Jun 302013

So like many of you, I sort of shrugged and sighed I saw the headline that they are rebooting The Terminator franchise, with or without Arnold Schwarzenegger—although really does it matter? The bottom line is that it’s another franchise that Hollywood is raiding/resurrecting because it’s easier and most cost effective to beat a known quantity to death and beyond rather than try to establish a new one.

And that’s really it—the trend in Hollywood to regurgitate old crap is all about making obscene amounts of cash and has nothing to do with entertainment. Movies are huge business, and there’s no room for artistic vision or creativity when there are hundreds of millions of dollars on the line, even for the most modest releases. Studios want brands that consumers already recognize. The only time you see something that is completely new to the screen is if it’s a property (say like a best-selling book) that’s got a chance to become a franchise.

In other words, $equel$ are where it’s at.

Any movie that’s been a hit in recent years, I guarantee that if there hasn’t been a sequel for it already, there’s one in the works. This past weekend saw the release of The Heat with Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy; it’s already a success, so that means a sequel, right? And actually, plans for a sequel were announced … two months ago! Seriously.

Again, this has nothing to do with making fans happy to see beloved characters return and everything to do with making film studio executives happy to see bigger piles of money. And the evidence is there—look at this week’s Top 10 highest-grossing movies: 5 of 10 are either reboots or sequels. In fact, this year will see 29 sequels released on the big screen alone. That’s a lot of the same.

Well, there have been a number of classic films that never needed sequels, that seemed to have tied up all loose ends and were absolutely perfect … well, until now—

10 Hollywood Sequels That Were Never Made That Now *Clearly* Need to Be Made

1. Citizen Kane 2: Rosebud’s Revenge

Here’s one sure to “sleigh” you—Kane is still dead, but the new residents of Xanadu are haunted by the ghost of Rosebud, who was accidentally cursed by Kane to be bound to the estate until “the crack of doom.” Rosebud helps the new owners untangle the mystery, which finally releases the eternal soul of the sled to join its master in the happy hereafter. Two top choices for Rosebud’s voice are Morgan Freeman or Gilbert Gottfried, because they are practically interchangeable.

2. The Princess Bride 2: The Adventures of the Dread Pirate Roberts

Talk about your missed opportunities—I mean, this is essentially hinted at in the film’s closing moments! Inigo Montoya was clearly the most compelling character of the story, so to put him at center stage and throw in adventure around him = box office gold. Mandy Patinkin might be a bit older, but if Harrison Ford can play Indiana Jones again, then Patinkin can take up the sword again. The biggest challenge—literally—would be replacing Andre the Giant, who is more than mostly dead. Maybe time for Shaq to return to the silver screen?.

3. Casablanca 2: Rick and Louie Take Manhattan

If there was ever a more beautiful setup for a friendship comedy, then I don’t know what it is. Following a successful stint fighting the Nazis in North Africa during the war, the pair travels to New York City where the hard-boiled Rick becomes embroiled again in the shadiness that drove him to Africa in the first place. Meanwhile, Capt. Renault quickly falls for the charms that the big city offers, which only complicates life for Rick. Obviously, this is going to have to be re-cast; I’m thinking Bruce Campbell as Rick (no seriously, think about it) and as Capt. Renault, Alan Rickman because he’s freaking awesome.

4. It’s an Even More Wonderful Life

Really, the only way to pick this one up is from Zuzu’s perspective and re-tell the story from there—she grows up and as a woman seeking liberation in the chaotic 1960s, comes to think she’s having a bad life and looks to escape it. She tries to commit suicide when she’s visited by another angel trying to earn its wings, and well, you know how it goes from there. Obviously this can be completely re-cast, although the actress who played Zuzu is still alive and in her 70s, which would make for some sort of fun cameo. Just throwing a name out there for Zuzu: Anna Kendrick? And I’m thinking Colin Mochrie as the angel because when I’m casting movies in my head, I’m always thinking Colin Mochrie.

5. E.T. Returns

Again, this one writes itself. Everyone’s favorite extraterrestrial returns to find his buddy Elliott all growed up and struggling with the pressures of adulthood, including juggling a career and marriage, as well as finding ways to bond with his own children. E.T. spreads his intergalactic magic as helps all, including Gertie, who has become an adult film actress and Michael, who’s living in a van down by the river. As Henry Thomas and Drew Barrymore are both still acting, this isn’t hard to cast, and given that animatronic puppets don’t age, I think E.T. himself should be good to go.

6. Schindler’s List 2: The Reckoning

Only diverging *slightly* from history, Oskar Schindler continues his crusade against the Third Reich—but this time as a badass Nazi hunter. Steven Spielberg doesn’t seem to be opposed to making action films, with his success in the Taken franchise, we know this type of pulse-pounding action thriller is right in Liam Neeson’s wheelhouse. And really, we all love seeing Nazis get their comeuppance over and over again, so this is a win all around!

