A Conversation With Connor

Connor: Daddy, we shouldn’t lick people, should we.
Me: No, you shouldn’t.
Connor: Because it’s gross.
Me: Then why do you keep licking me! (He’ll occasionally make like he’s going to give me a kiss on the cheek and then lick me because he saw his mother do it and thought it was funny)
Connor: *pause* Not all the time…

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Let the audience be silent now for the moment

“I hate to be the bearer of bad news,” my coworker John said as he interrupted the meeting, “but they just announced that Robin Williams is dead.”

That’s how I learned the news yesterday that Robin Williams, comedian, actor, father, had passed away, and as the time since John told us passed I’ve found that the news has been hitting me rather hard.

I’ll fully admit that the first time I saw him was in the kind of terrible Popeye, punching that horribly fake octopus and everything.

Next watched was Awakenings and I can still remember the sense of loss I felt as the patients slipped back into catatonia.

Hook brought me more of an appreciation of his silliness and sense of play even as it gave me an example, if a fictional one, of a father doing everything he could for his kids, even after screwing up so much.

FernGully, Aladdin, Mrs. Doubtfire (IT WAS A DRIVE-BY FRUITING).

But, really, I have to thank him, most of all, for Birdcage.

I know I’ve mentioned it here before but I grew up in a very fundamentalist Christian environment. While my father was a two-day Catholic, my mom was a church-going, Born Again, nondenominational Christian. The only time I wasn’t in a Christian school of one form or another was preschool and second and third grade while fourth through eighth were spent at a particularly fundamentalist school where they actually taught us things like the very cliche line “It was Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve.” No joke.

Until high school I was one of those kids that was an unthinking homophobe, the kind where you never really put any thought into it, it was just what you were taught, and because it’s all you know you’re utterly convinced that is simply the way it is. I didn’t understand how or why those kinds of thoughts were harmful, not just to others around me but also to myself in closing my heart and mind to others, to their humanity. I was, as some who knew me then might describe me, an insufferable, little shit.

Then two things happened that started making me wake up. I started dating a young woman who I’d fall in love with who had two fathers. Spending time with them helped put chinks in that particular wall, started opening up my mind and softening my heart. The more time I spent with them the more I saw that they, ultimately, were just like me. They had the same fears and concerns, the same struggles, the same love, even if it wasn’t expressed in the way that I would.

I also watched Birdcage. I know it was just a fictional story but seeing the son be proud of his fathers in the face of Robin Williams’ character’s fear really struck a chord with me. Wasn’t I proud of my family? Didn’t I love them, and them me? I saw how my girlfriend was proud of her father and stepfather, how they were as much a family as mine. And if they were the same except for one, small detail, then, really, what was I really fearing? It’d be a longer journey but my homophobia started dying during those times.

I think the reason why today’s news is having the impact on me is that unlike so many other actors that have come and gone or are still around, for me Robin Williams embodied joy. Simple, positive, joy. His smile was one of a kind, infectious and incredible. I know more than once over the last (almost) four years since Michelle became pregnant I’ve thought back to the bits he did on pregnancy, childbirth, and parenting (especially the horrors of baby poop).

I’m also sad because he helped me become a better person through his work. Because of him, I found some more joy and love.

I want to leave you with three things.

One, if you are living with depression, please, reach out to those around you. As the Bloggess says, depression lies. You aren’t alone. People will and do care.

Two, a poem posted today by my friend Lee Presson, who knew Robin when he was taking classes from Lee’s father, by W. H. Auden.
Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.

Let airplanes circle moaning overhead
Scribbling on the sky the message “He Is Dead.”
Put crepe bows round the white necks of the public doves,
Let traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.

The stars are not wanted now, put out every one
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood
For nothing now can come to any good.

