Monday, November 29, 2010

What if Christmas had nothing to do with getting presents?

I fianlly get it. I finally go the whole "Bah humbug!" thing. Scrouge and the Grinch, I understand, boys. Now, that's not to say I agree with the way they handled themselves, but recent less-than-promising behaviour by my children has prompted me to re-evaluate the meaning and context of Christmas.

Yes, it is the time we honor the birth of Jesus Christ. And for the sake of keeping my point from being diluted, all mention of Chanukah and Kwanza are not excluded but I hate the dumbing down of the season's enaing. When I was kid there was no real mention or understanding of Kwanza and Chanukah is for Jewish folks, which are all fine but not tied to the topic of commercialization I am making.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Baller or White Collar?

My oldest son has decided he will be one of two professions in his [adult] life; a professional basketball player or a lawyer. Uh... OK. Both are ambitious. Both seem, well... reasonable enough. Both will take hard work. You know where my mind goes? "Son, how are you going to study for the Bar Exam while playing in the NCAA tournament?"

Sure, most athletes don't even get close to even considering the NBA. As a parent, I have to nurture. In my heart I know Aaron, my son, doesn't exactly cherish the idea of hard work. He can't even make his bed in the morning. However, if he feels the siren call of a life as an athlete, I will help him on that path.

The motivation? I'm not really sure.

Now my oldest son does indeed qualify for being a certified "mini-me". Dad loves basketball ("Go Celtics!"), he loves basketball. Dad loves Salmon on his salad. Aaron? Ditto. So I am weary that basketball is his passion because it is mine. That's OK, though, right? I mean we are all massively influenced by our parents. my son is as well. I also think he watches the NBA and thinks, 'yeah, I could do that. That guy air walking to the rim and slamming it over his shoulders is doing something I'm going to do.'

Law school? In discussions, Aaron loves to argue his point, more precisely, he likes to have the last word. Neither necessarily makes for a good attorney. Four years of pre-law, four years of law school, then you have to take the bar. Its a leap, especially for a little boy (12) who can't keep his eyes open past 9pm. I will encourage both but I will wait for the credits to roll on this one before I form any final thoughts.

NBA? Aaron truly loves basketball but he also loves Pepperoni Pizza with extra cheese, Steak, Egg & Cheese breakfast burritos and Pop Tarts. These are things that would need to be scaled way back and eventually eliminated from his diet, should he look to pursue being a pro athlete. Not that he can't, but that level of discipline has not been noticed in many other things up until this point.

Now all children struggle with equating that hard work brings desired results. How could they know that most 'ballers' have had a ball in their hand for as long as they can remember (some into toddler years, really!) and that the ability to jump 40+ inches isn't something that just happens. Being in the NBA is equal parts genetics, skill, ability, talent, divine providence and luck. Again, I will withhold further thoughts, but that is a perfect storm I will need to see before I can believe it.

As for being a lawyer, well, there is a lot needed to make that decision as well. What type of law? Where do you want to practice (geographically)? Giant law firm partnership or private practice? Ambulance chaser or corporate securities? There is a lot to consider.

I guess I will be content being a proud parent of a boy who, at 12, has decided that the future holds a metric ton of possibilities. Nothing says he couldn't be the first baller with a white collar. It certainly beats have a child that as no idea what interests them in the least.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Spamtastic Advertising!

So there I was, trolling around on the Internet, looking for inspiration for a retro ad design idea I had and ran across this gem. The world that this ad spoke to has long since vanished but it will live on in infamy with cautionary tales of a time not-too-long-ago but well forgotten.

First, I absolutely LOVE the idea that the "recipes" are two-to-four words in length. Yum! Next, it appears that the same, cleverly disguised "Lois Lane" lady has the same brainstorm for every meal; SPAM. "What about dessert?" "Hot fudge Spam!"

While I am thinking about it, I love that not one but TWO processed-straight-to-the-grave-after-eating foods are featured. Did you catch the Velveeta/Spam Sandwich suggestion? Hey, put it on some Wonder Bread and you won't even have any real food any more!

You know, I got into advertising because I came to conclusion in college that advertising is our common language. It is what informs every Americans experience. Ask a friend; "Hey, did you see the new Gieco Commercial?" If they say no, four other people chime in about how funny it was and start quoting it, the person inevitably feels like a schmuck. "Oh, well, it's really funny -- wait until you see it!" Advertising becomes this common bond Americans share and allows for some of our greatest social events; the Super Bowl half-time show, where many actually tune in for the commercials. The holidays. Let's face it, holiday specials are about selling toys, costumes or Turkey Dinners. Valentines day is day engineered to guilt people to find ways of spending money on each other and Easter is an excuse to sell candy and vastly unbelievable concepts like egg-laying rabbits.

Advertising is even responsible for many of our most advanced forms of social technology and information exchange. In fact, radio and TV were invented to bring product ads to large-scale audiences. They inserted plays, music and television shows to attract audiences to hear about products. You can't even go to the movies now without seeing ads for soft drinks, community colleges and cable TV shows.

D0n't even get me started on the internet. Is there any surprise that junk mail is called "SPAM"?
And that, brings me to my final point. If SPAM was such a great meal alternative, why does it have such a bad rap? As a child, I grew up consuming my fair share of the canned processed meat wonder, I'm sorry to say.

I leave you with these chilling thoughts right from the closing words of this ad, which sums it up beautifully: "Because it does not need refrigeration, it's easy to keep a good supply of SPAM always on hand... ready for action. Speak to your food dealer today. Say: SPAM!"

I gotta' go. Apparently I am supposed to shout things at my "food dealer". Whoever that is.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

"Pretty Good" isn't

I have worked in the 'creative industry' my entire adult life. I have reviewed or shown hundreds of portfolios of writers, designers, art directors, photographers, illustrators and stylists. The best ones speak for themselves. The greater majority are good-to-mediocre and some of it needs explanation. Not an earmark of anything bad but a noticeable degrade in quality. The there are my favorites.

Once while acting as a creative placement agent, I had a young man in his very early twenties show me his [graphic] design portfolio. He was clearly self-impressed and had no interest in my critique. He would say things like, "this was best in my class", this is awesome and, my personal favor tie "pretty good, huh?" Though that interview was in 1998, it bothers me to this day. Pretty good, huh? He wasn't kidding. He was serious. The statement precluded any opinion to the contrary, in fact, it implies, "hey this is pretty awesome, as any idiot, even you, can plainly see".

