Urban (mis)Advantures

Is Charlie Sheen Over? — February 25, 2011

Is Charlie Sheen Over?

Supposedly, after a slew of drunken behaviors and rants about the wrong people, Charlie Sheen’s show “Two and a Half Men” is canned.

Here’s the MSN article: http://tv.msn.com/tv/article.aspx?news=631432&gt1=28102

So, does he deserve it?  I think so.  If any one of us average Joes and Janes ranted around drunk, we’d be arrested.  If us non-celebrities blasted our bosses, we’d lose our jobs.  If the every day person were to assault his spouse, he’d be in jail.  Maybe people have been too lenient on him until now.  It’s just a shame that John Cryer’s career now has to take a nose dive because of Charlie’s antics.  (John, I’m still a big Morgan Stewart’s Coming Home fan).

In reality, how much longer can this show last?  Jake is as tall as his father and uncle, and his voice dropped, so he’s not really a “half” man anymore.

— February 21, 2011

Oli(ver), who has diabetes, appears to be doing much better since the last post about him.  Though he’s still not back up to his normal weight as shown in this picture taken 2 months ago, he’s eating his high protein food and enjoying a bit of milk now and then.  He walks normally with his head up now and resumed jumping onto the back of the couch to take a rest.  Oli also has resumed other usual behaviors such as crying to wake us up early in the morning when he feels like we should get up.  Yesterday he chewed on some stamps and stickers, and searched for other sticky, tape-like items when I chased him away.  He tried to walk all over the keyboard the other day while I wrote.  It’s good to have him back.

Why Star Wars is Essential to Childhood — February 19, 2011

Why Star Wars is Essential to Childhood

I’m still seeing my favorite Superbowl commercial-the mini Darth Vader trying to use the force on objects, and “succeeds” on the VW Jetta.  And the pint-sized Sith Lord has me thinking.  The Star Wars franchise was an essential part of Generation X’s childhood.  And it continues to be an essential part today as Gen X took their children to see Episodes I, II, and III (along with making them watch Episodes IV, V, and VI). 

“What?!” you say.  Oh, no.  Another dork that worships Jedi Knights and tries to invent a light saber.  No.  But a parent that realizes Star Wars offer visual examples of the many lessons we attempt to teach our children in order to be a productive member of society. 

Let’s start with lessons in the value of friendship.

Friends come in all shapes and sizes.  An eight foot tall howling hairball of the Wookie race.  A dwarfish, ill-green colored elder with a speech impediment.  An anxious, know-it-all droid fluent in “6 billion forms of communication.”  Although they seem more like the gym classmates that weren’t the first choice of teams, Chewbacca, Yoda, and C3PO were among Luke Skywalker’s friends, which were ultimately his lifeline.  They provided advice, wisdom of ages, and brute strength to help him fight an oppressive empire.  In the later episodes, Obi Wan Kenobi’s humanoid and alien ties across the galaxy kept him informed of tid bits vital in the Clone Wars.  The Star Wars movies, books, and television series plainly teach that one can be friends with those of different socio-economic class, religious beliefs, intellects, and race.

The biggest of help can come from those you least expect.  With the fact that one can be friends with others different from oneself, Star Wars then visually shows children the importance of taking help from these friends, especially when they know more about a situation.  A perfect example of this is the Battle of Endor.  The Rebellion forces were captured by the Empire and all their vast technologies of walkers and speeders.  And to the rescue are dozens of chunky teddy bears, springing traps of logs and bashing Storm Troopers upside the head with sticks and rocks.  The Ewoks proved to Han, Leia, and Luke that even the smallest of natives know their land better and can save your neck.  On the planet of Naboo, the aquatic native Gungans proved to have elegant weapons and waged an impressive defense against the droid army.  This provided the needed diversion from the royal city and allowed Amidala and her guards to take back the palace.  Children can generalize this to real life by asking for help during many childhood battles, including loneliness, struggling grades, and bullying. 

Teamwork, teamwork, teamwork!  Sometimes we have to work as a team.  Kids play sports and have to work together to complete classroom projects.  The Star Wars movies show again and again that often times you can’t take on the galaxy by yourself.  Among those who rescued Han Solo from Jabba’s palace included two droids, a handsome and smooth talking gambler, an inexperienced Jedi, and a pushy, love struck princess.  Each team member brought their own talents and ideas, then played their own parts to spring their friend from the Hutt’s slimy clutches.  Even the sith realized they needed the help of apprentices and droid armies to help conquer planets. 

