Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Bringing Out the Kid in Me

Discovering Dad asks, "What Brings Out the Kid in You"? Winner gets a Wii. Who could resist?

In many ways, I'm still a kid. I still love to watch old Land of the Lost reruns. I'll still read a comic book if I can find one, even from my collection that I still have. I enjoy silly songs and bad jokes and making goofy voices. I can still turn off that little part of my brain that says, "Ok, there's no way Indiana Jones could make THAT jump" just for the fun of it - like we all used to. I can still crawl around on the floor and jump cars and build Legos. I can recite the whole preamble to the Constitution - not because it was taught in school, but because Schoolhouse Rock taught me on Saturday mornings. And not just recite it - sing it. People may also look at me a little strangely when I try to sing "Bohemian Rhapsody" as a solo (all parts included), but that doesn't mean I'm truly off my rocker. It's because I enjoy still hanging on to that part of my childhood.

This of course doesn't mean I don't take life seriously. I absolutely do. I have a family, two kids we're trying to raise. Planning for their future is a serious business whether it's school choices, tough homework assignments, discipline or teaching morals and the difference between right and wrong. My job future is always in flux...stable one minute and murky the next. I have many friends and church that mean the world to me, as we do to them. I stay attuned to the issues of the day - politics, world affairs, money... And I'm still working on my 15+ year marriage to a wonderful woman whom I perplex on a daily basis, but still somehow loves me.

Life isn't for children. It's a very adult thing. We have to put our childish ways behind us, to a certain extent. But I don't want to be known as that guy who's still basically immature but means well. I need to present a mature image to deal with mature things.

So what brings out the kid in me? Simple. My own kids. I remember when I was young, and the wide-eyed innocence I had watching Star Wars for the first time. I remember dreaming, making up worlds, situations, stories with my action figures. A 10-yr-old dares to put people in impossible situations, and figures out ways to get them out. They read Robert Heinlen and learn what's possible. They read Franklin W. Dixon and learn how to figure things out. They read Judy Blume and Beverly Cleary and learn how to cope with siblings, parents, friends and the difficulties in growing up. They gaze at the majesty of Cinderella's Castle and hide from scary Pirates of the Caribbean and grim grinning ghosts of the Haunted Mansion. They climb trees and chase butterflies and bat balls, all with the incredible knowledge of there's still more out there. What an incredible awareness, that with all this there's still so much, much more. And I share that with my own kids, and show them what I loved when I was their age. And they love it too, thankfully. I've tried my best to show them that life is what you make it - not what others tell you it's "supposed" to be.

In many ways, I get to relive my childhood through them. In less than a week my son, Brainyboy, will experience (if he has the nerve) his first real roller coaster ride at Busch Gardens Williamsburg). Probably Big Bad Wolf. And I'll be right there with him every curve of the track, knowing that the cycle has begun again.

What brings out the kid in me? Watching my daughter's eyes as they twinkle, mischievously. Watching my son's face as he sobbed real, silene tears when E.T. "died". Because I know that even though one day they will grow up, they will still keep with them an innocence of youth that transcends the cynicism and detachment of many kids today. They will keep with them the memories of glorious possibilities, the endless days of "what's next, dad?" And someday pass them on to their kids.

Our world is so sad these days. And so competitive. And so mean-spirited. Just a casual flip through the cable news and network channels will show you how simple differences of opinion divide our country. Children bring guns to school to protect themselves from bullies, while parents stand idly by. The images of children are endlessly sexed up in the media, from "Bratz" dolls to the latest line of teen clothing. 15-yr-old girls are routinely presented as objects for boy's (and men's) desires. Politicians and pundits give forth hate and sling mud only to gain a little prestige over the other side. People with different idealogies blow up buildings, kidnap boys from their villages to be soldiers in petty, greedy wars none of them understand. Other kids end up wrapped around telephone poles in their cars because mom and dad wanted to sponsor a graduation party with a little free booze. It's a cloudy world out there, and it's up to us to give our kids the wisdom to understand they don't have to feel like their destined to have to buy into it.

