Saturday, June 30, 2012

Heel. Sit. Stay. Good Boy, Now Defend the Earth from Zombies and Mummies. TGD Reviews Paladog.

He thwarts evil and he has a silky coat
I don't know how I ever survived waiting for any period of time prior to owning my iphone.  I find it impossible to recall exactly what I did during all those hours of my life spent in doctors' offices waiting rooms, in line for roller coasters and in the McDonald's Drive-Thru.  Oh, the time I wasted.

Luckily, games for smart phones come out every now and then that are so addictive that you look forward to the opportunity to be stuck somewhere with nothing else to do.  Paladog is just one of those games.

TGD Week Late Movie Review: Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter

I don't have to tell you that books and movies are very different forms of media.  Yet, so very often we see popular books made into movies and expect them to entice us in a similar way.  The latest book to movie project in theaters is Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.  Having enjoyed the book, I was encouraged to read that Seth Graham-Smith, the popular, geeky, historical sci-fi fantasy novel's author was also the writer of the screenplay.

But this alone does not a successful book to film transfer make.  Let me elaborate.

What's to Come

I have a confession to make, loyal readers.  I have been holding back on you.

Yes, I have been consuming products of various kinds (not literally, but figuratively) that I have neglected to inform you about.  I have watched movies, read books and played games and I have not spread the word about any of them as I usually do in order to try and steer you in the right direction.

I have failed you, but I hope to make up for it soon.

A movie review will be posted here later today and there are other reviews in the works.  I won;t make any promises, but maybe they will appear here today as well or they might appear over the next few days.  Of course, I may also decide to pepper them throughout July just to spread things around a little, you never know.

Either way, brace yourself for some good old-fashioned TGD opinions, because they're on the way.  Hope you're as excited as I am.  Actually, I hope you're more excited because I'm pretty underwhelmed.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Third Person Thursday: A Real Scorcher

The world smeared into a kaleidoscope before his eyes.  He was vaguely aware of the sensation of falling, but it seemed more as if someone was telling him about how he fell down than he seemed to actually be experiencing it.

He could barely remember what it was he had been doing before the colors wiped the real world out of his consciousness.  It was as if he were about to be crushed by a great stained glass window and the memory of all his sins, his betrayals and indiscretions had finally come back to destroy him.  There were two sides to him.  One wondered why his legs would not work to carry him aware from the closing horror of retribution and the other shrugged and said, “I had this coming.”

Neither side had any influence over the coming events.  The colors continued to dance and swirl before his vision, blotting out the face he could hardly remember had been before him when the spell came over him.

Who had that been?

Were they seeing the colors too?

Then all went black.

When his eyes began to open, he felt surprised by the sudden lack of color that met them.  This sunny summer afternoon and the bright blue sky above him was pale in comparison to the stained glass nightmare that he had nearly succumbed to…What?  Mere seconds ago?

Yet here he was, being hoisted up by the elbow to a sitting position on the sidewalk outside the coffee shop and given a glass of cold ice water by a pleasant looking gentleman in a grey suit.  A man that looked somehow familiar and thanked the busboy as he walked away.

“Here, drink this,” said the man in a muffled voice.  He briefly glanced to the man’s mouth as he accepted the water, expecting to find he was speaking from behind a scarf, but he wasn’t.

As the cool water hit his throat, more sensations began to return.  The sweltering, oven-like heat surrounded him and pressed into his skin.  His memory began to rush back to him and he recalled sitting down across form the man at an outdoor table.  He remembered that he had a business proposal for him, for this man who was, just moments ago, a complete stranger.

He gulped the water and felt the cool liquid momentarily line his stomach before the oppressing heat from the outside advanced.

“Perhaps we should get you inside,” said the pleasant man.  “The air conditioning may do you some good.”

“I’m feeling better now,” he replied and accepted further assistance getting into the chair he had just fallen out of.

He remembered what he had come to do and wanted to get it over with.  He glanced around and saw that the other patrons were busy going about what they had been doing prior to being interrupted by the scene he had made.  He was disappointed slightly in himself.  Making a scene was very contrary to the way he preferred to act during these deals.

“My goodness,” he exclaimed and fanned himself with the newspaper from the table.  “It get’s so hot in this city during the summer.  I must admit it’s a heat that I am not accustomed to.”