Let me offer a little background color. He had shown a series of his student design projects and one whose assignment was too find an ad the student found to be inferior and re-design it. For the sake of expediency, I will simply say he did the opposite; taking a pretty decent ad and made it worse. What was even more horrifying, wasn't that it was worse, but he clearly thought it was better.

When children show you something they have done; spelling, art, even math and science work; it is necessary to offer encouragement and be supportive. Even if, lets say in a child's drawing, you have no idea what the hell they have drawn, I still have to be excited, complimentary and supportive. And while I may have to struggle to decipher a pic of Batman battling demons with light sabers on a sunny hillside, I have never heard any child say "pretty good, huh?". When one of my kids shows me a drawing, I want an explanation, a discussion and a dialogue. I have found that it further informs and inspires their imagination. It also shows Dad is listening and that, more important than 'pretty good' feelings and emotional responses are important. Ultimately, they wait for my response.

I wonder if that young man I interviewed those many years ago, ever had a Mom or Dad who was supportive of their art and creative endeavors. Maybe no one who creates something should become so self-impressed that they assume it is a thing of greatness. I guess the shorthand is, no matter what your age might be, if you have to ask "pretty good, huh?"... it probably isn't.

Monday, November 1, 2010

If you wanted me to take you seriously, why would you wear a hat like that?

Have you noticed what the Tea Party folks have been doing and saying? It's spellbinding, really. Dressing up as a group of colonial Settlers with knickers, bobby socks and muskets. Is this a joke? When has being an American been about playing dress-up? C'mon guys, this is embarrassing!

Now I should say, I don't affiliate with any political party. They don't fully represent my views on anything, so I vote by informed research. I went to the Tea Party Patriots web site. No kidding here is a link: "After Election Day: Know your enemy, then Do the Right Thing" What does that mean? It implies things that are very uncool and very UN-patriotic. People like Christine O'Donnell can't be taken seriously. She doesn't even know what is written in the first amendment. And she's running for political office? Hello!?!? Is anyone home?

Honestly, I don't begrudge anyone their belief system but this stuff that's going on is just... nuts. My children are watching our countrymen dress up, act immature and look foolish. What am I supposed to tell them? They are misguided? They are idiots? Not for dressing up, but for staying blissfully ignorant of what is really going on. It saddens and frustrates me as an American to watch this stuff. When does common sense and reason figure in to this equation? I must be an idealist. The best I can do is tell my children that the people they see on TV walking around shouting about harming or deporting our President (or worse) and dressing up looking silly. When I get mad, I don't put on a goofy costume and make mean spirited signs about evil thoughts. That's not mature, that's delusional.

We have a responsibility to our children to show them how to handle things in a mature and polite manner. The world is watching!! We already have a bad rap –Stop it! Put down the muskets and the 18th Century headgear. Engage and elect your leaders based on fact, intelligence and platform. Please!! Stop embarrassing me! Stop embarrassing your country! You're like that guy at the party that gets wasted and wears a lampshade on your head and then proceeds to start crashing into everything. Everyone just shakes their head at what a fool you are.

Please... stop.

And in the meantime kids, this is an example of how adults should NOT handle themselves. Because dressing up as a rebel doesn't mean you are one.
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Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The miraculous healing power of Go Karts

The old saying "break a leg" isn't meant to be taken literally. Even though recently, my daughter, like many 14 year-olds, took this thought a little too literally . One cool weekday morning, she's bounding down the stairs and misses the last step on her way to the car on our way to school/work.


Screaming. Crying. Teary eyes. Then came unintelligible words through snuffling, whimpering, etc.

Like any concerned parent I rush to her side. "Are you ok, sweetheart?!" I ask. "I heard lots of snapping and crunches!!" Really? Wow, from one missed step? I think to myself 'You clearly need more milk and dairy in your diet, kid.' "I think it's broken!!" She screams!

I examine the foot, nope not dangling or anything. We went back inside, looked for an ace ankle bandage (I have several from my years as a serious b-ball phenom). I wrapped it up and got her on her way none the worse for wear.

Apparently, you aren't supposed to put any significant pressure on a sprained... well, anything. After a few days, it gets worse. On a particularly busy morning, she decides she needs crutches. A good idea since the one crutch her Mom gave her was for someone 6 ft 7" (my daughter is just about 5 foot).

Ever gone searching for crutches? I never had before this. I always seemed to know someone who had them so they would just lend them to me. Never broke anything and the kids have been pretty good about that up until now so I just hadn't needed them. Well, now I am Walgreens at 6 am, where I was able to purchase adjustable aluminum crutches (who knew?). They work. However, our tale of pediatric wonder doesn't end here. No, you see, just as it starts to heal – she injures it again.


Screaming. Crying. Teary eyes

Unintelligible words through snuffling, whimpering, etc.

Thankfully, she now has a [set of] crutches to fall back on. Several days later, friends unexpectedly come in from out of town and want to take my kids and I go-cart racing.

And you know what?

A miracle happens!!! The swelling completely disappears, as does the pain, discomfort – she's healed. Hallelujah!!

When any of the child is in need some special healing – even rehab – might I strongly suggest you head toward your nearest Go Cart track. The curative properties are clearly not of this world.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Actually, I have enough heroes already, thanks!

SPOILER ALERT! This posting contains rantings about the use of Pop Culture, "-isms" and trends. I promise, its not the standard, "things are not like they used to be" tirade. But it's close.

Have you noticed how much the word "hero" is tossed around these days? Its the new 'it' word since it seems to apply to some one's special traits, endeavors or accomplishments. I first started noticing it shortly after all the NYFD memorial hoopla after 9/11. These men and women were truly courageous, giving their lives to help others in the wake of awful circumstances.

But recently, Doctors, Dentists, Politicians, Actors, Crossing Guards and a host of other professionals are suddenly called out as being exemplary examples of people dong great things. So much of this has happened in recent years that I am becoming desensitized to the word. This sucks, because I already have my heroes. I think we all do.

"I need a hero–!"
Some are real, others may have battle armor from a video game, others still wear colored tights. Local news stories in every major city talk about "local heroes", CNN lets you nominate "Your CNN Heroes" and on and on. For certain, there are people who lead ordinary lives that do extraordinary things.

But enough.

I believe I can fly...
The kid who saves fluffy from falling out of the tree is just doing a good deed. The Police officer who pulls over someone suspicious and ends up arresting a hardened criminal is doing their job. The Doctor, performing a quadruple bypass is exceptionally skilled to be sure, and the mid-level management that discovers a glitch in the software and saves their company millions of dollars is bright and doing good. But they're not heroes.

