Archive for December, 2013

sons_of_anarchy_promoHoly shit!  People worry about drugs , alcohol and smoking because of it’s addictive demands.  Many people do not realize that technology can also be addicting and bad for your health.  For the past two nights I have been awake until approx 3am watching Sons of Anarchy (SOA) on my IPAD.  A friend of mine loaned me season 1 on DVD just before Christmas.  I blew through those episodes in a couple of nights, watching on my laptop while my Wife watched whatever she watches on TV.

After Season 1 I needed more..and I needed it FAST.  I threatened my friends and family that if they didn’t get it for me for Christmas I would tell all their kids the truth about Santa… well, that didn’t work.  I thought I would just go out and buy season 2… until I saw how the crooks wanted me to pay $50+ for a God damned TV series that would not have cost me anything if I was on the ball a few years ago.  Then I remembered Netflix.  I asked my friends if they could confirm that SOA was there.. and it was.. EUREKA!  One of my buddies broke my balls a bit because its only $8 a month for a subscription.  The cost isn’t the factor for me.. I just didn’t realize how far along it’s come since the shipping of DVDs years back.  I even thought you needed a game console to work it.. but boy was I wrong.. it’s been my savior.  I am 2/3 of the way through Season 2 now and I have watched them all exclusively on my IPAD.. WIN!

sons

Now.. about the Sons of Anarchy franchise… Kurt Sutter is the creator of the show..and he’s nothing short of a television genius.  As a matter of fact, I didn’t realize until just now as I write this and research at the same time, he plays the role of Otto and now I like that character even more.  I first heard of Kurt and started making all the appropriate connections when caught him on Howard Stern.  At that time I had not been watching SOA.. only saw a few episodes here and there, but I almost immediately became interested in him.  He was a great interview and had a great story.  I reccomend you check out the interview if you can (I hyperlinked a youtube clip to “howard stern” above).

If any of my readers have not yet been exposed or even only to a limited degree to the SOA.. I’ll give you a few highlights based on what I know so far..

First off.. it’s on FX.  This should tell you right away that it’s going to be edgier than a normal network television show.  FX has put out some really good TV series over the years.. anyone watch or know about Rescue Me, Justified, American Horror Story, The Shield & Nip Tuck?  All of these are fantastic and well worth the time if you are a TV buff.  They usually do not skimp on paying for quality actors and they do not shy away from gritty material.  So far I have heard words like tits, pussy, shit, prick, dick and they are just the ones I can recall.  Funny references to things you would hear in a locker room.. like one scene where Jax (the show’s protagonist) is laying on a blanket with his girlfriend..she says she is having a craving for a steak and he says.. “I have your T-bone right here” .. or something like that.  Not only that, every FX series I have watched thus far has gratuitus nudity and sex scenes that are only a few shades off from an R rated movie.

Ok..so enough about the childish cool stuff .. What is the show about?  I am only 1 and 1/2 seasons in.. so what I know most avid viewers have already forgotten.. but you have a Harley motorcycle club that is operating out of a fictional town in California called Charming.  The simplest way for me to describe the show is to tell you to think of the Sopranos but in the genre of a Motorcycle gang.  Their main business is illegal gun trade and they spend an absorbonant amount of time trying to keep the town of Charming under their thumb.  They constantly have to battle with rival gangs (Latinos – the Myans, Blacks – One Niners, White supremacists – Nords, Chinese Mafia and even the Irish – IRA).

When I first started watching and I saw that Ron Perlman (Clay Morrow) was one of the leads.. I think that is what threw me off.  I was never a fan of his.  I couldn’t see him in this role and just thought it would suck.  However, now that I came back and really “watched” the show.. I have to admit he does a fantastic job.  He really makes you hate him when you should and I find myself feeling sorry for him at times too.  Even Charlie Hunnam who plays Jax, does a great job.  When I first saw him walking through the scene with that goofy strut that he has.. I didn’t have high hopes..but again, the guy wins you over just like the old man Clay.

Probably the biggest surprise for me so far is Gemma played by Katey Segal.  All I knew her from was Married with Children..and I would never have expected her to succeed in a role like this.  In just one season I went form hating her to actually liking her and rooting for her.. and Im just getting started.  The rest of the cast will have me writing forever..so I’ll leave you at this point.  I strongly encourage anyone that is not sure about the show.. go spend a few mins on their official website (linked above) and also check them out on Wikipedia.. they write up is pretty good as far as I can tell.

funny-Netflix-guy-comic-next-episode

Just be warned.. if you find yourself liking the show.. there is a Netflix/SOA marathon in your future.. you might find yourself like me.. clicking “go” on “just one more episode”.. before you know it.. your battery indicator on your IPAD will be bitching at you telling you it’s about to crap out and your clock will be telling you to go to bed… and even though I can hardly keep my eyes open, I still find myself pissed off that I don’t have enough juice for the next one.

