Blogs and Reviews
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Do you know what your kids are watching? I mean, REALLY know? No, not just what the shows are called and what network they’re on, or even just the “oh yeah, it’s got a bunny and it’s cute”. I mean.. have you sat down and screened the shows you let them watch? Continue reading
As a mother of two small kids, 90% of my television experience is spread across a vast ocean of talking letters, problem solving foxes, mathematician monsters, alien artists and hundreds more creative, educational and brilliant characters designed for the stimulation of children ages 0-6 years.
That other 10%? That’s the hallowed “mommy’s TV time” that can only take place in the middle of every afternoon, if both kids sleep at the same time. So, between the hours of (typically) 11:30am till about 2:30-3:00pm, my phone doesn’t get answered because those are MOMMY’S hours. Usually paired with housework of some sort, this is my one time of day to watch the shows I can’t watch with the kids. Supernatural, Walking Dead, Battlestar Galactica, Falling Skies, Continuum, Buffy, Angel, Charmed, Fringe, just to name a few, are on, or have been on the list and in the last four years, this is pretty much the only way I get to keep up on any of the shows I actually really enjoy.
Most recently, I have been making my way through Teen Wolf, an MTV series based on the 1985 Michael J. Fox film of the same name.
This year marks the 30th anniversary of Neuromancer by William Gibson. This book takes place in a dystopian near future and was, for many, the defining piece of a new and exciting genre, Cyberpunk. Of course Philip K. Dick had already been doing the dystopian thing since the 50’s, and Blade Runner came out in ’82 based on ‘Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep’ written in the 60’s. But it wasn’t until the 80’s that the phenomenon took off and was given a name. Of course, it wasn’t long after then that role playing games would come calling on this world of high tech low lifes. Continue reading
In the mid 90’s I watched with horror as the hobby I had devoted half my life to at that time, died a slow painful death by attrition.
Twice a month we were meeting at Mike’s, who was our dungeon master in those days. Advanced Dungeons and Dragons 2nd Edition wasn’t new, and some could argue that it was already starting to wither, with the re-releases and reprints of the same material since ’89, the game was set for something dramatic to happen, good or bad. But we were die-hards who’d bought every supplement and new edition or revision since the early 80’s.
That’s when I started to notice it. The creeping infection grew like a brown mold, feeding on the warmth, and leaving nothing but cold in its wake.
A new game was taking the hobby industry by storm in those days, a fantasy genre card game that was inexpensive and fast to learn and even faster to set up. We were, admittedly, fantasy junkies. We would devour anything in our genre, no matter how cheesy or ridiculous. So it came as no surprise that this game would be a hit. Since it only needed 2 players, and everyone had some of the cards, it became the #1 pass time for the early arrivers to each game night. With the first couple of players throwing down a quick round before the rest of the party showed up. If only that was the end of it, I wouldn’t be writing this today.
Slowly, the card game players became less inclined to wrap it up once everyone was there, and the later arriving players became more inclined to just join in the card game. And so the dice bags and monster manuals sat, unopened and neglected, with increasing frequency. It wasn’t long from there that the campaign began to dwindle and eventually stall out. I was, to say the least, disappointed. The group continued to get together to play cards, eventually getting involved in tournaments at the local comic book shop. The company behind that card game became a huge success, and the company that made my beloved Dungeons and Dragons began to collapse. The end was near.
Okay, so I may be a little late to the party on this one, but that often happens when you have two small children and don’t get to go see movies when they come out.
We finally got to watch the Lego Movie last week. And then we saw it again. And again. And again…. aaaaaand again. You get the picture. We saw it a lot. And while we were watching it ever so many times, I realized I recognized several familiar themes. Eventually, I realized this wasn’t just because I was being asked by my three year old to “play it again!!” over and over, it was because I already knew the story.
Maybe you already know this, because I’m pretty sure every other person in America has seen this movie… but watching The Lego Movie is basically like watching an animated, Lego version of The Matrix.
