Monsters on the left coast!

So I went to a free pre-screening of the upcoming Summer blockbuster, “Pacific Rim”, directed by Guillermo del Toro,  yesterday. In case you haven’t heard of it, here is the premise of the film. An inter dimensional rift opens up allowing “Kaiju” or great monsters to cross to and attack earth. Earth puts aside its petty geopolitical differences and comes together to defeat the threat. The way they do this is by creating an army of “Jaegers” or hunters, two-pilot giant robots, to take on the monsters from another world. If you’re thinking “Godzilla vs. Ultraman” you’re on the right path. Here are some thoughts with as few spoilers as possible:

1. The story was good. It could have been better, but it was alright. Some of the plot points were a little weak and some of the dialogue was as well. Over all though,it was a pretty decent story.

2. The acting ranged from forced-feeling to sublime. Some of the best was turned in by Charlie Day (It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia) and Burn Gorman (Torchwood) as Dr. Newton Geiszler and Gottlieb, a couple of crazy scientist types. Their characters and story lines were hilarious and well played. Also on the great side was Ron Perlman (Hellboy, Sons of Anarchy). He played a character called Hannibal Chau, a “dealer” in illicit Kaiju parts. Think Powdered Goat Horn or Eye of Newt. While it was a fairly small part, Perlman pulled it off flawlessly. Good stuff.

Not so great in my humble opinion was the acting from Charlie Hunnam (Sons of Anarchy), Idris Elba (Luther, Thor) and Rinko Kikuchi (???) as Raliegh Beckett, Stacker Pentecost and Mako Mori, respectively. Maybe it was just me, but I’ve seen “the guy at the top of his game who loses his way but gets called back to the big leagues by the desperate, hard ass boss to save the world while falling in love with the beautiful girl” done a million times and it was just … predictable. There was even the “Maverick/Iceman” tension scene from “Top Gun” thrown in for good measure.  Was it necessary? For this movie, yeah, probably, but that doesn’t make it any less difficult to sit through. All that said, would I sit through two hours and 11 minutes of this movie again? Definitely! Because …

3. The special effects, sets, set dressing, costumes and every other visual element this movie threw at you! OH.MY.GOD! It was BEAUTIFUL. I say this through the eyes of a 12 year old kid who grew up watching Godzilla, Ultron, Voltron, TMNT, Power Rangers and others until my eyes bled. You want to watch the Power Rangers and not feel guilty about being 35 + while doing it? This is the movie for you. I have been waiting for this movie my whole life and never knew it until the first strains of music assaulted my ears after the lights went down. It was spectacular. I believe the future of some genres of movies (Anime, etc.) that haven’t been fully explored to this point have just been green lighted. I have seen the future and I am excited about it. If any of this piques your interest or sounds good to you? GO SEE THIS MOVIE!

Has it really been 27 years …

Twenty-seven years ago, I was in the delivery room with a very worried wife, a group of dedicated, compassionate nurses and a douche bag doctor. My wife was 7 months pregnant and going into labor. Christopher Thomas Bradford came into my life that day. He was beautiful. Shock of dark hair, olive complected, bright blue eyes … and he was dead. Stillborn. Who knows what happened. The pregnancy had been going fine as far as I can recall. But somehow, for some reason, the umbilical cord had gotten wrapped around his neck and he died. When he was delivered, as a stunned father and his wife were trying to take in the fact that our world had just been shattered into a billion tiny, soul shredding shards, the douche bag commented that “this baby’s been dead for a while” an walked off.

I was so shocked I just stood there dumbfounded. How heartless can you be? I know you’re an Army doctor and your making pennies compared to what you could be making on the outside, but for F**KS Sake man, have you NO compassion?

I had to call my mom and dad and in-laws and break the news to them. I know they wanted to help, be there … do … something, but we were in Germany and, for all intents and purposes, alone … together. The next few days were a blur. Somehow, I don’t remember why or how, a stuffed bunny found it’s way into our lives. Danna latched onto it and wouldn’t let it go. We cried, not really comforting each other, but dealing with our pain as individuals. Hell, we had only been married a little over a year. We were still learning to be a couple.