7. Titanic 2: Tsunami Terror

“Looks like we’re going to need a bigger boat” may be a line from Jaws (which has had all too many sequels), but I see this one as a throwback to those glorious 1970s disaster films like Airport, The Towering Inferno and of course, The Poseidon Adventure. Some smarmy, greedy billionaire (Kevin Spacey seems about right) decides to rebuild the Titanic to capitalize on the ill-fated ocean liner’s enduring popularity and offer ultra-expensive cruises across the Pacific Ocean. Of course, on the maiden voyage, an earthquake strikes, causing a huge tsunami that ultimately flips the boat. (And yes, I know tsunami waves don’t quite work like that—don’t let actual science ruin a story!) Then you populate the boat with a bunch of stock characters—handsome hero (Chris Evans), plucky love interest (Summer Glau), grizzled deck hand (Danny Trejo), bitch that everyone wants to see die (Tea Leoni), older comic relief couple (Eugene Levy & Katherine O’Hara), virgin who survives (Justin Long) … and obviously, the billionaire dies the worst death at the end.

8. Some Like It Hotter

With all the main actors associated with this film dead, it might make sense of using the original as a jumping-off point, say like having the progeny of Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon’s characters—who in this case, would be actual actors Jamie Lee Curtis and Chris Lemmon—getting together for some sort of wacky role reversal, where each has to play the opposite sex in order to get save their children’s wedding. Sort of like The Birdcage meets The Father of the Bride meets Freaky Friday but with less Lindsay Lohan and more Agador Spartacus.

9. The Sound of Music 2: Rolfe’s Song

Sure, the easy thing would be to follow the von Trapps and their journey to freedom—and truthfully, that might make the most sense as you could tell the story in flashback and actually have Capt. von Trapp and Maria, a.k.a. Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer, looking back. But I’d try to follow what happens to Rolfe after he fails to win the affections of Liesl, and is forced to fight on behalf of Germany—maybe after witnessing the horrors of the Holocaust he realizes that he made a terrible life choice and eventually sacrifices himself to help liberate those who were destined to death at the hands of the Nazis, gaining redemption in the end. Okay, this wouldn’t be as uplifting as “Springtime for Hitler,” but it doesn’t mean it can’t work.

10. Bigger

Set 25 years after the original Big, Josh realizes that giving up a great high-paying dream job and a woman who loved him to just be a kid again was a poor decision, especially after he failed out of school (because he decided that he only had a grade-school education and had been a success, so why study?) and subsequently made a string of bad choices. Sad, alone and desperate, he tracks down the Zoltan machine, puts in a coin, makes a wish and—hello another Tom Hanks romcom! Bigger Josh tracks down Susan (Elizabeth Perkins), explains he made a huge mistake and that he wants her back, and spends the rest of the movie trying to unlock that magic they had to woo her back, and charming the audience like Tom Hanks always does.

I’ll be waiting by the phone waiting for Hollywood to call!


Jun 232013

A little housekeeping first: On July 16, I will be at the Old State House in Hartford speaking ill of the dead and Connecticut jerks, which also includes a special Connecticut Jerks panel discussion moderated by Diane Smith of the Connecticut Network and featuring two awesome Connecticut writers whose works I plagiar—er, *used as sources* to write my book: Charley Monagan and M. William Phelps. Hope to see you there!

* * * * *

So as I attended my son’s graduation the other day, it got me to thinking that although I’m proud of his successes and accomplishments, I still can’t help but feel as though I’m failing him and his brother on some levels. Time flies by so quickly, and we don’t get to teach them all the things we want. Not only that, but we also spend an inordinate amount of effort on subjects that aren’t particularly useful in the long run. And then you read all these stories about how American kids are falling farther and farther behind the counterparts around the world

“U-S-A NUMBER ONE!”—amiright?

Well, just because Evel Knievel put it on the side of his helmet doesn’t make it true. (Although that really should be enough.)

Of course, I can’t go back and undo some of the things I’ve done as a parent, but at least I can throw some thoughts out there that may help other parents and the next generation to not set up their kids to fail.

A few thoughts …

The cow goes “moo” – Like many parents, I spent many hours of my sons’ formative years reading to them, but the majority of those early years included *lots* of books dedicated to correctly identifying barnyard animals and the noises that make because … we live on a farm? We may be suddenly overrun by a herd of pigs? There’s a chance that toddlers might find themselves trapped by a gang of psychotic roosters in a hen house and may need to cluck their way to freedom?

If you want to teach them useful information about animals, how about things like, “‘Hsss’ goes the rabid racoon you see in the backyard during the middle of the day!” or “‘Squeak’ goes the squirrel trying to nest in your attic so it can chew through your power lines!” or even “‘____’ goes the spider that is never more than six feet away from you at any given moment and is probably thinking RIGHT NOW about laying eggs in your ear canal while you sleep.”

