Some Things Our Kids Don’t Need to Know About Us

30 07 2008

Ever wish you could answer something in a completely honest way? Maybe when you’ve filled out a job application or been asked questions by someone on a first date? There are certain situations when complete honesty is probably a mistake (unless you are a true saint and have nothing to cover up).

I’m in one of those situations currently. I was given a journal/book called A Father’s Legacy (J. Countryman Publishing) by a family member. The idea is a cool one: Answer the questions about your own life in the book and then give it to your child/children so they can have a lasting memoir to keep. It will require some work (thanks a million, Luke), but I acknowledge this is a good idea.

Another good idea would be to utilize a modicum of care in how I answer some of these questions. This book is meant for my child (or children if more come along in the future) and could very easily get passed down to their children and so on and so on. It will be important to be truthful, of course. BUT, it may be wise to keep some true things about my past to myself. How fun would it be, though, to answer some of the questions in any way that I wanted to answer them? Luckily, I have this blog space to do just that! I can save my more “fatherly” answers for the book.

From the CHILDHOOD section of the book:

“Did you enjoy reading as a boy?” My book answer will of course praise the merits of reading and refer to the joys of having The Monster at the End of this Book read to me by my mother and enjoying Charlotte’s Web on my own. This is all true, but let’s get to the nitty gritty. I will never forget reading the sex advice column in the Playboy magazine that I stole when I was about 12. (I was not the type to steal, and other than the magazine, I think I stole a piece of hard candy once, and that was about the extent of my pilfering. I stole the magazine because, at least back then, they didn’t allow 12-year-olds to buy Playboy, and Suzanne Somers was in that particular edition. I had seen Three’s Company, and I couldn’t resist.) Back to the sex advice. What red-blooded boy at that age would not be mesmerized, awed and possibly a bit overwhelmed reading advice about extra-marital affairs or understanding female orgasms? I had the feeling that I was partway in heaven and partway in hell hiding in the garage reading those pages. Plus Suzanne Somers was hot. So, I can honestly say, yes I enjoyed reading as a boy.

From the FAMILY LIFE section of the book:

“In what ways are you like your father?” The book answer will include that I am funny and determined and that I believe in God, which are all things that my dad role modeled. He was a good man. These things are true, but like any man, my late father had his own issues. Unfortunately, I may have inherited one or two or twenty of them. So what’s the real answer? I can be as stubborn as an ass, just like him. I don’t like to lose any argument and therefore can be an infuriating person. I tend to scoff at the stupid things people do which can make me a bit judgmental. I’m guessing that my kids, when old enough to understand the book, will know these things about their dad without me having to write them down! Speaking of similarities between myself and my dad, let me mention one way in which I am not similar. Why can’t I hit a golf ball the way my dad could? I don’t enjoy the game, but I probably would if I could master the course the way he did.

From the EDUCATION section:

“What did you learn in high school?” I’m sure my book answer will touch on many things regarding “responsibility” and “self-reliance” blah, blah, blah. But here, my honest answer is this: I quickly learned there was a perfect spot on the first floor of the gym where, at lunch time, one could stand and be positioned directly below the railing on the 2nd floor of the gym where cute girls often gathered to socialize and lean against said rail. Why was this significant? Keep in mind, I attended a Catholic high school where many of the girls wore those plaid, uniform skirts. That’s right, in just the right spot, a perverted young male could see up those skirts on the 2nd floor. In my defense (not that there really is one), I was certainly not the only male aware of this, and looking back, I’m pretty sure some of the girls knew too. This was vital information and made lunch time so much more fun. (Maybe actually going up to the girls and talking to them would have been fun as well, but this seemed preposterous and impossible for me during my first couple of years).

“Is there Something You Wish You Would Have Done in High School?” Yes. Keri and Christine…preferably at the same time.

From the LOVE AND MARRIAGE section:

“What qualities first attracted you to your wife?” This is the easiest question to answer both truthfully and in book-appropriate fashion. We worked together. I was impressed with my wife’s intelligence, motivation to succeed, class and humor right off the bat. It’s difficult not to be impressed with her, and if you’ve read her blog you already know what I mean. I may leave out two things from my book answer, though. I still remember those two things from our days working together as though they happened just yesterday. One is a particular time I came across her in a narrow hallway while she was making copies. She smiled and said “hi” (we weren’t dating yet). She was wearing a skirt, and as I passed closely by her (remember it was narrow), I was stunned by how beautiful her legs looked. The other time was when a discussion broke out amongst several co-workers about working out, playing sports, flexibility, etc. My future wife decided to demonstrate her flexibility by bending completely over and easily touching her toes. I believe this happened on a casual dress day when she was wearing jeans. The incident affected me in ways I really couldn’t describe here. (Really.)

