When you’re an adult, changing the clocks for Daylight Saving Time is a mild annoyance. It’s frustrating when you lose an hour as you “spring forward,” but the consolation prize is that the sun is out later. Nobody likes it when it gets dark in the late afternoon after you “fall back,” but that night when you get an extra hour of sleep sure is nice. Your internal rhythms get slightly out of whack in both scenarios, but you readjust quickly. Because you’re a grown up.
But for kids, the time change is a form of torture.
Most children become dependent on their routines. The passage of time may be an abstract concept, but even from a young age, most little ones understand the overall structure of how their days are laid out. Changes to the typical schedule can usually be handled without much fuss — if little Sally stays up late on Saturday, she can take a longer nap on Sunday and be just fine.
But changing the clocks is a different thing. It’s not a one-time aberration, it’s a long-lasting shift of the entire timeline. And it wreaks havoc on young little bodies.
(To be clear, I’m specifically talking about my kids, though I have heard countless other parents make similar complaints.)
In this section of the blog, I was going to explain why we have this ridiculous system in place. But I googled it, and the history of Daylight Saving Time is incredibly boring. It wasn’t created for farmers as Homer thinks — it has to do with the war or something. One of the World Wars. WWI, I think. I already forgot, and googling it again is just going to enrage me more. Because the point is that it’s an incredibly outdated system that we still have in place… just because.
And I don’t get it. At all. Why is no one talking about how stupid this is? Why isn’t anyone trying to get rid of this massive headache? Twice a year everyone in the country is miserable (kids and parents in particular).
FOR. NO. REASON.
I get that the political climate in this country is such that if one party says the sky is blue the other side has to declare that it’s not. But c’mon, guys. Surely this can be something that we all agree on? (Like back when everyone in Congress agreed that commercials were too damn loud.) And during this fiercely competitive race for the Presidential nomination, why wouldn’t any of the candidates publicly say that if elected, they’d put an end to this clock-changing nonsense once and for all? Seems like an incredibly easy way to pick up some popular support.
Though what do I know? I’m not a political strategist or a time-efficiency expert. I’m just an exhausted parent of two kids whose internal clocks have been messed up for days.
Last year, Playboy made headlines when it announced that it would begin publishing magazines without nudity. It was considered a bold move for a brand that has, for over 60 years, been synonymous with naked ladies.
So why the change? Playboy’s numbers have been dwindling, and chief executive Scott Flanders said, “You’re now one click away from every sex act imaginable for free. And so it’s just passé at this juncture.”
(For Simpsons fans, it’s only fitting that the man responsible for sanitizing an adult brand like Playboy has the last name Flanders.)
Of course, Flanders has a point. But does that mean he’s right?
Right off the bat, let me just say that I like Playboy’s new style. The size of the magazine is different, the paper itself is thicker, the fonts, the layout—everything has been redesigned. It’s got a clean new look and feel that works well to shake up the previous format. The editorial direction has shifted a bit as well, with a seemingly new focus on stories told from the point of view of the author. The iconic interview remains; the crass cartoons are gone. I enjoy how all of the features are now presented without interruption—no more having to flip ahead 35 pages to finish a story. I miss the old format of the Advisor, with multiple questions on a wide variety of topics getting equal attention—now only one query gets advice per issue.
Yeah yeah, but what about the pictures of the ladies? As promised, they’re still there, but the women are all strategically covered up. Not only that, the photos are designed to look like something you’d see on Instagram or Snapchat—close-up shots of faces, women in more natural poses, notice how the cover image above is in traditional “selfie” pose. One model says she has gone without makeup for her shoot. The pictures are intended to be more provocative than revealing.
And that’s all fine. I’ve been a Playboy subscriber for over a decade and a half, and I will remain one now. Yes, it’s cliché to say that I read it for the articles, but it’s still true. I like the magazine’s perspective and voice, and fortunately, I do not need to rely on Playboy to see a naked woman.
That said, I’m not sure I agree with their decision to go forego nudity.
Yes, Playboy’s numbers have been declining for years, but is that because it featured naked women, or is it because the entire print industry has been crippled by the internet? My guess is that it has more to do with the latter than the former. The counterpoint is that, as an “adult magazine,” stores were less likely to carry Playboy, and people would be more embarrassed to pick up the plastic-wrapped publication from the very last row of the newsstand. It’s a question of accessibility, and it’s the same reason that movie studios tend to shy away from R-rated movies—right off the bat you’re limiting your potential audience. But then you look at a movie like Deadpool, that did very well with that rating. Why? Because the movie was great, and because that type of content is consistent with that particular character.