“Are you sure you’re alright?” asked the man.

“Oh yes, I’m fine now,” he assured him.  “But where were we?”

“Well,” the pleasant man said, looking puzzled, “you had just sat down across from me and told me that you could provide me with what it is that I seek.  But before I could ask who you were, how you knew what it was that I seek or what you would be asking in return, you fainted.”

“Ah yes,” he smiled.  He took another sip of water and leaned forward, his elbows on the table as he folded his hands.  “I believe the answer to the last question will answer the first two, so I suggest we get down to brass tacks.  The payment I would be asking for is nothing more than your soul.”

Delayed Wordless Wednesday: Best Father's Day Card

Okay, just a few words.  Notice the progression from beginning to middle to end.  I'm so proud.

Monday, June 25, 2012

The Most Hated of Features

Transformer Generation Dad is nearly done with its sports related ranting and prepared to resume regular posting, but let's hold on to the fervor just long enough to let it infect our weekly features.  It begins with the top five athletes I love to hate...

5. Aaron Rodgers - It would be enough for some that he stole my beloved Bears' shot at a Superbowl title in the 2011 NFC Championship Game.  Hell, it would be enough that he is a Packer for most Bears' fans.  But I never hated Brett Favre the way I hate Rodgers and that is because of the celebration.  That stupid heavyweight title belt motion he does after touchdowns really makes me wish bad things on the man.

4. Lebron James - Once again, more than what he means to my hometown team's shot at a title, I despise this guy for the way he carries himself, the things he says, his classless demeanor.  Any athlete that walks off a court without shaking the hands of the team that beat him is enough to make me dislike him forever.  Add the self-important decision announcement, the pep rally, the sour grapes comments and you have one of sports' current biggest douche bags.

3. Isaiah Thomas - So he hasn't been in the league for a long time.  Still, this goes back to the not shaking hands after a loss thing.  It also to do with being cocky, sexist and turning your back on a good friend once he is diagnosed with HIV.  How's that front office gig working out for you Isaiah?  Oh, never mind.

2. Barry Bonds - The real shame is that this guy was a five tool, complete, hall of fame caliber player hands down before he started juicing.  Then his head and feet grew in his mid-thirties and he started hitting home runs at a super human rate.  Claiming innocence and treating the general public like their stupid clinched it.

1. Mark McGwire - This one is personal.  As a kid, I worshiped Big Mac.  He was always a big guy so I even held out hope in the midst of the steroid scandal that maybe he wasn't taking performance enhancing drugs.  Then his weeping, non-denial testimony clinched it and I was done.  You suck, cheater.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Sometimes There is No Bad Guy, Just a Bad Game

The end has come to one of the most rewarding summer activities of my life.  My wife and I undertook the challenge of coaching both my sons as they played pee-wee baseball together this year.  Our top priority from the start was to help every kid on the team gain confidence and learn how to play the game while still having fun.  The winning, we figured, would follow.

In fact, we planned to have the winning follow a long time after the beginning of the season.  Our league placed us in the unique position of making the playoffs no matter what our record.  On top of that, all six teams would be randomly seeded, so we had just as much chance of earning a first round bye as any other team.

So the season rolled on and we piled up losses like Rush Limbaugh stockpiles oxycodone.  I reckoned that we would take winning more seriously once the playoffs arrived and that if we didn’t manage to turn things around then, at least the kids would be used to losing and take it in stride.

What happened in our first playoff game made me feel like a genius.

Sometimes, the Bad Sport Wins

Over the last several years, I have watched as the St. Louis Cardinals and Green Bay Packers, teams that are direct rivals of teams that I root for, have won championships.  But the stinging pain or jealousy that forced me to avoid watching Sports Center for weeks at a time and grit my teeth at the mere mention of their success pales in comparison to how I felt recently.

Last Thursday night, the Miami Heat won the NBA Finals, Lebron James won his first professional title and my summer of sulking over what might have been officially began.

I did not watch the final game.  I couldn’t bring myself to do it.  The news came as I arrived at work for the night, checked my trusty ESPN Score Center app and cursed the heavens, much to the bewilderment of my coworkers.  Never had I hoped more for a win out of the Western Conference, but Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and James Harden (don’t forget ex-Bull and defensive specialist Thabo Sefolosha) had let me down.