Honestly, they are not.

Surgeons, life guards or someone serving in our nation's military, are doing extraordinary things that save lives EVERY day. They have also chosen these careers and are expertly trained. I am expertly trained. As a designer. As a writer. When i write, am I hero, too? If I design an ad that draws in a huge response, and my client reaps huge gains in revenue and notoriety, do I get an award ceremony? Or profile on the evening news? No.

Thank you.
In no way do I mean to belittle great things done by passionate, dedicated people. But the word is loosing it's power. And I am loosing my patience. A hero is someone who puts others before themselves, whose personal sacrifices endure the test of time and let us know the full measure of human accomplishment, often in the face of incredible adversity. I honor the Doctors who have (literally!) saved my life in the past, the Firemen who came rushing to the aide of my Mom and I when I was seven years old, victimized by Arson. Or the brave soldiers in our nation's military who answer the call when threats to national security arise. I just wish we had a better word than 'Hero' for them. It is quite possible, they deserve something more.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Whats wrong with me?

Hey kids, can I watch?

Ever get that feeling that no matter what, you don't seem to be on the "Hip" side of things? It could be TV shows, movies, video games, the latest virally circulating YouTube Video. I start watching reality TV, get hooked, then everyone starts to bad-mouth it. Last night the Grammy Awards were on. Music, not movies and TV, but the same quandary applies.

I can't tell if I am supposed to care.
Do you?

I mean I watch a lot of the winners; Modern Family, Justified, Walking Dead, True Blood, Glee, Mad Men, House, Grey's Anatomy. But how much TV am I supposed to watch? If I'm getting my grove on with "So you think you can dance?" how do I know what I am missing on 30 Rock (the question is rhetorical, I am aware they air in different time slots on different days).

My kids are no help whatsoever.

They fill their TV time with the Disney Channel & Nickeldeon, which I have determined if you are over 30 and watch "The Sweet Life of Zack & Cody" or "iCarly" for more than four minutes, you begin to do that thing that all older generations do... roll your eyes, sigh heavily (and repeatedly) eventually turning into bellowing statements like "oh c'mon!" and "Give me a break!"

I hate being that guy. So I will fight it until the bitter end.

The kids also look to me for what's new and cool on TV. None of them; the almost 14-year-old, the 12-year-old nor the two 10 year-olds can navigate the overwhelming volume of content on the 120+ TV stations. They get suckered in to watching kid's stations by fast talking toy commercials, candy ads and lame depictions of adolescents and pre-teens dancing through ultra-clean school hallways showing off the latest fashions. On the flip, my daughter (now 15) LOVES watching Grey's Anatomy with me and we track several Reality TV shows together. The boys all seem to waffle, back & fourth over what to watch and when, usually ending up on Comedy Central, Nick or Disney.

So when the time comes for Awards, Emmys, Grammys, Academy Awards, etc. I'm lost. Should I watch those shows? Should I care? My track record of watching TV shows that survive their first season isn't impressive. Most are dying in mid-season! Conversely, HBO wins awards for EVERYTHING they do, so that's a no-brainer. Watching HUNG (w/Thomas Jane, aka "The Punisher") is ok, but the character and the point are both shallow and contain stuff I just don't want my kids watching (if you aren't aware, it's about a divorced Dad whose house burns partially down and is convinced to use his Manhood as a way of making.. ahem... ends meet). True Blood is great but full body sex scenes and Vamps occasionally bursting into showers of blood and goop aren't it either.

Darn few network series have what they/I need. I grew up on B&W reruns of I Love Lucy, Dick Van Dyke, and Mary Tyler Moore. I watched The Jeffersons and All in the Family, Alice and One Day at a time. Please, Hollywood, no more canned laughter. Shows like Modern Family and the Office allow the writing, awkwardness and story-telling provide the laughter.

I guess I just can't watch it all, and then the self-ingratiating award shows as well. Sorry Emmys. I will continue to strive for staying current, though. And yes it is important to me. And no, it's not shallow. Especially being a Dad who is a connected participant in 21st century parenting. As far as I am concerned, a huge part of the world-view my kids develop, comes from TV. If you are under 60 and reading this, it was the case for you, too. While TV does NOT take the place of real-life experiences, it is relevant. The way I see it, we are all in the journey together. While I am on board for this journey, I can help mold my kid's understanding and shape the perceptions they develop.

If I didn't do that, then there would probably be something really wrong with me.

Friday, July 16, 2010

What the hell happened to the Arcade?

Last night, my oldest son and his best friend wanted to go to SEGA's Gameworks mega arcade to celebrate my son's 12th birthday and as luck would have it, it was "Play thru Thursday" where $10 gets you unlimited play from 7 pm to midnight off your swipe-card (apparently quarters are too cumbersome for the medicated, zero-attention span pre-teens and young adults of today's blank-stare society. It's four hours of unlimited gaming, how bad could it be?

Now, at age 12, I LIVED in the Arcade, often taking the Massachusetts Ave Bus from Mass Ave & Boylston (in the heart if Boston, where I grew up) to Putnam Square (past Central Square, but not Quite Harvard Square) and hit the arcade there. I would go with $10-$12 and easily be there three-to-four hours. Even when I had played my last quarter, either alone or with a few of my hommies, I would hang around and scope out "next week's games". The sounds, the colors, the lights, all of it was spell binding.

Last night... just awful. Too bright, too many repetitious games. Too many babies screaming, too many people there who had no interest in being there. WTF is up with that?!? You know why I don't go to cosmetic counters in department stores? Because I have no reason to be there! So--I--don't--go!! Young women (like, in their 20's to early 30's) there walking around, texting, bumping into people and then shooting them sour looks like the person they walked into is the idiot. Really? Get the hell out of here! Some of us want to actually have a good time here no one will think ill of you if you leave. Here, lets Google a local cab company on your Blackberry. Maybe you could actually speak to the person you are texting. Crazy huh? Anyway... BYE!! It's a lot like being in a movie theatre and some Jack-wagon (my new favorite semi-abusive, kid-friendly insult) pulls out a cell phone and starts texting during a movie. Alright, I'll be the one to have to say it... STOP IT!!

And the games? The arcade game has devolved into one of four main archetypes; The shooter (usually with a plastic simulated gun), the racer (could someone explain to me why TWO people are needed to drive ONE vehicle?), The Flight Sim and what I call the "Life Emulators" this will include Dance, Dance Revolution, Bass Hunter (you can figure this one out -- and yes, it is a fishing rod simulator!), Big game hunter (why does this exist?), air hockey and Guitar Hero: Arcade.

