I miss my games… Pt. 1

Before someone becomes a parent for the first time, you never truly appreciate your free time. For realsies. Before our kiddo came, I didn’t understand the amount of time that I had at my disposal. I mean, there were times were I used the free time well but most of the time it was a missed opportunity.

There was one constant though. Board games were a frequent occurrence in my free time. Didn’t have plans after dinner? Let’s play Smash Up! Got a free afternoon? How about Big Trouble in Little China Legendary? Got a whole day free? D&D Temple of Elemental Evil! Our free time always consisted of either a movie (on Bluray or at the theater) or a board game.

That all changed when the kiddo came. And yes, family/friends and every parenting blog/newsletter I read said your free time would disappear, but like many parents it isn’t until that kid is born that the truth of that statement hits you. Don’t get me wrong, this is not me complaining about my kid being a time suck (not true in the slightest), because every second I spend with the kiddo I cherish. But this is me acknowledging that time spent on my hobbies is much harder to come by. It wouldn’t be so hard to find time to do my hobbies with just the kid; throw in jobs that require us to drive 35-40 minutes one way, demanding ungodly hours, and a lot of physical/mental demands, it makes getting home and having a game hit the table the last thing I want to do because A) I just want to sit on the couch and cuddle my kid, B) the kid’s bedtime routine needs to start shortly after we get home, and C) Other home responsibilities usually demand our attention as well.

The wife and I have discussed this at length. We both miss the thrill of a new game or an old favorite hitting the table. We made a promise while we were expecting the kiddo that we would make boardgaming part of our routine so that the little one grows up with table top just being part of everyday life. The community aspect, the critical thinking, the imagination needed to play games…all will be a benefit down the road. So, we are taking steps to put games back in to our daily lives. It’ll require a couple of steps to make it happen. We’ll plan/meal prep more, so we can just grab our dinner and not have to spend most of our evenings cooking. We’ll have the little one at the table with us, taking it all in. My sis will join our many tabletop adventures, as that gives her time to spend with our little one and she can also scratch her boardgame itch. One day out of the week will be a day focused entirely on working on the home so we can have more free time throughout the week.

These changes will allow us to finally hit the table with some of our games we have yet to play since we got them (Star Wars: Rebellion I’m looking at you!) But something even more exciting, it’ll allow us to finally play several games that we’ve been craving to play. What are they? Well, I’m glad you asked….

To Be Continued

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Childcare, single parents, and a cause for 2017…

Single Moms Shouldn’t Have to Choose Between Child Care and Getting an Education

Over the last couple of years I have been working on a project for the super awesome Marci, my aunt-in-law. This project makes poor through studies and articles focused on several topics: Early Ed, Childcare, PreK, Birth thru 8 years old policy, and foster/adoption stuff. Every day there is something I come across that really impacts me, especially since shortly after the new year starts I myself will be a parent. The stuff I am finding now will impact Heather Harris and I in the near future. So when I come across articles like this one in #NYMag, I get upset.

Offering #ChildCare for single and/or low income parents who are trying to further their education so they can offer a better life for their little one just makes sense. But…that is something that is lost on a lot of people. This is an issue that won’t see improvement in the next two years either (that may change in 2018 depending on what happens w/Mid-Term elections.) Starting in 2017, I am going to make it my goal to do everything I can to help these causes that I currently just read about. I want and need to do this. Not just for my son’s future, but for my neighbor, my fellow Kansas Citian, my fellow American.

I’m gonna start stepping away from posting purely on politics on my social media (unless it is something pretty urgent.) It is fairly obvious where I stand; I hate Trump, the GOP will cripple our country/government, and I still am upset that Bernie wasn’t given a fair shake. Going forward, I want to focus on causes that I know will have a long-lasting impact on our country. A positive impact, one that will help us in 2017 and 2077 if done right. Let’s do this New Year; I’m ready to make you better.

