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So, I think being a father is hard.  I have been thinking a lot lately about what it takes to be a good father.   With my two youngest, I am SuperDad.  I just show up and they give me a smile as if I am the greatest thing since sliced bread.  My oldest son has higher requirements of greatness.  It makes me wonder what it takes to be a SuperDad, but more importantly, what does it take just to be a dad.  For example, is there a recipe for being a good father?  I would imagine it is similar to cake.

There are a couple of essential ingredients that are required to make a cake, and then the rest of the ingredients will just determine how good or bad the cake tastes.  Every cake needs, flour, sugar, butter and eggs. You don’t even need water to make a cake.  As a matter of fact, you don’t even need the flour, but unless you have a gluten allergy, no one should eat a flourlesscake.  It’s just wrong.  Bottom line, if you have these simple ingredients, a cake is what you will eat.

Many ingredients make a good cake

So here is my Essential Dad recipe:
1.  BE THERE:  The most important ingredient to being a dad is just showing up.  It is sad the number of dads that are not around for their kids.  I do not understand this.  I am part of my kids and they are part of me.  If I were to leave them, it would be like leaving my arm, or my leg.  A lot of people think all you need is sperm to be a dad.  This could not be farther from the truth.  Donating sperm is the easy part.  It’s like sticking your key into a car ignition, turning on the car, and saying, “Look at me!  I can drive.”  No you can’t.  So, a shout out to my dad, who in spite of divorce and not always living under the same roof as me or my brothers and sisters, he has always been there for support.  My oldest brother and sister and I do not share the same biological father, but my dad treated them as if they were his own.  Was he the perfect dad?  Of course not, but he had an abundance of this essential ingredient, he was and always will BE THERE.

2.  GOT YOUR BACK:  In my opinion, fathers should be the definition of “I got your back”.  There should be no greater safety than in the presence of your dad.  Just last Saturday I went on a 3-hour canoe trip and the boys came with me.  It was Isaac’s first time in a canoe.  It might have been his first time in a boat period.  We went on this trip with colleagues from work, and two people in particular, Bruce and Linda were an awesome help and support.  You see, Brett Jr. got in the boat first was going to sit at the front, and Isaac sat in the middle.  However, to Isaac, as we were about to push from shore, the boat rocked way too much for his taste, and he felt strongly that he was going to fall in the water.  With every sway of the boat his cried out, tears streaming down his fear-stricken face.  I thought for certain that we were going to have to go back to shore and forget about this trip down the river.  Bruce and Linda (in kayaks) straddled the boat to steady it, and they helped Isaac walk to the back of the boat to sit in between my legs.  It was better, but he was still afraid.  I could feel his whole body shiver as I started to row the boat forward.  He held tightly to my legs for the first 15 minutes.  I just said over and over again, “You are safe with me.  I WILL protect you.”  He would ask me, “Is the boat going to tip over Dad?”  “Not today” I said, “Not today.”  About an hour into the trip, Isaac found his courage and moved to the middle of the boat, and even helped row.  He was very proud of his rowing accomplishments, and so was I.  “Dad is going to keep me safe.” He said.  “You got that right buddy, you got that right.” I told him.  We survived the three-hour trip down the river and had a great time.  Upon putting Isaac to bed that night, he said, “I had a great time with you Dad.”  I said, “So did I buddy.”  It was a great day.

Man of many quotes.

3.  TEACH:  I sometimes struggle with this ingredient, and wondered if it was essential, but this may be the most important job of being a father.  Otherwise, as a father, what is my purpose?  So, I take teaching very seriously.  Unfortunately, as my oldest son gets older, I am discovering that I am becoming less intelligent.  As Mark Twain said, “When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to  have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at  how much the old man had learned in seven years.”

