Thursday, September 30, 2010

Seeing the Past in the Future (Hello Kitty vs. Bigfoot)

This morning The Little Monster did something that reminded me a LOT of myself as a kid. While she has watched a fair amount of scary and semi-scary stuff over the past few years, it's always amazing just what the imagination of a young child will decide is scary.

The Monster was in the living room watching her "Hello Kitty Becomes a Princess" DVD. Yes, I do allow her to watch non-monster based programming. To say that this particular DVD is not scary would be an understatement. Nonetheless, she came out to the kitchen to bother her little sister--who was trying to eat breakfast. When I asked her why she wasn't watching her show she said that it was a scary part that she didn't want to see. Not only did this thought seem hilarious--that something in the Hello Kitty DVD (which she's watched dozens of times) would scare her enough to walk out of the room--it also reminded me of something from my Monster Kid past.

As a kid I loved (and frequently feared) the show "In Search of...". This was the syndicated half-hour show hosted by Leonard Nimoy which explored many mysterious and supernatural phenomena around the world. Some of the topics that I best remember include the episodes that covered stuff like Bigfoot, The Loch Ness Monster, ghosts, UFOs, and the like. As a kid these shows could be VERY scary. The fact that they were seriously investigating such strange occurrences and treated the subjects as real made them seem all the more "real"--and subsequently, scary. The re-enactments were probably the scariest parts of all.

As a kid, I was very interested in Bigfoot, The Abominable Snowman, Sasquatch, Yeti, and all the other names for the big, hairy monsters that might have lurked in the forests and mountains of the world. The fact that there might be real monsters out there similar to the stuff I'd see in monster movies on TV was just too interesting to ignore. It was always a special treat when "In Search of..." would focus on one of these legendary beasts. I remember one night when a Bigfoot-related episode was on. I wanted to watch it, but at one point they had one of those monster-point-of-view recreations of a Bigfoot incident that seemed way to real to me. Much as The Little Monster's imagination made something scary out of something as innocent and kid-friendly as Hello Kitty, my imagination made this Bigfoot encounter much more than a simple re-enactment. I left the living room and went downstairs to my sister's room. Ostensibly I was going down to tell her that there was something really cool on TV that she should see. In reality, I was escaping from the certain-to-induce-intense-nightmares scene that was unfolding on the screen.

It was a very similar event to what would happen to my Little Monster this morning, except that she was big enough to admit that she didn't want to watch her scary scene because it was scary. I had to try to disguise my fear behind a mask of false concern that my sister (who wouldn't have been interested anyway) would miss something cool--while I was purposely missing it in order to inform her about it. Aah, the inner workings of the mind of a child...

I'm not sure if this is the exact one that I referred to above, but it's a good example.

Sleep Tight!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

An Absolutely Horrible Month

At least I hope so!

There's less than an hour left of September 29, 2010 as I write this. Tomorrow is the last day of September, then October starts. My Little Monster is very excited about Halloween this year (her fifth Halloween). I have decided that I simply have to watch as many horror movies as I can in the month leading up to All Hallows Eve. This isn't a bold move by any means. Many cable channels have featured 31 horror movies in 31 days for October in the past. My goal is to watch as close to 31 movies myself as possible in that period. Watching horror movies comes pretty naturally to Monster Dad, so what's the big deal? Let me explain.

Watching an average of one horror movie a day for a month wouldn't have been much of a challenge for Monster Bachelor. The same goal would be a bit more challenging for Monster Husband. For Monster Dad, the enterprise takes on a whole new twist--mainly, simply finding the time to watch that many movies.

While it's certainly true that The Little Monster has watched quite a few "scary" movies with me, I don't know how many of these movies will be appropriate for her. My definition of "horror movie" for this endeavor is going to be admittedly kind of vague, but I still don't know how many I'll be able to watch with The Little Monster. That means I won't be watching many of them during the day. The Wife is not terribly interested in horror movies, so the block of time between her return from work until her bedtime will probably not include many horror movies either. That leaves the late-night time slot as prime viewing time for this project. True, "the witching hour" of midnight is certainly an appropriate time to be watching a horror movie, but after a day of chasing two Mini-Monsters around, this forty-one year old Monster Dad can start getting a wee bit tired by that point. "Luckily" (and I mean that with a touch of sarcasm) the Red Sox aren't in the playoffs, so I won't be watching highlights/lowlights of their postseason games on the eleven o'clock news. That should allow the movie watching to start a little earlier.