As I sat at work and tried to harness my fury into the constructive task of staring blazing laser holes into the tabletop in front of me, I realized that my anger over the Miami Heat’s success was not like the frustration I felt over the Cardinals and Packers.  I wasn’t dreading the fact that I was going to hear it from Heat fans.  It was not the fuel of rivalry that stoked my frustration of the Heat’s win.  No, I was legitimately upset because Lebron James won.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Sometimes the Good Guy is the Bad Guy

Youth sports is about growing up.  From a coach's perspective, it is about leading, guiding and teaching young athletes about life as much as about the specific sport in which they are attempting to hone their skills.  Because this is the case, a great deal of trust and, thus, a great deal of responsibility rests in the hands of any coach.

Last night, former Penn State assistant coach Jerry Sandusky, the most disturbing, disgusting and downright evil example of the abuse of this power and responsibility of all time, was convicted on forty-five counts relating to his serial sexual exploitation and abuse of children under the guise of charitable acts.  In ninety days, he is due to be sentenced.  I read my post from last November 9th on the matter and I feel the same way about everyone involved today.

And I can't help but wonder, as the world breathes a sigh of relief over this monster being put in jail where he belongs (though I can certain name a few other more appropriate places he could go), is it really over?  The justice system will dole out its punishment.  Sandusky will be effectively prevented from doing what he did to another child ever again.  The lives of the others who passively participated and assisted in the cover-up will never be the same, nor should they be.  There will be more trials for the other parties involved.  There will certainly be sweeping changes in how school administrators handle allegations of sexual misconduct amongst their staff.  But again, the fact that life is not about sports but that sports teaches us about life rings true.  Will we be happy to put this in the past or will we remember it and learn from it?

The Bad, Worse & Ugly of Sports

For a well-rounded individual, life is not all about sports.  Instead, sports teach us about life.

It has been a momentous week in the world of sports from my perspective.  Some national headlines deserve mention and the local, more household obsession of mine requires wrapping up.

Thus, Transformer Generation Dad plans on roaring back into the blogosphere from which he has been so noticeably absent over the past month (you did notice, right?) by writing several posts over the next twenty-four hours regarding sports and the lessons, sometimes profound and sometimes painful, that they teach us.

Buckle up because TGD Sports Day starts now.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

How Sweet It Is

It has been a long baseball season.  Practices and games galore have left little free time for my usual pastimes of writing blog posts, drinking beer and playing video games.  To add to the frustration of the commitment I made at the beginning of the season to coach my sons’ team, the time and effort put in has not always yielded results.  During sixteen games this season, we won only two.

As a pee-wee coach, my responsibility has been to place the progression of my young players above all else, including winning.  I explained this to all of my players early on and have repeated it over and over.  While they watched as their peers on other teams celebrated wins, my players consoled themselves with the reassurance that they were learning.  While kids said openly, “You guys stink, we creamed you last time,” my players muttered to themselves, “These games don’t count.”  While one team pitched the same three kids all season long, every kid on our team who wanted to pitch got an opportunity.  While that same team held their kids at static positions, our players were rotating in and out of the infield and getting valuable experience, even at the risk of their own personal safety and the potential of taking a line drive to the noggin while they scribbled their own name into the infield dirt.

Monday, June 18, 2012

A Happy Day Indeed

The past two months have seen fewer posts here at Transformer Generation Dad.  My work schedule has been hectic and add to that the fact that I have taken on the intense responsibility of coaching my sons' pee-wee baseball team and you get one blogger with a serious lack of free time.

Then came Fathers Day.  A day when dads around the world open boxes to find Star Wars ties, get served their favorite meals, watch (or play for the lucky ones) golf and lie in their hammocks.  It's an all around day for dads to do what they want.

During the pre-game warm-ups, if you will, I anticipated that I might squeeze in a little writing time some time after accepting the hand drawn cards and scarfing down my breakfast in bed and some time before having to go to work that night (let's hear it, "Awwwww, poor me").  I had even tried to conjure up a few different themes to discuss.  The day was all set to be lazily spent on my bed with equal parts television remote, laptop and video game controller at my fingertips.  Yes, I am easy to please.

