Monday, June 13, 2016

bad people killing

This afternoon, hours past the breaking news of the terroristic mass shooting at an Orlando night club, I made the mistake of looking at Facebook comments surrounding the tragedy.

I didn't become angry--angry because my political beliefs were being questioned or condemned.  I became sad--sad that so many people are fucking idiots.  What happened was a terror attack on Americans, fueled by hatred.  While reading the Facebook comments, I witnessed hateful attacks, as well...Americans vs Americans.  Few attacks were well thought out, educated, or really even legible.  Also sad.

I am not an extremist left or right.  I agree and disagree with parts of both political agendas.  That's really all you need to know about me and my thoughts on politics.

What happened in Orlando is terrible, clearly.  Over 50 people slaughtered by a high-powered assault rifle.  How do we prevent that?  How do we prevent this from happening, seemingly every other week?

Do we educate the non-gun masses on firearms and encourage more people to carry weapons to defend themselves and others?  Is that the right answer?  Seeing as how bad guys are going get their hands on high-powered weapons anyway, we might as well all carry guns to fight back, right?  That's what they did in the wild west...that's what the good guys do in movies...

Do the Liberals go door-to-door and collect all the weapons?  Everbody's weapons?  In reading the Facebook comments today, that seems to be imminent.  Not sure where this notion came from, to be honest.  Don't think our President knows how the rumor started either.  I'm just some guy with no proof of anything, but I really don't think this scenario is going to happen.

Does the government put restrictions on gun ownership?  Meaning, making it more difficult for your average asshole to walk into Cabela's or the Tanner Gun Show and purchase an AR-15?  These average assholes I speak of are the ones who gun down mass Americans, not the ones who buy the guns to shoot targets and add to their collections of firearms.  The NRA clearly does not like this solution.

I have my opinions, but I am not going to divulge them here.  Because anyone that voices their opinion publicly on this gun subject is asking for a fight.  More guns...less guns...America isn't that safe feeling right now, and I would like for that to change.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

movie review: star wars.

Two things I rarely, if ever do: go to the movies, and review a movie that I saw at the movies.

This blog post is not about meat or music or fishing.  It's about a movie, and is probably the only post of this type that you will ever see written by me.  I don't typically see movies unless they have superheroes, lightsabers, or black Trans Ams in them.  This one had lightsabers.

Last night I saw Star Wars: The Force Awakens for a second time.  And I have some thoughts on it.  While expressing these thoughts, I will probably get silently critiqued by readers to both extremes; getting really nerdy, to the point where the casual Star Wars fan will laugh and egg my house tonight...and then not nerdy enough, meaning I may not use the correct nomenclature--or nerdenclature--that the over-the-top diehard fans that take it so seriously that they tend to pick it apart until they lose all enjoyment of a wonderfully nostalgic film may read.

So what you will read--if you choose to continue--is the honest thoughts of a fan that has seen all seven films several times at the theaters, starting in 1977 at the drive-in when I was 3 years of age.  And keep in mind, I haven't been influenced by too many outside sources, be it friends or colleagues, nerdy social media, or other opinions or takes.  This is just me, and whatever meaningless thoughts I may have.  And I will not warn you of any "spoilers".  If you haven't seen it yet, God help you.

The Force Awakens was very good.  I'd go as far as to say it was great.  While I understand that there may be some disappointment due to the movie mirroring the first trilogy (meaning Episodes IV, V, VI)--especially A New Hope, it's clear to me that this was the intention.  I believe that this movie was meant to bring the franchise back to its roots while still creating a new (or continuing) storyline and giving it a life of its own.  And for the record, those episodes were an immense part of my childhood and I continue to watch them time and time again.

With that said, this movie had stark contrasts to the latter three prequels (Episodes I, II, III), which I did not care for.  The reasons are probably fairly obvious and across the board for most Star Wars fans, but I'll elaborate a bit anyhow.  

The prequels for me, in a nutshell, were entirely too busy visually, and had excessive plotlines and poor characters.  All three prequels lacked a more palpable, realistic feel compared to the original three, and relied entirely too heavily on CGI (Computer Generated Imagery) which in turn cluttered our imaginations and negated any artistic attempt.  The ships, the cities, the backdrop, and the characters and creatures; all essentially cartoons with Ewan McGregor prancing around in the middle of it all.  Reminded me of Dick Van Dyke dancing with the penguins in Mary Poppins.  It was way too cartoony and unrealistic.  Sure, Ewoks are goofy, but you can touch them.  And aside from the atrocity that was Jar Jar Binks, let's please not overlook quite possibly the absolute worst character to ever grace a Star Wars film: Fode.  I had to look that name up, actually.  But you may remember his character from Phantom Menace as the announcer of the pod race, being voiced by Greg Proops.  Just fucking terrible.

