Friday, December 19, 2014

Single Father's MOVIE REVIEW: Interstellar

Matthew McConaughey plays a single father in Interstellar is 8.9 on a scale of 10. I'd say that's about right.

A smart, slightly complex, and entertaining film starring Matthew McConaughey, Michael Caine, Anne Hathaway, John Lithgow, and featuring Ellen Burstyn, Interstellar is set in a future United States. The world's people have evolved to believe that wars are less important than feeding people, but Earth is light years from Utopia. Not only does the government have more control of education and work, but the entire planet has also started to become a dustbowl in which entire species of crops no longer grow.

Single father of two, Cooper (McConaughey) is a farmer and, in a former life, a scientist and a pilot, who wants more for his children, not the least of which, survival. As a result of Cooper's education, experience, and a little help from a "ghost" who lives in his daughter's, Murphy's (McKenzie Foy) room, Cooper discovers a secret base where NASA, thought to be defunct, had constructed a program to find another planet where the human species could colonize. Ironically, the program was headed by Cooper's former mentor, Professor Brand (Caine).

Conveniently, a black hole had formed a half a century earlier outside the rings of Saturn and, according to Professor Brand and his daughter, also Brand (Hathaway), 12 astronauts had already been sent on individual expeditions through the singularity. Data they'd received indicates that three of the planets could possibly sustain life.

The Future of Baseball?
Somewhat predictably, the only person on Earth who can possibly - and literally - pilot the next step of the recolonization plan is, of course, Cooper, who is conflicted about leaving his family for what may be years and the potential of saving the entire human race.

I wonder what option he chooses.

I'll leave the rest of the film plot up to you, but Interstellar is a really fun take on science fiction, time travel, and human social evolution. If you're a fan of Asimov, Vonnegut, or even Star Trek or Star Wars, you'll really enjoy Interstellar.

Aren't we all time travelers?
With a run time of two hours and 39 minutes, the only concern I had about the film is its length. However, I saw the Interstellar with my favorite single mom and four children between the ages of eight and twelve, including The Favorite Son.

When the credits started to run, so did The Favorite Son . . . to the bathroom. On the way, he said to me, "I really have to pee. I didn't go to the bathroom during the movie because I didn't want to miss anything."

I guess that means it wasn't too long.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Single Father: Getting Ready to Date

"Ain't no man that can't avoid being born average, but there ain't no man that got to be common." - Satchel Paige

St. Louis Browns' Satchel Paige
If a healthy diet, exercise, and shaping up is a stand-up triple on the way to feeling good physically, then grooming and wardrobe is the sacrifice fly to get you home. (I use the word “sacrifice” with purpose; for a lot of guys, shopping for clothes is probably not terribly high on the fun-to-do list.)

A lot of guys may already have tackled this one. For others – and at the risk of being redundant, it’s probably been a while since the single father has dated. Due perhaps to shifts in societal values during the past couple of decades or to the priorities a forty-five year old woman compared to a twenty-five year old woman, the women’s expectations have changed. Clothes styles have, too. However, I’m not sure good grooming has ever gone out of style. You’ve already taken the time to remake yourself physically, why not take the next step?

Whoa! Not so fast! What do you, dad, know about style anyway? Unless you’re a clothes designer, buyer, a sales consultant, or even a professional hair stylist, your answer is probably, “Not much.” Again, this is not a problem because the Single Father’s Dating Rule #2 is, when buying clothes or getting your hair cut, enlist the help of a Platonic Female Friend (PFF) for advice . . . and then, take it!

I have to admit, the clothes on which I get the most compliments aren’t those I pick out myself. Why? Well, because I’m a guy. As such, I’m concerned at least as much about function as I am about form. When I buy jeans, I buy jeans to be comfortable. When I buy jackets, I buy jackets so I’m, yes, comfortable. Sure, I’d like to look good, too, but when I think something I buy will look good, I figure out that I’m right only about half the time. Probably less.

On the other hand, a woman’s eye is keen because, well, she’s looking. Just like you can see a woman wearing a dress that, ahem, accentuates her assets, a woman can look at a pair of jeans that makes your backside look good. She can tell you if your haircut looks like a million bucks or looks like it was done by a preschooler using blunt-tipped scissors. In case you’re unsure, you want the former.

By way of a disclaimer, you don’t want a PFF to shop for you. If you want a woman to shop for you, then you’ll likely appear that you’re needy or that you want to be “mothered,” which, I can tell you based on my conversations with PFF’s, are not attractive qualities. Rather, you want a PFF to shop with you. You, single father, will have taken responsibility for your personal improvement plan. Your PFF is simply your consultant and I know there are ladies out there who would love to help a friend spend money on clothes. I can almost guarantee, she’ll think of herself in the role of Rex Harrison in My Fair Lady and of you, a somewhat hairier Audrey Hepburn, who needs her help to reach his potential as a gentleman. (Don’t ask me how I knew to use that reference, but if you use it when you ask your PFF to help you shop, I can almost guarantee she’ll appreciate it.)

Friday, December 5, 2014

5 Reasons to Take an Interest in the Things That Interest Your Child

Ever sit in an auditorium of a fourth grade band concert as the as several dozen anti-Mozarts, including your own child, discordantly struggle their way through Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, Single Dad? Frankly, I hope you have.

Whether you've attended your child's fourth grade band concert, coached a little league baseball team, or participate in a science fair, you're communicating much more to your child than any words can convey.

Here's what you tell your child and opportunities you create when you take an interest in the activities that interest your child.

1. You teach your children what it means to care.

2. You help to build confidence in your children.

3. Your encouragement gives your children the support to explore new activities, which will almost certainly help them to identify what they may like to do or is good at.

4. Your presence provides natural opportunities to "parent" your children; you'll have more opportunities to lead by example and impart your wisdom during casual, low stress interactions.

5. Your children know you love them.

You child may or may not every play Mozart's Twelve Variations, but with your support, he or she will be more likely to accomplish incredible things . . . on their own path.