Dear People Who Recreate Iconic Movie Scenes With Legos: never, ever stop.
Dear People Who Recreate Iconic Movie Scenes With Legos: never, ever stop.
I recently saw a list of books you need to read in your twenties. I have read a fair amount of them. Although not in my twenties because some of these books weren't even written back then.
Geez I'm fucking old.
What am I reading right now? The Tao of Pooh by Benjamin Hoff.
I had plucked it off my girlfriend's bookshelf the other day and was immediately taken in by it.
It's a clever premise: to teach the basic principles of taoism through a children's book.
My own attempt at such a thing - to write a children's story with adult themes - was far less successful.
Hoff does a splendid job of profiling the characteristics of the key players from the pessimistic, always bitching Eeyore and the scholarly know-it-all Owl to the always-on-the-go Tigger and the confused, simpled-minded Piglet.
And then there's Pooh, who just is.
Too often, Hoff points out, man does not adhere to the laws of nature. Rather he spends most of his time creating laws that, ironically, go against these basic laws.
Tao, as he points out, is about working in harmony with these laws of nature. Sometimes the path from point A to point B is not a straight line. Some people will change everything and everyone but themselves.
Insert Christianity and same sex marriage here: trying to change something you don't like instead of changing yourself. It is trying to change a law of nature, which you can't do. But you could change yourself and accept the fact that people don't chose their sexual orientation. One should look inside, to oneself, instead of "interfering with practically every form of life on earth."
Pooh, on the other hand, does not judge rather he accepts the idiosyncrysities of his friends and finds a way to turn a negative characteristic into a positive one.
In the Pooh Way, "things happen in the right way at the right time when you let them, when you work with circumstances" instead of Eeyore-atic "this isn't suppose to happen this way."
Back in November I took the plunge and jumped into being a full-time freelancer. This is not to say I am strictly taking writing jobs. Because that would be limiting. That goes against the Pooh Way. Instead, I choose to work jobs that use my skill set to the best of my abilities, in work that is fulfilling, be it caterting, film production or the aforementioned writing. Despite the absence of a steady paycheck, I am far less stressed and quite happy. Regardless of the fact that I have no idea where my next paycheck or job will come from nor when it will be.
By all accounts, I should be going bat-shit crazy.
This book has provided plenty of insight. One thing it has made me realized: I am Pooh.
It also made me realized I have been ignoring my inner Pooh for the better part of 15 years, working against the laws of nature.
Pooh, I am glad you are back my friend.
Now let's go for a walk and listen to the birds sing happy songs... the laundry can wait.
Of the many things I hadn't done since destroying my right knee last year: a barefoot run on the beach. I woke with the intent of doing just that - it was a Saturday, daylight was shining through the apartment's slats, and I needed to get outside. Sun and sea and sweat.
I parked on Grandview and headed down the somewhat treacherous wooden stairs to the shore - it would be worse coming back, of course, inflated calves and stressed arches. There were a few guys in the water. Surprisingly glassy for midday, a slight swell pushing waist-high mush. The shortboarders were frustrated. The longboarders were feeling it. I hadn't surfed for...a year? Must've been that long. The knee, of course. Life. I'd paddle out tomorrow, I decided. Maybe dawn patrol it and grab a coffee after. Maybe spend the whole day in the water, floating, drifting, seeing where the tides take me. Who knew. The reset button had been pressed. The program was recycling. There wasn't an instruction manual. No playbook. These were the things that I'd need to figure out on my own.
Constants. The bones and muscles remembered the dry sand, pads of my feet digging into substrate, pushing me down the shoreline. I don't like to listen to music when I run on the beach; it's as good a place as any to retreat into my head. That morning I had been working with Lucas on some homework - a report he was writing about the snow leopard, and of course I told him that I had a book for him by a guy named Peter Matthiessen, and he probably wouldn't like it now, but wait until you're in high school, dude, you'll love it. I remembered another homework session, the year before, talking about the water cycle. How water goes from Ocean to Sky, turns to rain, falls to the land and runs back down to the ocean. He was so excited to tell me that he knew this, that age when science really does seem like magic. He'd mention it every time we'd come to the beach. I'm sure he'll do it the next time. Constants.
