TCM

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 III: Rise of the Truly Terrible Horrible Awful Children (Who Make Me Feel Like a Good Parent)

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

It was just a Boys Under 10 soccer game.  But I saw a player of such singular talent that I couldn't believe it.  The kind of talent that you see in the movies and think, "There's just no way that can be real."  But it was real.  I saw it with my own two eyes.  (Four eyes if you're going to insult me with my glasses.)  And I heard it with my own two ears.  (No "four ears" comment, huh?  Yeah, I thought so!)  The kid was smaller than the rest and he swept down the field with amazing moves.  But I wasn't impressed with his soccer skill.  You see decent players every week.  There's usually one really good one on each team.  What this kid had though was that rare level of kiddie assholishness that it felt like a cartoon, like a bad South Park rip-off. 

This kid - who looked like the offspring of Harpo Marx and a urinal cake - screamed at our team's players.  Which wasn't too surprising.  Or all that bad.  Kids do talk some smack even at this age against their opponents.  Yet after he scored an early goal, he ran by myself and the other coach skipping and singing, "Zip-a-dee-do-da!"  It was as classless as it was audacious.  I'm just surprised he didn't moon us while flipping us both birds as he raced by.  Now, if the kid was just awful to the people he was playing against, it wouldn't be awesome, but it wouldn't be unoriginal either. 

But then he also screamed at his own team.  "Why do I even try if you won't get me the ball?!!" he yelled in the face a teammate who had no idea how to deal with that.  As the game went on, he even yelled at the ref, right in his face.  (And he wasn't a great ref, but it was like something out of the Bad News Bears, even though the kids in Bad News Bears were funny and this kid made you wish they brought back a good old fashioned kid-slapping.)  What this kid showed was on par with every SUPER-BRAT you saw in any movie ever.  I think of the Wonder Years brother who played the kid movie star in Pee-Wee's Big Adventure that had Pee-Wee's bike. 

And if this was the only kid like that, it would be okay.  You could live with it, but there's more than just one.  Every class has a couple, every grade a bunch, and every school enough to make you fear for the future.  (There's even one girl at my kid's school who makes new girls cry and her mom yells at other kids for her like the mom's her muscle.)

Instead of worrying about the future of our society due to kids like this, I'm actually thankful these kids exist.  These kiddie monsters show there are parents worse than you in an empirical fashion that will leave you feeling smug and self-satisfied for anywhere from 24-to-72 hours.  It takes every moment of self-examining one does as a parent and shows that you are a golden sunbeam of parenting awesomeness.  You are a fluffy android unicorn that clearly has a handle on things.  All because your kid is not awful. 

Yet that's where the really hard dilemma kicks in.  Because as big of a turd as any kid is, it's not their fault for their turdishness.  They're just kids.  However...

Their parents are true assholes.  Assholes who instill in their kid a belief that their child is entitled to more than other children.  Which is different from liking your kid more than other kids. Everyone likes their kids better than other kids.  But you also let your kids know they aren't the chosen one.  There's a difference between advocating for your children and trying to make all other children and adults and society to bend to the will of your terrible tot.  These tiny little shit Hitlers - or Shitlers as we shall call them - need to have a collection of allied forces to step forward and say that we are all in this together and we will not serve your mouthy child like a king or queen.  In the immortal words of the great commander Captain Jean-Luc Picard: "The line must be drawn here! This far, no further!"

Because mouthy horrible kids who play soccer turn into awful human beings.  Like totally the worst.  Yes... granted, I was a mouthy soccer player.  Who argued with refs and got yellow cards. And never shut up and was pretty obnoxious.  But I'm different.  I turned out... alright?  I'm not like that kid.  I'm totally different.  Totally... diff... oh, crap.  Crap, crap, frakkin' crap. 

Another example of me hating something when I'm just really hating myself.

Still... those parents are the worst.

My TCM This Week

I watched a couple of old Alan Arkin films that they were playing awhile back during an Alan Arkin month.  I'd never heard of either before and was pleasantly surprised by both.

The first was a film called Simon where Alan Arkin plays a man that a bunch of geniuses at a think tank convince is an alien to trick the rest of the world just for their own malevolent amusement.  Written and directed by Marshall Brickman - the co-writer of Annie Hall and other Woody Allen films, it was an unexpected film with many laughs and featured the space shuttle before it was even actually used.  And it had a computer that was a giant talking phone, not to mention Madeleine Kahn, Wallace Shawn, Austin Pendleton, and the dad Alf lived with.  Really unlike most films and certainly anything from that time period of 1980.


The other was the early 70s film Little Murders, written by the great playwright and cartoonist Jules Feiffer and directed by Arkin himself.  Starring the always brilliant Elliot Gould, it's a bit more hit and miss.  One of the best moments though is a cameo by Donald Sutherland as the minister at a wedding that is just brilliant.  It's on par for me with Peter Cook in The Princess Bride and I'd love to see those two guys to form their own company to do weddings.


What I loved about these two films (and most films I watch off TCM) is how they capture a time and place that's both completely different yet completely the same as now.  Watching a New York where people were constantly being randomly shot in Little Murders, this dark comedy isn't too different from now with so many shootings taking place all the time.  And with Simon having a talking computer with a woman's voice that looks like a giant phone... it's pretty much predicting Siri and the iPhone completely.  

Thanks again for reading and hope you all have a week so brilliant that it gets its own TED talk.

So long,

Patrick T.

the T stands for self-loathing

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