And finally, some words from the end of Reality: What A Concept, the first bit of Robin’s stand-up I ever heard:
“Keep a spirit of madness in you, just a little touch of it, just enough so you don’t become stupid.
Just a little touch of madness will keep you alive because no one in the world knows how to tax that.
There was an old crazy dude who used to live a long time ago, his name was Lord Buckley, and he said a long time ago, he said, ‘People, they’re kind of like flowers, and it has been a privilege walking in your garden.’ My love goes with you.”

Rest in peace, good sir, and thank you.

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Movie Reviews: Guardians of the Galaxy

TL;DR, Marvel is basically just printing their own money at this point. I’ll fully admit, when I heard Marvel was doing a movie featuring a sentient, anthropomorphic raccoon sociopath I had my doubts but they knocked it out of the park.

This is a movie that pretty much has it all. With comedic bits strewn liberally throughout the film, it has both its lighthearted moments as well as its serious ones, both of which come on you with startling joy and surprising stealth and then hit you like a brick between your eyes. The action was good, the effects awesome. While I can’t say I’ve EVER read a comic with any of these characters aside from Thanos, and thus can’t speak to how accurate they are to the comics, I’m very happy with this addition to the MCU and I’m sure we’ll be seeing them again in Avengers 3 (not a spoiler, really, we just already know A3 is going to involve Thanos who is tied pretty tightly to the Guardians so it seems like a likely bet that’s when we’ll see them next).

Go see this movie in the theater, then see it again in the theater.

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How awesome is my padawan? This awesome.

My writing padawan, and whip-cracking editrix, Leslie has a new column where she reviews books. It’s just started up and she tackles Steamfunk, an anthology that “taking the current craze of Steampunk, with its dirigibles, steam-powered men, and corsets, and making it funky” in the “70s black power” sense. It’s a really great review and I’m looking forward to more.

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Do not take advice from The Worst Muse.

These are funny.

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Kid Movies, Adult Thoughts: Planes

This weekend Connor was watching Pixar’s Planes for the elevenbilliontieth time when a horrible thought came to me.

At the end of the movie, when Dusty finally beats Rip to the finish line, Rip flies through a row of outhouses, coating himself in, well, poo. Used oil in that world, but, still, it’s poo. We’ve seen the used oil/poo in other Pixar movies like Cars 2, when one of the bad guys falls into what is very clearly meant to be a septic truck’s tank during the car chase at the airport.

So, does that mean that earlier in Planes when Bulldog the English plane (voiced by John Cleese) suffers a mechanical failure and sprays oil in his face, blinding him, he actually managed to explosively poo in his own eyes?

Really, Pixar? Really?

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Movie Review: Transformers 4: The Soulless POS That NO ONE Appeared to Actually Want to be In

Working for a video game company certainly has some perks.

Cool free stuff in our games.

Getting to watch the magic done behind the curtain and see games go from concept to playable (it’s really neat).

Awesome swag.

And, if you work at my company, a free viewing of some movie tangentially related to one of our games (or something our CEO is simply dying to see) approximately once a quarter. This month is my company’s fourteenth anniversary which, for a company making video games, is actually pretty impressive. Studios that have created AAA games have been created, flamed out, and gone off into the great Cheap-O Bin in the sky since we first started and we’re still trucking along and expanding. To celebrate, we essentially got last Friday off of work, went mini-golfing in the morning, and then saw a showing of Transformers 4: Age of Extinction.

The best thing about this movie is that I can say I didn’t pay a single cent for it.

Now, I’m going spoil this stinking pile of shit and I do so as an act of public service so that if you had ANY desire to see this movie I will kill it as dead as Megatron.

