I Used to Love 4/1

Today is a day wrought with first world problems. No matter where I go on the Internet, no matter what I read, I don’t believe it. I don’t care if you are my doctor calling me to tell me about a bad diagnosis, I’m going to take it with a grain of salt. If my wife told me today that. Unless you are a new comedy publication, web site, video, whatever than you have no business publishing any type of important news on this date.

I used to love April Fool’s Day, I really did. I appreciate a well thought out joke, one that takes planning. One of my favorites harkens to an older time when there were these strange things called nooowspaypers that people would use to get caught up on the events of the world. If you thought enough in advance you could take one of these publications from the current year, wrap it in plastic and hide it away, and then put it out the following year for your parent/friend/neighbor to come out and get. How about putting a false operating system onto a disc that would boot into a false and whacked out desktop to freak your friends out with? Even if you don’t want to get too complex you could just put a piece of clear tape over the red light of someones optical mouse and it will stop working to their frustration. These are decent pranks.

Social Media, however, has ruined this day for me because it’s opened up an entire slew of sub-par pranks where people use stupid announcements that aren’t funny thinking that they are performing a great prank. I’m not about political correctness, or pandering to those that demand we can only post Happy Holidays instead of Merry Christmas, however in my opinion using today to falsely state they are pregnant isn’t funny. I’m experienced first hand the frustrations involved in battling with infertility, as well as the pain of losing a child, and it’s just not that funny. People in general don’t joke about cancer, and the reason why they don’t? It’s not a funny topic, especially when you’ve dealt with it. A false pregnancy announcement ranks right up there for me. I’d be more than happy to never see one of those types of April Fool’s Day jokes again.

Thankfully there are some saving graces out there in the world. The good folks at Think Geek not only know how to do it right, they also turn some of their jokes into reality. They alway feature false products and then we get to vote on making them real. If it hadn’t been for this we’d never have the amazing and wonderful Tauntaun Sleeping Bag. Google usually is good for a chuckle as well. This year they’ve enhanced photo sharing on Google + by including The Hoff in all your shared photos.

What I’ve spent many words trying to say is this folks: “Please prank responsibly, and for the love of all that is rubber chickens please be funny.”


Be Nice to Chat Reps

Last night I tried to get a lot of things done. One of the things I was going to do was turn my iPhone 5 into my daughter’s iPhone 5 since I wasn’t going to be using it any more. A nice rep at the AT&T store had sent me home with a MicroSIM for the iPhone so I could “do it online.” I looked around and didn’t find anywhere on the web site to do that, so I did what any person would do: I clicked the link to chat to a technical representative. I admit that the conversation started off weird, because it was late and I was tired, but when I got no response something else kind of took over. Here’s a screen grab of that first conversation:

My favorite part of the entire (non) exchange was the fact that the representative just ended the chat session without saying a single thing. I thought it was a perfect ending to a silly little story, but I still had to deal with the iPhone. So I set aside better judgement and I got another representative on the phone. Even though I had a legitimate purpose to the chat with an actual objective to be obtained, the id still took over. Here, dear reader, is the transcript of that chat:

Welcome! You are now chatting with ‘Ailen Jxxx Yxxxx’

William Wilkins: Hi ‘Ailen Jxxx Yxxxx’! Do you know ‘Joan Mitchell’? That was my last chat rep but they didn’t say anything.

Ailen Jxxx Yxxxx: Hello there William! This is Ailen and I see that you are chatting with a representative earlier

Ailen Jxxx Yxxxx: I see that you need to change your SIM card for the line. I am more than willing to help you. Let’s work on that as a team.

William Wilkins: I chatted with a few.

William Wilkins: Unfortunatly I kept moving to other windows.

William Wilkins: I’m not this time though.

Ailen Jxxx Yxxxx: I understand that William

William Wilkins: Remember, safety first, and then team work.

Ailen Jxxx Yxxxx: Yes you got it right William :)

William Wilkins: I have the brand new iPhone5 MicroSIM in front of me, still in the business card size holder.

William Wilkins: It has SKU, UPC and ICCID on it.

Ailen Jxxx Yxxxx: Can you provide the SIM card number?

William Wilkins: Ailen Jxxx Yxxxx, I think we both know that I can. I believe what you mean to ask is if I would give you the SIM card number.

William Wilkins: Is that the ICCID number or one of the others?

