Monday, December 31, 2012

My Random 2012 Rewind

Time once again, for some of my most random thoughts – from the
"funtastic to the fantastic", here are 12 things we all lived through in 2012, through the eyes of those of us in the corner.

Gangnam of Thieves – Korean rapper Psy's Gangnam Style has now officially become THE most watched video of all time. The one-hit wonder has spawned a number of spin-offs and spoofs that have taken YouTube by storm. The once controversial artist has been widely accepted by his countrymen, MTV and the White House alike. A previous 'political thug' in his homeland of South Korea, Psy does now have a legit place in history. We will likely hear no more from this admittedly infectious little jam and that's just fine by me.

Boo Boo Knows Best – During this presidential election year, the  MOST watched television programming during the election of this country's, perhaps even the world's most important position of power was not the RNC or the Democratic conventions, it wasn't even the debates. It was coverage of America's newest sweetheart, pudgy princess of purgatory, Honey Boo Boo. Maybe the apocalypse did occur... 

"We will not fade quietly into the night–!" – So yet another 'end-of-days' has come and gone. Those crafty Mayans had a calendar that abruptly ended on December 21, 2012 which left many pondering the end of the world as we know it. As we all know, not very much happened, though there was a massive spike in tourism to Peru to see the Mayan ruins. The Mayans were of course, known for building a massive civilization and empire but honestly, they didn't even see the Spaniards coming. 

Rhymes with Snit – From out of the languishing ranks of lost souls from the Grand Old Party came a silver-tongued super-villian hell bent on sewing seeds of mistrust, deceit and lies throughout our fragile economy and deceiving nearly half of our countrymen that he was all that and a bag of chips on a shoulder. MItt Romney's laughable campaign of vapid emptiness took the country by storm until even Mitt's own kin folk woke up, hours before the election and said "WTF?" Swing and a miss, Mitt.

Free Eye Glasses with Every Paycheck! – ... aaaand speaking of poor judgement, the lofty referee lockout at the beginning of this year's NFL season saw a phalanx of scab referees hit the field–and football fans everywhere hit the bar, hit the bottle and hit the floor in utter disbelief as scores of horrifically bad calls bellowed when bad whistles blew for four weeks that utterly decimated the NFL with some to the most atrocious calling since Dewey vs Truman.

"And there came a day..." – I'm still reeling from the onscreen awesomeness that was Marvel's The Avengers, a near-perfect super-hero mash-up that smashed box office records, our perception of hero movies and puny Gods alike. With a $1.5 billion box office performance, the Avengers is just heating up. Expect more hero adventures in Thor and Iron man in 2013. As my favorite book growing up, the Avengers were, how do you say? The bomb diggity–! There, I said it and there's no taking it back.

Darth Vader gets Goofy – In one the most mesmerizing business buyouts of ALL TIME, Disney purchases the Star Wars intellectual property and rights to the franchise from an increasingly perplexing George Lucas for a mere $4.05 billion. While I am ELATED at the prospect of more SW movies, didn't George make like, $4 billion in merchandising alone? "Join me and together we can rule the empire...!" Done, done and done.

Standing Room Only – In one of 2013's most bizarre mass media events, Hollywood bad boy and conservative whack-a-doodle, Clint Eastwood has a conversation in front of the entire non-Honey-Boo-Boo-watching country with an invisible Barack Obama. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, Dirty Harry goes off on an empty chair in front of... well all of us. I don't think the RNC has been this embarrassed since Sarah Pailin went all "hockey Mom" with her "drill-baby-drill!" bit.

The Accessible Red Planet – In September, a VERY under-reported event and the next step in man's exploration of space unfolded as the Martian Rover, Curiosity, landed safely on the Red Planet. It's two-year mission is to take it's 19+ cameras and feed back images and even live video of our small blushing sister planet. Curiosity will open up new discussions about the nature of Mars. Get your ray-guns ready...

Massacres on Main Street – the mass murders in a movie theater in Aurora Colorado and Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown Connecticut show us how out-of-control our gun culture has become. I don't care where you stand on the gun control issue, if this country had it's sh*t together with properly enforced gun laws, 20 kindergarten kids and scores of othewr innocents would still be alive today. Period. Good thing Automatic Rifles are selling out in record numbers across the US. Nope, don't see how that could POSSIBLY make things worse. Not one bit. 

