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 SHIT!”

I don’t know how often I’ve ever used the phrase “lose my shit”.  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.

Brand Spankin' No

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

I’ve never spanked my kids.  In the almost ten years I’ve been a dad, it hasn’t happened.  It’s been a choice, a conscious and discussed point.  Because of the belief that it’s probably what’s best for kids.  Also, it’s just not done these days.  Not like it was.  Not in the days where there was so much spanking, it’s amazing there’s only 50 Shades of Grey.  Considering how much spanking was going round in the eighties and before, it should be 50 Shades of Grey, 30 Shades of Black and Blue, and 23 Shades of Red Hand Prints. But as we started this whole parenting thing (and by “parenting thing”, I mean “have a couple kids, try to keep them alive, and turn them into semi-decent human beings”), it was pretty clear that the weight of society and proper parenting was clearly tilted towards the “don’t use violence to punish your kids”.  There’s some who would say that it isn’t “punishment” but “teaching” when they raise a hand to their children.  That by hurting your kid physically, those children will know not to do whatever it is they weren’t supposed to do.  The idea being if one kid hits another one, it’s best to hit that violent kid to “teach” them hitting isn’t okay by hitting that child in the butt until it’s red.  Or if your kid breaks something or doesn’t “do as they’re told”, why not swat a butt?  To be honest, it’s really the butt’s fault for being so cushiony, it’s built for spanking.  But by this butt reasoning, it should carry over to all things.  You get a parking ticket, the parking enforcement should spank you.  You cheat on your taxes, spank-spank-spankity spank.  And if you do something truly heinous like say “I’m not a racist but...” and then follow that with something racist, you get your butt beat by a spoon.  (Granted, things that will have to be addressed for those that enjoy spankings and those will indeed will have their mouths washed out with soap or some other alternative.)  And that’s not even to mention the death penalty which is the ultimate butt-spanking.

Now, to be clear, I was spanked.  Spanked quite a bit as a kid.  My brother and I often fought and were rampant turds of destruction so the common option was a hand on the butt.  Back then, you couldn’t talk things out.  Time-outs didn’t exist.  And the nuclear option that was the one step beyond a simple butt-thumping was a wooden spoon for the whacking.  That didn’t happen too often and what I remember most is not how it changed my behavior in any way, but the one time the wooden spoon broke in the midst of the spanking.  It’d be like heading to a be-heading and the guillotine bounces off the guy’s neck and into the crowd. There is a point where you realize you graduated though when you’re no longer able to be spanked.  For me, it was the broken spoon incident and it was basically a Nebraskan bar mitzvah.  Once a spoon shatters on your ass, you are a man, my son.  You are a man! 

But it’s all relative.  Not just in the punishing punnish way, but in that back then, it was a different time where spankings were given as the baseline form of parenting behavior.  It wouldn’t be unusual to be at church and be taken out to get swatted and then return to your pew thinking you suffered just like Jesus.  It also made the whole handshaking thing awkward with “Peace be with you… sob… sob…” and then gingerly sitting down.  It never felt unfair though really.  Unless you didn’t do what you got in trouble for.  And even then, there was the Catholic guilt that even though the punishment wasn’t right that time, it more than made up for the times where I got away with stuff.  So, all in all, I’m not not spanking because it ruined me in some way.  I’m not sure it corrected my behavior or made me better, but still it’s mostly because just doesn’t feel right in today’s day and age.

Thanks to John Wayne this is how previous generations did everything.

Thanks to John Wayne this is how previous generations did everything.

Not that this makes me an awesome dad.  It doesn’t and I’m not.  Because I do yell at my kids from time to time.  Nothing too horrific (or so I think), but I’m sure years later on they’ll say that yelling is just as bad as spanking.  Or even worse.  (Actually I’m even somewhat aware of how it affects kids and their brains and that’s why I try my darn damnest not to do that either and when I do lose it – due to me being exhausted or stressed or hungry or them just being raving dick monsters – I do apologize and say that I shouldn’t have done it.  Of course, when they accept my apology, they do so often in a gracious and beautiful way of very sweetly saying, “It’s okay”, which we all understand makes them the real villains because it makes me feel infinitely worse.) 

So as a rule, we try the whole talking it out thing.  Like I’m civilized or something even more ridiculous.  To come up with consequences to their actions that connect directly with the not okay behavior.  And it’s not always easy.  One time when visiting his grandparents, my oldest was three and furious about something he couldn’t get.  Despite telling him that things weren’t going to change no matter how big a tantrum he threw, he then lost his damn kid mind and ran up and bit me in the butt.  I was turned away from him when he did this, doing some dishes to help out.  And no where did I think my butt – no matter how meaty or plentiful it is – would be gnashed and snarled on like this.  But for a kid where words were difficult to come by, it was the only way he could express himself and thus I then I had teeth marks on my butt for a couple days.  Instantly, feeling the teeth, I think there’s other parents who would talk the kid down or remove the teeth with a preternatural grace as though they were the second coming of Marlon Perkins or the Crocodile Hunter.  I did not react in such a way and shoved the rabid beast off my butt and he slid to the floor and back into a fridge with a startled look that he was equally as surprised by my reaction as he was by his action. 

