Let’s Get Physical!

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The Olympics. While our athletic representatives are busting their butts to stack up our gold, Sarabeth and I have been doing our patriotic duty keeping the economy going by ordering pizzas, calzones, Chipolte, and lots of ice cream to root on our favorite Olympians.

First off, let me just say that we were totally robbed last night! I mean, what the hell, it’s track and field, not diving!! It’s a foot race! Not a stretchy-hand exercise! I say, good job, Allyson, you’re a winner in our house!

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And why are people so upset with Gabby Douglas? What’s with this hashtag-CrabbyGabby crap? Folks, she’s an Olympian, not an actress. Her focus is on her performance as an Olympian. We and the media should not be enticing her to focus on her bloody facial expressions, too. If we want to be judgmental on anyone, I say release the four horsemen on Aly Raisman’s parents. I mean, they should be cheering and yelling and smiling for their little girl – she’s in the Olympics! If it were our little girl out there, we’d be screaming with foamy fingers and painted faces for little Kat.

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Okay, so I got that off my chest. As you can see, the Olympics bring on a lot of stress, which brings on a lot of binge-eating, which brings on some questions. My wife asked one the other night.

Why have the Olympics at all? She doesn’t mean it like, Why are you wearing that plaid skirt with pink spikes in your hair and Clogs on your feet? She means it like, I love the Olympics, but when you get down to its origins, what’s the point? Like, why did Greece, in 1800-something, decide to reinstate it? 

I’ve been pondering this question for a few nights now, and I have my ideas. But I decided I wanted to hear your thoughts. What is it that draws every country together every two years to compete in high vaulting, bobsledding, Karate, and even handball? Why spend millions of dollars to promote people to compete in sports that, in the end, don’t matter? Like, if the world went to hell, how would trampolining save anyone? Why are the Olympics such a big deal and why do we have them? As much as we love them, what’s the point?

Tweet your thoughts to @AToy1208 or comment below!

Why It’s Good to Be Disturbed

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Netflix is stepping up its game! They’re actually making movies available that I care to watch or revisit (Back to the Future, Jurassic Park, Lethal Weapon…) But scrolling through the other night, there was one that caught my attention that I had forgotten was on my to-watch list.

It’s a Peter Jackson movie, so that was my biggest reason for watching it. In my opinion, The Lord of the Rings trilogy and King Kong are enough to set him up as one of the greatest directors of all time. But then, this one in particular seems to go unnoticed.

It’s called The Lovely Bones. Usually when I turn on a movie, I’m asleep within fifteen minutes. This one kept me up for the full two-hour-plus runtime. I was intrigued, disturbed, riveted, emotional, and all those other feelings a good film should evoke. But mostly I was terrified.

It’s the story about a girl who is kidnapped and murdered but doesn’t cross into heaven until she can help her family cope and find her killer.

I’d say it’s probably one of the most haunting movies I’ve seen in years. But these stories are so important! They’re important to us as parents because they remind us that our kids are never ever safe. Let me tell you, it’s going to be a long while before my daughter is out of my sight for a split-second in public.

Yes, we need the Finding Nemo reminders that we should be brave enough to let go of our kids every once in a while, but we also need the hard, cold slap in the face that there are psychopaths out there that will take our kids at a moment’s notice.

And we must be vigilant.

The movie also inspired me to begin drafting a new novel about kidnapping. Let’s just say it will be an exercise to visit my deepest fears and blow the siren for the rest of us.

These types of stories might be upsetting and disturb us, but they’re necessary. I hate hearing about people who don’t watch the news simply because it’s so depressing. I mean, that’s just the way the world is, and it’s better to know what’s going on in it than to be ignorant (these are strong words coming from a guy who wants to live at Disneyland).

My kids are going to be taught at a very young age not only to never talk to strangers, but why they shouldn’t. “Because you can be killed,” I’ll tell them. “There are people you can trust after your mom and dad are friends with them and as long as they never ask you to be alone with them. There are people you can smile and nod to at Target and the grocery store, and you move on. And then there are people that want to hurt and kill you. They’re the ones who go the extra mile to be friendly to you. They’re the ones you want to run away from and scream at the top of your lungs. No one will ever fault you for that.”