Babies? People, please, why are there 3-6 month-old kids there with you? Look, pick up the phone, you know, that blackberry or Smartphone you spend waaay too much money on that causes you to bump into people in Video Game Arcades? Call Grandma or a sibling or a neighbor to watch your kids for a few hours. I literally saw a couple with a 8-10 month old playing a shooting game inside a gaming booth with the little girl OUTSIDE the booth, holding the Mom's purse. I really just don't even know where to begin with that one...

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Games don't play!

"Dad, is it my turn yet on the [XBOX] 360?"
"Ok son, just let me get to a save point..."

As the video game industry continues to churn out more eye-popping adventures with ever-more stunning graphics, a gamer-Dad has to know where to draw the line when it comes to what they can play... and even watch.

A good friend of mine made an interesting revelation; your age might very well determine the depth of your gaming addiction. Yeah, I said it.


It goes a little something like this: according to my long-time friend and fellow gamer geek (who by the way is presently writing two books based on characters he developed that were heavily influenced by gaming and Hollywood stereotypes), presents the following point; in 1978, Namco released a vaguely popular game called "Space Invaders". Heard of it? I'm being glib, it changed our world forever! I won't go into Video game lore (that's a whole other blog!), but let's just say I can still hear the staccato "Bom, bom, bom, bom" of the legions of evil alien minions as they did their slow march of death toward my bunkers and my efforts to stop them. Ultimately, my resistance was futile. However, his point was this; if you were about 14 or so in 1978 (which put your birth year about 1964-5) you were caught up in the gaming craze, whole hog. Older than that and you weren't so enamoured. The reason boils down to two word; girls and cars.

Generation X is widely acknowledged to include anyone born between 1961 and 1981. So my generation is split. If by 1978, you were 15 years old or older, Space Invaders and the invading hordes of digital quarter-a-play challenges that followed were a fad, but not one that could never overcome freedom from parental tyranny or the prospect of either getting wheels or riding shotgun with someone who had them. Girls? To this day, as a heterosexual male, hanging with girls still trumps just about anything else. However, if you were in that strike zone, basically 14 and under, you were hooked. Whether it was showing space rocks who was boss in Asteroids, saving damsels in distress from giant apes in Donkey Kong or getting Pac Man fever you couldn't get enough (me, I was a Missile Command-er myself). Our addiction was a controlled substance, because when you were out of quarters, you were out of time (cue bizarre dying pac man sound here).

Video gaming has come a long way, to be sure. For me at age 10, when Space Invaders landed on the scene, I became an immediate convert. Every new game brought new challenges, slightly better graphics and an insatiable hunger to conquer the next latest and greatest game. Today, video games have their own advertising campaigns and budgets, they have movie theatre trailers and vie for brand name voice talent that has snared the likes of Ray Liotta, Burt Reynolds, Christopher Walken and Alec Baldwin, just start the list. Game release parties are catered and have red carpet events where celebrities arrive in limos and some are even black tie affairs. These games offer experiences more real than ever that can (and have) included seducing women, bribing officials, battling corporate corruption and of course, vaporizing alien invaders.

Where are the controls? Well, for $40 - $60 (new), a kid doesn't ever have to worry about running out of quarters, it's a cut-off that no longer factors in. In fact, a child could feasibly play 12-14 hours a day (and while that is NOT an option at my house, we all know those kids). Whats more, they can go online and get cheat codes from the Internet and conquer a 40+ hour game in a single day. Where's the fun in that? My kids hate that I don't let them gather cheat codes online to beat games in a single weekend. Funny, they didn't have to pay $60 to buy it in the first place, so they get no say so in the matter.

My oldest son, a huge fan of watching me play a game called Mercenaries 2: World in Flames has been green lighted by Dad to play. In this game, you are either working for or battling oil companies, a corrupt civilian government, a revolutionary army, "the allied nations" (the US) and the Chinese who all want a stake in the oil. You assassinate key officials, high-jack weapons of mass destruction or commandeer tanks and helicopters as you blast your way through a tropical paradise consumed with oil corruption. Sound pretty current huh? While shooting adversaries is very cartoon-like, it doesn't diminish its impact. My son actually has to disconnect from XBOX Live to play as the game server knows how old he is and will not let him play online. I am grateful. When I was 10, would I have been traumatized, by a game geared at freeing the US Embassy hostages in Iran? Would kids in 1963 have suffered unspeakable psychosis playing a game surrounding the Cuban missile crisis? No, I don't think so. These events would be no less, scary, no less real and would actually call for a deeper level of understanding about such happenings because the game immerses the player in the thick of it.

In Medal of Honor: Airborne player re-enact role of US soldiers in Key battles in World War II's European theatre. They have asked about who the Nazis were, why the Italians were with them and why aren't the soldiers dropping out of C-5's. Hey enlightenment starts somewhere, right? In Assassin's Creed, my Daughter has picked up several phrases in Italian (part of her actual heritage) and uses them around the house. On the Wii, in "Band Hero" my twins listen to and faux play songs by the Beatles, something I didn't even do until college... 20 years ago!

In the interest of being reasonable, this blog post could on for a fortnight, but I will say this; Video gaming is here to stay and as the graphics get better, parents need to have a grasp on when, or even if, they decide to expose them to their progeny. I will say this, they are a permanent part of the cultural landscape, sheltering them from TV shows, movies, internet content and games will drive you as insane as Edward Nigma. But Riddle me this, isn't it much easier to get involved with the kids and discuss the material? I do, I must say, the kids respond favorable and are able to make their own choices as to what to play and watch, once they know where parents stand.

After all, kids are pretty smart and even my generation struggles to keep up. I figure, it's best to stay connected, since this will be an entrenched part of their lives... and this Gen X'er has a lot of lives left!

Hey, check out this link to one of my favorite sites and a great presentation on the evolution of video gaming. The short film about halfway through is stunning. Enjoy!:

Thursday, July 1, 2010

What's that sound... is it... the future?

"Dad, something's in the Bathroom!"

"What is it, son?"

"I don't know, we heard gurgling and what sound like foot steps in the tub in our bathroom!!"

"Did you see what it was?"

"No, we locked it in the bathroom."

I had the unenviable responsibility of having my three sons home alone yesterday since neither their grandma nor their community babysitter was available to watch them. Now, as the single Dad quandary goes, I could stay home but the boys convinced me they were mature and responsible enough be alone for the majority of the day while I was at work (their teen-age sister, normally in charge, is away with some of the other grandparents this week). So I took a shot. I figured at best, I am 10 minutes from home, and they are 12-10-10 respectively. Should be cool, right? Right. Then I get this somewhat unhinged phone call...

