That Time I Had My Own Cooking Show

As part of my get rich incredibly slow or possibly never scheme, I’ve decided to go after some of that YouTube money. You know the kind. The kind that kids get from opening boxes of toys, while other kids watch on TV…. or teenagers playing video games while other teenagers watch on TV…… or other random content creators that find something so niche to say or do on the internet, that millions of people need to see. They make that advertising money. Some of these people don’t even have to work anymore. That’s the easy-way-out scenario that I’ve always craved and dreamed of. The same dream that perhaps made me start writing this blog once upon a time. Slowly getting out of the blog game though. People don’t want to read. I don’t even want to read. If you knew how little I read, you’d be amazed at the hypocrisy of me being a blogger. So what then???

A lot of people say ‘Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should’. Ever since I turned 40, my new motto has been ‘Just because you shouldn’t, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t’. So with that in mind, I decided to start a cooking show. My collaborator is a chef. Another couple of buddies of mine do film stuff. Suddenly, this thing’s got legs and doesn’t seem so crazy. We call it ‘Cumin Beings’. It’s not like a lot of the cooking videos you see online these days, which are lots of recipes and food shots, but lacking in personality. I miss the old cooking shows where the host/chef would actually hang out with you and talk you through it. So much of what you see on TV now is the reality shows and the chef competitions. Those are fun too, but we were aiming for some edutainment. A little different, but still a little familiar.

So without going on and on about it, I’ve attached the link to episode one below. I hope you’ll watch it/dig it/share it. We’re already plotting to shoot a couple more in the near future. If you could help me get some of that YouTube money by spreading the word, I’d be grateful. Maybe won’t be able to quit the day job, but it would be cool to generate a budget to do more of these. I’ll let the universe decide. Enjoy! Recipes below the link.

Rub:

4 tbsp kosher salt
2 tbsp chili powder
1 tbsp smoked paprika
1/2 tbsp white pepper
1 tbsp onion powder
3 tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp hot chili flake (optional)

Mix all ingredients together in a bowl.

Sauce:

3 cups ketchup
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
2-3 tbsp rub (see above)
1 cup maple syrup (REAL whenever possible)
1/4 cup cider vinegar

Mix all ingredients together in a pot over low heat….stir frequently to combine flavours, 5-7 minutes. Allow to cool, then store it in the fridge.

Slaw:

1/2 medium head Savoy cabbage cut into fine strips
1/2 medium Spanish onion julienned
1 medium carrot peeled and julienned
1 medium Northern Spy or Russet apple sliced finely
1 tbsp rub
2 tsp dried oregano
1/4 cup cider vinegar

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and toss well to combine. Allow to marinate half an hour before serving.


On this day in 1994

Man, I looked down at the date today and it rang out in my mind. I couldn’t figure out why at first, was it somebody’s birthday? Did I have an appointment or something? I eventually remembered the significance of the day. It was my first hip hop concert. 1994. 25 years ago. Good lord! I had that ticket hanging on a bulletin board in my bedroom when I was younger, and that’s probably how I remembered the date. (Or…. the real story if you prefer is that it was the 1 year anniversary of my girlfriend at the time, and I felt shitty for not hanging out with her that night, but……) we were going to see De La Soul and A Tribe Called Quest who to this day are my two favourite hip hop artists. What a show! The latter who I have to choose if asked for a preference, was at the absolute pinnacle of their career, which in my humble opinion coincided with the very peak of hip hop as an art form. This would be like seeing Led Zeppelin in 1971, or James Brown, or Elvis or something like that. Prince or Queen I suppose.

I went with my friend Brad. Which made me think of this picture. This picture is not from that night. I have no pics from that night. There were no camera phones back then. Most dudes didn’t carry cameras around with them. A good chunk of my life is undocumented. From whenever my mom stopped thinking I was cute πŸ˜‰ (I wink there, because my mom will read this, and better still think I’m cute), to whenever I got it in my mind to buy a camera. Whatever those years were, there aren’t many pics. Maybe some birthdays or something.

