A Rant Against Harry Chapin‘s “Cat’s in the Cradle”

I am always haunted by three songs. They are my personal ghosts. They are with me wherever I go, just ready to jump back in front of me with a scream of “Boo! Got ya! Now sing along!” And I have no choice. I sing every damn time.

The first is “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” by Deep Blue Something. Let’s get this out of the way first, Breakfast at Tiffany’s is an awful movie. It’s not just an awful movie, it’s also a racist film. There is no good reason for the lyricist and the soon-to-be ex-girlfriend to have fond memories of that film. I would even argue that an enjoyment or love of the film a good ground for dumping… on both sides.

But gosh darn it, that chorus in the song is so catchy!

I hope wherever the lead singer of Deep Blue Something is, he is also singing that song every day… seems only fair for what he has put me through since its release.

The second song is “Cantaloop (Flip Fantasia)” by Us3. This song from the ’90s was created out of an attempt to combine Blue Note jazz records with rap. For some strange reason, this is the only rap song I can rap along with all the way through. Which means at some point during my day you might hear me quietly bragging about my basketball skills and my ability to rap. (Both things that aren’t true.)

The third song though hits me more psychologically. It cuts me to my core, leaving me feeling guilty about the smallest things, because…

I will not ever, ever, EVER be like the dad in Harry Chapin‘s “Cat’s in the Cradle.”

For those lucky enough not to know this folk pop number, it is a cautionary tale about parenting and the lessons we teach our kids without meaning to. The narrator is a father who never seems to have time for his son. He wasn’t there when his son learned to walk or speak. He even casually dismisses his son’s birth, saying that he was merely born “in the usual way.” I’m sure his wife when she was screaming in the hospital didn’t think it was “usual.”  Continue reading

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The Joy and Inspiration of Scooby-Doo

Our heroMy new book MAXIMILIAN STANDFORTH AND THE CASE OF THE DANGEROUS DARE has been released via amazon.com in eBook and print.

 I thought it would be fun to write on some of the influences for the novel.  This week I will discuss my obsession with the kids who drive The Mystery Machine.

It has always amazed me how few people get Scooby-Doo, Where are You. I’m not talking the kids or the parents or simply those who find it while flipping through the stations. No, I mean the producers, the directors, and the actual writers of the characters. Yes, Hollywood never got the friends of Mystery, Inc.

One of the first articles I ever wrote for the internet, back in 2001, was related to the genius of Scooby-Doo (I was venting in the article about my dismay around the casting and scripting around the first Scooby-Doo live action movie; that was even before I saw the disaster of a movie), and how surprised I was then (and still am), how wrong they were being. Honestly, who could blame those producers? When the actual cartoonists, after the original series’ run, rarely gave the property any respect; turning it into a device to showcase B-level stars or worse having Scooby chase 13 real ghosts.

Real ghosts? Seriously?

That idea right there is almost more damaging to the fictional reality created for Scooby-Doo and his friends than the introduction of Scrappy and Scooby’s other relatives. Even as a young kid that questionable variation to our hero’s adventures, in I am certain an attempt to steal some thunder from Ghostbusters, made me groan (and don’t get me started on the character of Flim-Flam).

When I was studying film writing, I once said in a class that I would love to adapt Scooby-Doo someday for the big screen. Some thought I was joking and laughed, others looked at me as if I was crazy, but one got where I was coming from and we both shared a nod. See, in the right hands, Scooby-Doo is awesome in its simplistic horror madcap comedy spree.

Jinkies! Pass the Scooby Snacks. Continue reading

My Awkward Relationship With Winnie-The-Pooh

The Original WinnieI’ve always had an awkward relationship with Winnie-The-Pooh, starting as a child and even reaching to now, the grown author with a blog.

Above, this post, in my cover image, you have a collection of items representing my interests and writing (some of my novels and scripts, favorite books, the all-important pretzels) and in the middle is Pooh bear. He is a part of my life, a part of what drove me to write and be who I am, but still an awkward member of the company.

I can’t begin to tell you how many visitors’ eyes are drawn immediately to that silly old bear. Every time people reference that image to me, they bring up the old bear (I have yet to have anyone ask about that pile of screenplays which makes me sad). And, not surprisingly, I’ve had people taunt me because of him; bringing back to the surface that feeling we all had in elementary school when teased by a bully. (You think you forget how it feels, you really don’t, it just goes into hiding.)

So why is he there?

Shouldn’t he be out stealing a pot of honey or something?

Well, it’s complicated. As Pooh would say, “Think. Think. Think.” Continue reading

Nine Thoughts on Turning Five

My wife was in labor for 22 hours. 22!

It started the night before and I was deep in sleep when she broke the news we needed to leave for the hospital NOW. I was so deep into it that it took almost a minute of her waving at me, as I stood dumbfounded, that we needed to move.

I drove so slowly to the hospital, my wife was getting frustrated. I wanted everyone to be safe, I even avoided the highway, worried about drunk drivers.… Yes, it was a Sunday night, but someone could be drunk on a Sunday, right?

Once we were there my wife’s suffering began as future parents after future parents went in the delivery room before us. Finally, I had had enough. There are only a few times I can remember that I got all “extreme,” but this was one of them, as I confronted the doctor and nurse in the hallway. They said there were two ahead and I corrected them, without blinking, no, my wife is next… After five minutes of arguing, my wife was being prepped and ready to go.

One of my most vivid memories is of my son’s birth. When we first heard his cry, my wife turned to me, her mouth open in surprise, tears streaking her happy and tired face.  Then they showed him to us. His face was bright red from the screaming. I asked politely (and very overwhelmed) if I could see him; they of course said yes. I stood over him consoling him. At the sound of my voice he immediately stopped crying and then rolled on his side towards me.

You don’t forget things like that… Continue reading

Star Wars: One Fan’s Remembrances

Today, Stars Wars (or as some like to say A New Hope), turns 35… which means officially I am old.

To celebrate this cultural milestone (and personal success for seeing this day. Woohoo! Survival!), I thought I would share excerpts and links from two editorials I wrote about Star Wars over the last few months. 

The first one was my reaction to the blu-ray release of the series. To say, I was a little annoyed that the original trilogy without Lucas’ changes is not included is put it mildly (Han shoots first!). Still I decided to share my own personal memories around each of the films. It is called “Goodbye to a Galaxy Far, Far Away.” It can be found on GreenSpotBlue.com here. Here is the beginning:

Soon the Complete Star Wars Saga will be hitting on blu-ray, and for a member of Generation X, it can’t help but make me stop and take pause over this creation and its influence. For my generation, this is our Beatles, this is our man on the moon, this is our disco. We wear the t-shirts, we recite the lines at random times:  Continue reading