And that’s the most I’ve ever done physically to either of my sons.  Pushed one off my butt when he bit it.  Now, that’s not to say that in the future nothing will happen.  It’s instinctive that when you get hurt, you want to hurt back.  And they’ve hurt me multiple times physically, most of the time unintentionally or not knowing how powerful little kids can be.  (Especially with their giant heads ramming into your own or hitting in areas so sensitive, you can’t help but be buckled to the ground, ironically hurt in the balls by what the balls done made.)  Because I understand the idea of “I-get-hurt, I-get-to-hurt-you.”  It’s what most of our most satisfying entertainment is made out of.  Virtually every superhero movie, every action movie, most all movies exist with a bad guy (or monster or alien virus or whatever) kicking our hero (or our hero’s world’s) ass and then kicking ass back.  There’s nothing more satisfying than heroes kicking ass and that’s proven perfectly and accurately in a movie actually called KICK-ASS.  But that’s not how life can really be.  If a guy cuts you off in his car, you can’t go ram into that guy.  We have to try and be better.  That’s not to say when genuine transgressions against society occur, we give murderers a stern talking-to and let them go.  But we all work to handle each other in ways that keep us moving forward and start young, giving them words to express themselves and exchange with each other and not just expressing our parenting will with physical domination. 

Okay... maybe I'll spank my kid if this happens.

Okay... maybe I'll spank my kid if this happens.

However, with all these “consequences” and “time-outs” and other ways to parent outside of physical punishment, there’s a small backlash.  Mostly by guys who think it’s manly to beat the shit out of kids or that their own survival of such treatment means it worked and makes them strong and powerful.  But the arc of history needs to lean towards progress, towards us becoming better parents, better people.  Because my generation got spanked and spanked hard.  The generation before probably were beat and spanked and ignored.  The generation before that were probably just sent them to war for punishment.  And prior to that, families were filled with kids, entire litters, so if one kid stepped out of line, that kid was given to a troll and used as an example to the rest.

“What happened to brother Bosephus, mummy?” 

“Oh, he hit your sister.  So we dropped him off the bridge to the village troll.  Now, you just have twenty-three other brothers and sisters.”

These are just the facts of parenting through the ages and perhaps there will be a time when we realize progress has turned into stasis and then become outright regression.  Until then, I’ll not spank or beat my kids, try to yell at them less, and hope they will be good guys and better guys for it.

(And also, I hope that me being all cool means that I hope that when my kids get bigger than me - which they will because they’re tracking to be giants - they won’t beat the shit out of me.  Because that’s what all this is really about.  My intense planning for the future rooted in a bowl of cowardice.)


As always, thanks for reading and just being so awesome.  Hope all is going swimmingly with each and everyone of you.

So long,

Patrick T.

the T stands for spank

My Kinda Kindness

(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.)


Baby, we’ll be fine...

All we gotta do is be brave and be kind.

–      The National “Baby, We’ll Be Fine”

I’ve been thinking a lot about kindness lately.  It probably stemmed from the fact that we started watching the Harry Potter films and The Lord of the Rings trilogy.  Even though we tried Harry Potter with the oldest a couple years ago, this is the first real time for both boys, which is pretty damn huge for me.  I love the Potter books.  (The proof being they once made me get all teary-eyed about an elf.)  In fact, I consider the Potter story to be second only to the Star Wars Trilogy, which is pretty impressive as I don’t even like fantasy stuff as a rule. 

Now, Lord of the Rings – and this might be semi-controversial – doesn’t hold much purchase for me.  I don’t hate it, but I sure don’t love it with the unbridled ring-busting enthusiasm that most have for it.  They’re well made films, but I don’t really care so much about the characters as I do with Harry Potter, Doctor Who, Star Wars or dozens of other stories. 

Maybe it’s because I’m not a big fan of fantasy and that’s the fantasy gold standard. (Or would that be fairy-mythril standard?)  Maybe it’s because there are no female characters who are really integrated into the LOTR story.  Maybe it’s just because I like my swords all laser-y and not covered in moss, wood, and metal. 

But watching both sets of films with my sons, I’m struck with how much each is built around the importance of kindness.  Stories teach us a great deal and also help form each of us in profound ways.  Star Wars clearly infused me with a sense of humor and the importance of friendship.  (And that creating any romantic relationship is based in banter.  Banter, I tells ya!)  But what’s really lovely with Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings is how the main characters are so terribly kind.  You wouldn’t say that about Luke Skywalker or Batman or those dinosaurs in the Jurassic World.  But here, some of the most important characters in all of storydom are all kinds of kind.