“What do you think is most important in maintaining a healthy marriage?” The book answer will include important things like trust and commitment. My real answer here? Being willing to help her with blog wording and titles and recording sporting events to watch later when she’s gone to bed instead of trying to watch them when she’s awake.

From the PARENTING section:

“What has been the greatest challenge of being a father?” My three-year-old daughter is great and is a nearly constant source of smiles and happiness. That is very, very true. However, if I were to answer this question with nothing but the truth, I would have to say it’s a challenge to remember those smiling times and to keep my cool when she decides it’s time to climb something inappropriate in a store (say, a display of breakable items). It’s usually at this time when she is very good at calling bluffs. When you have a cart full of items that you really need to purchase (or at least think that you do) and you warn her that you’re going to take her immediately home and give her a time out if she doesn’t listen, she knows that you’re not really going to do that. That’s when she looks you straight in the eye and defiantly pronounces, “I want to go home. I want a time out.” This eventually leads to an all-out screaming, public fit in which she does the kid universal turn-her-whole-body-into-deadweight-jelly when you try to pick her up off the floor while you get disapproving glances from non-parents. I get a little angry just thinking about it. Probably time to move on to the next question.

From the CELEBRATIONS section:

“Do you remember particularly special birthday gifts you received?” Hey, I got some cool stuff as a kid, like the Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots or the Miner 2049er game for my Atari system. I’ll probably put those down in the book. However, I can’t help but also remember some of the items of clothing that my mother, bless her heart, made for me. She was great at crafty things like that, and it helped out the family financially whenever she made clothes instead of buying them. The problem is; they weren’t always the coolest styles. You can see one of the outfits in a horrific picture buried deep in this post.

From the LIFE EVENTS section:

“Has there been a political event in your lifetime that made a strong impression on you?” Yes, the Watergate scandal. I could write in the book how I learned that politicians are not always looking out for us and how the media serves as a sort of watchdog for us. In reality, though, what I really remember about that time was how mad I was that it was the ONLY THING ON TV ALL DAY FOR WHAT SEEMED LIKE AN ETERNITY. There was no cable at that time. We had the three networks and PBS. I needed my cartoons, man! All of the shows I cared about were preempted for the Watergate hearings every time I turned on a tv. At least it made me get out and play more (I was already the type of kid who liked to play outside, but it was nice to have a little mindless tv time now and then.) What kid would rather see the face of John Dean instead of Bugs Bunny or Batman? Exactly.

From the INSPIRATION section:

“Who were your role models when you were young?” I’m going to have to write about teachers and my parents in the book, and they certainly were role models. However, the truth would also include Fonzie, rockers like the dudes from Night Ranger or the Scorpions, and maybe, since I loved scary movies, someone like Jason Voorhees. I think I’ll leave these out of the book so I don’t make my kids think that I’m a leather-jacket wearing druggie who sticks axes in people. Yeah, I’ll stick with the parents/teachers answer.

The more I think about my Playboy-stealing, scary-movie loving, skirt-looking-up, Batman-watching days, the more I wonder if I really should be parenting anyone. Then again, my daughter seems to be doing amazingly well in spite of my shortcomings. Have to give my wife credit there. Maybe this whole journal/book idea to give to your kids was someone’s idea of a sick joke.





Re-Imaging: The Cosmetic Surgery of Horror Films

24 07 2008

Remember when movie re-dos were called remakes? At some point, some relatively smart person in Hollywood decided that term wasn’t sexy enough to lure hoards of people to high-priced cinemas for a new version of a movie they had already seen. Hence, the term re-imaging was born. Before some nerdy film student at UCLA chides me for not pointing out the supposed difference between remaking and re-imaging, let me include the official line that re-imaging is slightly different because it means the new film has at least some variance from the original film. There I wrote it. Hollywood is saying, “This one is DIFFERENT! I Promise! Come see it…twice.”