That's why I make funny voices at my daughter. That's why we always do the "gimme some fin...noggin...Dude!" from Finding Nemo and laugh ourselves silly. That's why I want Brainyboy to read 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, or keep practicing with the bat. And the piano. It's up to us as parents to get the kids ready to change the world, like we wanted to long ago in our own backyards.

What brings out the kid in me? Hey, they're already here, and always will be.

Friday, May 16, 2008

"Lost" in Thoughts: Unraveled Threads

Last night's "There's No Place Like Home" pt. 1 did a great job of setting things up for the finale. You can tell when everyone goes in slow-motion mode under montage music, chess pieces are being manuevered. Similar to the final of Season 1, with the flashback of everyone getting on the plane together...

It seems there are some threads that are beginning to possibly unravel - here are some questions..

  • What are we to make now of Desmond's visions from last season? He said he saw Charlie die a number of times, averting it successfully each time until the last. All happened as it said it did in the Looking Glass station, from the blinking yellow light to the switch Charlie pulled to him drowning. But the motivating force for Charlie behind Desmond's vision was that of Claire climbing into a helicopter. Now that that idea is looking less and less likely, does that mean his visions are wrong? Or as Steph comments could their actions have shifted things such that it's now Kate or Sun (Two of the Oceanic 6)?

    Apparently some kind of action changed Desmond's visions before - when Naomi landed on the island, Des was sure it was Penny. But it wasn't, and as it turned out Naomi worked for Penny's father, and Penny had nothing to do with the freighter or the extraction team. So looks like his visions can change, depending on circumstances.

    As Yoda said, "Always in motion is the future".

    Speaking of Naomi, why, after all we know now, was she carrying that very familiar picture of Des and Penny together? Where did that plot point end up?

    For a show that has very specifically addressed Desmond's quantum-leaping and future-telling, I hope they explain this to a degree in the...um...future (sorry) such that these all makes some sense.

  • My list of BuzzKill words - i.e. words that, if mentioned in conjunction with an explanation with all that's been going on, will make even me - the most forgiving of all far-fetched explanations - groan with disbelief:
    • Atlantis
    • aliens
    • black hole
    • Krakatoa (actually, that might be kinda cool - not the disappearance of the Roanoke Colony itself, but whatever the word might mean)
    • Amelia Earheart
    • Bermuda Triangle
    • starchild
    • hybrid
    • Cylon (you never know)
    Can you add any others?

  • (Copied from my answer to Newscoma's question on how the Oceanic Six, currently so spread out around the island, come together to get off the island by themselves)
    I’m thinking Kate and Sayid will be part of the Other’s counterattack on the Orchid. Jack and Sawyer will hook up with Hurley outside the Orchid, who’s waiting to see what happens next after Locke goes inside. After or during the attack, Kate, Sayid, Jack and Hurley will escape and pick up Sun and Aaron, who have gotten off the freighter just before it explodes, and eventually come ashore on whatever island they showed them in the photograph.

  • Am I right and that was Michelle "Ensign Ro" Forbes as the Oceanic spokeswoman at the beginning? If that's so, she's really made the big quadrifecta of my favorite sci-fi/action TV shows. She was, as I said, Ensign/Lt. Ro on "Star Trek: The Next Generation", Lynn Kreske on "24" in the second season, Admiral Cain on the new "Battlestar Galactica" and now on "Lost". Go Michelle!

  • What if there were actually eight people that get off the island, but only six make it back to civlization? What if Daniel and Charlotte are on the last launch from the island, and in the confusion of getting off the freighter rescue Sun and the baby, then pick up the other four. The eight of them could make it to the second island and somehow are killed or die of injuries? Ok, that's a far-fetched example, but it's possible there really are eight that initially escape and two die - and it's not just a lie the O6 tell the press.

  • Didn't the "official" news reports on the finding of the Oceanic 815 wreckage at the bottom of the ocean confirm the corpses of all passengers and crew? Which would mean Widmore & Co. planted a fake Kate, a fake Jack, a fake Hurley, etc? How do they explain away the sudden presence of seven (supposedly Kate was pregnant before the crash) extra people on the plane?