Keeping’ it Geeky,

Average Joe

“Dead Hearts” shoot starts tomorrow…

And I’m excited, nervous, scared, thrilled, over-joyed, etc, etc, etc. All of the emotions one could feel before such a big day, I’m feeling’em. This short film has technically been in the works for 10 years or so now. How do I mean? Well, check this…

To Recap:

2005: While at community college (don’t knock it, I highly recommend it as a great place to get a higher ed), I watch two films for the first time: Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction. Classics. I’m blown by how…cool each film is. The dialogue pops, the jokes hit perfectly, and the shocks are big. I was instantly in love. These two films coupled with my affection for Clerks (which I saw my sophomore year of high school) made me realize that film could be a possible career path. Well, I could at least try and make films, even if I never made it in Hollywood.

Late 2005: Still feeling the affects of those QT films, an idea popped in my head for a movie scene. Well, less an idea and more a small seed. And not really one scene but rather two. It was at first the question of “What if the roles were slightly changed for Jules, Vincent, and The Wolf?” From there, I started writing down little pieces of dialogue, snippets of visuals, etc. in my head. It was hackneyed, horribly written, formatted incorrectly, and I was writing it in a little 3×5 Mead notepad on my lunch breaks from work. But it was something.

2005-2008: That notepad followed me to my (2nd) brief tenure at KU, to Wisconsin, and to Minnesota. (Note: As a matter of fact, I believe I still have it somewhere in storage.) There are scribbles, changes, new *unrelated* ideas, and it’s all together awesome and bad. But I proceeded forward until…

Late 2008: I am promoted with the retail big box company I was currently working for. I went from being a simple hourly employee to a salaried manager. I went from working just 40 hrs per week to 60 (by my choice honestly.) I had no social life where I lived in Minnesota. Went on a few dates but nothing more. Most of my time was spent doing most of the following: A) Work B) Work from home C) video games D) watching movies at home and E) watching movies at the run down theater the small town I lived in had. It was during this time I gained a crap ton (that is an actual measurement in my opinion) of weight and started to suffer from severe depression. That little notepad I had? It just sat in a box, never being touched. I would talk about it sometimes with people, but that was it.

Mid-2010: I move to KS for work and Cuz R (who is my actual cousin and #BestFriend4Life) moved with me too. It was during our time living together that I would mention my story sometimes while also throwing other ideas back and forth every once in a while. But we were both so focused on our jobs and had no idea how to actually make a movie (at all or in the middle-of-nowhere KS) that if never became more than just talk.

Mid-2015: I know this is a 5 year jump, but not much progressed with this film during that time. However, at this time in the story, I had been talking to my wife a lot about actually making that idea from 2005 as a short film. I was working a job that had me on the road 95% of the time, I was miserable, and I was not enjoying life at all. The wife asked what would make me happy; I told her, “Honestly, getting off the road, working a part time job at a bookstore, and making my short film.” She could have been logical and rational and said “I wish you could, but we need to be able to provide for ourselves and the kids we want someday, so lets just find you a job in your field closer to home, etc.” But, that’s not how my wife rolls.

9/21/15: This day is specific for a reason: this is the day that a phone call between my wife and I would change everything. I was in St. Louis for work, having just completed an assignment, and I had seen her only a couple days over the last month. I was sitting in my car in the parking lot of the mall I had just stopped working at and I was crying. Literally crying. So of course she is too. There’s a break in the blubber-fest and she says “Why not? Why not come home and make your movie? What is stopping you?” It was at this moment that I fell even more in love with her and also realized that the answer of what I should do was right in front of me. So I literally called my boss once I got off the phone with her and put in my 2 weeks. Was it slightly foolhardy? A little irrational? Yes, oh god yes. Yet, it was the best decision for me to make. (Spoiler Alert: Our movie shoot is taking place almost exactly 1 year from this day.)

Late 2015-2016: So after I got off the road, I started hammering away at the script. It was too long, bloated, had plot holes galore, and just wasn’t that good at all. But putting those words on the page was the most thrilling rush of excitement; it was like riding that awesome new ride at Walt Disney World for the first time again and then riding a bazillion times after that, each ride better than the last. Knowing I couldn’t do this all alone, I sought the help of some trusted confidants.

Durka: To produce and push me to make this project an actual project, rather than a crazy fever dream.

