… And they Giggled and Laughed…

I can’t tell you what joy it is to hear your children laughing.

This past weekend (Sunday, actually), I decided to deviate from our normal search-Netflix-ad-nauseum-find-nothing-and-give-up routine and go to Amazon Instant Video for our dinner movie. I found Despicable Me, an animated film with Steve Carrell and Julie Andrews providing voice talent. I saw previews for it back in the day, and thought maybe the kids would like it.

We coughed up the dough and the movie played. And at a few points — more than a few, actually — the kids laughed aloud. They giggled and chuckled and chortled their way through the entire film, and then the little games the animators played in the credits.

Three bucks very well spent.

As a movie, Despicable Me isn’t bad. It takes the approach of making what appears to be the movie’s antagonist into a sympathetic character. We end up rooting for him because, in the end, he’s not a bad guy after all; he’s a misguided good guy and needed someone to show him how to do things in a society-appropriate way.

The actual antagonist, however, was poorly developed and not consistent. The writers/producers/whatever needed to include a little more to give us the true sense of who the antagonist actually is, and play that up just a bit more. And we need to see better indications, IMO, of some traits they put forth at the end which weren’t well-planted (planted, just not all that well, especially for a kid’s movie) in the set-up.

Some gags ran too long, too, and let’s face it, this isn’t Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote. So either make it really funny or keep it brief. A couple of times, this wasn’t the case.

Carrell and Andrews were great, and the animation was second to none. There was a little dead celluloid, I thought, but overall not a bad movie. I’d give it four stars if I’d been rating it on Netflix.

I recommend it, and I normally don’t do that. Then again, my kids laughed, and they don’t normally do that, either.

Updates!

Work

Things are going better! My broken program seems fixed! I can go forward with my work projects – if ever I have the TIME to go forward with them. Seems there’s always something in the way.

But I’m STOKED! I’ve spent SOOOO much time finding solutions and now I can actually try implementing some of them! Woo!

Writing

I’m re-doing my first completed manuscript (not really my first, but whatever), and trying to apply good story structure principles to it. Guess what? It’s really hard to do. My story has a lot of weaknesses and I can’t seem to *POOF!* any quick fixes for it. So I’m stewing about that. Meanwhile, I’ve outlined one book, and maybe I have another one I can get into Scrivener before long.

Now, the sequel to the aforementioned book needs story structure too. I have better bones to work with there, and didn’t get nearly as far down the line on it. Cut the stupid, online-serial insertions and the “I’ll put my deviantART followers in my story to endear them to me” crap out, and it’s actually a good beginning. So I’m able to do that one. But what good’s a sequel without the opener?

Also have yet another ghost story I want to get into software, and I have more or less the whole story outlined. I just need to add the markers, apply the Dramatica stuff, stuff it into the Hero’s Journey and start writing. Easy-peasy mac-‘n’-cheesy, matey.

But Tuesday was my daughter’s birthday and nothing else matters. And besides, I got so log-jammed on trying to finish my 2007 baby, I didn’t get anything else done, so I guess I’ll either stew until that pops loose or I get so annoyed I move on.

I love Scrivener. Together with Bryce’s Text Tree program, I don’t know if I need anything else. Ever.

Life

Life is good right now. I’m still struggling to get my diet figured out, but I fee confident I’ll nail it eventually. Until then, the weight coming off in baby steps is better than not at all.

What’s up with all you out there?

-JDT-

No Monday Blues for Me

I’m off work today, because tomorrow is my lovely daughter’s birthday. But rather than take the Tuesday, I just made a three-day weekend out of it.

So nothing to provide today. I started some video training for programming at work, but it’s not doing as much as I hoped for me. And I got some on my own to supplement too. It’s not helping much either, at least, not yet. So pray it starts to stick. I have a tendency to watch too many of them at once, too, and that’s not helping. Hopefully they’ll start to stick anyway.

So, I’ll have something more interesting and/or entertaining later in the week, I hope, but for now, I haven’t done much of anything. How was your weekend?

-JDT-

Whensday

Poor Stevie. He didn’t know what hit him.

