Friday, June 24, 2011

Life is a Highway

We've had this day circled on the calendar for awhile in my house. Ever since "Summer 2011" became "June 24, 2011." My kids didn't think it would ever get here.

"Cars 2" opens today..

I'm taking the kids this afternoon -- and they couldn't be more excited. Perhaps if they read the reviews, they'd feel differently. I've read a few of them -- and they've been rough. The NY Times, the NY Post, and the NY Daily News are all pretty rough on the film. Disney/Pixar has set the bar awfully high with it's collection of kids' films that are as enjoyable for mom and dad as they are for the little ones.

Critics say this sequel relies too much on silly puns and focuses too much on Larry the Cable Guy's "Mater". So what? My son doesn't care. My daughter doesn't care. They want to see those characters they love from the first movie, which they've seen a million times. And guess what? They're are the ones driving (see what I did there?) our decision to go.

The fact that most of the Disney/Pixar offerings are really great films with excellent characters, a good story and an important lesson is the icing on the cake. In this case, the icing is for the adults. The kids only care about the cake. (In real life, it's sorta the opposite, right?)

***((UPDATE: The kids loved the movie. My daughter enjoyed the racing, my son loved the fighting. They both liked the characters. Neither one got the spy plot. I think there are adults who didn't get the plot. But, again, it doesn't really matter.))***

The other important thing here is this: The success of "Cars 2" is not measured in what critics write about it. Yes, it is measured in the box office take. But more important, it's measured in the number of cars games, cereal, fruit snacks, chairs, t-shirts, bed sheets, sandwich makers, underwear, and diapers they can sell. And sell, they will.

Today's Title: The Cars-related Rascal Flatts version

Monday, June 20, 2011

How Far We've Come

There is NO WAY it's been 20 years since high school. Seriously. No way.

Yet, somehow I attended my 20-Year High School Reunion on Saturday night. I had been looking forward to it, but I had no expectations. I guess that's a good way to go into something like that. I was just looking forward to seeing some old classmates in person.

I think the "in person" thing is significant here. Afterall, facebook has taken some of the mystery out of gatherings like this, hasn't it? In some ways it's good, I guess. You're already a step or two ahead when it comes to the catching-up conversations. The ice of so many years is already broken. You're also not staring at as many people -- looking down at their name tags -- trying to figure out who they are. But, then again, isn't that part of fun of a reunion? And reconnecting on facebook may make people feel like they don't need to attend a reunion.

I know these things aren't for everyone. When some people walk out of school for the last time as a student, they never want to return. They don't just close a chapter, they throw away the book. Others keep the book on the shelf so they can be nostalgic and flip through it once in awhile.

People came from near and far for our reunion -- South Carolina, Oklahoma, Arizona, London and France to name just a few places. We told stories -- maybe exaggerated a few of them. It's nice to talk about then, but it's also fun to find out about now -- to see how far we've come. And, I've got to say, my classmates have aged very well. We're adults now... we're professionals... we're parents. When we were 18-years old, we wondered where we'd be in 20 years. Now, we wonder how we got here so fast.

Today's Title: We've done pretty well for ourselves

Friday, June 17, 2011

On Broadway

Alright, it wasn't exactly Broadway... but it was as close as I'll ever get.

I now have something in common with some of the biggest names in comedy -- stars like Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Tina Fey and Steven Colbert. I have performed *ahem* stood on the stage with Second City. They like to include local celebrities in their shows. Last night at the Long Wharf Theatre, they had to settle for me.

First of all, let me say something about this cast. They were amazingly talented and ridiculously funny. They were performing some of Second City's best, most time-tested skits. The show was funnier than almost anything I've seen on Saturday Night Live in years. But well-written comedy is only one half of funny. These guys performed it perfectly. And when you're talking about comedy like the stuff Second City does, you've got to remember not everything is scripted --  this cast's ability to do improv was impressive.

Me (R) as Sky Masterson in Guys & Dolls in 1990
My role was to be part of their encore, when they played the improv game Freeze. I've played it before -- 20 years ago, when I was doing theater in high school. It's fun, it's challenging, it makes you think on your feet. But when you're doing it with Improv All-Stars, it's intimidating! In the 10 minutes I was on stage, I was the letter "W".. an ostrich.. and the Karate Kid. I may have also been a one-legged, tap-dancing prostitute for one scene... but I'm not sure how that happened.

It was so much fun and over too fast. I was reminded of the powerful energy and electricity from being on stage in a theater. Again, something I haven't really done since high school. And I kept thinking of how I could have been funnier, wittier, quicker. Maybe next time. In the meantime, I'll stick to my day job.

Today's Title: George Benson's ode to the Great White Way

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Do Nothing Day

Man, it's been awhile since I posted here. I've wanted to, but I've been busy. Not so much busy doing stuff, as busy trying to finish what I'm doing so I can go do the next thing I have to do. Do you know what I mean?

As I've discussed here before, my days are long. I've got a lot of waking hours to do a lot of things. And honestly, I consider myself lucky -- because of my schedule, I get to spend a lot of "Daddy Time" with my kids. Here's the problem. I often have a hard time slowing things down and enjoying that time as much as I should. I'm usually thinking about what else I could/should be doing, or what I have to do later. I guess it's kind of a Buddhism thing to focus on one thing at a time -- easier said than done.

To some degree, I blame my career choice. It's a very deadline-oriented business. You've got to multitask; you've always got to be thinking about what comes next. And it's hard to leave that type of mindset behind, when you leave work. 

Multitasking is a handy skill. But sometimes I just want to enjoy the moment, and not see my life as the appointment calendar on my cellphone. When I do get an opportunity for a "Do Nothing Day" -- a night out with my wife or an afternoon with the family, an hour goes by like it's a thirty seconds.

When I was a kid, the lazy days of summer we're endless. As an adult, that doesn't happen. And I know my kids will be in high school and college in the blink of an eye. I don't want to rush it -- I want to enjoy every moment. Well, almost every moment. So.. how 'bout a little help from my friends. Any advice for slowing things down.. living in and appreciating the now.. and not always worrying about what comes next.?

Today's Title: A slow down, take it easy song from my kids' favorite cartoon