  • more to come....

Friday's Feast

Feast One Hundred & Ninety One

Appetizer - What is the nearest big city to your home?

I guess Nashville is closest "big" city, though it's not really that much bigger than Knoxville. Atlanta is the closest "big" city.

Soup - On a scale of 1-10 with 10 being highest, how well do you keep secrets?

If I told you, I'd have to... Anyway, I think I'm pretty good about it. I'm not asked to keep many secrets, though, so I'm not sure how good I'd really be if it came down to it.

Salad - Describe your hair (color, texture, length).

Brownish, curly in the back. Usually about mid-neck length though I tend to let it grow sometimes in the back when I really shouldn't. That's to compensate for the front - I have a high forehead, so while not actually "balding" when looking at the right angle it might appear to be so. I really hate my hair, to be honest...

Main Course - What kind of driver are you? Courteous? Aggressive? Slow?

I'm very non-aggressive and tend to lean toward following all the rules of the road - save a strict adherence to speed limits. I do feel like I am a very skilled driver, and can maneuver very well in traffic.

Dessert - When was the last time you had a really bad week?

A few months ago things really started falling all directions at work and it got a little bleak. That was not a good time.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

The Challenge

I know there are several readers out there who have made pretty firm choices in who they want for president. At least they've made firm choices on who they want to win the Democratic nomination. I offer this challenge.

In comments below, in a few short sentences, lay out why you believe a) Barack Obama, b) Hillary Clinton, or c) John McCain would make a good president.

Not the best president, maybe not even the best choice of the three - I would just like to see what people think are the primary reasons or indications they've seen that the candidate they support has the qualifications, potential and vision to be the President of the United States.

One major rule. No rebuttals. You don't get to argue against a previous commenter's reasonings. I want to hear your personal opinions on why you feel your candidate will make a good president.

Be nice.

Monday, May 12, 2008

"LOST" in Thoughts: The Big Questions

Here's my preliminary list of the big, overarching questions on "Lost" that I would imagine will never be answered to everyone's satisfaction:

  • Why are so many of the Losties lives interconnected? (Sawyer's con man is Locke's dad. Ana Lucia was Jack's dad's bodyguard. Libby was at the same mental hospital as Hurley. Desmond saw Charlie playing guitar in the street. Kate's dad was Sayid's military handler. Boone's father was unable to be saved because Jack was saving his future wife. And so on.)
  • Why were all these particular people on the same plane at the same time? And why did some survive the crash, and some not?
  • Why do "The Numbers" (4, 8, 15, 16, 23, 42) appear interwoven through everything, from the hatch code to Hurley's lottery, all the way to the flight number of the plane (Oceanic 815)?
  • Why was Charlie's band so inexplicably popular? (Ok, I'm reaching on that one)
  • What's the significance of the 4-toed statue? I think this is actually a huge red herring the producers dropped in there that will end up meaning absolutely nothing to the overall plot. Just an extra added element of mystery to the island that was never meant to be explained.
Any others you can think of? Remember, these are mysteries that, when the last credit has rolled on the series finale, we'll still be wondering about..

Friday, May 09, 2008

Good Dad

Last night I opened a cabinet to get a glass and another glass rolled out and shattered on the cabinet. I thought I'd cleaned up all the glass on the cabinet and the floor.

Apparently not.

This morning, after warning her to be careful Tink cut her socked foot on a tiny sliver still on the floor. While at first she said it only felt to her like a bee sting, soon after she noticed with some drama one portion of her sock was rather soaked with blood. After calming down the resulting hysterics, we got her up on the sink (thank goodness at eight she's still small enough to pick up easily), got the foot cleaned off and band-aided.

Way to go, dad.

Lost in Thought - "Cabin Fever"

Time for some more random "Lost" thoughts. I've already left a few comments around to some various early posts (Jopinionated, Dube's World, and Newscoma), but I wanted to expound on a few things here separately.

