Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Writing vs. Crap

Remember the scene in Swingers when Jon Favreau's character, Mikey, meets the girls in Vegas? One of them works at the MGM Grand in a show, and says, "I'm a Dorothy." Mikey responds quickly with "Well, we're not in Kansas anymore!" It's perhaps the lamest joke ever because it's so unbelievable obvious it's been overdone to the point that if it were a biscuit you could use it as a hockey puck. Mikey does the same thing when he meets Lorraine, and immediately after she introduces herself, he replies, "Like the quiche." Same problem; over-used joke that is no longer funny.

Think there's a reason "why did the chicken cross the road" isn't used anymore? You guessed it.
Which brings me to my topic of the day: books for new Dads. To put it bluntly, for the most part they suck donkey turds. They are written mostly by "normal guy" dads which is supposed to make them more accessible to other normal guy dads. But along the path from idea to publication to entry into your local bookstore, no one stopped to ask if these guys could actually write!

I've seen books written like "outdoorsy" instruction manuals, books that utilize sports terminology, and books that try to throw in jokes around clinically boring info dumps. All of these books are written by "Average Joes." The publishers probably thought that a regular dude would have more credibility with their targeted demographic, but as any writing teacher will tell you, most people aren't good writers. It takes more than just throwing around "guy" words from sports, tools, or camping. Just because you as a writer call passing off a dirty diaper to your wife "illegal procedure" or a "flagrant foul" doesn't mean guys are going to enjoy reading your book, nor does it mean it's well-written.

Oh, and that brings up another pet peeve of mine when it comes to these books. I know funny. Doesn't mean I always write funny, but I do know funny. And throwing in all-new cute names for a dirty diaper every other page like "Mr. Stinky" and "Poo-pourri" doesn't make you funny. It makes you a dork. A large dork. Is poop funny? Abso-freaking-lutely it is! But inserting "poop monster" into a normal sentense doesn't make it funny. It makes it sad. Poop is funny in situations the same as everything else. Case in point: a street sign isn't funny no matter how many phallic names you give in a regular sentence like "The street schlong said we were on Main Street." However, if it's inserted into a situation like the outstanding TruCredit "Investigative Reporter Chuck Storm" commercial; it becomes hysterically funny.

The writing counts, people. The quality counts. If you're going to write a how-to book, that's great. But don't disguise it as a comedy book. And something that I didn't touch on, but just want to mention briefly in closing... men are not as stupid as you make us out to be. Just because a book is marketed to men doesn't mean the writing should be substandard. I'm just saying.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Leaving... On a Jet Plane

Well, not really. But I am leaving on a big school bus tomorrow morning for my first extended trip away from The Son. Our football team is going to a team camp at the University of Central Florida and we'll be gone from Thursday morning until Saturday night. I haven't spent more than a day away from The Son since he's been born. This sucks.

The Wife will be of course holding down the fort, but the worst part is we've got friends coming into town. It's The Wife's godmother and her husband. They are a lot of fun, and she should have a great time. At least someone will be there with her. Oh, and of course, Mr. 9mm will be there as well, which makes me feel a lot better.

More blogging when I get back.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Kick Back and Let the Big Dog Eat

The Wife and I did something that to my reckoning is an absolute necessity for parents in today's world: we joined Netflix. Of course, The Wife, in typical The Wife fashion, can't say the word "Netflix" so it comes out "Netflex." And if you think I'm not taking every opportunity to poke fun at her because of that... well, then to paraphrase Bugs Bunny, "You don't know me very well, do you?"

Here's the movies we put on our queue (side note: Where did The Wife get her talent of mispronouncing everything? From her mother of course, who says "that movie is next in my quay") since AJ is only 10 weeks old and unable to comprehend the spoken word:

Tin Cup: If you like this movie then no explanation is needed. If you haven't seen it, add it to your queue. If you don't like this movie, well, then "this one's for Venturi up in the booth who thinks I should lay up."

Gentlemen Prefer Blondes: The Wife picked this one because she likes old movies (nope, I didn't know this when I met, proposed or married her... but it would have only made her more attractive as you'll see), and because she likes Marilyn Monroe. I seconded this pick because I'd like to return to the days when big boobs and curves made a woman pretty, and bones poking through skin made a woman dead.

Fireproof: We both liked Facing the Giants and since the same bunch made this one, it's on the list. Plus, I've gotten too many good reviews from other married couples.

Gran Torino: "Get off my lawn." Eastwood at his menacing whisper best, plus at something like 80 years old, he kicks the crap out of a street gang. I think it would be a bad idea for any of us to miss this one. And we wouldn't want to make anyone's day would we?

Blade Runner: Duh, best Sci-Fi movie ever made. Harrison Ford, before he became an ear-ring-wearing-pansy, stars as Deckard, his third-best role behind Indy and Solo. With the added bonus that, in 1982, Sean Young was a hottie.

Hancock and The Prestige: What can I say, I like superhero and magician movies.