Brain Food – AMC's family-friendly series chronicals a group of survivors as they make their way through a zombie apocalypse. Complete with enough gore and bloodletting to rival a pork processing plant, The Walking Dead, based on the phenomenally well written monthly comic from Robert Kirkman and Tony Moore is the show that everyone is somehow just now discovering. The first half of the astonishingly well written season three is done and the story picks up again February 2013. If you haven't watched it yet – well good God what are you waiting for? It is waayyy beyond a guilty little pleasure–its an American icon.

Greatest Love of All – We said goodbye to a host of VIP-level personalities in 2012, but none will impact me more than the untimely death of R and B/Pop dive Whitney Houston. no one defined the 1980's pop scene like Whitney. Her demise and slow sinking into the mire of heavy drug use does nothing in my eyes to diminish her fantastic contributions to music. RIP girl, you're the Greatest!

Happy New Year
– to all of you who have been sent to the corner–thanks for reading! 2013 is coming hard and fast and the new year will have a new format and new stuff for me to get int trouble over. See you then!

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Thursday, December 27, 2012

A Lion In The Dessert

If your life isn't all that its cracked up to be,
maybe you could hang out with our family more often.

I could quote Benjamin Franklin, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow or Charles Boudalaire but today I quote the likes of the teenagers in my own home that offer a poetic perspective to some of life's finer points. I just plain love these priceless insights for us adults who have all but forgotten what it means to be young at heart. So to lighten up the mood of this blog, I offerfor your enjoyment, dear readersome priceless quotes from my children. 

"You're wasting my life!"

My twins (age 12 as of the writing off this blog) are treasure troves of quotable sound bites. When one was incessantly aggravating the other, he simply turned to his brother and said; "Stop wasting my time with this–you're wasting minutes of my life!" Often, siblings get each other so frustrated, they can't help but over exaggerate their point. While it's not a categorically wrong statement (actually holds some cut-to-the-bone truth), it does kind of imply the person saying this is trying REALLY hard to get their point across. 

Gold. Pure gold.

Pick up lines.

"Did you hear the one about the multi-racial group
of stock photo models?"
Having three boys in the house–all girl-crazy–they compare (failed) pick up lines. It's hilarious! Now, I must say most of them are awful. The boys haven't yet grasped why these disingenuous and cheesy pick-up lines don't work on their intended targets. I'm sorry for having missed what is sure to be near endless eye-rolling by the scores of hapless young teenage girls who have fallen victim to these horrific attempts at cross-gender conversational ice-breaking. I will spare you the vomit-inducing attempts at verbal swagger but I will share one my son Alex came up with:

"Hey girl, I'm glad I've got my library card–cause I'm checking you out!"

Honestly. I don't know why that didn't at least get a smile and/or a phone number… 


We've all have had fun with song lyrics we don't understand. My (16 year-old) daughter had once asked me about a word in a popular Black-Eyed Peas song. The lyric was, "… flock to us." My daughter, however, heard something different. So she asks me "Dad, what's floptuous?" 

What indeed. It's times like this when I wonder if songs might not be better if we just made our own lyrics stick then the ones the songwriters wrote? No? Its just me, then. 

Sandy Claws

My kids' rather wry sense of comedy may stem from their ancestry.

Namely, me.

It may have started when I answered the question, "Dad what was the funniest joke you heard as a kid?" I shared the following answer;

What do you call a lion in the desert at Christmas Time?
"Sandy Claws"

Teddy and his infectious sense of humor 
I couldn't tell you the exact year I heard that one for the first time, but when I did, it busted me up for weeks. Even as I type this I can't choke back a giggly smirk. Maybe it was the absurdity of the question and the completely out-of-left-field answer. Maybe it was the processing of this ridiculous scenario that go to me. All I know is... that's funny! (I mean c'mon, Lion's aren't EVER in the dessert, and if they were, why at Christmas?!) Trust me, the more brain power you put behind that one, the more giddy you get.  

Laughter is the stuff of life. A good hearty laugh secretes endorphins, lowers blood pressure, helps stabilize moods and makes us feel good.

