Movie Review Cars 2 (2011)

Cars 2 (2011)

Owen Wilson, Larry The Cable Guy, Michael Caine, Eddie Izzard Emily Mortimer, John Turturro, Thomas Kretschmann, John Ratzenburger, Bonnie Hunt.

 

Where do we start with this mess?

Seriously, parents who first sat down in the cinema for the very first viewing must have thought they had taken their kids to the wrong theatre.

Set some time after the events of the moderately successful, and critically well received first movie, Lightening McQueen is now a FOUR time Piston Cup winner and has returned home to Radiator Springs for his annual down time. At the same time an oil billionaire has set up a Grand Prix – with the racers using his new brand of fuel – and just by chance McQueen is called into the race. At the same time, the race is being thwarted by a supervillain (and his unseen boss) – who in turn are being chased by two secret agents – and they believe Mater is a super-secret agent and call him in to assist.

The plot is so heavy that young children will have no idea of what is happening, even I got confused by what the villain’s motives were the first few viewings. It is also ultra-violent, with many deaths, that if you really think about it are quite brutal (but maybe it’s okay because they are just cars?). The new characters are mostly unlikeable, and almost instantly forgettable – but unfortunately are voiced by great talent such as Caine, Mortimer and Izzard.

For fans of the first movie, who found the character development of McQueen fulfilling, prepare to be disappointed as he reverts back to his same old self – for the figurative ten minutes of screen time he gets, as Mater is made to be the main character in this franchise killer.

I actually have zero redeeming qualities about this film, all the returning characters are caricatures of what they were in the first movie. Followed by Cars 3 in 2017.

If you have a movie you would like me to review, or if you agree or disagree with my critical analysis of this film, please leave it in the comments section.

Please also subscribe to my blog for new movie reviews every Wednesday.

Am I a Bad Parent? I Sure Feel Like One!

Am I a bad parent? Because I sure feel like one.

Today – or right now as I type this post if you want me to be accurate; I should have taken my son to his weekly “kindergym” session. But I decided at the eleventh hour not to take him. Once or twice I have done it as a form of punishment for his bad behaviour, even though this is no fault of his own. He does not understand yet what actions he is taking, and he is a long way away from understanding that there is punishment for poor behaviour. No, today I did not take him because of one major factor that my son is unable to respond to. Structure.

Normally at our Kindergym sessions, we have one hour sessions – we are in a large room with lots of fun things for kids to play with and on, and in. There is about 5 minutes at both the beginning and at the end of each session – where we all go into another room and stand in a big circle and sing a different song each week, and play with a big piece of fabric also in the shape of a circle, and sing a song to, as they walk around the room holding the fabric. It’s a fun way where all the children interact with one another, before going off and having independent play.

The thing is, my son is unable to join this part of the session, and we sit out. We either step to one side and watch, or play in the main room. Today is the last day of term, and the session is going to be Easter themed. The Easter Bunny is going to visit – and hand out presents to all the boys and girls. Knowing full well that this week is going to be very structured, and that this is something that my son is not going to be able to do – I made the choice to not go this week.

Does that make me a bad parent? I feel so guilty all the time by not even going to things, or taking my child to things like this, because I know in my heart of hearts, he just doesn’t understand yet. It fills me with such guilt, but at the same time I feel the sense of relief that I don’t have to continually say “sorry he does not understand”.

I wonder how the rest of you out there feel. Is this a common feeling? Am I a bad parent? I sure feel like one.

One day I hope my son will be able to include himself in playing with other children in a purposeful way. Until then, we will play the way he wants, when he wants.

Thanks for reading.

I’m The Worst Type of Blogger

Like most people in society – I am my own worst critic. It has taken me a lot of courage to start writing things about my life. At often times I feel like that I am oversharing and that the world does not need to know all these finite details of my life. But another part of me also wants my story to get out there so one day I might be able to help others – which I reference quite a bit throughout my videos and my blogs. It has taken me even more courage to start my videos. I am not the biggest fan of my appearance and voice – so thanks to you all out there who have taken the time to watch them.