Zombie mode… ON

frozenWent to see the movie Frozen with my 8 year old daughter, my 4 year old son and my Mom.

I was hoping it would be a great family movie but I was kind of disappointed because it was more girly than some of the last few Disney movies we went to see.

Me and the boy need to go watch an episode of Sons of Anarchy to get our manhood back.

The movie theater was JAM PACKED too.. but what should I have expected for a rainy Saturday.  We got there plenty early to scope out a nice mid-row set of seats.. and I had everyone perfectly spaced out so that we had a nice spacer between families until the large fat guy in his rugby shirt shows up 5 mins into the previews and messes that all up.

Now that I was annoyed.. he had to throw fuel on the fire as he turned around to scold the child behind him for kicking his seat.. he proceeded to turn around and bark at the kid a few more times.. I was soo close to grabbing him by the Popcorn shovel he called a arm and reminding him he’s at a children’s movie.. and please Chill the fuck out!  But.. he finally settled in and we were able to watch.

Ok.. back to the movie..

The movie was really put together well.. there was plenty to look at in typical Disney fashion.. but OMG the singing!!  My daughter and Mom liked it.. but about 10 mins in.. the boy was moaning “I want to go home”.  He and I should have snuck out to go watch The Wolf of Wall Street.

What would one of my stories be without at least one more gripe about the general public?  Maybe you guys can help me out.. what happened to the everyday common decency that people used to exude when interacting with other humans?  Like holding doors for instance?  I have two small kids and a 70 year old woman in my crew.  As we are exiting the building, I am juggling an umbrella, a 4 year old and the buttoning of jackets.. I’m holding doors for people yet not ONE, but TWO women in front of us let the double doors slam on us.

I think they were just living in their own bubble because they didn’t even hear me when I said (rather loud) “Why don’t people hold doors anymore!”  I think the holidays also sap peoples driving in parking lot etiquette as well.  Once again, when you see a family herd crossing over to another section of the parking lot YOU ARE SUPPOSED TO STOP!  Those big white blocks crossing the road are there for a REASON!!!  My toe still hurts from kicking the woman’s back tire.. I think I almost made her drop her IPHONE though.. it’s the small victories that keep me going.

Oh well.. you win some and lose some as a movie going Dad.. I’ll make it up to my son and take him to see the LEGO movie that is coming out soon .. and I’ll be sure to kick the doors open so I don’t have to count on common decency next time.

sickdog

Here I sit…. Eleven days before Christmas and I am getting ready for my second Doctor appointment in so many weeks.  My whole house seems to be like an infirmary.  Three kids in various states of sickness, two grandparents fighting off colds and ME.

My wife as thus far been spared.  Anyone coming to the house needs a HAZMAT suit to survive and Oh, Look.. it’s Snowing… again.

I am usually not a good patient.  When I get sick, I actually get pissed when it doesn’t go away in 24 hours.  This time around I had a really bad sore throat.  Haven’t had that shit since I was a kid.. WTF?!  That was followed by some serious head cold that moved to my chest and now my God Damned eyes are puffy and red.  Last night I wore my sneakers to bed.  I tied the laces together, for fear that I might die and come back as a Zombie ..  I wanted to give the kids a chance to escape.

Anyway, on my drive to work the other day I was driving with my knees so I could blow my nose.  While doing this I got to thinking that I need to change my view of being sick like this.  Coughing and sneezing, blowing your nose, wiping your eyes, feeling a little achy or whatever is NOTHING compared to having surgery to have Cancer removed and then enduring months of Chemotherapy.

The moral of this little story is that someone somewhere always has it worse.  If I can’t endure a stupid head/chest cold how the hell am I going to handle old age?

Everyone in my age group now knows someone that either has Cancer, had it or died from it.  Many of us know someone that either has kids with a severe illness or some of us have even lost children.  Before you retire to the couch pissed off at the world with your sniffles and coughing .. remind yourself that someone has been through worse or is enduring the impossible right now.. and maybe it will give you strength.

It did for me.

12-4-2013 12-03-28 AM

A friend of mine recently told me that they don’t get what all the Christmas “hub-bub” is about.  This was a brief conversation as it took place on Facebook and not in real life where I could ask questions and truly debate the subject.

I got to thinking.. to me, it’s plainly obvious.  But then again, I know how I was raised and I can’t speak for my friend as we didn’t know each other as kids.  I don’t believe that I can write a tome about the wonders of Christmas hub-bub (I am most certainly not qualified).  I don’t believe for a second that I am the authority on the subject.  However, if my friend is sincere and really wants to understand.. I will take a stab at it with a few examples and then maybe add to it over the next couple of weeks.

Maybe others are not quite sure themselves or maybe they just need a reminder.

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As a kid, I recall the months leading up to Christmas where I would look at the JC Penny or Sears catalog and circle all the cool things I wanted for Christmas, with the stark expectation that I would get most of them.