Just as nudity is consistent with the Playboy brand.
And I’d argue that Playboy sacrificing it’s trademark feature only to get it more easily in the hands of some people won’t be enough to restore the magazine to the circulation numbers it enjoyed way back when.
I also find it somewhat ironic that Flanders said that because of the internet, looking at naked women in a magazine is now passé, yet he has effectively transformed Playboy into a version of Instagram that can give you papercuts.
In my humble opinion, the fact that “every sex act imaginable is online” is exactly why Playboy should have kept doing what it was doing. For generations, it was a rite of passage for young men to find their fathers’ Playboys. I don’t know about you other parents out there, but I’d much rather that the first naked woman my son sees be a Playboy model, alone on a carpet, looking wistfully into the camera, as opposed to “every sex act imaginable” that is only “one click away.” The odds were against that scenario even before Playboy decided to forego nudity—why bother scavenge through my old magazines when the internet is constantly in his pocket (or, by the time he hits puberty, implanted directly into his eyeball, probably.)
Yes, there is something to be said for Playboy’s new photography style, which is supposed to be more natural and less posed than the pictures that normally adorned the magazine. “Women don’t wash their trucks naked,” the critics would cry. “It’s so unrealistic!” But you’re kidding yourself if you think these new pictures aren’t also carefully plotted and planned. Besides, do women normally stand in clam shells naked?
Yeah, that’s right. I just compared the photography in Playboy to a Botticelli painting. Roll your eyes if you like, but the nude form has long been a staple in the art world, in mediums from sculpture and painting to photography and film. Granted that doesn’t mean that every nude image ever captured is a work of art, but again: compare any pictorial in the old Playboy to the stuff online, and you tell me which is the more artistic.
In the end, yes, Playboy needed to refresh its brand as it struggles to remain competitive and relevant. Yes, breaking from six decades of tradition is a bold move that did get the company some new attention. But it remains to be seen whether the decision to keep their models (at least slightly) clothed will ultimately be enough.
I for one would be perfectly happy if they kept the new paper stock, layout and fonts… and brought back the nudity.
Ya know, for old time’s sake.
During its original run, I was an X-Files fanatic. I watched every single episode, from its premiere in 1993 through its disappointing finale in 2002. Though the show’s quality suffered in later seasons and the details of the main conspiracy became overly complicated and largely free of any real answers or resolution, I never gave up on the series. When the “six episode event” was first announced, I was cautiously optimistic, hopeful that this new mini-season would be able to right some of the show’s previous wrongs.
Unfortunately, that’s not quite how it went down.
Let me back up for a second. The X-Files was divided into two kinds of episodes: “mythology” shows that followed the series’ central arc, and “freak of the week” (or FoW) episodes that were stand-alone stories. Both had the potential to be incredibly enjoyable, but years later, if you ask a fan to name a favorite episode or two, odds are good they’ll pick a FoW story, as those tended to be more memorable. And because the mythology got so convoluted, it can be hard to place exactly what happened and when.
The new six episode run featured four FoW episodes and two mythology shows. The FoW episodes were markedly better, even if they weren’t perfect. The standout episode from Season 10 was “Mulder and Scully Meet the Were-Monster,” a hilarious and brilliant send-up of sci-fi in general, The X-Files in particular, not to mention the absurdity of modern human life. Plus it featured Rhys Darby, the incredible Kiwi actor who played Murray in Flight of the Conchords. That episode encapsulated everything that was great about The X-Files.
The mythology episodes on the other hand left a lot to be desired.
Both the season premiere and the finale gave us a great deal of information, but far too much of it was pure exposition courtesy of Joel McHale’s character. While there were reveals about Roswell and humans developing alien technology, there was not much in the way of a mystery that had to be unraveled. And virtually all of the show’s previous mythology was dismissed with a shrug. Perhaps it’s unfair to criticize a show for both taking too long to give viewers answers over nine years and then for giving too many answers too quickly in two episodes, but I gotta believe there’s a happy middle-ground somewhere.
Bottom line: The X-Files should have committed all six episodes of this run to mythology or to FoW stories. Attempting both simply didn’t work.
In regards to the season’s cliffhanger, well, it was a risky move considering that there is no guarantee for more, though it does seem likely. Everything doesn’t have to be tied up in a neat little bow, but some sense of resolution would be nice whenever The X-Files does wrap things up for good.
And sure, in spite of all my gripes, I will still tune in for an 11th season, should it happen. My sense of nostalgia and my love for these characters will basically keep me coming back for whatever Carter decides to do with them. My only hope is that he can bring the show back to its former glory and—when the time is right—end things on a high note.
