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Thursday, May 29, 2014

Parenting 101- Is this a pass or fail course?

Good Parent or Bad?  Both??

So it occurs to me we (parents) know too much.  And they (kids) don't know shit.

Groundbreaking, right?

That is, we now have to be cyber sleuths.  Over the past few months my household has been immersed in internet and social media tutorials.  We have to learn what oovoo is.  We have to follow everyone on Instagram.  Worst of all we have to learn the intricacies that are Snapchat.  Images "disappear" after a few seconds?  Could this site be used for anything but evil?  How many genitalia shots can possibly exist in that data base???

There are countless other outlets where kids are "connecting" nowadays.  And before my middle schooler ends high school there are certain to me several more.

This, in addition to the most sinister of all outlets, texting.

A few weeks ago we intercepted some graphic texts intended for our little one.  It was a nauseating, repulsive, and altogether enlightening lesson for everyone.

First, it is now ON.  Well, it was before.  But now for real.

"Do you know what this means?  Do you know what your body is capable of?  Do you know boys are evil?"

All of this and more.

But, does that mean the phone gets taken away?  Does it mean I have to engage the parents of the culprit?  The youth himself?  Should school be involved?  Police?

Um, no.

Kids will make mistakes.  Kids have been making mistakes forever.

What would my generation have done with cell phones?  I shutter to think of some of the nonsense I did at 13 WITHOUT technology.

But I made it home for dinner at 5... and bedtime whenever that was.  My work was (mostly) done.  My rap sheet was (relatively) clean.  My parents were none the wiser.

I was able to look an adult in the eye and say "Yes please" and "Thank you Mr. Smith."

Don't get me wrong, it was a good thing we uncovered the texts.  If nothing else we can better parent OUR kid.

But it is not my responsibility to parent every one else's.  We can only hope our child navigates the would be prep school date rapists and other miscreants.  Our tutorial has started sooner rather than later, but such is life.

The question is, how much monitoring should we do?  Is it more helpful or harmful to be so engaged?

At some point our kids will have to navigate the waters and make mistakes.  Let's be honest, we all did the same shit they are doing- just without smart phones.

Recent data suggests teen pregnancy and abortion are at all time lows.    Does this tell us kids are capable of governing themselves?  Or do we all take credit for scaring the holy hell out of them with our constant hovering?

However you want to keep score, the fact is they may not need our interference.  

Just as we did not need our folks bugging us...  etc...  etc...

Now, will I stop checking her phone?  Probably not.  But when she wants to go a friends house (with boys) or wants to go downtown after school (with boys) I will not be following her every move.  I do not, at this point, want to put a GPS on her phone.

Sooner or later we have to trust.

We wanted the same from our parents, no?

And look how good that turned out.

Wait, what?

Well, back to the drawing board.  Off to coach yet another game because far be it for me to trust someone else watching over her.

This parenting stuff is intense.  How do you all do it???

Friday, May 16, 2014

Why don't I care about Movies anymore???

An Early hero

I Studied film in college.  It wasn't film school mind you.  It was just your run of the mill liberal arts school for lesser minds.  Well, at least my lesser mind.  For whatever reason I had a thirst to learn and double majored and carried max credits.  The English and Sociology majors were neat and all.  But any chance I could sneak in a funky elective I did.   Women and Film and a semester long independent study on Martin Scorsese were academic highlights.  I would spend afternoons catching art films at the glorious Kirby Theatre.  On any given Sunday I wasn't watching the NFL, but hours of hours researching the film canon.  All About Eve into Mean Streets into Satyricon into Wings of Desire.  Brando into Pacino into Kinski into Cusack.  Lots and lots of movies.  My early "writing" career included stints in a college paper and local gay zine.   The movies consumed me and for a while it appeared I might find employment in the entertainment industry.

That was a long time ago.

Now, in the Golden Age of TV- and lets be honest, it is, I could care less.

Is it the overpriced and overhyped theatre experience?  $15 to get in.  $5 for a water.  Noisy theatre goers who do not understand that silence is golden?

