Thursday, July 28, 2011

Guest Post From 4-Year-Old Luke: DinoHawk

Once upon a time, there was a man. He got turned into a lizard by radiation. Then, he
got turned into a dino by more radiation. Finally, he was turned into a hawk. He had a rainbow colored beak and big sharp teeth inside. He had humongous feathered wings,
with scales on the feathers and very large feet that went all the way to China. He was called DinoHawk.

DinoHawk lived in a huge dirt hole in Tucson that water flooded all up. It was so huge
that almost all the houses fell in. The houses that weren’t in the hole were tilted towards the hole. He lived with his Mom and Dad and sister. They were all DinoHawks, too. The sister was all pink, the mom was all purple, and the dad was the same color as the boy DinoHawk. They were all humongous.

For fun, DinoHawk and his family liked to water and make tunnels, so they could go
places. The DinoHawks were also sea monsters with feet and hands. The cactus monsters were their friends. Everybody else was their enemy.

The DinoHawk family was mad that the houses had cameras and cannons to destroy the them. So they stomped all the houses and ate all the people.

God made the DinoHawks turn back into hawks and then dinos and then lizards and then
people again. Also, the people were made back by God. It was all about God. He made
all the people come back and all the houses be built back by builders.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Review: Crazy, Stupid, Love

Well, they got Crazy and Stupid right. My only suggestion to make the title more accurate is to change Love to Hate.

A romantic comedy with too many characters, too many insipid and meandering plotlines and too many commas in its title, Crazy, Stupid, Love comes up short in laughs. The movie plays like a lowlight reel of an entire season of a dopey sitcom that got cancelled halfway through the year. I counted six love stories, most unrequited – not including the one between me and the theater’s exit sign – but the movie would have been far better off had it simply focused on Ryan Gosling’s infatuation with himself.

As a Barney Stinson-by-way-of-the-Bronx ladies’ man who takes an unhappily separated Steve Carell under his vulture wing, Gosling could have been the heart of the film. The lines Gosling uses to seduce women are so awful that they’re halfway believable in that maybe they could be seductive in an ironic, see-how-I’m-not-trying-while-pretending-to-try-too-hard way. But Gosling is just a tiny cog in a larger, malfunctioning machine and disappears for scenes on end as the filmmakers shove in all manner of less interesting plot threads.

Worse, when Gosling does come back, the storytellers betray the fabric of his character, informing us that love at first sight transforms Tucker Maxes into Steve Urkels.

Steve Carell melds his hapless single guy nature from The 40-Year-Old Virgin with his harried family man act in Dan in Real Life. He succeeds at the former but falters at the latter, too-quickly becoming a suave Lothario under Gosling’s tutelage, only to abruptly decide that he wants to save his shattered marriage and make a dopey, climactic speech that bottoms off perhaps the worst scene I’ve seen all year.

Emma Stone and Julianne Moore, who normally bubble with personality, play the dullest characters they’ve yet encountered, indecisive, weak ciphers who are defined solely by the men they’re with. Analeigh Tipton, meanwhile, checks in on the other end of the dramatic scale as a 17-year-old babysitter involved in a pair of “eeeew”-inducing would-be romances, in puppy love with Carell while fending off desperate advances from his 13-year-old son, played by Jonah Bobo.

The movie starts off with some promise, which it balls up, spits on and drop kicks until you’re reduced to a puddle in your seat, begging for some sort of conclusion, sobbing when the plot takes yet another unnecessary turn to stretch things out. What I wouldn’t have given to exchange one of the title’s extra commas for an edit that made the sprawling crapfest 15 minutes shorter. But alas, no deal was to be had. The film, like the commas, just wouldn’t end.

Wow, did, I, dislike, this, movie.

Starring Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, Julianne Moore, Emma Stone, Jonah Bobo, Kevin Bacon and Analeigh Tipton. Written by Dan Fogelman. Directed by Glenn Ficarra and John Requa. 118 minutes. Rated PG-13.

My novel, Stormin' Mormon, is available as a Kindle book for $1.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Stormin' Mormon Chapter 1

So my novel, Stormin' Mormon, is now available as a Kindle download for a dollar. Please, please, please buy it and command all your friends to do the same. Here's chapter one:


The rabbits became strange in many ways, different from other rabbits. They knew well enough what was happening. But even to themselves they pretended that all was well, for the food was good, they were protected, they had nothing to fear but the one fear; and that struck here and there, never enough at a time to drive them away.
Richard Adams, Watership Down

Jerusha awoke from a midafternoon nap to the jolt of icy fingers sliding up her thigh. She squeaked, jerking upright from her couch, startling the chunky, straw-haired man who hovered over her.