Now, I realize I could just be a crazy mom hopped up on too much caffeine and suffering from sleep deprivation, but check this out. Continue reading
When I was young, my friends and I would spend lunch break in the library. Why the library? Because it was the safest place in the school. The one place we knew we wouldn’t encounter ‘Them’. In the library we could discuss role playing games or look at comics or discuss sci-fi movies / books / TV shows without fear of judgment, harassment or even abuse.
See, it wasn’t uncommon for any of us to be physically assaulted, have our very expensive books or treasured comics taken away, thrown around and belittled in public while we futilely pleaded for mercy or assistance. While different bullies may have different styles or different motivations for bullying, the one thing they shared back then was a socially accepted segregation against those who participated in ‘bookish’ hobbies and were so preoccupied by these hobbies that they suffered at other endeavors, like sports, fashion or dating. Society was against us. We were outcasts who didn’t fit in and those who did had no interest in understanding our point of view, or finding out why we loved these hobbies so much. This obsession became a self-perpetuating cycle after a while as the shunning would push us farther away and deeper into the fantasy worlds we created on Saturday nights around the dinner table, or the heroic action world between the covers of our favorite comic books.
In 1984 Chick Publications released the Dark Dungeons comic pamphlet. Chick had been in business for 10 years at this point making religious themed comic strips with 22 panels on various subjects, intent on helping the reader avoid damnation. The comic pamphlets were known as Chick Tracts and covered all manner of threats from Rock and Roll to LSD use. Dark Dungeons was intent on protecting us from the dangers of Role Playing Games and the secret agenda to initiate the players into the world of Satanism via D&D. The fake game in the comic is Dark Dungeons, although the characters refer to it as D&D, waving away the possible confusion of the real subject while still avoiding a lawsuit. Younger readers may not realize this but, once upon a time, playing fantasy role playing games was considered evil and dangerous, an invitation to Satanism, drug use and suicide. With daytime talk shows devoting episode after episode to the subject and even “serious” news programs like 60 Minutes getting in the act. CBS even aired a made for TV movie starring a young Tom Hanks called Mazes and Monsters.
Summer break 1983, a 10 year old boy sits at a card table in a basement. His mace does only 1D6 points of damage, but if he can kill these kobolds, hopefully the other boys, some of them in high school, will invite him back to play next week. The basement in question belongs to the parents of 13 year old Craig Brown. The game on the card table is the 1983 edition of the red box basic Dungeons and Dragons game. The kobolds are in the Caves of Chaos and have been harassing the good people of the Keep on the Borderlands. The 10 year old boy is me.
Many years ago, I was introduced to video games. I had always wanted to play them, but the expensive consoles were never in the budget for my Christmas and birthday lists growing up. ( I also believe my mom had an issue with video games in general and being the youngest of three girls, no one we knew had them…) I FINALLY broke through when I was 15 and asked… no, begged… for a Sega Genesis and got it for Christmas. Now, it wasn’t a big win, because I was only given 3 games.. Home Alone, Bram Stoker’s Dracula and The Little Mermaid. Yeah I know… absolutely no geek cred there, but I was a kid and had no money and those were the “mom approved games”, so those were the games I played. Continue reading
In every parent’s life, there comes a time when a mother and father must ask themselves a very hard question and then decide, for the future of their family, which choices they will make. The choice creates a path for their family that cannot be undone. The questions range from what age is best to which medium is used to share it. Do you explain it, read it, watch it…? All the while, knowing that with whatever you choose, a new path for your children will be laid before them and a new set of experiences will shape their futures.
The question seems simple but its complexity is is infinite. The question isn’t just about age or medium or timing. It’s about passion and how experiencing such a thing when that passion cannot be fully realized could alter perception and render children apathetic to the entire thing.
The question is important.
The question is… When do we let the kids watch Star Wars? Continue reading