I ran and ran, past Stone Steps, a few miles, there and back again. Sometimes when I run on dry sand I do so with eyes closed. I think that if I do this it'll help my strengthen my ankles; they'll automatically adjust to minute changes in topography, minature dunes on a small desert, shifting below my feet. Shutting my eyes I thought I remembered what I used to look like when I'd do this run back in my 20's, young dumb and full of come, as it were, slight smirk on my face as I passed slower older guys and hurdled over girls lying on towels, yet another shirtless cocky asshole loping down the sands of Pacific Beach. I smiled and remembered a line from that Tennyson poem about Ulysses: though much is taken, much abides. I guess we'll see if you were right, Al.
The stairs back up. I stopped, slightly winded. The surfers were still out there. I thought about jumping in. It looked cold - probably would be a bit chilly, since May had just begun. Half the guys were in wetsuits. Half were trunking it. No way of knowing, really. Just like everything, one supposes. I thought again about the water cycle. Water falls, goes to sea, returns to the sky. A reset. "Do it", I said aloud.
It was cold. But it felt fine.
When I was around 15 or so, I read Orson Scott Card’s masterpiece science fiction novel Ender’s Game. Being a big ol’ sci fi geek from way back, I was predisposed to loving the story of a young boy on a future Earth, recruited by the military to learn how to fight a looming alien invasion. The story was simple and elegant, the writing crisp and vivid, and the book knocked my socks off.
I read it several times. The last time was only about five years ago.
Last year, I read a press release online announcing that Hollywood is finally making an Ender's Game movie. I proceeded to have an immediate nerdgasm.
But shortly after the movie announcement was released to the far corners of the Internet, I started seeing more news stories. The stories focused on Card himself, and the fact that he’s widely known to be a big-time bigot. More specifically, a major homophobe. Many attribute his neo-conservative perspective to the fact that he’s a Mormon (and is in fact the great-great grandson of Brigham Young – fun fact!).
Thanks to the magic of the Internet, several articles and statements have emerged since then, all authored by Card over the years. In a 1990 article, Card postulated about the dangerous “homosexual agenda.” In 2004, Card claimed that gay people are the result of child abuse and molestation, and that gay marriage will never count as "real marriage." And in 2008, he wrote an article for the Mormon Times, arguing that gay marriage will result in the end of American democracy.
There’s more. There's a lot more. Go Googling and see. But that was enough for this sci-fi-fan (and newly out gay guy) to bum hard.
I know how to separate reality from fiction. With a few exceptions (I’m lookin’ at you, Chris Brown and Mel Gibson), I’m usually able to appreciate a piece of entertainment for what it is, without letting my perspective be tainted by a less than savory backstory.
But… I don’t know. This just makes me sad. See, I love Ender's Game. I remember visualizing the main character so clearly: Ender Wiggin, the boy taken away from his family, isolated in interstellar Battle School, and forced to become a genius at the game of war. I already have a copy ready for my daughter to read as soon as I think she might be interested. How do I do this, though? How do I pass along one of my favorite childhood books, knowing that it was authored by someone whose beliefs are truly ugly? We’re not talking about some random novelist crouching in a dim corner of the Geek Literature basement. For many fans, Card is the J.K Rowling of science fiction. What if you found out the creator of your beloved Harry Potter was, let's say, a big racist?
I still think Ender’s Game is an amazing book. And I know my daughter will love it. I also know that if she finds out about Card's homophobic beliefs, she'll refuse to read it. (She’s very protective of her gay dad that way.) Do I tell her about Card? Do I let her enjoy the book for a while and then tell her? In a few years, when I have the urge to pick up the book again myself and reread it, will I even be able to do so?
This may not seem like a big deal to some people. Maybe I should just get over it. But the thing is, I just found out that one of my favorite childhood writers thinks I'm an abomination. And I'm just not sure what to do with that.
P.S. Issues aside, the trailer for the movie isn’t really grabbing me. Check it out and see what you think.
I sacrificed a precious nanosecond to glance backward, to make sure my family was safe behind my feeble one-man barrier. Then I squared up to the charging 20-foot alligator and braced for impact.
Did you know that when alligators charge on land, they can run as fast as race horses over short distances? Think about that while you watch the Kentucky Derby this weekend. Those nags got nothing on Florida's reptilian menace. A healthy female gator would burst out of the gate and dash to the front, stopping only for a quick equine snack on the back stretch. She'd win by 40 lengths (and not only because the horses would bolt the other way; although they would do that, of course).