I was given a very lovely compliment the other day about my writing by a fellow ‘video blogger’ – which really made my day. I have always had a strong affinity for reading and writing that this feedback was just what I needed to hear. I will drop her Facebook link in the bottom of this blog.

What I am not doing well at the moment in regards to my blogging, is giving my fellow bloggers the attention that I myself am seeking. I very rarely read others blogs – I am very time poor in this regards, primarily due to a fairly hectic schedule with life, kids and work. I realise that this is a problem area that I will have to try to rectify.

I am also not very good at keeping track of ‘blog views’. I see so many people on my Twitter talk about how many views they have had this month, or week etc – but I have never really found that this is relevant. I have always briefly checked out these view sizes – usually after I have just posted something (and this seems to be when I get the most foot traffic). But perhaps I should keep more of an eye on this, especially if this hobby would ever generate a second income.

Speaking of this subject – I am quite the novice when it comes to this issue – is this one of those subjects we dare not discuss? I would love some feedback on this in the comments section below – and in the next few days I might even put a Tweet out to find out if this is

I am going to start trying to read more of your posts going forward, and comment on them. We all love positive feedback, and to reaffirm that what we are doing is reaching a wider audience and making a change in people’s lives.

Movie Review – Monsters Inc. (2001)

Monsters Inc. (2001)

 

John Goodman, Billy Crystal, Mary Gibbs, Steve Buscemi, James Coburn, Jennifer Tilly, Bob Peterson, John Ratzenberger, Bonnie Hunt

Writing this review almost 20 years after it was released, my view of it has changed nary a bit. Now with kids myself– it is on a repeated cycle in my home. I enjoyed it then, and I enjoy it now.

For those unaware, the story takes place in the fictional city of Monstropolis, the city where all the monsters live, and two best friends James P “Sully” Sullivan, a giant bear shaped monster, and Mike Wazowski, a much smaller cyclops, both live and work together. Their job is to harness the screams from the children, as children’s screams harness power that runs the city. Sully is on his way to being the gaining the scare record, and being the most successful scarer in the history of the company. His main rival, is the chameleon Randall – who is determined to beat Sully.

The way that the monsters collect the screams is in itself is both clever in not only the set-up of the world; the doors are placed in a magical device on a factory floor, which leads directly into a child’s room, that every child’s door is available to them, and that monsters are more afraid of us, believing human beings to be toxic and extremely dangerous.

The main plot of the story is one night, Sully finds a door on the scare floor (put there by Randall) and inadvertently lets in a human girl. After she is stuck in their world, they are tasked with trying to get her back home, with many obstacles in the way, and must discover new aspects of their friendship when it is truly tested.

It is a very light-hearted tale about how opinions of certain things might be completely wrong, and how once we have all the right information, they can be swayed.

This is a very enjoyable movie for the young and the old, and even though I have watched it dozens of times, I still enjoy it. It might be slightly scary for the very young children (after all there are monsters involved, and there are a few baddies who appear quite scary at times). Obviously as the movie was released in 2001, there are some obvious areas where the CGI has become quite dated, but it still holds.

Followed by a Prequel over a decade later (which will be reviewed at another time)

My rating – a solid **** ½ (out of Five Stars)

My Anxiety

Header Image owned by – https://www.blackdoginstitute.org.au/clinical-resources/anxiety/what-is-anxiety (if you would like this image removed please leave a comment and I will gladly oblige)

 

As we head into the end of the first quarter of the year, it occurred to me that I have been blogging for a bit over a year. In that time I have “virtually” met a good group of people. A lot of them have reached a far wider range of people than I have yet. I am hoping that I too will reach a larger audience, so I can hopefully help other families going through similar if not more difficult situations than what we are going through with our son.

