for their parents.  A full litter really.  But as it had been a busy Halloween day, Luke felt it was later than usual and got all discombobulated with general feelings of being orphaned.  Otherwise, known as "the usual".  Because as a kid, that's the worst case scenario.  Even with an oafish dad like me, being left by your parents is as bad as it gets.  It's the heart of most Disney films, Star Wars, and a million other stories as well.  It's the easiest way in for a kid (or for any human with a heart at all) with a story and it's the go-to when a kid needs something to really freak out about.  

So once I figured out it was this general soul-shattering feelings of abandonment, I crouched down and told him I'd never not come get him.  That either his mom or me would always pick him up.  We hugged, his tears abated and then he went to cheerfully tell me he'd gotten candy in class.  

Myself as a kid in a very classy Spider-Man knockoff costume.

Myself as a kid in a very classy Spider-Man knockoff costume.

For all this, I blame Halloween.  For months, my kids had been looking forward to it.  The older ordered parts and bits to make a Tron outfit weeks before.  The other fought off every question as to what he was going to be, but still kept counting down the days until Halloween.  Eventually, he made his own cool penguin costume with his mom, an act he was proud of.  But come the day of the Halloween parade at his school, he had to be coaxed into wearing it.  He feared people making fun of it.  And then next day at his soccer game, he was reduced to tears again when another kid on his team asked what he was going to be for Halloween.  When he told this kid "a penguin", this 5-year-old bucket of evil sneered at Luke: "That's not scary!"

And again, the tears.  It's not the way you want to end a soccer game, but here he was wracked with the raging eye waters.  His older brother tried to comfort him, but that verbal arrow from a turdy teammate struck too close to the bone.  Myself and Luke talked about what happened, about how he shouldn't care what that kid said.  I asked Luke if he even wanted his costume to be scary, to which he admitted he hadn't.  So his teammate saying it wasn't scary dismissively was like saying an apple didn't taste like a hamburger.  His costume was just a cute, cool penguin.  Not some bloody, Hannibal Lecter cannibal penguin who fed off the hides of other penguins, especially those ones from Madagascar, Pingu, and Opus.  It wasn't Revenge of the March of the Penguins - although that would be awesome.  (Hit me up, SyFy Channel if you want a pitch on that.)

So that night, Halloween night, Luke gave up on being a penguin.  He wore an old sci-fi soldier-y costume of his brother's.  Peer pressure and his own doubts crept in and knocked the one he made out of consideration.  And he was totally happy in his random future soldier outfit that was some sort of weird knockoff that we'd never heard before.  But it felt like a slight loss, him not wearing his own home-made costume.  Even if he was clearly happier and less angsty by putting on this other costume.

Then we went trick-or-treating with other families we'd gone with for years.  And I eyed each trick-or-treater in too scary costumes or terrible teens out for terror with the idea that I'll jump into action if they do anything to my kids.  Most likely, I'd use some extraordinarily vulgar words put together in ways that will make them weep for years.  Because there are people who love Halloween.  And people who don't.  I'm am in the don't.  

Myself with horror master Wes Craven and the brilliant director and cast of the film  The Girl in the Photographs .

Myself with horror master Wes Craven and the brilliant director and cast of the film The Girl in the Photographs.

Because it's filled with people trying to scare people.  And in the 80s when scaring was at it's peak with Wes Craven, John Carpenter, and others, I ran away from those films.  Hell, I only saw Poltergeist.  Which scared me enough.  But now in the real world with real kids, I'm taking them to strangers houses, asking to trust these strangers to give my children candy poison while surrounded by hoards of people going around in the dark with their faces hidden so they could totally stab you and run off and get away with it.  

So thanks for scaring me more than I already am, Great Pumpkin and your Halloween.  I hope one day Linus catches up with you.  And wreaks a revenge that's never-before-seen with a blue blanket of carnage.  And then we'll never have to do Halloween again.

Except my kids already started talking about what they could be next year.  

Crap.  This Halloween stuff never ends.