"Did you see whatever it was?" I ask my oldest son.

"No," he says "... but Antonio [younger brother] thinks we can take him!"

Now, living in Arizona, we have an array of weird and potentially dangerous wildlife that we commonly have to contend with; Scorpions, black widows, giant beetles and other insects and we are not beyond the occasional water rat or sewer roach as they try to escape the the boiling waterways of the Phoenix plumbing network while it reaches a common 111 degree average in June. Still, an insect has to be pretty big make audible sounds in a bath tub.

Sometime later when I arrive home I get an update. "Hi Dad" all three are calmly watching Nickelodeon. "Well?" I ask, having been consumed with this issue the better part of the afternoon. They just shrugged their shoulders. I storm off down the hallway to confront the desert summer terror, all three boys gingerly following me.

I look over my shoulder "I'm going in!" as I open the door and charge into the pitch-black bathroom (no windows). The boys laugh a nervous little laugh. I pop on the lights, expecting a rather ghastly, beast-like terror to snarl at me, readying myself for a battle royale with a sure-nuff hulking monstrosity. Psycho-style, I approach the closed shower curtain. I turn watching three wide-eyed boys staring in morbid fascination as Dad is clearly about to be torn asunder in a loosing death duel with the deadly dragon-beast from Rigel-9. With a giant gulp, I yank back the curtain and... well... nothing. There's nothing there. As I glanced back at the boys, their look was priceless. Like opening Al Capone's secret stash, I felt like Geraldo Rivera... nothing to show for all this build up. "Dad check the toilet!" One them shouts. I spin and throw open the newest gateway to a terrifying new dimension of pain and suffering... nothing. Again.

The gurgling, apparently, was the common throat-clearing of common pipes. It happens all the time. The rest? Was the vivid imaginations of three boys who are clearly their father's sons; watching waaay too much science-fiction and horror TV. I couldn't help but smile. "I think we're gonna be ok..." being myself mildly relieved. A good imagination can go a long way. Living in quite terror of something potentially lurking in the bathroom down the hall is something every child has wrestled with.

A vivid imagination is the good stuff of life. The forefathers needed it to envision our nation. All faith is predicated on our ability to believe in things not seen. Movies, television, web sites, newspaper, fiction writing, architecture, computer programming among hundreds of other vocations all require us to use that most powerful of soft muscles between the ears. There is hope yet for the next generation. The thought a random gurgling sound in a bathroom might be a Wampa snow beast from Hoth mysteriously able to appear through a water pipe randomly into my home in Phoenix Arizona, well I have no problem letting my smile take a up a little more facial real estate.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Raising the [Kid's at the] Bar

"Hi honey, would you like another!"

A pretty waitress asks one of the boys. I don't know if his eyes were popping out of his head at the size of the girl's chest or the size of the 24oz , filled-to-the rim glass of soda she was serving him. Not sure I care, but it was a rather goofy grin he shot her as he was being served. Makes you wonder...

Thursday night was game 7 of the NBA finals, Celtics vs. Lakers. Does it get any better? No! Of course not! The lackluster Celts against a very talented and cunning Laker team promised to be a battle-royal that would go down to the wire.

Great game, Celtics lost, but I have NO complaints. Really.

But as great as the game experience was, there is NOTHING like being a Dad who takes his three sons 12 and two 10 years olds, to a smoke-filled bar filled to the brim with Celtic fans (in Phoenix? Who knew?!?) and small table of Laker fans (booo!) and lots and lots of less-than-sober fanatics who were chanting "Beat LA!" and "Lets Go Celtics!!" followed by three thunderclaps of either hand-clapping, stomping, or banging the table-tops waaay too hard.

It was awesome!! I gotta' say, having the boys come with me to a fully-packed local bar/pub (we weren't the only groups there who brought kids, btw) was a much better experience than I could have imagined. The boys first realized that their were many other people who acted like Dad does, yelling at the TV, criticising the refs, pumping fists into the air shouting out "oh, C'mon!!" (among other colorful exclamations) at the television when your team doesn't win.

They got all caught up in it, for sure. Yelling at the refs, high-fiving perfect strangers, fist bumping great plays, temporary mind-loss at referee calls that don't go your team's way. The thrill of victory. The agony of defeat. For about $50 we had appetizers, giant hogies and perfectly golden steak fries and enough soda to gas up a herd of elephants.

In the aftermath of that evening, I realized I demystified some things for the boys and shined a light on some things I know they have been curious about. What's it like to be in a bar for a big game? Check. Can people get along even though they are rooting for opposing teams? Yes. Do alcoholics really make a fool of themselves out in a public place? Fo' sho!

I believe it was a great experience for my boys and while I can only hope that the boy's fondest memory was of watching the game at the pub and not at the depth of cleavage shown every time the waitress leaned over to refresh our drinks, regardless, I am convinced at least of this; they went to sleep with a smile on their face.

Any experience that can do that can't be all bad.
Go Celtics!

Monday, June 7, 2010

A hero named "super"

"What hero would you be if you could have super powers, Dad?"

At age 9, I read a story in a FLASH comic book pitting FLASH against an unbeatable, twisted anti-hero named "SUPER" who was an offspring of the imagination of a struggling comic book artist (boy, can I relate to that one!). He materialized when the artist was asleep. The title of the story was "A Hero Named Super." An odd but compelling story about the power of the imagination, which naturally led me to engage my own.

I couldn't believe that at age 40 I had four children genuinely interested in my answer to the favorite hero question. No geek-Dad could be more proud than when his progeny asks such a noble and important question. The answer is immaterial, to me the story lies solidly in the question itself, but the answer(s) were just as telling.

Since age 7 I have been a voracious comic fan, reader and would-be writer & Illustrator. MAKE MINE MARVEL was my slogan as a kid; The AVENGERS, The X-MEN, IRON-MAN, CAPTAIN AMERICA, THOR, NOVA, MS. MARVEL, The Incredible HULK, JUSTICE LEAGUE, GREEN LANTERN and on and on. Couldn't get enough. Cool dudes, hot chicks, laser guns, mutants, bionics, alien invaders, kung-fu, morality, cautionary tales... why every parent and school didn't mandate the reading of comic books, I am at a complete loss. It has everything you could possibly want to catch and keep the attention of adolescent boys. And for the girls? Kick-ass heroines, strong female role models, love triangle, adorable side-kicks just name a few. It's where I learned about classical literature, Oedipus Rex, Dr. Faustus, genetic mutation and female empowerment. No joke!

