Tag: Dad

Stranded in Suburbia

Stranded in Suburbia

I’m in a bit of an odd predicament.

In my 22nd birthday blog post, I based the whole thing on the fact that there isn’t a lot of external fanfare surrounding 22 compared to 21.

But there is one specific thing that happened when I turned 22, which I sort of alluded to yesterday.

I was able to get a new driver’s license when I turned 21, one that would be horizontal instead of vertical to assure certain establishments that I am of age for things like drinking. But I didn’t have to get my new license because the old one wasn’t expired.

I can no longer say that because the expiration date came yesterday:

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Be glad I’m not showing you the full picture… It’s bad.

For the first time in close to four years, I am no longer legally able to drive myself.

Now I know some of you are probably saying that it shouldn’t matter, because what are the odds of getting pulled over?

Well… Sure. I could still drive around if I wanted, because it’s not like the license is inherently visible unless asked for specifically. I could still do things like hit the gym if I wanted, as I had planned on today to start working off that birthday cake.

After all, I hit 200 lbs on the scale as of my visit to the hematologist last week, and I don’t want to lose too much progress on my journey to become healthier.

But that being said, I live by the same anxieties as my Mom when it comes to these things. Twelve other people could be driving around with expired licenses around me, but with my luck I would be the one who gets caught and pays the price.

So I won’t be driving around on my own today. Just on the off-chance anything happens.

I could still get driven around by my parents, and Mom has gone to the gym with me in the past. It’s not like I’m totally stuck.

… Except for the fact that I stayed home this morning while the rest of the family went out to do chores. Because for some reason I decided doing homework was more important.

And you know, by ‘for some reason’ I mean because I have assignment deadlines.

Deadlines I could be working on instead of this blog post if I didn’t enjoy living on the edge.

Thus, as the title implies, I’m stuck at home doing work today. I even took that artsy Featured Image through the screen door just to imply bars.

Kinda proud of it, honestly.

On the bright side, my pseudo-house arrest shouldn’t last long. I have an appointment at the DMV tomorrow that I’m… Completely looking forward to…

But you know what, if I have to miss my morning class and suffer through government bureaucracy in order to get my driver’s license back, I suppose it will all be worth it in the end.

Who knows, the experience might even give me something interesting to talk about around here.

Guess we’ll just have to see.

The things we leave behind

The things we leave behind

We started to go through some of the stuff my Grandma Rhea had in her room at the assisted living home today.

I know that’s a very morbid way to start one of these, so just trust me when I say I have a not quite as morbid reason for talking it over.

Yesterday I said I probably wouldn’t touch the subject for a while, so the fact that I feel good doing this should say something in itself.

None of us seemed to realize just how many old knickknacks and photos of different family members she had hidden away until we began looking through her bedside table drawers.

For instance, this beautiful little stand stood out to me.

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I’m not entirely sure where it is from or what the 30 is supposed to mean, but the ornate leaf pattern is just great.

We also came across a collection of business cards she apparently ordered for herself:

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It was a genuine surprise to all of us that she had these hiding away, as none of us were ever given any of them.

However, it’s a testament to how much she cared about the little knitting business she was trying to start for herself in her twilight years that she went out of her way to get cards made. There were a few half-finished pieces hiding around the room as well.

I’m probably going to carry one of these cards around, or at least store it in my room somewhere.

But then of course we get to the fun stuff: The photos.

I would say the Featured Image I used is my favorite. From left to right, it’s my Grandma, Dad, Aunt Mindy and Grandpa together at Mindy’s graduation from Kingsborough Community College.

In a similar vein, there’s another photo of the three minus my Dad, this time featuring Rhea’s sister Toby who passed away a few months ago.

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There were also a couple of grandkid pictures she kept, mostly school picture day kind of set-up shots for me, my sister and my two cousins.

Arguably the most interesting things we dug up, however, were these:

From the Brookside Hotel in Kerhonkson, New York.

I can’t confess to knowing what these are called, and if you know I would really appreciate some insight. Though in general they kind of remind me of ViewMasters.