  • I think Richard Alpert, Charles Widmore, Magnus/Alvar Hanso, Abbadon, and others are long, long, long ago survivors of the original wreck of the Black Rock slave ship. Hanso was the captain, Alpert and Widmore probably crew, and Abbadon possibly one of the slaves (that sounds like racial profiling, but it seems doubtful a slave ship would have a black crewer, and Abbadon has an odd accent implying a non-American). They all survived to present day and have struggled between themselves for control of the island all along. Hanso survived to found the Dharma Initiative, while Alpert apparently later began Mittelos Labs. Widmore searched out the diary of his former captain to find the secrets of the island. Abbadon works with Widmore at Oceanic and along with Alpert have been separately meddling in Locke's (and probably others') lives since they were born.

    There are likely other immortal survivors of the Black Rock that we have already met and don't realize their true identities yet. Possible candidates are Sun's father Paik, Christian Shepherd, Marvin Candle (the oriental guy from all the training films) and other people associated with the Dharma Initiative and Hanso Foundation like the DeGroots and Thomas Mittlewerk.

  • I think the stuff in the little vial that young Locke was given as an option to claim as "his" was that ashy stuff that, significantly this time, did not surround Jacob's cabin. At least nobody called attention to it. Which is news in itself, because they always seem to have great fun noticing the ring of ash around the cabin. To purposefully not show it seems significant.

  • Oh, one more thing about Alpert and Abbadon. It's also possible they are time-traveling back to interfere/influence Locke when he was a youngster. I don't think that's likely, but it's a possibility since time manipulation is clearly a part of the show.

  • When mercenary dude Keamy pulled out the "Secondary Protocol" from the safe, he seemed to say something about finding out what Ben would do next. My immediate thought was it was information from the future about Ben's moves. Which would certainly put an entirely new, but not unprecedented spin on things. However...if you know what Ben's going to do, why not exploit that knowledge immediately? That line just sounded odd to me.

  • The scene between Hurley and Ben sharing a candy bar was absolutely, crystal perfect. Possibly the small throw-away scene of the entire series thus far.

  • Watching Keany and the Captain interact kind of reminded me of those Star Trek episodes where Kirk would be ferrying a science team, or a stuffy ambassador, or a squad of soldiers, or whoever to some planet and Starfleet would say, "Ok, Colonel Soandso is in charge of the mission and has authority in this matter", and Kirk would say, "he may be in charge of the mission, but I'm in command of this ship", and Colonel Soandso or Ambassador Whatever would say, "Dude, I give the orders around here," and Kirk would say, "As if" and Dr. Whatsit would say, "I don't think you know who you're dealing with here, Captain - I'll have your commission for this" and Kirk would say, "Stuff it nimrod, I'm James T Kirk and I'm the best chance your team/squad/delegation has to succeed so shut the crap up and let me be in charge" and usually the guy would back down, bowing and scraping to the great CAPTAIN KIRK but on "Lost" Keamy just shoots him.

  • I wonder if we started looking back in old photographs of famous people, you'll start seeing Richard Alpert or Abbadon in the background? Kind of like Forrest Gump.

    But seriously, I wonder how many more Losties did Alpert and Abbadon "visit" when they were young? Maybe not to test like Locke, but at least to keep tabs on and steer in the (to them) right directions...

  • I half-expected Zathras to come in behind Alpert, peer strangely at Locke, and say, "Not the One...no, no, not the One. No one ever listens to poor Zathras..."

  • The Fate of Claire: A lot of people have made a big deal about Claire possibly being already dead. Either she was killed when her house blew up and has been the walking dead ever since (which would explain ghostbuster Miles' strange interest in her, how she could wander off with Christian and leave Aaron behind, and hang out in the cabin with him). But I still have to think about Desmond's vision to Charlie - he saw Claire getting on a helicopter and assumedly leaving the island. So far, with some variation in details, Desmond's visions have come true. So I think eventually we have to see Claire getting onto a helicopter at some point. And she probably can't do that if she's a zombie, right?

  • Oh yeah! Add Desmond's creepy old visionquest lady Ms. Hawking to the list of possible Black Rock immortals.