This pic is of Brad and I in the summer of 93. About to go on a road trip to Cleveland to watch the Blue Jays (who won the World Series that year btw…. and haven’t won since *sniff*). We were mad skinny, oh my god! Ready to drive a Pontiac Acadian over the border. I must have blogged about this car already, but it didn’t have power steering. If you’re under 40, you don’t even know what that means!!! If you’ve ever been to a theme park or carnival that had a spinning tea-cup ride, or some other equivalent, there’s usually this giant steel wheel in the middle of the cup that you can try to spin around while you’re spinning around to control freak your own turns, and it’s heavy as shit to turn. That’s what driving a car with no power steering is like.

Summer of 93

Look at us!!! Young and full of piss and vinegar. Look at my Chuck Taylors… man I gotta get another pair of those. That car embodies the phrase, ‘putting lipstick on a pig’. That car was a piece of shit. It looked cool though, and the system pumped. The rest mattered not. That was summer of 93. In the Fall, A Tribe Called Quest put out their best album ‘Midnight Marauders’ (apologies to Tribe fans who prefer ‘Low End Theory’…. you are not wrong either), and the Toronto Blue Jays would win that last World Series. I was 18 and skinny. Didn’t have any idea what I was doing, but I looked alright doing it. I’m not trying to say that was any better than 2018….. but it didn’t suck. That’s all I wanted to say.


That Time I Wrote/Directed/Acted In A Short Film Part 2

Tonight I will premiere my baby (Short film entitled ‘To Do List’) online for the world to see. By world I of course mean an extraordinarily small percentage of the population of said planet, but whatevs!!! I’m putting this baby to bed (Finally!). Not that it hasn’t been a thrill ride for the ages. It totally has, and its exceeded every one of my expectations. As fun as this has been though, its time to move on. I wrote a blog about it a while back. If you want to start from the beginning of the story, click and have a read. If not, I’ll summarize below.

https://thoughtsandrantsinjoggingpants.com/2017/11/20/that-time-i-wrote-directed-acted-in-a-short-film/#comment-4181

I made a short film with zero experience, zero money, and a lot of help from some talented people. The film didn’t suck (which I hate to say was basically my objective, like “Don’t suck!” was a theme throughout), and upon completion, made it’s rounds on the festival circuit. I loved re-reading the above blog because I wrote it just after I found out I got into my first festival. I remember thinking that just one festival, no matter how small or remote or niche, screening my film would have been the most incredible thing. It made it’s world premiere at the Tampa Bay Underground Film Festival, which I was unable to attend. One of several that I didn’t go to for various reasons (most of which involved money or vacation time). It’s a strange feeling the night that your film is screening in some city in front of a crowd of people, and you aren’t there to see it. You might just be sitting on your couch drinking a glass of wine, and you look over at the clock and realize that there might be a room full of people in Portland watching you on a screen, and you are just sitting on a couch with no concept of whether they enjoyed it or not…..just drinking that wine. Alone. It’s a weird feeling.

A ‘not weird’ feeling is going to your first festival to sit in the audience and watch yourself on the big screen. That is Killer Kool-Aid, and I was able to do that in Boulder City, Nevada. On a separate blog site, I wrote this story about that experience, should you decide you want to go down that particular rabbit hole…….

Adventures At The Dam Short Film Festival In Boulder City

If you don’t, it’s cool. We won ‘Best Comedy’ there. It was the only award this film got to win, but considering I was expecting zero awards and would have been totally satisfied with just one screening, this was bananas. As obnoxious as it sounds, I now routinely tell people that I am an ‘Award Winning Director’ because I CAN. They say that just because you can, doesn’t mean you should, but I sometimes do…… because I can.

After that I got into a few more. We got to see it with some friends in Cleveland at the Short.Sweet.Film Fest, and I finally got a local screening in Toronto, courtesy of Cityflix. Finished off in Canada with a fun little Muskoka Trip at the Cinemuskoka Film Fest, and now I’m done! I’m happy. I’m grateful. I’m excited to finally share this with everyone. Who knows? Maybe I’ll go make another!