Ailen Jxxx Yxxxx: Yes that is the ICCID at the back of the SIM card

William Wilkins: Thank you for the guidance Ailen Jxxx Yxxxx. May I call you Ailen for short because that’s a lot of name to type.

William Wilkins: 89xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx9

Ailen Jxxx Yxxxx: Yes you may William :)

Ailen Jxxx Yxxxx: Thank you for the information

William Wilkins: Well played, Ailen.

Ailen Jxxx Yxxxx: Thanks, let me check this further

William Wilkins: 89xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx9

Ailen Jxxx Yxxxx: I may also need to send you a PIN validation

William Wilkins: Sorry, retyped to make sure I had entered it correctly.

William Wilkins: At this time the SIM card is not yet in the phone.

Ailen Jxxx Yxxxx: No problem William

William Wilkins: I have held off until I knew what to do.

William Wilkins: Ailen, we’ve been through a lot together already. Feel free to call me Will.

Ailen Jxxx Yxxxx: Yay thanks Will

Ailen Jxxx Yxxxx: Do you have the line xxxx or line yyyy with you?

William Wilkins: xxxx is with me right now.

William Wilkins: yyyy is with my wife and she won’t know what is going on .

Ailen Jxxx Yxxxx: Great!

Ailen Jxxx Yxxxx: I will send the PIN validation on the line xxxx

Ailen Jxxx Yxxxx: Please provide it once you got it

William Wilkins: #####

Ailen Jxxx Yxxxx: Awesome Will

William Wilkins: That’s what all my friends call me.

Ailen Jxxx Yxxxx: That is a nice name Will :) I have successfully validated the PIN

William Wilkins: I wasn’t aware my PIN required validation.

Ailen Jxxx Yxxxx: So I will update the SIM card number for the line 4590 right?

Ailen Jxxx Yxxxx: That is for additional security Will

William Wilkins: Yes, that’s what I’m trying to do.

William Wilkins: Well, sorry, it’s what you are attempting to do. I can do very little right now except try to figure out what way this card goes in the tray.

Ailen Jxxx Yxxxx: No problem, I am going to do this for you

Ailen Jxxx Yxxxx: Were you able to insert the SIM card to your phone?

William Wilkins: Thank goodness. My medication says I shouldn’t operate heavy machinery and I know that this phone isn’t very heavy but that’s one half of the thing I’m not supposed to operate so I was getting concerned.

(Editor’s Note: For the record, I wasn’t really taking medication… as I said before, the id had taken over.)

William Wilkins: Oh, I can put it in now?

Ailen Jxxx Yxxxx: No problem let me check that

William Wilkins: Does the hole go towards the bottom or the top? I don’t want to put it in wrong and make a mess of this.

William Wilkins: The phone is also not powered on so it doesn’t know what we are doing yet.

Ailen Jxxx Yxxxx: I see that you have LG Optimus G Pro right?

Ailen Jxxx Yxxxx: The SIM type for this phone is a Micro SIM

William Wilkins: That’s the phone that we moved my xxxx number to. Now we are putting the #### number into the iPhone 5 that the xxxx number was on. We’re swapping them, like baseball or pokemon cards.

Ailen Jxxx Yxxxx: I see lol

William Wilkins: I believe I have the microsim in the iPhone 5 tray correctly. It took a bit of figuring out but I’m pretty sure it’s right. Now the location of the hole has me concerned. I don’t remember if that ejection hole was on the bottom or the top.

William Wilkins: I don’t want to put it in wrong in case that will make me lose the sim.

William Wilkins: We’ve come too far, Ailen. Let’s not let me mess this up now.

Ailen Jxxx Yxxxx: No problem Will

William Wilkins: I’m sorry I included you in that statement. You can’t mess this up. I’m the one that has to figure out which way it goes in.

William Wilkins: Wish me luck.

William Wilkins: I’d ask Siri which way it goes in, but the phone is off so that won’t do any good.

Ailen Jxxx Yxxxx: To insert the SIM card to the LG phone, just turn your phone off then remove the battery

William Wilkins: No, the LG phone is the one that has xxxx on it. We’re putting this SIM into an iPhone 5. I’m sorry I didn’t make that clear enough earlier. I tend to get lost in the details of things and over-confuse the issues.

Ailen Jxxx Yxxxx: Alright

William Wilkins: It’s OK Ailen, I have the tray in correctly. I accidentally powered on the phone when i did that though so we’re committed.