“Your hands are cold. What the hell, Jared, you think that’s romantic or something?” Jerusha’s bemused live-in boyfriend of three months recoiled.

“Come on, now, baby,” he said. “Don’t call me unromantic. It’s cold out there. I was just trying to warm up inside you a little bit.”

Jerusha giggled and pulled Jared on top of her, kissing him with fury before guiding his head down to her breasts, then between her legs. Jared submerged beneath her skirt, pulling her thong off with his teeth, then lunged to suck on Jerusha’s neck. He sunk in, Jerusha’s hands caressing his suddenly shirtless back, then released a moan that morphed into a scream.

“Owww!” Jared yelled out, jerking upright as he pawed the fresh fingernail scratches on his back. “What the fuck are you doing?”

Jerusha flipped into recovery mode, pulling her underwear back on and scooting
herself away, twisting her head a quarter turn away from Jared, hoping to shield a quick wipe of her eye.

“Oh, come on,” Jared protested. “Are those tears? I’m the one who should be crying. We’re about to have sex when you rip out my fucking spine like Mortal Kombat and shit.”

“I’m not crying,” Jerusha retorted. “Get over yourself. It was just something in my eye. And don’t try to put the blame on me. I’m not the one who stopped.”
Jerusha and Jared bickered back and forth for 20 minutes, volleying the blame for the failed sexual encounter. The argument was less about sex than leaving the toilet paper roll on top of the commode rather than affixing it to the dispenser. Buried passive-aggressive resentments channeled their way to the surface until the disagreement escalated into a full-blown shouting match. Jersuha took the opportunity to wail on Jared’s insecurities, chastising his lack of ambition and minimum-wage job at the copy shop. Jared shot back that Jerusha didn’t know how to show affection, and accused her of flirting with every dude she met.

“Maybe I do flirt, but at least I’m not an antisocial 30-year-old freak,” Jerusha screamed. “At least I know how to talk to people! You’re lucky I’m this way, otherwise we never even would have met!”

Jerusha was right, at least about the latter point. It was she who had first approached Jared at the lonely karaoke bar in what seemed like years ago but was actually only a few months past. She pondered this as she locked herself in the bathroom and called her friend, Dena. She’d understand.

Jerusha’s former roommate – and technically her present roommate, according to the lease they still shared to keep Jerusha’s mom off the scent – formed the closest bond with her due to like upbringing in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. As Mormons, the girls had grown up in a rigid, puritanical manner, ever wary of their own sexuality and raised to aspire to become Stepford babymaking machines. Now that they were away at college in Tucson, they were free to make their own choices, and both girls relished the opportunity to rebel against the draconian rules they’d grown up to despise. They drank coffee and booze – both forbidden by the church – all they liked. They refused to sit at home solemnly on Sundays, the holy Sabbath. As Mormons, they were expected to tithe – meaning hand over 10 percent of their income to the Lord. Oh hell no. It was tough enough for a college girl to get by on student loans and a meager monthly allowance from her parents. Moving in with random karaoke guys was a big Mormon no-no, which made it all the more appealing to Jerusha. Dena wasn’t as big a fan, because the move-in meant she didn’t see her best friend as much. Since the move-out, Dena and Jerusha did most of their communicating on the phone, often in situations such as this, when Jerusha was lamenting on her living arrangement.

“I feel ---“ Jerusha paused. “I feel like…”

“What is it, sweetie?”

Jerusha sobbed.

“I feel like I skipped dating and went directly into marriage.”

Saul ambled into his two-bedroom apartment to a familiar site: His roommate, Brad, was stuck to the TV screen, wireless controller in hand and headset affixed. He was button-mashing through FIFA ’08 Soccer on the Xbox 360, engaged in a battle of smack-talk with his online opponent.

“You are my son, beyotch,” Brad spoke into cyberspace with a cool matter-of-factness. “Just ask your mother. I broke into your house 15 years ago, threw your dad off her and knocked her up. Afterward I think she paid me. I don’t remember.”
“Geez, Brad, don’t you have anything better to do than harass teenagers?” Saul said, grabbing the other controller.