I just want to take the opportunity to thank everyone involved in the project. Talented actors, Jennifer O’Callaghan and Patrick McFadden. Cinematographer Othello Ubalde. Editor Trevor Juras. Justin Constantino and Victor Solla who helped shoot it. I’m glad we were able to make it happen, but it wouldn’t have happened without these people, their incredible talent, and generosity of spirit. I look forward to sending it out into the cold bizarre version of our world we call the Internet. Be gentle with my baby πŸ˜‰

Here’s the link that will have activated by the time most of you read this.

Enjoy


Etiquette For Taking A Shit In A Public Toilet

I shouldn’t have to say any of this. I’m honestly not sure why humans….. oh never mind. Fucking humans! I’ll get straight to it. I can only tell you this from a man’s perspective. That should be disgusting enough without getting into what goes on in other washrooms, man I don’t even want to know.

Where to even start…. Let me start by saying I hate taking a shit in a public washroom. Now, not all public washrooms are the same, and we all know too well that not all shits are the same. It’s hard to avoid, as most working adults spend 8 plus hours away from home every day, and unless you’re blessed with an impressive schedule of regularity, and can time these things for when you’re in the magical royal comfort of your own throne, then you are probably dropping the kids off at the PUBLIC pool once in a while if you know what I mean. If it happens often enough like every day, then you probably don’t have too many issues with doing it, unless there are extraordinary circumstances on the part of yourself, or some other unfortunate soul that occupies the same space at the same time.

You probably wouldn’t guess this about me, but I feel pretty shy and reserved most of the time. So when someone who feels that way, which I think is a common way for a lot of people to feel, goes to a public washroom to drop a deuce, they’re probably hoping that nobody is in there. In fact, I’d venture a guess that most people are probably fairly relieved when they find out nobody is in there. Like the sun doesn’t shine on the same dog’s ass everyday, you are not likely to walk into an empty restroom every time you want to drop bombs, so now what? Well I would think that courteous humans might just respectfully recognize that multiple people being in the same situation might have similar needs and wants. The big want is to be alone. You can’t have that sometimes, so what is the etiquette? Treat others as you wish to be treated. If you are lucky enough to have a little separation from one another, then take advantage of that. You can’t be alone, but the next best thing is to have a stall or two between you and the other person that’s taking a shit in the same room as you. Are you gonna feel free to put your feet up on the door, and squeeze the metal bar on the wall (if you got the special needs stall), and just give er? Not the same way as if you were alone, but at least you won’t be as self-conscious of every little farty squeak you let out if the other person is 10 or so feet away.

This desire for privacy should be universal, so WHY IN THE FUCK do people always jump into the stall beside mine, when I know full fucking well they had at least 2 or 3 other options? Hey, sometimes the washroom is small, and there are only 2 stalls. This isn’t a perfect world, I know that, but if there’s 5 or 6 stalls, and 2 people pooing, there’s no good reason for the 2nd person to set up shop right beside the first.

I’m in Vegas last week, and with the amount of great restaurants there, and all the walking around you do, everyone is a ticking time bomb. Okay, I can’t speak for everyone, but I am certainly a ticking time bomb. I love casino washrooms, because they are huge. They’re comfortable and there’s lots of privacy. Does that seem odd to you? I thought about this. If you’re 10 feet from a slot machine, they don’t want you going up to your hotel room to take a ‘gambling shit’ because then you might not come down and gamble again. You might just have a nap or something. If they make it comfortable to shit in the casino, it’s more money for them. I bet your high school economics teacher didn’t tell you that. Anyways…. I’m at the New York New York hotel, and I go into the washroom. There’s like 17 stalls in there, and they’re all empty. It’s a great feeling to see that, I don’t care what you say. I sit down for a minute and these 2 drunk guys (I mean it is Vegas) come in and basically get into the stalls on either side of me to take drunk, stand up pisses in these toilets. One of them is groaning, like he held this piss to within an inch of his life, and they’re fucking talking to each other. Not only are there 14 other available stalls, but there must have been 30 urinals in there if they were just going to take a stand up piss. Here’s the thing. Have I ever been so drunk that I had to balance my head on the wall in order to stand straight and get the piss out? You bet I have, and more than I’d care to admit, but I’ve NEVER been so drunk that I walked into a urinal right beside some poor sucker who was trying to take a shit, when there were a dozen other options because no matter how drunk you get, that is horrible etiquette, and I was fucking raised better!