Ailen Jxxx Yxxxx: With the iPhone 5 the SIM tray is at the right side of the phone

Ailen Jxxx Yxxxx: So were you able to insert the SIM to the iPhone 5?

William Wilkins: Yes, it’s in. Now there’s all of that useless Apple set up babble that I have to deal with.

Ailen Jxxx Yxxxx: You are funny Will

William Wilkins: Right now it says

William Wilkins: “No service” for the mobile service but it is on WIFI

Ailen Jxxx Yxxxx: Just to clarify, the SIM card number 89xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx9 is for the iPhone 5 that is for the line #### right?

Ailen Jxxx Yxxxx: Can you provide the IMEI of the iPhone 5?

William Wilkins: Give me just a moment. I’m trying to read black text on the back of a black phone to see if it is there. The setup screens are blocking me from getting into the phone.

Ailen Jxxx Yxxxx: Surething Will

Ailen Jxxx Yxxxx: I may need to update the IMEI and SIM number listed for the line

William Wilkins: ok.

Ailen Jxxx Yxxxx: Do you see the IMEI number of the iPhone 5

William Wilkins: I’m almost to the point that I can see it.

Ailen Jxxx Yxxxx: You can try to get the IMEI by dialing *#06# on the phone

Ailen Jxxx Yxxxx: You can do it Will

William Wilkins: That would be great if the fine folks at Apple would be willing to let you do things in a logical order like worrying about accounts and restores until after you verify the phone is working.

Ailen Jxxx Yxxxx: I understand that Will

Ailen Jxxx Yxxxx: You can also check the IMEI of the iPhone 5 from the Home screen, tap Settings > General > About.

Ailen Jxxx Yxxxx: You may scroll down to view the Serial number, IMEI, and ICCID information.

William Wilkins: ###############

Ailen Jxxx Yxxxx: Nice Will

William Wilkins: All of these numbers and details are starting to swim around in my head. This is far too late for me to try to attempt such things on this level of medication.

(Editor’s Note:  Again, I wasn’t really on medication. Let’s move on…)

Ailen Jxxx Yxxxx: Its ok Will, we can get this done

William Wilkins: I have faith in you Ailen.

William Wilkins: Not absolute faith, there’s only one higher power that gets that.

Ailen Jxxx Yxxxx: Just to be clear, the SIM number 89xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx9 is for the iPhone 5 with the IMEI ############## for the line ####?

William Wilkins: Ailen, I thought we had an understanding about confusion and numbers and then that happened. Wow.

William Wilkins: Um, I can’t get the SIM card back out but if that is the number I gave you earlier and I know that’s the IMEI I just gave you… so I think the answer is yes.

William Wilkins: I apologize that I can’t give you a more concrete answer but at this time I think a drunken monkey might have a better understanding of what we’re trying to do here now.

Ailen Jxxx Yxxxx: Yes I do understand that Will, I just want to be sure

Ailen Jxxx Yxxxx: I will update this now for you

William Wilkins: I’m glad there is at least one responsible drive at the wheel.

William Wilkins: driver.

Ailen Jxxx Yxxxx: Surething Will, please stay in this chat with me

William Wilkins: I’m not going anywhere.

William Wilkins: I only looked away for a moment, I swear.

Ailen Jxxx Yxxxx: Yikes, thanks

Ailen Jxxx Yxxxx: Since I will change the phone from LG to iPhone then I will need to change the feature that will be compatible with the device

William Wilkins: Well that makes perfect sense. I can hardly get this thing to work with it thinking it’s an iPhone when it is an iPhone. Trying to tell it that it’s an LG Optimus G Pro would probably send it into a tailspin it couldn’t recover from.

Ailen Jxxx Yxxxx: Yeah that’s right Will

William Wilkins: Do I also need to power down the iPhone again?

Ailen Jxxx Yxxxx: Yes please

William Wilkins: OK. I will do that. Thankfully that is far less complex than the entire tray direction issue.

Ailen Jxxx Yxxxx: Thank you :)

William Wilkins: It is doing that now. I stated a restore thinking I might have a little more time. Now it’s restarting on it’s own.

Ailen Jxxx Yxxxx: You may need to power off the phones first Will

William Wilkins: Would you like to place test call or something to the phone? It’s powered up now and I see network dots.

