Archive for December, 2013

31
Dec
13

The Great Jingle Bell Caper

I know this is late, but it’s been a busy few weeks and I’m (as we all know) inherently lazy.

My fondest Christmas memories are of the night before Christmas when my brother and I were tucked into our beds, excited and trying not to fall asleep, only to hear jingle bells outside.

We’d both run into each other in the hall and run to a window. We’d never see anything and our mom or dad would show up and point out that if Santa Claus was close enough to hear, we’d better get to sleep.

Of course at some point I stopped believing in Santa and discovered that the ringing had been coming from bells my father had set up outside our window, with a string running to the back of the house and into their bedroom window.

So my other fondest memories are of the years I assisted my parents in staging this all for my younger brother’s benefit.

Not shockingly, when I became a dad, I wanted to continue this tradition.

I recall my wife not being sold but to me, it was something that would bring a little magic to their young lives—and perhaps a little to my own as well.

We travel a lot during Christmas, so my opportunity to do this has been sporadic. Sometimes the kids would pass out on the way home from somewhere and the last thing I’d want to do was wake them up. Sometimes we weren’t in a place where jingle bells weren’t feasible to ring.

I didn’t really get started until we moved away from California and to New York.

One year I ran a string across the roof of our apartment in Queens, dangling jingle bells down next to our kid’s window. The string ran back to the kitchen in our apartment where I could reach out a window and pull it.

It worked a little bit, but I ended up having to go up the fire escape, onto the roof and ring it by hand.

In the dead of night. In ice and wind.

Which ended up working so much better because the kids heard footsteps on the roof which made them insane.

This year was the year Alpha Tween stopped believing. I don’t remember when it happened and was not a shock—his faith had been tested two years prior when he found candy alarmingly similar to what was in his stocking in the kitchen cupboard.

We pointed out that certainly we could buy the same candy as it was in all the stores and—because he still wanted to believe I’d guess—he let it go.

But at 12, most kids are done and so was he.

He was excited by the prospect of helping me continue the tradition with his younger brother though, so when I went to tuck in the Professor, Alpha had already hid two sets of jingle bells out on the covered front porch of our apartment.

So as I lay down with our youngest, down below Alpha was leaning out of a window with bells in his hands and gently ringing them.

The Professor flew out of bed and looked out the window to their room. He spied a red light in the sky—what I can only imagine was a plane—and while he mentioned it might be a plane he also thought it might be Rudolph.

Shortly after, Alpha came upstairs to get changed for bed and I went downstairs and duplicated his efforts.

When I passed Alpha on the stairs to the boy’s bedroom, he smiled and nodded and I knew they had heard.

This could be the last year for The Professor to believe. As a younger sibling, it seems the magic doesn’t last as long.

No matter how long though, these are the memories I will always cherish—and I hope they will as well.

There’s precious little magic in the world, save for what we make.

Perhaps we just need to make more of it.

Hey, are you following Dad Moon Rising on Twitter or Facebook? Why the hell not?

12
Dec
13

Keep Calm and Nerd On

keep calm and geek onThe way I got here was so circuitous (as it is with most ‘places’ I arrive at) I won’t confuse you with it, but I found myself back reading a Tumblr post I had come across months ago by artist Joel Watson of the webcomic Hijinks Ensue.

The story Watson shares is a sweet one, about an interaction between a father and a son at this year’s San Diego Comicon.

It’s about acceptance and taking a few moments to enjoy time with the people you care about.

It struck home with me for a couple of reasons but the biggest one was the part about acceptance.

Of course, as a self-proclaimed nerd, geek or whatever the whole “acceptance” thing is important. I certainly have felt alone or different most of my life.  I’m willing to bet most of us have whether we admit it or not.

It took a long time to feel comfortable in my own skin—and I readily admit there are days I still don’t. Which is amazing because the more I work in media and the more people I meet, the more I find they hold very similar interests to my own.

So the post hits home because one of the things I really want to do with the boys is to empower them to love what they love and not worry about what others think of it.