On the other side of the larger, capped end are tiny little photos. That cap is slightly translucent and you can hold it up to the light while looking through the smaller end as though it were a small kaleidoscope.

Time has been kind to these, as in 2019 we have magical pocket-sized devices with small, yet fantastic cameras that I figured could easily simulate looking inside.

So I have the photos within to show you in as similar to an authentic means as possible.

First there’s this photo of my grandparents together when they were younger.

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Then there’s this photo of my Dad with his parents later:

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Knowing that Grandma has all of these hiding away actually made me feel a whole lot better about this entire unexpected, difficult ordeal. It’s a good reminder of just how much she cared about us that she held onto all of this for… Well who knows how many years.

The feeling is bittersweet, but more positive than upsetting overall.

It helped that my Aunt Mindy and Cousin Erica were down here today along with us.

Because if nothing else, them being here meant we also had dogs.

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The good boy Rocky (left) and good girl Sophie (right). Plus Aly’s a good girl too, I suppose.

With these puppos, it’s hard to really be upset.

Unexpected technological developments

Unexpected technological developments

I had a few friends over this afternoon as a last-ditch hangout for Winter Break. Back to school Tuesday.

Woo-hoo.

We watched a couple of movies together. Mortal Engines was a total dumpster fire. Then Isle of Dogs was a decent palate cleanser in spite of it being super weird.

However I’m not planning on talking about either in heavy detail today. Nor am I planning on going back to talk about Green Book, as I mentioned in my Fantastic Beasts post yesterday. Though out of every movie I just mentioned, Green Book is the one you should see.

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A leftover from my plans to maybe talk about the movie today.

It’s a really solid period piece following a working-class Italian-American family man chauffeuring a gay, black, eccentric musician across the Deep South during the 1960s. Super great music, characters and a well-written script.

Would highly recommend.

Though if you hadn’t gathered it from the leading information on this post, instead of talking about movies I have an update on something totally different.

A few weeks ago I wrote about getting a computer for Gladeo stuff. I didn’t touch it for a while because the semester got busy and there wasn’t a lot of space in my room to fit a new PC.

But when I cleaned my room recently, I pushed back my TV cabinet so there would be that necessary space. After that I wanted to sit down with my Dad to set the computer up, but there have been various waves of sickness running through the house.

I didn’t expect all of that to come to a head tonight. I simply underestimated the drive of my friend Juan, who is super into computers. Like builds his own PCs from scratch.

Which sounds familiar if you remember my Bumblebee review, I’m sure.

When I first got the machine he asked about the specs, but as someone who doesn’t pay that much mind I wasn’t even really sure where to find them. Time went by and we all kind of forgot about it.

But then we went to grab something in my room tonight, he caught sight of the machine and started to look it over. One thing led to another and soon enough part of the hangout turned into setting up computer time.

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I’m officially a proponent of free labor.

Turns out that extra space I laid out works pretty well for what I need:

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Even though I might not keep the extension cords squished between the machine and my desk, I’ll have to decide later.

In the meantime we booted this thing up and decided to take a look.

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Check out that pretty display. It’s certainly a step up from the desktop Mac that was there before, which I might not ever have to plug-in again considering I took everything that I wanted.

So now I have a brand new computer to toy around with as the spring 2019 semester begins.

… Or actually, perhaps not so soon. Apparently the machine can’t connect to wi-fi, and we might have to figure out a different way to get the thing online.

I’ll have to sit down with my Dad and look things over later. Maybe tomorrow.

For now I’m going to go back to waiting on that super blood moon and watching Bob’s Burgers with the crew. Because god damn that show is funny.

Script Doctoring at its finest

Script Doctoring at its finest

If I haven’t made it totally obvious around here, I like movies.

I like movies a lot. A good chunk of that love comes from my dad, who was a pretty serious actor for a while and continues to work in the movie industry, currently for Fandango as I’ve discussed in the past. Thanks to him I’ve seen all kinds of flicks from throughout cinema history.

