May 29

Why are so many parents sooo screwed up these days.  I mean, the wife and I are far from perfect,  but I consider us to be pretty good parents.  And I know a lot of good parents exist — but there are some pretty poor excuses out there as well.

I recently rented a movie at RedBox.  I’m kind of into cheesy horror, and RedBox had a brand new release.  I couldn’t find any real reviews or anything for this gem because it was that fresh (straight-to-video).  The movie is called The Dead Want Women. It features Eric Roberts, so I figured it couldn’t be that bad, right?  I mean, Eric Roberts is Julia Roberts big brother.  Sure, he’s been in some duds, but he usually plays a pretty good meanie.  And the cover of this thing looked so campy that I figured it had to be good.

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Come on... this looks pretty corny-good, right?

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Now, when I rented this, I was not planning to sit down and watch it with my kids.  I wouldn’t let my 8-year old (or even my 14-year old) watch a R-rated horror movie.  The violence is just too much.  I don’t need my kids having nightmares.  Any horror movie that is scary without violence would be rated PG-13 (and there are some pretty good ones).  When you throw R-rated on a horror movie, you just figure there is going to be a lot of blood and guts and gore.  Personally, I love the gore, but I don’t want my kids exposed to it.  Too desensitizing, in my opinion.  There will come a time when we can enjoy the gore together, but that time will be some years in the future.

Okay, so I watch The Dead Want Women, and it totally sucked raw rhubarb.  I mean, this thing is a worthless pile of crap.  Eric Roberts seemed to be having a good time playing this role, and for that alone he should be permanently barred from ever making another movie… EVER!  The acting really wasn’t bad.  The make-up was horrendously clownish, and the plot was totally dented.  Now, the silly make-up would have worked if the movie had some campiness to it, but this dreadful wretch tried to take itself too serious and failed on more levels than I want to take the time to write.

What really gets me, though, is that by the time I got around to writing a review for this festering boil-of-a-movie on the RedBox website to prevent some other poor soul from sitting through even part of this monstrosity, there were some other reviews filing in.

Now, to be fair to some of the reviews that this film has garnered, there was an unusual amount of seemingly unnecessary nudity in this movie.  There are some strange sex scenes, and this one poor actress goes for almost half the movie completely nekked.  I think she may have lost a bet with the director or something…

So anyway, back to other reviews of this pile.  The very first review of the movie on RedBox stated (due to the sex and nudity) that the film is “Not for children.”

?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!

I’m sorry.  If it weren’t for sex and nudity, is this reviewer saying that a violent, R-rated horror film normally would be cool for the kids to watch?  Does this reviewer normally sit back and watch people’s flesh disintegrate in Cabin Fever while sharing popcorn with the toddlers?  Hostel is fine for the kiddos, but if they added too much nudity or sex, suddenly it would be deemed “not safe for kids”?  Seriously.

I thought maybe this one reviewer was just a little bit tilted as far as his or her perception went, but then I came across another gem that read, “Unclothed scenes put in at bad time! Dont watch this with kids!!”  Wow, the splattering blood and charred human flesh are all fine and good, but put in some “unclothed scenes” and suddenly it’s not kid-friendly?

I guess I can only hope that these reviews weren’t actually written by parents.  Maybe they were written by single people who dream of some day watching horror with their children.  Maybe they will realize that the violence and gore of a typical R-rated horror movie are enough that you really shouldn’t be letting your kids watch it in the first place.

Or maybe — just maybe — watching The Dead Want Women was enough to actually cause some temporary brain damage to these folks.  I feel that even I have been somewhat dented from the experience…

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May 23

My boys have only one day of school left before embarking on their annual summer breaks.   Ah… summer break… remember those?  I sure do.

One of the completely crappy things about growing up (one of, I assure you, many) is the the loss of the summer break.  I mean sure, kids need a break to let their minds reset, to spend some time outdoors, and to just be a kid.  But seriously, do we think that adults don’t need the same kind of break?  And a week of vacation here and a long weekend there just don’t stinking cut it.