Otherwise, we'd all be... "Lion Around". Huh? Huh? 

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Thursday, December 20, 2012

Time To Face Our Demons

Family members grieve upon getting detailss about last week's
massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown Connecticut
This week we lived the horror, once again, of gun violence vented toward innocents in one of the most unlikely places. Folks, it's time for a change. 

Our country has suffered once again, at the hands of another gun-wielding madman who vented his frustrations, empowered by mental or emotional illness, by visiting horrible atrocities on scores of innocents by slaughtering 20 kindergarten children and eight (8) adults – which included the shooter's mother – before ending his own life. 

The massacre of more than two dozen innocent took place in the halls of Sandy Hook Elementary school in Newtown Connecticut, a well-to-do sleepy suburb, and for all intents and purposes, a 'safe' east coast burg in New England. 

Adam Lanza is the deeply disturbed and troubled young man who is guilty of killing a host of young people and teachers who were the epitome of innocence. The horror is not just the fact that Lanza killed these people, but that he did so with such irreverence and disregard for life. 

High Calibre Aggression
A .223 Bushmaster Assault Rifle:
The same weapon used in the Sandy Hook Massacre

Lanza used a .223 Bushmaster high-powered assault rifle, a weapon capable of firing six-rounds per second. The body count tells a huge part of the story. This is a military grade weapon used in combat when nations or factions are at war. I am all for the right to bear arms. I believe a defended populace is a safe one. But we also face bitter reality.

High-powered assault rifles don't belong in the hands of the common citizen. Period. This gun is NOT used for defense, hunting or sport. The popular conservative position is that "guns don't kill people, people kill people." Perhaps, but extra credit for missing the point. 

Certainly, if Lanza wanted to kill with a knife or a home made bomb or a small handgun, he would have done harm. But the rate and the ferocity at which these CHILDREN were killed is staggering. 

And it's NOT an isolated incident.

TIme For Change

President Obama once again consoles a grieving nation
We all know this isn't a lone incident. The massacres at Columbine high school, the theater shooting at Aurora Colorado, the shopping mall in Portland Oregon and the slaughtering of students at Virginia Tech along with a host of others tells us we need to change our culture. We can't just beat up the guns. Its the whole picture; bullying in schools, mental healthcare practices, identifying the warning signs of psychosis, civil defense protocols, gun legislation, social awareness and easy access to high-powered weapons just to get off the launching pad.

In our black and white, right or wrong, no-compromise society we look at absolutes. There aren't any. Until we wake up to THAT fact our loved ones, co-workers, our children and ourselves–are all in deadly danger. Other democratic and free societies have shown us the way; England, Switzerland, Japan, New Zealand, Canada, Italy, even China have a sliver of death toll we suffer domestically.  

More than 12,000 Americans (some say a much higher number!) died in 2012 at the wrong end of a gun. There is evil and mental illness rampant enough in our world – we don't need to feed it with access to weapons meant for war. 

How many babies have to die before we take responsibility for this issue and help us wake from this nightmare? 

What We Know

Adam Lanza wasn't hunting wild deer last week. But please, let the families of the slain teachers and kindergarten kids know that their loved ones died horribly because "people kill people," not guns. That's just crap. 

Even the NRA admit it's time things changed. 

Remembering lives taken for NO GOOD REASON
The answers aren't easy but they are simple. But only if we want to act like adults and answer some brutally honest questions. A gun didn't kill these children and their teachers. In truth, Adam Lanza didn't kill them. It was Adam Lanza, a mentally unstable man with a .223 Bushmaster–with with enough rage to have killed ten times as many innocent people empowered by a culture of violence and DNA-routed ignorance and resistance to change. 

Twenty babies and seven innocent women–as well as Lanza himself–lie dead in the ground because we have no system of checks and balances for the mentally ill, dealing with psychological turmoil, a culture that applauds violence. 

They all lived in a nation loves guns more than life itself–and paid the ultimate price. 

Friday, December 14, 2012

Reviewer Misses The Target On Badass Game

Better then Ever! Gearbox's Borderlands 2 brings us back to the brutally fun world of Pandora
MY GAMERLIFE POST #1: Gearbox's BORDERLANDS 2, is bigger, stronger and faster—hell, it is downright badass! But if you're not careful, you'll miss the point–just like the Wall Street Journal did. Join me for my first ever in-the-trenches video game review.