"Horror Movies" in this case will include not only what one would normally expect in a horror movie, but will also include monster and science-fiction movies as well. Basically anything that I like that falls into that very general description will be eligible. To stretch things further, I'll be including episodes of TV shows too. I'm currently finishing up watching the TV series "Kolchak: The Night Stalker" (borrowed from the local library). Each of the last few episodes I have left will be considered a "horror movie" if I watch them in October. I'm also predicting that The Monster and I will soon be watching the second season Halloween episode of "The Love Boat", called "Ship of Ghouls". Yep, that will count too! Sorry purists. Hey, at least it stars Vincent Price!

While this type of viewing is no stretch for Monster Dad, I have been neglecting the genre just a bit lately. After a steady diet of horror/Sci-Fi over a long period of time, plus my recent (September 9-12) trip down to the Pittsburg area for the two-night Drive-In Super Monster-Rama (which featured eight classic horror movies over two nights at the Riverside Drive-In), I've recently taken just a bit of a break from the stuff. Recent movies viewed have included "Super Fuzz" (1980), and a bunch of recent titles like: "The Road" (2009), "The Book of Eli" (2010), "Land of the Lost" (2009) and "It's Complicated" (2009). The Wife and I even celebrated our birthdays last week with a little date night--which included going out to see the new Ben Affleck movie "The Town" (2010). With the most monster-filled month about to start, it seemed like a good time to do something interesting, and get back to what truly makes Monster Dad Monster Dad.

Here's the line-up for the awesome Drive-In Super Monster-Rama!

Stuff I'll be watching will include many things in my own collection that I've never found the time to watch, Netflix movies, borrowed library materials, and perhaps even a few things at the local movie theaters. National Amusements is running a series called "Zombie Feast". The third movie, "Resident Evil" (2002), will be shown tomorrow night. Unfortunately that one won't count, as tomorrow is only September 30. There will be two more weeks left (October 7 and 14) that I hope to make it to. October 7th will feature "Shaun of the Dead" (2004), while October 14th will be the series finale--dubbed the "Zombie House Party" and featuring the premiere of "Night of the Living Dead" (1968) in 3D! Also, on Thursday, October 28, the gang from RiffTrax will be doing a live show broadcast at various movie cinemas which will feature the Vincent Price classic "House on Haunted Hill" (1959). They don't announce locations until October 1, so I'm crossing my fingers that they'll be broadcasting to a theater near me.

While it might have been a good idea to save them for October, I've recently watched a couple movies that would have been perfect for the marathon. This week alone I saw two late-50s movies which are barely over an hour in length each: "Teenage Monster" (1958) and "The Astounding She-Monster" (1957). I guess I'll call these my "preseason games". Kind of like a little "Fall Training" for the real thing if you will.

Check back often, this blog entry will be updated regularly through the month (via the "Edit Post" feature) to keep track of how the project is going. Not sure if this will be a success, but it should be a fun ride while it's unfolding!

Stay Tuned!

To Be Continued...

This Is Only The Beginning!


OCTOBER 1: Thursday's National Amusements "Zombie Feast" movie, "Resident Evil" (2002), ended at about 11:45 PM on September 30, so I wasn't able to include it in this challenge. I considered watching something upon getting home from the show after midnight, but it just didn't happen. Later on October first I was able to watch the 1978 version of "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" (1). I've owned the DVD for a few years, but have never gotten around to watching it until today. It was a little special too, because I've been listening to old audio cassettes that I taped back in the early 1980s lately. The one that's currently in the player contains parts of "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" from when it aired on ABC back on September 27, 1981. I was watching it once again almost exactly 29 years later! I was also able to see the "Primal Scream" episode of the series "Kolchak: The Night Stalker" (2), and later on even watched part of Ralph Bakshi's trippy 1977 animated feature "Wizards".