All this will come as a shock to those who didn't read them. Easily dismissed as silly nonsense or "funny books" as my Mom would call them (no wonder she & I don't get along), comics were seen as a variants of pulp fiction (analogous with soft core adult literature and suppressed or covert platforms of porn in the 1950's which I won't elaborate on here), comics have had, at best, a fringe, cool-shouldered reception in mainstream media. At least until recently.

So, in true parental spirit, I turn the questions on my kids, "which hero do you think I am?" mind you, while far less informed than their Dad, my kids have a far-better-than-average understanding of the super hero universe than most kids or adults for that matter). Without batting an eye-lid, Antonio, one of my twins, blurts out "HULK!" When I asked why here's what I got; "well, you're big and strong, and you're pretty smart but when you get mad, you growl a lot like he does" Guilty as charged. Alex, the other twin chimes in "I'd say Booster Gold!" (Booster Gold is a character who endorses products and wears corporate logos when out battling bad guys) "Because he works in advertising like you." I'm proud of that one. My oldest son, Aaron was up next "I'd say the Beast (a furry blue, ape-like super-agile, super strong mutant who is also a biologist, an inventor and a member of the X-MEN)" I couldn't wait for this explanation; "because he's strong, smart and likes to goof around and plays practical jokes." I sit in dumbfounded awe at these assessments.

Then my daughter, the oldest, brings it to closure "...well, I would have to say Green Lantern." Interesting, I inquire further; "Why baby?"
"Well, he uses his imagination to be creative and to solve problems... kind of like you do in your business." I was speechless.

In their own way, each of the kids had nailed a terribly accurate assessment (although not so sure about the big and strong part) and they were able to assign those traits to fictional characters I have spent my whole life following. It was hard to argue with any of their choices. Proud and honored to have each of them as my kid, I proceed to unveil my answer.

As it turns out, my favorite super hero growing up was the VISION, a long-time member of the AVENGERS, he is tragically cool character. An Android, infused with the Brain-wave patterns of another dead Hero, he was originally engineered to destroy the same heroes he joined and in love with a beautiful Schizophrenic Mutant woman whose nervous breakdown in later years almost destroys the world. A love-sick android built for destruction and death, finds validation through love in a search for true identity. Come on, who can't relate to that guy?

And if you were able to wade through this thick soup of geeky irrelevance, then this one should send you scurrying for the back button: my daughter identified that I was the John Stewart Green Lantern, not the Hal Jordan Green Lantern.

Ah, now that's my girl!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Don't be that kid

"Dude, don't be that kid, nobody likes that kid!"

I have to admit, it's not some random 10-13 year-old talking to one of my kids, it's me. When the kid's level of personal jack-assery reaches the toxicity levels that rival a BP oil spill, I have to swoop in as Dad and set the record straight.

It can be something like eating with your mouth open (a common offense at my dinner table), or telling jokes that are both tasteless and not funny or, my personal favorite, talking over someone who is either still talking or started talking before you did. Whatever the infraction, its on me right the ship.

Now, it's also on me not to take thingstoo seriously, and its easy to forget sometimes that in a multi-child household with varied ages, the younger ones often try to say and do things to impress the older ones. This leads to strange behavior. At least in the Boys, since my daughter is the oldest and I notice less of that kind of thing from her. Its when you see that extreme, almost PAINFULLY embarrassing behaviour comes from them that you feel obliged to step in and say or do something. For their sake and yours.

There was a recent moment when my oldest son started to repeat something he heard another adult say and repeated and I just had to call it out. It seems his grandfather had a particular opinion about the tattoos that NBA players wear these days and shared how disapproving he was of them. I don't begrudge anyone their opinion, but a soon-to-be-12-year-old shouldn't have such a closed mind about such things. So when we were watching a recent NBA play-off game, he says: "... really, with the tattoos? they just look ridiculous." I stopped and stared.

Then said, "Why do you say that?"
"C'mon Dad, look at them, it just doesn't look cool..." Ok, hold the phone, when was the LAST time a 12 year old told you tattoos weren't cool!?! What's next? "Gee Dad, Video games are fun and all but I really see them as deterring me from focusing on my studies." Really?!? What lost-in-the-eternal-ether kid ever says THAT? That's when I knew I was talking to Grandpa. "Dude," I said "don't be that kid... no one likes that kid. Get your own opinion, then feel free to voice it."

I kind of liken taking someone else's opinion to having someone else's baby. Sure, it's ok to hold it, but if you're going to go through all the motions and effort, wouldn't you just want to develop one of your own? You still have to suffer similar long-term repercussions. My kids taking their grandfather's opinion of tattoos is like me asking them what career choice I should consider next. While video game testers and space fighter pilots are cool, they aren't practical. Nor, ultimately, very original.

It may seem that I am putting serious adult commentary on what is seeming to be a harmless little statement about tattoos. For all I know, he simply may be mortified at the prospect of Tattoos, seeing as they involve needles and such but I don't think so. Being your own man is something every boy needs to learn for himself. How he learns it is as varied as the people we meet but in the end I would rather he used the muscle he's got pinched between his ears.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Bullies suck.

"I hate the kids at my school, they're always mean to me!"

What parent hasn't heard this one before? Ironically, it appears that more kids feel this way than not. Which is news to me, since this is the kind of stuff I would say when I was going to school. Elementary, Middle School, High School and even College. New Job? They must hate me! Carrying some deep-seeded, emotionally charged, childhood memories with me into adulthood, I felt the sting of bullying early in my adolescence, too.

These were words I've heard from the mouth of my then 11-year old son, Aaron, who is convinced no one in his school at the time liked him. Going to a fairly secluded, small private school, he believes that every kid in his 10-student grade dislikes him. He claims the other boys, who are taller, bigger, stronger and faster than him all bully him. While I doubt that the situation is as dire as that, I shared a story about overcoming bullying that I thought might be cool to share here, too.

Bullys suck. 

They are a fact of life and in many ways, they are around us our entire lives in some fashion or another. Largely, as TV has taught us, it is how we deal with them that defines us and gets us through their BS. I shared a story with Aaron that helped him put things in perspective.

In my neighborhood growing up, in Boston's affluent Back Bay, there was a little bit of everybody. White kids, Black kids, Hispanic Kids, Asian kids, bi-racial kids, all ages and creeds. When you grow up in a city neighborhood, you experience a lot. The family that lived above us for years had one boy who was three years younger than me. He had a Mom and a Dad who were divorced but chose to live together. The Mom had a live-in boyfriend... and the Dad had a live-in boyfriend. Like I said, a little bit of everybody. It's all good.

