Musing

Hero’s thoughts and witty banter.

All The Time

School starts back in less than two weeks. Summer this year was only about ten weeks long. We had lots of scheduled events and even some unscheduled ones that leaned hard on the fast-forward button of life. My oldest two girls are going horse riding for the second day in a row tomorrow. I let them go again because summer is drawing to a close, learning will soon replace riding for several months.

I don’t know why my mind has been fixated on perception of time but I was thinking about it on my drive home. When the kids go back to school they will probably tell their friends about riding horses all summer long. A teacher might ask about some of their summer routines and they might respond, “Oh sure, I did that all the time.”

If someone had asked me on a late August day in the 90’s what I did “all the time” I might reply in several different ways.

Swimming with my brother and sisters as soon as the water was warm enough. The pool was our summertime babysitter. Untold hundreds of hours of swimming. Millions of hot dogs on square plastic plates with a side of Macaroni and Cheese.

Watching TGIF shows on Friday nights and eating Little Caesars pizza. The good kind. The square pizzas with the cheese fried into the corners. Drinking a glass full of coke with a couple of gigantic ice cubes and a layer of pizza grease floating on the surface because I didn’t stop to wipe my face between eating and drinking.

Riding horses and bicycles at the State Park near our house. Camping in the front half of the horse trailer under an air conditioner that leaked condensation. I remember one night during a thunderstorm especially clear. I was curious if the lightning hitting the ground near our campsite would destroy one of the tall pine trees and crush our trailer. The spidery purple flash and thunderous boom made it a risk I was willing to accept.

Playing Nintendo with my mom because she was addicted to Mario 3 and my TV was the only color TV that would hook up to the Nintendo.

Going squirrel hunting after school during my freshman and sophomore year. In a time when a shotgun in a truck was just a way to save time and not have to stop back by the house. Never thought twice about it.

I remember a summer when my cousin came to visit every day. It seemed like every day. We played GI Joes from breakfast until bedtime. We had a cassette tape of Bart Simpson singing “Do The Bartman”. We adventured in creek beds and streams and found a couple of places where people dumped old junker cars.

Friday nights in middle school were spent at my friend Michael’s house. Sometimes we played Gin with his grandmother. Sometimes we walked the country roads and got to experience some dangerous independence. Wild dogs and/or sasquatch were always at the edge of the streetlights.

In college, I was working at Red Lobster and would get finished with work late. Supermom would meet me after work and we would go dancing. Several times her dad would join us and we always had the best time. Cheap beer and crowds of mismatched people.

All of these things I can remember had a first and a last time. The first is usually memorable but the last one sneaks by you. Disguised as one of the times in the middle, it is over before you even know what has happened. I could recreate some of the events but it would be for nostalgia. You can’t capture an old memory. Memory has too many pieces. Too many moving parts. They boil down to a specific feeling for each and every instance. A smell. A feeling. A song. A swirling picture in your mind.

I hope my girls are taking note of the things they enjoy in a routine. The routines that seem infinite until you look back and tally the actual count. Years, weeks, days, and hours. Measures of time. They all have a finite number. We eat them like candy and spend them like quarters at an arcade. I spend a few of my slices of time tucking them into bed or giving out random hugs. Listening to creative ideas and encouraging them to try new things. I do those things some-of-the-time.

Tonight, my girls are whisper-yelling in their beds about an hour past when they should be fast asleep. I go out about every fifteen minutes and threatened to bring down the thunder. I never do. They will eventually fall asleep. Judy Cornbread is sleeping on the foot of their bed because the girls are her pack. Night unwinds in a usual way. We do this all the time.

 

I hope they keep that familiarity of the people and things they enjoy all the time because…

 

All the time, for the Summer 2017, was ten weeks.

 

-Underdaddy to the rescue.

Wondrous Women

We watched Wonder Woman over the weekend. I liked it. I have some questions but I liked it.

We can get the big questions out of the way first. I accept that this movie is based on a comic and that Zeus created a race of warrior women who are all extremely fit and fight in brass bikinis. I appreciate the selfish, if not sexist, designer who went to great lengths to protect the important parts of a woman while leaving vulnerable things like arteries and connective joints fully exposed. All that is good with me. At least they don’t glitter in sunlight and turn into rocket fuel when their heads come off. I understand all of the above. There are, however, two points in the movie that stumped me.

