Flash Fiction: So this dream about Ringo…

DrumsSo last night I had this elaborate dream involving Ringo Starr. He was stuck on the side of the road in a very expensive long white car because all rich people in dreams have long white cars.  I offered him a ride because that is what you do when a Beatle needs help. We got talking and he invited me to a party, a real shindig. I said yes, of course, because this was Ringo.

So Ringo was a little tipsy in the dream, and I know he doesn’t drink in reality anymore, but in my dream he was. I was busy getting ready for the party, which explains why I wasn’t there when Ringo asked my far-too-young son what there is to drink in this house, my house.

So my son mixed a Beatle a drink. How my son knew how to climb up to the very high drawer with the liquor and then put a bit of this and that into a glass, I have no idea. I remember in the dream being shocked that Ringo asked my son to do this (he used to be on Thomas the Tank Engine, he should know better), and even more shocked that he then did it. It was so very Mad Men.

I then took a selfie of the three of us thinking the entire time this may or may not be great for my blog.

Probably not… Maybe.

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Their Obsession With Cheetahs

The CubbiesEvery night my children go to bed with cheetah cubbies that may be leopards.

They are cheap stuffed toys, the kind you see at the front of lesser family restaurants. Nothing extravagant, but wherever they go in the house, they are usually in the same room, many times next to each other. And each evening, they are needed for nighttime or there might be tears.

The cheetahs started with my son when he realized how fast they were.

My son has always loved to run. Back when he used to go to daycare and I would pick him up, on every nice day he would be in the playground racing with his friends. The teacher would just shout “Go!” and watch the kids run around and around again, not considering it was the parents that had to deal with the kids with sweat-soaked hair that would always need a bath later.

Now my son wasn’t always the fastest, he did good, but there were always kids a little faster since they might be older or just plan bigger. But that didn’t matter to my son, he would always tell me on the way home how he won… even when we both knew he didn’t.

He was Dash from The Incredibles for Halloween when he was four then the year after that The Flash. Whenever either costume was put on he would get this look in his eye, scream “zoom” and take off running around our house hoping to find a bad guy some place.

A red blur of speed!

 Last Christmas, my daughter gave her brother a giant stuffed cheetah. (Well, actually the parents did but she happily took credit for it, she was one then.) My son immediately declared it was the mommy cheetah, and they both happily agreed. The cheetah cubbies were grabbed and quickly were reunited.

They are now a family of cheetahs. Continue reading

Dealing With Children Television…

Daniel Tiger's NeighborhoodThere are times I wish I could really turn my critiquing mind off. Put it aside until later or when I am reading a book or watching something more sophisticated.

I can’t.

It’s a curse, and I feel it as a curse each time I sit down to watch TV or a movie with my kids. And while I may have no problem sitting with my kids on the couch, pretending to laugh at the obvious joke, a part of me is screaming to nitpick… nitpick everything!

And many times they deserve it! Come on, The Care Bears: Welcome to Care-A-Lot is just asking for it! It’s like those blasted bears are just teasing me!

Which makes this blog a godsend in many way. For here, without my kids knowing, I can take on the things that they love with abandonment. Here I am free.

I’ve written a few times on this site about different kid shows. Many times my focus is on PBS Kids or shows that attempt to educate. While I’m all for education on TV, sometimes odd choices are made under the guise of education, sneaking in what I consider lazy writing under the idea of a lesson. (Yes, I am talking to you the makers of Sid The Science Kid).

Here are six links (and new thoughts) to some of my old (and fun) kid entertainment television articles that you may have missed. Continue reading

Dear Wild Kratts, You Guys Are Awesome

PBS Kids has always been a good idea in theory. It’s the follow through where things get a bit muddled.

Each of the shows seem to have their own agendas (besides the obvious of keeping the production company working), and many times I wonder if they do involve educating my children. Even Sesame Street has problems with its obsession around showcasing celebrities (that, let’s be honest, children don’t care about) and in the end only seems to teach kids the importance of pop culture. Wonderful. Thanks.

And who knows what Arthur teaches except how not to get along with your sister.

I’ve written about my issues with the shows before (I wrote about Thomas the tank Engine and Sesame Street for a parenting site), so I really don’t need to continue my rant here. There is just so much ranting you can do about kid shows until you come off sounding a bit, well… odd; even to your understanding family.

I don’t want to be that guy. No one wants to be that guy.

Which brings me to what I consider one of the highlights of the PBS Kids lineup, the stellar Wild Kratts.

