Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Movie Review - Wall E

This is going to be a hard one to review. Overall the picture was an enjoyable family film. But this was not your typical Disney/Pixar animated classic, in the mode of the Incredibles or Cars. This was a movie with a message. It was a movie about the state of the human condition and where it might lead. About the consequences of our over indulgences and excess. I think the movie had a total of a hundred lines of dialogue. There was action, but not the kind you found in Kung Fu Panda. I believe the boys enjoyed the film, but it was not one they would put at the top of the summer list. I will say the movie was great for sparking family talk. The kids asked question and Demi and I answered them. We asked the kids some pointed question right back. There was definitely a need for a movie like that. And Disney/Pixar delivered.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Movie Review - Kung Fu Panda

Kung Fu Panda is the boys favorite movie this summer. At least to this point. The film had plenty of action. A fast pace seems to keep the boys locked in. It was also funny, for both kids and adults. I mean, Jack Black. How can you go wrong? I am not about to critique the plot. It's a cartoon for Pete's sake. It was your plausible story - an underachiever with big dreams. A lucky break helps make the dream come true. The underachiever has to face off against the main bad guy.
What did Dad like? Not too many potty jokes so it was suitable for all ages. It was short, at just under 90 minutes of running time. And......Angelina Jolie. Sure, she was an animated cheetah, so it was just her voice. But it is still Angelina Jolie.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Summer Boredom

The plight of every school age boy. "I'm bored...." Do you think youth is wasted on the young? You have a whole summer to do as you please, kid. I think the summers of Tom Sawyer might have been better than present day summer vacations. Tom and Huck didn't have summer league baseball, or basketball camp, or Wii, or Nintendo DS, or what ever modern cliche you care to use. Tom and Huck had a swimming hole, whitewash, and an apple. They had to make do. They used their imagination and made their own fun. That is what I am trying to encourage the boys to do. They are reading, but reading will only take you so far. You need activities of some sort. But how much should we really cater to the kids? Do we have to schedule activities 24/7, all summer long? I think not. The kids should be able to fend for themselves.
Some of the problem is that the other kids in the 'hood are scheduled 24/7, so the choice of playmates is limited. Left to their own devices, it is only a matter of time before the sibling rivalry surfaces between Coco and Caz. But they have been getting creative. My old army men (you know the ones that some kids used to melt with a magnifying glass) were popular for quite a few weeks. I would find them all over the house, hiding in just about anything. Marble. Good old fashioned marbles were a hit. Admittedly, I never took to them as a kid, but I knew the general concept. The boys and their buddies were recently shooting marbles in the garage.
The kids have it in them to entertain themselves. But if they aren't challenged to do it, they might never know that. Don't get me wrong. Camps have their uses. It is just like anything else these days, they are overused, and often for the wrong reasons.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Summer Movies 2008

This is how I think the boys would rate the summer movie season so far:

1. Kung Fu Panda

2. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

3. Journey to the Center of the Earth

4. Prince Caspian

5. Wall E

6. Iron Man

Dad's Rating:

1. Iron Man

2. Prince Caspian

3. Wanted

4. Kung Fu Panda

5. Journey to the Center of the Earth

You notice a trend of the movies the adults in this house are able to see? I did get to see Wanted with Demi which featured Angelina Jolie's bare backside. So I got that going for me. Which is nice.

Soon to be up? The Dark Knight. I can't wait to see that movie.

Also looking forward to Clone Wars, Step Brothers, x-Files

Reviews forthcoming

Risk and Reward

Both boys finished the year with good report cards. The previous statement was just a statement of fact. Demi and I decided that the family needed to celebrate that fact. A celebration would serve as acknowledgement of their achievement. That acknowledgement will hopefully serve as positive reinforcement of good behavior. Listen to the guy dabbling in psychology, will ya? One semester of Sociology.
I mean the celebration wasn't a pagan feast and all nighter. We took the kids to the Charlie Horse for their favorite clam chowder and play arcade video games. A daily double. The Charlie Horse clam chowder is the standard that all other chowders are measured by. The games are suspect. Some of them don't work. But the boys were happy. In another life lesson, the boys fought us tooth and nail on ordering potato skins. You know how many Demi and I got? One potato skin each. Mark that in the "don't knock it, until you have tried it" category.
As a surprise, after dinner, we took the boys to the movies. Their first non-matinee show. The boys were thrilled. They got to choose between The Hulk and Journey to the Center of the Earth. We saw the latter. And though the boys were tired and the movie was a bit of slow starter for them, they had a great time and loved the movie.
It was truly a spectacular family night out.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Pool Time