The reason I'm berating Episodes I-III (other than it's fun and easy) is to outline a contrast for you.  Up until now, the last new Star Wars movie we saw at the theater was an overly-busy, CGI-vomiting film that relied on absolutely nothing from the three OG films that we all love so much.  It uber-humanized our beloved villain to the point where it was difficult to look at him as a badass anymore because all we saw was a whiney millennial with great hair.  And not to mention, Vader's villainy was fueled by lost love which is mushy and dumb.  So, that's the taste we were all left with in our proverbial mouths.  A bad one.  We all hungered for something more similar to the simply artistic visuals and storytelling that we experienced years before.

With The Force Awakens, I believe we got it.

Sure, we had some CGI.  In this day and age you have to for a sci-fi flick.  But to me it was a comfortable balance of CGI and tangibility.  There were real trees, real sand, real prop ships were built, there were puppets.  And although I'm no visual effects expert, they seemed to blend the CGI with these tangibles really well.  We weren't shown an entire cartoon universe that was created on a computer screen.  It seemed more real, like the old films.

Speaking of the old films, once again it was difficult not to compare this film to A New Hope.  Lots of similarities and feel.  But I didn't mind at all.  It made me feel like they decided to take us all back to square one and get a feel for the franchise again.  For me, the familiarity was comforting.  Personally, bringing back all the major characters and supporting them with terrific new ones was the perfect recipe.  It felt like a homecoming.

During Phantom Menace, which was the first film released since the original trilogy in 15 years, I got goosebumps when we first saw (and heard) lightsabers again.  It was, for me, the best part of all three movies; simply seeing lightsabers again, and the choreography used to represent early Jedi Knights and Sith Lords (see: Kenobi, Jinn, Maul).  It was "old meets new", and done well.  We got our lightsabers, which we all love so dearly from the OG trilogy.  But now we see how it was done in the old days when Jedi were abundant and bad ass.  Flipping around like ninjas & shit, using the Force to throw an army of Battle Droids down a damn hallway like nobody's business.  Made Luke kind of look like a chump.  In contrast...I didn't get the same goosebumps when we finally see Darth Vader at the end of Revenge of the Sith, because I didn't think it was done well.  Although we finally see our favorite villain again at the end of an agonizing trilogy, we now know he was just some asshole kid that cried a lot by this point.  Add in the fact that there's a dramatic, drawn-out "Nooooooo!" fully equipped with hands in the air and dropping to his knees when he hears that Natalie Portman's died.  C'mon, man.  Vader don't care about no chick.

Now, with The Force Awakens, "old meets new" was done exceptionally well.  When we first see the Millennium Falcon, half covered with a ragged tarp, sand blasted and crusty, I got those goosebumps back.  It is pure artistry how a make-believe spaceship can be such a major character with such personality.  It's part of Han & Chewy.  It's like BAN-ONE is with Burt & Sally.  And the familiar faces kept coming; Han, Chewy, Leia, Tie Fighters, X-Wings, R2 & 3PO, Admiral Akbar, Nien Nunb, Stormtroopers, Vader's mask, Boba Fett's slave flag..  Even seeing the battle-ravaged and defeated Star Destroyer and AT-AT made me grit my teeth and grin.  And then at the end: Luke Skywalker.

Rumor has it they "suggested" to Carrie Fisher that she lose some weight for the movie.  Guess Hamill didn't get that memo.

Of course, the main take-away from this film is all the unanswered questions.  The glaring one being, who the fuck is Rey?  Is she a Skywalker?  Is she a Kenobi?  Is she a Solo?  Is she just some rando that lucked out and got some Force?  That's the beauty of these movies, and I believe that's a reason the OG3 were so popular; because it had some soap opera drama to it.  Look at the end of Empire; we find out that Luke and Leia are brother and sister AND Han gets frozen in carbonite.  How in the hell were you NOT going to see Jedi three years later?  And the cool thing about Awakens is that we don't have to wait three years.  One year.  Disney's not fucking around.

Okay, so you know I like the movie, for whatever that's worth.  My favorite part, you ask?  Visually, Rey positioning the Millennium Falcon in a perpendicular position in order for Fin to shoot the last Tie Fighter with a jammed laser cannon.  Pure brilliance.  That scene cemented the badassery of Rey, Finn, and the Falcon.