“What up, son.” Brad said. To him, it was the funniest thing in the world to call people his son. If you ever challenged the notion, perhaps on the grounds that such a circumstance were physically impossible since you were the same age as him, Brad would counter with an elaborate story of how he had seduced your mother when he was only a fetus, and since he hadn’t yet gone through puberty, he’d impregnated her with piss, thus “impissinating” her. The only way to battle this sort of illogic was to throw his nonsense right back at him, claiming that it was he who was actually your son.

Saul took no offense at being called Brad’s impissinated offspring. He saw it as a sign his best friend had completely returned to normal, following the bizarre, zombified state Saul had found Brad after he returned from his two-year Mormon mission six months previously. Most good Mormons head abroad at age 19, often to Third World countries, going door to door in hopes of converting impoverished people to their faith. Brad wasn’t a good Mormon. His two favorite pastimes were drinking and fornication, two vices highly discouraged by his church. His father had nonetheless prodded him into going on a mission at age 21, but in a pre-mission sit-down with his bishop, Brad had admitted that he had recently received oral sex.

He was commanded to repent the blow-job and abstain from sex and alcohol for two years in order to become purified enough to start his mission. Brad did no such thing, but when he met the bishop again at 23 he remembered to lie about his extracurricular activities, and was thus allowed to waste two years of his life living in Argentine shacks. When Brad came back, he no longer cussed, drank or lusted, but within weeks he was showing signs of his old form. After three months of living back at home, Brad moved in with Saul and reverted completely back to his original self.

“What’s going on, hooker,” Saul said, switching the game off online mode. “Time for you to take a slapdown from someone your own age.”
“That’s if my daughter-in-law allows it,” Brad said. “I thought you’d be at Shannon’s by now.”

“Right. Yarrrgh,” said Saul, realizing that he’d forgotten he’d promised his girlfriend he’d meet her for dinner. “Son of a bitch. I’m so sick of going over there.”

“Dude, you don’t even like hanging out with her. You’ve said you’re tired of screwing her. Why don’t you just break it off?”

“I didn’t say that. I would never say something like that, even if it were true. That’s just what you say about Brandy,” said Saul, referring to Brad’s girlfriend, whom he’d met online and converted to Mormonism. Brad shook it off.

“Any time you mention Shannon, you always do it in that beaten-down voice of yours. Just drop her and move on.”

“Easy for you to say,” Saul snapped back. “You’ve never broken up with anyone. You just cheat on them until they leave you. A breakup done through talking is not exactly the easiest thing to do.”

“I know, man. They always cry. There’s nothing you can do once they start crying.”

“I wish she’d cheat on me or something. Then at least I’d have a reason, and it wouldn’t be my fault.”

“Just tell her the truth,” Brad said. “You know, that you’re gay.”

“Hey, just because your mom is so ugly that she resembles a dude that doesn’t make me gay,” Saul said.

Brad started to reply but halted as Saul jetted out the door.
“Let’s do the CD thing again soon,” Brad called out. I’m running a little low on cash.” He was referring to the Buymart return fraud scam he and Saul ran with unopened CDs he snuck home from his job at the radio studio. Saul was afraid the habit would land them in prison.

“I don’t know, man,” Saul said. “Maybe. Hey, are those dudes coming over?” he asked, referring to the home teachers – members of the Mormon hierarchy who visited the homes of wayward members in order to make sure they were on the right path. With his penchants for vodka swilling, gambling and womanizing, Brad was an intensive case study of wrong pathfulness, and the home teachers made their visits biweekly.
“Yeah, they’re coming over,” Brad grumbled. “They should be gone around seven.”

Saul nodded and started for his car.

As Saul drove to Shannon’s apartment, a few miles away, he pondered Brad’s idiotic, if poignant words. Do I really talk about the woman I love like that? Saul wondered, chastising himself over the possibility.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Review: Friends with Benefits

Justin Timberlake definitively proves he’s a talented actor in Friends with Benefits, given the fact that his character is only an extreme mega-douchebag, rather than the tremendous, mind-blowing super-douche he usually plays. To be scientific about it, that’s an 85 percent reduction in douchiness.

The scaled-down level douchiosity is critical for Friends with Benefits, given that it’s a romantic comedy, and Timberlake is playing the lead, meaning you’re not supposed to actively root for him to be pied in the face. I wouldn’t say Timberlake is likeable in the movie – his character is a pompous, privileged magazine editor with a six-pack whose biggest dilemma is that he’s having too much sex with Mila Kunis – but nor is he Rupert Murdoch. You don’t need to be able to relate to Timberlake in the movie, just tolerate him. And Timberlake is nearly always highly tolerable.