Apologies to my mom and all her friends who read this for the salty content. It’s all true and it’s time someone said it πŸ™‚


That Time I Wrote/Directed/Acted In A Short Film

So this story could be a stand alone story or it could be considered a sequel to another story…. I made a short film. It’s the only one I’ve ever done, so I could just tell you about that, but there may be people who would wonder how you just do something like that with no background or experience. While my exposure to this world has been limited, I did act in a movie once, and if you’d like to hear that story first, you can read this link, therefore making this story a sequel.

https://thoughtsandrantsinjoggingpants.com/2015/09/06/that-time-i-was-an-actor-in-a-kick-ass-movie/

For those that didn’t feel like reading all that, I’ll summarize in one sentence. 2 of my close buddies are aspiring filmmakers (Director – Trevor Juras and Cinematographer Othello J. Ubalde), and Trevor thought I’d make an interesting character in his first feature-length film “The Interior”, in which I appear in only one scene, but have considerable dialogue, I feel like I nailed it, the film was well received at festivals, got a distribution deal, and is now available at most online retailers which is not bad for your first Indie Film. (Hey, I didn’t say it would be a short sentence). It was a thrilling experience for me who never thought he’d have an opportunity to be an ‘actor’, but in an amazing turn of events I now have that great story to tell potential grandchildren while I’m on that rickety porch with rocking chair and a shotgun, chewing on toothpicks.

So what’s next? Well this all happened because of who I know. So I started to wonder what else could happen because of who I know. Careers are made from people leveraging who they know. What could I do? Some more acting? I’ve made myself available to the one director I know, yes, but what about writing? I write! I have a blog as proof. What if I wrote a script for a short film? If it was good enough, perhaps I could get Trevor to direct it, and Othello to shoot it. If I wrote myself into the script, then I could act in it. Seemed like the perfect plan. So I wrote a script called “To Do List”. I thought it was hilarious, so I passed it on to my guys one at a time. Othello liked it right away, and wants to work and get as much experience as possible since he didn’t start doing this until a few years ago. I think he was on board to shoot it. When I showed it to Trevor (hoping he would want to direct it), I didn’t get the response I was hoping for. Not to say that he wasn’t totally cool and supportive, but I think I was hoping he would be super blown away and want to direct it. He’s more interested in writing his own stuff though, and suggested that I should direct it. He even offered to help me. He even told me directing isn’t as difficult as I think which to this day I believe to be complete bullshit. Regardless, I was kind of discouraged, and “To Do List” got shelved for a time.

After “The Interior” had made its rounds in the Festival circuit, there didn’t seem to be too many projects on the go. Trevor started writing his next feature, but it was a lengthy process. Othello was trying to shoot as many things as he could while we all waited for Trevor to make another movie, and I just went back to my normal life, fairly content for a while until the creative bug started nibbling again. Othello had asked me a few times to join his crew to help them shoot some stuff they had been hired to do. I finally joined them on a short film set. It was a first time director, but he had invested some money, and taken a lot of time and preparation to get this project together. This was the second film set I had ever been on. Instead of being an actor, I was now working behind the scenes, helping set up cameras and lighting etc. It was only 2 days, but as this project was moving along, it became more obvious to me that this director was really green, and so I made a suggestion about something, and he went with it, and it worked out. So I made another suggestion, and another and another. I felt bad, because it wasn’t my job to be doing that, but he kept getting stuck, and nobody wanted to say anything to him. I would have kept my mouth shut, but he was open to everything I said, and even started looking over at me to see if I agreed with things he was doing. It was weird, as I was the least experienced person in the room in some ways, but the director was willing to be collaborative, and didn’t have an ego about it. I think he may have been in over his head slightly, but I respected the fact that he had gotten off his ass and pursued his dream of directing a film.