Matthew was a freaky little guy with a weird, loud-mouthed mother, and no one knows more about weird, loud-mouthed mothers than me, and a reclusive and overweight father, another topic of which I know much. So we had a lot in common. You could say we were peas in a very messed up pod.

He lived on one corner of Olympia Drive and Olympia Circle, and I lived on the other. We knew each other for a long time, and our friendship sort of waxed and waned depending on who we were hanging out with that week/month/school year, and who was available to hang out with. I guess we were hanging out together that time.

We fumbled around in the patches of yellow clay and weeds between the sidewalks and the curb, where nothing seemed to grow successfully no matter how many times you tried. Eventually, folks gave up and tried sodding it like the rest of their lawn, but the hot, dry summers usually got the best of it.

The parched Earth would break into huge cracks and form large, dehydrated clods. This particular day, Matthew and I pulled up a particularly huge hunk of dirt. It was flat on the top, and formed a dome on the underside, and the weight hefted in our hands sound and sturdy.

We stared at it, and turned it over and over in our hands, passing it back and forth between us. In those days, we didn’t notice how hot it was. We’re kids, we don’t get hot. Besides, the dirt clod was interesting enough to keep us distracted. But what to do with it? We can’t just let it go to waste.

Matthew said we should drop it on some army men. You know, those little plastic soldiers and their molded guns and bases you got in packages of 100 from the grocery store. I said that wouldn’t be much fun. No, we should break it over someone’s head! Yeah, Matthew agreed, it’s so perfect for that!

Enter Stevie. He lived at the bottom of Olympia circle with his brother Bill. Their dad used to put boxing gloves on them and let them go at it in their front yard, coaching each of them. Yes, he encouraged his sons to beat the crap out of each other. He also got them into Scouts, and taught them other stuff I’d later envy.

Stevie, the younger of the two, had a ready smile, a flat head, and a funny speech impediment. He sounded like a foreign national. Just a fun loving kid, minding his own business, on his way who knows where to do who knows what.

So Matthew and I hatched a plan. A genius plan.

As Stevie came up the sidewalk, we called him over. A streetlamp offered us a convenient place to have him stand, his back to the wooden pole under the sodium vapor lamp and the draped electrical wires, while I hid on the other side of it. In those days, I could hide behind a lamp post with a dirt clod the size of a jigsaw puzzle in my hands.

Matthew waved his hands, Svengali on Olympia Drive, and crooned something stupid to Stevie, who of course closed his eyes, playing along.

And then, I came out of hiding and brought the dirt clod down over the top of his flat head.

The dirt clod was supposed to snap in two. In our minds, it snapped in two, every time we did it. And we did it more than once, let me tell you.

But the dirt clod didn’t snap in two. It exploded into tiny grains of yellow sand and grit, and showered everywhere. I felt Stevie’s head snap down from the force of the blow. The sickening thump rang with a hollow cantaloupe sound, and his face went slack first, then twisted into a mask of pain as the crumbs of dirt rained down his nose and cheeks.

I ran. I ran as only cowards can run. It wasn’t supposed to be like this! It wasn’t supposed to hurt! It was only supposed to break in half!

My weird, loud-mouthed mother asked me why I wasn’t playing outside that day. I stared out the window at the bright day as it waned and waited for Stevie’s old man to come up and yell at me. Or to go to Matthew’s house, where I’d hear his mother screaming and whining at him, and then I’d know I was next.

He never came though.

A few days later, I saw Stevie again. I wasn’t with Matthew this time. I told him I was sorry for what I did, and I hoped he wasn’t hurt too much. He shrugged it off with his ready smile and said it was just a tender bump on his head.

I don’t know whatever became of Stevie. But I hope he really did forgive me and has no memory of this horrible thing I did.

For some reason, I can’t ever forget.

Copyright DarcKnyt 2012, All Rights Reserved

Whensday

Sometimes I wonder what happened to him.

I must have been about six, or maybe less, when my best friend was Paul. He had a much older brother, and of course, the older brother seemed so cool to me. Paul and I went to different classrooms or started hanging out with different people or whatever other forces move children apart in their relationships came into play, and I didn’t spend so much time (any) with Paul. But I never forget a face. Never.

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