This is Kunis’s movie, her attempt to rip the romcom tiara off Katherine Heigl’s wig, and she does so with her teeth, while sporting a mean yet still come-hither look in her mood ring eyes. Kunis is feisty and fun, and has a long career ahead of her in silly films such as this. She and Timberlake ping-pong contrived yet entertaining screwball comedy dialogue back and forth, in between copious sex scenes and soul-searching moments where each stares off into space. In those downtimes, they seem to be attempting to read the stars and discover how many minutes it will be until the next sex scene starts, to which the answer is usually three minutes.

These poor kids. You really feel for them, because they like each other so much that they don’t want to ruin it with all the sex. And they have so much sex that they don’t want to ruin it with emotions. So they sex one another into secretly falling in deep like, while becoming embarrassed of their feelings, as so often happens to all of us, day after day.

Director Will Gluck, who’s got a nice thing going, having directed the catch-you-off-guard funny Fired Up and Easy A, maintains his edge, peppering the film with humor that pokes fun at the contrivances of the genre while twisting them into something halfway exciting despite its predictability.

Above all, Friends with Benefits must be revered as an educational tool. The film correctly identifies New Yorkers as cheery people who convene for spontaneous flash mobs like happy, well-choreographed zombies whenever the plot calls for it. Likewise, Friends with Benefits identifies snowboarder extraordinaire Shaun White, in a cameo appearance, to be the demented street thug he’s always seemed to be when pulling off 1080 double reverse McTwistGriddle Deluxes on the slopes.

Bridesmaids has been ordained as the romantic comedy of choice for the year, but I’d go with Friends with Benefits. While the latter holds a distinct edge in diarrhea humor, FWB has it beat in Kris Kross references, which count double in my book.

Starring Mila Kunis and Justin Timberlake. Written by Keith Merryman, David A. Newman and Will Gluck, based on a story by Harley Peyton, Merryman and Newman. Directed by Gluck. Rated R. 109 minutes.

Like this review? Buy my book.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Monday, July 18, 2011

New Book Proposal

I wrote a book proposal called Learn to Speak Geek in 30 Days or Less, and several publishers are now taking a look at it, well aware that they can either shatter my soul or elevate me to the blissful heights of an Arizona Cardinals Super Bowl appearance with their yays or nays. Hopefully more than one will be into it, and a bidding war will commence. But that's getting way too far ahead of myself.

This is the third new proposal I've written since Secrets of a Stingy Scoundrel came out, the others being Half@ss Dad and The 100 People You Meet in Internet Hell. Both of those made it as far as editorial board meetings at publishers -- the get-togethers in which the top brass gives the thumbs up or down to books brought to them by editors -- before being shut down. Hopefully the third time will be a charm, I'll be forced to get by on four hours of sleep a night for the next several weeks as I finish the book up, and it will be in stores next year. If not, maybe it will be the fourth time that will be the charm. Or the four-hundredth. One way or another, I'll get there.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Review: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2

Oh, this final Harry Potter movie is a tear-jerker indeed. The plucky underdog, whose struggles you’ve followed through seven previous films, finally gets his time in the sun. He faces down his relentless and terrifying – not to mention annoying – nemesis for the final time. And it ends in heartbreak.

Forgive me this spoiler, but this movie hit me straight in the heart and I can’t go on without addressing the way this saga concludes. If you are to watch this tragedy, you must know in advance that Tom Marvolo Riddle, known also as Lord Voldemort, finally meets his end at the savage wand of the sadistic, wand-wielding killer whom the film series is named after.

Prior knowledge of Voldemort’s untimely passing allows you to better appreciate the time you have left with our slot-nostriled mentor, who is unfairly persecuted for his sublimely innocent will to resurrect his soul and put together an army of black-hooded marauders to dispatch a gang of hippies in order to take a stand stand for wizards’ rights.

I envy you, dear reader, because I didn’t realize Voldy was going to die at the end of this thing, despite having read the book. Sure, I figured, J.K. Rowling felt the need to pander to be “edgy” by killing off her protagonist in the final volume, but surely Hollywood – with its penchant for escapism and happy endings – would correct the author’s error and grant us the conclusion that just seemed so right. Not to mention logical.

