Dec 202010
 

Yesterday I took the whole family to the Walt Disney World resort in Orlando, Florida. This was my second weekend in a row at the resort, as Krystalle and I had gone the previous week. My big gift for the whole family this year was the purchase of Florida Resident Annual Passes.

It’s already been worth it.

Due to the fact that I had to buy a new car over the weekend (something I’ll write about later today in a much more detailed “state of the Mike” post) money is likely going to be tight and future trips are going to have to be much more in the “bring it from home” category. Yesterday, however, I tried to be a bit on the relaxed side and we did all of our eating in the parks.

While there are many things I could talk about during the course of the day, one really stood out as being a shining example of how awesome my son is.

While we were walking towards the Pirates of the Caribbean ride he kind of pulled me aside and asked me how much money I had planned to spend today. It was kind of an odd question, and I told him so. “I’m sorry,” he replied. “It’s just that I know things are kind of tight and that you spent a lot of money on the tickets and I don’t want to stress you out by asking for things that you can’t afford.”

I damn near started crying right then and there. Not out of any sense of shame or sadness, but out of sheer appreciation for the fact that he was considerate enough of the household finances and their impact on my stress levels to take a moment and make sure that our family vacation wasn’t going to make matters worse. Maintaining a household is one of those things that you don’t often get recognized for – especially from the kids. This is not a dig on them at all. It is simply the way of the world. I had no appreciation for how hard my Mom worked to maintain the status quo around our place until I grew up and had to do it myself.

It’s nice though, every once in a while, to realize that they recognize what you put yourself through to make sure they have what they need and want.

Also? As much as it feels like hubris to me to say it I have to admit that when I see him do things like that I am filled with an enormous sense of pride over the job I’ve done with him as his Father. I look at things like that and I pat myself on the back for a job well done.

So, yeah…I’ve got that going for me. Which is nice.

Aug 232010
 

Image by geishaboy500 via flickr

It’s a Saturday night, and I am in the process of firming up the fact that I am the best Dad ever.

You see, as opposed to sitting at home futzing around on my computer or even, perhaps, going out on the town I am sitting in the lounge of an indoor Parkour track that is located in Odessa, Florida. Have you not heard of Odessa, Florida? Yeah, neither have I, really. It’s pretty much in the middle of nowhere, about an hour from our house. There are no decent places to hang out anywhere near here, unless you consider McDonalds a “decent” place to hang out (and even that is about 10 minutes or so away). Why am I sitting in this lounge, you may ask? Because my son has recently been intensely interested in Parkour, and he really wanted to come up here and take the two hour class that they are offering.

So. Here I am.

Continue reading »

Jun 222010
 


So…My friend Heather has been doing this here list for a few weeks now. I have to admit that I’m a lot like her in that this is likely not going to be done in anything remotely resembling 30 days, but it does give me some quick fodder to actually put some content out on the site.

The whole point is that you have this list of 30 different music based topics you’re supposed to write about. Day 1, for example, is your favorite song.

I hate this question. With a passion. I don’t know that I have a favorite song. I have favorite songs of the moment. When you ask me what my favorite song is the answer that comes to mind wouldn’t be the same answer I’d have given you six months ago, and it probably won’t be the same answer six months from now. So telling you what my “favorite” song is becomes kind of a problem.

That said…

Continue reading »

Jan 022010
 

Image courtesy of adamr.stone via flickr.

Alex approached me as I was getting ready for bed last night to tell me that his blood glucose level was low. This was, quite honestly, a bit of a shocker considering how much food we had eaten over at our friend Kari’s house during the course of the day. I realized, though, that I’d had him take his evening shot of insulin when we got home and that he hadn’t eaten anything since so it made sense. It was just weird. In any case I told him that he could go ahead and make himself something to eat because I was about to literally pass out in my chair and I was not in the mood to stay up and cook something for him.

“Oooh!,” he says to me, “I’ll fry up some fish!”

