Archive for the 'Dad Topics Around The MediaVerse' Category

14
Apr
14

One Week Late Movie Reviews: Captain America—Winter Soldier

Welcome to another edition of One Week Late Movie Reviews at DMR.

As always we’re here for those of you who don’t get out to see movies during the opening few weeks. Because once you’re a dad (or mom), how the heck do you have time?

Captain America: Winter Soldier is the type of movie you might see with your kids, depending on age and how they handle violence.

And there is plenty of violence, as is the case with most superhero movies. There’s some blood and some gunshots and whereas it is fine for my 12 and 8 year olds, it might not be for yours. As I always say—don’t assume because there are superheroes that the movie is appropriate for every kid.

Before we get into this—you’ve almost all seen Marvel movies at this point. Why are you leaving the theater before the credits end?

Don’t do that.

Stuff always happens during and after the credits. The same is true for this offering.

And of course, the requisite warning.

seriously kids don't open that door if you don't want them

seriously kids don’t open that door if you don’t want them

First of all, if you’ve read the comic version of the Winter Soldier story, you should be very happy. The team behind this movie captured the feel of Ed Brubaker’s tale perfectly, even if the content had to be shifted here and there.

Cap aka Steve Rogers aka Popsicle Man has always been a tough character. For much of my comic-reading life (and it’s vast) he hasn’t really grabbed my attention. Most of it has been the way he’s written—people tend to not know what to do with him. There have been very good storylines in the past, but he seemed most interesting pummeling Nazis.

Enter writer Ed Brubaker in 2005. Perhaps somewhat influenced by The Ultimates in 2002, Brubaker took Cap in a slightly more serious direction. While supervillians were still in evidence, everything was muted, more serious from a tone standpoint.

image via Forbes

Working with SHIELD, Cap was one part spy, one part living legend and superhero. While he would still do big superhero things, he also worked “behind the scenes” fighting threats who were bent on controlling the world through more subtle means as much as through the normal tropes of comics—you know, big, bad killer robots and evil satellites.

But here was a Cap who made sense to me—not just some guy who was wearing a flag but a guy desperate to keep his country safe while wearing it.

And always, always wondering where the line was. Cap also had a sort of weight to him often frequent in other characterizations. What does it mean to be Captain America in today’s world? What does it mean to be a guy who essentially took a six decade nap? How does that weigh on you? Where do you fit.

Like the Cap in comics, Chris Evans Cap in the movies is a guy trying to figure out all of the above.

Thrust into a world of spies and ulterior motives, grays instead of black and white (where WWII he lived in the first movie), Cap finds himself increasingly uncomfortable with the world we—and now he—lives in.

After having it out with SHIELD boss Nick Fury over a side mission and pondering whether he should call it quits (including a very sad scene with one of the few remaining links from his past), all Hell breaks lose. Fury shows up at his apartment, battered and bruised, tells him not to trust anyone and then is shot—seemingly to die, though let’s be honest, we all know that old SHIELD directors don’t die, they burn their eye-patch and fade away.

image via WednesdaysHeroes.com

What follows is an interesting thriller-style take on superhero shenanigans. HYDRA has subverted SHIELD (acronyms are fun!) for their own nefarious purposes, Cap and Black Widow are on the run (with Cap’s new BFF The Falcon who is AWESOME) and just when you think it can’t get more tangled, we find out that the Winter Soldier—a deadly assassin working for HYDRA—is actually Bucky Barnes, Cap’s lifelong friend who appeared to have died in WWII.

He survived, HYDRA brainwashed him and replaced his wounded left arm with a cybernetic attachment and have used him to cause chaos since.

In the end the good guys win—kind of. Because this is a Marvel movie and a “spy” movie, nobody totally wins.

Least of all Cap, who must confront his brainwashed friend in order to save the day. And even in this, the movie (like the comic) makes the situation anything but straightforward. Cap owes Bucky a ton and loves him like a brother—in the end when his friend might die, Cap saves him even though he knows the guy isn’t really the same person he knew. Even when Buck-Bot is pounding on him, Cap will not fight his friend.

image via ComicVine.com

There has been some interesting compare and contrast between this moment and the one at the end of last summer’s Man of Steel which I won’t rehash, though I agree with much of it, including this piece at ScreenCrush.com. While Cap works with people who will kill (and has done so himself), he is, at heart, someone who feels that there has to be an alternative.