First off, Optimus Prime kills a human. That, right there, should be enough for you to never want to see this movie. I could kind of, if I looked sort of at it with a severe side-eye, see why Supes might kill Zod. But this is Optimus Prime. This is Optimus “I will let one of my best soldiers, and possibly one of the last five of my kind, be captured and tortured, possibly to death, by humans rather than killing them” Prime. This is Optimus “I might be CG but I love humanity enough to do three films with Shia LeDouche” Prime. Prime has a better track record of not killing humans (directly, anyway) than Star Fleet does holding to the Prime Directive. And in this film, almost at the end, he just ups and shoots a human. Hell, he even says, “I may have sworn to never kill a human, but when I find out who is responsible for [hunting Transformers down, tearing their corpses apart, and reducing them to their base parts] he will die.” THIS IS THE SAME ROBOT WHO KNEW HUMANS WERE GOING TO TORTURE A VERY LIVE BUMBLEBLEE AND IS ALL, “No, surely we can’t harm the hairless apes, we’re not really any better than them.” and now he’s promising swift and brutal murder? Sure, that human was evil Kelsey Grammer and he was going to kill Marky Mark Wahlberg, but still. Optimus Prime. Does. Not. Kill. Humans.

Secondly, they kill Ratchet. Right off the bat in the movie, they hunt him down and kill him, even though they know he’s an Autobot and, IMO, they do it in a pretty torture-porn fashion. As a person who loved the cartoon series (even if it was just to sell toys) and someone who didn’t mind the first and third movie (the second can suck a big robotic wang), this offended me to the core. It’s like needlessly killing a dog in a movie. Hell, when they killed Ironhide in the third movie it bothered me but it at least made some sense. This? This just pissed me off.

You know, I was going to go into the plot and how there are huge holes in it. Like, how does Optimus Prime have the ability to fly at the end of the movie with no additional gear but NEVER SHOWS THIS ABILITY IN ANY OF THE FILMS AND IS FALLING FROM GREAT HEIGHTS ALL THE TIME? Or when he’s Broken-Ass Optimus at the beginning of the movie he tells Marky Mark that he needs the Autobots to heal him BUT later he just scans a passing semi and, BOOM, fixed? Or when at the end we’re put through a stupid chase scene as the bounty hunter Transformer’s ship is randomly using a giant sky magnet (I shit you not) to lift all kinds of metal stuff up into the air, FOR MINUTES OF MOVIE TIME, and yet Optimus dispatches the sky magnet with a few rounds of his hand cannon? WHY DIDN’T HE DO THAT AT THE START? But, if I did that, I’d just be typing up the movie and, really, that’s spending far too much time on this shitshow as it is.

No one wanted to be in this movie. Mark Wahlberg’s performance as the overly-protective, pretty misogynistic father is crap (to the point where it was hilariously over-acted in some scenes), almost on par with The Happening. Nicola Peltz was, as harsh as it might be to say, an even more inconsequential female lead that the other three movies had with Megan Fox or blond Not-Megan-Fox-Because-She-Was-Probably-Fired-By-Speilberg. Jack Reynor as Shane Dyson, the car-driving, illicit boyfriend, is particularly douchey in that he’s memorized the Texas statute that covers Romeo and Juliet, not-technically-statutory-rape relationships to justify why a twenty year-old is probably shtupping a seventeen year old (and has been for the last three years) and spends the entire movie on the opposite side of Mark Wahlberg’s character as they piss on Peltz to see who can claim ownership of her. Newsflash: if you have to argue “But it’s technically legal” it’s probably not cool.

Then there’s Stanley Tucci, whose character is just annoying throughout the movie, and Kelsey Grammer, who I assume just needed a paycheck.

Even Peter Cullen seemed particularly tired in this film but, hey, when pretty much most of your IMDB page is doing one particular character, you’re kind of stuck.

I hated this film, I hate the idea that I contributed to the fact there’s going to be a Transformers 5 what with Galvatron *coughcoughMegatroncoughcough* on the loose and Optimus Prime off flying around the universe in search of his creators to go give them what for. I hated the fact that they made this a movie almost on par with the Lord of the Rings films as far as length is concerned. And I hate the fact that they named the substance they mined out of the corpses of Transformers transformium (which, honestly, isn’t any better than unobtanium).

Do not see this film.

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