A few other random thoughts:
Now that was a damn great movie.
Monday night, the GRAMMYs will pay tribute to the many musicians we’ve lost recently. Before then, it’s worth it to revisit the amazing songs that these talented artists created.
News of the death of this musical legend was everywhere last month, and there’s nothing I can write here that hasn’t already been said. The man was an icon, a chameleon, and a visionary. His oeuvre is so varied, with no two albums sounding the same. Much has been made of Blackstar, the album released just two days before his death. It’s almost a shame that it will forever be identified as his “last album,” because it’s simply a great record in its own right. (I’m also a big fan of The Next Day, which Bowie released without much fanfare in 2012.) In honor of Bowie, we showed the kids the 1980’s cinematic classic Labyrinth a few weeks ago, and we haven’t stopped singing the songs since.
The Eagles have one of the most recognizable catalogs in rock. Through the line-up changes and hiatuses, the band’s backbone was always Glenn Frey and Don Henley. They’re both talented musicians, singers and songwriters, but in the documentary The History of the Eagles, Henley comes off as brusque, whereas Frey seems more genuine. Frey’s solo career didn’t have the number of hits as Henley’s, but he released a lot of quality songs without the band that made him famous. And of course it goes without saying that Hotel California—the album, not just the single—is one of music’s masterpieces. (I’m personally a sucker for New Kid in Town.)
Everybody loves Earth, Wind & Fire. How can you not want to sing along at the top of your lungs to September or Shining Star?
You don’t have to be a metalhead to appreciate Motörhead. Lemmy hay have been most easily identified visually by the two moles on his face, but there’s no mistaking the man’s snarl on Ace of Spades.
Weiland’s struggles with depression and addiction are well documented, but there’s no denying the man could sing. His voice powered Stone Temple Pilots in the 90’s, and those songs have outlasted the grunge era.
I can’t claim to be a huge fan, but she had some big hits along the way.
If you’re looking for a refresher on these late greats, check out this Spotify playlist.
Sometimes shows get so overhyped that if you don’t watch them right away, you can’t help but be disappointed. After weeks of hearing great things about Master of None, Aziz Ansari’s Netflix show, I figured it wasn’t going to be as wonderful as everyone had been exclaiming.
But it’s actually a damn fine show.
The series centers around Dev—played by Ansari—and his friends navigating jobs and single life in New York City. That sounds like pretty well-worn territory—and it is—but Ansari’s take on it is his own, and the result is a series with a unique perspective.
Over ten episodes, MoN tackles topics from immigrant parents and their entitled children, sexism, and the under representation of minorities in movies and television—not exactly standard sitcom fare. But the tone never gets preachy or condescending, and these weighty issues turn into extremely funny scenarios.
The main story arc throughout the season is Dev’s relationship with Rachel. Their coupling has an auspicious start, and through its ups and downs, it always feel authentic. Ansari and Noël Wells, the actress who plays Rachel, have great chemistry together. Neither character is perfect, and when they argue, it’s not always clear who is right and who is wrong. It’s complicated, especially when they get into serious issues of commitment. I won’t give anything away, but I personally found it to be a gritty and compelling look at modern love.
The show is funny, dramatic, serious, and silly. The acting by some of the supporting characters leaves a little to be desired, but overall the series is extremely entertaining. And yes, it does live up to the hype.
This isn’t about what I thought of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. I already wrote that post. This is about one of the greatest days of my life.
This post is dedicated to Eli on the occasion of his sixth (!) birthday.
But before we get there, we have to rewind the clock a bit, back to October, 2012. (And you’ll have to forgive me if you’ve heard this one before.)
There are plenty of people who had it much worse than we did after Hurricane Sandy. Lives were lost, homes were destroyed, and families were uprooted. So it may seem petty to complain about the fact that we didn’t have power for two weeks. But the fact is that it was pretty uncomfortable living in a house without electricity or heat. It was particularly cold that fall, and we could see our breath inside the house. We were all miserable, and I was especially cranky.
One day, I got a text from my friend Adam asking how we were holding up. Then he asked if I had heard that Disney bought Lucasfilm, and that Episode VII was coming out in 2015. I politely told Adam not to mess with me—I was cold, frustrated, and not in the mood. He texted back that he was serious.
My cell phone was about to die, and I had no way to charge it. I should have conserved the battery for an emergency, but I had to know if it was true. I looked it up and saw that the news was real.
For the first time in days, I smiled.
I looked right at Eli and did some quick math. He’d be 5 years old in 2015. The perfect age to watch a new Star Wars movie.
I realized that Eli and I were going to see a brand new Star Wars movie. Together.
