Monday Motivation

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Why you should watch black and white movies with your kids

Via lifehacker – I’m not sure what this says about my aspirations as a parent, but one exciting thing about my kid getting older is that we can now watch more TV together. We’ve been finding more shows to get into as a family—when it’s time for MasterChef Junior, for instance, the three of us will stop what we’re doing immediately, migrate to the sofa, snuggle up under a blanket and get ready to watch a group of tiny home cooks dazzle us with their culinary creations. Television viewing now feels more like real bonding time rather than please-sit-here-and-watch-this-animated-drivel-so-I-can-get-stuff-done time.

A genre we’ve recently added to our TV queue is silent films. I first read the recommendation on Reddit—parents noted how great some of the classic comedies are for children. Charlie Chaplin films. Buster Keaton’s stunt-driven masterpieces. Anything with Laurel and Hardy. Kids are drawn to these shows because the stories are relatively simple and told purely through physical theater—they can dive right in without much context. Many are shorts, so they’re ideal for those with limited attention spans. And since there’s little or no dialogue, the films force kids to build their imaginations. Their brains must fill in everything that isn’t spoken—what the characters are feeling, why they made certain decisions and what they’re hoping will come next. Parents can also add in their own prompts and dialogue, making the whole viewing experience surprisingly interactive.

With my five-year-old daughter, we started with Modern Times, Charlie Chaplin’s 1936 silent-talkie hybrid about a factory worker who subjected to being a cog in the grinding wheels of the Industrial Revolution. It’s absurd fun—I figured the kid might check out because the film is in black and white, but she didn’t. She couldn’t take her eyes off of Chaplin, and chuckled at his antics for a good 45 minutes. Throughout the show, I read the written words that would appear, and it kind of felt like we were moving through an interactive book. At one point, she astutely noted: “Mom, this movie isn’t silent at all—there’s music.” She was right. It was neat to notice together how music can make things feel more exciting. When it was finally time to turn off the TV, she asked, “Can we watch more of that show later?” We can and we will.

As some viewers have pointed out, it’s important to guide kids through the adult themes that can appear throughout these old silent movies—some films show smoking, drunkenness, vandalism and theft. There was an early scene in Modern Times when I thought to myself, “Yeah, that is definitely sexual harassment in the workplace,” and murmured to my kid, “Should we chase people who do not want to be chased?” (She replied “no.”) That said, I think it’s great to give your kids an appreciation of the dying artistry, flaws and all. A cool thing about watching these films now is that there’s all sorts of behind-the-scenes content that you can also show your kid if they’re curious—for instance, you can see how they filmed with famous rolling skating scene in Modern Times (it’s so neat!).

Man Makes Dumb Claims To Get Out Of Argument

As a kid born in the 80’s I have a fond connection to video games. I spent hours playing games at The Gold Mine, Circus Circus and Skateway.

It was there, on some bland weekend, I stumbled across a game that to me didn’t seem wildly better than anything else I played that day. It was a tiny upright console with a smaller screen than most. It was Violent. It was bloody. It was Mortal Kombat. More than anything I was curious because it was a new fighting game. I had always like Street Fighter but was terrible at. Dropping a few quarters in I though this will be different. I picked the blue ninja. My first fight was against some robo guy.

Less than 3 minutes later it was over. I lost. Moved on. They game did nothing to stick with me. At least until the storm came after. Outrage over blood, fatalities. Violence. How could my generation be entertained by such filth? Why couldn’t my generation be entertained by things my parents grew up with? You know. Like westerns. Those fun family rooms where white guys gunned each down and slaughtered the native people. That was real, family entertainment.

I tried Mortal Kombat a few more times over the years but nothing after 3.

I bring this up because yet again video games are being drawn into a debate they shouldn’t be. Being scapegoated in the wake of another national tragedy. Decades of studies have been done. The facts remain. There is no provable link between video games and real world violence.

As a father I’ve already started debating my sons gaming future. I’m leaning away. Not because of violence, but health and social issues. I want a child that is healthy, wants be outdoors and be with his friends. Will he play games ? They are unavoidable and I’ll want to play with him. It will be monitored and family time, but always a treat not a babysitter.

Please let’s focus on real problems. Not scapegoats.

Family Recreates Oscar Nominees And It’s Great

It’s Oscar season, if that excites you first off what’s wrong with you? Second you need to meet the Storino sisters. The family has a yearly Don’t Call Me Oscar contest that are great. This is a much better spend of time then actually watching the Oscars.

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My Weekend Plans Have Been Made

Sometimes living in Wisconsin can feel life a little bit of a void. As a kid I didn’t have many friends into comics or Star Wars or wrestling. Getting to talk about pop culture things was rare. But now Taco Bell has just turned us into a cultural Mecca!! Kit Kat Quesadilla’s! Screw health. Screw my heart and screw diabetes! It is now my mission to track down this culinary masterpiece being tested in Wisconsin ! Viva WI

Monday Motivation