"Caddies Welcome 1:00-1:15 PM"

We are very fortunate to have virtually unlimited access to a pool, right next door, at my parent's. With that in mind, and with all our trips to the beach, Demi and I feel it is important that ours boys be proficient swimmers. They have friends with pools too. So while both boys have had lessons, we keep making them work on it. Safety first. We want them to have fun but they need to prove that they can be safe by swimming correctly and obeying the rules of the pool.
Gizmo is getting into the act too. I thought it was a good idea to get her acclimated and brought her into the pool with me. The first time, I didn't actually put her into the water. The second time it was 2-3 feet from the steps. And the third time she fell into the water on her own. So far she has fallen into the water 3-4 times, just running along the edge. It would appear the kids are not the only ones in need of swimming lessons.

Monday, July 7, 2008

The Dog Days of Summer

Heat wave. The air quality is poor. It's not fit for man, nor beast. The sun beats downs. The air gets thick. Not ideal for the slightly asthmatic. It tends to make one, more irritable that normal. These are the times that I really have to concentrate on keeping my temper and not letting the little things get under my skin. It would be easy to yell for no reason when the boys are driving me nuts. And don't get me wrong. It happens. But I try to be conscious of that fact and work on avoiding that tendency. I will actually find I talk to myself on the car ride home from work. Maybe that is slightly crazy but if it works? So be it.

Sunday, July 6, 2008


Boston Clam Chowder. Now if that isn't as American as the Flag and apple pie, I don't know what is. Caz is a fanatic about his chowder. For a long time Coco wouldn't go near it. But now he dives right in. I showed Caz a trick once, a few years ago, balancing my spoon upright in a crock of clam chowder. It was to show him how thick this particular chowder is. Now that is the standard by which he judges all other chowders. And actually the chowder I showed him the spoon trick in, is still his favorite (I could tell you where to get it, but you know, then....well, you know the rest).
Demi scoured the web, looking for a family day activity. She came across Harborfest going on in Boston. A clam chowder contest, treasure hunt, and all kinds of 4th of July activities. We went into Boston with two other families and their kids. The treasure hunt was a walking tour of some of the historic sights in Boston. The kids had fun and learned some things at the same time. You can't ask more than that. We had lunch at Tia's on the waterfront. And we wrapped up with some chowder. Mix in a little street dancing, and it was just a fantastic day. Kudos to Demi for cooking up the perfect family day. Everyone had a good time and we spent the day together bonding.

Friday, July 4, 2008

July 4th

Happy Fourth of July.
I am glad to see the boys still exhibit a healthy respect for the Armed Forces. As I have said before, they usually gravitate back to the fact that my Dad was in the Marines. But I say, there's nothing wrong with that. Of course after Demi recited a fact she heard that most Americans can't name the national anthem, the boys looked like they hard time coming up with it themselves. I know they knew it. The school does a nice job with the national emblems. The first grade theme night every year revolves around all things patriotic. Caz eventually came up with the Star Spangled Banner. Whew....

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Fight or Flight

"I. I will survive."
Instinct. That basic Darwin principle on how humans respond to certain situations. Survival. Are we programmed to flee? Or are we programmed to stand and fight? Until you are faced with a situation, you just don't know. During our latest round of storms, signaling the oncoming of the Apocalypse, Demi relayed an interesting story about Caz. He was outside with the kids in Demi's daycare, playing in the back yard. The day was overcast and looking gloomy, but a rain free day thus far. Out of no where, a thunder clap sounded, extremely loud. As if an explosion took place 25 feet away. Caz jumped straight up out the sand box and started bolting for the house. Half way there he stopped, realized one of the small toddlers was there crying, picked up the toddler, and raced into the house. No, he didn't save a baby from a burning building, but you could extrapolate from his response that the reaction and instinct are similar. Demi told him how proud she was of him. She told him that if he had just bolted for the house, that would have been all right. But the fact that he stopped to help another child was something that he should feel very good about.
Now would I have told you about this story, had Caz just run in the house. Probably. Maybe only for the humor. But I would like to think I would be having the same discussion had he done so. I made a comment a while ago about Lefty looking for me to add a post where I completely screw up. I am sure it's coming Lefty but I will try to be more diligent about posting my mistakes as well. Believe me. I make my share. I probably make your share too.