A close second is Kylo Ren stopping Poe's blaster shot in mid-air using some Dark Sided Force.  It's those things that make me wish that Luke would've had some better Force in the old flicks.  He threw a rock at a control panel to kill the Rancor.  Ooooooh.

And although I love the sound of lightsabers, nothing in cinematic history has a better sound than a Tie Fighter screaming through the screen.  That sound is right up there with upright jazz bass accompanying piano, urethane skateboard wheels on a sidewalk, and a coyote two fields over with a backdrop of a crackling campfire alongside a babbling brook.  Tie Fighter, man.

And my favorite character was a toss-up.
* I love Chewbacca's noble and loyal demeanor, plus the nostalgia of an original character.  In this movie, he had a great balance of "little kid" and "loyal dog", along with absolute strength and rage.  Then, similar to when he was commanded by Han to "Take care of the Princess" at the end of Empire, he takes control of rescuing the kids and later flies them to Luke's island on the a soccer dad.
* Rey's character cannot go unapplauded.  These films sorely lack another strong woman--especially one that is a Force-weilding main character.  Daisy Ridley was the perfect cast for Rey.  She is intimidatingly independent and vulnerable at the same time.  She was adapting the entire movie, struggling internally with her mysterious past and taking chances in order to do the right thing.
* But what about Poe Dameron?  The coolest Star Wars character since Billy Dee.

At the end of the day, The Force Awakens does in fact lean heavily on A New HopeEmpire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi.  The characters, the story, the locations (an ice planet, a bar, a forest base...), and the colors were all reminiscent of the movies most of us grew up with.  Is that a bad thing?  I don't think it is.  And I do think the next installments will move farther away from the first three and become it's own trilogy.  I'm looking forward to it.

How's that for nerdery?

The Force Awakens was my second favorite movie in the seven-part series, right behind Empire Strikes Back.  So it's got that going for it...which is nice.


Wednesday, November 25, 2015


Facial hair.  A large pickup truck.  Camouflage clothing.  Go ahead, sport it.  Doesn't mean you're a man.

On another blog I write, I talk about many subjects, some of which most people would categorize as "manly".  That's all well and good, but grilling meat, traipsing out of doors, and listening to country music doesn't automatically earn you an invitation to be in the Man Club.  That prestigious honor is only bestowed upon you if you are a good, moralistic, caring person that happens to be of the male gender.  At least that's how I see it.

Do you do all you can for your family?  In many cases, it's our job to commute to the office, factory, or field five or six days a week to earn that 100% necessary paycheck to maintain a certain lifestyle, or scratch and claw to provide food and shelter.  Other times we take a different role and commit to raising our children while our significant other earns the necessary paycheck.  This version may not be as old fashioned, but I don't find it unmanly.

Personally, I've done both.  I've worked an exhausting, honest 40 for the paycheck that helps provide food, a house, cars, and clothing.  I've served that role the majority of my life, sometimes earning decent money, sometimes barely getting by.

Currently, I'm staying at home, raising my daughter all day.  I've done that for about a year...she's 16 months old now.

This version of providing for your family, I've found, can be scoffed at.  I think that's unfortunate.

Being a father and a husband is about providing.  However you provide within your family structure at that time is what matters.  Do all you can.  Have morals.  Be good.

Then you're a man.


Friday, November 6, 2015


I'm a sap.  That's all there is to it.

Yesterday, while driving down the highway, my daughter in the backseat jibber-jabbering about God knows what, occasionally cracking herself up, a song comes on my computer-aided faux radio station.  I believe the station was "Jason Isbell" or "Chris Stapleton"--some good, genuine, honest country music that doesn't have glossed-up, shiny-faced douche bags singing it.  It was a slow song--couldn't even tell you who did it or what it was called.  But the combination of this particular melody along with the one thing in the world that I love more than anything, made me tear up.

A sap!

Let's back up.  "The one thing in the world that I love more than anything".  That's a bold statement.  A true statement.  Kind of.

When I was a kid, it was my family--parents and sister.  That's who I loved.  Of course, I still love them.  But when I met my wife, they obtained a different slot--a different category.  I still loved them, but not like I love my wife.  She's the love of my life.  She's number one.  Then along came my daughter.  Shit, man.  I didn't think I'd have to re-categorize my wife, but I do.  So, although I still love my immediate family, it's a different category than that of my wife...and even different-er now with my daughter.  And her category is now the prominent one.  Kind of.

Three categories of love.  Sounds like a Whitesnake song.