Not long ago Alpha Tween (who recently I considered re-naming Sullen Tween because hormones) relayed a story to me about something that happened at school.

image via 4kids Entertainment

Despite being 12, Alpha is still a fan of Pokemon. I’ve never totally understood the fascination (though I am a fan of Psiduck) but hey, whatever floats your boat, right?

And he definitely has friends who still enjoy looking at and playing with the cards and video games.

He was with his friends at lunch and two of his friends were doing something with Pokemon cards. Alpha was watching, not playing but hanging out when he ended up in a conversation with two 6th graders.

The younger kids asked him if his friends were really playing Pokemon. Alpha responded, yes they were.

They then asked him if he liked Pokemon too. Alpha said he did.

The two kids then proceeded to make fun of all three kids, laughing as they walked away.

I asked him how he felt about it and he shrugged.

“What do I care what they think? I like what I like.”

I’d like to think he learned this from my wife and I. That when his younger brother was running around in pretty princess dresses and we didn’t bat an eye, he learned it’s OK to be different.

That no matter what others think, who you are is fine.

That’s going to be a fight, especially for the tween/teen years which are all about standing out by fitting in. But we’re well on our way.

I think, ultimately, this is why geek culture has become such a “thing” over the last decade. It’s about acceptance. It’s filled with people who “didn’t fit in” to what the norm was, who learned to embrace differences in others because they had their own rejected and in some cases belittled.

Sure, there is infighting because every group on earth has jackholes in it (I believe that’s a law) but by and large it’s an accepting bunch.

Everyone wants to be accepted and liked—even the people who try hard to make you think they don’t. On some level, they absolutely do.

Hopefully my wife and I can put together a pair of kids who will help them feel that way and who will always feel that way themselves.

Hey, are you following Dad Moon Rising on Twitter or Facebook? Why the hell not?

08
Dec
13

My Son Wants a Hogwarts Scholarship

So, as you know (or maybe not), I write about the NFL for a living.

As I watched the Sunday Night Football game between the Carolina Panthers and New Orleans Saints, the players were introduced to the TV audience by a little video presentation along the bottom of the screen.

During the first or second series of plays, the defense and offense of each team get a moment to say their name and what college they went to. I’m not sure why but it’s nice advertising for the universities, most of which don’t really need it.

Sometimes players will say their high school sometimes and some will make stuff up.

Sunday night, we saw this:

Alpha Tween was up at the time and I thought it was amusing so I told both he and my wife about it. Nobody found it quite as funny as I did but when the video popped up on Twitter and YouTube I dragged him into the office anyway.

He watched and laughed then looked thoughtful for a moment.

Alpha: “What if it was real? What if he really did go to Hogwarts?”

Me: “That’d be awesome.”

Alpha: “I could get a scholarship.”

So that’s the agenda now. Hell if Harry Potter and Greg Hardy could get scholarships to the Big H, why not my boy?

He’d look good in Gryffindor scarlet.

UPDATE:

Because the Internet is Awesome, it’s already updated Hardy’s Wikipedia page:

HArdyWorts

Hey, are you following Dad Moon Rising on Twitter or Facebook? Why the hell not?

05
Dec
13

Sometimes Kids Will Surprise You aka My Child Has Become Socially Conscious

My kids are a constant source of surprises.

Sometimes those surprises are terrifying but for the most part, they are cause for wonder and joy.

Over the last two months Alpha Tween has lamented to me that he isn’t “doing enough with his life.”

I have a very hard time wrapping my head around a 12 year old “not doing enough with his life” and when I’ve pushed him, it’s more that he isn’t doing enough for other people (charity work or helping his fellow man) more than he’s not experiencing life.

My wife tells me that it’s not uncommon for kids in middle school to become more motivated to change the world. I can’t speak to that—either because my memory is bad and I can’t remember worrying like this or because I was insanely shallow.

I’m fine with either, by the way.