It got me thinking about whether or not what Trevor said about directing was bullshit or not. I dusted off “To Do List” and read it over. I still thought it was funny. I sent it to Othello again, and he still thought it was funny. I asked Othello if he would help me make this film and be willing to babysit me through the directing process. I felt like I would be pretty comfortable directing people to help my vision come to life, but on the technical side I knew (and still know) nothing about making a film. This is why Othello gets a Producer credit on this film.

We planned for a 2-day shoot. I had an editor lined up for afterwards, who was an old high school friend with some experience. Othello’s crew that had worked on all of the projects that I’ve mentioned here agreed to help out, and I needed 2 more actors. Jennifer O’Callaghan who is a friend of Othello’s plays the female lead, and Patrick McFadden who stars in “The Interior” agreed to a fun cameo in my film as well. We scouted locations, and settled on pretty much the only ones available. We rented whatever equipment Othello didn’t already own, went to San Remo’s bakery to get their incomparable Apple Fritters, and we were ready to shoot. Trevor even showed up for the first day to keep an eye on things. My character was on camera for most of that shoot, so it was nice to have someone to direct me, since directing and acting in the same project is REALLY difficult, particularly when you have no sweet clue what you’re doing.

I have great memories from shooting this. I also have some hilarious outtakes which made watching it after the fact just as much fun as shooting it. The interesting part about making a film and watching the footage a few times, is that there’s a possibility you’ll start to hate it. This definitely happened to me. It’s a comedy, so once you see the funny parts about 25 times, you start to forget that they’re funny. This is where editing comes in. I said I had a guy, right? The guy I went to high school with? I forgot to mention that he lives in Montreal. I also forgot to mention that this is a ‘Passion Project’ which is another way of saying I didn’t have money to pay anybody for this. Now I need an editor to clean up whatever directorial mistakes I’ve made, and make this a good film. This is where we got held up a bit. Crazy things were happening in my editor’s personal life at the time, and he does this kind of thing for a living, so in order to pay his bills, he had to prioritize paid work over passion projects which is absolutely reasonable. This started to drag out a bit. Just the logistics of getting him the hard drive involved me waiting for him to visit his family in Toronto so I could pass it off in person. It was starting to look like this would never get done. Then Trevor stepped up and offered to have a look at it for me. I was so relieved that we would get the ball rolling again. Sad that I didn’t get to work with my original guy, because we’ve been talking about working together ever since high school when we would be in writing and drama classes together, but I believe there will be other opportunities for us in the future. It took Trevor a little while to get around to it as well. Passion projects man….. You get what you pay for sometimes. If you can’t pay, you gotta be patient.

Trevor came through for me though. Just in time to submit my film to the Toronto International Film Festival which would have been my ultimate goal for this film. We didn’t get it in, so I had to re-adjust the goals. I started submitting to festivals that were either road trip distance, or had a theme that I thought this film might fit in with. I’ve been talking with Trevor and Othello about this, and I really would love just one festival to screen this film. It’s my first time. I have no directorial experience. I know there are thousands of films being submitted to these festivals right now, but I just feel like if I got shut out, that it would be really disappointing. JUST ONE FESTIVAL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

After many kindly worded rejection emails, I finally received word that “To Do List” will make its World Premiere at the Tampa Bay Underground Film Festival on December 1st, 2017. I’m super excited. Tampa Bay is a little far for a road trip right now, but I’d been considering that heavily as the festival approaches. I hope it gets in to more, but if it doesn’t, I can honestly say the experience of doing this has exceeded my expectations, and I don’t know if I’ll do it again or not, but the story keeps getting better.

http://tbuff.org/selections2017/to-do-list.html


Elevator Chit-Chat

For those of us that get into an elevator frequently, there are decisions to be made daily that are perhaps a lot trickier than they look. What do you want your elevator game to be like? Do you want to be that sociable chatty person that acknowledges everyone, and perhaps engages in small talk? Would you rather stare at the door, (or if you’re lucky, some magical piece of information posted on a sheet inside that you can pretend to be really interested in) and be anti-social. Is one better than the other? What does your elevator game say about you as a person? I understand both sides.