First, I gotta say, this post is long, long overdue. I am a full-time Dad, Ad-man (I channel my inner Don Draper often, as a force for good) and a fan of all things that engage my love of the sci-fi/fantasy genre. I co-host a sci-fi/super-hero movie blog. In as much, I am also a hopelessly addicted gamer as well as a life-long advocate of gaming as an integral hobby and immersive visual experience

Managing your own gaming life

The beautiful (and often overlooked) reality of gaming in the 21st century is that it's unique to each of us. We all choose the world we wish to engage in. You into Zombies, we got an endless horde of undead (titles). Like Star Wars? The force will be with you… always, with a staggering array of Lucas-inspired properties to choose from. And if stomping mushrooms as an italian carpenter with bright red overalls is your thing, well; weirdo out-of-touch lemming, meet Mario Bros

Available in all shapes and sizes!
While I do understand there is a whole sub-section of our culture that does not participate with any gaming whatsoever (and if that's you, kudos to you for still reading at this point) but I know that for the Gen-X crowd and younger, we have grown up gaming. The graphics, the sounds, the button mashing–ooh, my heart's racing even as I write this!–and the sense of virtual accomplishment. And whether you're a problem solver, a FPS hound, a sports nut or RTS fanatic you likely take your gaming experience quite seriously. 

So you can imagine the horror of my discontent when I learned the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) had an entertainment writer trash one of my all-time favorite franchises. 

Oh, it is so on!

Lock And Load!

First, I gotta' say this is an EXTREMELY biased post but then again, that's why we all blog, right? So, Borderlands 2, I love it, my friends love it, you should run out and love it too! It's violent fun and challenging. Colorful graphics, dark humor, unexpected plot twists and more than 100 million in-game weapons* to blast all the aliens, monsters and robots who try and stand in your way to achieve greater intergalactic glory. 

Ready for Glory!
The game is built, from the ground up, to offer an immersive, steadily escalating set of challenges that offer loads of homicidal ballistic fun! But the game's sheer programming genius is in it's co-op gaming features. Drop-in, drop-out co-op gaming, co-op game leveling and automatic game difficulty increase and decrease due to the number of players in game (1-4). If you play this game alone, it's good, but together, in co-op, it's a franking experience! Having two or three people firing different elemental weapons at the same adversary–burning and being doused in acid simultaneously–is only one of the many great features that make this game pure gaming gold. 

So, to Mr. Adam Najberg of the Wall Street Journal's Arts and Entertainment staff, while I share your love (and implied) passion for gaming, you really missed the boat, missed the target and missed the whole point on Borderlands2. It's not Call of Duty: Black Ops. Your endless comparisons to those rage-fueled bouts Ritalin-induced foul-mouthed 13-year olds is a sad mis-informed correlation this fan cannot abide by.

I actually hate the multi-player experience of CoD:Black Ops as it unfairly pairs you with school-skipping preteens who spend 4-6 hours a day mastering this rancid multi-player "experience". You couldn't possibly be comparing the campaigns because they are as dissimilar as you can get and still be in the FPS genre.

I Can't Believe He Said That!

Some of Adam's review: "There’s an extremely limited four-player cooperative mode, and if you have an Xbox Live Gold account, you can team up that way, but this isn’t the type of deeply engrossing FPS game the headset-wearing COD crowds gather to play months and months after release. In comparison, I read on several sites that COD: Black Ops 2 will feature up to six teams, for a total of 18 simultaneous players, in multiplayer mode."

WTF!? Why are you talking about Call of Duty in this review? Come on dude, don't be THAT guy! If you love CoD and just don't like games where people work WITH each other versus slaughtering each other, than just say so.

This quote also sounds like he is having some sort of elitist 'I shouldn't have to pay for this' gripe with X-BOX LIVE. While I can share you discontent, sir, again a game review is NOT the place for this. Stay focused, dude. 
I've Got Your ClapTrap Right Here!

