Rob Reviews: Louie

louis-ck-fx-louie

Here’s one I’ve been waiting a while to write.  A few months back, I decided to check out Louie on Netflix.  For those unfamiliar with the show, Louie is written, edited, directed by and stars comedian Louis C.K.  It is semi-biographical in that it tells the story an aspiring stand-up comedian juggling his a career and his children while he muddles his way through date and his forties in the aftermath of a divorce.

This show resonated with me on a lot of levels:  first and foremost, it’s funny.  Louie intersperses stand-up comedy bits with skits about his personal life, à la Seinfeld.  Louis C.K’s humor is honest, self-deprecating and at times dark,  but it is almost always funny.

Perhaps the one line that sticks with me most from the show is in an episode from the show’s second season.  In it, Louie says that divorce “makes you look at yourself in the mirror and realized that there’s no one left to be an asshole to.”  It is part funny, part true and all honest.

Just as any stand-up comedian  goes out on stage and occasionally bombs,  here have been a few misfire episodes:  one in particular that comes to mind was when Louie pined for an African-American grocery cashier – simply because she was Black – only to be completely and utterly shot down by the woman.  In the episode, Louie comes across as stalker-ish, rather the victim of unrequited love.  But taking chances is the hallmark of any god comedian.  Some stuff is funny; other bits will bomb.  As an aside, I recently read that the stand-up skits in each episode are brand-new material.  Louis C.K. does not use material from his real-life stand-up act in the series.

I’m looking forward to getting caught up on the rest of the series.  so much so, that I’ve gone ahead and read the synopses for some later episodes.  God bless Netflix for introducing binge-watching to unsuspecting world.

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nihil legalis repraesentationem

Okay, I would spare this lawyer.

Okay, I would spare this lawyer.

“The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers”

Henry VI, Part 2.  Act 4, Scene 2.

This quote from Shakespeare is often misinterpreted.  Tonight, I am adopting the more popular, more literal and incorrect meaning of this line.

After not being able to arrange a trip for The Kid to come up during The Old Man’s funeral this past February, I decided to retain another attorney to get certain aspects of my divorce decree more clearly defined.  Around that same time, I began talks with Jabba to make arrangements for summer visitation.  (I knew with The New Guy being born in July, she would have dragged her knuckles through the process, so locking down a firm schedule  for summer visitation was paramount).   She expressed reservations about The Kid flying alone – both for The Old Man’s funeral and for summer visitation.  In fact, Jabba’s reluctance to allow The Kid to fly up for the funeral resulted in him missing it altogether.  She wanted me to pay to fly/drive her up with The Kid.  I refused.  I told her that I would never again foot such a bill for her.

At the time of The Kid’s birthday, we could not agree on a time for him to come visit me for the summer.  Jabba argued that his summertime activities were more important than seeing me.  At that point, I retained an attorney with the hopes of possibly seeking mediation.

Six months have passed and I have yet to see The Kid.  Jabba and I haven’t verbally spoken to each other since my father’s funeral. And my lawyer has done nothing.

To say that I am livid is a gross understatement.

I need to fire this guy, I know that.  I need to retain another lawyer, I know that.  I have to get this stuff with visitation – and dealing with Jabba – locked down once and for all.

I have to see my son.

After my actual divorce phoning in my case, then dying; and my second lawyer basically playing dead, I am shell-shocked at the thought of putting my faith in another lawyer again. At the same time, things CANNOT continue the way they are.

I wish the law was different.  I wish I could retain a lawyer here in Michigan.  I’d settle for a lawyer down South just taking my case seriously.

getting longer in the tooth

Wednesday night, The Auteur & I attended the Marilyn Manson and Smashing Pumpkins  concert when they made their stop in our area.  I haven’t seen either of these artists live in over twenty years (I’m not even 100% sure I’ve ever seen Manson live before) but the fact is, concerts simply aren’t as fun as they used to be.  There are probably several good reasons for this, but there is one that I keep returning to:

We are all getting older.

I’m 41.  According to wikipedia, Marilyn Manson is 46 and Smashing Pumpkins front man Billy Corgan is 48.  I don’t know about those guys, but sometimes I feel a little too old to be in the crowd at a rock concert.  to me, the typical concert-going crowd is in their late teens or early twenties and has the disposable income to spend as many concerts as they can attend- as I once did.  Those days are certainly behind me.   Granted, I wasn;t the oldest person there.  There were people there who looked older than me, as well as other who definitely were older than me, but they’re just kinda pathetic.

Also, at the risk of sounding prudish, there’s a lot of smoking of tobacco – and other indulgences – that goes on at most shows.  I’ve never smoked.  The Old Man smoked for as long as I can remember; so it never fazed me much growing up.  But I really have no patience and no tolerance for it anymore.  The alcohol doesn’t really faze me, but then i do still like the occasional beer or three.  In fact, the older I get, the more I appreciate the art of tailgating.