Chiefly with Frodo in LOTR, he shows a sympathy and tenderness towards Gollum that no one else does.  Gollum is clearly a wounded creature, but one that acts out in horrifically selfish ways due to his ring addiction.  And where almost every other character who comes in contact with Gollum beats him up, tortures him, or otherwise ridicules this broken person, Frodo doesn’t.  He even calls Gollum by his original name of Sméagol, giving the guy a sense of humanity that others frequently take away from him.  (Yes, Frodo gets a finger bitten off for all his kindness, but without Gollum it could be said Frodo never would have finished his task and given in to the temptations of the ring instead of destroying it for the sake of humanity.)

Now, Harry Potter’s a whole ‘nother beast.  I didn’t care much for it when I saw the first movie, but after the Prisoner of Azkaban, things changed.  And once I started reading the books and my love of Snape continued throughout (RIP to the glorious, mellifluous Alan Rickman), I found myself terribly grateful to have these stories to share with my kids.  And yes, Harry’s kindness to his friends and others is something to behold and he gets his fair share of attention, but it’s Snape’s that always brings tears to me.  Because in this overarching tale of kindness, Harry’s dad is not kind.  Harry’s dad is a massive bullying dick and it’s a feat of Ms. Rowling’s extraordinary storytelling that this is an integral part of these characters’ history.  Where Harry’s dad’s the dick, Harry’s mom’s kindness changes and alters Snape in such a way that Harry’s heroism would never have had a chance without the snide Snape watching over him, even with a dismissive brow. 

What also makes this kindness so revelatory and so extraordinary is that the kindness of Snape – and his sacrifice – is not some goody-goody-I’m-a-lovely-huggy-unicorn-of-love-and-sunshine character.  That would be someone none of us could stomach.  No, Snape’s wrapped in a dark cloak of a man who appears to be a massive jerk of the first order.  He’s an unrelenting asshole who time after time has his loyalty questioned by Harry and the reader.  Yet at each stage, this condescending fellow owned who he was and did what he did without worrying about how it may look.  He only cared about doing right by the kindness that was shown him and even though he didn’t show it to the world in the same more palatable way, he showed it none-the-less, making the world a kinder, less Voldermorty one.

You are unfailingly kind: a trait people never fail to undervalue, I'm afraid.

- ALBUS DUMBLEDORE, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009)

Now, I think about how kind my kids are often.  Hell, my kid’s in kindergarten, which is a whole garden to train kids to be kinder.  (Surprisingly, this isn’t necessarily the case as one day when volunteering in my son’s class, a girl called me “fat”.  I shrugged that off until her mom sent me an email to apologize which somehow only seemed to cement how fat I really must be and made me feel like Slimer’s fatter brother.)

Each day, I try to teach my kids the importance of kindness.  My basic parenting motto for them is: Don’t Be a Dick. 

(For them though, I do temper it slightly to: Don’t Be a Jerk.) 

Because I want them not to add to the suffering of the world.   I want them to help out those that need it.  To be particularly sensitive to others going through things they’re fortunate not to have to deal with.  To know that I was the weird kid that got picked on and that they have been to and that no one should suffer that unnecessary pain.

That being said, I know that I don’t have two little selfless Mother Theresa’s washing and caring for their school brethren in their times of need. And, to be honest, I’m not sure I could deal with having two Mother Theresa’s as that seems like it would involve a lot of travelling and tons of Purell. 

What I do have is two boys who are fairly sensitive to others.  Not the most selfless kids ever, but certainly not the most selfish.  Ones that try to help out their friends when they’re hurt.  Ones that don’t bully others, which is quite nice considering they’re both rather tall little dudes.  But despite them not being complete monsters, I also don’t want them to be so sensitive and giving and kind that they themselves are taken advantage of or hurt. 

Because in this world, I’m in a weird position of having to worry about the negative ramifications of teaching my kids to think of others.  I worry about them being too kind.  Or even just a decent amount of kind in an unkind society.  Because I see the world and it’s full of such selfish bags of such douche that it boggles the mind. If you look at almost anyone running for any political office, any head of any large corporation, entitled young actors or rock stars, all seem to have the world at their beck and call, all fueled with a level of selfishness and absence of consideration for others that it would even make the Grinch stand back and say, “Wow, that’s a whole casserole of assholes!” 

(As a side note, there’s a great song at the end of Children of Men where Jarvis Cocker more aptly and terribly offensively puts it in regards to those who rule our world.) 

And, let’s be Crystal Pepsi Clear, I’m not Atticus Finch.  I’m not some sitcom parental paragon of virtue.  I’m not the best dad on the planet.  Not by many parsecs.  Especially in the realm of modeling.  In today’s parenting world, it’s all about modeling great behavior to your kids and I’m not a model. 