The Maltese Falcon and The Big Sleep: See, in the writing world we call this a "pay off." Told ya I'd come back to the classic movies. Dashiel Hammett (Falcon) and Raymond Chandler (Sleep) practically invented the private detective story and noir. Thomas Magnum, Columbo, Harry Bosch, Spenser, Elvis Cole, and to a degree, even Bruce Wayne aka Batman owe their very existence to the best of the best: Sam Spade and Phillip Marlowe.

Oh, sure, once The Son gets a little older, we're gonna put all the Disney, Pixar, Disney-Pixar, and kiddie movies in the quay. But for now, we've got to watch all those movies we missed when The Wife was a throwing-up-everyday, waddling-down-the-street, adorable, pregnant mess.

If you have other suggestions, please, by all means leave comments.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Things I Learned This Week

These are the things I learned this week off from blogging:

- My mother and step-father love my son, to the point that they actively want to hold him even when he projectile poops all over them.

- Breast milk does not taste good.

- My dog loves me, The Wife and our son but he loves pooping on the floor more.

- Scarlett Johansson's boobs and butt are not enough to make He's Just Not That Into You worth your time. Although it will reconfirm your belief that all women in movies are nuts.

- Churches have yet to figure out that if you turn your air conditioner on in the summer, more people will come.

- There's not enough pleading, begging, crying, wailing or gnashing of teeth in the world to make a baby stop crying; however letting him sleep on your chest is a miracle cure.

- Turner & Hooch is just as funny today as it was 20 years ago when it came out.

- The only thing that comes close on the pain scale to being racked in the nads for a guy is having the hair right around your nipple ripped out by your 9-week old son.

- I felt old after learning that it's been 20-freaking years since Tom Hanks made every parent in America hate him because he made every kid in America want a dog that looked like it swallowed a tennis shoe.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Baptism Break

My son's baptism is this Sunday, and a whole lot of family is coming into town starting tomorrow. So, don't expect a new update until maybe Monday. I'll give you all the highlights of course.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Babysitting and practice

I had the opportunity to babysit The Son today all by my lonesome. That is unless you counted my 5-year old nephew. Who decided he wanted to play "gun fight" while The Son was feeding, then decided that he wanted to watch Twilight instead of anything else in the world. And then wanted to play "gun fight" while The Son was asleep on my chest.

I also had the first day of summer workouts with the football team today. I didn't change before I went to the gym for conditioning, and failed to notice that The Son had left a little present on my shirt. Our defensive coordinator, who we call Coach Boom, didn't fail to notice.

The guys were about five-suicides into running (oh wait, you can't call them suicides anymore, can you? how about we call them "run until want to die"?) when Coach Boom decided to encourage them to run the last one with everything they had in them. He yelled at the top of his lungs, " Do you see Coach over there? He's got puke all over his shirt, and you're gonna keep running until somebody else has puke on their shirt!!!"

Yep, I love being a Daddy.

Friday, June 5, 2009


Some things I want for, and to do with, my son:

- I want him to enjoy reading as much, or more, than I do.

- I want him to love his country as much as I do.

- I want him to love the absolute joy of watching Rocky, and know that while all the Rocky movies are great, Rocky V never happened.

- I want to watch all the Star Trek movies with him, and for him to see the awesomeness of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, the utter stupidity of Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, the coolness of Star Trek: First Contact, and the genius that is J.J. Abrams's Star Trek.

- I want him to love sports for the right reasons like the feeling I got watching Ole Miss beat Florida live, and even the gut-wrenching sadness of something like "The Fumble."

- I want him to appreciate history, and how it is can be a roadmap for the life laid out before him.

- I want to watch all six Star Wars movies with my son, but exactly how they came out: 4, 5, 6, 1, 2, 3.

- I want him to understand what it feels like to not start for a team, and to know what it takes to get on the starting team.

- I want him to see one of his teams win a championship. I hope it's also one of my teams.

- I want him to learn how to put a worm on a hook, and take a fish off a hook.

- I want him to know how to tie a tie, change a tire, check the oil, and be the friend that will be the DD on occasion when he gets older.

- I want my son to love to learn, just like I do.

- Mostly I want my son to know he is loved.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

My Kid is Better Than Your Kid

Sometimes, a kid is just a kid.

Sports Illustrated is going for broke with its latest cover, proclaiming 16-year old Bryce Harper the greatest baseball player of all time. Practically anyway. They are talking about him hitting 570-foot home runs, throwing 96-mile per hour fastballs, and being fast enough to score on a wild pitch from second base. All those feats are impressive, but, Bryce is 16 freaking years old!

This of course brings up a discussion that as dads we avoid like the plague. Sure, we all have stories of runaway parents at our Little League games. Like the dad who threatened to slash the umpire's tires after calling his kid out at the plate. Or the dad who spent the entire third, fourth, fifth, and sixth inning of a game cussing, muttering and berating his kid for a called taking strike three with the bases loaded in the second. Or the dad who pushed his own son's coach because the poor guy took the dad's son out of the game.