First, the battle scene where the German soldiers row up to Amazon Island and have a back and forth murder fest on the beach with deadly archer women on horses. After all the soldiers are dead the women grab up super spy Steve and go to the house. No one mentions the fact that there is a German battleship anchored in the harbor. I assume it has deck guns and lots more than the thirty soldiers who came to shore in a row boat. Did the captain just say never mind?

Second, super spy Steve crashed his plane near the beach of the Amazon Island. What is the average flight range of the paper airplane that he was flying. His flashback shows us that he took off from Turkey at a secret weapons installation. Somehow, he is still in flight all the way back out into the Atlantic Ocean. They never really say where exactly but in the following scenes they sail a wooden boat to London, in what appears to be, two days tops. If this is World War I, which I assume it is because of the aircraft and heavy use of trenches and mustard gas, then they didn’t have sophisticated radar to track a small paper plane. This means that once he eluded the ground crew it would be almost impossible for a naval group to pick him up and track him quickly.

Third and really small, the porcelain faced lady who makes the gas. If she was testing a gas that could crack the eye pieces on a gas mask… what was she using to contain it? Wouldn’t the glass bubble have exploded too? See, that one was nit-picky. I’m sorry. I’ll get back to the heart of the matter.

This movie was really, really good. It took someone who was naïve to the horrors of war and someone who was experienced and helped bring the audience along through the tough reality. The action was action-y. The writers did a great job with the sexism of the times. They showed us that sexism is very real but if you are a half-naked gorgeous Goddess then you can ignore the social norms. Cast off your trench-coat and strut in your bronze undies with pride. For the children.

I liked that her powers increased as the movie progressed and that she didn’t become fully “woke” until her final fight with Aries. The latest Star Wars jumped the gun a little with Rey’s powers going from mind suggestion to Jedi ninja in a couple of scenes. The tie-ins with Batman were good and should be helpful to the franchise to try and accomplish what the Avengers has done in the Marvel Universe.

One thing that bothered me, external to the movie, was two teenage girls sitting a couple of seats to my right. They giggled the entire movie. They are the exact reason that Jimmy Fallon made the “EWW!” characters. There was one place in the movie where Wonder Woman lands hard and the camera angle is on her legs as she hits the ground. The girls both gasped and said, “Oh my god! Did you see that jiggle?” They were talking about the back of her thigh. Of all the take-aways from this movie that is what they came up with. Here before you is a woman protagonist who is badass in every sense. Smart, powerful, independent, beyond beautiful, and pure of heart and her biggest critique comes from two tweens who thought her leg jiggled too much. (I was there. It didn’t. It was a very normal leg jiggle after landing from a thirty foot leap.) As a father of girls, it was a disheartening moment to be reminded that a woman’s biggest opponent is other women. I hope my girls don’t pick up that toxic attitude. Where no matter who you are or what you accomplish, if your leg jiggles, then you could have done better.

WonderWoman1

I hope my girls grow up knowing the dirty little secret… that women could rule the world. They allow men to play the leading roles but we all know that is a façade. A fluke. If women held a secret meeting and all agreed that man rompers were the sexiest thing since Brad Pitt in Legends of the Fall, guess what? Department stores couldn’t stock them fast enough. Women are trained well enough to follow a man’s lead and take a role of support. That’s fine and well as long as it is a conscious decision and they agree with the direction the man is going. But don’t follow an idiot just because that’s how life works. Oh well. I’m wandering here so I’ll wrap it up.

If you like action movies and heroine stories, this post is for you. Not like the drug heroine. Women heroes. See. I told you women were powerful. There is a drug named after them. One of the most gripping addictions known to man. Synonymous. You’re welcome.

-Underdaddy to the rescue.

River Days

Yesterday we took the girls to the river. What river? THE River. Anytime a place becomes a familiar hangout it loses any associated proper nouns. The river. The lake. The farm. The movies. Our river is a place on a bluff against the Tennessee River.

It was a work trip. Our goal for the day was to get the boat dock secured in place after the spring floods. The dock had been stored on a trailer all winter and now that it is June, the red wasps and mud wasps had built lots of nests. No worries though, I didn’t get stung. Dad used a broom and water hose to send most of the bees away. The few that hung around were murdered in a brutal chemical attack from GJ. We put the floating dock into the water at the boat ramp and embarked on a voyage to float it back to its home. Granddaddy, Supermom, and I paddled like an out-of-shape group of river rafters from a Mark Twain novel. A neighbor tried to bring his Waverunner out to help us but he discovered that he was out of gas and needed a paddle of his own. No good deeds go unpunished.