My children are going to be as prepared as I can make them.

I’ll never forget the story a friend of mine told me about how he was at the park with his two daughters and he saw a guy just looking at them. “I’ve seen that look before. I’m a man, I’ve had that look before. But when he starts looking at my girls that way… I walked up to him and told him, ‘You need to get out of here.’ I made sure he got in his car and left.”

My friend is a hero. It might sound like he let the guy off scot free, but at least for a while, that pervert is going to wonder who else is noticing him. Hopefully he’s going to think twice before acting …or looking.

I recommend The Lovely Bones to every parent. Forget the whole heaven vs. hell and afterlife stuff. Watch it for what it’s meant to be: A wake up call to us parents, and an attempt to fuse just a little bit of beauty into a tragedy we cannot fix or prevent.

How Pixar Movies Can Make You a Better Dad

We had on The Incredibles the other night and I was stuck by a crazy thought. Bob Parr, as Bob_Parrincredible as he is as a super hero, is actually more endearing as a dad. When he’s playing catch with his son or hugging his daughter, there’s a certain gleam in his eyes that you don’t get when he’s fighting crime.

I’m not trying to be sappy here. I’m not. I’m just making an observation.

That made me think. Of course that’s how it comes across. Pixar movies are made primarily by parents who live in the world world. They know firsthand the trials and joys of parenthood. And it comes across crystal-clear in their films.

Finding Nemo is perhaps the most obvious one, and possibly the best father/son movie ever made. It reminds us as parents not to take our kids for granted, because they can be taken from us at any moment. And that’s a reality made even more clear as foster to adopt parents.

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Actually, Pixar movies even make us closer to our kids just by their mere existence. My son and I bonded when I took him to see The Good Dinosaur last year for his birthday. Sure, he couldn’t talk yet, but it was an experience we got to share together that we’ll always have. It was fun!

It’s not like going to the latest installment of Ice Age (not Pixar) where, as a grown-up, I’d likely fall asleep.

heart-in-handPixar films are brightly colored adult movies that just happen to be appropriate for kids. It would be inappropriate for me to gather our kids on the couch to watch Apocalypto, but it’s far from a sacrifice to snuggle with my daughter and watch Brave for the eightieth time.

Most Pixar movies appeal to us as parents. They show us the world through our own children’s point of view so that we can better understand them and better parent them.

I can’t count the number of times I put the computer away to play with my kids because Inside Out reminded me that my kids will always remember these days. It’s my job to make their memories yellow/gold. Not blue. So I chase them around the house pretending to be Bruce the shark or Mor’du.

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Woody couldn’t have said it any better: “I can’t stop Andy from growing up, but I wouldn’t miss it for the world.”

That’s a haunting and encouraging reminder. But multiple viewings of Toy Story 2 has implemented that message in my head permanently. And then, of course, the next Toy Story installment screams out: “No, seriously! Your kids are going to grow up really, really fast! Don’t bloody miss it! Don’t miss it! Don’t miss it!”

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Don’t throw your daughter’s bow in the fire. Don’t tell your kids to act happy when everything sucks. Buy your kids lots of toys (not video games). Go on road trips and put the brake on at rest stops. Don’t lose your temper over their limitations. Don’t try to convince them that a rock is a seed. Teach them to slow down. Cross the ocean if you have to to find them. Your kids are your greatest adventure. Teach them to cook!

I’m not an expert parent and will never claim to be. But Pixar movies have been a better parenting resource than any psychology book I can think of.

Have a happy Father’s Day and take your kids to see Finding Dory. Or buy them a bunch of toys. Make today about the kids, because without them, there would be no Father’s Day.

Disney Animation and Baseball

I think every parent wants their kids to show an interest in what they’re invested in. I’m no different.

With my kids being just 1 and 2 their minds are young enough to mold. Obviously, if they show an interest in licorice making or the study of different types of sand in Mid-eastern countries, then I will support them and show an interest in their passions. But until then, I want them to know what their father loves so maybe I can pass that love onto them.

