December 30

Star Wars: The Force Awakens, A Movie Review

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I was determined to see Star Wars: The Force Awakens. So determined, in fact, I convinced myself my kids would sit through a movie about men with giant glow sticks. I took the two three-year-old children who can’t sit through anything that doesn’t have Mickey Mouse or the characters from Inside Out in it. But hey, Star Wars is now directed by Mickey Mouse, right?

Eighty dollars later, we made our way to our reserved seats. This was high-class cinema. 3-D glasses were handed out, with one kid giving the, “only douchebags wear sunglasses inside” look to me as we battled back and forth to keep the glasses on his face. With five minutes before lights dim, our nachos sat on trays, with fancy packaged chips.

A half hour of trailers left the floor running with spilled soft drink. The fizzy drink wrapped and twisted around globs of nacho cheese, creating what appeared to be a crime scene involving a man who bled nacho cheese and Sprite.

My kids gave their best impression of Mystery Science Theater, throwing chips and shouting “Oh no! Uh oh” at the trailers. As a toddler stuck to me with the glue of corn syrup and cheese, the thunderous theme of Star Wars roared through the theater as the lights went black.

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*Whole ton of DUN and DUNDUNS* 

Up the screen scrolled the prologue. It was happening! I whispered excitedly, word for word, what scrolled up the screen. Sure, I was covered in theater cuisine, but Star Wars!

The movie started with something happening which I don’t remember because at this point there was a loud crackle, as my son detached himself from the cheesey syrup goo that bound us and made his way a seat over to his mother.

“Ma! Baby? Ma, baby! Ma”

For those who don’t speak toddler, I can translate this for you.

“Hey Mom, did Dad really spend eighty dollars on this? I mean that is cool and all, I just don’t think it is fair that the baby gets to hang with Grandma while I sit here watching a movie about people who play with large glow sticks and use mind powers. I should have had a choice in the matter, don’t you think? Anyways, take me to grandma’s or I’m gonna throw myself on the floor.”

It was this point in the movie where his brother nodded in agreement, hopping off his mother’s lap, turning to her,

“Ma, Baby!”

*Translation*

“He is right, I demand you take us to Grandma”

As jackets were put on and shh noises echoed around, Darth Killian and Darth Nicolas made their way out of the theater with Emperor Ma. There I sat, with soggy half-eaten nachos (at like fifteen dollars a chip, you best believe I ate every last one of those), watching what is now the most expensive movie I have ever watched. My kids refused to be indoctrinated into the Star Wars culture, which I kind of have a sigh of relief for because I don’t really care for Star Wars. Or I didn’t, before I spent eighty bucks on the last one. Did I mention I spent eighty bucks to watch the movie by myself and hold my bladder after drinking one and a half large soft drinks? Anyways, super fan now, would recommend the movie to anyone who have kids who might actually want to stay through more than the rolling opening.

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December 12

My kids Are Fine Next To The Dog, Thank You.

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At three months old, our son decided he wanted to roll off the bed. In barrel like fashion, he began his gleeful lemming journey to the edge of the bed. Ever the alert parent, I sat there tending to something else.

This story is supposed to end with a baby on the ground and me spending the day trying to find the right cap to hide the bump on his head while feeling like an awful parent, right?

Wrong.

Before my son made his first foray into professional diving, our dog, Stella, moved into action. Jumping from her sunbathing spot next to the window, she positioned herself on the edge of the bed. Sighing, she shoved the baby back towards the middle of the bed with her snout. Then she looked at me, as if to say, “Where is my damn treat, I saved the furless one’s life.”

Similar moments have filled the three years of my children’s lives. My kids heading towards what can only be a hospital visit, Stella swooping in and guiding her furless pups away from imminent danger.

Protecting her furless babies, asking only snuggles and scraps of breakfast. The bond built between my kids and her is palpable.

There is one problem.

Stella is a Pit Bull. They aren’t supposed to be nice, gentle, loving creatures. Since the birth of my children, we have dealt with the unsolicited advice on how we need to protect our children from our vicious dog lying lazily in the sun. The same dog who keeps one eye firmly on the kids, their safety becoming a top priority for her.

The problem isn’t our dog, who was rescued from under a dumpster when she was no bigger than the palm of my hand. It is owners who don’t know how to take care of pets. Just like there are bad children out there, whose only fault is having parents who suck.

Because of the stigma against Pit Bulls, I would spend every morning after work preparing my dog for the imminent arrival of children. Whether it was reading on how to introduce her to the new additions or working on her “tricks” to promote listening and obedience, I took the time to make sure she would be a family friendly pet.

It wasn’t hard.

What is hard is dealing with ignorant people. People who spend about as much time learning about Pit Bulls as they do posting how the breed(s) are killers. People who get a dog and don’t spend the time preparing said dog for situations in which it might feel uncomfortable.