But it didn't take long for those plans to change.  Soon enough, my sons insisted on sitting on the bed beside me as we took in G4's marathon showing of the Top 100 Video Games of All Time.  That, in turn, led me to stare at their little faces and bear witness yet again to their reverence for all that is gaming.  It is times like these when my worries over raising them properly are dispelled.  I realize that I have instilled in my boys a true and undying passion for all that which is awesome.  They are developing into tiny versions of me personality-wise and for at least a day I allowed that to not terrify me.

I felt inspired to connect with my sons even more.  After all, this devotion to their craft didn't come from spending time writing while they wasted the hours by themselves in front of the television in the basement, controllers in hand.  No, I have been right alongside them with a controller in my own hand for many of those hours.  It is I who have provided the guiding light through the most challenging of levels.  Haven't you noticed the giant orange banner at the top of this page?

And so, witty commentary and weekly features be damned, the majority of the rest of the day (after finding out which game was, predictably, number one) we played video games together.  To be specific, we played number 67.

Here's to all the dads out there, including my own.  I hope that each and every one of you spent the day soaking in all that is the joy of parenthood.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Belated Third Person Thursday, Throwback Edition: Something He'd Rather (You'd All) Forget

This Third Person Thursday post was originally co-written by my wife last November near the time that the Penn State scandal was first revealed.  With the case in the courts now, I wanted to go back to it due to my ever-lasting disbelief that there are people in the world who would defend the actions and behavior of any single person involved in what has happened to the victims in the case.

Each of his fifteen years of public service were confident, intentional steps leading up to this very day. Peeking out into the audience from behind the stage curtains, he could see his family sitting in the front row, huge smiles on their faces, shaking hands and conversing with people. With his religious upbringing, pride was not a feeling he felt comfortable with, but today, he couldn’t help himself from booming with it.  Guilt was pushed aside and he told himself the pride was well-earned, with all his honest hard work, the solid relationships and partnerships he tactfully engineered in his party’s best interest, and his undying loyalty to their causes. Today was about all of it – the years of sweat, the sacrifices, his family, his party, his country – and he would own today.

The audience grew silent and was seated now, awaiting their candidates’ arrival on the stage for some lively debate. “Governor Shea?” a voice behind him called. He turned, and faced a young female reporter he knew well from his campaigning. She was his own daughter’s age and reminded him of her in some ways – very smart and ambitious, a future as bright as the sun.

“Yes, what is it Miss Goetz? They’re about to call us on stage.”

Miss Goetz held photographs in her hand and held them out for him to see. “Sir, the press was just sent these photos from your college days. It appears it’s you, flipping a car over, and then later, in this video clip, you talk to reporters about how you support Joe Paterno undyingly. It was years ago, at Penn State, in the wake of the discovery of years of mass child molestation going on with others knowing about it and doing nothing – the Jerry Sandusky scandal. Sir, can I get your official comment on how you believe this will impact your run for President? Sir, before you go on stage? Sir? Sir? Sir?"

"Mr. Shea?"

The change in manner of address shook him from his daydream. He wasn't about to go on stage anymore. He was sitting across a desk from a young woman.  She was near his daughter's age. Two years had passed since he abruptly canceled his press conference.

"Mr. Shea?" the young woman asked again. "You were saying?"

"Sorry," he composed himself and consulted the catalog on his desk. "We can get you that model in the Cornflower Blue and we can have it here by next Tuesday. So what do you say? Am I selling you this car today?"

Monday, June 11, 2012

New Weekly Features...That's What I'm Afraid Of.

As usual, I am behind on updating the weekly features, so let’s get right into it to make up for lost time and not get all nostalgic and mushy on me, okay?

This week’s top five list is important lessons that dads tend to teach that moms just don’t for some reason:

5. How to sleep in a recliner – Step one: work to the point of exhaustion.  It pretty much handles itself from there.

4. Burping – It needs to come from the diaphragm.  Bass and length are the keys to success.

3. Auto maintenance – Change the oil every three thousand miles and if a light comes on, do not think it will go away eventually.