I mean, just look at the facts. Voldemort is not only roundly acknowledged as history’s most powerful wizard, and surely tougher than a 17-year-old Hogwarts dropout. Plus, he took such great care to hide horcruxes – magical totems that fuel him with power and provide him avenues to come back to life – in such daunting places as an impenetrable Gringotts vault, his pet, computer-animated snake who’s constantly at his side and, most cleverly, in Harry’s detestable soul – that his death seems about as likely as a Casey Anthony “not guilty” verdict. So you can understand my frame of mind when I put a $10,000 bet down with my local bookmaker that Voldemort would pull off a triumph. But you know what they say about Murphy and his damned law. I have now lost my kneecaps as well as my belief that life, even for someone so proud and altruistic as Voldemort, is anything more than a toxic sequence of soul-poisoning travesties.

Emotions aside, I must heap credit upon director David Yates for crafting a superb finale to his grotesque spectacle of horror. I am sure to have nightmares about Daniel Radcliffe, his beady eyes glowering beneath those ice-cold spectacles, coming after me with his satanic incantations and deadly wand, which for some reason in the final two movies has transformed into a laser gun. Radcliffe’s Potter is a devilishly abominable creation, capturing the dogged determination of Jason Voorhees, creepy ability to infiltrate the hero’s mind of Freddie Krueger and coldhearted penchant for casual animal cruelty of Dora the Explorer.

Bravo, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2. You have broken my spirit and taken away my idol. You are such a good movie that I will have to pretend you don’t exist. For me, the series ended with triumph at the end of Part 1. But as the maxim goes, the only stories with happy endings are those that aren’t yet finished.

Starring Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, Alan Rickman and Ralph Fiennes. Written by Steve Kloves, based on the J.K. Rowling novel. Directed by David Yates. 130 minutes. Rated PG-13.

Like this review? Buy my book.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Jobs I've Had That Did Not Make It Onto My LinkedIn Profile

Here are the jobs, years and duration of employment, followed by the total amount made on each:

Construction worker for two weeks in 1994, $60
My mom's friend offered up me and her son to help haul discarded junk around a distant abandoned lot that the man she would one day leave her husband for had purchased. He fired us because he caught me relaxing when he pretended to leave but secretly watched us from the bushes.

Arizona Amateur Sports Monthly freelancer in the summer of 1996, $0
I wrote two articles about high school sports. Neither was ever published. The magazine lasted two or three issues, never to be heard from again.

Chick-fil-A employee for one day August 1996, $34
I was hired and put to work within the span of three hours, then trained for another hour and left on my own to run a student union restaurant for 10 hours. I quit the next day, for what I said were "personal reasons."

Saguaro International Speedway PR guy in 1997, $0
I went to a couple meetings, wrote some post-race press releases, then winced as the manager laughed when I asked if I would be paid. We never spoke again. freelancer for two months in 1999, $0
I wrote a few articles about the Tucson Gila Monsters for this startup. I begged these guys for money, free hockey tickets, a poster, anything, but never heard back.

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Review: Horrible Bosses

If Alfred Hitchcock lived in our time, had an eighth of his talent and was obsessed with blunt sex jokes, Horrible Bosses is exactly the movie he would make.

Then again, if he lived during our time, he wouldn’t be able to rip off his own Strangers on a Train and likely would have had to turn to Spartacus or West Side Story for inspiration. Be thankful that didn’t happen, because while gangs of finger-snapping greasers in ancient Roman armor making vagina jokes sounds great on paper, it would likely be severely lacking in practice.

Luckily for all, the duty to make Horrible Bosses falls to director Seth Gordon, who goes for an Office Space gets run over by Strangers on a Train vibe. Despite all the funny people in the movie, it didn’t make me laugh all that much, but strangely kept me more interested in the story. I admit that watching a movie this dumb for the story is like reading Playboy for the ads.

Charlie Day, Jason Bateman and Jason Sudeikis play guys who subscribe to the maxim “Don’t like your job? Join the club. It’s called everyone, and we meet every day at the bar,” which if was not originally said by Mark Twain, should have been. Each is troubled by a boss who makes his life miserable, and after some false starts they get the idea that making a pact to kill them would set things right. I feared that the movie would take the overly bleak, Very Bad Things route by going through with the murders to reach a movie-ending existential lesson, or cop out by having the guys learn that lesson before any blood was spilled, making the movie soft enough to air on ABC Family. The fact that I’m giving the movie a positive review will tell you that the plot takes a different direction entirely.

Of all the considerable acting talent in the film, it’s the villainous bosses who shine the brightest. Kevin Spacey is back in viscous, Swimming with Sharks mode, Jennifer Aniston is as adorable as an overly aggressive lunatic can be, and Colin Farrell somehow wipes away all his cool as a toupee-donning cokehead.