My father was a supremely talented small-talker. He never missed an opportunity to engage in conversation with a complete stranger. He thrived on it, and I’m not playing favourites when I say I never saw anyone as good at it. The best part was that he gave no shits whether the person wanted to talk to him or not. It never entered his mind that someone wouldn’t want to talk to him, and he was absolutely charming enough to pull it off even with the toughest of crowds. You’d think the apple wouldn’t fall far from the tree. In a way it doesn’t. I totally CAN talk to strangers too, but when I get into an elevator I want nothing more than for it to be empty. If it’s not empty, I really enjoy walking into an elevator with people who are on their phones or not attempting to engage me in any way. If I can’t have either or those, I’ll take a head nod on the way in, awkward silence until we arrive at the floor, and a polite ‘have a good night’ on the way out. My last choice would be to have someone start chatting me up about something. Unless it’s them telling a quick (really entertaining) story, and me having to come up with a smile and a one-liner at the end, which I can tolerate.

I live on the 6th floor of a Condo building. I used to live on the 5th floor of a Condo building. Coincidence? No. When we picked the floors, I was thinking of two things. One, I’m afraid of heights, and if the shit really hit the fan, I’d like to know that I could tie some bed sheets together and shimmy down some balconies to safety. Two, I hate long elevator rides. Is it the length of the rides themselves that I hate? Or do I hate talking to people in the elevators? A little bit of both.

As a reader, you might be thinking, ‘hey, this guy has a blog, he has lots to say…. why doesn’t he want to talk?’. I do want to talk. Just not to strangers on an elevator. It’s OK though, I tolerate it. There’s one thing I can’t tolerate though (and if you were wondering what prompted me to write this blog, here we go), and that’s someone who starts a conversation in an elevator that they themselves are not interested in. What? Does that actually happen, and more importantly why would it happen? Yes it happens. I don’t know why. It mystifies me, but it does happen periodically, and I can only think that perhaps some people just feel like they SHOULD engage in chit-chat every time they’re in the elevator. Maybe they think it’s impolite not to, or it makes them better people. All of which is fine, but I had a guy the other day start chatting with me, and then when it was my turn to talk, COMPLETELY lost interest in the conversation. Buddy, first of all, I had NO interest in talking to you to begin with, and now here I am, scrambling to say something interesting about the weather, and you’re fading on me???? I live on the 6th floor!!!!!!! It wasn’t a long ride. Focus or fuck off!

To summarize, I think the world has all kinds of people in it. Different people have different elevator etiquette, and that’s OK. I don’t judge anyone, but all I ask is commit to it. You wanna avoid the social awkwardness of neighborly small talk? Me too. You wanna be a Chatty McChattster? Be true to yourself, and annoy all the introverts. BUT…….if you’re gonna try to chat, you better be ready to talk and listen. If I have to take my brain off auto-pilot to have a conversation with you, then finish what you started!


Did I Accidentally Train a Jedi Master?

My son is in Kindergarten. He got to go to his first ‘new-school-friend-birthday party’ today. I got to go as well. Yay for me. There was coffee, pizza and wasps. I enjoyed two thirds of that. This isn’t about me though. Or maybe it is. The party was pretty awesome all things considered, because it was a ‘Star Wars’ themed gathering. My son is pretty into Star Wars (and everything else), and I was too at his age, and I’m old, so I think it’s remarkable that Star Wars is still as relevant today as it was then. Who could have guessed? Neither Farrah Fawcett nor Lee Majors would have guessed that shit.