Alex got a deep fryer for Christmas. He didn’t get it from me, and when I saw it on the list of things that he wanted for Christmas that he passed on to his Grandmother I specifically told her that she did not have to go out of her way to get it for him. She did, though, and now he’s the proud owner of a Sensio 13401 Bella Cucina 3-1/2-Liter Stainless-Steel Deep Fryer. While I must admit that having a deep fryer is pretty much the height of awesome if you’re a teenager and you like to cook, this item concerns me for a number of reasons. The obvious one is, of course, the fact that I’m overweight and have had two strokes and fried foods are really not good for me. On top of that, though, I have that whole parent fear of him burning himself while using it or burning down our house (or both). This is an irrational fear, and I am aware of it, but that doesn’t stop me from having it. Like me, the boy is silly and can be highly irresponsible, but as a general rule he takes himself pretty seriously when he’s cooking and he’s never given me a reason to think that he’d do something stupid that would result in injury to person or property.

Continue reading »

Aug 202009
 

Ok.  Yes.  I suck at updating.  I’ve gotten used to doing all my updates in 140 characters or less over the course of my day and have spent all of my verbose writing energy over at ShrinkGeek.  You caught me.  I’m a horrible person and it’s perfectly justifiable that the number of people who visit my site every day has dropped to about 6.

I fail at internet celebrity.  Seriously.

I could say that my life has been exceedingly busy lately and I wouldn’t be lying, but I’ve used that excuse before and promised that I would change.  I mean it this time, though, baby.  Come back to me.  It’s going to be different.  I love you more than I love that silly old Twitter business.  She means nothing to me.  All I give her is a bunch of cheap, quick hits.  You?  You get all the depth and breadth of my soul.  My innermost feelings.  The very essence of what it is to be ME.

Just ignore all those workout posts.  I was going through a phase.

Umm…Did I just anthropomorphize my blog?

Is that even a word?

So anyway.  Updates.  Right.

Got back in town on Sunday from the (now) annual excursion to Indianapolis to attend GenCon with Alex.  We has an absolute blast.  The highlight of the con was our participation in the NASCRAG tournament, and I’m proud to say that our team managed to snag both the best name category (“We Have 3 Virgin Men”) and Third Place overall.  Not only that, but Trish took home the prize for MVP in her portrayal of Sexy Kobold Left…or was it Sexy Kobold Right?  It was really hard to tell.  For those of you who are too lazy to click the link, NASCRAG is an annual role-playing tournament at GenCon in which rules take a back seat to having fun.  The focus isn’t on who knows the game mechanics but more on who plays their character the best and puzzle solving.  We had so much fun we’ve already determined that NASCRAG is a definite for next year already and our team is already starting to form.  We also managed to snag a few spots in a Second Edition Paranoia game loosely based on the Star Trek universe called Paranoia Trek (a GenCon tradition, apparently).  I managed to win a prize for role-playing in that one for my stunningly accurate portrayal of Kate Mulgrew as Kathryn Janeway.  I’m not entirely sure if I should be proud of that one.  We continued the silliness in a rousing game of Luchador : Way of the Mask, and Alex enjoyed that one so much he actually purchased a copy for himself and wants to run it at some point.  Finally we got to try out the latest edition of Call of Cthulhu in a scenario known as “Beatings :  The Musical” (which was, apparently, the censored title….the original title was “Buggery Hoedown on the Gaza Strip.”).  That was a very entertaining mix of the silliness we’d been participating in all weekend with some good old fashioned Cthulhu chills.  Yes, we died at the end of the adventure.  But, hey!  We did NOT go insane AND we managed to prevent the world from being destroyed for another 100 years or so.  Go team!