I realize I'm probably preaching to the choir here.  I'm a late bloomer of parenthood, so these feelings are brand new.  I've heard it all before.  Loving your child...whole new feeling...incredible journey...enjoy the moments...blah blah blah.  But until you experience it, it's all crap.  But when you do finally experience it, it's freaking unbelievable.

Ruby's laugh.  Ruby's smerk.  Ruby's strong will.  Ruby's disgusting eating habits.  Ruby's voice.  Ruby's hug.  It truly leaves me speechless.  All I can do is grin.  And tear up, apparently.

I don't know what the hell the three categories are called.  I just know that different people get dropped into different slots.  That's how it works in my brain.  It's fairly unexplainable, so I'll just be quiet now.

In summary:  My daughter's presence, plus a slow country song, make me a complete mess.  But that's okay.  It's called appreciation, gratefulness, and love.  And I'm okay with that.  I can't let her see me tear up, though.  She'll make fun of me.  She's got a lot of her mom in her, ya know.

ps.  this took me 7 minutes to write.  that's how obvious it is to me.


Monday, August 3, 2015

good women.

Up until lately I've been busy building my new blog,  It's been a lot of fun, diving into new subject matter and thought processes...thinking of material that I would actually read about and enjoy.  You know, barbecue, cold drinks, fishing, fantastic music, outdoor action, beautiful pop art and culture, and people who do damn interesting things.  Can't wait to get it more streamlined and branded, and branch out to more people and learn new things.

But for the past month or more, I've been MIA, and I miss my exploring and writing.

There's a reason behind my lagging.  If you by chance read my Blogazine entry entitled "up the poudre." about my camping/fishing trip in the Poudre Canyon with Cliff-dog, then you know that I took a slight spill in the high, run-off waters while trying to navigate the waist-deep currents with a 120lb retriever lashed to my belt.  I self-medicated the remainder of that evening by way of drinking feverishly.  It helped, but unfortunately not for the long term.

The fall wasn't severe at all--just a bruised hip, a scraped palm, and loud, angry words that frightened birds and squirrels from miles around.  I've actually had much worse spills on the same river that could have been incredibly severe if it weren't for some divine intervention (ie: God stopped that motherf&*%# boulder from falling on me!).  Anyway, this latest slip has caused by spine to go awry more so than normal, prompting two surgeries (for now).

Needless to say, I've had other things on my mind.  This is where this blog comes into play.

In this blog, I can write whatever the hell I want to write.  I don't restrict myself to stay within a certain mind frame or brand or style or whatnot.  It's my journal, and sometimes I let everyone read it.

Today has not been particularly pleasant, pain-wise, and I get to get my spine sliced open again for the second time this week on Wednesday.  Hopefully that's the end of the unpleasantries.  Boo-hoo.  But if you've read this blog, then you probably know where my mind might go.  It goes to mushy shit like wanting to hold my daughter, but I can't because I'm not supposed to lift over 15lbs and she's in the 94th percentile in weight.  Height too, so she's proportionate.  My mind goes to extra-deep shit like being nervous about not waking up from the anesthesia.  If I don't, then what?  That's the deep stuff.  Stuff that maybe most people might think about, but try to push it to the backs of their minds.  That's probably what I'll do.

I'm new to surgeries.  I don't care for them, especially when they are in my spinal cord.  And maybe I'm different, or maybe I just admit to thinking about it and expose my sissy-ness, but being in the middle of this process has made me appreciate so many things so much more.  I'm not trying to make this routine surgery seem like more than it is.  It's a two-hour outpatient deal.  I'll be celebrating with a cold beer by noon on Wednesday.  But still, in a way I'm glad it's made me re-realize what's important.

My three most favorite women in the universe are currently living with me, putting up with me, taking care of me, and it's humbling.

My daughter, Ruby, who just turned one, is keeping me grounded, happy, appreciative, laughing, awestruck, proud, and other words that describe feelings that I cannot think of.  Feelings that make me smile every minute that she's in the room, or singing from her crib upstairs, or chasing Cliff, or saying "Kay Kay", which is a multi-use word that means Cliff, Cat in the Hat, and Aunt Katie, who happens to be my forth most favorite woman in the universe.  And up until last week, Ruby was keeping me exhausted.  In my poor, sad, decrepit, weak, woe-is-me condition, I cannot take care of a "healthy sized" baby properly without crippling myself even more...and then subsequently writing to you all about how horrible I feel in hopes of sympathy, but not coming right out and asking for it.  That would be tacky.