This is what I most would like to model for my kids.  So they know what proper parenting modeling is all about.   It's about headbands.

This is what I most would like to model for my kids.  So they know what proper parenting modeling is all about.  

It's about headbands.

Just like I would not be the guy you’d go to to model clothes in your fancy JC Penney’s and Montgomery Ward catalogues, I’m sometimes not the best model for my kids.  I’m snarky, passive-aggressive, and filled with a self-loathing that stops just short of punching myself in the nards.  

Of course, occasionally, I’ll step into a situation and volunteer to help someone pay for their groceries or carry something for someone needing some extra help.  But does this offset all the times I’m the turdiest turd in Turdtown?  Probably not.  Not with my Irish Catholic guilt occupying 83% of my soul.

A lot of times I don’t do as much as I can.  Either out of being self-absorbed or in a hurry or scared or lazy or not wanting to get dirty or deal with people, I just don’t.  But I do the best I can and hope that my kids will do the same.  That they can be a part of humanity in a society where we reach out to others needing a hand, not just in the hope that a hand will be there when we’re hanging off a cliff ourselves.  Because life is a Grand Canyon of cliffhangers that we must survive with the help of others.  And hopefully my kids will be the kind who choose kindness.

It takes strength to be gentle and kind.

- The Smiths “I Know It’s Over”


Thank you so much for taking time and reading this.  You are terribly kind and I hope you have a brilliantly extraordinary week with a side of awesome!

So long,

Patrick T.

The T stands for kindness

 

 

 

 

 

Bowie and My Boys

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

My kids know quite well who David Bowie is.  Because I’m that kind of dad.  There are other dads who make their kids know football players better than their own relatives.  Or soccer stars more than Star Wars characters.  Or basketball players who take the rock to the hole instead of rock stars that make life whole. 

That’s where I am.  More than anything else as a dad, I have always taken it upon myself to introduce them to the music that means (and has meant) so much to me.  Not to force them to love what I love.  But to expose them to wide variety of music and hope that it takes hold. 

My kids are the ones who’ve had to suffer through playlists and mix CD’s since they were born.  And it’s not like those mixes are filled only with high-falutin’ Beatles and Bowie and Dylan.  There’s a hell of a lot of Styx on there, too.  (Domo arigato, Mr. Roboto.)  My sons are the ones who have to (and willingly surprisingly) watch The Monkees with me (my first concert, during their 80s resurrection due to MTV) and know that Davy Jones is the reason we have David Bowie.  (Because Bowie’s real name is David Jones and there couldn’t be two of those in rock.  There just couldn’t!  And what other nine-year-olds and five-year-olds know that bit of useless but slightly interesting information?) 

One of the big ones though in rock that’s always been important for my sons to know of was the Thin White Duke.  Nobody did an opening of a song better than Mr. Bowie.  Think of the start of "Queen Bitch" or "Under Pressure" or "Little Wonder".  What other song starts like "Modern Love"?  It’s like a box of springs dropped off the planet Mars by spiders and bounces to happiness like no other.  But those songs, especially those songs and videos of the eighties that so shaped me were only the beginning. 

As I got older, I drifted into his seventies work, while continuing to follow him forward in the nineties where he was appropriately afraid of Americans and even to now.  He was a time and space machine that went backwards/forwards and through different galaxies.  Which fits perfectly now where everything exists all at once.  Where my kids can instantly get music and movies and anything else that’s been made in the far past right now where it co-exists perfectly with the arty canvases of today and the future to come.    

When my boys were quite young, I did the proper parent manner of introducing Bowie to your kids the way you should do.  I showed my kids the film that can bring him to them in a way that appeals to kids. You know...

Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me.

No, just kidding.  Twin Peaks is only for teens.

I clearly mean...

The Last Temptation of Christ.

david-bowie-as-pontius-pilate-in-the-last-temptation-of-christ-1988.jpg

No, not that one. I'm talking about...

The Hunger

Because kids do love vampires. 

This is either before or after he decides you have to "slap that baby, make it free."

This is either before or after he decides you have to "slap that baby, make it free."

No, it’s clearly Labyrinth

And my kids dug it.  More than I thought they would.  And more than I ever did.  It’s one of those films that I didn’t see right when it came out and thus it never really has held much allure for me.  The same goes for The Dark Crystal, The NeverEnding Story, The Last Starfighter, and a few others.  If I had seen these at the right time as a kid, it might be different, but seeing each of those later did me no favors.  (Although I did love one kid in The Last Starfighter shouting in surprise, “What the shit!”  In fact, if at some point when it’s not too age-inappropriate if my kids can shout “What the shit!”, I’ll be terribly proud indeed.)