Now, let me point out that I am also relatively smart, and I call your bluff, Hollywood (and geeky Hollywood hopefuls who go to UCLA in the hopes of meeting Reese Witherspoon or Ryan Gosling some day). Re-imaging may sound really, really cool, but IT’S STILL A REMAKE. Remakes Re-imaged films are not necessarily a bad thing, but did we really need a new term? In some cases, re-imaging is good. For example, someone needs to tell A-Rod that he is (allegedly) dating an “original” in Madonna. Apparently he is unaware of re-imaged versions, like Shakira or Carrie Underwood. Then again, maybe he prefers old classic movies like 1954′s Creature from the Black Lagoon (which is scheduled to come out as a remake in 2009).

Fine, I won’t say remakes any more. Remakes. Oops. That was the last one; I promise. On to the point.

Horror films have always held a special, albeit deranged place in my heart. I loved them during my teen years. My wife tries to pretend this is not true, but sadly, it is. Many of these films have been or are in the process of being re-imaged. My “Big Three” from that era [Halloween (1978), Friday the 13th (1980), and A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)] are no exceptions. A part of me is excited to see new life breathed into the main characters who chased me in my childhood nightmares: Michael, Jason and Freddy. I recently viewed Rob Zombie’s re-imaging of Halloween. Overall, it was fun to see a new and more in-depth take on the past of Michael Myers and why he snapped. There were definitely some scares, and it was cool that Danielle Harris was cast in it. (She was great in Halloween 4 and Halloween 5 when she was a kid and single-handedly kept them from being crappy sequels). In the end, though, the new version had just a few too many white-trash characters in it to be thoroughly enjoyable.

Word on the street (that’s my cute way of saying I surfed the internet for information as there is no real “word” on the street in my little Midwestern town that isn’t about the weather or the price of gas) is that there are talks about re-imaging A Nightmare on Elm Street. On February 13, 2009, the re-imaged Friday the 13th is scheduled to hit the theaters. Talk about pressure to finish production on time. Can you imagine if this film’s opening had to be pushed back a couple weeks? Opening on Friday the 27th of February doesn’t quite pack the same punch. Interestingly, Jared Padalecki (yes, ladies, cute little Dean from The Gilmore Girls) is in it.

After new versions of the “Big Three” come out, what’s next? Sure, they could re-image Children of the Corn and have it take place in an experimental hybrid corn field. Or, they could re-do The Lost Boys with some brand new Coreys. (I’m pretty sure they won’t be re-imaging a terrible horror film originally from Spain I saw back then with the English title Edge of the Axe. There’s 99 cents I wish I had back from the video store…ouch.)

I have a different suggestion. I think they should take non-horror films of the 80s and re-image them into new, horror versions. That way, it really would be a whole new take on a old film. Crazy, you say? Stupid? Worse idea than a Chia toupee? Ah, you lack vision. Just think of this:

Field of Screams. Yes, Field of Dreams turned into a scary movie. Instead of Shoeless Joe coming out of the corn, it would be Skinless Joe. He’d fly out of the corn (hybrid corn, of course) to haunt you and to let you know that your dead father never really loved you and always thought you were a failure. Now that would cause some nightmares. Maybe Danielle Harris could play the wife of the sap who builds the baseball field. She’s cuter than the original actress. “If you build it, they will kill.”

How about Stand By Me turning into Stabbed By Me? Who would have blamed the fat kid if he’d gone nuts after seeing the dead body? Who wouldn’t have cheered him on if he’d donned a hockey mask and killed off Corey Feldman’s character?

Did you love E.T. as a child? Well, you might have different memories after seeing E.T.T. The Extra Terrifying Terrestrial. When his fingertip lights up, you know he’s going to kill. Don’t offer him any Reese’s Pieces unless you want to end up in Resting in Pieces. Yeah, he phones home all right…to tell them to send more chainsaws.

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off? More like, Ferris Bueller’s Head’s Off! What would be scarier than having Ben Stein reprise his role but this time as a teacher who has been pushed too far and loses it. Picture a dark alley at night, with Ferris trapped against a brick wall. Here comes Stein’s character with an axe, dully repeating: “Bueller? Bueller? Anyone?” Scary.

They could easily turn Raising Arizona into Maiming Arizona. A clueless couple in want of a child kidnaps a baby from a family who seems a little, shall we say, weird. The couple figures that family didn’t deserve a baby anyway. The problem: This child grows horns and is the spawn of Satan himself! He’s out to find and wreak havoc in the hottest states he can find, starting with Arizona. In one memorable scene, the child is accidentally left on a highway. By the time the clueless parents realize their mistake, the kid has telekinetically blown up several semi-trucks. Yeah, I know…pretty sweet.