Cuz R: To help rewrite, redraft, and redevelop the film. He became the official co-writer and my partner in crime. The film went from being a silly idea by me to a true vision for both of us.

The wife: She says she only wanted to handle craft services, but she really wanted to be in show biz 🙂

9/15/16: We are less than 24 hrs before we are on set, calling action on the first shot. I have so many worries going through my head. I am bouncing back and forth between extreme confidence to utter despair. But I wouldn’t ask for anything different. The call sheets for tomorrow have been sent by the 1st AD. Follow up texts are being sent by various folks to finish prepping for tomorrow. Equipment rentals and purchases are arriving at any time today. A final walkthrough for the biggest scene (the one that started all of this) is tonight at 9 pm.

It’s all coming together. 10 years of waiting finally coming to an end. Once we wrap Saturday evening…raising a kid will be a piece of cake (Cue nervous laughter.)

Let’s break some legs!

Keepin’ it Geeky,

j

 

Been waiting 30 years for this…

So today is an odd day for me. I am going to be partaking in one of my favorite events with my wife for the first time (a KC Chiefs game) and have had a great weekend filled with food, board games, friends, and family. I have no complaints about anything. Except for…

Today is the day I turn 30. GASP! SHOCK! I know right? Today is my birthday and I always figured this would be the one that felt odd. It would feel like I’m finally an “adult” ya know? Like I would wake up and want to buy some khakis, get a mortgage, start an Roth IRA, and observe the market for stock trends…but then I realized that I’ve already done all of those things. I’ve been adulting for a while it seems.

So why does 30 seem like a such a big deal to me? I’m not sure to be honest. Part of me thinks it tied to my sense of mortality and my fear of death; for a good number of people who did not take care of their health at a younger age (like myself), 30 can be the midway point of your life. This could be “middle-aged” for me. In 30 years time I could possibly be lying flat on a morgue slab, having shuffled off the mortal coil. That scares the hell out of me. I’m not going to get in to specifics or religion mumbo-jumbo right now, but no matter what my views of life and death are, dying is the scariest thing in the world to me.

And because of that fear, I feel I’ve missed out on some things. I’ve spent the last two years in mild depression, neglecting my health, relationships, and pursuing my dreams. I was so worried about turning 30 soon that I forgot that I was currently 28, 29. It was infuriating being  constricted by the irrational fear of something that could come in 30 or 60 years, hell it could of come that very day. So I focused on doing what was expected of me; throw all of my energy in to a career/job that I only had mild interest in, come home miserable from the grind, maybe get off my butt sometimes, and try not to upset Mrs. Harris with my whining or depressed mood.

It wasn’t until part of the way in 2015 that I finally started listening to what Mrs. Harris had been saying for some time; she kept talking that she knew that I needed to chase dreams. It was now more important than ever. She didn’t want me to be filled with nothing but regret 5, 10 years from now. After listening to her say this on repeat, I finally agreed to take the plunge. I’ll chase my dreams or maybe fail, but at least I would have no regrets. During this time of transition, while we would get stressed about finances or unsure what the future holds for us, I started to feel the depression slip away. I felt the stress I had carried with me for years dissipate. The growl and scowl I always had was no longer around.

I was realizing that going after my dreams was worth it. Which I was able to do because my wife kept saying “Why not? Why not chase your dreams? We only have one  life, might as well make it worthwhile right?” She could not have been more right. So thank you Mrs. Harris, for believing in me. For enduring my unrelenting complaints and word vomiting of anger, my difficult depression, for believing in me, for pushing me to finally get off my ass and to do something with myself. While today may be my birthday and you have given me a bunch of great gifts, the best gift you gave me was your never-ending belief in me. Succeed or fail, I’ll be happy with you pushing me to go for the stars.

Thanks for the great 30th birthday Mrs. Harris. I don’t know how you can top this 🙂

Keepin’ it Geeky,

The Oey

A little cut here and a little snip there (Way Back Wednesday)

So I’ve been editing away at footage I shot from one our buddy A was in town last week (the 8 year old that took all my energy.) In the last year something he’s picked up that he’s extremely gifted at is skateboarding. The kid can shred and he doesn’t realize how good he is for only being in it for barely a year.