I don’t feel like there’s as much energy at these shows as there once was.  Again, I think this is because the bands are older, and therefore the crowd is older accordingly.  Older crowds don’t sing along nearly as much.  They don’t pump there fist (or throw up devil horns).  They don’t head-bang and they sure as hell don’t tear up the lawn at an outdoor amphitheater and throw it toward the stage.The truth is, I have changed, the musicians have changed and the crowd has changed somewhat – although not enough for me to feel comfortable among them anymore.

This reminds me of older athletes who try to come out of retirement and return to their respective game.  Sometimes they still think they’ve got something left in the proverbial tank.  Other times, it’s because they love the game and don’t want or know how to do anything else.  Usually when they do, they realize that either their desire to play – or their ability to play – are gone.  That’s where I feel I’m at with this whole post.

At least until they next time one of my favorite acts comes to town and I go on this rant again.

Rob reads…The Diary of a Young Girl

A few days ago I finished reading Anne Frank’s The Diary of a Young Girl.  I’ve personally read the play “the diary of Anne Frank”  a few times as a student and have now taught it several times as a teacher; but this was the first time I read the diary – from which the play was based – itself.  Having said that, I knew the story, as it is fairly common knowledge – Anne Frank, a Jewish girl, spends two years in hiding with her family in order to avoid be arrested in Nazi-occupied Holland –  but I was surprised at how much the play glossed over some of the real-life facts.  Granted, the play would have to leave out some details for the sake of time, but I think that the play does so to a point that it doesn’t do Anne Frank –  the young girl or her thoughts  and  experiences in hiding – justice.

3 things prompted me to read the diary at this time:  One, As a teacher on summer break, I have the time.  Two, Anne Frank and her experiences have been discussed in two movies  I recently re-watched:  Freedom Writers  and The Fault in Our Stars (both based on books themselves).  Three:  While teaching the play this past spring, I had a student ask me “What is the big deal about this book?”  I thought the answer was so self-evident that I struggled to even answer it.

I’m not going to try and critique the diary or say anything new about it.  Countless other critics and historians who are far more articulate than I am have done that.  Rather, I want to point out some difference between the play The Diary of Anne Frank and the original work The Diary of a Young Girl.

Some of the things that stuck out with me:

  • the extent of frustration Anne felt with both her mother and her father.  This is not so surprising to hear from a teenager,  but the play glosses over Anne’s clashes with her mother and virtually ignores her growing disconnection with her father.
  • Anne’s burgeoning sexuality and the fluidity of it.  The play addresses the courtship of Anne and Peter, but completely ignores Anne’s innermost personal thoughts and curiosities about members of the same sex.
  • The sheer monotony of life inside the Secret Annex.  The Anne Frank of the play talks of life in the Annex as if it is some adventure.   While in the diary Anne does at times romanticize her time in the Annex, she makes sure to address the sheer monotony of life there.
  • the hardships that come along with living in forced isolation:  having to remain silent out of fear of being discovered; being forced to eat the limited food options available, never being able to go outside, as a young person, growing out of the few clothes – among others.

If I could have a conversation with that one student who asked me “What is the big deal about this book?”  I would probably tell them this:

The Diary of Anne Frank was written by a girl who was your age (or close to it) and tells of her first-hand experiences trying to survive through perhaps the greatest atrocity in human history – The Holocaust.  It is a story about a young person going through a lot of the same hopes, fears, dreams and anxieties as yourself.  From a historical point-of-view, The Diary… is the great primary-source about life in Nazi-occupied Europe.  For millions of people worldwide, it has been the gateway into learning about the Holocaust.  And finally, it well-written personal journal by an extremely gifted writer who was cut down way before her time.

I don’t normally talk about stuff like this on this blog, but I have toyed with the idea of having a “Rob’s Book club” type feature on here for some time.

Turning 40 – The Things You Learn | GQ

Food for thought.

Turning 40 – The Things You Learn | GQ.

Enter…The New Guy

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You didn’t expect me to post an actual picture of him, did you?

This post should have come much sooner than this, but as anyone who has had a child knows, life tends to get in the way sometimes; that and I wanted this post to be just right.

The New Guy – my second child and me & The Auteur’s first together – was born at 8:06 AM on Friday July 3, 2015 via Cesarean section.  As of this writing, he and The Auteur are doing great.

To put my feelings into words right now seems like an impossible task.  I cannot possibly do justice to all that I am thinking and feeling at this moment.  But I will do my best…

I feel incredibly blessed.  Blessed to have this beautiful, healthy child and blessed to be having this child with The Auteur.  She’s such a remarkable person that falling in love with her was the easy part.  The fact that she and I met at all is almost a miracle unto itself.  That she fell in love with me and was wiling to have a child with me almost defies logic.