Or is it the product itself?  Teenage angst and retread family cartoons.  One Smurf film is too many.   Doe we need three Twilights?  Three Hunger Games?  How many Harry Potter's are there anyway?  I lost count after 2.

Super Heroes or monster remakes- A Spiderman, even with another actor, is still Spiderman.  Godzilla is, I can assume, gonna wreak some havoc before either dying or setting up another sequel if the receipts are good.  X-Men, King King, Marvel whatever...  played the hell out!!

Editing is an issue too.  Judd Apatow has made some good movies within his overrated movies- if only he knew how to splice a bit.  3 hours or so for Funny People.  Well over 2 for Knocked Up and This is 40?  Not needed.  Some scenes don't work.  It's really ok- promise.

The few times I have bought into the hype recently I was deeply burned.  PT Anderson's The Master was a boring turd and clinic on how NOT to edit.  Silver Linings Playbook had an epic third act collapse.  Dance contest?  Really???  Those films are from 2013 aren't they?

I took a look at last years Best Oscar noms and I think it marks the first time I haven't seen a nominated film since before I hit puberty (so, like 5 years.)  No American Hustle.  No 12 Years a Slave.  No freaking interest.

Typically these arts films and award seekers arrive for our consideration from September through March.  Now that there are 10! nominees who has the time to catch them all?  How much time and money is required for such an endeavor?   When it was 5 nominees I suppose I could rationalize it.  

Documentary filmmaking still has some compelling ideas.   But do I need to go to the theater to see opinions on the food industry or war in Iraq?

It is almost June and I have not been to the theatre once this year.  What happened?

Is it just part of the maturation process?  Things change, friends change, life changes.

I used to love NL baseball and then my team moved to the al.  So now I have no interest there either.  The steroid debacle sure has not helped.  I prefer get them on, get them over and get them in.  The subtleties, if you will.  While monster HR's are nice, especially late to win a game, most of the time its the grunt work that leads to success.  A timely walk, a hit and run, or, dare I say, a nicely turned double play.

But I never watched CBS Sunday Morning with such devotion (as I do now.)  Or got my news from the internet rather than newspapers either.

Perhaps it is simply the eb and flow of life and I am simply navigating through it.

It is sad though, that something that I had so much joy for is now simply gone.  And it's funny, I read my favorite film reviewer every Friday.  I am aware of what is out there.  A new Adam Sandler movie?  Ugh.  The start of the summer blockbusters.  Yawn.

What will it take to get me back?  Do I even need to try?

And don't get on me for being stogy either.  Those who read this blog know I love seeing new, often unknown bands.  I am up for unique, and adventurous.

Baseball got too loud, and too explosive.  Bigger is better.  We now keep distances on home runs.

But it's roots lie in deep thought and stoic gamesmanship.  "Are they going to bunt here?"  "What will he pitch on a 2-0 count?"  "How long should we give our starter to get out of this mess?"

While films throughout history have relied more on action and mesmerizing special effects, it too has its roots in silence.  The first movies had no sound and yet they captivated the World.

Today each frame tends to be crammed with loud actors, with loud clothing, pontificating loud thoughts.  No silence.  No nuance.  No imagination.

The Seth Rogen/Zac Efron movie Neighbors exploded the box office last weekend.  It was the 3rd biggest R rated comedy opening in history.  But for me, someone who not too long ago laughed my ass off watching Step Brothers, I am indifferent.

Something tells me I have seen that movie.  And I don't care to see it again.

I can't even commit to all the amazing television there is.  And as mentioned, this is televisions finest hour.  Over the past 5 years I have missed, in its entirety, Downton Abbey, Breaking Bad, Sons of Anarchy, Game of Thrones, and Mad Men to name a few.   Judging by ratings, social media and basic pop culture 101 those shows are life changing.

I will take your word for it.

Cause for some reason it has all escaped me.

What will fill this void?  Has it been filled already?  Am I missing anything???

Theoretically I will have more free time as I get older.  Am I getting enough culture?

Something is amiss.  Or maybe everything is wonderful.

I am not certain which, but I am confused nonetheless.