The movie also has some fantastic subtext. The idea of a Government/Big Brother/SHIELD profiling people. The grey landscape of politics. Even the difficulty of our soldiers returning from combat and the problems they face fitting in.

There’s a lot going on here for the price of your ticket.

Whether you like watching guys in tights punch each other or are a fan of thrillers, this is a movie which delivers, but doesn’t settle for the basics. It’s a flick which is worth watching, and probably more than once.

image via DailyNews.com

Marvel is churning out movies I never expected to see in my life. If they can get a few strong female characters in solo flicks, they’ll have absolutely buried the vast majority of DC/Warner Bros superhero offerings.

Also, this film was given super-high marks by both Alpha Tween and The Professor who both loved it.

15
Jan
14

TV Review—Friday Night Tykes Episode 1: “Weakness Leaving the Body”

via Hollywood Reporter

“You have the opportunity today to rip their freakin’ head off and let them bleed. If I cut ’em with a knife, they’re gonna bleed, red, just like you.”

“If you believe in yourself, you can do whatever it is you want to do in life.”
— Charles Chavarria, Head Coach, Jr. Broncos

There are a ton of quotable moments in Esquire TV’s new documentary series “Friday Night Tykes,” but those two—said by the same coach at almost the same time—perfect encapsulate the thorny and complicated series.

Which, in turn, perfectly encapsulates the complicated nature of youth sports in America in general, and football in particular.

Before we get too much further here, a few things you should know about the show and the world surrounding it.

In Texas, football is king. Roll your eyes if you want, but it’s true—you need only read Buzz Bissinger’s excellent book Friday Night Lights (which you can bet the title of this series meant to evoke) to know that it’s not hyperbole to say it.

Even before I started coaching youth football last season, I’d heard stories about the intensity with which the game is played at a young age in Texas. To be fair, I have heard stories from throughout the south which echo the same fanatical intensity you hear about in Texas.

So when you watch this show, you have to know going in that this is going to be ratcheted up a few notches beyond what 90 percent of anyone attached to youth football—player, coach or parent—has experienced.

Beyond that, remember that this is a “reality series” more than a documentary. Which is to say, editing for drama is a must.

Which also means we are not seeing well-rounded people—actual people—so much as characters. Because a multifaceted person doesn’t always make for compelling television.

Finally, this organization—the Texas Youth Football Association—does not appear to be a Pop Warner football league, though it may be associated with USA Football, which is the governing body of youth football in America.

They are not associated with the NFL’s youth football safety program, Heads Up Football, according to the website For the Win.

You can tell it’s not a Pop Warner team because not everyone plays—in Pop Warner, everyone has a set amount of plays they are required to participate in, based on the size of your roster.

My son has played youth football both on Pop Warner and non-Pop Warner teams, and both were good experiences, though it is hard to watch from the sidelines when your team is losing and you know you aren’t getting in.

The problem this show—and because of the show, youth football—faces is that most people won’t know any of the above. So this show—for good and ill—is now the face of youth football in America.

And yet, the uncomfortable reality is the picture isn’t all that far off.

In every league, in every city, you have the super-intense coach, the more “positive” coach, and the “lifer” coach. You have the parents who have their son playing because they miss it as much as because their kids want to play, the parents who are clearly uncomfortable but not wanting to make waves and the parents who don’t know enough to know when their kid needs to step away.

Watching the initial trailer, I was put off for a myriad of reasons—not the least of which is that making a documentary or reality show about 8 and 9 year old kids makes me uncomfortable—but as the first episode progressed I recognized that there was far more nuance than I expected.

That’s not to say there isn’t plenty to shake your head at.

image via Awful Announcing.com and Esquire TV

Jr. Broncos coach Chavarria may love to try and give a rousing speech like Vince Lombardi, but he’s far from able to do it.