Negatives of the con?  I attempted to pick up a copy of Call of Cthulhu along with a few GURPS supplements from Atlas Games and had the very embarrassing experience of discovering the Chase had decided to cancel the credit card that I took along for goodie purchases the night before (after I had used it to pay for dinner).  This is not the first time the Chase has screwed me over, but it was the worst and will be the last.  I have one card left with them that has a zero balance, and as soon as I’m able to make sure I have another “emergency” card on hand to take its place I’m canceling that one.  We also had a lovely experience with Alex’s blood sugar on Sunday morning due to the fact that he ran out of one of his types of insulin and didn’t tell me about it because he thought I’d be mad or something.  He had high levels of keytones in his blood and was vomiting before we got on the plane to come home.  I was able to get his blood sugar down to a reasonable level with what we had on hand and we made it home without incident, but it was a real pisser of a way to end the vacation.  It was also another reminder that he is not completely mature enough yet to handle his blood sugar related issues without being monitored closely.  I know he hates that, but until he proves we don’t need to anymore it is how things have to be.  There was also a snafu with the hotel bill that caused my bank account to be overdrafted, but that managed to get fixed and I’m being sent a coupon for a suite upgrade for next year.

Overall, though, it was a fantastic time and as usual I have come home with a renewed desire to get together with the family and friends to do some more table top gaming.  I have also walked away from the weekend finally able to see a picture that has been forming in my head ever since I made a concerted effort to actually read the Fourth Edition Dungeon Masters Guide from cover-to-cover.

One of the things they pointed out in that book is that a good Game Master never says “No.”  On the surface that seems like a truly disastrous statement to make, but the more I thought about it the more I realized that it was a completely true statement.  The fact of the matter is that in many ways a role-playing game is just an improvisational theater game.  You have a set of rules, you have an established character, and you have one person setting up the scenarios you will encounter who has an outcome in mind.  The fun comes in the getting there, and as part of that the players are just as important to telling the story as the game master.  Accepting that an RPG is a form of improv theater it makes sense that the “never say No” rule of improv carries over to table top gaming.  This is not to say that you let your players get away with completely running over your story, but it’s imperative that you let them actually take part in shaping it.  The best game masters I’ve ever played with did this, and I saw many fine examples of it this previous weekend as well.

I am inspired to do the same.

On another acting note we’re still in the midst of casting the 2010-2011 Jobsite Season with all the angst and anxiety that goes along with it.  I have at least one more show to audition for on August 31st and I’m still waiting to hear about another one.  I have already landed a few roles and gotten very close on a few others (including one that, unfortunately, I REALLY wanted…and not just because I could use the extra paycheck).  I am thinking that, next year, I need to at least go to the Tampa Area Unified Auditions at the Gorilla Theater.  Jobsite has been my theatrical home for the last 7 years and as far as I’m concerned they will have my eternal loyalty but I wonder sometimes if I’m doing myself a disservice by not at least seeing if anyone else would like to use me.

I was, however, reminded of something yesterday by a fellow actor and parent.  Every role that I miss out on is one more opportunity to spend time with my son before he’s grown up and out of my house.  I have plenty of time in my life to act after he is gone, but I will never get these years back.  The role I was gunning for hard this year would have prevented me from going to GenCon with Alex in 2010, and while I was prepared to make that particular sacrifice I think in the long run the time Alex and I spend together will be a much better investment.

Jul 222009
 

I started writing this post a few days ago.  I figure I’ll just go ahead and append on the end of it with the understanding that, perhaps, my head space is a bit different than it was when I first began this ramble.

Not only do I feel the need to break up the utter and complete monotony of posting nothing but my workouts here, I also have a compulsion to simply talk about a few things.  Get some stuff out of my head and out there in the ether as it were.  As a result this may end up being an incoherent post at times, so I apologize in advance.

Continue reading »

Jun 102009
 

I grew up watching Bob Keeshan play Captain Kangaroo. I don’t remember the show vividly to be completely honest. I believe I had moved on to bigger and better things by the time I started forming real memories. My memories of the show are more impressions than anything else. I found a quote from Keeshan this morning, though, that indicates he may have at least somewhat influenced the person who I became as an adult.

The responsibility of parents is to raise children who do not need parents.

When my son is an adult I want him to not need me anymore.  I want him to call me or shoot me an email every once in a while to let me know what is going on in his life, hell maybe even every day if he feels like it, but I want him to lead his life on his own.  I want him to face the challenges life throws at him on his own two feet, and when life knocks him on his ass I want him to get back up again on his own.  If he can’t I want him to know he can always call on me to help but I want that to be the aboslute last thing he would do – not the first.  Not because I will make him feel like shit about it, but becuase he doesn’t WANT to get help from anyone else to solve his problems.