In all seriousness, I feel that The New Guy, as with all things pertaining to mine and The Auteur’s relationship is a gift.  One that I  do not – and will not – ever take for granted.

My God, he is beautiful.  The Auteur and I made a beautiful baby together, if I may say so!

Thanks to modern technology, the Auteur and I anticipated approximately how big he was going to be (which, after hearing the sizes of other newborns at our hospital no longer seemed all that out-of-the-ordinary.)  He wasn’t overweight, mind you; he was proportionately big all over, long and tall…for a newborn.  As a result of his size, he came out with a lot of bruising.  The doctors said it was because he was cramped inside the womb.  It was funny, because shortly after he was born, one of the nurses looked at me and said “Congratulations, you guys just gave birth to a two-month old!”

Even on the day he was born, I could tell that he has a very mellow disposition.  Don’t get me wrong, he can belt out a great cry with the best of them, but he seems to take everything in stride.

Being a father is different the second time around.  Not better, not worse, just different.  I feel better prepared this time.  I feel like with The Kid, I was able to enjoy every sensation of his birth and those first few days of his life; however with The New Guy, I was able to enjoy every moment with a different sense of perspective.  I feel like I was able to enjoy different nuances of every moment that I couldn’t even process when The Kid was born 8 years ago.  It is a feeling that is very difficult to articulate.  I suppose it’s like bring in The Matrix:  no one can tell you what it feels like to become a parent, once has to experience it for themselves.    To that end, no one can tell you what it feels like to become a parent once again.  That too, one has to experience for themselves.

This adventure is just starting.  No doubt I will be telling of it more in the days, weeks and months ahead, but one last thought I’d like to leave with:

Just as it was with The Kid, there really are no instruction books on having children.  The moment when we were leaving the hospital to take The New Guy home was surreal.  Sure we had his room, his swing and his bottles all ready for him, but that moment of leaving the hospital and coming home for the first time  with The New Guy in tow – I assume is not unlike the first step one takes when they are skydiving.  We really are out here – in the world – on our own. These little ones don’t come with instruction books.

Not that I didn’t already know that…

 

Not a Father’s Day

Unlike Barney, I'm clearly not talking about avoiding a pregnancy scare

Unlike Barney, I’m clearly not talking about avoiding a pregnancy scare

I had some very mixed emotions going into Father’s Day 2015.  This was my first Father’s Day without The Old Man.  This Father’s Day would also be one which I would be spending without The Kid – for reasons which I’m not really inclined to discuss here yet.  This is also a Father’s Day of great anticipation:  within the next few weeks – if not days, The New Guy will be here.

I didn’t feel much like a Dad this year for Father’s Day; nor did I feel like much of a son.  There were a few gaping holes in the day.

Don’t get me wrong.  The Auteur and I went out to eat Friday night.  She made a great breakfast Sunday morning.  Then we tag-teamed on dinner for her day Sunday afternoon.  To cap off the day, her and 1B got me some nice gifts; but in those moments when I was alone, all I could think about were my Dad and my son.

Two years ago was the last time I got to spend a Father’s Day with both of them.  I knew then how fortunate I was.  I had no idea that what a “first father’s day without my dad” would feel like; but clearly I knew it would come sooner rather than later.

As much as not having The Old Man here, not being with The Kid is consuming me.  All I’m willing to disclose right now is this:  I’m working on it.  Jabba and I have had no communication for nearly 3 months  and that is no accident. We are not co-parenting and that is a situation I am working to recitfy.

15 Heart-Melting Images of Dads Meeting Their Babies for the First Time

15 Heart-Melting Images of Dads Meeting Their Babies for the First Time.

I found this on this Father’s Day Eve. As a very soon-to-be expecting father, this resonated with me.  This is a moment I have been looking forward to myself since we found out the The auteur and I are expecting.

Top Ten Things Divorced Dads Need to Realize | Joel Schwartzberg

This one is an oldie but a goodie

 

Top Ten Things Divorced Dads Need to Realize | Joel Schwartzberg.

a proper eulogy

My father AKA The Old Man died of cancer on February 4, 2015.  I spoke at his funeral, but it was completely unscripted and straight from the heart.  I could hardly keep it together.  This is a long time coming (I’ve had it in my head for nearly three years ) but now I’m finally going to try to give him a proper eulogy:

Good Morning.  And it truly is a “good morning”.  Sure the weather sucks and we all wish we were together under better circumstances, but it truly is a good morning.