While he comes off as a blowhard, as you watch the show you can see what he’s trying to do—he just doesn’t have the words or technique to pull it off. Nor does he seem to have the understanding that the way you might fire up or drive a high school kid isn’t likely to work well with grade schoolers.

The most over-the-top coach we see in the initial episode, Chavarria is the one who has a kid puking mid-practice and then praising him for “playing through it.” He’s the one telling his defensive player to jump a whistle and hit the center early to “set the tone” and the coach who is saying he doesn’t care if the other team gets hurt or injured.

Every series needs its villain and Chavarria serves as Tykes’ bad guy.

It’s hard to blame it all on editing either. You can’t listen to him for five minutes and not come away feeling at least a bit off about him and some of his techniques.

But—and here is a hard truth—if you hang around August football practices, you’ll see a slightly less intense version of some of what Chavarria does. Kids run in the heat, kids get banged around and kids sometimes get yelled at. Chavarria may take it to an extreme, but the work is hard and the expectations often high (though it can be said that for 8 and 9 year olds, these expectations are too high).

image via USA Today

The most disturbing moment of the episode is that aforementioned vomiting.

Colby Connell, a 9 year old returning player, gets sick running laps and ends up throwing up pretty violently. Chavarria praises Connell in a voice-over that ‘the kid didn’t quit’ but you’re left with the feeling that maybe the parents and coaches should have made his take a seat for the day.

And here is the difficulty the series will face—while we see a coach pull Connell aside, we don’t see any examination or steps being taken to make sure he is fit to continue playing. And yet, as a youth coach, I find it hard to believe that there weren’t precautions taken. There must have been some time taken to make sure that he wasn’t about to collapse with heat stroke or heat exhaustion.

You don’t see it though, so you’re left wondering whether the Jr. Broncos coaching staff didn’t care or if the editors and producers felt that spending time showing the staff making sure Connell was OK robbed the moment of drama.

And that, more than anything else, was my issue with the show. All too often I was left wondering how much was left on the cutting room floor. I’m pretty sure, for example, that the coaches spent time on proper tackling technique—if just so their own players aren’t hurt. You’d never know it though, as barely a minute is spent total on any sort of coaching beyond admonishing the kids to hit harder, faster and more brutally.

Having been on the practice field, I can tell you that any practice has moments during which a team or coach looks bad or harsh. The team I coached, we spent countless hours drilling the kids on proper technique but if you just filmed our tackling drills, I would imagine we’d look a lot like these coaches. If you filmed only portions of our practices, you might see us yelling at some of the kids (that we were dealing with 12 year olds is besides the point) but not see the positive reinforcement we constantly gave them.

You might see the kids who came early trying to lose weight so they could play sweating and moaning and stumbling, but you wouldn’t see the extra time, effort, support and praise we gave them.

I know all these things and even I had a very hard time trying to keep perspective on what was happening during this show. I can imagine that parents or people who are not or never have been involved in football will look at it and be horrified. And while some of that is certainly justified, some of it is also unfair as we know we aren’t getting a balanced view of anyone.

You’re left with the impression that most of these coaches are insane but the feeling that something is missing.

The show does have a counter-balance to Chavarria and the other coaches in Brian Brashears, the head coach of the Predators.

image via EsquireTV

image via EsquireTV

Brashears, while certainly tough and demanding in his own way, is far more of what people might feel is the “ideal coach” for youth football. While winning is important, he clearly wants his kids to have fun (he even says so—a rarity by any adult during this show) and seems to come across as there for the kids, not because he wants to be Bill Parcells.

During the final ten minutes or so of the show, the Jr. Broncos and the Predators square off and there is definitely a bit of a “good vs. evil” vibe to the setup. Chavarria is angry, grouchy and has a player take a penalty early to “set the tone” (which may seem like poor sportsmanship but is not an uncommon tactic). Brashears encourages his kids, tells them to have fun and comes across as supportive, relatively calm and cool.

In true Hollywood fashion, the white hats beat the black hats but even that feels a bit empty and staged.