My TCM-ing

Over the past week, TCM has been showing a lot of scary films.  The most scary, for me always, has been the short films of David Lynch.  I love David Lynch.  I've seen a fair amount of scary films even though I missed so many in the 80s, but the only thing that consistently freaks me out is David Lynch.  Twin Peaks did a number on me that no other show or movie ever could.  So showing these early short films (and other works) that he did while at AFI like The Grandmother and The Alphabet and I'm still weirded out.  Check it out if you never have and it will infect your soul.

David Lynch's  The Grandmother .

David Lynch's The Grandmother.

Also, they've been showing a lot of old Hammer films.  The movie Dracula A.D. 1972 showed that The Godfather had nothing to worry about that year for best film.

What I love is that it says Dracula has "an eye for London's hotpants".  Repeat: he has "an eye for London's hotpants".

What I love is that it says Dracula has "an eye for London's hotpants".  Repeat: he has "an eye for London's hotpants".

Also, watched Race to Witch Mountain, which as a child was a big deal.  Watching it with my kids, it's not a bad film and holds up pretty well.  What I loved most was that the film had a very pro-bald casting agenda.  Baldies were everywhere in it.  

A couple last random thoughts...

While out taking the kids trick-or-treating with other families, I joked that my wearing my regular clothes was actually a costume of Dad-Who's-Given-Up.  And then one of the women laughed really hard.  Like, too hard.  Like too much truth.

Also, do parents let their kids eat all the candy they get?  Each year, we've let our kids pick out a small amount and then we bring it to the school to send off to the troops.  Not to be kind or awesome or any of that, but because we don't want any sugar-crazed chubbos bouncing off our walls.  (...And because if some troops get our candy and like it, that is kinda nice.)

So that's it.  Thanks for reading and I hope each of you have a brilliantly awesome week of adventures and laughter.  (Also, go listen to Styx's "Come Sail Away".  You'll feel better after you do.)

So long,
Patrick T.
the T stands for pumpkin

Episode II: The New Dads

(Some language as always will be a little salty and slightly NSFW.  Just so you know.)

Growing up in the 70s & 80s, I got to witness when dads were being called upon to start doing more than they had.  Beginning of the end of the era where men could easily have virtually nothing to do with actually parenting their kids.  Before, they could drift off to a living room with a drink and watch baseball in silent masculine machismo misery.  But back then it began to change, maybe thanks to progress like Gloria Steinem, burning bras, and the Equal Rights Amendment fight. (By the way, it still boggles my tiny little mind that the ERA didn't pass.  Of course, at that time, Congress was even more filled with men than it is now.  In fact, it was 200% men in Congress.  Basically almost all men and each of those men had at least two dicks, all the better to dick the American people over with.)  Along with society, pop culture was changing things with songs like Cat Stevens "Father and Son" and John Lennon's "Beautiful Boy" and dads on TV went from being brusque domineering wife and child beaters to being kind and somewhat understanding.  

However, it still wasn't a time where real life dads did a ton more with their kids than before or shared their feelings or didn't mostly just communicate primarily through sports.  (There might be a double negative in there, but don't go all negative on it.)  But that was then and this is now and even if I was back with Don Draper, I couldn't be Don Draper.  I'm an oversensitive, whiny baby and I overthink things.  This might be good traits in a writer trying to find emotion in characters, but in a dad, it can get complicated. Because I overthink things, there's not virtually anything that I do as a dad that I don't think will do damage to them in some way.  

If you don't show them enough attention, they'll grow up and turn into raging pricks.  If you show them too much attention, they'll grow up and turn into entitled douchebags.  There are 5 trillion studies that prove all of this and that EVERYTHING you do is wrong.  I'm not an expert in raising kids or child psychology, but I do know when I see my kids emulating me in various ways, I'm not all full of yippees.  I don't want them to be the man I am, I want them to be so much better.