So, we're outside in the yard watching the tropical birds do their thing at sunset, when all of a sudden, here comes this monster gator out of the retaining pond. All teeth and scales and sharp front claws and lashing tail and crocodilian fury. I lined my family up behind me, grabbed the nearest make-shift weapon (a telescoping golf ball retriever) and whacked that gator into sub ... mission. It ... I ...
No. That's not how it went. It was a bear. And it was in Alaska. And it wasn't me and my family, it was Toby Burke, AKA the Baddest Dad On the Planet. Mr. Burke (to me, he'll always be Mr. Burke) fought off a crazed bear with a telescope and his bare hands to protect his wife and three kids in the wilds of Alaska. He FOUGHT A BEAR WITH HIS BARE HANDS and won.
I'd like to think I'd have that kind of presence of mind if a super-crazed mama gator came at us. I'd like to think that I would be the kind of guy who'd calmly direct my family to line up behind me, don't worry, don't run. I'll protect you from the murderous miniature dinosaur that clearly would like to rip out all of our livers.
I'd like to think that I could be that guy. For one day, Mr. Burke was that guy. Whoever else he might be -- and of course, we don't know -- he was that guy.
Toby Burke, people. Toby. Burke.
Oh, and 3-foot gator in our back yard retaining pond? You're not fooling me with that docile, non-threatening swimming, minding-your-own-gator-business thing you have going on every day.
If you want some of this, you know where to find me.
So someone decided to make a fake Lego Breaking Bad videogame trailer. Meth may be bad, but America is still great.
We'd run through our warmup drills and now it was time to beat the shit out of each other: scrum practice. Josh was running things tonight; he pointed at me. "Jay - flanker, blindside." I nodded. He saw vacancy in my eyes. "Dude, you volunteered for this. Wake up."
I blinked. Focus. Get your mind here, now, or you'll end up in the hospital. I had indeed volunteered to play flanker; my tertiary position, after outside center and inside center, respectively. The flankers are the ball hounds in the scrum - when the ball comes out, they're the first to peel off, looking for someone to hit. Between the weeks of practice and a commitment to not eat like shit, I'd dropped some 20 pounds since the beginning of the year. I felt lighter on my feet, which served me well as a back - I needed to be quick. Flankers need to be solid - not necessarily big, but strong. I looked over at my opposite number. Those 20 pounds I'd lost, he had apparently found. The pack bound up, Josh yelled "Crouch, touch, ENGAGE", everyone surged forward and slammed into each other. Flankers are the outside men in the scrum. I knew in theory what my positional responsibilities were: come off the scrum as soon as the ball comes out, go after the guy with the ball if we were defending, run in support and get into the rucks if we were on the attack. In rugby reality, everything goes to hell as soon as the ball is in play. My shoulder, buried in the ass cheek of the prop in front of me, felt like it was going to pop out of its socket. The ball came out, I peeled off. We were defending. My opposite took a pass, I lowered my shoulder and charged into him, I bounced off, and got my left hand stomped on as he ran through me. Of course he was one of two guys wearing standard rugby shoes, with the long aluminum cleats. Of course.
We ended up at Grubby's, as we'd done following the past couple of Sunday night practices. The pinky and ring finger on my left hand were starting to balloon up. I could move them, which was a good sign; not very much, which was bad. I picked a bar stool and ordered a stout. Graydon, my big South African teammate, an affable outgoing guy I'd known for a couple of years as a fellow coach on our boys' rugby team, sat down next to me. "How's it going?", I asked. He looked at me, despondent. "Not good, mate. Janice and I are separating. Getting a divorce." There were about a hundred things I wanted to say. I had only just started telling people about my separation, a few close friends, my parents. Instead, I just held up my throbbing left hand. He saw what wasn't on it. "Oh, shit, mate. Yeah?" I nodded. "Yeah."
We joined a couple of the guys in the back, tearing into burritos. One, Bryan, had been divorced for a few years. The three of us talked, a veteran and two rookies. There was no discussion of reasons, of whys, of pasts, of details. Just of what would come next, and the kids. Always the kids.