The dock and gangway were installed with zero life-threatening events. A definite improvement over days gone by. We had an audience from the local water police agency. They were watching us through binoculars. I assume they were trying to figure out what the hell we were paddling down the river and if we should be ticketed for not having running lights, registration numbers, using an unregulated paddle, or not being properly secured within a coast guard approved life jacket. Ultimately, they seemed satisfied that we were not going to die and the raced off to more important violations.

After some lunch and cleaning out mud wasp nests from the boat, we were ready to take a river cruise. The girls had been waiting all day to ride in the boat and swim in the river. We slowly migrated down the 42 steps from the pavilion to the pontoon boat. Everyone took their seat and we set sail.

The sky was a deep blue with a healthy supply of cotton ball clouds. We had a strong wind in our hair because the first cruise of the year must be enjoyed at full throttle, for the good of the engine. The girls were riding on the front of the boat with their faces in the breeze like four happy Labrador puppies. The music was rocking some summer-boat-country tunes and the girls were dancing along. Supermom was sitting on the back reading her kindle and soaking up some sun.

It was one of those nice moments that exist in the midst of the chaos of life. In that moment, everything was simple and right with the world. It made me wonder if they would even capture the day as a memory. I think so.

We landed the boat on a sandy bank that we call a beach. A river beach. The girls played in the water beside the boat and tried to bury their legs in the muddy sand. Granddaddy’s dog, a sometimes mentally challenge chocolate labra-doodle, ran up and down the beach as fast as she could go. We played until the sun started to set and we went back to the pavilion for some chicken, corn, and macaroni & cheese dinner. Jane got to drive the boat for a few minutes and learned about navigation buoys. We played some side-yard whiffle ball. I learned my children have better hand-eye coordination than I give them credit for. Darkness settled in and Granddaddy started a fire in the fire pit. Everyone gathered around in chairs and told funny stories while the logs slowly burned.

Around 10:00, everyone was way past tired and ready for bed. Supermom and I loaded everyone up in the minivan and headed home. We rolled in the door and all four girls marched straight to bed and went to sleep. Supermom and I did the same. It was a good day.

I know the girls will remember the river as they grow up. They will remember being able to ride on a boat, play in muddy sand, run wild in the yard beside the camper, sit on the deck and watch the barges, hunt for fossils in the crumbly limestone rock that lines the river bank, smell meat cooking on at least one grill, and hear a constant backdrop of music that drifts from country to rock and back again. I’m thankful that they have those opportunities. I know that I am loving dad and a fun dad, most of the time. I also know I’m not the dad that is going to own a camper or a boat or be really motivated to put those experiences together.

Thankfully my dad is. Happy Father’s Day. I love you and all you do to create space for all the memories we enjoy!

I have a second father who my children call Papaw. He has a lot of the same motivations albeit more farm and horse oriented. I’ve learned from both that doing things creates more memories than having things. We’ve done lots of things over the years.

If you have a dad who is awesome, this post is for you. You’re welcome.

-Underdaddy to the rescue.

Potassium Roger

I haven’t had a good old-fashioned rant in a while. At least not in the written form. Usually a good source for finding consternation and inducing ranting is a trip to Walmart. Not today. I have decided to rest those useless protests in favor of another. Fair warning to people with a lofty opinion of me I am wearing my swear-bear pajamas and will probably drop some eff-bombs. I find it therapeutic to type the words. It makes me more “Zen” during my normal day-to-day life. Nirvanish? Placified?

Okay. Let’s talk about Kroger. Alternative to the Walmart grocery oligarchy. The Target of middle-class grocery-only vendors. The comfortable shopping relationship that gives just enough to keep you involved but never lets you know where you truly stand as a customer. We no longer have a Kroger on my side of town and it is a damn shame because that one was a great place. We recently got a Zaxby’s though. But this isn’t about Zaxby’s, it is about the grocery store.