Every time Bowie comes up on my shuffle, I ask my kids who it is.  (I do this not just with Bowie, but other music that means a lot to me and makes me happy.  The Pogues, Bob Dylan, New Order, the Who, the White Stripes, etc.)  My youngest for some reason frequently says Bob Dylan when he means David Bowie.  I guess there is a reverse symmetry to their names with B’s and D’s and it doesn’t help that sometimes a song called “Song for Bob Dylan” by David Bowie comes up.

(Speaking of that, it’s odd that Dylan’s outlived him.  Oh, hell, that Keith Richards has.  Or that Shane MacGowan has outlived the majestic Bowie and has a new set of teeth besides is one of the most unpredictable never-not-surprising wonders of life.) 

Bowie is such a part of all facets of my life and my kids life that I can’t conceive of an existence without him.  Each Christmas, we watch the Bing Crosby and Bowie singing Little Drummer Boy.  It’s so lovely and generation jumping from Crosby to Bowie to my kids now, I can’t imagine a Christmas without it.  The fact that’s it’s wrapped in a 70’s Christmas show reminds me of that time and the Star Wars Holiday Special and makes it even more spectacular. 

But it goes beyond that.  Because Bowie is in everything with his music, his presence, his influence, his acting, his style, his everything.  From Guardians of the Galaxy to Twin Peaks to Extras to all that’s inbetween. 

As a young teen, one of the biggest moments of teen glory was when we got MTV.  We’d heard Mr. Bowie and others say I want my MTV, but in our house in my town in Nebraska, we had to depend on Night Tracks and Friday Night Videos for our music videos.  Like animals!!!

We couldn’t have videos all day.  And when I’d stay up and watch Night Tracks, Bowie’s songs charged through me with a power unlike anything else.  (I also hold a special spot for “Our House” by Madness there, too, but that’s a weird bit of me-joy.) 

However, one day we got MTV.  And the big news was there was a world premiere video to air.  And not a regular video, but a long video, which was something I’d never even known could be done.  It seemed like someone was doing something exciting and new on a channel that was designed to be exciting and new.  And yes, it was Mr. Bowie.  The video was for “Blue Jean” and I was entranced.  It had a filmed story with a hell of a song and I made sure to be back and watch it again when they replayed it later that night. 

(I don’t know why I didn’t just record MTV on our Betamax.  Yeah, we got cable way late and had Beta.  Don’t be so jealous of me being the 1980s equivalent of Laura Ingalls.)

Being a boy in the eighties in Nebraska meant wallowing in a cesspool of homophobia that’s astonishing to think of now.  Every day – especially if you were different from the football loving other boys – you would be called a “homo” or “gay” or a ton of slurs that were meant to make alpha dogs feel more alpha-y.  And no matter how much you liked women (so much you could barely talk to them), it didn't matter (and it shouldn't have mattered one way or the other.)  But in Bowie we had a Diamond Dog.  For all us weirdos and aliens and strange beings that didn’t fit in, he did what he did and looked so damn cool it offered a way out.  A hand up to a galaxy we never knew existed nor dreamed we could ever be part of.

More than anything, Bowie’s passing off the mortal coil has reminded me of how much my parenting is about sharing the soul-inspiring, life-changing music that I love and hoping my kids love it, too.  If they don’t, that’s fine.  But with my oldest, he’s clearly digging music in a profound way.  Some of it not my kind of music – he’s recently been digging some grunge he started playing on Rock Band – but the fact that he loves any music is huge for me.  My youngest doesn’t seem to care as much about music and I’m considering trading him for a Tribble.  (An old school one at that!)

As I told my kids that David Bowie died, I told my son about how great Bowie looked in his final days.  My oldest asked what he looked like and I showed him the pictures of the man that we’ve all seen now.

I showed him those pictures.  A man on the verge of his final transformation, looking far better than anyone ever had.  So while I’ll have the 300 plus Bowie tracks I have playing constantly for the next week or two, it won’t be as any kind of dirge.  It will be a reclaiming glory.  Because as many times as he inspired us to be a hero “just for one day”, he will be ours for eternity.

So long,

Patrick T.

The T stands for Oddity

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 VII: No Misgivings at Thanksgiving

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

No blog last week.  Because it was Thanksgiving and you wouldn't have read it even if I wrote it.  Thanksgiving week's always so turkey-butt bustin' busy I could barely check Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.  What kind of holiday does that to a technological man?!  What holiday indeed?  

A holiday where you're surrounded by both ends of your being:  Your parents and your kids.  You're the fulcrum on that.  (I think it's the "fulcrum".  The inbetween thingie like on a teeter-totter?  That works, right, folks?)  Somewhere through after having kids and becoming that fulcrum, I've decided I actually like my parents and my kids.  Perhaps, I have some sort of sickness or I'm mentally unbalanced, but I enjoyed the hell out of spending time with both. 

I'm a fulcrum! (I think.)

I'm a fulcrum! (I think.)