"Does this photo make me look too fat?"
I gotta' give a shout out to my main bot, Claptrap. As the game's  primary (but certainly not ONLY) comic-relief character, this foul-mouthed, narcissistic bot with an attitude is by far one of gaming's most entertaining characters ever. Too many to mention, the dialogue that spews from his audio box is some of the most well-written comic-relief I've ever heard.

One of many infamous wise-cracks, your playable character is salvaged from the wreck of a horrible train wreck at the hands the game's vilian, Handsome Jack. Claptrap says (to you) at the start of the game: "Excellent my minion–your ability to walk short-distances without falling down will be Jack's downfall!"

Probably something else Mr. Najberg completely glossed over in his clearly hasty review of Borderlands 2 (sigh). 

So, Arth Vader, How Do You Really Feel?

So, Mr. Njaberg, I have a proposition, dear sir. Try this game again, only this time, detox off of any previous title you have played (and obviously prefer) and focus your game-play review on the new and different one offered by Borderlands 2. The game has gotten high marks across the board (4.25 stars out of 5 from Gamer magazine, 9.5 star out of 10 from Game Informer magazine). Maybe you would have a similar good time with it, if you found a friend or two to play it with and stop comparing it to what appears to be the only other inferior, cookie-cutter FPS titles.

Of course, if you keep making game review blunders like this one, you may be wondering why your buddies are all playing great games that only you hate. 

With that gauntlet thrown down, I give Borderland 2 nine (9) mashed buttons out of ten!

* According to Gearbox Software president Randy Pitchford; "Together the guns, grenade variants and shield variants total almost 100 million loot varieties (stat variations)." 

Friday, August 3, 2012

Heroes: Saving the Day!

The present surge of super-hero movies is an uplifting indicator that imagination is alive and well in all of us!

You've read some of my rants concerning heroes. I mostly feel like it's an overused–and sometimes misunderstood–word. However, the majority of Hollywood's storytelling has always been centered around something I have come to call the hero's journey. And nowhere is this more evident than in the recent array of super-hero movies. Especially in light of the recent run of Marvel Movies like The Avengers, the Amazing Spider-Man and the Dark Knight Rises, among a slew of other hit hero movies.

And with any luck, this party's just getting started.

Sure, I am a fan boy, tried and true. But I am about to boldly go where no blogger has gone before... and discuss the possibility of a bright tomorrow. Due in large part to super hero movies. You read that right, bare with me, this one will stick, I promise.

In 1975, I started reading what are common, even household name, comic books; The X-Men, The Avengers, Captain America, Thor, Iron Man, The Black Panther, The Defenders, The Incredible Hulk, The Teen Titans, The Justice League and Green Lantern to name only a handful of an entire universe of characters. I was hopelessly hooked and only wanted more. But while I was soaking in the tights, capes and impossibly curvaceous super women, something was happening.

I was reading. Vigorously.

Master comic creators, storytellers and writers like Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Marv Wolfman, George Perez, Neal Adams, John Byrne and endless list of other innovative men (and now women!) brought me eye-popping stories every month for .25¢ an issue. They exposed me to classic literature, current events and social issues too advanced for my seven year old mind to fully grasp. All I knew is I liked it and couldn't get enough.

Flash forward to the age of special effects and movies can now show the world what I have known for decades–this stuff is amazing! And the best part is that my children not only see my enthusiasm for these stories–something I think the are genetically predisposed to at this point–and know all these heroes and characters as they come to life on the big screen. And like me they are hopelessly addicted to this stuff–their eyes filled with starry-eyed wonder for life!

So what's it all mean?

Well, it means that creativity through imagination and story-telling is alive and well. As I am presently writing my own graphic novel, my best friend is about to have his first sci-fi adventure series published and even my daughter Jessica is writing her own short story about mythological beings.

And that my children see the fruits of using their imagination and see the power of creative thought. And that is a victory I can only begin to put into words.

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Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Rise of The Machines

Technology: Taking us where no man has gone before... 
We all take technology for granted. But what does technology take from us?

Today's world is a wonder of things undreamed of when I was a child. Having grown up in the 1970's, I was a card-carrying member of the Star Wars/Video Game generation. I grew up starry eyed at the wondrous new world that technology would deliver to us.

And that promise was fulfilled. In spades.