So when he was here I made sure to get a good chunk of footage of him dropping in to quarter and half pipes (he did his first 5 ft drop too! It was awesome!) So I started clipping them together tonight to see if I could make something cool. Even put in a neat After Effects (AE) comp; a very choppy and amateurish title card like Guy Ritchie does (learned how to do it from this tutorial.)

While snipping and trimming, I began to hark back to the first time I took on any kind of film/video/editing task. I was a Sophomore in high school and in our youth group we had started to use videos we made ourselves in the messages each week (extensively, very seldom did we not have one.) D, son of Pastor R, was immensely talented on making these. I would help in what ways I could; camera man, actor, idea guy, etc. But it was a while before I decided to take one on all by myself. When I was asked if I’d like to give it a go, I told D that I would need a week to shoot things and another week to edit (due to my editing knowledge only coming from looking over D’s shoulder when he worked on his projects.) He said no prob and gave me the equipment to fulfill my “vision.”

My “vision” (yeah, I suddenly became the pretentious high school filmmaker that just annoys everyone) was simple enough; some video footage of our youth group hanging out before, during, and after service, some “BTS” footage of the setup for Wednesday youth group, and a little music video to one of my favorite Demon Hunter songs, “My Heartstrings Come Undone” (still a good song but I was totally an emo/screamo/metal/hardcore wannabe at that time.) The footage of everyone in the group was easy enough. Open LCD screen, push record, and just go let everyone be silly with a camera in their face. Done and done.

Next, the BTS footage. I did some handheld stuff during worship band rehearsal and then put it on a ladder (didn’t have a tripod) and just recorded all of the volunteers setting the stage, instruments, and what not for the next night’s service. Part two done. Now, my big Pièce de rĂŠsistance!

My idea was to use my friend Lil B (I was good friends with his older brother Big B…don’t let the names fool you, they were both of equal size and very talented athletes, these names are not reflections of their actual sizes) as the subject of the music video. My idea was to intercut scenes from a fairly popular film adaption of the life and death of Christ (I think it came out in the 90s, not the Scorsese flick and Passion of Christ wasn’t coming out for a few months…I just remember this movie being on two VHS and having to copy them on to a DVD to copy to my computer…it was a pain.) I would show Lil B in mental/emotional anguish, cut with the physical anguish of Christ’s crucifixion, and end with Lil B seeking solace at the foot of the cross when all of a sudden, the Man in the White Robe puts his arm on his shoulder to be lift him up.

Ok, in retrospect I totally see why this is a very silly idea (or at least a little too on the nose.) However, in my defense, I was just a high school kid who was just kind of making it up as he went. Anyway, I had Lil B come over and we spent the better part of the day and evening filming all over our little town of 984 people. We wrapped around 10 pm that night and I resigned myself to my “editing bay”, a term I use VERY loosely. A week later I emerged (only smelling kind of bad) with film in hand. I sped off to youth group and handed it off to Pastor R. I don’t even remember if he had a chance to watch it before service.

It was time. It was here; Premiere Night! Everything I had been building towards for two weeks was finally going to be seen by all of my friends! What an experience! The lights went down, projector came on, and we then faded in…

More to come next week.

Keepin’ it Geeky,

The Oey

Donkey! Shrek! (Or How a true friend taught me self worth)

Time for a trip down memory lane…

So back in the day (wow, it is crazy to think I am now at an age where I can actually say that) I had a friend. A very awesome friend. An awesome friend who would become a very loving and caring husband and father who does so much for his family, often at the sacrifice of himself. I may be  a bit older than him, but I look up to the guy. A lot.

He’s been on my mind recently for a couple of reasons, but it all started due to a picture. This picture in fact —>

190210_4235077495_908_n

Yeah, we kept it cool.