OCTOBER 2: Today I was able to not only finish up "Wizards" (3), but also watch the 1978 TV movie "Cruise into Terror" (4). This one was a bit of a surprise, as I had seen it as a kid and had always wondered what movie it was. I watched it today, not realizing that it was the same movie that scared me all those years ago (most likely on Friday, February 3, 1978 when it premiered--though it could have possibly been a later re-run of the movie that I saw). The busy movie-watching day concluded with seeing Saturday Fright Special's presentation of "Voyage to the Prehistoric Planet" (1965) (5) online. Saturday Fright Special is a cable access horror host show that originates in New Hampshire, but which is now seen on local cable channels all around the country and which is also streamed online.

OCTOBER 3: Watched the rather terrible 1984 "thriller" "Scream for Help" (6). I remember being excited about this movie when it came out--but only because John Paul Jones (formerly of Led Zeppelin) did the music for it. Last time I saw it (and the only time until now) was when it came out on VHS and I rented it. Even then it was pretty bad.

OCTOBER 4: Late tonight I watched part of one of my all-time favorite Bigfoot movies, "Creature from Black Lake" (1976). More on this movie when a Bigfoot blog is finally written.

OCTOBER 5: Finished up "Creature from Black Lake" (7) and also watched "Ghostbusters" (1984) (8) with The Little Monster.

OCTOBER 6: Watched the "Kolchak: The Night Stalker" episode "The Trevi Collection" (9), and later saw "The Cosmic Man" (1959) (10).

OCTOBER 7: Today The Monster and I watched the Mystery Science Theater 3000 treatment of "Eegah" (1962) (11). Later I went to the Zombie Feast feature "Shaun of the Dead" (2004) (12).

OCTOBER 8: Watched an old favorite from the Creature Double Feature days--the Hammer classic "Five Million Years to Earth" (1967) (13), also known as "Quatermass and the Pit".

OCTOBER 9: Watched the 1956 Hammer movie "X: The Unknown" (14). Had never seen this one before. Pretty good.

OCTOBER 10: The first day this month I didn't manage to watch something that could be added to the list.

OCTOBER 11: Watched another episode of "Kolchak: The Night Stalker". This one was the "Legacy of Terror" (15) episode, which featured a guest turn by a pre-CHiPs Erik Estrada. The Wife watched this one with me--her first Kolchak experience. She didn't hate it.

OCTOBER 12: Pretty good day. I started it last night, but finished "The Thing that Couldn't Die" (1958) (16) today. Then figured it would make a great double feature with "The Brain that Wouldn't Die" (1962) (17). Never saw the first one before, but the second was a favorite Creature Double Feature title. The Monster and I did end up watching the aforementioned season two Halloween episode of "The Love Boat". It's called "Ship of Ghouls" (18). I know it's an iffy one to include on the list, but it does feature Vincent Price at least. Finally, I finished up the night with another "Kolchak: The Night Stalker" episode. Tonight's episode: "Chopper" (19).

OCTOBER 13: Watched "Blood Creature" (aka "Terror is a Man") (1959) (20), which wasn't all that great. Oh well, they can't all be gems.

OCTOBER 14: Attended the final night of National Amusements' Zombie Feast series. Tonight was the "Zombie House Party", which featured the premiere of the colorized version of George Romero's 1968 zombie classic "Night of the Living Dead" (21) in 3D! It was pretty fun to see.

OCTOBER 15: Watched the 1953 movie "Project Moon Base" (22).

OCTOBER 16: After attending the Rock and Shock convention in Worcester (where I bought a bunch of new stuff on DVD) I watched the "Demon in Lace" (23) episode of "Kolchak: The Nightstalker". Also saw Saturday Fright Special's take on the 1972 made-for-TV movie "Moon of the Wolf" (24) online.

OCTOBER 17: Life intervened and prevented me from watching anything for the challenge today. The New England Patriots pulled out a last minute overtime victory over the Baltimore Ravens, which could have been a true "horror" to watch if they had lost, but that's a different story.

OCTOBER 18: Watched the 1959 William Castle classic "The Tingler" (25). This was one of Castle's greatest gimmick movies. It doesn't make a whole lot of sense, but must have been very fun (and possibly scary too) for audiences to experience when it first came out. This movie is part of a William Castle double feature DVD--along with "Zotz!" (1962)--which I have from Netflix. These movies should make for a nice appetizer as the October 28 RiffTrax Live show featuring "House on Haunted Hill" approaches!

