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!).

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A Brief History Of The Trapper Keeper

Mental Floss –  In the fall of 1981, second grader Mike Ryan was walking through the halls of his new school when he realized something terrible: He was the only kid without a Trapper Keeper. “I’m sure there were others,” he says now. “But I certainly didn’t notice them because they weren’t worth noticing because they didn’t have a Trapper Keeper.” After school, he told his parents his tale of woe, and his father picked one up—but it was the wrong thing, a rip-off made of what appeared to be denim. To Ryan’s horror, everyone noticed. “Trapper Keeper? That looks more like a Trapper Jeansper,” one kid sneered.

I have a strange nostalgia for the Trapper Keeper. I wanted one so bad, but hated every kid that had one. Maybe not hate, but certainly envied. I mean look at that commercial! How could you not want one of these things? If folded into like a hundred compartments (I assume) and made you the coolest kid around. I remember asking, begging my parents for one. Instead my mom brought me home a bunch of three ring binders from work and told me “these are just as good.” No mom, no they were not

Distraction, Drive and the Superior Man

There comes a time when men and women become too relaxed, or maybe just complacent.  For me my job has overtaken my life and my worries. I set out to start this blog as  fun thing to do and maybe connect with others like myself. Yet I never make time for it. instead I focus on things that aren’t as important. I offer up the follow excerpt and maybe something to help myself and those out there looking for a change.

David Deida – The Way Of The Superior Man

Pick an area of your life, perhaps your intimate relationship, your career, your relationship with your children, or your spiritual practice. For instance, you are currently doing something to earn a living.

Where do your fears stop you from making a larger contribution to mankind, from earning a higher income, or from earning money in a more creative and enjoyable way? If you were absolutely fearless, would you be earning a living in exactly the sameway as you are now? Your edge is where you stop short, or where you compromise your fullest gift, and, instead, cater to your fears.

Have you lost touch with the fears that are limiting and shaping your income and style of livelihood? If you have deluded yourself and feel that you are not afraid, then you are lying to yourself.

All men are afraid, unless they are perfectly free. If you cannot admit this, you are pretending to yourself, and to others. Your friends will feel your fear, even if you do not. Thus, they will lose trust in you, knowing you are deluding yourself, lying to yourself, and are therefore likely to lie to them, consciously or unconsciously.

Or, perhaps you are very aware of your fears: your fear to take risks, your fear of failing, or your fear of succeeding. Perhaps you are comfortable with your life, and you fear the lifestyle change that might accompany a change in career, even though the new career will be closer to what you really want to do with your life. Some men fear the feeling of fear and therefore don’t even approach their edge.

They choose a job they know they can do well and easily, and don’t even approach the fullest giving of their gift. Their lives are relatively secure and comfortable, but dead. They lack the aliveness, the depth, and the inspirational energy that is the sign of a man living at his edge. If you are this kind of man who is hanging back, working hard perhaps, but not at your real edge, other men will not be able to trust that you can and will help them live at their edge and give their fullest gift.

As an experiment, describe your edge with respect to your career out loud to yourself. Say something like, “I know I could be earning more money, but I am too lazy to put in the extra hours it would take. I know that I could give more of my true gift, but I am afraid that I may not succeed, and then I will be a penniless failure. I’ve spent 15 years developing my career, and I’m afraid to let go of it and start fresh, even though I know that I spend most of my life doing things I have no real interest in doing. I could be making money in more creative ways, but I spend too much time watching TV rather than being creative.”

Honor your edge. Honor your choices. Be honest with yourself about them. Be honest with your friends about them. A fearful man who knows he is fearful is far more trustable than a fearful man who isn’t aware of his fear. And a fearful man who still leans into his fear, living at his edge and putting his gift out from there, is more trustworthy and more inspirational than a fearful man who hangs back in the comfort zone, unwilling to even experience his fear on a day to day level.

A free man is free to acknowledge his fears, without hiding them, or hiding from them. Live with your lips pressed against your fears, kissing your fears, neither pulling back nor aggressively violating them.