We made arrangements, or they were made for us, to fly home and bury my baby … my first born. I honestly cant tell you what that was like. I remember thinking I had to be strong because that’s what men do. I had to be there to let Danna grieve. I didn’t want my dad to see me and think I was weak because I was losing it even though I couldn’t concentrate on a damned thing because someone was sticking a flaming torch full of glass shards into my gut and twirling it back and forth. How young and stupid I was.

We did what people do. We buried Chris in Cooper Cemetery and went back to Germany to pick up our lives. We sucked it up and carried on. But every day since then, EVERY DAMNED DAY since then, I think about him. It really gets bad when it gets closer to his birthday. I wonder. What would he be like? What music would he listen to? What would my life have been like with him in it these 27 years later? What kind of man would he have grown up to become? I wonder …

I also HATE that I wonder. Why? Because life, as is its wont, marched on. A little more than a year later Josh was born. He’s 25 now … 26 in November. A couple of years later Ryan joined our happy trio and made us a quad. He just turned 23 last week. I love my two boys … young men … dearly. I am proud of the men they have become and the lives they lead. I know that had Chris lived, we probably would have stopped there and Ryan would never have been born and hard as I try to imagine, I can’t conceive of a life without Ryan.

I coached their bowling team when they were younger. They were accepted into the French Immersion program in elementary school so I took four years of French to be able to help them out if they needed it. I took them out of school to go to the early matinee … The Mighty Morphing Power Rangers, Lord of the Rings, Spiderman and many, many more. They were and continue to be the biggest source of pride in my life. I love them so …

Chris, I know you would have been a fine man. I’m sorry I didn’t get to see that happen. You will always be my first son and I will always hold a special place in my heart for you. I think you would like your brothers. With a smile, I imagine the joyous chaos that our lives would have been with you in it. The madness and mayhem we would have caused, together, as the years passed. Mom would’ve been out-manned, outnumbered and out of her mind trying to deal with all of us. She would have loved it. Good times, man.

So. here we are. Life moves on. Seems to be picking up speed these past few years. Must be one of the side effects of passing the half-century mark. I’ll wake up tomorrow and go to work, do my chores, have dinner with the family, watch a hockey game and maybe some baseball and all will be well. But know that you will be on my mind. Happy Birthday and rest peacefully.

Love,

Dad

Testing the iPad app

So I’ve really been busy lately. The house got flooded and work has been a, well, we’ll just call it “a bear”, if you know what I mean. I did get this great app that will supposedly let me post to the blog on the iPad. Just thought I’d check it out. Catch ya later!!!

Indianapolis or Bust!

Well, obviously its a bust ’cause there’s no way i’m getting anywhere near Indiana. In case you’ve been living in a cave or just don’t care, it’s Superbowl Weekend and I have a HUGE party planned … that is if everyone shows up!

Of course that also hinges on whether or not we don’t end up in Oz or some comparable foreign land. It’s been raining this week. A lot.

And wind.

And tornados.

And lightning.

In fact, mom called me this morning at 9 a.m. To tell me about it.

The conversation went something like this:

Me (groggily as she woke me up): Hello?

Her (shocked): don’t tell me you slept through THAT!

Me: What?

Her: THE RAIN! It folded our antennas in half!

Me (feigning coherence): Really?

Her: Yes … Oh wait. Lemme call you back. That’s Merle Norman calling. K? Bye!!!!

So now I’m up. I grab my pith helmet and hit the jungle that is “the back 40” of my property and this is what to my wondering eyes did appear:

Click Photos to Embiggen

The creek running through my back yard is normally just a trickle. The creek bed is at least 12 feet below where it is running now. Probably closer to 16-18 feet.

Too late to worry much now. The party is planned and we will bravely soldier on making our preparations for the guests we’ve invited while at the same time, keeping an eye on the looming disaster in the back yard.

If we’re not here when you all arrive, we’ve probably been swept away to some strange and far-away land. Don’t worry about us though. I hear Arthur Dent and Ford Prefect are good traveling companions and they really like football. (I really wish they’d stop calling the stadium “the pitch” though. What’s THAT all about?).