But I’m told some kids go through this. I’ve offered suggestions in the past about how he could donate time and effort but I get the sense that everything seems too big to tackle head on right now—plus he’s in school on an extended schedule (8:20 am to 4:10 Monday-Thursday) and is constantly worried about getting other things taken care of in his free time.

So it shouldn’t surprise me—though it did—that when he wrote out a list of things he’d like for Christmas “donations to charities” was on the list.

I overheard my wife pressing him a bit as to what charities he’d want people to donate to and why—to think carefully and research where he wants money to go to so that he knows it’s being used effectively.

Right now he’s thinking about the Make-A-Wish Foundation (he was captivated by the Batkid story from a couple weeks back) and a Save the Rainforest charity.

I’m really proud of him. I’m not saying he decided “no presents for me, thanks” or anything—he still wants a Nerf gun and video games—but it’s heartening to see him care about others.

He always has—he’s an empathetic kid and we raise him in a house which is filled with discussions about all sorts of social issues.

As I see him becoming a man, things like this make he very happy with who he is going to be.

I think it’s rare and worthy of comment when a kid decides something like this is important enough to put on a Christmas list.

And given how much we’ve lost touch with what Christmas is supposed to be about—the giving and not the receiving—it’s heartening.

I don’t expect things like this.

But surprises like this are a wonderful bonus of being a dad.

Hey, are you following Dad Moon Rising on Twitter or Facebook? Why the hell not?

03
Dec
13

I did absolutely nothing and it was everything I thought it could be

jarvisislazyI have been sick for a little over a week now.

I began to get an inkling something might be amiss the Sunday before Thanksgiving when I sat at my desk watching the NFL slate for Week 12.

That, in and of itself, wasn’t unusual. I do that every week.

What was odd was that this time, I did it shivering under a flannel blanket with about four layers on underneath. Next to the heater.

Yeah, I was sick.

I don’t handle that well—I never do, especially in-season when I am enormously busy. Normally my body and I have an agreement—it doesn’t fall apart between August and January and I let it collapse for all of February post-Super Bowl.

Apparently we’re at war because my body pulled a Blitzkrieg on me and there I was sick.

I was buried in work Monday and Tuesday so I slept a lot of Wednesday, drank a ton of tea and muddled through Thanksgiving (which was very enjoyable). The kids left with mom and dad for the weekend, which allowed me to sleep a bit more and knock some work off early on Friday.

My wife left on Saturday to head to Pennsylvania and a niece’s birthday party. We both thought it bad form if I brought even an improving plague with me despite their assurances that it was fine.

Which left me home alone on Saturday.

Relaxing is a hard thing for me. You’d think I would be good at it, but I’m actually quite awful at relaxing. I am constantly wracked with guilt that I should be doing something. Most of the time I couldn’t tell you what that something is, though it usually becomes work and writing because even when something isn’t on a deadline the more you write the more you’re out there and the better and more diverse a writing resume you have.

There’s another column there grappling with the general American (and male) inability to shut work off, so let’s put a pin in that for another day.

Going into Saturday I made a determination: I was going to relax. I was going to make myself relax, rest, and reboot both physically and mentally.

If forcing yourself to relax seems like an oxymoron, welcome to my world. It’s warm here and we have cookies shaped like schadenfreude.

So Saturday, the wife packed up and headed to Pennsylvania.

And I did nothing—and it was everything I thought it could be.

OK, not strictly nothing. In part because I wanted to get a head start on a piece I needed to write for Tuesday and in part because I had fun things I wanted to do which would count as “something” even if they seem like “nothing.”

As parents, we don’t get much down time. For a work-from-home/stay-at-home dad or mom, it can be hard to ever really shut down because your office (and therefore your work) is always right there.

“I can just hammer out a few paragraphs” or “I’ll just do some data-entry” and the like are things home-office folk tell ourselves so that we feel less shitty for working at home during “non-office hours.”

But that’s just a cover for the fact that, because we are always at the office, we always see the pile of work on our desk and always feel like we should be working.

We lie that we’ll just do a little X and a bit of Y and then flip on the TV but that never happens and the next thing you know you’ve worked overtime for free.