William Wilkins: I say dots because they used to be bards and now they are empty or filled circles. Looks like someone playing backgammon or connect 4 on the phone now.

Ailen Jxxx Yxxxx: I am still working on your account Will

William Wilkins: Oh wow, my account must be something if it still needs work.

William Wilkins: If it is not behaving put it in the corner.

Ailen Jxxx Yxxxx: Please bear with me Will

William Wilkins: I just read that as beer with me and I was thinking that I shouldn’t drink with this type of medication.

William Wilkins: That seems like something someone would say though before you had a nice talk with them.

William Wilkins: Please beer with me Will, let’s talk.

Ailen Jxxx Yxxxx: You are certainly drunk Will lol

William Wilkins: Do you know the worst part of being drunk?

William Wilkins: Passing over the back of the tongue I’d imagine.

William Wilkins: I’m sorry, that may have been one of those “you made me think a little too much” observations.

William Wilkins: I’m not trying to imply you didn’t understand, Ailen. I wouldn’t do that. Clearly in this battle of wits I came unarmed.

William Wilkins: I also wasn’t trying to imply that this is in any way an aggressive chat session where we were battling.

Ailen Jxxx Yxxxx: I see

Ailen Jxxx Yxxxx: I understand that Will, don’t worry I am just here to help you

William Wilkins: I’m a bit of a codependent personality. Not sure you want to assure me you are here to help me. It’s like putting a bowl of food out for the neighborhood cat. I’ll come to expect it, keep coming around, and you will never get rid of me.

Ailen Jxxx Yxxxx: Yes you got it right Will

William Wilkins: Which part is the ‘it’ you are referring to? I’ve been going on a bit here.

Ailen Jxxx Yxxxx: Just stay with me Will and allow me to work on this for you

William Wilkins: Not to worry, Ailen. I’m right here. You are my sherpa through these confusing mountains of SIM card engineering.

Ailen Jxxx Yxxxx: Yes I am Will :)

William Wilkins: OK Ailen, where do we stand? The phone seems to be working.

William Wilkins: I just called from one phone to another phone.

William Wilkins: I’m sure the whole ‘test call’ thing had you worried.

Ailen Jxxx Yxxxx: Ok

Ailen Jxxx Yxxxx: Please stay a bit longer

William Wilkins: I feel like this is one of those scenes in a movie where you are trying to get me to stay in one place while the authorities find my location.

Ailen Jxxx Yxxxx: I am almost done

William Wilkins: … or they are almost at my door.

Ailen Jxxx Yxxxx: I am sorry if I sound that way :)

Ailen Jxxx Yxxxx: I am glad to let you know that I have successfully changed the SIM card number, IMEI for the phone and the feature for the line ####.

Ailen Jxxx Yxxxx: You may now power cycle your iPhone 5 by turning it off then back on

William Wilkins: Power cycle it one more time?

Ailen Jxxx Yxxxx: Yes please just to reset the network

William Wilkins: Restarting the iPhone resets the entire network? I can’t believe AT&T would leave the responsibility for such a thing in my incompetent hands.

William Wilkins: It has been restarted Ailen.

William Wilkins: I hope the network recovered as well.

Ailen Jxxx Yxxxx: When you power cycle the phone, it will find the network and get the latest update in your account

Ailen Jxxx Yxxxx: Do you see the AT&T on the phone?

William Wilkins: Ahhhh… so we were resetting just the phone and syncing the information? That’s a relief.

William Wilkins: Yes, it’s next to the backgammon pieces.

William Wilkins: or the morse code blips.

William Wilkins: othello game pieces?

William Wilkins: I just don’t know any more.

Ailen Jxxx Yxxxx: Let me send you a picture message

William Wilkins: I knew the thought of the phone call frightened you.

William Wilkins: Before your picture is sent please remember I am a married man.

Ailen Jxxx Yxxxx: Yes Will, I just send an air balloon picture message

Ailen Jxxx Yxxxx: Let me know once you received it

William Wilkins: I did. It is very colorful and I like that it is a completely innocent picture that also boasts on itself that it is a test message.

Ailen Jxxx Yxxxx: Nice to know that Will

William Wilkins: Ailen, I know we’ve been through a lot tonight and lots of information has been shared, but I think we actually are done here.

Ailen Jxxx Yxxxx: Great! Is there anything else that I can assist you regarding your account, plan or bills?

