Thursday, May 19, 2011


Part 1: Teach a Kid to Fish

There aren't many things that will get me to voluntarily leave the dadcave, but fishing is one of them. Not because I think it's a sport- I don't. I mean, how could it be a sport? I fish for bluegill and bass- which I outweigh by about oh, three hundred pounds. I'm also way smarter- you don't see me eating food attached to lines leading off out of sight. And I have thumbs. Thumbs are great.

No, I enjoy fishing for other reasons. Mainly, 'cause I like all that free, fresh fish I catch. Throw it back? Only cuz the law says so. Or because they're too small to mess with cleaning. Otherwise... they're goin' straight in muh belly! I also enjoy fishing because it's like a camping trip- a chance to go out into nature and enjoy some fresh air and quiet. Without the overnight stay, tents and crapping in the woods.

But there's one main reason I now fish that I haven't mentioned. My kids.

Kids don't exactly see fishing in the same light we grownups do. Thinking back to when I was a kid, I liked to go because I liked catching fish. Yeah, eating them was good, but the ones at Long John Silver's or Captain D's were just as good (and came with fries). Kids enjoy being outside, sort of. Kids also like the adventure of spending time with their dad, grand-dad or other family member.

But forget about all that for a moment. The reason you need to take your kids fishing is so they learn a critical life skill. People have after all, been fishing for thousands of years. It's a crucial survival skill I put up there with firemaking and finding your way home.

Think about it. How many people do you know that if they had to, could catch a fish, clean it and eat it? I know we live in a modern society where we can order over the phone or on-line for pizza, chinese, or countless other foods. Where we can go to the grocery to meet all our dietary needs. But what if push comes to shove and you find yourself lost, near a body of water, with only a paperclip and some dental floss in your pocket? Could you catch a fish?

You can always buy your kids fishsticks to satisfy their hunger. But if you teach them how to fish... they can feed themselves.

Not sold on the survival skills? Well, let's go back to that whole kids-love-fishing theme. Kids do. My earliest memories are from when I was three years old and went on a fishing trip to Canada with my parents and grandparents. I can't remember what my dearly departed papaw's face looked like, but I distinctly remember sitting in his lap and driving the boat. And later getting a horrible splinter in the palm of my hand on shore. 40 years later.

When you go fishing, you can leave a lot of the hecticness of modern life behind. Just you, your kids, some fresh air, some mosquitos and a nice lake or pond. But best of all, when the kids get bored or have to go potty, you grab up your gear and drive home. Hopefully with some fishies. That beats camping any day of the week!

In part 2, I'll discuss something most anglers wouldn't: the dangers of taking your kids fishing.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011