Overall, the show is far more intriguing and nuanced than I expected it to be. I came into it assuming I would be disgusted and horrified for 43 minutes—and to an extent that was the case. However, while there are moments that make you cringe, there are also moments which were good food for thought and debate. There are concerned parents, struggling with how far to let their kids get pushed. There are kids who make you wonder how long they’ll be able to—or want to—put forth the massive effort required. There are coaches who go too far and some who seem even keeled.

While I mistrust a lot of what I see and feel that a lot of the events will be made out to be far worse than they are, I am interested to see if the show can strike a balance between the inherent drama of yelling adults and colliding kids with the positive aspects I have seen in my son’s three years playing. How kids can learn leadership, how they can learn to work as a team, how they can overcome adversity.

While Chavarria might seem nuts—and he does—he isn’t wrong when he says that you can learn how to overcome anything if you believe in yourself. You can learn that on a football field and I have seen many kids do so.

Whether we see that in this show is something I am interested in finding out.

My recommendation is to watch, but to take it all with a grain of salt. As I have said before, football isn’t for everybody and every team is very different. Don’t paint every one of them with the same brush as these teams.

Even watching this show, we really don’t know what’s real and what is manufactured.

You can catch the first episode at Esquire.com.

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

23
Jul
13

Winning Dad of the Interwebs for Today (and why cursing sometimes undercuts your point)

So today I read a post at XOJane.com which—I swear to God—is not a normal stop on my daily interweb perusals.

I had missed this particular kerfuffle but apparently there was a 14 year old girl who lives in Austin, Texas and had gotten herself some unintentional internet notoriety (is there any other kind?) for a sign she took to a protest against many of the laws Texas is trying hard to pass restricting women’s health rights.

Now she and her friend came up with a sign which was at once great (because it really was funny in a blue/low brow way) and rude.

I shall repeat the words here—hold onto your knickers kids.

The sign said:

Now, it’s not shocking that this went viral and if you know me, it’s also not shocking I was amused. After all, I have this shirt:

So yeah, if I didn’t offend you with the first one, I probably did there.

I will say, in my defense, that as the son of a carpenter and a man of the people, Jesus would probably converse in language some of you would blush at. My opinion—for whatever it’s worth—is that if Jesus were to pop up today, he’d probably speak to people in vernacular which is common to the majority of us.

And frankly, the above message is his message anyway and the quickest way to say it.

Anyway, let me get back to the story for the three of you still reading (hi mom!).

The young lady in question was shouted and swore at by one “Christian” (I put it in quotes because why paint ya’ll with the same brush?) in person who wasn’t exactly acting very Christian-like.

She also was basically assaulted—by mostly adults—on social media and was called among other things “a whore.”

CLASSY RIGHT?

So this is where dad becomes dad of the interwebs for today—he takes to social media and message boards to back his daughter. But from what I’ve seen, he didn’t just go for the “HEY DOUCHEBAG SAY THAT TO MY FACE AND I’LL KICK YOUR ASS” common behind keyboards across the internet.

He attempted to engage in debate—which as we know on social media, comment boards and message boards is a lost cause. But he did that anyway and continues to.

See, this is an awesome dad because not only is he defending his child he’s showing her that you can have a point and do so without resorting to bullying, name calling or being an asshole.

Maybe you don’t agree with he and his daughter and maybe you think he was irresponsible letting her take that sign out there to begin with. I mean, let’s face it, while you can expect harassment at any protest by people who disagree with you, that sign is a sure way to attract the wrong attention.

It’s eye catching, it gets its point across and again, I laughed, but you risk having your message missed because of the language. It’s rude. One could argue that what the legislature in Texas is doing is rude too, but again, you risk offending more people than changing their mind by not conforming to basic polite language.

The vulgarity of the phrasing can undercut and distract from your point.

On the other hand, I don’t really worry much about conforming so what the crap do I know, amirite?

But back to the dad point—he let her express herself, supported her desire to try and affect change and then when it got tough, he showed the right way to fight back.

That’s what being a parent is about. Guiding your kids, allowing them to make mistakes, backing them when things get tough and showing them the right way to do things.

