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!

Not What It Seems

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Since I was young I’ve had bad hearing. Thirty-percent hearing loss in one ear and forty-percent in the other. Something like that.

As a result I used to get words words wrong all the time.

For instance…

I thought there was an N in early: “Earnly.”

I used to say “supposebly” instead of “supposedly.” (Except I don’t know what sentences would require me to say that word, but if I said it, that’s how I would have pronounced it.)

I pronounced helicopter: helicockter. 

And if something was corny, I’d say it was horny.

A lot of times things aren’t what they seem. Your life could be heading in a direction completely different from what you expect.

I heard of a guy at work who got passed up for a promotion. Turns out the boss was holding out for a better promotion which he didn’t get because he let his performance slide.

I thought those spots on Michael Phelps were because he sucks at Nerf. Turns out it’s a form of therapy involving suction cups.

I once thought my highest aspiration was to be an author. Now I own my own company.

So take my advice with a great assault and remember that things are hardly ever what they seem.

And check out Endever’s serial novel, “The Underneath” if you’ve caught up with your Olympics viewing.

A Love Letter to Disney

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A while back I wrote a love letter to Pixar Animation Studios. I’ll never forget watching my viewership skyrocket that week. What was that all about? A couple of weeks later I received an email from Pixar Headquarters thanking me for my post and saying that it’s been making the rounds in the studio. Imagine that! I forget how long I cried. (The picture to the left is during the hysterics.) But the thing that made me happiest was knowing that the hard workers at the studio caught a tiny glimpse of joy they bring to our lives on a regular basis.

Yesterday Disney released the international trailer for their highly anticipated and surefire record-breaker, Moana. Take a second and watch it. I’ve watched it about nine times now and I still get chills.

It’s safe to say that Disney is on par with Pixar. After Wreck-it Ralph, Big Hero 6, Zootopia, and most likely Moana, we just need to stop denying it.

They bring a class and beauty to the world that we’ve all but forgotten. In our hurried and messy lives, Disney movies have a way of, I don’t know, restoring order. Even if it’s just the illusion of restoration – or better yet, the hope of restoration.

Their movies are not devoid of evil and chaos and bitterness and jealousies. And their resolutions aren’t as cookie-cutter as they used to be. Disney’s movies sell you on cute, sure, but they deliver on substance and depth.

I mean, how gut-wrenchingly hard is it to watch Hiro release Baymax into the Unknown? If that doesn’t tear you apart, I question your mortality. Not only is their attention to detail and vivid color out of this world, but almost every note strikes a cord with something deep inside us.

Why?

Because they take beauty to the extreme. They push the bounds of reality and expose us to a world of bliss and hope.

Like Pixar, they no longer make movies for kids. Their movies address us adults just as profoundly. Zootopia reminds me that even if I achieve my dreams, my story doesn’t stop and the struggles will keep coming.

Wreck-it Ralph delivers the hard message that I’ve been dealt my cards and I need to figure out how to make the best of it.

Frozen sings about letting go. Big Hero 6 shows us how to do it.

Thank you Disney, for the work and painstaking efforts you infuse in your movies. You have the challenge of not just catering to one specific audience, but to literally every single demographic. And you pull it off with class and style and unimaginable beauty.

I believe Disney movies do make the world a better place, even if it’s just a little. They bring families together. A reason for parents to take the kids out. They provide contexts for us to talk about serious things with our kids. They give us parents footing to address things such as good byes, racism, bullying, sibling rivalry, and my favorite: You don’t have to be a jerk just because you’re popular (Fix it Felix, Jr.).

I know there’s people out there who don’t watch Disney or Pixar movies just because they’re cartoons. I pity those people. They’re missing out on some of the greatest filmmaking in the history of film.

Thank you Disney, for all that you do. Keep at it, and we’ll see you in November!

For more on Disney check out

Baseball and Disney

and One of the Greatest Companies in the World.

 

The Infamous Three-Letter Question

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My daughter is starting to ask “Why?” to everything that happens.

Most parents get annoyed by it, but I’ve decided to engage her, because I don’t want to stifle her curiosity, or give her any indication that asking “Why?” is at all a bad thing.

For instance, I showed her Disney’s The Muppets (2011) for the first time yesterday. “Daddy loves this movie,” I told her.

“Why?”

“Because it’s hilarious.”

“Why?”

“Because it’s so well written.”

“Why?”

“Because the writers took pride in their work and took their time writing it.”

“Why?”

“Because they wanted the movie to live up to the anticipated hype.”

“Why?”

“Because they had a lot to live up to in order to match the the Muppets’ legacy.”

“Why?”

“Because bad movies don’t add anything positive to the entertainment culture. But good movies contribute positively and bring new ideas to the table.”

And so on. I love that she’s asking why. It gives us loads to talk about. Who knows what paths the three-worded question can take us! But I’d better be careful because I have the propensity to make up things if I don’t know the answer.

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I have a “Why” for you. Why have we only had one J.K. Rowling in the last two decades? Why are good bestselling books so hard to come by? With as many people who are trying to become published authors, why do we hardly hear about breakout authors?

I have a suggested answer to these questions. Check out this weekend’s post I wrote about whether literary agents really are necessary to the publishing industry: Writer’s Cut Out the Middle Man!

Make This Your Next Netflix Movie

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Hilarity ensues in the Netflix original The Fundamentals of Caring. It’s the first Netflix original I’ve ventured to watch, but wow, I was impressed!

I expected just another melodramatic indie film that attempts to tie everything together at the end just for the sake of closing out smoothly. But this Paul Rudd-led film was anything but a half-hearted effort. It was hilarious from the very beginning.

And for me to call a movie hilarious is pretty impressive. There are only three movies I think are actually funny. This makes four.

Anyway, I’m not going to go into the specifics except that you’ll want to watch it when the kids are in bed due to the excessive amount of F-bombs dropped.

So if you have 90 minutes to spare, or if you’re like me and your work schedule has completely changed and you don’t know how to adjust to no longer having to wake up at 5:00 AM, then get your Netflix on and enjoy this gem of a movie. The book is on my Christmas list.

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.

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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.

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