So when you’re a parent—and one who works from home—you need to grab those relaxation moments when you can.

Once I wrote the one piece I felt I needed to (which made Monday a lot less painful), I stepped away from the computer and didn’t look at it again.

That took a lot of self control, let me tell you. I didn’t watch any football, didn’t break down any game tape, didn’t look at potential 2014 NFL draft prospects—all things I could have done and written off as “work, but not really.”

I did a lot of stuff, but none of it was critical.

My day consisted of:

Catching up on Supernatural.

I was about two episodes behind and had to find out what the Winchester boys were up to. Two brothers, a muscle car, 70s and 80s hair metal and monster hunting. THANKS HULU!

Watched Pacific Rim.

Some of you people told me I would enjoy it.

You people undersold it to me and for that you will forever have my anger.

Or not. Who knew I missed giant robots fighting giant monsters? My inner 12 year old was excited.

If you’ve ever played Battletech, watched Godzilla (the originals not the crap with Matthew Broderick) or have read/watched something like Macross and you haven’t seen this flick you are doing yourself a disservice as a geek.

One of my favorite popcorn movies ever.

Ate way too much crap.

Which, when you think about how sick I had been was pretty counter-intuitive but I wasn’t cooking and calzones and cherry coke are tasty sometimes.

Played The Last of Us.

Someone described The Last of Us as the best zombie movie to come out in a long time and it’s a pretty accurate description.

I’m tempted to do a review of it at some point—both from an aging gamer/geek point of view as well as a fatherhood angle—because while there are zombie plant people/infected and bandits and apocalypse things, what the story is about, at its heart, is a grieving father and a lost little girl.

I have a lot of thoughts about it (and OH THE FEELS) but I’ll save it for another time because any half-assed discussion here is just a disservice to the game.

I will say that I have played many video games where I thought “well this could be a cool movie/TV series/book.” In fact, I ingest a lot of entertainment wondering how it would look in other forms. Comics as movies, movies as shows—I think that’s how we tend to absorb our entertainment now.

I cannot think of how this game—which I can best shorthand as the greatest choose-your-own-adventure “book” ever—would be improved by another format.

I can’t wait to finish it and also am sad that I can only experience it for the first time, once.

This game had me do something I haven’t done in forever.

When my wife came home—later than expected—we chatted for a while and she went to bed. I went back to playing. I figured I would play for maybe another hour and then go to bed.

At some point my wife got up and went to get a drink of water or use the bathroom and I thought “huh, she hasn’t been in bed long.”

I checked my watch and found out it was 1:30am.

I don’t play video games often but when I do, apparently I don’t sleep.

You’d think that I would wake up tired on Sunday, having hit the sack well past my bedtime—I mean I work late on Sunday and Monday since NFL games end at midnight both of those evenings, but almost 2am is pushing it even for me.

However, at the end of the day (and the start of the next one) I felt rested and refreshed. My brain was clear and I was surprisingly stress free—not something I feel most days when I don’t do more than a small amount of work.

As parents, we don’t get much time off.

But we should make some for ourselves even a little.

We—and our kids and partners—will probably be better for it.

I believe I am scheduled for another day off on December 12th……2016.

Hey, are you following Dad Moon Rising on Twitter or Facebook? Why the hell not?

03
Dec
13

HOW TO FIGHT A BABY

My friend, Carolyn Nagler, posted this on Facebook and I have to say—as a baby-fighting guide, it’s top notch.

Many people see a baby and panic because said baby looks fierce and smells like death incarnate but as this video shows—beating up a baby isn’t all that hard.

So as you can see, there’s nothing to fear when a baby approaches you in a dark alley and starts pushing you around, getting all up in your face yelling GOO GOO GAH GAH.

You can show that baby who is boss.

Unless he hasn’t trimmed his nails in which case you’d better run your ass off.

(hats off to Gavin McInnes for an entertaining video)




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What I’m Into:

Reading: Dead Beat by Jim Butcher Listening to: The Heist, Macklemore Watching: Damages