Although Brett Jr is a very compliant child, I am beginning to notice more and more that

Money or humor that enabled him to marry up?

he does not worship the ground that I walk on.  Luckily for me, I still have Isaac and Violet to remind me of how great I am.  I must cherish these years, for one day I am sure that Violet will bring a boy home one day that I will hate.  Is it too late for me to buy a shotgun?  Maybe I can convince her that dating is evil until age 30.  When I look at my daughter, I think about one of my favorite Chris Rock quotes, “Keep my baby off the pole!  I mean they don’t grade fathers but if your daughter is a stripper you fucked up.”

Well, that is my recipe for being a father.  Of course there is more, but I hope fathers every well include the basic ingredients.  Of course there is always icing, sprinkles, and decorations, like bike rides, canoe trips, camping, talks about life, golf lessons, playing catch, shooting baskets, wrestling, fishing, etc. etc. etc.

So many thanks to my dad for taking me fishing, teaching me how to use a hammer, providing me a foundation for my faith, and etc. etc. etc.  Essentially, the icing on the cake with lots of sprinkles.  Happy Father’s Day.

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It would simply be impossible for Superman to become a father unless he discovered a female Kryptonian on Earth or super heroine.  An Earth woman would not survive the process.  The problem?  One word: Orgasm.  Superman’s orgasm would kill Lois Lane.  I’m just sayin…

Marriage, maybe. Kids, no way.

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So, I just finished watching the A-Team.  I loved it!  I know what you are thinking.  “Are you kidding me?  You are going to open up a movie blog with the A-Team! Seriously?”  You better believe it Fool!  I pity the fool that don’t like the A-Team. 

Did you know that Mr. T had a cartoon? I did.

That’s right, a Mr.T reference.  Do you know why I liked the movie, because when it comes to movies, I follow one simple rule: Pure Entertainment Value.

I don’t want life lessons, political messages, redeeming value, or even reality from my movies.  I want to be entertained.  And I am relatively easily entertained, so when I am disappointed by a movie, it pisses me off.  I am so easily entertained that a plot is not one of my requirements for a good movie.  For example, one of the greatest movies of all time is ‘Friday’ with Ice Cube and Chris Tucker.  You read it right, Ice Cube.  Basically you have two guys hanging out in LA.  One person owes someone else money and they are worried that they are going to be killed for a couple of hundred bucks.  Maybe you have to be from California to truly appreciate this movie, but trust me, it is a classic. 

Daaaamn!

And the best character with almost zero lines was Deebo (Daaaamn!!!!!).

One of the down side to having a little knowledge is being able to point out inaccuracies in movies.  For example, in the movie, Lion King, there is an opening scene where you see ants carrying leaves across a tree branch.  As far as I can tell, they are leaf cutter ants.  Leaf cutter ants can be found in South America, Central America, the Caribbean, shoot, you will even find them in the southern parts of the United States.  You know where you won’t find them? In Africa.

Found in many places EXCEPT Africa.

  King Kong?  I loved the movie, absolutely loved it.  However, the commercials made it out as if gorillas were dangerous man-eaters.  You know who has to fear gorillas?  Celery.  That’s right, they are vegetarians.  A common “evil” animal is the wolf.  Do you know how many people have been attacked by wolves?  Zero.  Nonetheless, we love movies where we are attacked by some crazy rabid, genetically created, radioactive, science experimental animal gone wrong.  To be honest, I love them too.  If I am ever watching TV and Godzilla comes on, I will have no choice but to watch it to the end of the movie.  To this day, I hate the fact that Godzilla has been vilified.  He’s just a radioactive monster trying to make it through the day.

They are already working on Godzilla 2012. Crazy!

Now no offense to Japan, and the problems that they are facing truly deserve prayer, and I encourage everyone reading this blog to donate to the Red Cross if they haven’t done so already.  But, is there another country that has embraced major tragedy more than Japan?  Just nine years after Hiroshima was bombed, the movie ‘Gohira’ was released.  Gohira, better known as Godzilla was created by American nuclear weapons testing.  It makes me wonder what the country will come up with after its latest tragedy.  One thing is for certain, radioactivity does not create giant monsters or super heroes.  Seriously, donate to the Red Cross.