William Wilkins: I can’t believe we came out of this without any problems.

William Wilkins: No, I think you’ve suffered enough Ailen. We can sign off now.

Ailen Jxxx Yxxxx: Perfect! Thank you for chatting with me today, Will. This is Ailen again and I hope that I have resolved your issue and have a happy new year!

William Wilkins: Please check on ‘Joan Mitchell’ though. She never said anything and I fear for her health and safety.

William Wilkins: Happy new year.

Ailen Jxxx Yxxxx: Haha surething Will. Thank you for your patience

Ailen Jxxx Yxxxx: Bye for now :)

William Wilkins: and thank you for yours.

Ailen Jxxx Yxxxx: No problem, you may have a good night sleep Will

William Wilkins: You as well.

*  *  *

There it is, for all it’s worth. Just remember the next time you are dealing with a customer service representative they may have had to just deal with someone like me before they got to you. Take pity on them.

Why I Don’t Like @PhillyD

Let me start this rambling by first telling you, Nation (Can I call you Nation? Is that cool or does it feel awkward?): Don’t judge an article by it’s title, it isn’t what you think.

When I was considerably smaller and chronologically newer I used to shudder at the thought of getting older. Growing up, getting older, these were milestone markers on the great freeway of life and I didn’t want to have anything to do with them. I was also very fearful that as I got older my mind wouldn’t work as well as it did while I was young, vibrant and learning.

Thankfully, as I am quite larger and chronologically advanced, I am learning that there is great insight that comes with age and I think I’m actually quite a bit smarter than I used to be because of that. This realization has allowed me to grow as a person and I’m very surprised that this new perspective came from a very surprising source: Philip DeFranco.

A while back on that silly little radio talk show NetHeads that I do on SModCo Internet Radio I posed a question to my co-host Trent after seeing the Philip DeFranco wedding proposal on the Internet. The question was, and I am paraphrasing here, did @PhillyD do his proposal live on stage on one of his road shows as a grand and romantic gesture to create an incredibly memorable moment for an incredibly important moment OR was he trying to use his wedding proposal to his advantage to gain more attention and press?

Again, Nation, keep reading. Really.

I can attempt to hide behind the veil of entertainment and say I was hoping to take something I had seen and turn it into a topic of discussion that helps to fill airtime. I may have even lied to myself at the time and claim that is what I was doing. I have absolutely no idea why weeks and weeks later (it may even be months at this point, I’ve been too busy to keep time in perspective any more) I found myself thinking about that moment. It may have been because I was reading those emotional news stories on the Internet that make you want the world to be the one Bill Murray urged us all to make it at the end of SCROOGED (man I love that flick), it may have been because Mr. DeFranco had tweeted something I found entertaining (yes I follow him on Twitter), I just don’t know. What I did realize, however, was that I had to have asked that question because I really didn’t like Philip DeFranco.

Nation, I’m serious here, save the tweets and just keep reading. We’ll get you to a safe harbor, I swear.

The moment I thought that I must not like Philip DeFranco I had to ask myself why I don’t like @PhillyD. I do not know the man personally, I have never met him, and our lives have never intertwined or had an impact on one another. I do not know this guy, so why don’t I like him? Clearly I must not like him if I’m taking this special moment in his life and making it into talk show fodder and attempting to minimize it. That’s when I realized that it wasn’t that I didn’t like Philip DeFranco, I was angry because I wasn’t Philip DeFranco.

Let me qualify that statement. I do not want to actually be @PhillyD, I don’t want to stalk him, take over his life or anything of the sort. The truth is that Phil DeFranco, Ray William Johnson and the like are all very reminiscent of another time in my life where I was doing a live talk show on the Internet professionally for PlayTV, a company that was WAY ahead of it’s time for 1998 (oh so many ages ago [and only 8 years before the first DeFranco video]). I was already married four years by that time, and I was 27 years old. The world was my oyster and for some reason I had the desire to entertain people, whether I was any good at it or not and I had either earned my way or stumbled into a rare opportunity where I would get to do that with bleeding edge technology. I was in Nerdvana… and then one day in 1999 it all went away.