It wasn't always that way.  Well, for my kids, I've always gotten along fairly well with them, kinda liked them, especially once they became verbal.  (Pre-verbal kids are basically like raising pigs you can't eat.  Or shouldn't eat.)  

But my parents and I haven't always seen eye-to-eye.  From a teen on into my thirties it was a minefield for everyone and I wasn't against throwing grenades from time to time into the minefield, creating cascading explosions of emotional carnage.  Because between us chickens, family is the ultimate danger zone.  (It's what Kenny Loggins was really writing about, not Tom Cruise shootin' missiles at Russians.)  

With my family, I'd argue anything and everything.  Politics, sports, movies, etc.  I had opinions that were RIGHT and any disagreement with my mighty opinions meant you were an idiot of the highest idiocy.  And if my family agreed with any of those opinions, it was a sign that I needed to change my opinions fast.  I remember arguing that Hall & Oates were empirically better than my mom's love of Simon & Garfunkel because Hall & Oats had more hits.  (I'm deeply embarrassed by this now.  In fact, it's pretty Garfunkelled up that I thought that.  Not that Hall & Oates are bad, but that Simon & Garfunkel are Simon & Frakkin' Garfunkel.  I mean, have you heard Simon & Garfunkel?)  

While they are singing The Boxer, they will box the emotions right out of you.  Don't mess with the Si and the Garfunk.

While they are singing The Boxer, they will box the emotions right out of you.  Don't mess with the Si and the Garfunk.

So a few years ago, back when I just had one son, he threw out some wisdom that shocked me to the core.  It was like I had that Sixth Sense kid or something.  He was two or three, filled with enough vocabulary to actually finally be considered a human.  Catching a glance of my young son in the rear view mirror after we'd just dropped off my parents at the airport after they come for a visit and trying to escape the clumpy tapioca traffic of LAX, he spilled out a truth that he shouldn't have had.  He looked up at me and said:

"You don't like grandma and grandma.  I do."

That wasn't true.  Well, it was and it wasn't.  I certainly liked my parents at the time and our relationship has grown stronger and better over the years since my sperm met an egg.  But at that time, my kid profoundly touched upon something where his relationship with my parents (and then his brother's as well) was less complicated than mine with them.  The grandparent to kid love is a straight line.  Simple, easy.  Grandparents are cool Ben Kenobi's and fun Muppet Yoda's (not angry, teachy Yoda's) they can have fun with, who can dote on them and want to hear everything they have to say.  Everything their grandkids do is adorable and even if your kids are little Mussolini monsters, it's just amusing to your parents, because grandparents are just fanboys for your boys.  

Now, it's not a surprise that when you have kids, it changes your parents.  All the times you thought your parents didn't care about you - or care about you enough - and then you have kids, all the unconditional adoration you felt you deserved is given to your right to your kids.  It's almost like parents wait to be grandparents with salivating maws, cocked and loaded to love like they never loved before.  Because they can.  Grandparents don't have any responsibility to these kids to do anything but love and laugh and spoil.  Parents can't do that.  We have to parent, to mould, to keep these kids in line, and prepare them for the world.  

All grandparents have to do is love.  Unconditionally.  

But it's not that easy for you.  The parent in the middle.  Because your kids don't have the tangled ball of the wretched past you carry with your own parents.  Hell, as a teenager, I became a rabid dick that wanted nothing to do with my parents.  Despite being a decent-grade gettin' no drinkin' goody-two-shoes, I was horrible to them.  (Just as I expect my kids once they become teens (or earlier) will be to me.  To be embarrassed every time I'm around and maybe even change their last name not to be associated with me being such a goofy smart-ass attention-loving dork.)  Because for a time there I really couldn't stand my parents.  (And I'm sure they couldn't stand my complain-y smarter-than-thou dickhole-ishness that I embraced.)  

Me and my dad in the 80's.  Or Some Kind of Wonderful.  I get confused.  (By the way, if you don't have that soundtrack, go get it now.  It's one of the best ever.)

Me and my dad in the 80's.  Or Some Kind of Wonderful.  I get confused.  (By the way, if you don't have that soundtrack, go get it now.  It's one of the best ever.)

Maybe it was what rock'n'roll taught me in rebelling against authority.  Maybe it was because there's nothing more easy and safe than rebelling against your parents.  Maybe it because I couldn't bridge that gap between what I liked and what they liked.  Maybe because it's part of the system.  It's part of growing up.  Maybe it's because as smart as I thought I was, I was pretty frakkin' dumb.

Because now, I love hanging out with my parents.  It's like finding a band you never knew existed and you want to get all their albums.  (Which is the case with a band called Sparks from the 80's that makes me so happy I might dance like Molly Ringwald all day.)

I'm constantly finding out new things about my family's past, things that take those two-dimensional figures that you only dismissively knew as your mom and dad and turn them into three-dimensional people that are all kinds of fascinating.  