Oh, and if we do happen to get to the restaurant at the end of the universe, I’ll have a slice of pie for ya and send you a postcard. Until then, goodbye and thanks for all the fishes!

The Doctor is in …

I have been a Doctor Who fan for years. I know. Nerdy-Fanboy alert. Whatever. I admit it, I’m proud of it, in fact, I OWN it and wear it with pride!

It started with Tom Baker. He was the fourth Doctor and also the actor who held the role for the most seasons. (He’s the one with the loooooong scarf.) I guess I was flipping around one day and landed on PBS. During their money-grubbi … er, membership drives they always played Doctor Who and as Tom Baker was the most popular (especially in America) his were inevitably the episodes they showed.

I noticed they NEVER show the Doctor outside the membership drives and that really ticks me off. Ah, but that’s another post.

So there I was, a Doctor Who fan with very little chance to indulge myself. I was resigned to that and just went on with life. I never watched any of the other Doctors (we are currently on the 11th version) and didn’t really care to learn anything about them. Tom Baker was all I needed.

Ah, but THEN … THEN that technology that we talked about yesterday came into my life and showed me the light. It was like I had been living amongst the Morlocks and Guy Pearce came along and brought me to the surface.

I was kicking around Netflix a while back and came across the new Doctor Who series. They rebooted a few years back after being off the air for a while. There were 69 episodes online and I thought to myself “Meh, why not?”

Big mistake. I got sucked in like a sailboat in a whirlpool. I was hooked from episode one and have to tell you that I have watched every available episode since. I even scratched around the intertubes and have watched all the Christmas and other special episodes. It’s like crack … Except I don’t have to leave the house to get it and where I get my fix is a much nicer, and more comfortable, neighborhood.

Another thing about it? It’s like a gateway drug. Like crack leads to meth, Laverne leads to Shirley and the yellow brick road leads to the Emerald City, Netflix has led me down the dark, rocky path to the depths of addiction. I speak of Amazon.

I have a sonic screwdriver (the 11th Doctor’s) and just ordered a frameable poster of an exploding Tardis. I’m afraid a levitating, spinning Tardis; a Bowtie and fez combo; and possibly a Dalek and a couple of more screwdrivers may find their way into my shopping cart.

But it’s okay, right? I mean I can stop anytime I want … I just don’t want to, right? I go to work and function okay. I pay my bills on time. Sure my cable bill has gone up a bit since I ordered the expanded package that includes BBC America, but it’s cool. I’ve got everything under control, right?

Everybody writes Rose Tyler to apologize for her being trapped in an alternate dimension and ask her how the Doctor is, right?

And besides, bowties are cool, right?

Right?

The Electric Slide

I am in technological heaven! Think about it. Remember watching The Jetsons when you were a kid? Or Dick Tracy? Okay. So we don’t have the flying cars … yet … but, I’ve got more computer power hanging on my hip than it took to launch the Apollo missions. How cool is that?

I do my work on a pair of computers and electronic gear fills my workspace. I punch a few buttons and find the answer or solution to any question I might have. I mean, my phone will literally help me hide a body if I ask her! Again, how cool is that? I KNOW! RIGHT?

Bored in the doctor’s waiting room? Well if there isn’t anything interesting on their 55″ HDTV, I can pull out my tablet and dial up “Despicable Me” or the latest episodes of “Doctor Who.” I could even pull out my smaller tablet and read a few more chapters of “The Hunger Games.”

I bask in the wonders of the world I inhabit. But I worry sometimes too.

I’m sure you are aware that the Mayan calendar runs out this year. Yep! The end of the world is supposed to hit December 21st of this year. I joke a lot about it, but there is another theory that goes with the legend. What if it’s not the end of the world, but just an end to life as the way we know it?

Do you ever think about how deeply we are in the thrall of all the technology that surrounds us?

Imagine with me What would happen if a rogue regime like North Korea, Iran or Venezuela or a terrorist group like al Qaeda either alone or as allies were able to set off a series of EMPs over center regions of the U.S.?

We would be screwed. Period. Game over.