Respect your Elders.  Yoda and Mace Windu attempted to warn Qui-Gon Jinn and then Obi Wan that Anakin Skywalker should not be trained as a Jedi.  Both men disregarded the heeding and took him as a padawan learner.  Within a couple of decades, Anakin turns into Vader, the universe’s infamous, asthmatic cyborg villain, and the rest is history.  Told you so. 

Think before you act.  We parents attempt to teach our children to use sound judgement and make good decisions.  Anakin is the epitome of acting upon feelings without thinking them through.  Granted he was an excellent pilot and exemplary yielder of the Force.  But he wiped out a village of Sand People.  He caused much ruckus in Coruscant to catch Zam Wesell.  He did not listen to his elder and Master Kenobi when facing Count Dooku, and it cost him an arm.  And then the whole turning to the Darkside ordeal and aiding in the oppression of entire systems. 

If you’re bossy and mean, other kids will eventually fight back.  Chancellor Palpatine (aka Darth Sidious) wanted to take over the galaxy, and he did through manipulation and mass murder.  He was the ultimate playground bully that wanted to rule the sandbox and surrounded himself with powerful and easily swayed allies.  But eventually other kids got tired of his tyranny and blew up his cool space station…twice.  With this larger lesson, kids can learn that nice guys don’t always finish last and that mean people really do suck and get knocked down hard. 

Don’t ever give up on what you believe in.  Anakin dreamed of being a powerful Jedi.  Princess Leia grew up fighting for freedom.  Luke longed to leave his moisture farm on a desert planet.  The Rebellion never gave up on bringing down the Empire.  And with much hard work, self-realization, and sacrifice, all of them stuck to their values and beliefs, beat the odds stacked against them, and accomplished the near impossible. 

Parents try their best to impress these and other values and lessons on their children.  The Star Wars franchise provides the larger than life characters, epic stories, and awesome visual effects to aid in that quest.

Natural Upgrade, Malfunctions in the Listening Domain — February 17, 2011

Natural Upgrade, Malfunctions in the Listening Domain

As our son undergoes his natural upgrade from Child version 12.5 to Adolescent 1.3, changes are occuring in his system. There are some programs and functions, we as his parental units, thought would improve as he grew, yet they work the same.  One in the particular is the Listening function.

In Toddler, Preschool, and younger Child versions, our son required repetitive instructions, redirections, and reminders of how to behave properly or when to complete tasks.  We understood this as part of his system development and gradual integration into human society.  He needed the repetition to learn basic hygiene, required daily routines, and appropriate behaviors and speech.  But one would ascertain that over the years, these functions would be an automatic part of his programming.  Not so.  It appears the Adolescent version of our son will continue to need directions to do homework and chores, and reminders to put on clean socks and comb his thick hair. 

Another malfunction of the Listening function is that our son does not often hear or acknowledge directions/requests to do tasks.  This malfunction sometimes causes a Nagging or Yelling application from the parents.  Yet he hears conversations not intended for his ears, among other parental activities (especially intimate).  His father and I believe the Listening function to now be “selective,” and are working on ways to repair this Uncooperative Error.

The Grammys….According to Me. — February 14, 2011

The Grammys….According to Me.

As far as performances go, the 53rd Grammy Awards was among the best.  I actually made it through the entire show this year without falling asleep.

First off, some unforgettable voices of this decade gave tribute to Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul.  I cannot tell if Christina Aguilera flubbed up any of Aretha’s lines because I could not understand what lyrics she belted out in what I guess was a passionate performance.

I was entrigued by Lady Gaga’s piece, especially that her wig stayed on as she danced around the stage.  Ricky Martin introduced the act as the one “everyone would be talking about tomorrow,” but was fairly tame for her.  There are two performances I believe everyone will be talking about today, Muse and Cee Lo Green.

America, finally meet Muse.  I’m not talking about watching one of their music videos or listening to them on your local alternative station.  But watch the spectacle that mirrored the brilliant vision and thundering sound that is Muse (except for the actors running around)  Granted this video is someone’s recording that is posted on Youtube…but it’s all I can find on short notice.  🙂 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5vk8MK_Zhuk 

And congrats on winning the Best Rock Album Award, especially since the competition was against a couple of legends.  This award is about five years overdue, gents.