All those stories are true, and from my one summer umpiring 9- and 10-year old baseball. No, I didn't get my tires slashed. But I did get cussed at more that summer than during Basic Training in the military. At least at Basic I knew the Drill Instructor was cussing me for my benefit. All the dads that summer, and every dad who has crossed the line during his kid's game, did was embarrass himself and his family. It is a kids league, guys, with kids playing. No money is at stake, and the trophy is made of plastic. Should there be a winner and a league champ? Absolutely, because that teaches kids that there is a reward for success. But should the way we act also teach our kids something? You're darn right.

Which brings us back to Bryce Harper. SI is doing what too many dads do. J.D. McCoy's dad did it on this past season of "Friday Night Lights." Because we dads couldn't make it as pro sports stars, we try to force our sons and daughters to do it for us. And we forget that our first job is to raise our children in love. That means letting them decide how much they want to pursue sports, or music, or theater, or basket weaving if that's what they want to do. It also means not putting undue pressure on them to succeed.

SI should be ashamed for putting this much on a 16-year old's shoulders. Will he be the next Babe Ruth? I have no clue. How's about we give him time to figure that one out for himself?

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Quick hitters

On a day when not much happened baby wise, some quick hitters for your consideration and rumination:

- Babies probably grab people's attention more than anything else on the planet except a) anything remotely close to boobs for men and b) a shoe sale for women.

- "Boom, Boom, Pow" by the Black-Eyed Peas is K's new favorite song; it also doubles as the one song right now that might make me drive into a telephone pole.

- My baby went into the pool for the first time today. Sure, only his feet got wet and the bathing suit was about eight sizes too big for him, but a lifetime of wrinkled-up fingers, being told to"stop running!" and skinny dipping is finally underway. I'll admit, I got a little verklempt.

- My mother-in-law deeply cares for my son, which is outstanding. But she has taken to expressing that care by literally freaking out everytime The Son is passed from one person to another, or placed into his swing or carrier. I'm talking a hand-waving, "every person has the coordination of a crash-test dummy," panic-attack spasm. This makes me smile, only because I know she cares so much.

- I lied, I also think it's pretty darn funny to watch.

- "Boom, Boom, Pow" is the number one song in the nation; I just looked it up. Also, my wife spends about 75% of her time in her car searching for the song on every station in the listening area. And at the same time, I'm wistfully looking at telephone poles.

- The Wife, The Son, The Dog and I are currently living with my in-laws, so already there's six of us in the house. Yesterday, one of my sisters-in-law showed up with her three kids and their 130-pound St. Bernard. 11 in the house, including two dogs and a baby. Screw Calgon, get me a beer.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Raising a Culture of Wimps

Our babies are growing up in a world where they'll be forced to apologize for anything and everything they do. And let me be bluntly honest here, most of the stuff they'll have to apologize for will be absolutely correct!

In the last decade there's been a rash of political correctness that's forced untold numbers of people in the public eye to apologize for stuff they said or did. Examples include, but aren't limited to Clay Aiken expressing his opinion on "American Idol" finalist Adam Lambert, David Feherty after his joke about Senator Harry Reid and Representative Nancy Pelosi, and even a zoo in London after a gorilla farted in front of patrons. This has got to stop, for our babies' sake.

First off, David Feherty's joke was absolutely on point, because it expressed the opinion of many US service members (and yes I used to be one, and since I have friends still in uniform, I think I'm authority enough to speak on it). Are we not allowed to have opinions anymore? Clay Aiken, who I'm not a big fan of, did the same thing. He gave the readers of his blog his opinion of Adam's singing. Apparently we are not on notice that having an opinion that is not popular in the media can get you in trouble. Are we living in 1984 and no one told me?

Opinions are not facts, but if your opinion is backed up with facts, then it is a valid one. I'm teaching my son that as soon as he can learn it. And if you opinion isn't popular, but you have facts to back it up, hold fast to it. That is the measure of character.

Oh, and if you need to let a fart out in a zoo, LET. IT. GO! They happen, people. Get over it.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Baby Race

Who cares whose baby develops faster? Why do parents try to one up each other so much with what their little puddin' has done before the "expected time"? Shouldn't we just be happy that our babies are developing at their own pace and leave the competition out of it? Who cares if their baby is better than the guy down the street's child?

I'll tell you who... me! Life is unfair, it rewards winners with tremendous perks and punishes losers severely. Yes, I know that things like whose baby can hold their head up the longest is a stupid competition, but hey, all these kids will be competing for what seems like a rapidly deteriorating job market someday soon, so why not start the lessons now? I'm a dad, and I love sports and competition. I think that I should teach my son to love it as well. If he doesn't love it, he'll shrink from it and I definitely don't want that.

When did competition become an ugly word in our society, especially when it comes to children? I read stories about towns where every Little League team in town got the same size trophy no matter where they finished in the league standings. Or how about the one where the coaches, refs and parents all decided to not keep score in the kid basketball league? That's just, to paraphrase Dr. Evil, re-damn-diculous!

So let's do it! The Son's six and a half weeks, and on the "holding his head up" thing we're at a minute and counting. In the words of The Rock... "Just bring it!"