As time has progressed, seeing movies with him (and the rest of my family by extension) has essentially become a fun exercise in script doctoring. While a ‘script doctor’ may be an actual industry term for someone who consults on a script before it is put into production, I mean it more in a post-viewing thought experiment sense. Being able to walk away from a movie and discuss what could have been done to improve upon it.

Granted there are elements of hindsight involved knowing everything that happens as a finished product rather than seeing it in its fledgling development. A development that may be plagued with other problems that lead to less than stellar end products.

But we discuss things with those points aside. We have no real qualms given that none of us have any intent to create our own movie anytime soon. It’s just fun talking about how we might have improved certain things.

Superhero movies have been an excellent source of that internal debate for the last few years. Especially thanks to the Marvel and DC cinematic universes attempting to create larger, cohesive universes. That kind of large-scale project opens up tons of opportunities to pull from previously established canon in both the comics and movies to determine what might be better ways of moving in the direction those studios are going toward.

DC movies are the obvious ‘easy target.’ You’ve probably heard all of the comments: They ruin a bunch of popular characters. They’re doing everything to catch up to Marvel in too much of a compressed timeline. The dark, gritty approach to superhero storytelling isn’t utilized well.

For the most part I can’t say I’d argue. There are plenty of recent DC movies that I thought I would love just based off trailers which wound up being disappointing. Suicide Squad and Batman V. Superman come to mind immediately.

However, there’s plenty of good things going on in the DC cinematic universe. Things that we all want to work out better in an overall context because of how iconic the characters are.

The Batman and Justice League animated series’ from the 90s/00s were huge parts of my childhood. I knew Batman and Superman and all of those characters growing up because of how iconic those shows were, given the fact that I was never much of a comic book reader.

Outside of the big characters like Spiderman or Hulk, I wouldn’t know anything about Marvel until they began their own cinematic universe. Though, to be fair, as amazing as that universe is there still are flaws. It just happens that the flaws are less noticeable due to how much is going well around them.

I would also say that the MCU has been a big thing to me because of how amazing an example it is of creating an extensive universe. Of crafting stories that all tie in together and create one giant experience.

For someone who wound up becoming a writer, it’s amazing to see.

But all of that aside, I feel like I’m getting too tangent-y with what should otherwise be a simple post. Basically, I love discussing the flaws and successes of each superhero movie with my family because of their merits as good cinema and because of the engaging universes they create.

That post-movie critique is frankly as important to me as the movies themselves.

This summer, I’ve taken those interests in post-critiques to a whole new level. My realm of consistent YouTube views has expanded into more analytical channels, rather than simply let’s plays and other video game stuff.

Some notable examples, because I’m honestly using this post as an excuse to promote these people include:

  • NerdSync — A channel focused on looking at not just obscure bits of comic book stories and trivia, but looking at them through the lens of the real world history that led to in-universe decisions. Great 10-minute watches which have taught me so much more about comics themselves that also often promote other comic book-related creators on YouTube.
  • Captain Midnight — More or less the same idea as NerdSync, examining decisions in comic books (primarily their movies) through the lens of real world decisions and general tropes surrounding them. Includes interludes on every video showing commercials and media properties from earlier decades related to modern-day cinematic counterparts that are very recognizably stylized and pretty cool.
  • Mother’s Basement — Kind of does for anime what channels like NerdSync do for comic books. Examining the problematic or successful underlying writing tropes and such which go into beloved shows. Loves to bash on Sword Art Online, which I find hilarious having never watched the show but knowing just how hated it is by anime fans.
  • Just Write — If you want to be a writer like I do, this channel is a good place to spend some time. They look at popular media (be it books, television, movies or some combination of the three) to pick apart specific traditional writing clichés or innovations. Some really notable pieces on shows like Westworld or the modern-day Star Wars trilogy that I love and have been able to use as some writing inspiration for my own novel.

These guys join a pantheon of other more analytic-focused channels that I now enjoy the catalogs of, amongst mainstays like Game Theory, Cinema Sins and Wisecrack.

None of these creators are the reason I decided to write this post in the first place, however. I found a brand new addition to this list today that really pushed me over the edge.