I have, in the last few weeks, seen two very different examples of how bad it is for adults to rely on their parents to get them through life and I can’t have that for Alex.

Jan 012002
 

Thank God it’s over.

It’s been an interesting year, to say the very least. I have documented many of my exploits here, but I haven’t even touched the surface of what happened to me since December 31st, 2000. I’ve had some wonderful things happen to me, and I’ve had some horrible things happen to me, and I’ve had a lot that lingered somewhere in between. It’s been a long year. It’s been a year that has made me feel older than I have ever felt in my life, and yet there are parts of me that have been reborn. I could go on and on with the Tale of Two Cities intro, but that is a worn out cliche and I just want to get to summarizing this year so I can put it past me.

So let’s begin.

The most obvious (and often mentioned) change that I have gone through is my weight loss. 137 pounds as of last week (but I’ve got one more party to go through this year, so that number may come in less as of tomorrow). It’s hard to describe how incredibly different I feel now. I can go out in public and not be stared at quite so much. I can buy inexpensive clothing at large retail chains. I can walk up a flight of stairs or down the street without having to catch my breath. I can have sex without feeling like I’m going to have a heart attack. I can see a woman look twice at me and not instantly convince myself that it was my imagination (or the shock of revulsion). I have, however, come up with one nasty side effect from it. Seems as though the lack of fat in my leg has allowed a bony growth that is just under my right knee to rub my inner leg workings wrong, leading to some rather uncomfortable moments over the last few months. You take the good with the bad, I suppose. I’d have it checked out, but I don’t have any insurance.

Why?

Because I got laid off back in August. My dream job at Stone Ground Solutions went away when the economy started to go South. I don’t blame them at all. Business is business, and I was honestly spending most of my days doing nothing by the time they let me go. It still sucked, though. It came at the absolute worst time. I was just on the verge of really getting my finances straightened out, and I ended up blowing all my savings to pay the bills for the next few months. I landed a contract that lasted a month right after I was severed, but from September until a few weeks ago I was totally out of work and living off of unemployment checks. If you can call it that. I understand that the unemployment program is not supposed to be a complete income, and that they don’t want you to decide just to live on them, but it amazes me that they think I could make just about 1/3 of what I was making before and survive. I’m back to work now, however, with the company I worked for before I was laid off. Yes, I know. I’ve rambled here about how much I hated working there. I was very reluctant to come back. I’m making a considerable amount more than I was when I worked here before, though (which was always my biggest beef) and there is some new blood running the place. It feels different. More professional. Certainly more organized. Oh yeah, and beggars can’t be choosers. I’m not making as much as I was with Stone Ground, but I’m making enough to get by. That’s much better than unemployment.

I’ve completed my first semester now that I’m back in school, and I’m proud to report that I managed to get A’s in all of my classes. I gave my Grade Point Average a MAJOR upgrade from a 2.595 to a 3.10, and I think I set the foundation for continued success over the next few years. I took an amazing class, too. Introduction to Philosophy with Dr. John Miller. If you get the chance and are going to the St. Petersburg College I highly recommend him. He’s not for everyone. His personal anecdotes (of which there were many) were distracting to many of my classmates, but I found him to be an incredibly engaging and fascinating lecturer. I feel like I learned a tremendous amount in his class, intellectually and spiritually.

Which leads me to the next major change in my life. I’m moving back toward spirituality. Don’t worry. I’m not going Christian again. Been there, done that, got the angst ridden t-shirt. I can no longer deny the fact that taking refuge in my intellect is no longer satisfying me spiritually. I once held that I needed nothing beyond the mind, that nothing existed beyond that which I could see or have proven to me. I’m not so sure anymore. There is something else out there. Maybe it’s because of September 11th. Maybe it’s because I’m getting older. Maybe it’s just because of the fact that I have so many wonderful things in my life but I’m still unhappy most of the time. I don’t know for sure. I’ve been exploring the possibilities of meditation and Buddhism, and I’m finding a lot there that makes sense to me. Does this mean I’ll actually take vows and become a Buddhist? I couldn’t tell you for sure. What I can tell you, however, is that I’ve been doing a lot of reading on the subject and there are many valuable things one can take from Buddhism. I suppose you can say that about any religion, if you look at it from the right perspective.