During high school we were pretty inseparable. School, after school, weekends, etc. You name it, we were always finding time to hang. What was crazy about it is that we had varied interests, we weren’t clones of each other. He enjoyed anime and Nintendo games, I was a comic book guy who loved Sony consoles. We did have the sports connection for awhile but towards the end of my time in high school I realized I lacked physical talent while he was overflowing with it. It didn’t matter though, we had a friendship that was deep. It is no stretch to say he was my best friend and our relationship at that time is the standard I use today for true friendship. Since then we have continued living our busy lives, but always staying in each other’s orbits just enough so there would be at least somewhat of a bond. But that’s life ya know? You grow up and other life priorities become more important or take more time.

Yet the reason I look so fondly on our friendship is because of something very important he taught me. Without even realizing it, “E” taught me the meaning of self-worth. Join with me as I recount the tale of his lesson…

Back in high school, I suffered from extremely low self-esteem mixed with slight depression. My close friends were very keen to this fact, while many people in the school were not. I kept my feelings and issues hidden from most. Of everyone I hung out with, probably three people total knew some of what was going on. Only one knew everything. That was E. And I didn’t have to tell him. He just instinctively knew. He never pressed the issue on trying to find out more, he just knew that the best way to help was to be the most awesomest friend he could be. He did that, amazingly.

I always admired the fact that he didn’t really put much stock in to what other people thought of him or his friends. If you were a good person and gave people their proper due, you were cool with him. That’s what made him a friend to pretty much everybody. But he didn’t let that go to his head. He had a strong sense of humility about him that was very inspiring to see.

During my Junior year and his Sophomore, we were both heavily involved in youth group together. It was during this time we would attend youth rallys and other church events. Also during this time, the Shrek movies were very popular (see, the title will finally start to make sense!) During these events a strange thing began to happen. E, due to his outgoing personality and charm, would be called “Donkey” form the movies. I, being slightly closed off and the larger of the two, would start being called “Shrek”.

That became our thing when people saw us. They’d see us walking up to them and they’d be like “Shrek! Donkey!” and we’d all laugh. However, when it first started, I didn’t enjoy it. I was not a fan. I was interpreting the intent different than everyone else. While they may have meant it in jest and were referring to the fact that the two characters were best friends and had a funny back and forth (much like E and I did), I saw it as a subtle insult towards me.

Why am I the ogre? Ogres are considered monsters in most of fantasy lore. Even in the films Shrek is portrayed as a scary monster to normal people with many flaws. Why do I have to be that character?

It weighed on me quite heavily. More than it should have. Yet E either knew this from observing me or just never viewed this nicknaming thing the same as me. It would be his approach to something as simple as a nickname that would teach me a lesson of self worth I still rely upon today.

When E and I would be hanging out, it was very much an equal playing field. Neither one of us was the leader really, we had friendship that was a lot like a collaboration. It was awesome. And when the nickname happened, I was worried the structure of our friendship would change. Yes, this name bugged me that much. Back then, I was known for letting small things bother me in big ways (just ask me about the whole signature fiasco of ’00.)

I don’t know if because E knew me well enough or that’s just the type of guy he is, but it seemed like he made it a point to show that even though there were nicknames given to us that could have an underlying meaning to them, that didn’t matter. We were still that equal partnership. And as this nickname thing continued, E would show in many ways (like a best friend does) that a nickname is just that; a name that is not your real name (sorry if that sounds silly.) To him, I was still best bud. No name or supposed title would change that. And even if someone intended for the nickname to have a deeper meaning, the meaning it was given was not determined by them. It was determined by us, two best buds who really just wanted to have a good laugh and enjoy some Buzzard’s Pizza.

While E did not do anything specific that is earth shattering or mind blowing, E showed that true friendship doesn’t have to do that. All that matters is the respect each gives to each other and 100% acceptance of who they are. It was because he was so good at this that I began to learn what self-worth was; that I wasn’t some ogre that people wanted to get away from. I was a fella filled with joy and caring, as well as a few good jokes. I admit, the lesson wasn’t learned completely that year. But the path towards it started that year. It would come to completion the day I would meet my future wife, Heather.

So thank you E. Without realizing you showed a guy how friendships really work, what it means to value oneself, and set me on the 10 year path that would lead me to eventually win over my future wife. And ya didn’t even have to try. Thanks buddy. You showed me I was a parfait, not an onion.