It's always nice to find a movie you can watch safely with your kids- that doesn't have sex, or extreme violence or heart-stopping terror. Something with a positive message and admirable characters for your children to emulate. Thor has all that and more.
If you don't have a comic book background, don't worry. Thor may be based on Marvel Comics' interpretation of Norse Mythology, but it's a solid movie that stands on its own. And it's far less crimefighter than it is fantasy adventure.
Thor tells the tale of the Prince of Asgard- an otherworldly domain far from, but connected to, Earth. Thor, the character, is an impetuous hero full of swagger and ready to leap joyously into battle. His brother, Loki, is a more reserved, thinking man. Both vie for the attention of their father, Odin. Through the course of the movie, we see the two very different paths the brothers take, but which both threaten the peaceful kingdom of Asgard.
If you're overly religious, you might be a little worried about Thor and it's "gods". Don't be. The movie deftly avoids the whole "gods" issue even more than the comic book did. The Asgardians, or "Aesir", are a humanoid race gifted with super strength, longevity and advanced, almost magical technology. They have visited Earth before, as well as many other realms, prompting (in the movie) the Nordic legends of Odin and his pantheon. But they aren't gods- they're near-immortals who are fallible and emotional and basically just super-versions of us.
Thor has several redeeming messages. Instead of just fighting evil, the movie's hero undergoes a short journey, to Earth, where he learns humility and self-sacrifice. He is rewarded for this journey and hopefully kids will pick up on the message: being a butthead is wrong. Being good and noble is right.
Thor also shows us the dynamic between father and son- the impetuous Thor disobeys his powerful father and is stripped of his powers and cast down to Earth to live among mortals. A valuable lesson for kids to be sure- listen to your parents. If you don't, you'll eventually see they were right anyway.
But what about violence? Thor is after all a viking-like figure who carries a warhammer and loves bashing his foes with it. There is some comic book violence, but the best thing is none of it is directed by Thor against people. Only monsters. The odds of little Timmy smashing his brother in the head with dad's claw hammer should be minimal.
Sex? None to be had in this film. In fact, Thor is a gentleman who kisses female lead Natalie Portman's hand when he must bid her goodbye- despite the fact they fell in love at first sight. True, Portman's Jane Foster grabs Thor by the face and lip wrassles him, but still, it's very tame and very safe for impressionable children.
Aside from the issue of whether or not your kids should see this, there's the question of will your kids like this. Mine did. Thor is all about fantasy lands and magic and swords and men in armor fighting beasts. There are princes and kings and queens. There's even a badass female warrior, named Sif. It's all very magical and stuff. Little girls will be enchanted, boys will want to watch monsters getting smashed.
How about the 3D? Well, I personally didn't think it needed it. Only a very few scenes really utilized 3D. My kids don't like wearing those dorky 3D glasses, so I think they'll like this much better at the drive in and on DVD/Bluray in a few months.
Finally, you might be wondering how this compares to other superhero movies. Well, it doesn't.
Ironman had a gigalo, alcoholic playboy in the lead. It was all high-tech and heavy metal and humor. My kids enjoyed it, but Tony Stark's sleepover really made me wish for a fast forward button in the theater. Ironman, while in my opinion the best superhero movie ever made, is not kid-friendly.
Ironman 2 wasn't much better... more booze, more babes. And more funny.
The Incredible Hulk? Well... again, they had to throw the sex thing in. Dr. Banner getting a little too excited during some heavy petting. Totally understandable- it was Liv Tyler... but still... not really appropriate for kids.
Batman? Of all the Batman movies, none seem appropriate for small children. Unless you go back to Adam West's 1966 flick.
Superman? Well, Superman Returns was better than most, but still it had to go all supersexy, by introducing Superman's love child by Lois Lane. Again, just not child appropriate.
Thor beats them all. With a hammer of goodness. Four Hammers Up!

Monday, May 02, 2011

Movie Re-View: "INVASION U.S.A."

Tired of all the smut and slasher violence on TV these days? Turn back the clock and pop in something from yesteryear that might just be kinder and gentler for you and your kids...
While we may not be able to watch Osama Bin Laden get blown away, we can fulfill our terrorist-killing hunger by watching the Chuck Norris-classic, INVASION U.S.A.
Premiering in 1985, this Cannon Films action epic pitted ex-CIA Agent Matt Hunter (Norris) against a Soviet-engineered invasion of America by an army of mercenaries and terrorists from around the world. Explosions! Gun fights! Car Chases! Ass-kicking! Invasion U.S.A. had it all!
The film starts off the Coast of Florida, with a boat load of cuban refugees adrift. A Coast Guard cutter comes along but instead of saving the poor immigrants, machine guns them all straight to Davy Jones' locker. The movie quickly moves to a night time beach in Florida where refurbished WWII landing craft set down, pouring out an army of terrorists that load up into waiting vehicles and spread across the country, killing Americans one neighborhood at a time.
But fear not! Agent Hunter comes out of retirement from his Everglades home and unleashes a war of whoop ass on the invaders, culminating in their crushing defeat in a downtown Florida office building.
Only with some fast remote control work. In addition to cheesy kills, squibs and pyrotechnic explosions, Invasion U.S.A. does feature a brief visit to a titty bar, as Agent Hunter tracks down leads in his search for the invaders' leader. Floppy 80s boobies sure surprised me and were not in my memory of this awesome asskickfest, and were entirely inappropriate for kids. As soon as Chuck enters the bars, it's time to chapter skip past the hooters.
Aside from the boobage, Invasion U.S.A. is a very child appropriate film. Power Rangers has more violence, albeit slightly less graphic. And, Invasion U.S.A. teaches the very real lesson that the good guys always win- primarily because bad guys are such incredible morons.
OVERALL RATING: Both fists up on this great action movie- as long as you keep the remote control in hand!
Available on DVD, via and other online retailers. Good luck finding this gem in a local store.