It got late. Bryan gave me a bone-crunching handshake (the right hand, thank God) and a pat on the back; Graydon pulled me into a bearhug. We were now teammates of a different sort. I walked to the car, climbed in, winced as I gripped the wheel. It hurt like a motherfucker. Everything did. I'd have to play through it.
DadCentric. Dad by gum Centric.
Dad mudda fuggin Centric?
How did I get in here? More to the point: How did I get in here?
Well, I'll tell you. It started in a bar. (I've read through almost every post on this site, and 67 percent of them start or end in a bar. Perfect.)
This particular bar was at a particular hotel in Houston in late January. Happy hour at the Dad 2.0 Summit: where dreams come true.
In the half-light of this Houston hotel bar, over the rim of my glass of JD on the rocks, I saw Jason Avant, the Snake Plissken of dad bloggers. I walked right up to him like I was somebody, holding out my hand for him to shake. Or bite. Whatever. It was my first blogger conference. I was up for anything.
"Jason? Good to finally meet you in person," I said. "I love your blog."
"Who the hell are you?" he said.
It was the beginning of a beautiful friendship.
Now ... what? I'm here, and I'm pretty happy about that. This is, after all (as you can read right there on Beta Dad's home page), the "coolest frat at Daddyblogger State." It's also the first place I gravitated toward when I started my parenting blog, DadScribe, in February of 2012. This was the place where the writers were. And are.
I've been waiting, watching, hoping someone (Whit? Ron? Kevin? Jason S? Anyone?) would post something more substantial than this ... whatever it is ... in the wake of TwoBusy's brilliant essay/poem/work of art about the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombings. Really? My first appearance here is to follow that act?
It dawned on me (slowly, as most things do) that no matter when I posted my intro piece, it would be following some poignant prose poem, or funny screed on food, or cool photo essay about a trip to D.C., or a thought piece about loss or grief or the plight of humanity.
I couldn't win, so here we are: Hi, DadCentric. I'm Carter. I'm a former sportswriter. I'm not Canadian, contrary to popular belief. Not that there's anything wrong with that. I'm married with two sons, and I hold down a full-time job with an Internet marketing agency in Tampa. I didn't actually have anything to do with the Cubs failing to get into the 2003 World Series, but I was in the Wrigley Field press box at the time. I also didn't actually open a roadside tombstone business in Key West after I was downsized out of newspapers in 2008 -- but I should have. My family actually does live in Florida, but not in the swamps outside of Micanopy. I've been part of this big, beautiful blogging community for a little more than a year, and I've enjoyed it so far. A lot.
So, thanks, Dad ever lovin Centric. Thanks for having me. I'll try not to wreck the place too much.
"It's like fireworks," she said. A bright, sharp pop and crackle echoed through the night. Then another, and another. Her eyes, her sister's eyes, broad and open and wholly focused on the screen, waiting for the burst of glittering, shimmering lights that seven years had taught them always accompanied these sounds — that moment of pure, shuddering wonder when great streams of sudden, glorious color would fill the sky and give proof to the promise of magic.
But we knew. We knew. And for a moment, as we paused and breathed deep, we allowed that illusion to live: that this was a world of fireworks, of vivid dreams of twisting rainbows falling like rain through soft darkness. And then there were more - whipcrack echoes, whistling through the air, clear and unmistakable even through the filter of a dozen miles and a shifting camera struggling for focus, bringing us to the edge of the moment as it unfolded across the screen - and the time for illusion was gone. "No, sweetie," my wife said gently. "Those are gunshots."
It had been two hours since we'd willfully walled off the world, coccooning ourselves in the quiet, simple solace of dinner and a movie at home. Two hours of losing ourselves in another place and another time: another set of men and women frantically racing against the clock and the odds and the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, taking arms against a sea of troubles as if, by opposing, they might bring them to a just and righteous end. After such a long and strange day, with the city and surrounding towns locked down and immobilized, the crawl of updates telling us minute-by-minute of the frantic search weaving its way through Watertown and Cambridge, along the banks of the warming Charles and across to Allston and Brighton and beyond, the frenzied rush of cruisers and squad cars and busloads of officers plated in thick armor and bright weaponry, and the copters circling overhead and the wait, stretching impossibly far across the bridge of hours — the opportunity to escape into film was irresistible: to gaze through the looking glass into a dream of life where heroics inspire, resolution is possible and villainy...