Last week is when reinforcements came.  Reinforcements means that I texted my mother from the doctor's office the day I found out I had to have surgery, asking, "Do you have plans for the next month or so?  We might need you.", and a day later she had driven 784 miles from Springfield, Missouri to Broomfield, Colorado without a hint of hesitation.  Mina Beth Todd is a saint.  That's funny to say, because it was on an Anchor Man movie and Vince Vaughan said it, but with "Dorothy Mantooth" being the subject instead of "Mina Beth Todd"...but by God it's true.  Also to be noted, my family and I were planning a road trip to Springfield just a couple days after my doctor's visit.  Festivities were planned such as pool swimming, boating around the lake, a magnificent game of wiffleball, days of meat grilling, and so many other wonderful activities planned that you would crap your pants.  My mom dropped all plans immediately, packed a suitcase, and drove her Mini Cooper Clubman (Jack Clubman...) to my house to take care of my daughter while I writhe in pain and my wife works a full time job to pay for our lives.

My mom is a damn angel.

Then there's the love of my life.  April Reins-Todd, who dedicates her every moment to taking care of her family in every way possible.  She's like a smart, beautiful, scary lioness who will kill you without thinking twice if you mess with her loved ones.  She works very hard at her job, is very good at her job, and makes it possible for us to live in a nice house, have nice cars, and eat Chinese delivery from time to time.  It's none of your business, but shortly after Ruby was born, we rearranged our financial situations to allow me to be a stay-home-dad instead shipping Ruby off to daycare every morning.  It hasn't been particularly easy, but neither of us would have it any other way.  So you can now appreciate April's hard work even well as her impeccable damage control skills when her stay-at-home nanny/dashing man of her dreams falters.

Although April is from the school of "Rub some dirt on it--suck it up.", she makes it her life's mission to ensure that Ruby and I are taken care of when shit happens.  That's exactly how it should be, friends.

Keep rooting for these three.  They've got their work cut out for them the next week or two.  I'm not an easy patient and I tend to become grumpy from time to time when I don't feel all that great.  And when I get hungry.  I love and appreciate them more than anyone can imagine.

Man, I've got amazing broads in my life.


Thursday, June 11, 2015

new project.

As I've mentioned before, I dearly need at least one creative outlet to keep my mind functioning properly.  Writing is one of them.

I don't write as much as I'd like to, mainly because the content that floats around in my brain is either too personal for me to post on this blog, or it's just stupid.  I could literally fill this blog up with pictures of my daughter and entries trying to explain why the smell of her hair rivals that of bacon & onions frying...not that it smells like bacon & onions, it's just a strangely great bacon & onions is.

See what I mean?

So in order to kind of challenge myself to write about other things--other things I'm interested in, of course--I'm starting a new blog.  It's a little bit different, whereas I'm focussing on people, places, and things that I think are damn swell.  I know a lot of interesting, talented people who do really interesting things.  Craftsmen, artists, cooks, photographers, anglers, and the like.  Folks that really dig what they do, whether it's their profession or a pastime.

Scattered among these stories about cool people, will be entries about places I visit.  Not just your fancy, touristy spots, but real places with real people.  One example is, I'm driving to a small town in Nebraska tomorrow for a friend's wedding.  Nebraska is incredible, in it's own right.  I'm very much looking forward to viewing this small farm town from a different angle than I generally would.  When you're in Nebraska, there's just a different feel.  It's slowed down, it's family, it's farming, it's honest.  I'm hoping I can capture some of that via blog-rambling and far-from-professional photography with my iPhone.

My blog will have reoccurring themes and segments, like weekly toasts or socials.  I'll have ongoing BBQ segments, maybe a fly-tying corner.  We'll figure it out as we go, cool?

At any rate, I hope you dig  It's a fancy new magazine format--be sure to click on the date ribbon-thing when you get there.  It'll start to take life when I get a few more posts on there.  Definitely a work in progress for a while, but should be fun.  Thanks.


Thursday, June 4, 2015


The other day I went to Target.  I rarely go to Target, or any store for that matter.  At least not without April.  But I needed a picture I went to Target and bought one.

As I'm walking back up to the front of the store to pay for my picture frame, I start to walk past a mom and her son.  He's maybe two--isn't talking all that well yet, but the words that he is manufacturing are pretty damn cute.  He's sitting in the shopping cart kid seat thing, jibber-jabbering to his mom about God knows what, when he stops abruptly as I walk by.  He stares me down, turns to his mom, and says, "Mama, that's a man."

I turn back to give him a head nod and a grin, and reply, "You're damn right."

Thankfully, mama laughed.