Nando v Movies is a channel that looks at all different movie genres (though primarily superhero flicks) through an analytical realm similar to the others I listed. Picking apart tropes and clichés to see what works and what doesn’t.

But Nando does something a little different to stand apart from the crowd.

He is, essentially, a very well-researched script doctor.

What my dad and I might do just based off knowledge of the cinematic universes we’re observing after watching a new DC movie, he does using a full breadth of comic book history to draw upon.

He quite literally acts out brand new scripts for scenes that either minutely or majorly change a film in a way that drastically changes things. I don’t think I’ve seen any videos of his that misses the mark in making both good and bad films better in some way, shape or form.

He doesn’t just look at the major cinematic universes too, though his work on lackluster DC flicks are pretty amazing. He also looks at the Marvel Netflix shows and other major blockbusters. Star Wars, Ready Player One, Jurassic World. All of which are given minor adjustments with so much heart that they feel like they could be easily canonical.

Even if he too acknowledges in part one of his Justice League rewrite that he has the benefit of hindsight and no movie-making pressure. That’s sort of where I stole my own earlier disclaimer from, as a disclaimer.

Side note, investigations and fan theories for the current Star Wars films have become some of my favorite things. Because I enjoyed the Last Jedi, but I’d almost say I enjoy fan-generated ideas for the Last Jedi better than what we got in theaters.

Now with all this said, I don’t always agree with the content of the creators I’ve mentioned here today. But I feel like that’s just as big a part of the magic behind watching them as the amazing theories and insight they’ve been able to cobble together for mediums I haven’t paid too much attention to.

The Internet, for as divisive as it can be, is an excellent place to pose ideas and invite civil debate. I love having the opportunity to compare my own ideas and headcanons to their own.

So that’s essentially my pitch for the day as I finish this post seeing I’ve somehow almost hit 1,500 words. Go out and find some analytical content for your favorite things.

It’s not only an excellent way to kill time, but an excellent way to kill it with engaging, thoughtful material.

Cookin’ for Dad

Happy Father’s Day, everyone! I hope you have all had a great day with your families.

My sister and I typically have a tradition of cooking breakfast for holidays centered around mom and dad. Father’s Day, Mother’s Day, birthdays, etc. However, this year we decided to do something a little different by cooking dinner instead, since we had breakfast with the more extended family yesterday.

Figured that would make for perfect blog fodder tonight. Though I probably won’t spend too much time fiddling around here because of the whole. You know. Time with the family kind of stuff.

That in mind, hope you’re all ready for some Eggplant Parmesan.


After breakfast yesterday, Aly and I stopped at a grocery store to pick up everything we needed. Eggplant, bread crumbs, pasta, eggs, marinara sauce.

There was only one thing we missed… But I’ll discuss that later for anyone who cant figure out what just yet.

Using the eggs, along with some half-and-half, we made a batter to stick the eggplant slices in before coating them in the breadcrumbs.

From there the slices got fried, which was primarily my job since I’m fairly well known around these parts for being the guy who does things like cook the bacon.

Then once all of the eggplant was done we moved on to the rest of the meal while letting it stay warm in a 200 degree oven.

We hit the pasta and sauce at the same time, one on each stovetop.

Fun fact, Alyson decided to grab angel hair nests in some grandiose attempt to make our meals look fancy…

And I was right telling her that they would just fall apart in the water anyway.

So take that, Aly.

Once those portions were finished, the only step remaining was putting it all together:

Delicious.

Now, for the attentive viewers out there, you might notice that our Eggplant Parmesan was missing a little something.

… The parmesan.

Yeah somehow we managed to make a meal while completely forgetting an ingredient that literally comprises half the name of the dish.

It takes an impressive amount of screwing up to do that, frankly.

Luckily we had SOME cheese in the house to make the meal better. It just wound up being Eggplant Provolone more than Eggplant Parmesan in the end.

But hey, it was still just as tasty.

All we needed to wrap up the meal was a good old fashioned Western. Thank goodness Westworld was here to save the day.