Despite my knowledge, I don’t mind inaccuracies, because when I go to the movies I check my brain at the door.  Sometimes inaccuracies are crucial to making the movie work.  For example, one of my favorites from 2010, The Book of Eli. 

<<SPOILER ALERT>>

In ‘The Book of Eli’, the movie is set in a post-apocalyptic world in which Eli is protecting a sacred book that he must bring to the West where he believes there are people who will know what to do with the book.  Of course, along the way some bad guys try to take the book from him.  He helps a young girl and some serious ass-kicking takes place.  Has all the elements of PEV (Pure Entertainment Value).  But there is one serious problem.  In order to make the movie work, the movie must break one very clear reality rule.  You see Eli …,  wait for it …   wait for it …  wait for it …

is blind.

 You see in the movie, Eli carries around the sacred book which turns out to be the Bible.  The reality rule that is broken is the size of a braille bible.  The new King James Version of the braille bible was completed in the 80’s.  It is a 20 volume set that requires 76 inches of shelf space at least 12 inches high.

Try lugging this across country.

I forgive this reality rule ‘error’ because the movie just would not be as slick if Denzel Washington’s character was dragging along 20 braille volumes in a cart.  You now see why I must turn my brain off when I see movies.

As a biologist I struggle with movies like Jurassic Park.  You will never ever see a predator spend over an hour hunting/chasing a prey.  Stalking, maybe, but never chase as they do in most predator movies.  It uses too much energy.

One of my favorite movies of all time was remade in 2010, The Karate Kid.  First of all, the first Karate Kid did not need to be remade.  In general I am not a fan of remakes or sequels.  They are almost never as good as the original.  There are exceptions.  Toy Story 3 might be the best one.  Believe the hype, it is that good.  If I was more in touch with my feelings, I would have bawled like a baby.  If you are prone to tears, have a handkerchief ready when you watch it, trust me.  But Karate Kid (2010) sucked. 

Now keep in mind, I am a HUGE fan of Karate Kid (1984).  My fantasy football team’s name is CobraKai, and has been for years.  “Sweep the leg” and “wax on, wax off” are still very quotable.  So, understand that my review of this movie is highly biased.  That being said, Karate Kid (2010) blows.  I am all for supporting the family, but Jaden Smith would not have “won” this role had it not been for his dad, Will Smith.  Now, I am a huge Will Smith fan, but even I know that Smith has the acting range of a grape in a painting of a fruit basket.  So, instead of just randomly trashing this movie, I have decided to break it down like a preview of a football game, position by position.  To my surprise, and possibly yours, KK 2010 does not lose every battle.  Let’s start with the most obvious positions:

SPOILER ALERT!!!! (Like it matters)

Daniel Larusso (Ralph Macchio) Vs Dre Parker (Jaden Smith):  Both are bad actors and Macchio has finally entered the death throws of his acting career by being the next one-hit wonder to be on Dancing with the Stars.  Jaden will get more work, but that has more to do with his parents than ability.  This is still no contest, Daniel beats Dre every time.

Come on Man!! You were the Karate Kid! Now this. Sad.

Mr. Miyagi (Pat Morita) vs Mr. Han (Jackie Chan):  Please, not even close.  Mr. Miyagi by a landslide.

Ali (Elisabeth Shue) vs Meiying (Wenwen Han):  Here is the problem that I have always had with the character Ali.  Was there ever a more awkward looking couple than Daniel and Ali in The Karate Kid?  Ali was like twice Daniel’s size.  They defined mismatch.  For this reason, and this reason alone, slight favor to Meiying.

Bad Boys Johnny (Billy Zabka) vs Cheng (Zhenwei Wang):  There are few characters that are type cast for good reason as Zabka was as a teenage bad boy.  Who played a spoiled Arian nation looking kid better than Zabka?  That being said, Wang nailed the Cheng role in KK 2010.  And his Kung Fu was strong (despite the name of the movie).  So, it pains me, and may surprise you, but ever so slight edge goes to Cheng.