So good work Bill Cain. Teaching your child to conduct his or herself in the face of hatred or bullying is at least as important as teaching them to be politically active, educated and passionate about their opinions.

In fact, if we could all conduct ourselves with your attitude, we might actually spend time talking through our issues instead of screaming at each other like toddlers.

Hell we might even solve some of them. Crazy, right?

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

19
Jun
13

This is what I was talking about: Can Men Have It All? (Today Show)

In a moment of universal synchronicity (or dumb luck) The Today Show broached a subject we touched on late Tuesday night and will be a frequent topic of conversation around here for some time to come.

image via The Today Show

image via The Today Show

The segment was called “Can Men Have it All?” and it ran Wednesday morning. You can watch the video of it at Today.com, though I’d like to point out they filed it under “Moms”. I guess that’s the target audience but a section called “Dads” or “Parenting” would have been far more apt, right?

I guess that’s a rant for another day.

It’s an interesting video and I wanted to call a few things out in it.

At 0:46 of the video, we’re introduced to Hugh Kenny, who is “doing more around the home” (how novel). Hugh travels three days a week and talks a bit about the sacrifice he makes to do so, missing day care events and sports.

What struck me wasn’t that, because we all have to sacrifice something to balance everything out, right? I won’t judge his choices.

No, what got me was his need to “provide” for his family – just as his dad did before him.

Even with two people working, to Hugh, it’s his job to provide a living for his family.

It’s exactly the same thing the young man who I was trying to council a week or so ago (talked about a little here) was worried about. How can you spend more time with your kids, AND work a full time job AND help around the house AND AND AND

image captured from the movie Big Trouble in Little China and is NOT a self potrait

image captured from the movie Big Trouble in Little China and is NOT a self portrait

:KABOOM:

Seriously, how does your head not explode?

So we’re still stuck in the same place our dads were – it’s up to us (as men) to be the breadwinners even when our wives and partners earn money as well.

Our identity is still wrapped up in that space. That’s incredible pressure.

Don Draper is wondering why you're sitting reading when you should be working dammit. image via AMC's Mad Men

Don Draper is wondering why you’re sitting reading when you should be working dammit. image via AMC’s Mad Men

I was also interested in the host’s question of whether, given the choice a man would choose a promotion (and I would assume more hours/less family time) or more soccer games (more kid time).

It’s a good question and I was a little surprised to hear the guest say more and more men choose the family time. Not because I don’t agree, but because we aren’t programed to do that.

Another thing: 3 out of 5 men don’t hear praise or appreciation from their spouses for their expanded roles.

I don’t know I buy this, but you guys tell me. All I can say is, sometimes I hear it, sometimes I don’t. I also don’t do it for the props, I do what I do because I want to and because I’ve chosen to.

Finally, while I do agree with the guest that the idea that you can “have it all” is in some ways silly because we can’t have everything we want, when we want it, I don’t agree we can’t “have it all”.

Confused? Me too, but bear with me.

We can have it all – if we are better at having a realistic idea of what “it all” is.

Take a friend of mine for example. As far as I can tell, he “has it all”.

He’s working a dream job – I mean, it’s ridiculous how jealous I get of him, and I have worked and do work some fantastic gigs. But with the awesomeness comes lots of work – it’s a full time job and gets more full time during football season.

My friend also has a great family – a wife, three wonderful daughters (one of which has special needs) – who I know mean the absolute world to him.

I constantly see pictures of him in social media, not just at cool work things, but spending time with his family.

Now, is his life perfect? I can’t say. But he’s happy and as far as I can tell, he’s “got it all”. He keeps working to improve it all, and his goals shift but in the end, he sets his expectations in a sane and reasonable manner (most times) and then shoots for his goals.

Maybe his “got it all” isn’t mine or yours, but it’s a damned good one for him. In my mind, it also proves we can have it all.

We just need to do a better and more reasonable job defining what that is.

Maybe it’s providing money for the family. Maybe it’s providing dinner. Maybe it’s providing the care and feeding of the kids. Maybe it’s a mixture of some of those and a few more things.

But let’s first stop limiting ourselves by defining what we are by what our dad’s were.

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