Get it? It’s a spaghetti western.

Haha. Ha.

I hope the joke was worth it, because the episode was heavy this week. Like… Wow.

But hey that’s neither here nor there. Again, I hope you all had a great Father’s Day, and thank you for making my silly series of cooking pictures a part of it.

English Papers from the Flip Side

Between going off to meetings in Fullerton and building somewhat mindlessly in Minecraft tonight, I kind of lost track of time and almost forgot to write a thing.

So I’m just going to take the easy way out and riff on something real fast and dirty that I’m finally seeing from a new perspective tonight: High school English essays.

English was probably my favorite subject in high school, which all things being equal makes sense considering the industry I was headed toward by working at the school’s paper for four years.

Don’t listen to young, naive Jason who’s ready to tell you math was my favorite subject in school. Because he’s wrong. Algebra was okay. But the geometry and the trigonometry and the calculus certainly were not.

One out of three classes does not a favorite make, you idiot. Stop lying to yourself.

But hey that’s enough self-reflection and self-flagellation for one night. Obviously that’s not what I’m here to do.

What I’m here to do is talk about English classes, all of which required just a ton of essays every year. Especially AP Language and AP Literature, both boasting the extra requirements of essays specific to the AP tests that were just… A lot of work. Like so much work. Like write three different kinds of essays in the span of an hour after answering 100 multiple choice questions kind of work.

Yet surprisingly enough, I’m not here to relive that nightmare either.

I’m here to talk about the basic weeks-long essays that happened throughout the year in every English class. You know the ones, those essays where one quarter would be focused on persuasive writing, followed by the next quarter focusing on argumentative writing.

I bring up all of this writing because tonight my sister was working on completing final edits for her research paper on how music can effect a person’s perception of restaurants/the meals they eat. Because let’s face it, she’s as one-track-minded about music as I am about video games.

Also just incorporated video games into my post about Aly again. #GotHer

Back in my high school English days, there were many a long night of staying up late with my parents to finish papers. Actual writing, editing for copy, creating work cited pages, and so on.

While I certainly did appreciate their help keeping me from going crazy at the time, I never quite realized how impactful it was to have a couple of good editors around to prevent me from going crazy staring at my own text for too long. My mom has always been the copy editor — now reflected in her career as a book editor (hint hint plug plug) — while my dad has always been the content editor, always good at framing things the right way.

Tonight I got the opportunity to really appreciate the impact of that work when I became both copy and content editor for my sister as my parents were out of the house.

Now you may think my seven years of experience working on newspapers, many of which have been in editorial positions, would have made this a quick-and-easy time.

If so, you too seem to not realize the vast divide that exists between writing short, informational print for newspapers versus writing elegant prose for English essays. Because they are entirely different beasts and switching back to the older style (older in my personal chronology anyway) is kind of a pain.

There were some noticeable benefits to switching back to English prose however, in my opinion.

I got to be more wordy and expand upon thoughts more verbosely, for instance. It has always been a criticism of my work that my papers tend to be too long or wordy, but after many years of focusing on becoming more concise to fit a newspaper format it was a lot easier to take the middle-of-the-road approach.

Not too long, but enough extra space to be able to elaborate on thoughts more readily.

I suppose there really is no good way to end off this short, kind of silly post because Aly has to turn in the essay tomorrow so I can’t resolve the cliffhanger of how well she did on it.

So instead I’ll just say… Thank you mom and dad, for dealing with me when I got so exhausted staring at a paper that you had to do 90 percent of the job by pushing me toward the correct ideas.

Because that’s basically what I had to do tonight, and it was… Interesting seeing things from the other side.



Bonus content:

Enjoy Aly laughing herself into a coma as she seriously loses it trying to edit photos of chef Mario Batali into the powerpoint presentation she needs to accompany her essay.

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One Night at the Improv

One Night at the Improv

When I turned 21 about a month ago, one of the presents my parents got me were tickets to see the live show for one of my favorite podcasts: Hollywood Babble-On with Ralph Garman and Kevin Smith.