Keepin’ it Geeky,

The Oey a.k.a. Shrek

So tired…

Everyday there is something new that puts the world on blast. Two days ago it was the horrible attacks in San Bernadino, last week PP in Colorado Springs, before that Paris. In between those horrible moments you have smaller moments that are infuriating; the GOP votes to defund PP, does another ACA repeal vote, doesn’t allow gun control legislation to be voted on, the Republican candidates for president constantly demean and promise to deny rights to everyone who is not a true “Christian”, etc.

It is so tiring because every time something like these moments happens, I get fired up. I start posting all over my social media, I pick fights (arguments) with as many people as I can, and literally avoid friends and family who have don’t see things the way I do. I go in to attack mode with complete disregard if it upsets/offends/hurts people. I put blinders on and away I go.

Do I feel I am wrong in my views? Not in the slightest. However, the way I go about pushing my views on others…not so cool. That is where my error lies. That is where I become the jerk; I may be a jerk who’s heart is in the right place, but I’m still a jerk. I had the realization recently when a good friend of mine put me on blast (I know I have used that phrase twice and I promise they will by last.) In a post about the recent shootings in CA I vented about how I can’t stand empty platitudes from leaders and politicians who would rather pray than make actual change. It is a view I stand by. However, I was rather ineloquent in posting about it. I had a view folks who responded that I was more than willing to engage with because for the most part, they agreed.

However, one friend posted a simple one sentence respond that just oozed with hurt. Not picking up on that, I engaged in discussion. Eventually, via replies on Facebook and text, I realized why there was pain in response. I’m not going to say what happened here because it is not my place, but let me just say she had every right to be upset with me. 100%. And I couldn’t defend myself. I shouldn’t even try. My friend made it very real and made me realize that words can have a deep, harmful impact if I (or anyone else) are not mindful of the power they hold.

So I made the promise to my friend I would refrain from posting about that particular topic; this friend respects my views (even the ones we disagree on) but this one was too real for them. After our discussion, it made me think. I’ve been stewing on it for the last 24 hours. What other times have I gone off on something and my words have done the same thing for someone also I hold dear and they were just unable or unwilling to say something about it. I started to really think about the fact that more negativity is pushed out there by me when I start rage posting. I know I have plenty of conservative friends who have unfollowed specifically because while they are more than willing to talk about these issues, they would rather avoid a constant negative presence that I am creating on their news feed.

Being so angry is so tiring. You are constantly going up, up, up in your anger and then you crash. Then you go up again. I have grown to despise getting on my social media for that very reason. I scroll down my newsfeed and every third article/update pisses me off. Then I react. Then I go to the next issue and react again. It is an unhealthy cycle that only causes harm, frustration, and a fair amount of heart burn.

So I think it is time for a change. As of this posting, I have decided to take a break from posting anything politically related. I am refraining from “poking the bear.” By that I mean what I post will consist of positivity and I will not go out of my way to correct anyone on Facebook, even if they are blatantly wrong on a topic. There is one feature I have become a big fan of with Facebook is that if you look at the top right of the post there is a little drop down arrow. You can click on that and block the page that originated the meme (if it is a meme) or you can just hide that particular posting. I did that the rest of the day yesterday and it was glorious.

So for all of my conservative/non-political friends on Facebook, rejoice. I am retiring my crazy Facebook rants. That does not mean they won’t pop up here on my blog, but those will be easy to skip. Going forward, I will have a strict criteria of what can and cannot be posted on my page. That criteria is the following:

Can Post:

  • Updates on family and friends
  • Interesting articles about my hobbies
  • Pictures of my dogs
  • Funny pictures of my wife she doesn’t want me to post
  • Hilarious memes
  • Positive quotes/thoughts

Can’t Post:

  • Political rants
  • Rage filled posts
  • Political memes
  • Argument provoking questions
  • Anything that is filled anger

I think living my social media life by these rules will lead to a more beneficial online relationship with many of my friends and family who view differently than I and that I hardly get to see. When we actually do get to see each other, I’d rather they remember me as who I really am, not the rage filled political bleeding heart liberal they see online.

Keepin’ it Geeky,

The Oey