I never feel refreshed and ready to tackle the monotony of the work-a-day world after a typical adult vacation.  In fact, the last day or two of any break I take from work (including most weekends) is usually spent dreading the fact that I have to return to work in a day or two.  Weekends consist of two parts for me:

  1. Saturday, the day or relaxation.
  2. Sunday, the day of dreading Monday.

As sick of I was of school by the time summer break rolled around in May, I never felt the dread in August (when school started again) that I feel after a week off from work.  In fact, I always looked forward to the challenges of the coming school year.

I know that I have written of this before, but I really should have been a teacher.  It’s pretty amazing how 20/20 that stinking hindsight can be, isn’t it?  I like kids.  Most kids respond well to me.  Teaching young people skills that will help them be successful in life (… yes, skills they will need to get crappy jobs of their own :( …) seems like it would be a fulfilling way to spend a day.  In the craphandle of Nebraska, teaching is one of the best paying gigs around for an average schmuck like me.  And… summers off!

According to wiseGEEK, only about 2% of the population in the US takes advantage of a career in teaching.  I guess it probably does (or should) take a certain temperament and personality to be a successful teacher, but it seems like there would be more of us who wouldn’t want to give up our summers off.  Of course, many people are probably like I was when I went for my post-high school education.  I had it stuck in my head that I could make more money with a business degree than I could a teaching degree.  I was an idiot.  I was an idiot not only because I have not been able to make more money in the stupid business world than I could have teaching.  I was an idiot thinking that making a lot of money (which I have not been able to do) is somehow more important than doing something that doesn’t make me want to gouge my brains out every day.

Marketing guru Seth Godin, in a blog post today (“Dancing on the edge of finished”), writes about the uber-busy society of today.  His post struck home with me.  In the glory of days past, there was a time when we could actually complete something and call it done.  According to Seth, in today’s world, there really is no “done”.  Seth refers to it as “the dance,” this constant go-go-go that is life today.

Seth writes:

“Facing a sea of infinity, it’s easy to despair, sure that you will never reach dry land, never have the sense of accomplishment of saying, ‘I’m done.’ ”

Oh how I agree with that!  It is very discouraging to feel like each new accomplishment doesn’t really get you closer to an end goal but is only another tick-mark on a checklist that never ends.

Seth, in his always-optimistic way, follows with:

“At the same time, to be finished, done, complete–this is a bit like being dead. The silence and the feeling that maybe that’s all.”

NOOOO, Seth Godin!  It is nothing like being dead!  Well, not that I have accomplished a lot of goals, so I really don’t know… but it can’t be like being dead!  Being dead is like being dead, and actually accomplishing a goal to the point of completion would (in my fantasies of actually making that happen) have to be one of the most satisfying things ever!  Don’t spin the lack of ever finishing to be something good!  It’s not!  In fact, never being able to actually to say “It is done” makes life seem an awful lot like a grind.  If life is nothing more than a daily grind, where is the joy?  Of course, Seth has an answer to that:

“It’s a dance, not an endless grind.”

Great… a dance… and me with my two stinking left feet.

See, teachers get to finish.  When the final bell sounds at the end of the school year, they are done.  Whether good or bad, happy or sad, when those kids leave the school for the summer, the teacher’s job is complete.  Whether the teacher can look back on the last nine or ten months of effort and be satisfied with the results is often dependent on the efforts that teacher made over the previous period of time, but it is done.  And, in August (barring a near-total failure on the part of the teacher), a fresh start is guaranteed.  The teacher can learn from the mistakes and victories of the past and carry what was learned forward into the next year.  Each year is a goal completed.  Each year has a resolution.  Each year is followed by a summer break… BONUS!

In the world of endless tasks to be completed, to avoid the “grind”, I can only conclude that you have to be doing something you absolutely love in order to make the toil more resemble a “dance.”  Settling for a grind and trying to make that grind somehow resemble a dance just doesn’t work — not if you want your efforts to seem like they have some sort of meaning.

Or, if for nothing more than a sense of closure on a previous period of time, maybe we all need a summer break every year…

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May 13

The people most in need of a day which celebrates what they do are recognized today.

Moms.

Moms hold families together.  Moms are the stability in life.