OCTOBER 19: Today I finally watched "Time After Time" (26). I haven't seen this great 1979 movie about time travel, H.G. Wells and Jack the Ripper (mentioned in an earlier blog about time) in years. Last October I met star Malcolm McDowell at the Rock and Shock convention in Worcester, MA. I decided at that time that I should see the movie and it's taken a whole year to do so. It's more of a science fiction movie than a horror, but it does feature Jack the Ripper committing murders in modern day San Francisco. Of course the "modern day" of the movie is now over 30 years old.

OCTOBER 20: In honor of the 43rd anniversary of the filming of the famous Roger Patterson Bigfoot film I decided to watch the 1978 Bigfooot documentary "Manbeast! Myth or Monster?" (27). Finished off the night by watching 1952's "Bela Lugosi Meets a Brooklyn Gorilla" (28) in honor of Bela's birthday. Certainly more of a comedy than a horror movie, but I'd never seen it and it does have Bela as a mad scientist!

OCTOBER 21: While I wouldn't call it a "waste" of a day, I watched the second part of the William Castle double feature DVD today. "The Tingler" was pretty good, but I didn't realize that today's flick, "Zotz!" was going to be such a comedy. While it did concern mysterious powers which came from an ancient coin, and it was directed by the immortal Mr. Castle, I just can't count this movie as part of the challenge (and, yes, this is coming from the guy who counted the Halloween episode of "The Love Boat" a few days ago).

OCTOBER 22: Getting back to business. Today I watched one of the all-time classics, Alfred Hitchcock's "Psycho" (1960) (29). I'm not a big fan of slasher movies, but this forerunner of many of today's blood-and-guts horror movies is a definite favorite. Also watched another episode of "Kolchak: The Night Stalker"--"The Knightly Murders" (30).

OCTOBER 23: With over a week to go in the month I watched the 31st entry in the challenge today! Will continue through the rest of the month though and see what happens. Today's movie was "Frankenstein's Castle of Freaks" (1974) (31), part of Elvira's Movie Macabre series from back in the early 1980s. Finished the day with a late-night viewing of "The Youth Killer" (32) episode of "Kolchak: The Night Stalker".

OCTOBER 24: Finished up the "Kolchak: The night Stalker" series today with the episode "The Sentry" (33), about a crocodile monster! This episode is notable (in a timely way) because it featured a guest appearance by the recently deceased Tom Bosley. Also watched the "Graveyard Shift" (34) episode of the old 1970s show "Circle of Fear" (originally known as "Ghost Story"). This was a special feature on the "The Tingler"/"Zotz!" DVD.

OCTOBER 25: Warning: do not attempt to watch a Larry Buchanan movie late at night. Not because it will scare you or give you nightmares, but because it will put you to sleep. I attempted to watch Buchanan's 1969 disaster "It's Alive!" (35) after midnight last night. I wasn't able to get more than about a half-hour into it. Had to finish it up today. Also got to the National Amusements' Silver Screen Classics show with my parents. Today's feature was "Bride of the Gorilla" (1951) (36), and starred Raymond Burr as the guy who turns into a gorilla and Lon Chaney Jr., who...DOESN'T play a monster. Finished up the night by watching one of my absolute favorite desert-based 1950s monster movies: "The Monolith Monsters" (1957) (37). I remember watching this one on Creature Double Feature way back when. It still holds up very well and has some of the best special effects I've ever seen in a movie (considering the limitations of the time when it was made and comparing it to other movie from the same period).

OCTOBER 26: A big day for Monster Dad and The Little Monster. I've been struggling for the past year or two to put this off until I felt she was old enough for it, but today was the day! Today we watched "Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein" (1948) (38). Yes, this is a comedy, but I can't see any reason for it NOT to be on the list. It was a bit of a reunion for the classic Universal monsters (Dracula, Frankenstein's monster and the Wolfman) a few years after those three series kind of played themselves out. It is funny, but also has a lot of that classic Universal horror movie vibe to it. It's also kind of shocking to see how some of the characters get knocked off (including one of the female leads getting tossed out of a window by Frankie, the Wolfman plunging to his apparent demise from a balcony and Frankenstein's monster getting--surprise, surprise--burned up at the end). I felt this was an excellent way to introduce The Little Monster to the Universal monsters without being too scary (or potentially too boring--as I'm not sure how her attention span would hold while watching the non-monster parts of a movie from the 1930s). She seemed to enjoy it. A few scenes were a little scary to her (as expected). And she has seen a few A&C movies already so she was a;ready familiar with them.