I can also recall the anticipation of time off from school and family parties and Christmas lights..etc.  I have vivid memories of waking up early, peeking downstairs and seeing all the presents under the tree and then hauling ass back upstairs to wake up mom and dad so we could get to work!

Those.. were some of my childhood memories.

I must admit that as I got older the luster of Christmas (talking strictly of the commercial side now) had worn off a bit.  Getting gifts did not have the same allure because I became distinctly aware of Santa’s more complex relationship with adults.  For me, giving that well thought out gift for that special person was more rewarding then getting a gift myself.

Don’t get me wrong, I still loved the Holiday season and looked forward too it.. getting a tree and seeing the lights and even hearing Christmas music still brought warmth to an aging soul.  But,  for the most part I realized that the real wonder of Christmas was for the kids.

It wasn’t until my wife and I had children of our own that the spirit of Christmas began to spark again for me.  Seeing the season through the eyes of a child is truly a wondrous thing to experience and I highly recommend it to anyone willing to partake.

Now keep in mind, my kids are young.. my oldest is not even into double digits.. so my kids are still experiencing things for the first time and then re-learning them with each new year.  I am sure I can re-write this piece over and over in the years to come and continue to add new stuff.  But every parent will be able to relate to at least one of the things I will describe next.

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12-4-2013 12-25-41 AM

First, do not.. I repeat do NOT underestimate the power of guilt during the month of December (and sometimes November if you start early).  Kids at a very early age will learn to appreciate the threat of coal vs gifts for being good.  It seems almost comical that this works year after year even though no coal is ever actually received (at least not as the ONLY gift).  For whatever reason, it works and I have fun with it.  In my house we don’t threaten to tell Santa himself.. I have my kids believing that I have a direct line to Santa’s Elf Director – Milton.  I even have his number programmed into my phone and will make phone calls when the circumstance calls for it.  It’s so much fun and it keeps me sharp for my day job, because dealing with adults is often times not much different.

12-4-2013 12-19-33 AM

Second, getting a tree.. truly one of the most amazing and fun experiences for me as a Dad.  We don’t just go to a tree stand and buy one.  My family and I head out to a local tree farm and we cut our own.  Every year, on the coldest day of December (it just seems to work out this way) we head out to the farm.  We jump into a horse or tractor drawn wagon and trek out to the field of trees.  We have done this with a baby wrapped up in a baby Bjorn, we have done this with one barely walking AND a baby in a Bjorn and we have now done it with three kids of various stages of clumsy abilities.

The search for the perfect tree is sometimes more arduous than fun.  My wife is very picky as to what her vision of perfect is.  Like any good husband I know better than to have an opinion so I just follow like a zombie until we find said perfection.  Many times, it’s at the farthest reaches of the field ..but hey, it’s Christmas!  I may bitch about it a little bit, but don’t tell my wife.. I still love it!

In all seriousness though, it has been well worth it.. we head back to the Tree HQ and get a cup of hot chocolate or cider while we wait for the tree to be bound.  The place we go to has farm animals the kids can go see and a great gift shop.  The upstairs has a beautiful train set all done up nice and my sons can sit there and gawk forever if you let them.

child-praying

Finally, I’d like to share a slightly more personal experience that just happened this year.  My wife has been doing a fantastic job of bringing Christ back into Christmas in our home.  Two of my kids are at an age now where they can appreciate Jesus’ birthday and what it means to celebrate this beautiful time as a Christian.  Unbeknownst to me, my family had decorated an advent calendar.  Each day in December has a little drawer and in each drawer is a single piece of paper.  Not a treat or a toy.. a piece of paper.  On this paper is a name.. and that person is the lucky one that gets an extra prayer said for them that night.

Just the other night, we said our bedtime prayers and one of my kids pulls out the name for that day. The name he pulled was “Max”.  Max is the name of our second born son whom is no longer with us.  We pray for him and his twin brother every night but that night he got an extra prayer.

Another nightly tradition for us is to ask each of our kids what was the best part of their day.  My youngest (2 years old) said what he’s been saying  every night for the past week or so … “Mom mom and Pop pop coming…”  Keep in mind, they have been with us since mid-November.. but hey, he’s 2 and loves his grandparents..

My oldest wasn’t sure.. “School I guess” was her answer..

Then we turn to my middle boy.. and we were truly surprised by his answer.  Keep in mind, this little dude is only 4 years old.  Not old enough to be a kiss ass and say the “right thing” looking for praise.  He says, “When we said the extra prayer for Max”.

This is truly a beautiful thing.  He never knew his twin brothers.  Only my wife and I had enough time to bond with them and that was for a very short time.  They only know that they have two little angels that watch over them every day.  It truly amazed me that this little boy had a well thought out and very sincere answer to a question that he could have answered a thousand other ways.

To me.. this is an absolutely perfect example of what the Christmas hub-bub is about.  Without Christmas and without my wife and I trying to build traditions for the holiday that will last a lifetime, there would be no extra prayer that night and there would be no reason for our son to touch our hearts the way he did.

Merry Christmas