Technology ads in the 1970's promised a budding new world of personal music players, home entertainment systems, VCRs (remember this was the 70's) and home computers. Since then, we have grown more demanding, more dependent and more expectant of the technology in today's world. I don't just mean the cell phone awesomeness we all march around with in our pockets. That's just the top layer. No it's the truly amazing stuff we all take for granted that are the underpinnings of technological achievement that we all simply expect that just did not exist in the world even 25 years ago.

Journey with me with for a look at some amazing technologies we all take for granted that are mind-boggling and inch a lot closer to science fiction freakishness than any of us  would care to admit.

1. Cars. Ok, so we don't all drive hover cars like the Jetsons, but we have some cars on the road that are capable of some pretty amazing things. Things like; all electrical powered cars, rear-view cameras or spacial sensors that allow us to know if another vehicle is close. There are even car-to-plane conversion vehicles now. Kit would be so proud!

2. Aircraft. Ok, so it's not Kubrick's  2001 but really–New York to LA in six hours? Didn't it used to take like… 10 months on horseback? Planes are now offering wifi and free Internet access for the duration of the flight. Soon, space plane technology will have us vaulting from LA to Tokyo in 90 minutes. And you were worried about the peanuts being stale…

3. Television. We have access to more than 600 channels and that number grows every year. It wasn't that long ago (inside 30 years) when most major markets offered between 6 to 12 stations–and most of those were local. As if my ADD wasn't already bad enough.

4. Laser Surgery. We can now release tumors, fix the cornea of the eye and even burn cancerous cells through non-invasive laser surgery. Somehow the New You station in Logan's Run doesn't seem so far fetched.

5. Cell phones. One of the greatest communications achievements in the last 40 years is the proliferation of cell phone technology. There is no way to share all the wonders and capabilities that have been brought into our lives by these technological wonders in our pockets, purses and palms. Suffice it to say I can speak to anyone, anywhere and see stuff anywhere on earth via satellite. If you don't think that's cool, then this is your stop. You can get off here.

What's it all mean?

It means we all often take for granted the incredible technology that has embedded itself in our world and our lives. It wasn't that long ago that we had to "dial" a telephone, "turn" a channel or have surgery that included being cut open (I am aware this still goes on but that, too, is changing). My children use terminologies that are outdated like albums or records as they make funny faces at 'gadgets' like the Walkman, Roller Blades or pinball machines–all fairly revolutionary and not THAT old. All while they use Smart Phones, stream videos and "surf" to destinations all over the world via the "web".

The world has become a faster, more hyper-connected, more accessible place. But it wasn't that long ago when surfing meant grabbing a surf board and heading to the beach–not visiting countless web sites.

It feels like there is a really profound point in all of this but for the life of me, I just can't quite tell you what it is. 

I do know however, it all, somehow, makes me just a bit… sad.
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Friday, July 27, 2012

Murder in Colorado

Senseless slaughter at the hands of a deranged madman turns a harmless fan event into a night of terror, mourning and loss.

I often don't write about current events in this post. The folks over at CNN, the Huffington Post, CNN, FOX News and MSNBC have all that on lock down. But I'm compelled to share my thoughts in light of this past week's tragic shooting of innocent movie-goers in Aurora, CO.

Every aspect of this horrifying tragedy is a stomach-churning study of an American society victimized by it's own underpinnings and yet, at every corner there are hopeful glimpses of humanity and fellowship that brings as many joyful tears as the sorrowful ones already shed.

Machinations of a madman

Whack job...
What we know (so far) is that suspected shooter, James Holmes, a disturbed 24-year old neuroscience student had entered a midnight screening of The Dark Knight Rises with the intent of hurting and/or killing as many people as possible on the evening of 07/19/2012. This pre-meditated attack was meticulously planned with automatic weapons, shotguns, SWAT team armor and tear gas.

When the shooting stopped and the innocents were victimized, 12 people lost their lives and scores of others were wounded in the town of Aurora, Colorado. Holmes, who was caught in the parking lot of the theater, warned police of a series of explosive traps in his apartment and as he took on the persona of "The Joker", the famed fictional antagonist of the The Batman.

The Joker? Really, dude?

Media frenzy

Almost as soon as the news of this horrible tragedy broke, the questions of gun control, the moral fabric of society and the ethics behind movies like the Batman series came under scrutiny by everyone closed-minded, misinformed, over-opinionated idiot… uh.. expert that the news outlets could muster.

