Sing Sing for my Son

A quick-ish lesson in the train of thought that leads one man to decide that, yes, he is capable of serving hard time for his unborn son. The Mrs. and I went to see Transcendence this past weekend. If you haven’t seen it, I’m recommending you wait until it’s on one of modern day’s home viewing options. Save your thirty to forty bucks for the umpteenth remake of Godzilla. Not sure why that trailer has me hooked, but it does. Now then, the Johnny Depp flick has nothing to do with child rearing specifically, but even if you haven’t seen it, you can deduce that it does construct a story that dances around notions of what the future might hold for our civilization.

And so, if you are me, you are watching and thinking in the voice of a ninety year old man, “Hurumph, lots of changes comin’, yes sir, yes sir!”

You continue this conversation with yourself, recalling a brief back and forth with a parenting friend about the impossibilities of knowing exactly what technologies you’ll be disallowing your children to use in the near to not-so-far futures of their lives. And if you’d been reading about haptic suits and a life lived almost exclusively as an avatar online in a book like Ready Player One, you start wondering if your future son will even go outside at all. You start thinking about what you’ll ban, remembering that all pre-parents had similar conversations about video games, cellphones, and the lot, only to ultimately be confronted with newer things you couldn’t have fathomed that come along with the pleas of, “But so-and-so-friend’s parents let he or she have a blankity-blank already, come on, I’m eight or nine or ten or five!”

You move forward, remembering that because you only intend on having the one that it’s important to put him into social situations with other babies, children, and grow-ups. You don’t want him to be a shut-in. Suddenly, all thought deviates to an entirely different possibility, “No way my kid is going to be living in a haptic suit, he’ll be a chip off the ol’ block. Very charming, a real go getter. Devilishly handsome too.” You condemn yourself momentarily for letting your ego turn your child into the inwardly projected image of yourself. Somehow, age fourteen comes into play. You wonder how you’ll convince him to have protected sex if he has sex at all. You didn’t have sex at fourteen, but your mind tends to bolster the prediction with its vague recollection of scattered news mentions of promiscuity occurring at younger and younger ages.

“I hope he’ll be smart enough to not take the risk so young,” you say, but before you can even finish the thought you’ve already scripted a scenario in which this young-man-about-town of yours has dazzled the pants off of some young lady at age fourteen. You change the age to fifteen to feel better about yourself. Next thing you know she’s pregnant. He didn’t listen. You think about how you’d handle that situation, and then with no invitation to the thought party whatsoever, the thought, “What if he feels trapped? Kills her and hides the body?” pops into your head. You know almost certainly that this won’t happen, but even as you watch Johnny Depp “die” (oops, Spoiler Alert) on a table in front of you, you can’t help but shake the possible reality that you’ll be faced with that difficult decision of either turning your pride-and-joy in to the authorities, helping him live a life on the lam, or figuring out a way to take the fall for the atrocity he has committed.

“I’d turn that lil’ shit-head in,” you reassure yourself, even as you begin to accept what your remaining years look like in the slammer. “It’d have been an act committed under intense duress. My son is a good boy. He’s a good boy. It won’t happen again,” you repeat to yourself. “It was my fault. I didn’t do a good enough job of explaining the consequences of the birds and the bees. This is how it has to be.” And so there, under the darkness that accompanies the screening of a so-so film that isn’t holding your attention, you silently proclaim, “It’s all good. I can do the time.”

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Aurora, Colorado on my Mind

I try my best to keep the chronicling of my paranoia lighthearted–no easy task, when most of the twisted thoughts I endure revolve around death, pain, and horrible possibilites. Part of this effort has always involved the conscious decision to not riff on the tragic real-world events that occur to others. My paranoia is as responsible for this as is my belief in decency and decorum in regards to not exploiting the daily disturbing mishaps that, too often, are accompanied by the nearly unimaginable grief of real people, families, sons, daughters, brothers and mothers. Fear sells stuff–papers, books, shows, blogs, politicians, products of all kinds.