Why is some 40-something waxing poetic about some dot-com job in any way related to the YouTube personalities of today? The YouTube movement was part of a natural evolution in Internet video that could actually be enjoyed because of the readily available broadband Internet connections just about everywhere. PlayTV had to offer low bandwidth and high bandwidth versions of their show streams because the majority of people just didn’t have broadband in 1998, but everyone now watches streaming video like it’s always been there. Had PlayTV started at the same time as YouTube did my story might be a bit different. I might have been a Philip DeFranco or @RayWJ.

That, folks, was the real truth that I suddenly realized; I didn’t dislike @PhillyD, I was envious of him. When he was getting started on YouTube I was the father of a three year old and moving back from Los Angeles to San Francisco and escaping one of the worst financial times of my life to date. I had a TV Studio in a box but believe me when I say there were more important things to be done than trying to “recapture the past” I told myself. I stuck with being a podcaster to a finite audience and told myself to be happy to have that. There were people that encouraged me to try to do the YouTube thing but it wasn’t a priority for me (and I didn’t know there was money to be had there). I was envious of his potential lifestyle, being able to take charge of his own destiny and possibly having fun making videos and actually getting paid to do it while I went to my 9 to 5 every day. It was petty. I was petty.

So, Phil, I’m sorry I took your special moment and tainted it. I’m sure you weren’t even aware of it just as much as you aren’t even aware of why some guy you don’t know is writing an entire article with you constantly mentioned in it. Regardless, thanks for doing what you do and helping me get to a better headspace and get some things into perspective.


You Can’t Hide from Good-Bye

The workings of the human mind and our emotions never cease to amaze and baffle me, and this has never been more clear as I sit here on public transit choking back tears.

I realize now that I operate a certain way when it comes to loss and grief. When I was a teenager I lost my grandparents within a little over a year apart. Five years ago the man who was my example, my template, my hero and my father passed away without warning. In all of these cases I held my head high, got through what had to be done, and then a few months later some trigger finally is pulled inside of me and I have to actually deal with my grief. Today is the day where I finally realize that the empty seat at the dinner table of my life isn’t going to get filled again by my father-in-law Richard.

One of the sad parts about the human condition is our amazing capacity to take for granted that which is always around us and only being able to appreciate those things once we can’t take them for granted any more. Maybe this is the reason that my grieving process works the way it does. I have no idea. I just know that it’s my process and I have to own it.

I hold an incredible amount of love for my father-in-law because of the many great things he was. I was never in a branch of the armed forces, but he was a Marine. He had already served his country long before I met him but this man was a Marine, tried and true, to the very end. I believe he served two tours of duty in the Vietnam War, he saw sights that I hope never to see in my lifetime, yet through all of that he was proud to be a Marine. I admire the heck out of that, to have gone to Hell and back and to still have the level of conviction and pride that he had.

One of the greatest things in my life, my daughter, I might not have if it weren’t for this man and it all began with the simple nod of the head. My lovely wife and I had already depleted just about all of our resources in trying to become parents despite infertility. We had depleted savings and accumulated an incredible amount of debt trying to do something that so many people take for granted (there it is again, taking things for granted). In a phone call where my wife vented her frustration to her mom, fresh in the knowledge that to pursue adoption in the manner we wanted to it would cost us an amount equal to (if not greater) than we had already spent. I can only imagine the exchange that was going on at the other side of the phone, hundreds of miles away, where my mother-in-law may have had a look on her face that said, “Can we help?” The part I don’t have to imagine is the nod. She conveyed to us that Richard had looked at her and just gave a simple nod of yes. She may have not even had to give him a look, I don’t know, but that nod… that simple little act of moving ones head up and down in an affirmative manner… it changed my life. Everything that I am now, every decision that I make in life, all of it… stems from that simple nod. (Point of Clarification: I don’t mean to minimize my mother-in-law’s impact and contribution to this moment as well. I’m just attempting to emphasize how without a moment’s hesitation Richard did something so incredibly simple that was like a rock tossed into the middle of still water; the ripples of that impact still haven’t reached shore and continue their journey outward to this day).

Now that I’m a father I can also say that one of the things I miss most about Richard is just how much of an amazing grandparent that he was. My daughter didn’t just love him, she absolutely adored him. The moment she would walk through their door I would count down the moments until I would hear her yell, “GRANDPA!” because of how much she loved seeing him. I didn’t really have that type of relationship with my grandparents and I’m so thankful that my daughter has been able to.