Winning Move – Crane versus Cobra:  Can you think of a better ending to a movie than Daniel’s crane kick to win the tournament?  Has any move been more duplicated?  It was the 80’s version of the slow motion back bending Matrix move, and just about as duplicated.  Furthermore, I believed that Daniel could have learned that move.  A kid brand new to Kung Fu learns a Cobra move that takes masters decades to learn.  I don’t think so.  No Contest – Crane kick wins.

Overall the movie is more of a cover than a remake.  If you watch both movies close together, you will notice that many of the lines are not changed.  How lazy can you get?  And despite that everyone is clearly practicing Kung Fu, they don’t change the title of the movie.  It’s a cover, maybe at best, an homage, but mainly a cover and have you ever heard a good cover that was even close to as good as the original?  There are a few, but if you are honest with yourself, how many cover albums do you own? Exactly.

So, let me end this rather lengthy blog with my Top Ten Movies of 2010.  Keep in mind that I did not see all the movies of 2010, so if you have recommendations, please do not hesitate to comment and I will see them and modify my list if necessary.  Also, don’t forget, Pure Entertainment Value.

#10 The A-Team – It’s just a fun movie and stayed true to the TV series.  So, if you liked the Tv series, you will love this movie.  Only one fatal flaw, no Mr. T cameo.  Oh well.
# 9 Alice in Wonderland – As remakes go, well done.
# 8 Get Him to the Greek – Puffy’s role in this movie is down right hilarious.  This goes in my went above expectations category.  Only one other movie on this list pleasantly surprised me more than this movie.
# 7 Red – Think Ocean’s 11, but with lots and lots of guns.
# 6 Hot Tub Time Machine – This movie is truly an homage to 80’s movies.  I was excited to see it and it did not disappoint.
# 5 Book of Eli – Although I try to avoid redeeming value in movies as well as my blog, this one had a little redeeming value.  It did not distract from the butt whoopins galore, however.  “that’s not a knife.  THIS is a knife.”  Not from the movie, but you get it if you have seen it.
# 4 Toy Story 3 – Nice way to say farewell to some excellent children characters.  Bring your hankee.
# 3 How to Train your Dragon – Fun Fun Fun movie.  Best animated film of the year in my opinion.  I can and have watched many times.
# 2 The Other Guys – Biggest surprise of the year.  It went well above and beyond my expectations.  It forever has me thinking of lions and tuna differently.  Must See!
# 1 Inception – Maybe the most intelligent movie of the decade.  I had to turn my brain on for this movie, but it was worth it.

Honorable mentions that you might be surprised by:  Tooth Fairy (Good family movie.  Laughed more than I would have predicted.); Easy A (Smart movie and if you have teenage kids, you should watch it, possibly own it.) and finally She’s Out of My League (I thought it was cute.  It was formulaic, but did not apologize for it.  If you are ever bored one weekend, rent it.)

Maybe my longest blog to date.  I hope you have made it this far.  If so, thank you.  I welcome your comments, especially on movies that you think was a travesty to not be on my Top Ten 2010 Movie List.

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I have two major movie research projects I would conduct if I had the time.  The first is to determine exactly what is the probability that a minority character making through a movie alive?  Especially if the character is a black man.  Often, he is the first to go, like in Jurassic Park.  I see it so often, I am convinced it happens with great regularity.

Secondly, did Walt Disney hate women?  Snow White (drugged and witch killed); Dumbo (Mother locked up); Bambi (mother shot by hunter); Cinderella (Evil sisters and step-mom); Peter Pan (no mothers for pirate boys); Sleeping Beauty (Woman turns into dragon and killed with sword); 101 Dalmatians (Cruella Deville); Fox and the Hound (Mother fox is killed by hunter); The Little Mermaid (No mom, and evil octopus woman); Beauty and the Beast (Belle did not have a mom); Aladdin (Princess, King, NO Queen); The Lion King (despite the fact that female lions do all the hunting and teach the young to hunt, who teaches Simba to hunt?  Mufasa.  Male lions don’t do jack.); Tangled (Evil woman who locks girl away in a tower)  Is this a pattern?  I’m just sayin …

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