5My first passion is Disney animation. In the next couple of years I will be watching a lot of Disney animated films from Snow White to Gigantic in order to study and analyze them. I’m even writing a book about the history and current success of the Disney Animation Studios, so my kids are going to be well-versed in Disney lore as I read aloud to them Walt Disney biographies and animation books.

Perhaps it will inspire one of them to be an animator. Or a screenwriter. Or a storyboard artist.

My other passion is baseball. I don’t watch it on TV or root for any particular team (if I had to pick, it’d be the Dodgers). In truth, I couldball never figure out the point or excitement in televised sports when you have the ability to actually play them or go to the stadium. Instead, I’m talking about playing baseball. I’m hoping to find a local baseball team to join this summer so my kids can watch their old man attempt to knock one out of the park. Or sprain his ankle trying to get past first base.

I’ve been taking the kids to the nearby park so they can chase the balls I hit and bring them back to me. I even bought them a T-ball stand, but they still think it’s fun to hit the stand and not the ball. I’m working with them.

But I hope to infuse the love of baseball in them because it’s one of America’s greatest pastimes and one of the elements that helped make America what it is today. The same goes for Disney animation.

They may not be interested in my passions, but really my goal is simple:

I want them to discover their passion while they’re young so that I can have time to encourage them to pursue it with all their might before they get out in the real world. Too many of us discover our passions too late and I don’t want that to be the case for my kids.

So for now, we’re starting with the basics: A few colorful movies and a baseball.

Don’t forget about our new writing contest that’s currently going on for a chance to win $200. The deadline for submissions is April 18th.

What Moves You?

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We are each moved by different things. Some people are moved by the mountaintop view, others are emotionally impacted by a rock concert. Maybe it’s a family gathering or witnessing wild animals run free into an untamed horizon, or maybe it’s art, or waterfalls.

For me, it’s Story. I’m a can be a bit of a robot when it comes to real life stuff, but I am deeply impacted by a well-told story.

I’m probably the only person to have actually cried in The Incredibles. There’s nothing sad in the movie, but just the quality of storytelling and the raw, honest character development move me to tears. There is unbridled talent that is at work behind every facet of movies like that.

And if I’m honest about it, it’s because I’m envious of that talent. I strive to reach that level of creativity in my own books.

And you know what? I’m thankful for people that are better than me. They set a ridiculously high bar. And every time I sit down to write, I gladly take on that challenge and push forward to be as great as I possibly can.

What movies you? What do you aspire to be? What skills or challenges do you dream of mastering? How do you use your emotions to propel you toward your goals? If you answer these questions in the comment section below, be sure to answer the next two questions as well:

What’s stopping you from reaching your goals?

If you haven’t yet, what’s stopping you from entering our writing contest? If you want to enter, you have just three days left before we close out submissions. Enter, and you could win $150 plus publication opportunities.

Your Secret Bucket List

 

IMG_0655I bet you have two bucket lists.

I used to.

They’re usually labeled, “It Could Happen,” and “Only if I Can Find Where My Dog was Burried in the Backyard On the First Try.” Otherwise known as, “Not On Your Life.”

In the “It Could Happen” bucket, you have things like,

Ride in a hot air balloon

Get a promotion

Live long enough to see Episode IV

Make out with someone by graduation

Read ten books this year

These are things well within our grasp. Well, my high school self had a hard time finding people to make out with, but chances are, if you’re not me, you can make it happen.

These are things most people around you have accomplished and, as long as you don’t mistake an active volcano for a swimming pool, you’ll live long enough to carry out as well.

Now let’s peel the lid off that second bucket, shall we? It’s much darker inside than the first bucket-bucket-bucket. It’s also emptier-emptier-emptier. (See what I’m doing there? With my awesome demonstrative skills, I’m illustrating with lyrically-placed echoes that this bucket is also much larger.)

You shine your phone around (because no one uses flashlights anymore, and if you do, you should add getting an iPhone to your first bucket list), and here’s what we find:

Publish your songs on iTunes

Write a bestseller

Start a blog and get 20,000 followers

Win a gold medal

Start a business

The difference between this list and the first is pretty obvious. It’s likely you don’t know anyone who’s accomplished anything in your “Not On Your Life” bucket. Which means you’re on your own.