  • What were the items Alpert showed to young Locke, and expected him to "claim" one of them as his own? Let's go over them:

    • Knife - Locke's job just before getting on Flight 815 was a knife salesman. He had a large pack of various throwing knives with him on the flight, which he used a great deal early on hunting boar. I actually called him choosing the knife when it first appeared, and was right.
    • Book ("Book of Laws") - When Eko and Locke first met at the Swan Hatch, I think Eko mentioned something about "The Book of Laws"
    • Baseball glove - I have no idea. Amazingly, there's no real baseball metaphors or callbacks in the show at all that I can think of. Maybe it represents father/son bonding, which is totally a theme but as for the glove itself I have no idea.
    • Comic Book - There was a comic book on the plane that Walt found, but it was a much more contemporary Green Lantern. This looked like an old 1950's/1960's era pulpish horror or adventure comic. The teaser said something about "what was the secret of the mysterious hidden land?" which could be a callback to the island. I don't know if it's a real comic, or one the art department whipped up.
    • Compass - Didn't Locke or Sayid have a compass in Season 1?
    • Vial of ashes - as above, I think this is the ash that forms the circle of protection around Jacob's cabin

  • More thoughts as they come to me...

Friday's Feast

Feast One Hundred & Ninety

Appetizer - When someone smiles at you, do you smile back?

Absolutely. Usually I'm smiling at them first, even. At least presenting a pleasant face. I'll never understand the people that decide to go through life as if at any moment they're going to be taken out back and beaten. People will almost always be nice to you if you're nice to them, or give them the opportunity not to worry you're going to bite their head off.

Soup - Describe the flooring in your home. Do you have carpet, hardwood, vinyl, a mix?

We have beige carpet in the living room and Brainyboy's bedroom that replaced the original bluish carpet when we moved in. Unfortunately, after 2 kids and 4 cats it still looks a bit peakish in spots. There's parquet in the entry way that had to be replaced a few years ago, and linoleum in the kitchen, bathroom and laundry room. The garage is floored with sod and that's where we grow mushrooms. Upstairs is all the original blue carpet, and linoleum in the bathrooms.

Ok, I made up that part about the sod and the mushrooms in the garage. It's actually astroturf and we rent it out to minor league football teams to practice.

Salad - Write a sentence with only 5 words, but all of the words have to start with the first letter of your first name.

Boy, black bats barely bite!

Main Course - Do you know anyone whose life has been touched by adoption?

I grew up with a few friends who were adopted. Some couples at our church have adopted kids from overseas - one a while back from Romania, and another adopted three kids from South America. Nobody in my immediate or extended family was adopted, or has adopted kids that I know of. Not counting as part of marrying into a family with kids already, and "adopting" them as your own.

Dessert - Name 2 blue things.

Sky - a painfully deep blue of an autumn day.

Jeans - what I wear to work every Friday.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

C'mon, You Know You Want To...

It sure would be nice if my feedburner stat bar over there on the right-hand side had, like over 20 readers. It's hovered between 14-17 since I installed it several months ago.

Just sayin'.

UPDATE (5/9/08): Oops. Lost one. Dropped back down from 18 to 17. Ok, who did it? Oh wait, you unsubbed, so you're not seeing this... (giving the community at large the skunk-eye....)

It's Five-O'Clock Somewhere

Pour me something tall and strong,
Make it a hurricane before I go insane.
It's only half past 12, but I don't care.
It's 5 o'clock somewhere.
My band is adding this song to their playlist for a special island-themed party coming up, and we rehearsed it last night. As it's been running through my head, I started thinking about the mindset behind the song.

No, not the idea that often the bed things in our lives are the result of our own stubborn attitudes, and that good times are where and when you make them...I'm not thinking that deep.

I'm thinking of the age-old tradition of hitting the bar after work for a drink.

The crux of the song is that no matter how crappy your job is, it's always quitting time somewhere in the world so why wait till then? Go now! Get sloshed and push all those troubles away!

Now, that's a nice thought I suppose if you're into that, though it's not very practical to hit a bar at around noon and not go back, just because it's 5pm somewhere out in the Atlantic or in Europe somewhere. But for decades (maybe longer) folks - usually men - have left work at 5 and found their favorite watering hole for a few cold ones to wash away the cares of the workday. Cheers built an entire TV series around this concept.