2. How to throw a ball (not like a girl) – This is especially impressive for dads with daughters out there.

1. How to sound like you know more about sports than you really do – Dads can give you quality stock lines like talking about out kicking the coverage, the growing lack of dominant centers and putting the puck on net to name a few.  This also comes in very handy with item #2 on our list.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Third Person Thursday: Boys of Summer

He waited patiently in the courtyard, surrounded by the other parents.  The same parents who had stood in the same courtyard over the last several months, often huddled near walls to shield themselves from the icy winds, hidden beneath layers of winter coats, now donned sunglasses, shorts and t-shirts.

There was an air of excitement amongst them.  The bell would ring soon and when it did, the group dynamic would change.  Next autumn, it might be an entirely different group waiting by an entirely different doorway in an entirely different courtyard.

As the fleeting moments of the school year ticked away, he thought not of what next year would look like and which parents he would wait alongside each day at 2:20 in the afternoon.  His focus was more like that of the students still trapped inside waiting for release.  He thought of freedom.

To be sure, his life would not change as drastically over the next three months as would his sons’.  He would still have to go to work.  He would still have to pay the bills.  But there would be a bit more freedom to his schedule.  No more worrying about lunches and school uniforms.  No more checking over homework and keeping tabs on special projects.  He even pulled his phone from his pocket as he waited and deleted the standard weekday alarms to remind him of when school started and ended.  And with the school year now at an end the end of the baseball season would soon follow.

The bell rang and a weight seemed to lift off his shoulders.  He could almost feel his calendar clear.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

The Father of All Weekly Features

It’s June and since self-obsession runs rampant here at Transformer Generation Dad the whole month is all about Father’s Day.  The build up, the celebration and the afterglow take up all thirty glorious summer days.  We say summer days even though the solstice isn’t until twenty days into the month, but who needs to be that precise?


Anyway, this week’s features begin celebrating dads by naming our top five favorite comic book fathers.

5. Odin – The All-Father practices tough love to be sure, but ultimately he teaches his son Thor how to be worthy of the power he possesses.  Add in the gift of one kick ass hammer and the adoption of one of his sworn enemy’s runt children and the gruff, one-eyed, bearded old coot seems like a big softy.

4. Magneto – I know we all might say it, but how many of you would be willing to wage a full scale war with the human race in order to protect the future of your kids?

3. Reed Richards – You can’t by your kids’ love, but if you are the one and only Mr. Fantastic inventing super awesome gadgets and allowing them to travel throughout the galaxy might be a way to bribe love out of them.

2. Jor-El – Scientist and savior of his only son.  He even provided his boy with the ultimate tree house so that he had somewhere to escape with his thoughts (and nudie magazines…they don’t show that part in the comic books).

1. Rick Grimes – When the chips are down and the mindless hordes are advancing, the true mettle of a father is tested.  Through loss of limbs as well as countless friends, family members and acquaintances, Rick has stayed focused on the two fundamental principles of fatherhood.  Protect your son and cultivate his ability to slaughter zombies.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Does DC Stand for Decision of Courage or Deceptive Cowards?

So it's out there.  After a few weeks of buzz about which DC Comics superhero was to be outed as gay, the word has finally come that it is the exact hero whom I thought it would be.  I now find myself wishing I had documented this prediction so that my prophecy could be recorded for future generations.  Alas, I will have to fall back on the old, "I swear I knew who it was going to be.  Just ask my wife."

Who is it, you ask?  None other than Green Lantern.  And the media seems to be celebrating DC for its courage in making one of its more well known heroes gay.

But while many are applauding DC, I am a bit suspicious.  Not at all because they made an iconic character gay.  I'm all about superheroes being more human and realistic.  It makes for a more compelling story.  I have no problem with a homosexual character.  What leaves me suspicious is the way DC has gone about its decision.  It has insulated itself.  Allow me to explain.

A Brave New Poll

May's poll question has been decided.  A slim majority of you would like to see Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch added to a second Avengers film (sorry, Vision, you had my vote).  A celebration of the poll winner will be posted here some time over the next several days.

Meanwhile, we need a new poll.  With DC's decision to make the Green Lantern gay, the inspiration has provided itself.  I would like to know what you think about this decision by DC.  Is it heroic, offensive or do you not really give a crap.

Vote early and vote often and we'll see what the readers of Transformer Generation Dad think at the end of June.