Why do I like this show above all of the other ones on TV today? Simply, my four-year old son learns from the show and that is just wonderfully awesome. Continue reading

Which Beatle am I? I have no idea anymore

I have always identified myself with The Beatles.  There was something about their energy, their creativity, and their artistic exploration that called to me.

I know this is not a unique thing.

Almost everyone feels some kind of connection to the fab four, but for me, I would mark my time based on theirs or I would relate myself to at least one of them from time to time, thinking something like “Wow that is just like John,” even though I knew it was never really the case… but it just made everything feel a little more important.

When I was a young struggling writer, I saw myself as a young John Lennon. I wore a sailor cap like he did all the time and wrote comic short stories. Yes, I connected to this early John in a major way.   I even dressed as him for Halloween once with the sailor cap just so over my bangs… strangely (thanks probably to my blonde hair) most thought I was the Dutch Boy from the paint cans as compared to the young rock god. Continue reading

Do you like humor and insight? Sure we all do…

I’ve collected all of the editorials and articles I have written for Green Spot Blue in one location.  They can now be found here on my blog:  https://sdsouthard.wordpress.com/articles-on-greenspotblue-com/

And via the links, you can learn:

* How Indiana Jones can make all of us feel old (Its not the years, its the mileage).

* Why Sesame Street needs to be saved from celebrities (and how it can be done).

* The many, many, many problems with Thomas the Tank Engine.

* Another series of reasons why the Star Wars prequels suck (because we need more reasons, right?).

* How an agnostic celebrates Christmas… and explains death!

Sounds fun? All those and way too many articles about super heroes.  Check it out!

How An Agnostic Can Explain Death To A Child

An essay by me on a difficult subject for Green Spot Blue.  Here is the introduction to the article:

My son is three going on four and he is starting to notice death.  It’s a part of life and hard to avoid even in children’s entertainment, unless you decide to always keep them covered by the security blanket that is Thomas the Tank Engine, Curious George, and Mickey Mouse’s Clubhouse.

My son, for example, is obsessed with Batman; I try to keep him focused on the more fun (less ultraviolent) series Batman: The Brave and Bold (and might I add, mind-numbingly stupidly canceled by Cartoon Network earlier this year). Now, while this version of Batman has actual fun and friends, death still sneaks into the show from time to time.  There was an episode about how his parents died and in one episode a hero sacrificed himself to save the world (Even I kept expecting the hero to get up, but when the funeral started, it was more stunningly obvious they were going in that direction with the story).

I was watching the episode with my son when Batman’s friend died. My son asked me what happened and at that time I just said he had gone away; looking back it was a weak answer and I am surprised he was okay with it (Typically he is a very inquisitive boy).  Yet, later I began to feel more and more guilty with my answer, wondering if I had given a pathetic reply.  Of course I argued to myself that we were watching Batman, was it really the time to get into this life changing conversation?  Of course, it might have been easier to deal with the concept then, as compared to the inevitable moment when it happens to someone he knows, or might even love.

Whatever the case, that moment has passed, and I have struggled for some time trying to discover the best approach for introducing my child to the idea that life will have an end. When my wife and I decided to be parents, I argued to take a sincere approach.  I don’t know what happens after life. We agreed to deal with the questions as they come up and be honest in our perspectives.  Because, frankly, in all truthfulness none of us really do know what happens. It’s all beautiful conjecture.

To read the rest of my article (and my answer to this problem), please visit the article on Green Spot Blue here.

Doubting Thomas… Thomas the Tank Engine

An editorial on Thomas the Tank Engine and PBS Kids is up at Green Spot Blue.  Here is part of the introduction of the article:

 It all starts so innocently. 

     And it always begins the same. Thomas the Tank Engine, we all (parents and children alike) get indoctrinated via the cute little wooden railway toys.

     They are so fun and who doesn’t like putting the tracks together! My son and I always like to lead the track under furniture, but that is just us, I’m sure.

     Oh, the toys are expensive and really we parents should’ve taken that as the first warning sign to run for the hills. (Seriously, when did 15 dollars for a little wooden train make economic sense?) And like Scientology with their free personality tests, Thomas inches you forward subtly until finally, your child is sleeping in a bed covered with Thomas sheets, your TV is running episodes every day and you can’t get that blasted theme song out of your head (both the version with lyrics and without).

     I’ve been there, fellow parents.  And like an alcoholic at AA let me tell you there are better life style options out there for you (and your kids). Because when you really step back and look at Thomas and its show and its message, it’s all… well… smoke.

T0 read the rest of the article (where I also give  some suggestions on how the show could be made better and more educational), please click here.

Peep! Peep!