My son probably became obsessed with Star Wars at the age of 2. He loved Darth Vader. He used to tell me he was my father, like all the time, and he hadn’t even seen the movie, like I have no idea how he knew that line. He was pretty into Stormtroopers as well, but seemed to have no love for Luke Skywalker, and when I was 4, I was all about Luke Skywalker. I was very ‘good over evil’, but it was the 80’s and this is a different time. That said I was a little concerned how drawn to the dark side of the force my son was at such a young age. He seemed a bit like the type that would love to crush the rebellion in one fell swoop (see, I thought it was foul, but I didn’t know whether to spell it foul or fowl, so I googled it, and they were like ‘ACTUALLY…… it was originally FELL’, but that doesn’t sound as good because people I’m sure have been using ‘foul’ for ages now, perhaps in error, and I’m so committed to the line that I’ll just leave it as is, but with an explanation……or I can edit it later, and you’ll never know we had this conversation.) So we would have these light saber duels. He always wanted to do it. They kept getting bigger, and sometimes they weren’t even light sabers, but swords (toy swords of course), or baseball bats, or anything he could pick up and hand me, and he’d say “Let’s fight Daddy”. So we would duel, and he would put on his Darth Vader mask, and hit each other’s swords while he tried to intimidate me by saying all sorts of menacing things in his freaky little bad guy voice. If I had to do it over again I probably should have laid down and played dead at some point so he would think he won, but screw that, man. I’m not letting him win. He thinks he’s just going to defeat me in a battle and then take over the household, no way. So we’ve had a lot of sword fights in the past couple of years. His hand skills are well-developed for a toddler I think.

So today…… a couple of ‘characters’ showed up at this birthday party. The first was a Jedi Master. He was going to train these kids to become Jedi, and had them running and jumping and doing obstacle courses. Parents stood around making awkward conversations with other parents they had just met, but we all nodding in approval like ‘yeah these suckers are gonna sleep tonight!!!’ Then there was light saber training, where each kid would pick up a fake light saber and hit this guy’s light saber a few times. I knew my son would get a kick out of that. Then a guy dressed as Darth Vader came in, and the kids were super excited, and it was a really great kids party I thought. Then….. before the food, but just after Darth Vader had come in, the Jedi Master decides the kids should pit off against one another in light saber battles, and the winner was going to get a prize. Ughhhhh. Before I could get to my son to read him the riot act, he was paired off (with the birthday boy no less) for the first fight. It all happened so fast, like one of those early Mike Tyson fights. Like in the original Star Wars movie, my son was Darth Vader and this kid was the old version of Obi-Wan Kenobi. My son went in on this kid, and I just remember screaming “Not his head, not his head”, and then the kid started crying (maybe more from my screaming than any actual pain… they were fake light sabers), and then my son started crying because his friend was crying….. it was emotional. I was kind of embarrassed, but the birthday boy wasn’t hurt, and moved on pretty quickly, somehow won the prize (which was either always intended for the birthday boy, or given to him out of sympathy.)

It all got smoothed over quickly and we all enjoyed the rest of the party. Soon it was like it never happened, but in the car I could tell my son felt bad about it, and I thought it was a good teaching moment, but then I had to quickly figure out what I wanted the lesson to be. Be gentle?? I guess, but he was ASKED to engage in a light saber battle, and the winner was offered a prize. He tried his hardest to do what he was told to do, and I can’t really fault him for that. I did try to remind him that I’m 5 times his size, so when he hits me with a light saber, it doesn’t do as much damage as when he hits some 40 pound kid, so am I telling him to play down to his competition? Like not try his hardest when competing against someone who isn’t as good (by good I mean specifically at light saber fighting) as him? If he plays sports and he doesn’t try his best because he thinks the other team isn’t good, that will drive me nuts, so I don’t think that’s the lesson. For the purpose of this blog, I’ll say the lesson is ‘Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should’, but I don’t know if a 4-year old can grasp that or not, so I just said ‘keep the light saber away from his head next time.’