OCTOBER 27: Got a chance to visit a couple friends tonight and watched "The Lost Skeleton Returns Again" (2009) (39) with them. This is the sequel to "The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra" (2001), and I've been waiting a long time to see it. Bought it at the Drive-In Super Monster-Rama last month and have been putting off watching it until I could get together with my friends. This is most definitely a comedy/parody-type movie, but because of the movies that it is paying homage to through its humor (1950s-60s horror/sci-fi movies) I have no qualms about adding it to the list. I was also able to watch John Carpenter's 1987 creepfest "Prince of Darkness" (40).

OCTOBER 28: I got to go to the RiffTrax Live show tonight. The guys from RiffTrax did their thing to the classic Vincent Price/William Castle movie "House on Haunted Hill" (1959) (41).

OCTOBER 29: We started this yesterday, but today The Little Monster and I finished watching "Young Frankenstein" (1974) (42). Yes, it's another comedy, but it's just such a perfect Halloween movie. I've loved this film for nearly as long as I can remember. My sister took me to it when I was so young that I actually was somewhat frightened by it. Much like "Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein", I've been wanting to introduce The Little Monster to this movie for a while--but had to wait until she was old enough to find it somewhat scary, but not too scary. She seemed to do okay with it, and didn't even have any nightmares about it last night--even though she predicted she would! I also finished up watching "Reptilian" (43), the 1999 movie that re-imagined the semi-classic monster (or its name at least) from "Yongary, Monster from the Deep" (1967). While I'd never complain about a new giant monster movie being made, I do have to admit that this one was pretty bad (and not in a good way unfortunately). I should have just watched "Yongary, Monster from the Deep" again. Oh well... Finished up the night with an unexpected treat. The Wife suggested that we watch one of my all-time favorite movies: "The 'burbs" (1989) (44). Why was this unexpected? Well, let's just say that it's not one of The Wife's faves. This one's yet another comedy, but it has enough dark elements, and is enough of a parody of scary movies that I'm going to count it.

OCTOBER 30: Headed up to Keene, NH today for some pre-Halloween fun. Saw 1954's "Creature from the Black Lagoon" (45) in 3D at Keene State College. What a great experience to finally see this classic Universal monster movie the way it was meant to be seen! Later on I was able to go to the Colonial Theatre for Spooktacular V. This is the show put on by the people behind the horror host show Saturday Fright Special. The movie for this show was "Return of the Living Dead" (46), the "unofficial" 1985 sequel to George Romero's "Night of the Living Dead". Finally, although I already saw "Psycho" earlier this month, the only real disappointment of today was that I wasn't able to get back to Keene State for their 11:00 showing of "Psycho". All in all, a great way to finish off a month of fun movie/show watching.

OCTOBER 31: Halloween. There wasn't a chance to watch anything that could be added to the list today, the last day of the month, but it was a very good Halloween and I have to say that I'm pretty happy with the results of the challenge.

The final score for the October challenge is: Monster Dad-46, October-31!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Monster Dad vs. Time

For nearly as long as I can remember I've had a rough relationship with the concept of Time. I know it's something real, and I know I can't do anything to stop it ("Time stands still for no man"), but still I hurl my anger at it--much like Don Quixote forever tilting at windmills. Unlike Mick Jagger and The Rolling Stones, Time is definitely NOT on my side.

I'm not exactly sure when my realization that Time was against me occurred, but it was certainly much too early in life. I'd venture to say that many people don't really start thinking and worrying about Time until they're nearing, or passing, midlife. In my case it's been something haunting me since childhood. The first real example I can remember was when my grandfather died while I was in the second grade. It's the first time death touched me personally. To be honest I think I was a bit too young to really understand what was going on as we went to the funeral and everything else that was happening, but it crystallized in me the notion that we are ALL growing older (as a direct result of Time) and we are all going to die at some point because of that same shadowy Time figure. It didn't matter if you were a little kid like I was or an "old" person, like my older siblings and parents--at some point Time would catch up with you. Of course now I realize that not everyone dies of old age, but I was only in the second grade at the time, so that bit of naivete can probably be overlooked.