Unfortunately the show sells out rather fast well in advance. So we weren’t able to get tickets closer to my actual birthday.

But hey, the timing doesn’t matter all that much. I still got to go after all! Had a blast too while I was at it.

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Here’s me and my dad in a very lousy picture taken with poor club lighting.

My dad and I have been listening to Hollywood Babble-On together for a long time now. Back in my high school days, probably starting as far back as my freshman year, it would be one of the staple podcasts in our wheelhouse of things to listen to on the way to school in the morning.

Now, for a little bit of context assuming most of you won’t know about it, Babble-On is a dirty, downright raunchy show. All the portions that don’t have Ralph yelling about this or that celebrity doing something dumb and awful usually involves some level of sexual or morbid humor. It’s generally objectively terrible stuff… But terrible stuff delivered in just the most hilarious way you can imagine.

If you’re an awful person who loves the entertainment business like me, you’ll probably enjoy it.

That said, getting to experience the show live with the guy who got me into it was a whole new kind of experience.

We started in the main bar area at about 8:30 p.m. or so and had dinner, which guaranteed us a reserved spot at the show. I had pizza and he had a burger, which were both pretty damn good I’d say. Dinner also included a couple of hours just sitting around and talking about life, since the show didn’t start until 10:30 p.m.

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Somehow got a much better shot of Kevin (left) and Ralph (right) than I did of us…

We got relatively lucky at tonight’s show, as it was the first Babble-On performed since Kevin has been out of the hospital from his recent heart attack.

… Okay, us getting lucky about getting to see a show because someone else survived a heart attack SEEMS like a statement centering the focus somewhere it shouldn’t belong… But hey, you’re on my blog. If you want a more personal perspective about Kevin’s well-being, just follow his stuff.

If tonight is any indication, he’s doing way better.

That said, if nothing else the aftermath of that experience made for a fun first 20 minutes or so.

Did I mention that the show was nearly three hours long last night? Because it was, and we didn’t leave the Improv until 1:15 a.m. or so this morning. Don’t get me wrong, we had a blast, but it’s going to be arduous to listen through the show again to see if we show up in the general background audience noise.

The shout out we sent in emails for was unfortunately not read during the show. But we were so close to the stage that I wouldn’t be surprised if I hear my obnoxiously loud laugh or a cough somewhere along the way, despite the fact that there were probably close to 200 people packed into that comedy club.

Because of the length of the show, I don’t think it would be healthy for me to lose much more sleep just to break the whole thing down. Long story short, it was super fun, I might link to the audio once this episode goes up and I probably won’t ever listen to Babble-On the same way ever again.

It’s an interesting phenomenon to think about, the fact that you can be imagining something auditory one way for years only to have that whole perception change when you finally see it in person.

Maybe I’ll look into that more and write about it one of these days…

But obviously that’s a tale for another time if I do.

I think it’s also worth mentioning that tonight served as another milestone for my being 21: I drank for the first time!

Yes, yes, that ever-present right of passage that literally nobody would ever let me hear the end of when I was making my way through the earlier parts of college and refused to drink. I figured if there were ever a good time to try alcohol, it would be at a raunchy comedy show at the famous Hollywood Improv.

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Given the fact that I have no idea how alcohol works, I let my dad pick out my poison. A White Russian he decided, as he figured it would taste enough like a milkshake to circumvent the bitter alcoholic content.

Unfortunately, that was but a pipe dream.

I’ll be honest, I barely got through half of the small drink I had. While my mom later argued it would have been better to go with something like a rum and coke, I just still don’t know if that would have been my thing.

Maybe I just don’t really understand the appeal. All I got out of the drink was a harsh, bitter taste that burned on the way down. Bitter without any flavor to disguise it.

I don’t know, I suppose I can try again later, but for now my first experience with alcohol was a failed one. Even if the venue surrounding the drink was unforgettable.

Though it is probably worth mentioning that as I suffered through one drink like a loser, Ralph managed to down three shots and four glasses of Guinness in honor of St. Patrick’s Day.

So that’s one for the book of masculinity I’m sure someone is keeping.