In a way, the idea of re-imaging can make us all a little optimistic that things can be renewed. For those of you who have been following my swelling situation, I hope to be re-imaged myself in the near future through surgery. The St. Louis doctors just may have figured this thing out. Hopefully none of the surgeons are named Voorhees, Myers or Krueger. I’ll blog it when I have some specifics. In the meantime, rent the first four Friday the 13ths (the good ones) and watch them with the lights off. I double dare you. You’ll get to see a young Kevin Bacon bite the dust.





Guys: Top 8 Ways We Enrage Women

7 07 2008

Women. I love them. They are amazing, creative, resourceful, beautiful beings. I’ve been fortunate in my life to somehow charm a handful of them who, for some reason or another, thought I was better than I actually am. This has culminated in the crowning achievement of my life: Being married to this woman.

Life with a woman is certainly much better than life without. However, there are times when men and women mix about as well as a dried-up tent filled with fireworks and a lit, gasoline-soaked rag. Guys seem to have an innate ability to make women angry. It has been my experience that there are actually 4,523 ways to tick off a female, but there are eight (call them deadly guy sins, if you like) that consistently get their panties in a twist.

1. Other Women: Guys like to check out women in restaurants, at church, in the grocery, on the street, at the gym, and at parties and events (yes, even cute moms at kids’ birthday parties). Face it: Guys like to look at women, period. This can really irk the woman you happen to be with, even though you really like to look at her, too. In fact, you probably can remember the first time you ogled her with an unhealthy lust in your heart. Still, nothing seems to get us into more trouble. We can try explaining how we just can’t help ourselves, but it doesn’t seem to calm the storm that makes up the emotions of a female. Since giving up this hobby is not an option, there are several ways guys can at least lessen the likelihood of a full-blown argument.

  • Pick the appropriate time and place. You might get away with a quick glance at a beautiful woman when you’re at a Halloween costume party. Your wife/girlfriend is probably in the right state of mind to understand that you’re going to look at the woman from down the street who is dressed in the French Maid costume. It sort of goes with the territory. However, a long stare at your wife’s cute third cousin at a funeral for your wife’s great aunt is not going to go over well.
  • Don’t stop and stare in an obvious, guy-like manner. Use either the “extreme eye slide” where only your eyes and not your head move in the direction of the other female or the “tie your shoe and sneak a peak” maneuver in which you crouch down and pretend to tie/fix/wipe something off your shoe while quickly looking in the direction of the woman in tight shorts a few feet away. These won’t actually fool your mate, but she MIGHT appreciate the fact that you at least tried to be subtle.
  • Under no circumstances do you ever look at another woman when your wife/girlfriend is pregnant, menstruating, recovering from some sort of facial surgery, or has just eaten dessert and is therefore feeling “huge” and unattractive. During these periods, you just have to fight the urge. For those of you who feel you are in a relationship with a woman who is always in one of the aforementioned states, you’re just out of luck.

2. ESPN CLASSIC: Most women hate watching most sports. Most guys like watching most sports. Most woman hate it when most guys watch most sports. Follow? However, women and men have come to friendly truces in this area. The men will watch some sports and sacrifice others while the women will either learn to enjoy some of the sports or will find other, more important things to pass that time. However, this truce becomes null and void if and when the women catch the men watching a sporting event from the past. Men call them classics while women call them old reruns. Women can understand a guy’s yearning to watch their team play in a current NFL playoff game. They cannot, however, understand why a guy would rather watch a tennis match from nearly thirty years ago rather than go shopping with them. Guys, your only hope here is that she won’t notice it’s a rerun classic. However, it’s not easy to pull this off when the guy is wearing tight shorts and using an old wooden racquet.

3. We Just Don’t Understand: Guys (well, most guys) at least have gotten the message through their heads that when a woman says no, she means no. (Those public service announcements may actually be working.) However, we are still clueless as to the more subtle messages we receive from the women in our lives. For example, we still can’t figure out when she said she really, really didn’t want anything for Valentine’s Day that it meant she AT LEAST wanted chocolates, a card, and dinner out at a nice place. We also don’t understand that we are never supposed to agree with her when she says some article of clothing is not flattering on her. On a related note, never fall for the “Which one do you think looks best on me” trap if out shopping for clothes. When you say, I like the red one, what she will hear is, I think you look ugly in the black one. Similarly, even if she told you that you didn’t have to go to a family event with her, you saying: I just don’t feel like going to that get-together today - you go, is the same thing as saying, I hate everyone in your family, and I’d rather stay home and poke my own eyes out than go there.