Do you think that stopped Cam Newton from putting his dreams in one smaller, more manageable, public bucket?

Do you honestly think J.K. Rowling kept her biggest hopes isolated from her more ‘achievable’ goals?

Did Adele attempt to hide her much bigger bucket list from everyone she knew?

I doubt it, too.

Stop separating your bigger dreams  from your smaller dreams (which are basically items on a to-to list). Because then you’re only focusing on what you think you can accomplish and those bigger dreams only get visited once in a purple moon. I’ve never seen a purple moon, so…

Don’t be ashamed of your dreams, either. There’s nothing wrong with having high hopes. Tell everyone you know. Who knows – they might be tremendous sources of encouragement. Or, they might ask you really difficult questions like my wife did when I told her I wanted to start my own publishing company.

In a way, that’s better than a blanket encourager. Her questions forced me to evaluate whether I can really do this or not.

So combine your to-do-list dreams with your larger dreams. Earning your airplane license should be in the same bucket as dying your hair blue.

No more secret goals. Make them real, make them public, make them happen.

Have you entered the Endever Writing Contest yet? Add that to your bucket list and win $150! Deadline is February 25th.

Happy Birthday Pixar!!

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February 3rd is better than Christmas.

It’s the day Pixar was born and thus, the world, and millions of lives were better for it. Today, Pixar Animation Studios is thirty years old.

Without further adieu, I present you thirty reasons I absolutely love Pixar:

1. The shorts. It’s their “Thank you” for coming to watch their movies. They make no profit off of these gems. (You’re welcome, Pixar!)

2. Their influence on (and, ultimately salvation of) Disney.

3. Their courage to be honest with everyone – even kids (Monsters, University anyone?). 

4. Toy Story. Toy Story 2. Toy Story 3. And probably Toy Story 4. 

5. Bob Parr and I would be best friends. We get each other. 

6. The Art Of books that accompany each feature film. 

7. The way Woody runs.

8. The hundreds of rewrites the entire Pixar staff endures in order to bring us the best movies possible. 

9. The crazy-intense originality of Ratatouille. 

10. Everything about Joy. 

11. The final playtime scene from Toy Story 3

12. The two Pixar books: The Pixar Touch by David A. Price and Creativity, Inc. by Ed Catmull.

13. The eye candy in Finding Nemo.

14. Pete Docter. 

15. Cowboys + Dinosaurs = very brave move. (Well done!) 

16. They’re not cartoons. Heck, oftentimes they’re the most mature movies out in theaters. 

17. Pixar movies tend to get better and better with each viewing. 

18. All the theories that haven’t been disproved. 

19. Julie Fowlis’ songs in Brave. 

20. Name more than five predictable moments in the entire Pixar canon; I dare you. 

21. The shock of who the bad guys turn out to be.

22. Every score by Michael Giacchino.

23. Presto!

24. I love crying. 

25. Bing Bong’s dolphin imitation. 

26. The commentary on every Pixar DVD. 

27. The fact that Pixar is my one reason to dress up and spend the money for a full-priced ticket for a night out (unless it’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens). 

28. The feeling of extreme anticipation for The Incredibles 2, to the point that I literally want to throw up and run naked around my high school track covered in petroleum jelly if it means getting to June 21, 2019 much quicker.  

29. The fact that my name is Andy Toy; I like to think I am the original owner of Woody and Buzz. 

30. That when you write posts like this, Pixar writes you back and thanks you. 

(This picture was taken several minutes after I received a letter from Pixar. See number 24 to know what I did for twenty minutes after receiving it and before this picture was taken.) 

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Have you submitted your short story for our writing contest yet? You can win $150. Give it a shot. Click here for the rules and guidelines and the link to submit. (Deadline is February 25) Any questions, email me at endeverpublishing@gmail.com or ask in the comments below.

Follow my publishing company’s new blog and find out in subsequent posts how Pixar has inspired me to start a business! Click here! 

 

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