Monday, June 17, 2013

Dad's Summer Reading Program

We have one avid reader (the 10-year-old) and one who reads in discouragingly short bursts (the 6-year-old).  Immediately following a trip to the library, he reads with a high degree of absorption.  His usual habit is then to declare himself finished with at least one of the books he just got before it seems possible that he could have finished it.  He also gets really excited about a series of books (e.g. Magic Treehouse) for about 2 1/2 books.  I tend to find out that he "doesn't like those anymore" upon bringing home a stack of four of whatever series it was from the library.

All this is to say that I did not think that our library's summer reading program would be enough
to get him interested in reading this summer.  I have decided, therefore, to supplement it with Dad's Summer Reading Program.  The boys found at their places this morning four coupons, two of which are picture at the right.  They can choose whatever order in which they redeem these coupons for rewards valued at under five dollars.  They just have to show me their reading logs when they've reached a milestone (10 books per reward for the younger and 15 books per reward for He Who Would Read No Matter What).

We'll see how it works.  The younger complained that 10 books was too many at the same time that he planned the order in which he would redeem all four of his coupons.  The older chose one that he would redeem first then said "Maybe I'll read 75 books [15 more than the sum of all his incentive milestones] and get a five-pack of cars."  While I appreciate both his ambition and his confidence that he could negotiate terms completely different from those offered in writing, I think I'll stick to my original plan.

Watch this space for updates.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Sunday Haiku: Summer Pests

The kitchen smells like
Raid.  Ants in the cupcakes won't
be tolerated.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Media Review Doubleheader: If This is 40, Bring on 50

Armed with a free RedBox rental coupon from the grocery store courtesy of Kellogg's (wha huh?), we sought out a movie the other weekend.  Having read the quite enjoyable 2012 comedy issue of Vanity Fair - edited by Judd Apatow and heavy on his sensibility - and having enjoyed Paul Rudd just about every time we've seen him, we chose Apatow's This is 40.

It may be that they shortened the title from This is a Version of 40 That is so Bleak and Depressing we Can't Remember Why we Made a Movie About It or Where we Left our Souls.  Or they should have.  The trailer features the laugh-y parts, but in reality, this sort-of-sequel to Knocked Up portrays depressing people completely incapable of being honest with themselves or others.  The first twenty five minutes were so bleak that we paused it and asked each other if we should go on.  There would indeed be something to laugh at every five minutes or so.  We told each other that if the characters could make real changes deep inside themselves that the movie would be a good redemption story.  Spoiler alert: it doesn't happen.  They blame everything and everyone else for their problems.  They're horrendous parents.  At the end, my competent wife asked "Do you think Judd Apatow really hates his life?"  Casting his wife as a horrible person married to a horrible person makes this a very viable question.

On the other hand, we've bored everyone we could raving about an obscure drama/comedy that lived a too-short two seasons and is now on DVD.  Men of a Certain Age, an original hour-long show from TNT (yup, that TNT) stars Ray Romano, Scott Bakula and my long-term man crush Andre Braugher.  I know!  Ray Romano!  Whodathunkit?  They portray three guys nearing 50 who went to college together and are still friends.  One's going through a separation, one's married, one is single and, um, busy romantically.  One has little kids, one has teenagers and one has no kids.  One has big daddy issues, one battles an addiction and one has to confront the knife edge of following creative dreams versus having enough to live on.  The show portrays real male friendship featuring real give-and-take and accountability.  They call each other on their sugar honey iced tea.  It's dramatic but also deeply funny.  We got attached to the characters and plot very quickly.

If you think you know Romano from Everybody Loves Raymond, Andre Braugher from Homicide or Scott Bakula from Quantum Leap, think again.  Spend 26 hours with these episodes and you'll see whole different sides of all three actors.  Despite all of the good TV out there, there's still not enough real, moving drama on television.  Do yourself a solid and check out these two seasons.