Some of these people who I speak of are struggling with something just as serious, if not more serious than that of my family – that is mental health. My own is not nearly as complex as those I have spoken with, but it too needs addressing. If I can help at least one other person going through a similar experience, then I feel like my blog is doing what it is meant to do.

This section of my life took a couple of years to come to fruition, and in telling you a very brief version of events, I hope it lets you out there know it is okay to not be okay. My story begins a few years ago. I believed I was suffering through depression. I realise now that this is probably offensive to people actually struggling with depression.

Almost three years ago now I was in a very dark place. An area of my life was not going particularly well and I sought help from my GP. He asked me a series of questions and in looking over them felt that it was not depression that I was struggling with, it was anxiety. I had not really researched it too much, but found (in very short form) that depression is feeling and thinking nothing, and anxiety is overthinking everything. The latter is exactly how my brain acts.

I was given a choice to go speak to someone about these feelings, and was put on a waiting list. In the months that I was on the waiting list, I changed this area of my life. In the months that followed, my mental health subsided. I started to become less frantic and hectic in my day to day duties, and become more relaxed and calm. I had lost the sense of urgency that I used to run on – and I look back on it now, I put way to much focus on something that gave very little back.

I know now that what I was suffering from was not anywhere near what depression is. It is offensive to those who do actually have it to put it anywhere in the same ballpark.

Last year, I put the focus on my son, and late last year I took another step into this darkness that I once had. I went back to my GP, and this time I followed through on something that was offered to me initially.

I still have my days that I have this feeling of anxiousness, but I know that I am better off for taking those steps in seeking help. I am a better husband and father because of it.

It is okay to not be okay!

If you or one of your loved ones is suffering from mental health, please speak to someone. You might just save a life.

 

I’m Back from a Long Hiatus

Well I’m back folks, not that I’ve been anywhere – as you’ve seen I have been fairly active on most of my social media’s and I have even created a YouTube account now that will give a bit of an insight into our lives. But I thought it was time again I put my pen to paper, or hands to keyboards in this modern day era.

It’s been a very eventful last six months or so since my last official post on here, and I will get to them in time. I hope this finds you all well.

My last post was in October 2018, and since then we have had a bunch of busy times in our household (and more than likely all households) – so that is why I have been so silent. I have also been super busy with little man, so finding time to actually sit down and put my thoughts down has been difficult – and I’m continually being pulled away from what I am doing by not just a non verbal three year old, but by his less demanding  (almost five year old) big sister. I’m “hoping” that this might end up being not just a hobby but a possible second income stream, and to do that I need to devote more time to it. I need to act like this IS my second job. So from hereon in you should be hearing more from me and seeing more of me. Since I am my own worst critic on how I look and sound, this is a big thing for me to put myself out there, especially on you tube.

My next post I will be continuing the “We’re on this Journey Together” – to give you a bit of an update on where we are with little man.

Thanks for reading this

I should put my marriage first… but I don’t

My wife and I have been together for close to fifteen years – practically half our lives and pretty much our entire adulthood has been together. We started dating just after I turned 20, and she before she was 20. We have now been married for close to 9 years, and have two wonderful (almost some of the time) kids together. We’ve had many ups and downs, and have gone through moments in our relationship that have tested us. We’ve made tough decisions together, and we are still kicking. The last few months, in regards to our youngest child is yet another hurdle that we as a team are set to face together, as a team, as a family. Since having kids, I’ve generally put their needs above not only my own, but also above my wife’s.

The last couple of years however have been somewhat different than they used to be. We had a couple of overseas holiday’s pre kids, to Japan twice, and also to Hong Kong and China. We regret not going on more holidays together. One piece of advice I can give if you are a fairly newlywed and thinking of having kids – travel! Travel as much as you can before they come along – it will be much harder to do once they are in the picture!