Driving in Los Angeles, my kids get to see me at my worst.  Once you get in a car in Los Angeles, each driver is in need of an exorcism as things take over our mouths and bodies in ways that would never occur.  When you get cut off in the supermarket by an old lady's cart, you aren't a flurry of middle fingers and shouting offensive words.  (Which is because that would be rude - and she's probably very close to death, so who cares?)  So you behave like a decent human being when dealing with people in person.  But once you get in your little moving box of glass and metal and plastic, you are in a very expensive tank that everyone should respect, just as you respect their moving tanks.  

Despite those unrealistic hopes though and trying to model good basic human behavior, you drive on to the freeway and all bets are off.  Immediately words and gestures come flying out of you.  Most of the time you remember you have ears in the backseat, but sometimes not.  And when you don't, you realize they're these little snitch sponges that soak up everything and regurgitate it out when you least expect it.  They also can pick up on things you don't think they can pick up on.  

Years ago, when driving down the street and a guy walked right down the middle of the street as though it wasn't for cars, I muttered to myself, "Out of the way, dickhead."  From behind, I heard my three-year-old ask, "Why'd you call him that?"  Without missing a beat, I answered casually: "Because that's his name... Richard Head.  Dick's a nickname for Richard."  And to be honest, I didn't know that guy's name wasn't that.  

So the key to me being the kind of me dad that I can live with, I have to reconcile my being an okay dad.  And with a lot of dads not being present, merely by showing up I'm probably ahead of the curve slightly.  I start the dad game with house money just by being around.  By waking up with my kid in the middle of the night and rocking him back to sleep.  By not spanking them or belittling them.  By listening to them talk about Minecraft and Terraria and Plants vs. Zombies as if it makes sense to me and pretending to be terribly interested.  By trying to understand that I need to just be the best I can be and hope that therapy in the future will cover the rest.

My TCM Week

(I love DVR-ing random films off TCM.  Here are some things I recently watched, probably a long time after they initially aired on TCM.)

This past week of what I've been watching on TCM from my DVR are two films that are part of their Female Directors series.  The first I watched was VALLEY GIRL.  I'd seen it before a few years ago and it didn't do much for me then, but this time it was pure magic. The music is beyond spectacular with a ton of hits of that time.  One of the key songs is the constantly cheerful, "I Melt with You."  But the real find for me this time was this song by Sparks that played during a romantic scene.  Immediately I had to go and find it and now I've been doing nothing but listening to Sparks songs for the past week.  

Here's the song I dug and it's a delightful earworm of the first order.

(The odd thing is that my favorite song of the summer is a surprisingly chirpy song called "Piss Off" by FFS, which is Franz Ferdinand with this band Sparks from the 80s.  And I had no idea because I put the "idea" in "idiot".)

And it had Nicholas Cage with some very weird V-shaped chest hair, so there's that, too.

Also, I watched FIRST LOVE with William Katt and Susan Dey, another of the female directors series.  So in it, basically, the Greatest American Hero and the L.A. Law lady have a fair amount of sex, Katt calls her the c word you're really not supposed to call a lady, and he asks her if she has an orgasm.  

Now, I loved THE GREATEST AMERICAN HERO so much as a kid that I shout-sang crazy-"Let-It-Go"-FROZEN-style the theme song during my elementary school music class like a deranged person.  (I might have even been weeping.)  Thus, years later, I turned my love of that song into a bedtime lullaby for both my sons when they were babies.  And now that I saw this film, I'm not sure I'll ever look that superhero or sing that song the same again.  Once you hear Ralph Hinkley ask Ms. L.A. LAW about orgasms, it's all a bit tainted.

Also, Dey is involved with a much older Robert Loggia.  And she's choosing between a young soccer-playin' William Katt and a mid-40s cheatin' Loggia.  Because why would you choose Katt when you can break yourself off a piece of Robert Loggia.

What's amazing to me is that this film came out in 1977.  The same year a film William Katt auditioned for a character called Luke Skywalker came out.  How things could be so different with the smallest of changes.

So that's it for now.  Thanks for stopping by and I hope you all have a brilliant week!