I want to believe that even as I seek to enlighten people about the improbable, albeit possible, and disturbing consequences of simply putting yourself out into the world daily, that I can do so in a manner that injects some sense of relief, positivity, and well-being into that same world, through my special brand of dark humor. I’m not sure that’s what this blog has been doing. I’m only certain that it is my intent, and as such, it takes a good deal of self-restraint in order to not turn it into something too heavy, exploitive, laced with facts, figures, and the haphazard citing of present-day tragedies in order to prove a point.

As usual, I’ve spent far too long setting up my head space, rather than diving into the meat and potatoes of this post. I offer many apologies for the all-too-frequent ramblings that proceed my point, too often found here.

Last night I was able to attend an advanced screening of The Dark Knight Rises. My excitement about that opportunity could easily be rated a ten of ten, and I made no secret of it either. Half-jokingly, I had referred to this gift as, “possibly the best thing to happen to me as a result of working in advertising,” and said so repeatedly to my co-workers and friends. I was grateful for the opportunity to see it, and even a bit tickled to be able and rub my good fortune in the faces of some of my closer friends who I knew could withstand the ribbing.

Whether or not the movie lived up to my expectations is irrelevant, and the fact that I enjoyed the experience held at the Ziegfeld Theater last night has little to do with my feelings about the film itself. It was just fun to be out with co-workers, my wife, and scores of other hard-working human beings, doing something semi-unique as a group–something that also didn’t involve hard-drinking at that–a rarity in this business when it comes to large gatherings. It was nearly as perfect as that type of outing can be, and was remained on my mind this morning when I awoke.

Years ago, right after 9-11, I spent a great deal of time going to the movies. I was freelancing (read mostly unemployed), separating from my then-wife-at-the-time, contemplating career and locale changes–and taking in movies that fall was an ideal way to remove myself from real-life in order to gain an additional hour or two of sanity each day. How much sanity was derived from those treks is debatable. In those darkened cathedrals of mostly Hollywood drivel, my mind often wandered to notions revolving around the ease of mass-killings that those places could afford. No metal detectors, no sky marshalls, and not even much light for the early exposing and detection of someone packing any kind of instrument of death. The film Scream 2, had already planted the seed of movie-theaters-as-killing-zones, and coupling that with the what-ifs inspired by the attacks on the twin towers has left me always, at least once during a theater going experience, wondering what dreadful things could happen in a cineplex if a psychopath put his or her mind to it.

I never stopped going to movies, but after an opening-weekend Inception incident at Union Square, involving my wife and a patron who seemed intent on stabbing us both to death amidst a small verbal squabble,  I’ve refrained from joining the masses to celebrate the latest releases communally on opening weekends. Too much discomfort, too much friction, flared tempers and, of course, always in the back of my head: the very real possibility that some lunatic would decide to exact all manner of justifiable-only-to-him massacres there.

The latest Batman film, had I not been gifted the advanced screening thanks to Unilever, would have most definitely marked the first film since Inception worthy of definitely breaking my no-opening-weekend-viewings rule, and smack dab in the middle of whatever chaos you might find amidst all the revelry you yourself may be a part of today, tonight, and this weekend.

Facebook has been many things to me, and more and more often it is the proverbial messenger of bad-tidings. This morning it was via a friend that I learned of the last night’s incident in which a gunman killed 12 at a screening of The Dark Knight Rises in Aurora, Colorado. I didn’t want to believe it, I don’t want to believe it now. It is no more tragic than the last tragedy, but it will be fresh on our collective minds and will re-open wounds that for many had probably never healed.

I’m not here to soap-box, list the pros and cons on anything related to guns, violence, and public safety, nor do I wish to join the countless conspiracy-hacks that will try to bend this story into something that furthers their own agendas of fear-for-profit. Good luck with that Alex, it’s worked for you before, I’m sure you’ll make a few bucks with it this weekend and next week as well. But, this is the second time in a week, that a not-even-remotely-close-to-random act of violence has left me deeply concerned for the human race, the general mood of a planet, and the near complete disregard for “live and let live.” Both, and they aren’t the first two, have left me asking myself, “Is a blog that dwells in potential tragedy, even one done humorously, the best use of my time?”