Should we have better gun control laws? How can Hollywood continue to make such violent films that have obvious consequences? How can we develop ways to protect our citizens form such outbreaks in the future? If more private citizens had been carrying guns, would  this have even occurred? Should the Department of Homeland security get involved. Should we ban costumes off people attending moves and trade show?

Could we all slow down for a moment here, please?
Lack of security did not kill those people in Colorado, neither did the status of gun control legislation or even the eccentric use of costuming at a harmless fan event.  This was the deliberate, premeditated action of one mentally ill man who would have found a way to harm a large group of people one way or another. Whether it was a state fair, a Saturday at the mall or a church. It wouldn't have mattered. He was determined to hurt as many people as possible and that is the beginning, middle and end of the story. I condemn Holmes for his cowardice, I fear for this man's callous disregard for the lives of us all and I mourn for the unnecessary loss of innocent lives.

Humanity rises

Stories of waived hospital expenses for the shooting victims, the ultimate sacrifice of those who took bullets to shield loved ones and of even Warner Brothers and movie star Christian Bale stepping up to show support are heart-lifting. Mr. Bale went to visit some of the victims in Colorado hospitals. Relief funds have been set up for victims and their families and an outpouring  of sympathy and support (like this post) on behalf of all the lives this terrible act of cowardice has touched.

The wrap up

I've shared with my children that they should not be fearful of going out to the movies. We should not rely on the Department of Homeland Security to tell us what and where is safe and we should not blame comic culture for Holmes' actions. Blame a sleep-walking society who missed every cue (and there were many!) of this man's building psychosis. Blame the lack of fail-safes that were not in place to stop someone this disturbed from getting, not only tear gas, but automatic rifles and police-issue SWAT tactical armor! 

Just don't blame "The Joker" from the Batman comic books folks... he doesn't exist.

Farewell to all the souls lost and shattered lives in the wake of the shooting. You all had come out to support a fan-fiction event, one I hold near and dear to my heart. As fans, as fellow citizens and as human beings–we are all tied together and I am saddened by your lives ending when they should not have.

Godspeed to you all of you on your journey beyond this–I know there is more than just this life. My prayers and thoughts for the loved ones you have left behind. You are loved and you will be missed. 

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Friday, July 13, 2012


"Can you hear me now?!"
Modern technology helps tip me off to what my children are REALLY up to!

While I am not convinced that the end of days is coming (it is 2012 after all), I am convinced that our world has changed so drastically, so quickly, that we all are left reeling to try and keep up and to stay at least one step ahead of the perils of modern technology.

And now, my kids can say the same.

Three recent events have put my kids on high alert status–and seriously has them looking over their shoulders. Not for big brother, but for Big Poppa!

"I love it when you call me Big Poppa.."
No not the ghost of The Notorious B.I.G. (R.I.P.), no today's tech in the hands of plugged in, hyper connected, digitally aware hi-tech parent hasn't had kids this scared since the dreaded parent/teacher conference. Check out these three instances of on-line detective work from yours truly that has all four of kids copping plea bargains for getting caught in the act.

Busted Case Study #1: A revealing set of Hooters.
Recently during a school vacation week, my daughter Jessica and and one of her younger brothers, Antonio asked if they could go to the Phoenix (AZ) Art museum with some friends. Wednesday afternoons are free admission and it seemed like a good way to get them out of my house and suck up someone else's AC for a change. What they neglected to share was that they were also meeting a number of Jessica's (High School-aged) friends for a birthday party at Hooter's in Downtown Phoenix, followed by playing in the elevator banks of several downtown Phoenix office towers. How did Dad find out? Her friends posted the revealing set of pics on FaceBook and tagged her and her brother in the photos. Nailed!

Busted Case Study #2: Boxed in by XBOX. I have the family's XBOX 360 in my bedroom under lock and key, so that my children don't all out destroy it. Presently my family has lost a Wii, an (original, black) XBOX console and a PSP all in the span of a few months. Electronics cringe when one of my children are nearby.