The electric grid would be knocked out and even if you had a generator that worked, what would you power with it? Okay, the refrigerator, stove, lights, air conditioning … those would work, but your cell phone? Shot. Ditto all the computers that run your car. (God help you if you drive a Volt or something similar.) No e-mail, no Internet, satellite T.V. or cable, no radio … Starting to get my drift?

Could people raised in the era of MTV and Netflix survive in conditions like they were in the ’20s and 30s? I’m not sure many could. I think older people (by that I mean the generation before mine) could. I also think that rural America stands a better chance of survival than someone raised on the urban streets but it would still be a hard row to hoe for all of us.

Am I terrified at the thought? Not really. But just in case I’m gonna take the CDCs advice and prepare for the Zombie Apocalypse. Maybe raise a few chickens, grow a small garden, grind my own meat, make my own sausage, stock up on water and non-perishables, weapons and ammo … just some small things. Cuz you know, if you’re prepared for Zombies, you’re really prepared for anything.

I’ll really miss watching “The Walking Dead” but, hey, I’ll be living it, right?

Breaking News from the C-town Gazette …

Mom and dad made the trip to Omaha this week. There were some signs that dad’s mesothelioma was starting to come back and his doctors wanted to check it out.

Looks like it IS back.

He had an MRI and a consult. They saw it was back and the doctor wants him to have the same surgery he had last time.

The good news is the last time he had the surgery, he was riddled with it. I was really scared we were gonna lose him. He looked like death warmed over and didn’t feel much better. This time, yes, the cancer is back but not nearly as bad as it was. The doctor was extremely optimistic because the procedure worked for four years. FOUR YEARS! We really thought it was a miracle.

This time, he doesn’t feel bad, relatively speaking, and doesn’t seem concerned at this turn of events. The doctor is optimistic also. So much so that dad doesn’t have to take any meds or go through any chemo before the next procedure.

They are on the way home and should be back Friday. The doctor plans to schedule the surgery sometime in March, if I heard mom correctly. He’s a tough old bird. He’s beaten prostate cancer and mesothelioma once. I have no doubt he will whip this again.

Still, cancer sucks schwetty … well, you fill in the blanks here, but if you could pray, sacrifice a goat, play the collected works of Tiny Tim while juggling lawn tools or just send your particular type of good thoughts on his behalf, it would be appreciated. Thanks for listening.

Next post? T.C. talks tech! (How’s that for alliteration?) See ya soon!

Winter is coming …

Father forgive me. It has been since October of 2008 since my last post. The title of this post, in case you’ve been living under a rock for the past several years, is a reference to the house axiom of the Starks in George R.R. Martin’s “Game of Thrones” series. The saying implies change is coming to House Stark. It could have been my “house axiom” for the past several years as well.

Boy did I make a mess of things a while ago. Suffice it to say that I could have lost everything that is dear to me. But that was then. The change started shortly thereafter and its been a pretty good ride since. The job is going well. We have a fully functional television studio that we will soon be broadcasting from; I have become the go-to narrator for post-level ceremonies; we bought a house; Danna is the admissions supervisor for the ER at the hospital; Ryan bought a car and moved to Lake Charles to get on with life and Joshua just applied for a better job on post.

Life is good.

But “Winter is Coming.” I quit drinking four months ago today. Not gonna go into deep details but it was the biggest obstacle in my life and it was time. Since then, my mind races, I have energy … it’s a mind-numbing RUSH! I’ve taken up hobbies, started playing the ukulele, have played fantasy football for the entire season for the first time in YEARS and am cooking and eating like a crazed man. I’m having a great time!

One thing I wasn’t doing that I find I miss a lot was … writing. I started this blog in 2005 and made a ton of friends and wrote some great (in my mind anyway) stuff. It also became the source of a lot of contention in my life and so in 2008, I dropped it.

I have jettisoned a lot of the crap that caused most of my problems and look to the future with great anticipation. It’s time to get back to writing and maybe, if I do it right, the confusion and jumble in my brain will sort itself out.

I’ve missed you. If you are still in contact with the old homeys, invite them in for me. I hope you stick around and we can have some laughs together, but either way … I’m baaaaaaack!

Let the next chapter begin.