The answer today, as it has always been, is I think so. I hope so. I do know that as soon as I press the publish button, there will be a part of me that feels a bit of relief for having put words on digital paper for some people to see. I don’t have to understand why this works for me, I only have to let it work for me until it doesn’t anymore.

As always, I’m exceedingly grateful for your having put your peepers to my words. Thanks.

Memorial Day Weekend Watch-Outs

I’m sure many of you are amped up, out of your minds, and ready for a three day weekend to fill your bellies and souls with food, drink, and good times. I too am looking forward to a break from the insanity that the everyday tends to load punishingly upon our shoulders. Idle hands are the Devil’s workshop, and so I’ll be keeping my own busy as I plow ahead on my next book in between gorging myself with the many delectable meats, cheeses, and chocolates I suspect will find their way to my mouth regardless of my own attempts at keeping them minimal, manageable, and at bay. Have a great time out there, be safe, and keep an eye out for some or all of the following possible scenarios that might make for a less-than-stellar weekend.

Poison Drinking Straws at Movie Theaters, Cement Trucks, Bar-b-que’d Meats Discarded from Tall Buildings, Children’s Birthday Party Scams, and don’t be so nice to someone that they decide to follow you home and kill you.

I’ll be back next week with my own observations from what I’m sure will be a weekend that lends itself to a countrified slant on my own brand of sweet, sweet Level 9 Paranoia. Until then, enjoy my silence.

Coming Not-so-Soon: A Mortality Tale

There was a time I really fancied getting to the movie theater early, well before the actual film started. Getting a good seat was part of it, sure, but mostly I liked indulging in a good batch of trailers, coming attractions, previews, or whatever word your social circle uses to refer to the now five to seven glimpses into the future of cinema that precede the flick you’ve paid nearly double minimum wage to see.

Like many, I am growing annoyed with the increasingly rowdy theater goers, the high price of admission and snacks, and the near feature length gluttony of commercials that must be endured. Most of the experience sucks, and if I let myself think about it hard enough, I might lose nights to dwelling on why we all continue to fork over our big bucks for the likes of Paul Blart: Mall Cop.

But my real bone to pick with Hollywood has existed since viewing the first trailer for Godzilla in 1997. That trailer came out an entire year before what turned out to be an abysmal film. And over the years, the movie moguls have tortured me unmercifully by giving me these sixty to ninety second glimpses of films with release dates sometimes a full two years away.

What’s the problem with that you ask? Simple. Each and every time I witness one of these teases for a film twelve months or more away, my first thought is: “Man, I’m not even sure I’ll make it to that year.” And when a trailer for something along the lines of a remake of Dirty Dancing serves as a reminder of my own mortality – I take issue with that. Adding insult to injury, almost each and every year that I’ve kept myself alive just to see a film advertised to me over a dozen months prior, it has been a major disappointment. Super 8 was the last trailer-a-year-before-release ruse that I succumbed to. Yes, some time ago, I saw the trailer, questioned whether I’d even be alive to see the film, convinced myself that particular title was worth cleaning up my act a bit, crossing only at crosswalks and eating less meat, to ensure my survival on this planet lasted long enough for me to witness what the trailer had made me believe was on par with the second coming of Christ.

For too long, I’ve let the purveyors of live action drivel dictate how and why I am going to keep living. NO MORE! As of today, I will no longer live for the cinema! I don’t need them to remind me how short life is or point out the limitations of my own mortality with their distant future spectacles. From now on, my evil little friends – the ones I light on fire, pop in my mouth,  and inhale – shall be ample reminders of those very themes.


Poisoned Drinking Straw

My attempts at being responsibly green are easily shelved every time I take a drinking straw from a dispenser. Theaters, burger joints, sporting events – if theirs are the unwrapped variety it matters not. Germs? Simple germs have nothing to do with my actions. I always press down once, remove and discard the first, and then press it again and use the next straw in line. For most of my life I’ve done this just in case someone took one straw,  then laced it with a deadly drug, or even a less-than-deadly drug that only causes immediate pooping or some other form of moderate discomfort, and finally shoved this newly poisoned drinking straw back into the box for some poor soul – some poor soul that isn’t on to that ol’ chestnut.