The death aspect of Time was the most extreme part of this phenomenon. I suppose that, because of our mortality, it all does eventually leads to that, but most of my battles with Time were over smaller matters. I distinctly recall lying in bed before the first day of school and being unable to get to sleep while trying to figure out just how Time had managed to rob me of yet another summer. Then every week during the school year would present me with the problem of Sunday. My absolute favorite part of the week was the moment I got home from school on Friday afternoon. It was the point which marked the longest amount of Time before returning to school on Monday morning. Friday night and all of Saturday were carefree zones. However Sunday night was all doom and gloom as I felt Monday creeping up on me with the help of Time. At first it was simply Sunday night that caused my dismay.But then it eventually spread earlier and earlier until I associated the entire day of Sunday with the end of the weekend. Of course that meant that late night Saturday became the moment of the beginning of the end of the weekend. Geez, if that had gone on much longer I would have been miserable for the entire weekend.

Music has only fed my fear of Time over the years. I remember, even as a kid, finding the song "Puff, the Magic Dragon" incredibly sad. It's not a sad song overall, but the line "Dragons live forever, but not so little boys" really struck me hard. It not only reflected Time's effect on children, but also hinted at another thing I find very sad--the inevitable loss of child-like imagination that comes with growing up. To this day I still have a difficult time listening to "Puff, the Magic Dragon". I know that sounds silly, but it's tough too, because I'd love to listen to it with my daughter--who likes dragons and dinosaurs--but just can't seem do it.

Listening to Jim Croce's "Time in a Bottle" was always a gut-wrenching experience for me as a kid. "If I could save time in a bottle"--that pretty much says it all. I always wished I could do so, but knew it was impossible. I loved "The Muppet Show" when I was little, but had a hard time watching this segment which featured the song.

A little later I discovered that Pink Floyd was also well aware of the problem that is Time. Check out these lines that always get me from the song "Time" off the "Dark Side of the Moon" album.

You are young and life is long
And there is time to kill today
And then one day you find
Ten years have got behind you
No one told you when to run
You missed the starting gun

AND (even more to the point)

And you run and you run
To catch up with the sun
But it's sinking
Racing around
To come up behind you again
The sun is the same
In a relative way
But you're older
Shorter of breath
And one day closer to death

The whole song really captures the futility I feel when thinking about Time. The Pretenders also touched on the topic with their song "Time the Avenger":

Thought that time was on your side,
Now, it's time the avenger.
Nobody is permanent,
Everything is on loan here.

Heck, even Cyndi Lauper, the girl who just wanted to have fun, sang the touching song "Time After Time". And Harry Chapin's "Cat's in the Cradle" is mainly a tearjerker about a father not being there for his son, only to find out that the son eventually turns out to be "just like me". But there's no doubt that Time fuels the changes that make the song so tragic and sad. It's a sad song that has only grown sadder to me now that I'm a parent myself.

Monster Dad is obviously interested in movies, and there have been more than a few movies that I've seen which speak of the battle with Time. The following three examples deal specifically with time travel and are among my favorite movies. George Pal's "The Time Machine" (1960, remade in 2002)--based on the H.G. Wells book of the same name--isn't particularly sad, but it does show a man winning the battle against Time--at least for a while. Along the way there are certainly melancholic moments, and it culminates with the mind-boggling topic of the distant future and philosophical questions about Time itself. "Time After Time" (1979) also deals with time travel, and is also partially based on H.G. Wells' work (the main character in the movie is H.G. Wells himself--and he does battle with Jack the Ripper in modern day San Francisco). "Somewhere in Time" (1980) deals with Time and time travel in a way that makes for a very sad and touching movie.