 Dad is going home today.  He now gets to rest in peace after fighting this horrible disease for the last two-and-a-half-months.  He’s going home to see Grandma & Grandpa ****** and all his other family members and friends who went before him.

I have to say, right off the bat, that this Cancer thing is getting very personal to me:  This disease tried to take my mother from me:  now it has succeeded in taking my Dad.  I want to get involved in this fight and I encourage any of you within the sound of my voice to do the same.

What more do I need to say about my Dad than to say that he was the most important male role model in my life?  He taught me EVERYTHING I know about being a man:  how to treat people, how to talk to them, how to take care of your family  and committment to your children.

My dad did gave everything he was to my mom and us kids.  He would have given me the proverbial shirt off of his back, and probably did more often than I realize.  Let me give you a scenario:  let’s say you called my dad to ask him to help move some furniture. He’d tell you he could be there in two hours, but he would show up in an hour and-a-half with a moving truck, two guys to help, refreshments, money to get everyone dinner and a full set of tools – just in case you needed them.  He was THAT guy.  And for his children? Even more so…

I remember back to 2012 as my then-wife and I had decided to separate and divorce.  I was talking to my parents abour me coming home, of course.  My plan was to simply pack a car full of as many of my belongings as I could and head up to Michigan.  My dad was having none of that.  He would not let me go through that alone.

I was moving out on a Saturday.  He called me the Tuesday before.  He said that he had office hours on Friday but he would hit the road as soon as he got out of the school.   We talked a few hours later and that turned into him skipping out of office hours for the day, but he had to teach a Thursday class and he would head down after class.    After another phone conversation, that turned into him gettimg a sub for Thursday and getting some sleep before hitting the road Thursday night.

I got a call on Thursday afternoon, I remember being shocked that it was Dad,  thinking he was going to sleep before hitting the road after dark.  He’s calling me from the road –  wind in the background and all  – to let me know that he was already in Cincinnatti and that my brother was with him.  Typical Dad: coming to help earlier than he promised, with reinforcements and a mini van full of food and supplies. In one of the darkest moments of my life, there was my dad, making sure to catch me before I fell once again.

My then-wife came home from work that afternoon.  She asked me what was going  – in that ridiculously irrelevant small-talk way that people talk to each otherwhen a relationship has ended.  I told her that I talked to Dad and that he was on his way down to help me get my stuff out of the house on Saturday. 

She freaked out. “Your dad is coming HERE?”  she asked.  (Jabba will tell you that she respected my dad, but she was actually afraid of him.  She’s never learned the difference between respect and fear, but I digress)

“Well, yeah”  I replied.

“Why?”

“Because…that’s what families do for each other.”  It seemed like such a stupid questions and that was the only response I could make.

Dad was always the voice of reason.  Sometimes he would come across as something of a wet blanket, being so sensible all the time, but Dad was always in the calm eye at the center of every storm. No disrespect to my mom, but Dad was the glue that held everything together.  Its not unlike The Old Man in “A Christmas Story” who ultimately gets the Red Ryder BB gun for Ralphie.  He seems almost disconnected from the kids; only to swoop in and do something monumental.  That was ny Dad.

Dad never had to tell us kids “no”.  His version of no was more of a “I don’t think that’s a good idea”. I didn’t notice the until I was a teenager, and didn’t think about what it meant ’till I was older still.  Eventually, I realized that I trusted and valued his opnion so much that he didn’t have to tell me “no”.  His reservations about something I wanted to do were enough of a red light to keep me from doing it.

Going back even a few years earlier to my wedding day.  I was in my parents’ basement getting ready for the big day…and wigging out.  Dad was the one who came down and talked me off the proverbial ledge.  He reminded me that Jabba and I had been already living together for years and that anything we do that day (i.e getting married) would not change our day-to-day lives one bit.  When he said that, it seemed so obvious, but made so much sense that I said “ok”  and went to the church.

Walking into his house, or more approrpiately his presence, was like walking into a hug. As his son, I knew he always had my back.  With all due to respect to my uncle and his eulogy given by my cousin, whenevever I was talking to or with my Dad, I knew that things were not only going to be okay, but they  already in fact were okay.

As a child, I feared my Dad.  As young man, I respected him.  Now as an adult and a father myself in the hour of his passing, I revere him.  I’m not even sure if I even believe in God anymore, but I can assure you that when I look to the heavens at night and pray, I will be praying to him. “My father, who art in Heaven…”

I was a really damn lucky guy to grow up with a father like mine.  If I am able to be HALF of the father to my kids that my dad was to me, then they’ll be be just fine.

I love you Dad.  I want you to know what I’ve accomplished everything I set out to do on my “list” so far. I did it, and I never would have gotten through any of this without you.  I will miss you forever and I look forward to seeing you again someday.

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