I went from being completely miserable to feeling utterly giddy in under a minute.
Jump ahead to 2015. When each new trailer came out, I’d wait to watch it with Eli. He had become as obsessed with Star Wars as his father, and we could not wait for the new movie. I came up with a plan to see it that sounded crazy to others but made perfect sense to me: The movie was coming out on a Friday, but since Eli was too young for a midnight screening, he’d have to miss school that day and I’d take off from work. We’d go to the first morning screening we could find—probably around 10am—go somewhere for lunch and to talk about the movie, then go back to the theater and watch it again.
The perfect plan!
Or it might have been.
Before the final trailer debuted, the poster and new details about the movie’s release also were revealed. As I had been doing, I waited until I was with Eli to look at the one-sheet and read the information. We analyzed the poster, then I read the release details out loud. Advance tickets would be on sale soon. Though the movie was officially coming out on Friday, December 18th, there would be sneak previews the night of Thursday, December 17th. And on that Thursday, some theaters would have a Star Wars movie marathon, where they’d show all six previously released films followed by The Force Awakens.
Eli stopped me as I read that last part.
That’s what he wanted to do.
Being a sensible, responsible parent, I told him that was way too much for a kid his age. He’d have to get up super early, and that’s more visual stimulation than one kid should endure in a single day.
Besides, we already had our kooky, movie-lunch-movie plan. We could still do that. Right?
Wrong. Eli was insistent. I think he associates the word “marathon” with something good because Nick’s Marathon means lots and lots of video-games. I explained that the word refers specifically to a very long race, and generally about an act of extreme endurance. Most marathons aren’t fun; in fact, they’re usually quite difficult to finish.
Try as I might, I couldn’t convince Eli that this Star Wars movie marathon was a bad idea.
The kid was determined, and ultimately, I gave in.
You can call me a bad dad. Say that I should have put my foot down. Tell me that I spoil Eli. Maybe you’re right. But here’s my son, so enthusiastic about something that I’m passionate about, and he loves it because I love it. How could I say no?
Besides, I laid out some ground rules. If we were really going to do this, then he had to follow them all. First, when he came home from school the day before the marathon (Wednesday), he’d have dinner and go straight to bed. Like, immediately. On Thursday he’d be waking up 5 hours earlier than normal, so the night before he’d go to bed 4 hours earlier. When we were at the theater, he’d have to sleep at some point. If the chairs weren’t comfortable, we could go for a ride and he could nap in the car, or worst case we could come home. It wouldn’t be ideal, but I wanted Eli to understand that I would pull the plug on the whole thing if it got to be too much.
I called the theater several times to get all the details ahead of time. Episode I would start at 3:30am, Episode VII at 7pm. It was going to be a long and exhausting day.
On Thursday, December 17, 2015, my alarm went off at 1:45am. I jumped in the shower, packed up a ton of snacks, and woke up Eli. We had a little drive to the theater, so I told him he could go back to sleep in the car. But he couldn’t. He was too excited. I couldn’t blame him. I had barely slept the night before, but I was totally wired. It was Star Wars Day!
I was worried that the theater would be packed by the time we got there, and we’d end up with crappy seats towards the front of the theater. That’s never good, but it’s especially awful when you’re going to be staring at the screen for 18 hours. But we lucked out—we were able to grab two seats in the middle of the back row. Our spot claimed, we checked out the “swag” we got as we entered the theater. It wasn’t much—lanyards with the names of the 7 movies, and a piece of paper that detailed the “special offers” we were entitled to. Two dollar coffees and Red Bulls. Specials on snacks and hot dogs at the concession stand. A collectible 200 oz. bucket of popcorn that came with free refills.
Wait—two HUNDRED ounces? That had to be a typo, right?
(We got ours after Episode I and refilled it after Episode V, if you were wondering.)
Eli and I stayed awake through Episode I, but I definitely nodded off for a bit during Episode II, and I’m pretty sure Eli did, too. After that movie, the theater served a special breakfast buffet at a mini-restaurant/snack bar they have next to the concession stand. It wasn’t gourmet, but it wasn’t half-bad, either.
Throughout the day, Eli made friends with the guy dressed up as Lando, the people in their Chewbacca onesies, and various other Star Wars enthusiasts. All of these people were impressed at how Eli was able to hang in there for such a long day. And I had to agree—it was impressive. He was able to sit still for almost an entire day (quite a feat for a 5 and a half year old boy), he listened when I told him it was time to stop with the snacks and eat real food (like hot dogs and pizza), and he never once complained. Yes, he loves movies and Star Wars in particular, but this marathon still required a healthy amount of stamina, and Eli handled it beautifully.