Recently, while updating my iPhone XBOX App, I noticed that the APP had  shown that my 14-year-old son's identity was active online–while I was at work! I called him to ask why and he denied any wrong doing, but then suddenly, not only did his cell phone conveniently "die" at that very moment, but his status changed instantly from ONLINE to OFFLINE. He had later confessed that he and his siblings broke into my room and had been playing the game for months. Gotcha!

"Oh, hi Dad! This oh, uh... it's research–!"
Busted Case Study #3: Where's all my lotion? Internet access is quite limited at this single Dad's house since young, impressionable minds (and fingertips) are far too curious to be left to their own devices and (ahem) destinations. On those few occasions when I trusted my imperial progeny to 'do the right thing' I was treated to a tidal wave of sexy naughtiness and fornication service requests on my living room browser. When I checked the browser's history–you guessed it–I uncovered a veritable who's who of porn destinations. Since then, internet access has been severely restricted, though the number and frequency of daily showers per boy in my home has tripled.

Oh and I am well aware that they can erase said URL history but you can contact your ISP for a list of destinations recently visited by your computer's ID. Served!

I'm well aware that my children and other family members are reading this blog. And as I am always quick to point out, when you stuff wrong kids, you eventually caught.

So I ask you, is it worth it? Really?

Friday, June 29, 2012

Toilet Talk

This photo is... flush left.
You'd be surprised by the crap people say… while on the crapper.

We've all suffered through it. The ramblings of people who are waaaay too chatty in community, corporate and public bathrooms. I'm not just talking about the guy (or girl if its the ladies room) who continues a conversation even after you have selected your favorite stall.

No dear reader, I am referring to the yahoos who sing while pinching a loaf. Who continue, work or in-depth conversations while launching a fleet of subs or who answer phones calls while sending the Cleveland Browns to the Super Bowl. It's unsettling, tacky and gross… if not just a hair funny.

Toilet time is just not a time to chat. Brood? Maybe. Meditate? Possibly. Read? Absolutely! Why, you may even be able to squeeze in a level or two of angry birds while you squeeze out… other things. So, hang-on to your danglers, kids, it's Arth Vader's top five culprits and dodo's and don'ts for the shared bathroom etiquette:
"Almost... there..."

1. The Grunting Bombardier.
This guy's the worst, having a body-rattling colon cleanse while he continues conversations either on his cell phone or with a buddy. co-worker or even complete stranger in the next stall.

2. The Ankle-Grabbing Crooner. Listen, I love when someone has music in them (among others things) but do you need to share your melodic tendencies while releasing the python? Seriously, singing while on the potty is just plain… wrong. This also applies the cousin of the Ankle-Grabbing Crooner, The Ankle-Grabbing Tuner. This rocket scientist goes into the stall with their iPod headset so loud, people in the next building are tapping their feet.

Please, stop.

That's how I roll.

3. The Chat and Squat Diaries. Every colon-busting, under-achieving sub-human commits this arguably worst of all shared bathroom atrocities: answering the cell phone while on the porcelain throne! Example; "Hi honey, how's your day? (groans) Oh me? Work's ok–hey, did you (grunts, than a splash) pick up those pastries for Grandma's coming out party on Sunday (groans)? No… no it's no problem, I can grab them on the way (more splashes) home." I can't help but think the person on the other end of the call is saying "… wow, really?"

4. Musical Deliveries. Hey, I'm the first to acknowledge that when you gotta go, you gotta go. But, if you're in your stall and your… movements, sound like a thousand pebbles dropping into a pond for five seconds or more–please, change your diet! Or at least try and time your time bowel releases to be at home or where they psychologically damage the fewest bathroom visitors.

"No, I did NOT watch 'Storage Wars' last night... now SHHH!"
5. The No-Urinal-Is-Sacred Gossip Buddy. You're standing at the urinal and this gold-medalist in disturbing behavior begins a conversation that doesn't stop! Riveting topics like Sports-Center news, directions to a pub or scientific breakthroughs on laundry detergent–no topic is too trivial. Just be sure not to irrigate your shoes in a crazed furor trying to get away from this lunatic.

Sorry, I don't mean to–uh... dump on these dimwits but it's high time we wiped out (sorry) these boneheaded bathroom barbarians. Sometimes, I just need a little quiet time in the stall... is that too much to ask?