We have had one post kids, while our daughter was quite young, and likely while my wife was in the first trimester of our son’s pregnancy. I put this holiday in our top two of all the holidays we’ve had together. It may have been the location that was what I enjoyed (Khao Lak in Thailand) – as we went with my wife’s family. While we had very little, to no “us” time – as either one of us was with our young daughter who came with us, it was remarkably relaxing, and just what I needed during that part of my life .

Since having kids, we have also put their needs above our own. This year has been quite the test of this, due to the needs of my son. Granted, I realise that we are more fortunate than other families, in both terms of the severity of his condition, but also in what we are able to provide for him.

We very rarely go out just the two of us anymore, and the last couple of weeks, we’ve had some very rare nights out for dinner. Once while on a short holiday we went on with my parents, the other once again my parents were kind enough to watch the kids at our house for a few hours so we could get a slight reprieve. Normally, we have the luxury of having our kids watched during the day, we have yet to have a full night without them, due to the readiness of our kids, my parents (who would do the overnight watch) and most of all my wife and I.

We also recently went with one of her friends, to meet her new partner, and saw their affection for one another. We joked at the time about the way they were so affectionate for one another, and that this time in our lives has passed for us. But there is truth to this. Have we grown so accustomed to each other that we are bored with public displays of affection? It was noted that on several occasions that I pulled away when my wife pulled close.

Having been together for such a long period of time, we have also seen the conception, and demise of several long lasting relationships. Recently I saw a couple I know split after as much time as my wife and I, with two kids older than ours – which made me want to put my wife back on the higher end of my priorities. We were the family before we started our family. While we won’t ever be that “lovey dovey” new couple again. I hope we can continue to be as we grow further into adulthood.

Writers Block

As part of my writers group here in Adelaide (please check the comments section of this post to find one of my fellow Adelaidian’s post on his website), we have started a monthly topic to add to our own individual blogs and websites. My first foray into this was my post on Adelaide itself – I missed last months, primarily due to the fact I have not sat down to write a single word in nearly two months. I am not sure if this is writers block, or just due to the fact life has become fairly hectic in the last couple of months, I have not had time to sit down and write. As I write this post – it is a relatively warm 8 degrees outside at 6am. I’m up a bit later that I normally get as well.

Ironically this months’ topic of conversation is writers block. Exactly the problem I am facing! I think I have some good content to put to words – currently I have 7 blog posts I am working on but each of them have less than 100 words written in them, and I know in the far recesses of my mind I have hundreds of words that I can put to these – but part of me is unable to sit and write them. I think the ideal word count of a blog post should be no more than 600-700. I feel that I can engage an audience with this – without repeating myself, or boring my audience.

I also partially blame winter on my lack of writing. It has been cold and dark in the mornings, and this is usually the time I have to myself without the adult responsibilities such as cooking, cleaning and being dad. Now that we are going into spring, we have daylight at 6am, and it is finally starting to warm up in the mornings. That being said, I am still sitting next to my heater to keep warm.

I have even been working on this very post for over three weeks. I have been lately finding I am making excuses for not writing. I am too busy, tired – no one will read it, and that it is only a hobby, I’m not making money off of it!

Is it fear that no one will read it? Like it? I also have some fairly sensitive, and personal topics to discuss, so am I oversharing? The older I get, the more reserved I have become, I barely post anything on my personal Facebook page anymore, in the last 6 months I think I can count on one hand the posts I alone have done, and even they were Happy Birthdays/Mothers Day/Fathers Day. This probably doesn’t bode well if I plan to be a real blogger.

As term 3 ends in our South Australian school year, a couple of activities will end (with the kids timetable) – so this might free up some time I have, that I can put back into my writing. We also have a small getaway booked in just over a week, so I am hoping to recharge the batteries and get back into my writing!

As always, thanks for reading, and I look forward to sitting down and getting some more writing done – who knows I might even start on that novel idea that is floating in my mind soon!

Short Post – I’m still here!

Short entry today, this is just to say “I AM STILL HERE EVERYBODY!!!”