So long,
Patrick T.
the T stands for Machismo

Episode I: A New Blog

This is my first blog.  And I was going to explain why I'm writing a blog and who I am and make a thing out of it.  But between you and me, we don't need to do that.  We know why I'm writing a blog.  It's obvious.  It's because:

·      Having an online presence is important and SEO and Twitter-Twitter-bang-bang and Google needs an updated site with new content to make me totally relevant.

·      I'm a desperate narsicist and like using the wordy-words.

·      I'm a major self-loather and can tell how much people don't care about me by tracking how few people read what I write as I write it and put it up.

·      Maybe it has to do with the fact that I use far too many words to ever be any good at Twitter at all because I never know when to shut up beyond the amount of words given to me for anything and I can go on and on and on and on with a blog.

·      Or maybe because I think it's 2006 and if you told me about Periscope it would blow my tiny antiquated mind.

            Regardless, I'm doing it.  I'm here and it's going to be a little random and eccentric and stupid, just like me.  It's going to be a little grumbly at times because I was born a curmudgeon.  (So if you could keep it down, I'd really appreciate it.)  Basically, I'm a premature Andy Rooney.  (And that just shows how Andy Rooney I am by making a Andy Rooney reference.)

            (By the way, I really hate Andy Rooney and always did.  The fact that he's dead doesn't diminish my hatred of him in any way.)

            (Wow, man, I just realized I really love parentheses.  They're the best!)

            (They really are.  Parentheses are like whispered hugs for sentences.)

            So here we go.  A full-on bloggity-blog-BLOG.  

            Here's who I am:

            I'm a chubby bald dad with a 90s goatee of sadness.  I'm so self-effacing that I no longer have a face.  I'm filled with all sorts of sarcasm and smart-assery.  I'm as sensitive as I am prickly and I'm in desperate need of a nap.  I've written the novel QUENTIN MCFURY - THE LAST DEFENDER.  I've written the plays STAR WARS TRILOGY IN 30 MINUTES and the stage adaptation of RESERVOIR DOGS, among others.  I've written screenplays for UNIVERSAL PICTURES and 20TH CENTURY FOX.  I've also jumped around on my knees while holding my hands up as ears pretending to be Yoda in front of thousands of people.  Beyond that, I'm just a boy.  Standing in front of a world.  And asking everyone not to completely hate me.  

            Wow, I'm actually writing this thing. An actual blog.

            He's doing it.  HE'S DOING IT!!! 

            (And then Debra Winger comes in and sweeps me off my feet and carries me out.)

            My plan with this blog - that I shall instead of a “blog” will call a Word Pocket or Brain Essays or Journal of the Wills - is to write about three basic things, sometimes focusing on one thing more than another.  The main subject I’ll throw words at is parenting and kids and how I try to figure out the most unfigure-outable thing.  Secondly, I’ll probably do some scribblin’ on what I’m scribblin’ on in pretending to be a writer of some sort.  And finally, I'll write about how much I love TCM (Turner Classic Movies) and what I've recently watched on it because I just won't shut up about it.  

            In regards to the whole writing about my kids thing, I won't use their actual names to give them some semlbance of privacy.  So, I will choose just two random names out of the air.  Hmm... What shall I go with?  Let's just go with the first two names that pop out of the air...  

            For the older one with darker hair who's a bit sarcastic, I'll just call him "Han".  

            And for the younger full of energy one with lighter hair, I'll just randomly call him "Luke". 

             (Not sure where I plucked those two names from.  Might be the Bible, Shakespeare, or I LOVE LUCY or something.)

            So that's me here now, writing a blog.  I'll jump in more shortly with a proper blog.  Not just an introduction.  And then I'll keep doing it.  Until I die or the words fail me.  Or until I get bored.  Or a combination of the three.  Thanks for coming and I hope all is going swimmingly with you all, but not so much more than me that I feel bad about myself.

            So long,

            Patrick T.

            The T stands for Beginnings