About age 10 or so, most of the kids my age started to move away, never to be heard from again, mostly moving out of state or moving too far to stay connected with. There were still plenty of kids but most were either a few years older, or a few years younger. That was OK, I went to school with plenty of kids my age. So weekends, holidays and snowstorms were with my neighborhood friends. Life was pretty good.

Enter Reginald.

"Reg" and his friends, were a small neighborhood click that terrorized me from age 8 until I reached high school. Reg, a bi-racial boy who was tall, lanky and about a year older than me. There was Tyrone, a very scary dark-skinned Black boy who NEVER smiled and Tommy, a HUGE Asian kid, who had to be 250 lbs by age 14. The three of them combined to comprise of my own personal little Axis of evil. This multi-national coalition of local terror would chase me around the neighborhood, take my lunch money, throw ice-balls at me in the winter, fling small rocks via sling shots at me in the summer and generally make my life a living hell, often leaving me screaming in a frenzied panic for my Mom at the top of my lungs.

This scenario continued for years. However, eventually, things changed. I got less concerned about hiding from them (or was it they were too preoccupied with being teenagers to concern themselves with such an easily intimidated target). I got a new set of friends locally and I started lifting weights. 

Now, by no means was I some hulking powerhouse, but after some time in CYA football, YMCA basketball leagues and even a summer in a rigorous sports-based camp for young men in Juvie. [To this day, I'm not exactly sure why my Mom put me in a camp for young felons, as I was far from one myself but I actually loved hanging with those guys and learned how to fight (who am I kidding, learned how to take an ass-kicking) and talk real nasty street slang. Might explain a thing or two about me today]. I also started playing sports more regularly with friends and along with a budding dedication to better personal fitness, started transforming from a pudgy, reclusive, TV-addicted house-slug to a somewhat fit, toned young man who at age 17 was pushing 6' 1". I started working out, weight-lifting, bench pressing... getting big. 

If this is starting to sound like an ABC after-school special, oh just you wait.

Flash forward to the summer 1986. I just graduated high school and I was accepted to the school of my dreams, The Massachusetts College of Art and most importantly, at least to us at the time, the Celtics had just beat the Lakers for their 16th NBA Championship! Everyone was jazzed up to hit the city courts and show off their best street hoops moves. I was with a few of my hommies, waiting to play in a pick-up game at one of our favorite little basketball courts, a little single hoop, side-alley court on the campus of Northeastern University tucked in-between the 6-to-8 story brick-faced dorms. There were three things that made this court an all-time favorite with us. 

First, it was shaded, so playing in the summer wasn't unbearable as it got no real direct sunlight. Second, while it hosted it's fair share of giant young college dudes showing off their moves, the real draw was the Northeastern Co-eds who would show up and watch the boys play. We loved beating some the college boys to try and impress these young women that were clearly WAAAYY out of our league. But the most attractive feature to his court was the fact that it was a single rim mounted to the side of a 150 ft. brick wall. This made layups rather interesting. Resourceful young urbanites that we were, it didn't take us long to realize that just one or two steps off the wall at the right speed and angle, and you had all the air-time you needed to dunk. Especially in a game when someone else didn't know about it. My heart races just thinking about all the off-the-wall dunk contests we used to have. [sigh].

So one weekend afternoon, my fellow wall-dunkers and I are playing against some Northeastern University boys and a scrawny young guy, not quite 5' 10" comes along and asks to play. I pay him no mind. Two of my guys and I (all of us were between 5'10" and 6' 5") are waiting on the sideline to play next.

"Arthur?" The guy says. I turn and what do you know–it's Reg. It appears while I was pushing on to what would become a healthy 6' 2", 250 lb. frame, well... let's just say Reginald didn't quite continue to pursue an athletic, muscle-building lifestyle.

In my iciest low-toned voice I say; "Hey Reg. Haven't seen you in a while–what up?", the suppressed trauma of a thousand ice-balls to the back of the head and countless afternoons without lunch flooding my consciousness.

"I got next!"
"Wow dude, you got BIG!" He says, looking up at me. 

I grinned.

"You got next?" I add? He replies; "Yeah, let's see what you got. Go easy on me ok?" I couldn't help the next few words. "Oh, just go ahead and start some s**t now Reg..." He smiled a nervous smile. I saunter over to my crew and let them know I need to take the lead on scoring in the next game. They just nod. 

Then, it's game on.

I match up with Reg and post up on him scoring a couple quick shots, shooting over him as though he weren't there. My teammates were all very good so we had no problem man-handling Reg and his two random teammates. And then it was time to bring it home. With Reg guarding me, I took the ball, dribbling around him and one of his guys. He runs to catch up and tries to stop an obvious coming lay up, stepping back assuming the giant wall will do something to help his cause.

I swear, I still see the next event in my head in slow-motion like an ending to a bad 80's movie...

Like Spider-man, I run up along the wall, leap away and power a two-handed dunk through the rim that knocks Reg sideways and has him reeling in a dumb-founded stupor. "Holy s**t!!" he stammers, trying to keep his footing. The game ends quickly and he wanders off. I must say, it was one of my life's greatest little victories.

That brings us back to the story at hand. The message to my son was clear. If you just keep your wits about yourself, stay upbeat and plow through the tough times, you just might live to see the day where the tables are turned on the very people who make our lives miserable. It remains to be seen what Aaron's true take on the story will be, but he was entertained and was relieved to hear his Dad had gone through similar circumstance and came out on top. While revenge is not something I want him to fully embrace, there is no shame in allowing a single, vaguely cynical smile to cross your face when payback becomes a bee-yotch for your nemesis

We can revel in such events in our lives. We are, after all, only human.
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Friday, May 28, 2010

How an "ABBA CD" got me out of Remedial Reading

"What are words worth?"

There is an extremely obscure hip-hop song from the 80's with that same title (a genuine "no-prize" to anyone who can tell me the name of that group!). It was awesome because it was an all-female group rapping (not wrapping) about word context. It played with semantics, duality of meaning, and metaphors. To hammer their point home, one girl even screams out "It's ok, I've overstood..." when stating she understands the song. Brilliant.

The power of words has played a great role in my life. Often, the greatest influence can come from words I don't use (i.e. knowing when to keep my mouth shut, etc.). My favorite example of the power of words, though, actually doesn't come from words at all, but a random acronym that came to save my ass when I least expected. Let me elaborate.