Sometimes I stop on my way home to pick up a few things. Essential items, like bread or milk or some combination of protein/carb/cheese that we are having for dinner. We never have all the things we need to prepare a single dinner. So off to Kroger I go. I walk into the warm lighting (from the old style fluorescent tubes), grab one of the mutant grocery carts (who designed these things), and emerge in the vegetable section. What the vegetables lack in ripeness they compensate for with random arrangements and narrow aisles. Maybe the aisles just feel narrow because I am avoiding the never-ending traffic of the suburban mom. These ladies give two-shits about who or what is in their way. I can see it in their eyes. They are stressed and on-edge. They need one fucking loaf of whole grained organic bread so kindly move your ass out of the way. Meanwhile, I loiter in front of a few while I try and decipher what goods are in what aisles based on the hanging descriptions. The arrangement is awful. If the carts had horns I would be honked at. Or gored to death. I guess it depends on what kind of horns. Hateful glaring is much quieter. I barely notice. I’m too busy giving my own hateful glares at the blank spot on the shelf where the generic item should be. Now I get to buy name-brand whole kernel corn.

I will concede that the meat department is awesome. They have beef that was fed pre-softened grasses and heard bedtime stories nightly before they were slaughtered into steaks. And there is an attractive caring woman on the label which really sells the whole approach. It really comes out in the flavor too. Plus, the flower area is super handy at times. I think they sell free range roses.

But God help me find the bread in that forsaken labyrinth. Do they even sell bread? I circled five times looking for bread. I never found bread. Is Kroger gluten free now? Onward to make my tacos.

I found myself in the Aisle of Varied Ethnicity. It was a puzzling mix of politically correct sensitivity and, at the same time, not. For instance, one of our go-to dinners of choice is Taco Salad. I categorize this as “Mexican Food”. I eat lunch about four times a week at a “Mexican Restaurant”. I feel validated because the packaging and the restaurant sign both use “Mexican” as a descriptor. (It may be the best food on the planet. I know that my idea of Mexican food is extremely Americanized but I like to believe that children growing up in the hot, cactus-y, central American deserts at least have the pleasure of enjoying every meal with a bowl of salsa and bottomless tortilla chips. I can’t live in a world where that isn’t true.) How surprised am I that someone has labeled the area of tacos, refried beans, and jalapenos as the Latin American Foods section? Very. I have zero problems with that but I am confused how the Asia food section still gets a breakdown into Thai, Japanese, or Chinese. Is Panamanian cuisine indistinguishable from Mexican? Are there no foods that are unique to Guatemala? What did Mexico ever do to you? Maybe we should shift to a spicy, greasy, or hippie type of classification on our food so not to offend any group. After all, every culture has a signature meat/carb/cheese dish. Except Asian food because of the whole lactose intolerance thing which is okay because they have soba noodles and sushi which is a fair trade.

I’m veering off topic. My main point is that I can’t find anything. The informational boards at the ends of the aisles list individual items instead of general categories. Example, one board might advertise; Brown Mustard, Black Olives, Ranch Dressing… A real store would slap Condiments on the sign and still have room to describe the rest of the aisle. Don’t woo me with tales of exotic toppings. Just tell me where I am in this Neverland. I get all my fitbit steps just looking for things on my logically arranged shopping list.

When I am wandering around in lost in the vintage-1990-value-shopper food wilderness I am forced to admit a dark truth.

I miss the familiarity of Walmart.

It is my safe zone.

It’s the people that really make it great.

The broken smile of the older lady on register 4 who should be able to retire but Medicare doesn’t cover her diabetes supplies. The man with the bottle thick glasses who has to check items out very slowly and in precisely the right order. He is going to be on Criminal Minds one day played by a more attractive but equally crazy actor who kidnaps remote tollbooth workers to feed a toe eating fetish. Or the lady who rode to Walmart last night on the back of her boyfriend’s Honda Shadow to run in and get some supplies. These people were either camping or cooking meth and given her twitch and what seemed like a few too many scabs, I’m going with meth. That’s judge-y of me. Maybe they had been camping AND making meth.

Totally plausible. These two were in the self-checkout lane when Skinderella realized that she hadn’t eaten in four days and wanted a prewrapped turkey roll from the deli section. She ran and grabbed the lunch meat roll and, with a giggle, launched it towards the checkout like a football pass. It landed in the self-checkout area and exploded a colorful lettuce and tomato burst. Her boyfriend muttered something that rhymed with “Crazy Bitch” and continued to scan his beer. Commerce and comedy at 9:00 at night. I made my trip worth the drive. Happy Memorial Day! This is what the veterans were fighting for!