The last few weeks have been a bit rough on the life end – and I have been very neglectful to my site, and to my followers on all social media platforms. That being said, I have reached “my” end of month Twitter follower target for August a couple of weeks early – so thanks to all of those who have hit follow, thanks for those who have stuck by me and waited (with baited breath?) for me to post some new content!

The new school term has restarted here in SA a couple of weeks ago, and with it, we have now got kidlets doing activities on all 3 days that I have off, so life has become a bit more busy. I have had to cut out a couple of things that I thought I was able to do this year (including helping out at miss’s kindy more often) and unfortunately my blogging role has taken a tumble as well.

I do have a few ideas floating around in my brain at the moment, but my current only option to get some writing done is if I wake up at 5am to properly wake up write. Let’s face it, who really wants to get up that early just to write. Please bear with me for a few more weeks, I will try and get my routine in place to give myself at least a couple or a few hours a week to focus on my blog and site, and social media platforms.

Looking forward to getting back to routine soon. Thanks again for sticking with me!

 

Neurofibromatosis and Me

 

One thing that people don’t know really about me is that I have Neurofibromatosis. I use the verb have, rather than ‘suffer from’ because I have been quite lucky in life that it has caused very few problems. It is a little known disorder, although more than 1 in 4000 kids are born with it (my daughter included). In short it causes fibrous tissues to grow on nerves. They can be deep in the body, or also near the surface. Thankfully I have the least aggressive form of it, and a very low grade form of it. There are also visual clues to people who have it – such as large discolourations on their bodies; these are known as café au lait spots, and dark circles under the eyes that can look like I have a black eye if I haven’t had enough sleep.

I’ve met only a handful of other people in my life who have had it, and sadly for most of them they are in a much worse off way than I am with the symptoms of this condition.

I was diagnosed with the condition when I was quite young, so I have pretty much known about it for my entire life. Aspects of it I used to be quite self-conscious of. I have several café au lait spots on my chest, that as I was younger I disliked very much, and went as far to wear a shirt every time I went in the pool even indoors.

I developed my first tumor before I was even thirteen. I remember small moments of this, as it had grown on the inner part of my bicep on my right arm (I have not so fond memories of knocking it and the pain being unbearable). I persevered through the pain and discomfort of it until I was about 15 or 16 when it started to grow. I recall having my appts with the Dr – and moments in the hospital before and after my surgery.

Thankfully I was symptomatic free until a few years ago when I had another tumor grow on my left ribs. For a couple of weeks I thought I just had bad indigestion, but one day on close inspection I realised that it was indeed a tumor. As it grew, it started to get extremely painful, and I was quite dependent on (then over the counter at a chemist) codeine painkillers. Since then codeine is now prescription only, which is an utterly ridiculous law. Having been through a very short moment of being in tremendous amounts of pain, I sympathise with those who live with this type of pain for years, or even an entire lifetime.

I went through an unnecessary procedure (fun fact – X-ray’s do not show fibroma tissues – if you think you might have a tumor – please PLEASE ask for an ultrasound. I then had my pre meeting with my surgeon, had the surgery, and was pain free within days (I then stopped taking all those painkillers straight away, and can honestly say the detox from this was horrible – I was in bed for almost two days!)

Both were removed successfully, and both were, as expected, cancer free.

Recently the condition has been made aware on a few different TV shows (I’m fairly positive House, and Grey’s Anatomy have done episodes on it, but one of the more positive ones was in Bones, where it was brought to the surface to make people aware of it. Also the always brilliant Gillian Anderson is a spokesperson for it in the United States.

I’m lucky in regards to the severity of my condition. I’ve seen others who have it much worse – for those of you who follow me, and read my posts, you may not have even heard of this condition until now – but if I can get the word out about it, and let one more person know about it – then I have done my part in being one of those suffering from it. I now also face to process of both my own life with it, but also my daughters.