Move over, Lady Gaga.  Some other artists competed with her for the fashionista crown.  And they would be Cee Lo Green and Nicki Manaj, shown respectively below.


Cee Lo Green gave the most colorful performance of the night, singing Forget You, accompanied by Gwynneth Paltrow and a band of crazed muppets.  I was bummed that “Forget You” lost both times to Lady Antebellum for the Song and Record of the Year categories.  And let’s face it…the song is called “F… You,” and probably reflects how most of America feels right now.

As usual, Eminem stole the show with his mere presence and passion for rapping.  I chuckled at his response of nabbing the Rap Album award:  “This is crazy.”  I also enjoyed the folk festival of Mumford and Sons and the Avett Brothers…but someone should have instructed Bob Dylan to warm his voice up before this performance.  I am now a fan of Bruno Mars….love the 50’s image and the pomp hair.

And Album of the Year went to…Aracade Fire.  What? WOW.  That hit me like a Mack truck.

Follow the link to see much more of the Grammy Awards.


Natural Upgrade, Part One — February 13, 2011

Natural Upgrade, Part One

Our son is currently going through his natural upgrade from Child version 12.5 to Adolescent version 1.3.  And we, his parental units notice some changes that are concerning. 

One noticeable change in our son’s software is his hygiene program, which affects his hardware.  Throughout his Toddler and Preschool versions, our son gladly took baths.  The bath function became obsolete in a Child version, was deleted, and replaced by the shower function.  Yet now, the shower function seems less voluntary and requires much reminding from us parental units for our son to engage in it. 

This malfunction in the hygiene program results in unpleasant changes to our son’s hardware.  His feet now emit a foul odor.  The stench is greatly magnified by his socks, particularly on days he engages in scheduled physical education functions.  The odor spreads to his laundry pile and has infected his entire room at least twice.  In addition, his hair fills of grime and grease much easier than in previous versions.  The Uncooperative Error Message of “I don’t want a haircut!” we frequently received in Child versions will continue to be an issue in Adolescent versions.  Thus, we parents have upgraded our instructional features to teach him proper hair washing.  Our son appears to understand that his hygiene program will remedy foul feet odor and greasy hair glitches.  Yet, it seems the budding Adolescent 1.3 version considers showering an interruption to other unnecessary applications, such as watching TV or playing video games. 

We understand that this upgrade from Child to Adolescent (also know as Teenager) is a natural part of Growing Up.  As Adult 3.0 + versions, our software still recalls our own Adolescent experiences and does try to comprehend our son.  Although many instructional manuals have been written to help with the usage of the Adolescent versions, we find ourselves in need of consultation from other parental units and the Programmer.

Cats Actually Get This? — February 11, 2011

Cats Actually Get This?

     Oli has always been a tall, big-boned cat since adopting him from a friend in 2003. Sometimes over the years, he got a bit chunky, so we wouldn’t put out so much food for him.  He’s territorial, claiming my favorite plush chair as his and attacking dogs that come too close.  Oli normally does not cuddle in laps or like to be held. He slinks up behind us on the couch and rubs against our heads or curls around my head or feet in bed.  He drinks water out of the toilet. He catches, plays with, and completely devours mice.

Or at least he used to.

Oli suddenly slimmed down, and I now feel his bones just beneath the shaggy fur he no longer cleans. This weekend, he walked with his head hung down and could not jump on the bed. He didn’t eat one night.  And he lay in each of our laps, his head turned to the side, and eyes closed. That was the moment I knew something was really wrong; Oli is not a lap kitty. 

We grew frightened, as we cannot afford a veterinarian right now.  A friend of ours said his girlfriend’s cat had the same behaviors and had to be “put down.”

That cat had diabetes.

We read the symptoms on WebMD, and realizations dawned on us. Early symptoms included frequent urination and intake of a lot of water. There were a few near floods I cleaned out of the litter box over the fall. Fluctuations in weight. But more advanced symptoms include lethargic movements, low energy, and walking with a strange, hunched stance.

I had no idea cats can have diabetes.  And now our Oli, the four-legged member of the family is diabetic. He’s on a high protein diet and is eating some special food that looks like burned rabbit pellets, but he seems to like them.  He enjoys a bit of milk in the mornings and laps up water in his bowl poured from bottles. Oli frequently rests in my son’s bed.

I never thought I’d miss Oli’s attention seeking antics of stepping on the compter’s keyboard or rubbing against the screen, leaving white and orange hair in his wake.  Until now.