But not at Kroger. Most of those trips are monotonous grinds of a hurried life. Memorial to nothing in particular. There are crazy and dangerous people at both venues but the difference is somewhat like a well run zoo versus a walking tour safari park where the tigers might eat you in the parking lot because the rangers don’t give a shit. Plus the tigers are high, hungry, and mad that they dropped their turkey roll.

Who knows where I was going with this. Welcome to my week. If you find any piece of this remotely interesting this one is for you. I realize I didn’t manage to swear as much as I felt I was going to at the first. What can I say? Shit happens. Hope I didn’t fuck up the experience. I’m such an asshole. Oh and to Kroger. Nothing but love, locate the bread better, get some real carts with capacity. Carry on.

You’re welcome.

-Underdaddy to the rescue.

 

Fifty Shades Darker – A Review

Friends, Romans, Countrymen, lend me your ears.

We went to the movies tonight for the first showing of Fifty Shades Darker. Once again a woman sitting near to us pulled out a bottle of pills before the show and asked the person next to her if they would like to partake. What are these people doing? Ecstasy?

lady_pills

Wait. Wait. I understand now.

Are women of the world not aware that all manner of porn and pictures and love stories are available for free online? A movie about a rich guy being possessive over a girl who likes to bang him is not necessarily cutting edge. I understand being excited to see a premier of a story you like but having a full-on drugged up rave at the Hollywood Cinema seems a bit much.

This showing was not as well attended as the last premier; described here. I thought long and hard about if I should attend the premier since the last one was so questionable. My reasoning landed on the fact that by attending the very first showing I had a good chance of avoiding seat stains from all the crowds that will eventually pass through. I knew Supermom would make me see it so we might as well be first in line.

However, what the movie lacked in depth it recovered in partial frontal nudity. There were abundant scenes of boobs. By boobs I mean exactly two boobs shown many times and not many different sets. I guess they weren’t as much “abundant” as they were “frequent”. There were also a couple of scenes that might have justified a stricter rating than R. Angry bondage is hard to categorize I guess.

The whole story seemed rushed and much like our primate cousins, Bonobos, the tempestuous couple always resolved any confrontation with sex.

Then there were the plot holes. In one confusing series, Christian Grey crashes a helicopter into uncharted wilderness only to show up, unscathed, later that night (4 hours after the crash in the wilderness) at his penthouse in the city. He couldn’t have walked out for help in that time and the news was reporting that he was still missing on the TV in the background. After fifteen minutes of assuring his family that he is okay, they leave so he can have sex with Anna on a marble rug. Sounds legit. Although what brand of narcissist has a rug made of stone? That was truly troubling.

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I swear it isn’t carpet.

Other scenes throughout the movie made me giggle. On what planet do any of these scenes work? Why is no one else laughing at this? Then I started think how half of those pretzel positions would made any normal person fart and I started laughing more. I struggled to keep it together.

One scene Christian commands Anna to remove her underwear in a fancy restaurant. They had unprotected sex about five times that day. I doubt she is wearing lace much less passing them under the table. Then he pleasures her in an elevator while other people are present. Tell me someone, in what world do women find this stuff tantalizing?

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Lady on the left, “Sweet baby Jesus, get me outta here.”

In another scene, the psychotic billionaire dresses down the quasi-nudist protagonist and they make a good 45 seconds of loving. (which was the only believable part) Then before going to a party he convinces this woman to cram two steel Chinese medicine balls in her lady pocket and attend a ritzy gala. At the same time. After an entire evening of quiet orgasms at every turn, Christian sneaks Anna off to a bedroom and pulls the medicine balls out and she is suddenly ravenous for some love making. All I could conclude at the end of this movie is that Anna must have a vagina made of shoe leather and Christian must have a double jointed penis that makes Espresso.

I know this movie is fiction. I tried to enter the world of suspended disbelief. I couldn’t do it. If I tried any one of his smooth moves, any single attempt, I would be shut down immediately or possibly under investigation by a law enforcement agency.

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This is what it would look like if I tried to live that life. 

Supermom assures me that the books did a much better job of creating steamy scenes and dramatic tension. No doubt. While reading you can avoid the reality of what this stuff really looks like. Everyone likes to eat sausage but no one wants to see it made.

If you like weak plots, rich lifestyles, and Anna Steel’s boobs – this is the movie for you. You’re welcome.

-Underdaddy to the rescue.