For those that know me, it won't be hard to envision, if not remember, that I was quite the class clown in middle school. I was discovering a latent ability to entertain, at least my friends, during 7th and 8th grade. I was the funny jokester and my grades paid the price. Since I was spending plenty of class time (and subsequently the inevitable follow-up detention time) trying to impress girls, make my buddies laugh and develop a rather lame, awkward sense of personality, my grades were left to bear the brunt of my tomfoolery (love that word!). Anyway, after my dismal grade performance in 7th grade I was downgraded to a class called Remedial Reading, which was where the kids who just couldn't read were sent (sent to the corner again!).

Now as enthralling as it was to be in 8th grade and slowly sound out the universal quandaries behind why the red-hat-wearing "Tommy" needed to board the bright yellow bus, it was evident, even to my dim-witted 14-year old mind, that I didn't belong here. My challenges were motivational not remedial. It was a living torture. I remember distinctly thinking "good lord, I am NOT this stupid!!" Through semster after agonizing semester I would pronounce "God, I am so sorry, if you get me out of here I will NEVER take my education for granted again!"

The answer to my request came one month before the end of 8th grade.

For students who were able to show an even marginally increased aptitude in reading mechanics, we were given the opportunity to test out of RR and enter 9th grade English with some semblance of dignity. I was on a quest, determined to prove I was smart enough to read and write about MUCH more than the zany mishaps of "Dick" riding shiny red bicycles, etc.

I studied, reviewed, read and steeled my mind for the grueling task of testing out of what most of the kids affectionately called "the dummy class". The night before, I ate a good healthy dinner, studied one last time the content which was given to the testers a month previous and even said a little prayer. I was ready to atone for my year of 7th grade goofiness.

Life, however, it seems had its own way of resolving my challenges.

As circumstances would have it, the bus, which I took daily more than 20+ miles, each way, from in-town Boston to the small, well-to-do town in Massachusetts' metro-west corridor broke down and got me to school that day 10-minutes late to the test. Being both multiple choice and written, each question was about two paragraphs in length and required a thorough read-through. Testers were to complete as many of the 66 questions as possible in 46 minutes. After about nine questions or so I realized I was screwed. The material was easy to grasp but I wasn't that fast a reader (reading about little boys with their brightly colored clothing had clearly dulled my senses). With roughly 20 minutes left, I had to decide to either end the test with only about 20 answers done, or employ ABBACD.

That's right, the ABBA-CD method.

Sometime long ago, some schmoe (probably looking for a way to pull a fast one, just like I was) figured out that depending on where you started, the code A-B-B-A-C-D (or ABBA CD) had mathematically the highest likelihood (theoretically) of hitting the most correct answers on a four-answer multiple choice test. With nothing to loose and the future of my career in English studies on the line, I started filling out the remaining answers using ABBA-CD.

Now, I don't want to in any way appear to condone this method, especially as a Dad of three pre-teens and a 14 year old, but as I live and breathe... it worked!! I don't know if it was a function of where I started using it, if it was a one-of-a-kind super lucky accident or if it was destiny. I would like to believe my prayers had simply been answered.

I scored an 86.

Along with acing the essay portion of the exam, I not only tested out of Remedial Reading, I tested into Honors English. I would have to say my butt would have been cooked if it were not for the application of a random alphabetic code I chose to employ for the sake of circumstance. While preparation was a factor, all praise due to whomever above was watching over me that day, and thanks for inspiring the use of the ABBA-CD. Glad you decided to (sorry for this)... "Take A Chance On Me", leaving my insanity intact.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

There and back again... a Dad's journey

"What happens when we grow up?"

I asked this when I was nine years old and I don't know if the question ever got answered. I was an only child growing up under the watchful, loving eye of a single Mom. I don't know if I've ever understood adults. As it is, I only tolerate them now. Think about it; they're always grumpy, always angry at stuff like politics and unemployment, always telling us stuff that doesn't make any sense, like "if you eat your vegetables you'll grow up big and strong." What kid has THAT twisted goal?! Adults never watched cartoons, they couldn't run very fast and they never seemed to have any toys I ever wanted to play with.

Heck, they still don't.

So I made a decision, at age nine, to never truly "grow up." Now of course, I have to pay insurance, the cable bill, take sick kids to the emergency room so they tell me how useless my expensive insurance is and, yes, eat my vegetables. As of the posting of this, my very first e-blog-thingie, I think I've still managed to maintain a lot of my child-like (as opposed to childish) ways. I recently just turned 42. I still collect comic books, and I still read them. I still play basketball. I still make cooler space-ship sound effects with my mouth than any kid I know and I still hate going to bed early.

Now as a single Dad of four, things are a bit different. I never had siblings growing up so a multi-child household is a huge learning experience. My oldest, my daughter Jessica, is 13. Now every woman shakes her head when they hear that and say "...oh boy, you're in for it now." I don't know what they're talking about. She's cool, she's fun... albeit a little moody, but still one of my favoritest people. I also have three boys (yes, "My three sons" single Dad, the irony of it all). Ages 12 and twins 10. They're always fussy and fighting (mostly with each other), but I would play with any one of them if I was their age.

However, as cool as I may think the kids are, my job isn't to be their friend, it's to be their Dad. And that's where I had to learn to be the 'G'-word... a grown up.

Parenting is an adventure, for sure, you're never ready, from birth to having "the talk."But I embrace it, cherish it and I kick everyone's butt in Halo. So, if you've read this far, thanks. In the near future, I will be talking about family, TV, career, divorce, dating, the Avenger's Movie, the White Light, the best ways to waste an an entire weekend, boring kids, exciting adults, things that make you go Hmmm, and how Shake & Bake pork chops and Kraft Macaroni & Cheese is the dinner of champions! (Hey, if you want to talk about Granola and healthy eating, go start your own blog!)

I have had a decent little life. Got to be a kid for almost 42 years now. I did go to college, got married, divorced, watched soap Operas and went to Museums. Y'know, I did a bunch of adult stuff. Being an adult is over-rated. To me, it's kind of like Caviar. You hear about how wonderful it is and how it's a an amazing taste only for the "truly sophisticated". Then you try it and it sucks. I think weird, boring adults eat that stuff and make the rest of us try it as a gag. Because that's what it makes you do. I'll stick with the classics, my kids have taught me that! Go with what makes you happy, right? That's what I would do if I were nine. As for being an adult, you can have it. When it comes to being young at heart, I've been there and back again.