My romantic life? Ah, what can I say about it that I haven’t said before? I’m still searching, but I’m becoming, I think, less frantic about it. I had a few major let downs over the last year, but I’ve made several new friends from it. Two, in particular, have become very important to me and I’m grateful to have met them at all (yes, if you’re wondering, one of them is the “Howard” woman from my post in October. She has fallen happily in love with another man, which absolutely devastated me when I heard about it. She’s added much to my life, however, in the form of books and music I had not experienced before, and I’m glad now that I got the chance to know her). I haven’t exactly been a saint, either. I almost got involved with a married woman (something I swore I would never do), and only stopped when I realized that her husband was far too crafty for me to get away with talking to her anymore. Good for him. He fought for what was his, and I respect the hell out of him for it. It’s something I didn’t have the balls to do. I misled some women (call it lying if you like, I have no illusions about what I did). Hell, you can see the results of one of my endeavors on my guest book. Seems a friend of one of the women I was involved with wasn’t so happy with how I treated her. Can’t say I blame him. I have the ability to delete messages left on my guest book, but I decided to leave that one up (even after reconciling with her and having him ask me to take it down). I find it humbling. I get told so often how wonderful I am, it’s nice to have something around to bring me back to Earth on occasion. Nobody is perfect, not even me. Hell, especially not me.

I’m involved in the Theater again, and it’s been an amazing experience. I can’t believe I actually let myself go as long as I did without being involved in a production. The cast is comprised of some truly stellar individuals who I am honored to have met, and of course the show is being directed by my old friend “ranney.” I feel like I’ve woken up again, and I don’t plan on going back to sleep. Expect to see me on the stage here in Tampa often.

I’ve also (as if I haven’t been doing enough) been writing again. I’m doing something different this time, though. I’ve been writing erotica. I’m mentioning this because some of my “fans” from the web site have posted on my guest book, and I thought perhaps some of you were wondering what the hell they were talking about. It’s been interesting. I’ve never written anything like this before, but I seem to be pretty good at it (judging from the number of people who have been bugging me to finish my novella). Certainly what I’ve been writing isn’t for everyone, so I’m not going to go into any more details about it here. If you’re interested in reading it, let me know and I’ll tell you how to find it. Except family members. Guys, don’t even ask. I’m so not going there.

A summary of my year would never be complete without talking about my children. Alexander, now six years old, continues to amaze me with how wonderful he is. I took him to several of the “Maxwell” rehearsals, and he seemed to love the process. I’m hoping that some day he’ll decide to get involved in the theater himself. I think, between his mother and I, he’ll have tons of natural talent. Of course, I’m under the impression that the child will be able to do anything that he sets his mind to. Sometimes I look at the path that’s in front of him and I see so opportunities that are similar to ones that I had. I hope he doesn’t waste them. I don’t want him to follow in my footsteps, or become the famous actor that I always wanted to be, but I hope that whatever his passion in life is that he takes advantage of whatever chance he has to pursue it. I don’t care what he does with his life, as long as he does something. As long as he lives, and doesn’t become another couch potato statistic. There is nothing sadder than a person who had potential that just ends up wasting their days away in front of the television wondering what happened to them. Wondering why life passed them by. Not realizing that life didn’t pass them by – They weren’t even at the bus stop to be picked up.