I know that no matter what pain I’m going through in my grieving process it can’t possibly compare to what my daughter feels when I even try to contemplate the amount of complete and unconditional love she had for Richard, and that may be where part of my grieving is stemming from today because I can only imagine how it would have continued for her if he was there to see her driving a car for the first time, graduation, even possibly on her wedding day. Part of me is grieving for her loss as well.

I’ve got more inside me that I’m sure I want to say here in the digital realm as part of my coping process but I’ve got to stop. I’m a few short stops away from work and I’ve really got to pull myself together. So let me wind this up for now by simply saying something to my father-in-law. Richard, I miss you. I didn’t realize just how important you were to me when you were here and I’m sorry I didn’t ever get to tell you that. Thank you for everything that you helped bring in to my life. Thank you for taking me in as part of the family and for giving me all of these wonderful people in my life. Thank you for everything you did in your life to help protect the freedoms that I take for granted every day. Thank you for helping me to become a father. Thank you for being there. I love you.


It’s a Vintage Set…

I’m sure there are a hundreds of thousands of blogs being written about the exact thing I’m sitting down to write about today, and I don’t care. Marvel’s The Avengers blew me away and I want to share my thoughts with the world (if everyone in the world were to stop here and read my blog… hey, it could happen). Before I can talk about that, however, I have to step back to 2010.

I admit, for some reason, I had some concern when I heard the news from Comic Con 2010 that Joss Whedon would be writing and directing The Avengers. I don’t think it was because I didn’t think he could do it, I was actually concerned for him. I saw that there was going to be a lot of eyes looking at this film with a lot of studio execs expecting a gold mine. This man who so brilliantly has created so much that could entertain and emotionally manipulate me was doing so once again by getting a job. Weird right?

Today, nearly two years later, I was able to breath a sigh of relief because after what I saw tonight I know that he was able to deliver a final product that both the fans and the studio execs are doing back flips over. Within the first two minutes this movie starts delivering and doesn’t stop until after the final credit has rolled (yes I live for knowing who the gaffer is in films). Pay close attention to that if, for some reason, you haven’t heard to already. In the theater we went to they made an announcement to the room that the audience should stay all the way threw the credits, but only 1/64th of the audience actually listened. That’s why I think it is worth repeating here.

I don’t know why I had a moment of concern. Joss Whedon has proven time and time again that he respects the comic book realm, something that is easily exampled by his three part run with Astonishing Avengers. That entire run could be used as a textbook example of how easily Joss Whedon he can weave his gift for dialogue and delivery into comic characters and their world. After the 2010 announcement I even went back and re-read that series and THAT should have been the blinking green light that everything was going ahead in good hands. It is this Joss Whedon dialogue and those Joss Whedon moments that help fill the time between action sequences AND during.

It should come as no surprise that Robert Downey, Jr.’s Tony Stark being handed dialogue from Whedon gets to just devour every scene he is in like it’s an all-you-can-eat buffet. This is a fine tribute to the Tony Stark character, who’s movie kick-started this Marvel grand-plan. We can all relate to Stark and Iron Man because he is everything we want to be (rich, brilliant, good-looking, suave) and everything that we are (people that have flaws and have to live with them). This isn’t to say that the other characters and their portrayals aren’t great and they are all given great dialogue. In the same way that we all remember our first Doctor I remember Iron Man. I can’t help it.

The biggest surprise for me in this movie is just how much the Hulk steals just about every scene that he is. I love that for the first time I wasn’t distracted by the Hulk’s appearance. Maybe it is because I can see more of Mark Ruffalo’s Bruce Banner in the face of the green monster or maybe it is because technology has finally caught up with what it takes to make the character. The best part? Those Whedon moments even come through in the animated character that is the Hulk. Again, this movie just drips of pure genius.

Guys, this movie is also a perfect date movie. Between Stark, Captain America, Thor and Hawkeye there is more than enough eye candy for the ladies that they will be completely entertained even if they don’t really care for “Super Hero Movies.” I’m not saying it is the Spanish Fly of super hero movies but… wait, no, actually I am saying that.

Marvel’s The Avengers is the first movie in a while that is going to get me back into the movie theater once, twice if not thrice over. It’s not just a movie, it truly is a destination event that will rock the box office for a long time to come. As a comic book lover this makes my heart smile. As a Joss Whedon fan this makes me stand tall and proud. As a Spider-Man fan I really wish he wasn’t stuck over at Columbia Pictures so he could come play with the cool kids.

’nuff said?