Are all moms perfect?  Are any?  Of course not.  Moms are flawed and emotional and  worry-warts.  But moms are also strong… stronger than most of us realize.

Just imagine a world with only dads.  What a disaster that would be!  Dads don’t tend to be as good as moms at multi-tasking.  Most of us focus on one thing and work on that thing until it is done (or give up because we realize it is unaccomplishable… which isn’t a word, but I like it).  A world with only dads would be a world of chaos.  A world with only dads would be interesting, but it wouldn’t be as safe or sane as a world with moms.  A world of dads would have lunches packed with candy bars and cold Totinos pizzas.  A world of dads would be filled with overflowing diapers and unbrushed teeth and  tardiness and scraped knees and eyes poked-out with “that thing”.   I’m not saying a world of dads wouldn’t be fun, but a world of dads would not probably lead to the best chance of the furthering of the human species.  Oh sure, some pretty cool crap would get blown-up in a world of dads.  There would be no chick-flicks in a world of dads.  “Barney” would be replaced by “Aqua Teen Hunger Force” in a dad-driven society.  Burping would be considered polite, and a good fart would be commended.  A world of dads… wait a second… where was I going with this?  A world of dads sounds pretty cool… OH YEAH, moms are good.

Moms help maintain the order in society and they don’t need armies and navies and bullets and bombs; apparently only dads need those kinds of things.  If moms were in charge of everything, there would be no war… but there would be a whole crapload of time-outs and dirty looks.  Most of us appreciate moms, but do we appreciate them enough?  I don’t see how we can.  None of us can appreciate moms as much as moms deserve.

Are there bad moms?  Oh sure there are.  There are tons of really crappy moms who deserve no praise… just as there are super dads who do everything a regular mom does and more.  But overall, in the grand scheme of things, moms deserve this day.  Thank your mom or your kid’s mom or a mom who has influenced you in some way.  The moms we know won’t be around forever, but the lessons they teach and the love they selflessly give shape generations!

Happy Mother’s Day :)

May 08

Air freshener spray.

Where do people use air freshener spray, and why?  Occasionally, I’m sure someone will spray a little Glade in the living room because someone with stinky feet had spent a little too long in that room.  Or maybe they will spray a little Air Wick in the bedroom after a particularly robust bout of bedtime fun.  But really — where do people use air freshener and why?

The vast majority of people buy air freshener to keep in the bathroom to cover up the smell of majorly stinky poopies.

Period.

Fair enough?  Now, air freshener companies are always coming up with new scents.  I guess the lavender and the pine are getting old.  We Americans want our bathrooms to smell of something other than flowers or trees when we make poopie.  Apparently pine and poop may remind of us an explicitly bad camping trip where we had the runs (… or is that just me?), so we need something new to associate with our fecal smells.

But what scents can be sprayed after blowing out the toilet bowl that are acceptable to most Americans?  Glade now offers the following:
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Okay, I guess that kind of makes sense.  Anyone who has brought up a little bundle of joy is familiar with the scent of talcum powder and poop.  It’s kind of the classic dirty-diaper scent, right?  And apparently we don’t have as much of an issue with a poopie smell if we associate it with a cuddly little baby whose poop is even cute, right?  I guess I can see why that scent is available.  The problem that I have is that it’s not a little baby’s poopie scent that is being covered up.  It’s usually Bob in IT who leaves the bathroom in need of some freshening, right?
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bob

Oh Bob... please learn to close the door...

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And we all know that there isn’t a baby reference on the planet that will make anything about Bob’s poop anywhere even close to cute.  So, yeah, the “Powder Fresh” doesn’t really work for me.

Recently at work, someone bought another scent to try to knock down our industrial need for an air freshener.  After all, the place I work is pretty much filled with “Bobs”.  The choice of fragrance we have now really doesn’t work well with an office full of guys who I figure never actually poop at home.  They save it all up to dispense at work, as any visitor can tell by the constant aroma permeating the office air.  And when you have a bunch of tech guys unloading every hour or so, the last thing you want to associate with that nasty smell is:

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Really, Air Wick? What in the hell were you guys thinking...

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Seriously!?!  I may never eat ice cream again…

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