When the boys, now three, become too much for our dog, she knows she has a zone in the house they aren’t allowed to bother her in. As they get more rambunctious and she gets a little more tired every day, she will make her way to the bedroom to rest without toddlers trying to use her as a pillow.

Stella, my rescue baby, was found under a dumpster. Left for dead. From there, she found her way to my family and came alive, nurturing and loving our children since the moment I sat their carseats in the kitchen and brought her to meet them.

I trust my dog with my kids more than I trust you with them.

 

(There is an Ah-Mazing documentary called Beyond The Myth, which I encourage people to watch. I will also concede, Stella can be an awful running partner.)

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December 9

You Can Have My Words When You Pry Them From My Cold, Dead Hands

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It has been a little over a year since I picked up the metaphorical pen and began to bleed ink and personal demons onto screen. By fighting my battles publicly, I hoped to inspire. Fuck, more importantly, I hoped to win those daily battles with my self. I didn’t limit myself to sadness or funny parenting anecdotes. My blog doesn’t have parameters on it. Sure, sometimes I would publish elsewhere, hoping the place I published was a “fit” for my writing. On the road, though, I continued not to have what some would call a “theme” to Punk Rock Papa.

The theme is me, the ebb and flow of my emotions. Personal musings and stories I am too tired of keeping to myself. I don’t limit myself, I cannot always be funny or serious. I am an ocean, vast and largely uncharted.

Since the start, I have looked for badges of affirmation of my skill. To date, I have been on so many different online publications, too many to list (I will, if you ask though). My words have been stolen. It was kind of cool to me, maybe the most assuring sign that I wrote something worth reading. Something worth stealing is my favorite badge.

Through the growing pains all writers face, I have faced the gauntlet of rejections. I have been rejected from so many online publications, too many to list (I will, if you ask though). I have learned the ugly underbelly of sites, where they sit using your words to stack their money off of pop up ads attached uglily to your words.

I get it, I have been there on these sites, too mesmerized at someone wanting my words to notice they were being used for the purpose to line someone else’s pocket.

Maybe I was naive. Comfortable in an ignorant bliss and content to be used because, fuck, sometimes it just feels good to be wanted. Even when you are being used.

Maybe you don’t write. You could sit there and enjoy reading other’s stories. Identifying with people around the world and learning some feelings you have that confuse you are all too common. Blogging, or Instant Gratification Writing as I prefer to call it, has created a beautiful connection between souls all around the world.

It is important to remember the users. The people who choose to feed off these beautiful connections for profit.

The editors of sites that don’t do anything other than figure out the best placement for their ads around people’s words.

I was an editor for a short time. The Original Bunker Punks, a complete out of pocket dream of a group of friends who all gave something for it’s creation. A beautiful, bold, project created to push writers to do one thing. To better themselves. Without tooting my horn (Oh well, Toot-fucking-toot) we did that. We took writers who had NEVER been published ANYWHERE and worked one on one with them to polish their work, holding their hand along the journey. It was the most exhausting and most rewarding thing I ever did. I made so many good friends and got to watch as BOOM, publication after publication began to pick them up.

It isn’t something I take credit for. I don’t mention it to assume credit. I am not holier-than-thou enough to think my working with them made them into these writers that big sites wanted to publish. Sure, I think I definitely helped them and hopefully I did something with them that caused them to write with more confidence, knowing they had the talent to make these big sites if they sat down and tried.

The mission statement for  OBP was, “Everybody has a voice,”. We believed that, to our core. We wanted content. I would often tell people, “Even Stephen King has an editor,”. The editors and myself believed in the writers and we could only pay them in our editorial skills and promotion. But we paid in full, on both parts.

We celebrated our writers and their words, not ourselves. We went as far as giving other publications essays we had worked on, in hopes of doing what was best for the writer. I spent a good portion of my free time having private conversations with editors of other sites, telling them about writers that might be a good fit for their sites. I pushed writers towards publications I felt would not only covet their work but also give it an audience it deserved.

I don’t know that I was a good editor, I assume the jury is still out on that. I can’t meet a deadline to save my life. I get overwhelmed by anything that feels like a job.

As a writer with experience as an editor, I have learned a lot about the writing world. I have also tasted the bitter pill of someone using my words for profit without giving anything back.

I am tired of these sites. I am tired of having them take my words and decorate them with crap ads while leaving my name in a tiny spot in the corner, hidden away. I have a few sites I will write happily for, free of charge, because I know the people behind the project and I know they will give back in other ways, not hide my name.

Pay or promote. One or the other. It isn’t so hard.

Here is my long winded call to writers, editors and readers. Stop supporting sites that don’t support you. There are these giant sites that take words and use them to line the pockets of a few and build the following of themselves.

The secret they don’t want you to know is they are not your masters. Without your words, without your views, they are nothing.

Stop supporting sites that treat writers like shit, so those sites stop existing. 

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