Kimberly. What can I say about Kimberly? What can you say about living with any teenager? It’s the most rewarding and frustrating thing a person can go through. I’m so proud of her. She’s becoming her own person. She’s starting to break out of the “party crowd” mentality and really explore doing things that SHE likes to do. Not that she doesn’t party anymore. She just seems to really be finding what it is that makes her happy, and I think it’s awesome. She is also working two jobs now. Mind you, she doesn’t seem to be able to save any money or do much to contribute to the bills around here, but at least she is paying her own credit card bills. She’s talked recently about moving out. I have mixed feelings about it. I’d like to have my own space, for sure. I’d like to not have to clean up after her. I’d like to be able to take a significant chunk out of my utility bills. But I like having her here, too. I like taking care of her. I’m afraid that if she moves out I’ll see her even less than I do now. I know she’ll say that won’t happen, but I also know that I don’t visit my own mother nearly as often as I should. I think I make it pretty easy to live her. Not a lot of rules, and I even do her laundry every once in a while. She’s free to come and go as she pleases, and I try not to raise my eyebrows TOO high when she says she’s doing something I don’t approve of. She probably feels she is ready to find her own way, though, and I understand that. She’ll be 20 this year. She is an adult. Living with me makes her feel like a kid, and that’s not what she wants right now. So if she goes I will be sad, but I won’t condemn her for it.

And I’ll be able to walk around naked if I want to.

Somehow or other I failed to mention in my November article that I am, officially, divorced now. It was official on October 15th. When I got the paperwork in the mail I was very sad. I finally had that paper I’d dreaded getting for so long, and that chapter of my life was over. I’m not so sad now. In fact, she told me the other day that they are now engaged (which actually took him longer than I thought it would) and I wasn’t really upset about it. In fact, I had a very nice conversation with Jody about her wedding plans. I’ve moved on. Our lives took different paths, and I’m so content with mine right now that I couldn’t imagine things having happened any other way. Many of my friends don’t understand my relationship with my ex wife and best friend, and I don’t really understand it myself. I just feel no malice. I will never, ever forgive what they put me through. The pain I felt during those months was a horrid, wrenching hell that quite honestly put me to the brink of suicide on several occasions. I just wanted it to end, I just wanted to go to sleep and not have to hurt anymore. I got through it, though, and I’m a stronger (and wiser) person now. Even knowing all of that, I can’t fault them for being totally evil. Not when I see them with Alex. Not when they are so willing to help me out when I can’t watch Alex as often as normal during rehearsal periods. Not when I see the looks in their eyes sometimes when they realize how much they hurt THEMSELVES by what they did (Not that I think they would change anything. They gave up a lot, though, to be with each other. They burned a whole shit load of bridges that will never be rebuilt. Even in the cases when they didn’t totally burn them, there was some structural damage). It was horrible, what happened between the three of us, but we have to continue on with lives. Living in the past and filling myself with hate only hurts my son and I.

To those of you who say to yourselves that I’m a fool for feeling that way, I understand. The only thing I could say in my defense is that I’d do the same thing for you.

I hope you all have a wonderful 2002. I know I plan to.

Dec 012000
 

Today is my son’s fifth birthday! Happy Birthday to Alex.

Now, about me…

This is pretty much just a news update. I don’t plan on being too philosophical today.

Yesterday I made the plunge and actually upgraded to bona fide  ownership of the critus.net name. I also moved from my free hosting with Road Runner to a full fledged hosting agreement. Why? No reason that I can pin down as a definite. I’m not getting a huge amount of traffic or anything. I just felt it was time to make a real commitment to my web site.

Maybe now I’m going to show up on some of the damn search engines.

There are some things I’m working on to add to the site, as well as other projects. I am developing a Web Site for a Tampa Bay area comedian named “ranney,” that should be live within a few weeks. If you have the time, watch what I’m doing over there and feel free to add constructive criticism. You can find the Site at www.itsranney.com.

I’m also working on a Cold Fusion based resume program that I hope will go live within the next few months. I’m not going to put the link to it up yet, though, because it’s hardly developed at all and I don’t want anyone to mess it up yet. There will be time for that soon enough.

I’d also like to take a moment to point out that I have started a forum at delphi.com for general message posting of all sorts. I’m going to work on some links and graphics to promote the site, and I’ll make a more “formal” announcement about it soon. Until I do, feel free to visit Uncle Critus’ Farm and poke around.

That’s it for now! Thanks to the few of you who check the page on a regular basis! Watch for changes soon!