"Slarrow" refers to the "slings and arrows of outrageous fortune" from Hamlet's soliloquy. Here are the chronicles of such darts and whatever attempt there may be to take arms against such a sea of troubles.

Location: Ozarks, United States

Friday, April 29, 2005

Some Thoughts On Daddyhood

I've been slow to post lately (my time is taken with other things, including other writings.) But I wrote these pieces over the course of a few months nearly two years ago before my first son was born. I'll dole these out over the next several days. This is the first.

Time Keeps On Slippin', Slippin'

My wife and I are going to have a baby. Well, she's going to have the baby; I'm there to rub her back and feed her ice chips and tell her jokes in order to distract her from the fact that Pain Is Becoming Her REALITY. But that's all in the future.

I think a lot about the future anymore. All of a sudden my horizons have opened up decades in the future instead of mere months or years. It's a form of tunnel vision we all share, really. When I was younger, the tunnel lasted until the end of summer or the end of school or until that next big birthday. When in college, the tunnel might be until graduation or just until that next major test or the next visit home. Even when I got married, the time frame was until we got the next job or moved to the next town or built the new house. Tunnel vision: the focus on a particular goal that, once reached, produces a few days or weeks of readjustment and general aimlessness that has, in its own way, a sweet savor.

My tunnel is now fifty years long. Things I do in the next few weeks and months and years can very well have ramifications that far into the future, and now I know it. In fifty years I could have grandchildren or great-grandchildren--and this is NOW more than just a theoretical possibility to me. This is the first devastating hint--not guarantee, just hint--that my successes and failures will be magnified beyond my lifetime. Many people wonder at various times about whether they make any difference or not. I now know (at least with the blind man's aptitude at describing color since the tyke's not here yet) that I will make a difference because for the next several years I will be one of the major constructors of another person's world. For decades, my prejudices and habits and quirks will be the default settings for this child and all he touches. My life, and my death (whenever it come, and it could always be quickly), will be screened through another set of lenses, flesh of my flesh, blood of my blood. It's coming, and coming soon.

But I'm ready--at least, I'm ready in that I don't regret or bemoan my "lost youth". I didn't lose it, I just used it up. I've traded my short-term goggles for the long-term telescope, and I am content. I am ready, my wife is ready--but like I said before, I am virtually guaranteed that this is indeed going to be a lot tougher than we thought.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Hey, It's A New Post

Wow, I didn't expect to be gone this long. I've been busy writing blog-type stuff, but it's been in private emails and a private message board with a first-class intellect who doesn't pull any punches at all but who also acknowledges when I've made a decent case. I've found myself refraining from commenting on lots of threads because I've grown spoiled in that regard; I know I'm not going to get that kind of respectful, hard-hitting response, so I don't bother with the trolls or idiots or people who just aren't in the mood to be reasonable.

So I'm going to change the focus around here a little (now that I've probably lost all my readers due to inattention.) I'm not going to worry about link trolling or blog feuds or increasing my place in the ecosystem or managing my rep. I'm just going to write about stuff I like and see if other people like it too. Back to basics time.

And thus...

I have an 18-month-old little boy whom my wife and I call the Bear. Well, the Bear had a bad cold a couple of weeks ago over Easter weekend and was unusually listless. So we watched a lot of movies: Toy Story, Toy Story 2, Dumbo, Chicken Run, and the like. Already my little boy has discerning preferences; some animation styles and stories fascinate him while others don't keep his interest. He's developed a remarkably long attention span, considering his age and the conventional wisdom about television. Maybe the Baby Einstein stuff and lack of commercials make a difference.

Still, adults who watch these kinds of things over and over eventually start wondering about certain elements. Here are some of my thoughts.

  • In Toy Story, does Andy have a father? We never see one, even at Christmas and birthdays. Yet his mom seems to be there all the time. How do they make a living?
  • Sid, the nemesis in the first Toy Story, apparently has a bum for a dad who falls asleep in front of the TV in a side room in the middle of the day. Why is that? Are decent father-figures absent to make more room for Woody and Buzz?
  • Watching A Bug's Life made me think of the various revolutions in places like Lebanon and Ukraine. As Hopper say,
    You let one ant stand up to us, then they all might stand up! Those puny little ants outnumber us a hundred to one and if they ever figure that out there goes our way of life! It's not about getting food, it's about keeping those ants in their place....
    That seems to be the modus operandi of tyranny. Bush's actions in Iraq seem to be dedicated to unravelling that.
  • I loved The Incredibles and was profoundly moved at a couple of spots (like Mr. Incredible's "I'm not strong enough" bit.) Syndrome strikes me as a deeply selfish and self-centered character with a veneer of justification that I'm afraid some might fall for (hey, they do in real life.)
  • I like this quote from a Pixar employee in a National Review interview about why their stuff is so good:
    Simple. We don't make movies for kids. We make movies for adults, actually ourselves, and then just make sure there's nothing in them that the little ones shouldn't see. The local cineplex is littered with movies made by studios who want to second-guess what the audience wants. We find we get better results by making what we want, and then assuming that there are other people like us out there.
    The Bear really isn't that interested in The Incredibles yet, but Mommy and Daddy are. That's why this movie will stay in our rotation for a long time.
  • Could Dumbo be made today? It's got danger to a baby elephant. Dumbo and Timothy get drunk (which makes Dumbo fly, a major plot point.) The circus is put up by elephants and Negroes (long before the term African-American was in vogue) in the rain. The crows smoke and play off black stereotypes. Timothy Mouse has a strong regional accent. When Dumbo succeeds, he retaliates against those who ridiculed him. Dumbo's mother spanks a child. It's an excellent movie that captivates my little boy, but could it be made today? Probably not, and certainly not by Disney who lost its way many years ago.
  • Nick and Fetcher from Chicken Run crack me up every time, especially when they sit down and mock the chickens' attempts at flying as entertainment. A bit cruel, to be sure, but totally realistic.

    And that's all for now...except for a good laugh, go read Lilek's Sporadic entry for April 13. Hurry, before it's gone.