I've always wondered about the type of men that participate in this indulgence. First of all,if you're single - more power to you. Go for it. Meet your friends, throw darts, shoot pool, find a girl, whatever. Fine with me as long as you stay off the street afterward. Enjoy yourself!

If the guy's married, there begins the troubling aspect. When a married man gets off of work, in general he should be looking forward to coming home to see his wife. Maybe she works too, maybe she stays at home. Regardless, it never would've entered my mind when I was newly married to stop of somewhere for a couple of hours to drink before going home, knowing my wife was there alone. Again, this presumes she has a comparable schedule - if she works second or third shift, I can understand wanting to kill some time. But once we're married, the marriage becomes first priority.

Then there's the married man with children. This is what gets me. If you've perched your butt on a barstool or Applebee's hightop table downing a margarita while the kids are home doing their homework - or worse, playing a ballgame or just needed some "dad" time - then you are really heading down a bad path. I'm sure some men will say they need that downtime to "unwind" after a hard day, and if they didn't get a beer before hitting home they'd be a worse person than if they came straight home. Somehow I doubt it.

I've been tempted to stop at a place for a drink after work from time to time, just to see what it was like but home responsibilities always took precedence.

Do any men out there do this after work? Did you as a single guy but slacked off as marriage and kids came into your world? Did your own dad do this? I'm curious to see what people say.

The Campaign(s)

Are these things still going on???

I just feel a huge sadness for those still covering, or even paying much attention to the Democratic presidential primaries. Is it from a sense of duty? Or is there actually a demonstrable interest one can generate from this sad, sad group of candidates?

Friday, May 02, 2008

Friday's Feast

Feast One Hundred & Eighty Nine

Appetizer - What was your favorite cartoon when you were a child?

Super FriendsWow, if we're talking strictly cartoons I would have to say "Super Friends". Nothing better on a Saturday morning than watching my favorite superheroes and their super pals battle the forces of evil. And it was always a treat when Flash or Green Lantern would make a guest appearance. Later on, Super Friends morphed into "Challenge of the Super Friends", with even more superheroes fighting the "Legion of Doom". Great stuff.

Soup - Pretend you are about to get a new pet. Which animal would you pick, and what would you name it?

Oh man, no, not another one. After spending the majority of my life with no pets, our family has five. We have four cats: 1) Tas - 15 years old and the crotchety grandpa of our little clan. 2) Skye - 2 year old siamese-ish/ragdoll-ish troublemaker. He's the one that shreds things when I haven't fed him quickly enough. Like Laura's new hardback book. Or my brand new Bible ;(. 3) Fizban - 2 year old massive brown and white...thing. I inherited this behemoth from my uncle last year. Fizz is the enforcer, and also makes a handy paperweight. 4) Kitiara (or Kit) - the 1-1/2 year old sole female, raging with heat and none of the (fixed) boys able to help her out. She's Tink's favorite and sometimes her bedtime companion. Likes to climb on top of, well, everything. We also have our 4 year old dog, Ramona, who is a basset/beagle mix and stay outside most of the day.

If I were to want and get another pet it'd be a rock.

Salad - On a scale of 1-10 with 10 being highest, how much do you enjoy getting all dressed up for a special occasion?

If I have something that I think is decent, then I like to get dressed up. Trouble is I have a hard time believing I look good in anything like that. The last time I really took time to make a good appearance was at my 20-yr High School Reunion.

Main Course - What kind of music do you listen to while you drive?

I'm either listening to Sports Talk Radio, regular talk radio, or I'm listening to a theatre show CD. If I'm not listening to any of those, it's Jimmy Buffett. Invariably ;). I rarely, if ever listen to music actually on the radio. There's an 80's station I like that I'll sometimes flip on if I'm in the mood but that's it.

Dessert - When was the last time you bought a clock? And in which room did you put it?

Can't remember at all. I guess the last clock we bought was attached to our DVD player...

It All Seems So Clear To Me Now..

(Source: xkcd.com)