4. The Kids Are Fine: Sometimes, a guy’s parenting style is, how should I say it…more laid back than a woman’s. This, when noticed, does not always go over well with the female. The following things could instigate disharmony in the home:

  • Letting your kid ride the bike inside the house. The woman is likely to point out that some things in the house are actually breakable and besides, those bicycle tires probably rolled through bird poop yesterday. Everyone in the house may come down with bird flu, and you won’t have that nice blue vase from her great grandma Helga to cheer you up when your sick in bed because your kid bumped into it with the Huffy while spreading disease through the carpet fibers.
  • Women don’t seem to think that Shaved Ice/Hawaiian Ice treats are a substantial dinner. (Even if it’s a cool half and half mix of black cherry and lemon sour.) Your kid will love you for this decision, but that actually just makes matters worse when your wife insists that some carrots be consumed and the kid screams, “I like Daddy better!”

5. We Don’t Care about Carrie, Samantha, Miranda, Charlotte (though she is hot), Emma, Mr. Darcy or Lizzie: We don’t want to see the Sex and the CIty movie or any 4-hour documentary about the life of Jane Austen. We don’t want to read newly discovered letters from Jane Austen to her sister. We get offended when we realize our woman is not thinking of us when she buys an “I heart Mr. Big” coffee mug. We don’t get all misty-eyed and fuzzy inside whenever Colin Firth gets yet another movie role playing the same damn character. We don’t want to re-watch the DVR’d Oprah where Sarah Jessica Parker discussed fashion and the screaming audience members were given free DVD’s of the final season of the SATC tv show. Yes we can tell you who won the 1982 World Series and in how many games, but we sure as hell don’t know which season Carrie and Aidan broke up and why.

6. We Think We Know Where We’re Going: Guys don’t like to stop and look at maps or, God forbid, ask someone for directions. Never before has the saying, “Life is a journey, not a destination” been more true than when a man is trying to drive to a new place. Our sense of adventure kicks in. Sure, we’re just a guy with his wife trying to find a co-worker’s house for a dinner and game night, but we suddenly feel more like pirates traversing the open seas in search of treasure whenever we hit an unexpected “road closed” sign. While the woman would like to take the easy way out and simply pull into the Marathon station on the right, we men know that it is much more satisfying to let our sixth sense kick in and figure out the maze of little-used side streets by using wind direction, instinct, and landmarks. We know we’ll get there eventually (although we can’t promise that we won’t pass through a few extra states on the way).

7. We Look Pretty Good with Some Gray Hair and a Wrinkle or Two. Women are irate that men have a decent shot at actually getting better looking with age. Terms like wise, handsome, stately, gallant, and dignified are often used to describe older gentlemen. This is especially true in Hollywood. Men like Clint Eastwood, Robert Redford, Harrison Ford and others continue to be sex symbols, while actresses over the age of 24 may have to start settling for parts as grandmothers or wicked stepmothers. Diane Lane, however, is doing her best to change this attitude. At the risk of doing number one on this list, here is a picture: wow. (I may get away with this, as I think my wife has an innocent woman-crush on D. L.)

In the interest of fairness, I thought about posting a Robert Redford pic here, too. Then, I thought, hey – I’m doing a blog about what makes women angry. Why stick a guy pic in just to appease them?

8. Talking about how good the hot wings are at Hooters: The wings are awesome. Let’s get that out there right up front. However, spending time trying to convince your woman that the two of you should eat at Hooters because the wings are delicious is like saying strip clubs are a good place to go because they play really good dance music. (Who doesn’t find themselves tapping their fingers when You Shook Me All Night Long comes on?) Try as you might, your woman is not going to believe that you are more focused on these…

than these…

If your wife likes to blog, you might want to try my latest tactic. I’m trying to convince her we should go to Hooters so that she can write a funny blog about the experience from a woman’s point of view. Guys, keep checking her blog to see if I’m successful.

There they are. Eight ways to incite rage. Take them for what you will, but for God’s sake, don’t discount their power or consequences, or you could be looking at a long, cold few days of couch-sleeping. For those of you wondering if I wrote this big long blog just to have an excuse to post a picture of waitresses from Hooters, the answer is: Maybe.








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