5 Things I Learned: May 2016

My lovely wife has challenged me to make some blog posts that are more personal, and one of her suggestions is a post every month with a “5 things I learned this month” format.

This is a challenge because I am fairly dense and don’t learn a whole lot. I could go several years without learning five things. The only things I learned from 1989-1997 were how to register for college classes and how to operate a debit card reader in a gas pump.

However, getting married and having kids does nothing as much as forcing you to learn and grow with regularity. At this point in my life, the learning opportunities come at you life dodgeballs at a fat kid. So without further ado, here are a few things I got out of May.

5 Things I Learned this Month

1. I am old — My 45th birthday landed on me this month. I still feel young, and perhaps even look younger than I am to other people (helped by the fact that, though I am a grown man with two children, I dress like I work at Hot Topic). But on the inside, I can tell that my body is starting to betray me.

When I climb stairs early in the morning, I’m accompanied by a soundtrack of creaks and pops and weird grinding noises, which would be great if I was in the cast of Stomp!, but I’ve been strictly forbidden to wear garbage can lids on my feet.

My sad condition is exacerbated by the fact that my sister has challenged me to run a half-marathon with her next year. I’m trying to get back into shape with a body that may have decided it doesn’t want to be athletic anymore. Getting to the refrigerator and back during a commercial break is a challenge; getting to thirteen miles will be an epic struggle of the will. I’ll let you know how that goes.

2. Marvel makes some darn fine super hero movies — I got to see the latest Captain America movie on its opening weekend. It’s obvious to me that the people who are making Marvel’s movies are people who grew up on comic books just like I did; people who appreciate the fact that these characters weren’t created out of whole cloth yesterday — they have a history that, to the fans, is as real as the history of any other historical figure.

When you respect that history, you make a better movie and you make the fans happy. Twelve-year-old Jason loved these characters, and he would heartily approve of how they appear in Civil War and most of the rest of the Marvel oeuvre.

3. Angry Birds is a challenging screenwriting class exercise — My son is going through a period in which Angry Birds has the same effect on him as the Beatles had on the front row at the Ed Sullivan show. So of course we were going to see the Angry Birds movie.

And see it we did. To my boy, it was a film making achievement that makes Citizen Kane look like outtakes from Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo. To me, it was a very interesting creative exercise for a screenwriting class — take a simple video game and turn it into a legitimate, 90-minute, theatrical-release movie with plot, laughs, character development, the whole nine yards.

Could you do it with Crossy Road or Cut the Rope? I don’t know, but you can do it with Angry Birds. It’s a real movie with some legitimate laughs. I now look forward to Plants vs. Zombies: The Movie.

4. How to kill a snake in my laundry room — I spent a couple of days cutting some brush around my house, and apparently I disturbed some natural habitats, because one day I noticed a little snake hanging out in our laundry room. Just lying there, on the cool linoleum.

Now, I’m not the kind of guy who can immediately come up with a lot of proven strategies for dealing with snakes in the laundry room. Maybe there are some really comprehensive multi-tools that have an implement just for that. But I don’t have one of those. What I had was about ten minutes of Mexican stand-off — me staring at the snake; the snake staring right back at me — while I tried to come up with a plan and prayed in the name of all that’s good and pure on God’s green earth that he didn’t slither off where I couldn’t find him and pop up later in my son’s underwear drawer or my daughter’s Alpha-Bits.

Are you dying to know what I did so that you, too, can have a plan for dealing with snakes in the laundry room? Well, here you go:

  • Step 1: Pin snake to floor using one of those suction cups on a long pole that you use to change light bulbs that are way up high.
  • Step 2: Try to kill snake by stepping on its head. Notice how the snake keeps shrugging this off. Be amazed at how resilient snakes are.
  • Step 3: Spend really long time putting all your weight on the pole while looking for something you can use to separate the snake’s head from its body without cutting up the linoleum.
  • Step 4: Find your wife’s craft scissors and craft that little bastard a new neck hole.
  • Step 5: Clean up crime scene. Do laundry for the rest of the week.

5. Steph Curry is from outer space — You can’t compare Steph Curry’s playing style to Michael Jordan. But Curry is starting to justify a comparison in the sense that he is also a seemingly unstoppable basketball force of nature. He could shoot from any place on the floor at any time and it would always seem like a good idea.

I haven’t watched a lot of NBA since the Pat Riley Knicks ruined basketball in the ’90s, but I watched game seven of the Warriors/Thunder series, and I’m glad I did. I’m getting a chance to see one of the all-time greats.