While a truce has never been agreed upon, and true peace between the conflicting parties probably won't come about until I'm resting in peace myself, I do have to say that my battles with Time had become relatively few and far-between until recently. The passage of Time has seemingly continued to increase in speed as I have aged. Every day, week, month and year seems to pass faster than the one before it. This didn't really bother me or cause me undue stress until about five years ago--when I learned that Time and parenthood don't mix very well. The birth of my two daughters, and the process of watching them grow up before my very eyes, has reminded me of the cruelty of Time once again. I still consider my first daughter to be my "baby". But now she is almost five years old. It's so strange to look at this tall, imaginative pre-schooler, who is growing more and more every day, and try to comprehend that she was that little helpless baby we brought home from the hospital not so long ago. I'm now starting to see bits of myself as a young boy (from around the time that Time first started to become a problem for me) in her. My younger daughter is now almost a year-and-a-half old. Suddenly I'm witnessing her hit many, many milestones that I remember daughter number one doing not so long ago. It all just goes by too fast, and there's nothing I can do to stop it--or even just slow it down a little. The battle continues...


As a kid I envisioned Time as a massive machine. I guess this was my youthful mind's attempt to comprehend something as big as Time itself. This gargantuan machine (which I believe was located in a giant cave) would loudly process Time and make a product out of it (The Past). A conveyor belt would take unprocessed time (full of possibilities and potential) into the mouth of the machine. This ethereal, unprocessed time was "The Future". The main part of the machine, the part that mashed, mangled and manipulated this raw material, was "The Present". This portal represented the Now that we are all constantly living in. And the final product (or by-product if you will) of the machine's machinations, which looked much like the remnants of crushed garbage or old cars that come out of those giant compactors found at junk yards, was "The Past". We are always stuck in "The Present", as the machine processes what is happening Right Now. We can't reach the unspoiled promise of "The Future", and "The Past" is simply what we see coming out of the back end of the machine. It could be observed, but it was what it was and couldn't be changed.

Today I turned forty-one. Forty-one years have passed since I entered this world. Much has changed. Much remains the same. The one real constant seems to be that time continues to pass with little to no regard for our feelings. A year ago I turned forty. This seemed like a big number at the time, but at least I was merely a "forty-year-old". Now I'm not forty, but "in my forties". For whatever reason, that sounds worse and makes my battles with time from here on out feel more and more urgent.

And, of course, my lifelong forty-or-so year battle is less than the blink of an eye and totally inconsequential when it comes to Time...

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Baby Names: Part 2

Some of my nicknames for my two daughters were chronicled in the blog Explanation of the Unexplained. It seems like a good time for an update.

The first daughter is now almost five-years-old. Her nicknames are still evolving, based on many factors (things she says, things she does, certain traits I see in her...), but for the most part her main nicknames are still based on the word Monster. It was one of her first nicknames and the word still seems to fit her perfectly (see photo).

The newer edition is now a little over a year old. Her nicknames are still very much evolving. She does still share variations on the the name Monster (The Monster, Little Monster, Cuteness Monster, Precious Monster, Mini-Monster, Micro-Monster...), but she's really started to get her own identity--nickname-wise. As detailed in the last blog on the topic, one of her monickers is Insane Beast. Beast is still the base of many of her personal nicknames, mainly because she STILL is constantly pushing the envelope when it comes to mischief and getting into trouble. She still only seems to be interested in things she shouldn't be interested in (breakable, small, pointy and otherwise dangerous objects for a one-year-old). Her walking has continued to improve, and her height and reach are constantly expanding. This has lead to more climbing of things that are too high and more reaching of objects that were previously safely out of her reach.

All of this had lead to a new name that has been added to the Monster and Beast canon for the little one. She is now frequently referred to as a Creature. Some new variations include the combinations Beastly Creature and Creature Beast (pretty imaginative, huh?). She is also called Destructive Creature, a Creature of Mass Disruption and (of course) a Creature of Mass Destruction. Seeing as I am Monster Dad, it may not come as too much of a surprise to learn that she has also earned a few names that come from old monster movies. Some movies that share a name with my daughter include "Creature of Destruction" (1967), "The She-Creature" (1956), "The Beast with Five Fingers" (1946) and "She Beast" (1966).

Speaking of monster movies, I have also given the two girls a single, collective name to refer to both of them at the same time. This one should ring a bell with anyone who was around the New England area in the mid-1970s to the mid-1980s. Their new collective name is... Creature Double Feature!

And, finally, just to prove that all my nicknames for the girls don't have a negative-sounding connotation, another name I've recently bestowed upon both of them when they do something particularly cute (which is often) is Cuticle--as in "Cute-icle". Another newish one is Mini-Kins. Take that all you negative-nillies out there!