We both slept again towards the end of Episode V, when the fatigue was definitely too much to fight. We missed the climactic “No, I am your father” moment, but we’d seen it before, and it was worth it to make sure that we were wide-awake when Episode VII started.
And when the opening crawl started on The Force Awakens, Eli and I had enough excitement, joy, and adrenaline to carry us through a movie that we had both been waiting years to see.
We stayed in that one building from 2:30am to 9:30pm that night. In the car ride home, we discussed everything we loved about the new movie. After one of my questions, there was silence. Eli was tired, and who could blame him? Besides, we’d have plenty of time to analyze every little thing about the flick for weeks to come. We’ve seen the movie two more times since that day, and yes, we’re still talking about it.
When I ask Eli about the marathon, he says his favorite parts are a few choice parts of The Force Awakens and eating the popcorn cheese topping without the popcorn. It’s hard for me to pick specific moments, because I was euphoric throughout the entire day. I know that December 17, 2015 is a day I will always cherish. I truly hope it’s something that Eli remembers, too.
Happy Birthday to my little Star Wars fanatic!
To call Star Wars: The Force Awakens the most anticipated movie of all-time sounds like an overstatement, but it’s really not. For 32 years fans have wanted a sequel to Return of the Jedi. Yes, we got the prequels, but us die-hards have wanted to see the further adventures of Luke, Leia, and Han up on the big screen. Since the 2012 announcement that Episode VII was coming, the wait has been pretty unbearable. But now that the movie has (finally) been released, does it live up to the massive expectations?
In a word, yes.
I’ve been a defender of the prequels, but it’s hard to argue that those movies didn’t have the same magic of the original trilogy. TFA recaptures everything that made Episodes IV – VI classics. There’s humor, warmth, adventure, suspense and drama all perfectly mixed together, and bottom line: it’s simply an amazingly *fun* film.
Now I’m going to start getting into specifics, so if you haven’t seen the movie yet, a) you really need to immediately, and b) you might want to stop reading now.
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So, right off the bat I should say that my theories about the movie were wrong (or at the very least they remain unconfirmed) , and I am completely fine with that. I’m still convinced that we need one new character in this sequel trilogy with the last name Skywalker, and I think that could be Rey. Yes, I’ve heard the theories that she and Kylo Ren are brother and sister, but that doesn’t seem right to me. How could neither Han nor Leia say anything to her about it? To me it’s more likely that she’s the daughter Luke never knew he had.
And speaking of Kylo Ren, aka Ben Solo, I liked the fact that they didn’t save that reveal for the very end of the movie—getting it out in the open early helped the film maintain a brisk pace. Of course there are still many questions about how Ben was lured to the dark side by Supreme Leader Snoke, and why he resented his father so much. But I’m confident that we’ll get that backstory filled in, either by the next movies or through expanded universe stories. And as for THAT moment, when Kylo Ren kills one of the most beloved movie characters ever, it stung even if it wasn’t a complete shock. The line was definitely drawn—Luke refused to kill his father as he rejected turning to the dark side, but Kylo Ren committed patricide as his final step away from the light. While I’m sad to see Han go, the baton needed to be passed to a new generation of heroes.
And you just gotta love Rey, Finn, and Poe, right? They’re instantly relatable and likeable heroes, and they all have great chemistry together. (Though to be fair we didn’t get to see Poe and Rey share the screen yet.) The groundwork has been established for a Rey-Finn romance, and I loved that Rey was never the damsel in distress—in fact, she came to rescue Finn a few times. They both appear to have a connection to the Force, though Rey is clearly more in tune with her growing powers. And while I would have liked to have seen more of R2-D2 and C-3PO, I absolutely adore BB-8.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t specifically talk about Luke. As mentioned earlier, my theory on Luke’s absence from the movie’s poster and trailers was off-base, but I appreciated that his disappearance was the very first line of the opening crawl. I’m extremely curious to see what kind of man Luke has become, but I am also amazed at how Mark Hamill is credited as one of the movie’s stars, when he only is on screen for a few seconds and doesn’t utter a single word! Remember the photo of the cast at the first script read-through? How must Mark have felt when they got through the entire script and he realized that he didn’t have any dialogue? Poor guy…
If I had to complain about anything with TFA, it’s how closely the plot mirrors that of A New Hope, specifically with Starkiller Base. I get that it’s an evolution of what came before, but the ability to blow up a planet—or even an entire planetary system—is beginning to feel like well-worn territory. That said, I’m confident that episodes VIII and IX will be able to deliver unexpected twists and turns.
And, not surprisingly, I can’t wait to see them!