The humor never quite bowled me over. Even Day, whom I consider to be the funniest actor alive, as well as the main attraction of TV’s greatest comedy, brings his C game. Bateman and Sudeikis are serviceable straight men, and Jamie Foxx does a low-rent impersonation of Samuel L. Jackson.

Somehow the suspense kept me intrigued and guessing about the fates of these dopey screenwriting constructs that pass for characters. I applaud the movie particularly for its inventive, thought-provoking display of the pros and cons of using OnStar-like navigation system.

Horrible Bosses is no Office Space or Strangers on a Train. But then, few films are. In a week in which The Zookeeper is coming out, it seems you could do worse.

Starring Jason Bateman, Charlie Day, Jason Sudeikis, Jamie Foxx, Jennifer Aniston, Kevin Spacey and Colin Farrell. Written by Michael Markowitz, John Frances Daley and Jonathan Goldstein. Directed by Seth Gordon. Rated R. 108 minutes.

Like this review? Buy my book.

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Sports Cards: Thieves Of Youth

In my closet I have at least a dozen boxes of sports cards. Collecting baseball, football and basketball cards was a passion from age 11 to 14, and as I saw it at the time, a shrewd investment. Sure, it would take every bit of my allowance and free time to buy, sort and protect the cards, but it was all for a higher cause. I was certain that they would one day be worth a bunch of money, like the Mickey Mantle cards from the 50s and whatnot. At age 11, for instance, I theorized that I would be able to sell the cards for enough money to buy a car at age 16.

That prediction turned out to be true, if it was a Hot Wheels car I was looking for. Maybe I could have even bought a whole set of them, with a plastic track and pretend fire station to boot. But alas, my cards have lost most of the value they had 16 years ago. Now I would be lucky to be able to exchange all 100,000 or so I've got for a single Matchbox car.

The problem is nobody kept their cards from the 50s. They used them as bike wheel noisemakers and only the few hoarders who were lucky enough to not have their moms throw out the cards with the rest of their childhood junk were able to cash in. People from my era just kept their cards with the expectation that they would one day be worth something, rendering them worthless.

So now my shoeboxes of cards are stacked high in my closet, as precarious as a booby trapped Indiana Jones temple. I can never flip through them and reminisce, because to do so would likely trigger an avalanche and cause my death. I haven't looked at the cards since I moved into my house 7 years ago, and can't say for sure whether or not they're actually still up there. For all I know, they could have disintegrated, been eaten by moths or been stolen by a cat burglar who bypassed all my stuff in search of my 1990 Donruss complete set. If such a thief did rob me, I hope he at least left me my Cecil Fielder autograph and box of old Nintendo Powers.

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

The Circus Shoulda Been Watching Me

I took my kids, ages 4 and 2, to the circus Saturday. Jessica stayed at home because she "tore her ACL," "needed surgery" and "couldn't move while drugged up and suffering constant, immense pain." Read between the lines, though. CRAZYcoughcoughIRRATIONALcoughANIMALLOVER.

I'm sure I appeared to be a weekend divorced dad. Why else would a dude take his two tiny kids to the circus alone? And while we're asking questions, why do circuses still exist in 2011? How does the ringmaster find such talented people willing to live what must be such tough existences? They surely don't make much money and have to risk their lives constantly while traveling to sweaty little towns to perform in front of audiences who secretly hope they fall off their trapezes. The ringmaster must have compromising photos of everyone, including the elephants.

I guess the trapeze-swinging horses getting shot out of cannons through flaming hoops made of burning tigers were impressive enough, but the acrobatics and daring it took to corral those little monsters in the space of two seats met and surpassed anything Barnum & Bailey executed on the arena floor. Sworn enemies of one another, the kids elbowed, gouged and whined against one another for space on my lap throughout the 750-hour performance.

We left for three bathroom breaks, collectively drank two sodas and a bottled water, ran up and down the stairs during the intermission and somehow decided together that we did not need to spend $20 on a flashing sword or $12 cotton candy.

Most of the time Emma stared at the baby sitting next to us, while Luke peppered me with questions about whether the people were seeing were real or robots. We were loud and obnoxious, but no more so than anyone sitting around us. Thus, we didn't really bother anybody. Well, possibly except for the family sitting in front of us who retreated to the empty row in front of them. But maybe, just maybe, they moved because they wanted a closer view and not because they were sick of getting their seats kicked by 4, 2 and 32 year olds. Yeah, let's just go with that.