I find out about regrets and heartaches and obstacles my grandparents had that make my constant worrying about things look like nothing.  

I hear stories of how living in the times my parents did were filled with far more uncertainty, surprises, and sadness than I could have ever expected.  

I realize now that I've sorta matured that I wouldn't be who I am without them doing what they did - both good and bad.  That my obsession with music clearly came from my mom and that as different as my dad and I were with loads of things, he always found a way to support my goofy loves from Star Wars to video games to picking up my first cassette of music, Styx's "Kilroy Was Here" from K-Mart on his way home from work.  Domo Arigato, Mr. Ro-Dad-o.

Excuse me while I do the Robot.  Badly.

Excuse me while I do the Robot.  Badly.

So now, through having my own kids and going through that looking glass, I find out how lucky I was to have been raised by my parents, even though I often had hoped to be raised on another planet by my angry Uncle Owen.

Thanks to my kids, I've changed.  I've done the thing my teen self never would have imagined.  That my teen self would snidely mocked me to tears if he knew:  

I dig my parents.   

(I'm so disgusted with myself.  I'm going to go to my room and listen to some loud and vulgar music loudly.  Or probably just the Some Kind of Wonderful soundtrack.)

I go crazzzzzzyyyy... When I'm without yoooouuuu...

I go crazzzzzzyyyy... When I'm without yoooouuuu...


So that's about it for now.  Thanks for taking the time to read this and I hope each and every one of you have a brilliant week, especially as it nears Christmas it's a full-on sprint of watching kids sing holiday songs at school and pretending that it's like watching the best concert ever and not like having your ears punched in the balls.

So long,

Patrick T.

The T stands for giblets

 

Episode VI: Paris With Kids

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

A lot of parenting is filled with not knowing what to do.  This past week defines that in ways to horrific to really comprehend.  I don't know what to do.  Crushed and gutted and still shaking my head in confusion, sadness, and anger days after the violent insanity in Paris, I don't know what to tell my kids.  

That's not entirely true.  The five-year-old will definitely not know anything.  Right now, he's having enough fear and separation anxiety every day he's being dropped off at kindergarten so we're not going to throw in the fact that someone with a gun or a bomb or a knife or a car or whatever might take him out into the mix.  That's definitely too much for five.  (Hell, it's too much for grown-ups to be honest.)

But for my nine-year-old, it's a different ballgame.  Last year, one of the books in his class library dealt with 9/11, so it's definitely on their radar.  Plus (and this is thing that really hits me hard), he's got two French classmates in his class.  One of the students is one of his best friends and while this kid's totally Americanized and into Minecraft and Terraria, his parents are fully French with the dad always at school waving around his long French hair, cool accent, and the whole she-bang.  

The other kid in the class is a girl who just moved here this year from Paris.  Fresh from France, I've spoken to her mother a number of times through the year and found out that her daughter came in speaking virtually not English.  So with this girl still not fluent in English, I can only imagine how tough it would be not only to be the new kid at school but to be the new kid in a new school where people don't speak your language.  

In addition to overcoming that, to find out the horrors of home in a way that makes no sense to any one, it must be devastating.  So my nine-year-old's probably going to know.  Or not.  

I don't know what I knew when I was nine, what news I found out.  Looking back at the news of when I was nine, I don't think I knew there were other terrorist attacks in France at that time, that time by a dude called Carlos the Jackal.  (By the way, if you have a nickname like that, please understand, it's a top indicator that you are probably an asshole.)  I might have heard about Carlos the Jackal later, but not at nine.  I might have heard of the Chicago Tylenol murders.  That was a big deal.  And maybe when the embassy in Beirut was bombed.  But I don't think I really knew.  In fact, Spock dying in Wrath of Khan probably damaged me more than anything in real life.

But in the end, I just don't think I really knew about what was going on in the news.  I don't think my parents sat me down and explained how the world is a scary place.  Of course, this didn't happen probably because those things seemed far removed.  They could have been event on different planets, but with us all in connection with each other it's not the same as the 80's.  

What I remember most as a kid was John Lennon getting shot.  I remember being an insensitive dick to my mom who was rightfully upset about it.  I remember Reagan getting shot, too.  But those incidents - while being huge events - didn't really scare me because those both occurred to famous people.  Not regular ones.

The only thing that could possibly match this fear now back then would be the threat of World War III and the delightful thought of thermonuclear war.

Shall we play a game ?

Shall we play a game ?

Throughout my childhood there were constant talks of how the Soviet Union would bomb us and that we in Nebraska would be particularly at risk because we had SAC (Strategic Air Command) in our state.  Not only that, there was a TV movie called THE DAY AFTER that scared the crap out of everyone when I was in elementary school.  I didn't watch it because I was and always have been a coward.  And a true coward knows not to expose one's self to things that will make you more scared.  

Yet I still heard from other kids the night after about THE DAY AFTER.  And what I heard and how we were all going to be obliterated in a nuclear winter chilled me.

For a day or two.  

Because the greatest weapon against cowardice is ignorance.  And I can ignore like a champ.  (Like how I'm ignoring the fact here that I should say that I ignore better than some sort of big ignoring thing and I'm ignoring that I should do that.)

So really for the rest of the 80's, I never really thought for a second that I was gonna get done blown up by the Russkies.  I even went and saw a movie with a young Joaquin Phoenix (then known as LEAF Phoenix) called Russkies.  I even went to the Soviet Union in 1989.  I was more scared of never having a girlfriend than a Cold War heating my insides out.  

Leaf me alone or I'll shoot you with a Red Rider BB gun.

Leaf me alone or I'll shoot you with a Red Rider BB gun.

But now's not then.  

We've had 9/11.  We have school shootings.  Mall shootings.  College shootings.  Movie shootings.  

And I can't really bring myself to tell my kids, to tell my oldest son that this is the world, here you go, pal.  Good luck with this turd of a world we've given you.  It used to be that we could blame the Baby Boomers, but my generation ain't helpin' much either.  

What makes this tear me up more than anything else is that most of the horror was at a rock concert.  

I love music.  More than maybe anything - movies, books, whatever.  And I could have been there at a concert like that.  I've never wanted a superstar athlete for a son, but I have desperately hoped some day my kids will feel what I feel about music and go to concerts with an unfettered glee, especially as there are few happinesses I've had greater at a show than seeing the Pogues live.  

So I have to figure out what I want for my kids and I've come up with two things.  

One, I want the Doctor from DOCTOR WHO to be real and come in and save everything.  To show us the error of our ways with wit and intelligence and no guns but a sonic screwdriver.  To materialize the TARDIS and solve everything while showing what idiots we really are.  Then maybe take me and the fam on an adventure, possibly against the Cybermen.

I had this poster up in my room when I was a kid.  Because that's what all the cool kids in Nebraska in the 80's were into.

I had this poster up in my room when I was a kid.  Because that's what all the cool kids in Nebraska in the 80's were into.

But that's not going to happen.  So, instead, I'll try to teach my sons to live as best they can in this world.  To know how to live with fear.  To always live with hope.  To live life as best you can with what it is.  

Violent and peaceful.  Dividing and uniting.  Mean and kind.  To be more of a decent man than an asshole. And realize that life is unbelievably messy and unpleasant.  That there are so many tears in it.  And so many laughs.  And most importantly that at times life can be truly sublime and extraordinary.  

Because they are my sublime and extraordinary.  

My TCM-ing

Recently, I'd DVR-ed and watched a bunch of French films off TCM before any of this tragedy happened.  And these films actually worked on me in splendid ways.  

I watched a couple Godard short films.  The first I saw was All the Boys Are Named Patrick - which I watched first because I clearly love myself too much and it had my beautiful name on it and I'm a terribly wanky guy that way - and it instantly reminded me of the films of Whit Stillman, whose stuff I've loved forever and deeply influenced my first play Four Guys Eating Out. The other film - Charlotte et su Jules - was funny and dealt with the end of a relationship in a clever and charming way that made it far more timeless than it probably should have been.  

I also viewed a few films by Agnes Varda. The short films Diary of a Pregnant Woman and Du Cote de la Cote led me into her work, but then I watched her feature Le Bonheur, which dazzled - yes, dazzled! - me with the colors and story about marriage and fidelity in ways that you'd expect from a French film.  Truly captivating and darned visually sumptious (I just wrote "visually sumptious" and feel like such a pretentious wanker of a turd).

gr_varda_bonheur-04.jpg

Final Thoughty-Thoughts

Thanks for reading.  And if you have any thoughts on how and when to tell your kids about tragedies like Paris and Beirut and everywhere else, feel free to share.  

Also, while we're busy fixing the world, something that doesn't exist but should are elves that come in and clean waffle irons.  

Recently I remembered, one time when my oldest son was quite young, he was helping at breakfast.  Proudly, he brought me my cereal bowl and proclaimed, "I didn't wipe my penis on your bowl this time!"

So proof people can change.  And that things can change.  And we can all hope to have cereal bowls of peace, untouched by dicks.

(Wow, went a long way for that one.  And although I'm glad my son doesn't do that any more, I kinda always wish I didn't know he didn't do it to begin with.)

So long,
Patrick T.
the T stands for peace

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 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

Welcome to the New Site

Hello and Welcome to the New Site.  Here you should be able to find out everything you'd want to know about Patrick, where to contact him throughout the interwebs, and about news on new books, plays, and maybe even haikus.  Stop by and have a looksie, because this is clearly slightly better than doing what you should be doing.

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