Talking animals – In the same vein, our kids spend the majority of their childhoods constantly exposed to the possibility that animals can secretly converse to each other in the Queen’s English. Seriously, flip around the kids channels some time and just start counting the number of shows where the animals can speak—it’s almost every single one!

It’s so pervasive that there’s no way that children aren’t wasting significant portions of their mental reserves to constantly remind themselves that, oh yeah, despite the barks, meows and clicking noises that dolphins make, animals can’t make human conversation, and even if they could, it wouldn’t be much beyond what Up‘s Dug offered.

Rather than wait around for the family cat to give that TED talk, why not teach our kids another language, especially given current birthrates and population statistics, English will not be enough to get by with this in the global marketplace.

Animated backpacks, sentient racing cars and creepy trains with faces – Sticking with the theme, our kids are exposed to lots of animate inanimate objects, which until SKYNET rises up, shouldn’t be much of a concern.

Now look, I don’t want to hear about stifling creativity and imagination—have you talked to a 5-year-old? They have plenty of that stuff to spare, trust me. And you don’t have to forgo it—how about just swapping in shows that challenge the imagination and creativity with subjects like science, technology and math rather than figuring out how to use a talking map that tells you exactly where to go.

I’d like to teach the world to sing – Music can be a powerful learning tool, but in regard to kids, we use to keep abreast of things like the status of tiny arachnids and their adventures navigating outdoor plumbing or the perils of keeping babies in ill-advised treetop cribs.

See, even by vaguely alluding to those childhood songs, you just recalled them immediately!

Personally, there are two pieces of learning that I recall vividly from decades ago because they were set to music:

1. In 8th grade, our math teacher Mr. Betzig taught us that “Perimeter equals two times a side plus two times a side—woo!”

2. “Cheers” taught me everything I know about Albania.

Everyone gets a trophy – As I’ve said before, I think it’s more than okay to lose on occasion; heck, if no one ever has to swallow the bitter taste of defeat, then they will never hunger for success. And rewarding people for simple “participation” seems to set up false expectations down the line.

Let’s put it this way: How many trophies have you gotten at work for just showing up every day? Exactly.

If I could brag a bit, I’ve seen this work first hand, with both my sons.

First: My younger son Kade has been taking karate classes for the past five years, which includes a big end-of-the-year tournament. He has gone every year and has never won a trophy or medal, only given to the top four in each group; he did receive a trophy one year, but that was because there were only three kids in his section and he finished third. He was actually angry and embarrassed about it.

Over the past year, he has worked his butt off, and by “worked his butt off,” I mean he has kicked my butt practicing sparring. This year, he finished fourth in a larger group and took home a medal—you would’ve thought the thing was made of actual gold, he was so psyched by it.

Second: My other son recently received an award at school for “Most Respectful” student. When I went to congratulate him, he said everyone in the class who didn’t win an academic achievement award literally got one of these awards instead. And he wasn’t too thrilled about it, as you can see below:

“Baby on Board” car window signs – I’m thinking that everyone might be better served if the baby was in a car seat rather than on a board. I mean, what about splinters? Just seems like a bad plan ….

Okay, maybe that last one isn’t exactly a waste of parenting efforts, just saw it in a car window the other day and it struck me funny. Clearly, I need to be struck more often.

Anyway, I’ll keep working on a new curriculum. We’ll get our kids and the U.S.A. back to the top!


Jun 172013

Here, let me set this out here to start … feel free to hit play while reading …

Okay, I completely and openly acknowledge that being somewhat enamored of Coca-Cola—and the sweet, sweet caffeine therein—comes nowhere near the true addiction that cripples those enslaved to drugs, alcohol or licking cats (and that’s *not* an euphemism). I also realize that the size of my monkey is relatively modest: I would say that it’s more of a pesky, poop-flinging capuchin rather than an orangutan that when angered can literally tear my arms off and eat my face. So there’s that.

Still, I do have a problem in that over 157 years I have trained my body to rely on receiving caffeine every single day, and even though that they say the first step in getting help is admitting you have a problem, it’s not helping any.

Let me try to explain it: Something happens in my very blood every day around 2 p.m. when I decide to open that icy can of high fructose corn syrup that masquerades as a beverage—and it’s got to be a 12-once can; for some reason, the mix in bottles never seems to taste (or burn my eyes and back of my throat) the same as what comes out of the can. I only assume that it tastes better because of the tiny pieces of aluminum that I’m also ingesting, you know, which has also been thought to cause Alzheimer’s Disease, although no indisputable evidence has been produced to prove that hey did I tell you about the time I saw Sally Jessie Raphael picking her nose while sitting in her red BMW at an intersection in New Haven? Yeah, good times …

Anyway, when I hear that boisterous c-r-a-c-k as I pop that can open …. it’s a rush. I can feel my physiology changing even before the liquid touches my lips or the equivalent of 10 teaspoons of sugar reaches my heart, a psychosomatic reaction to be sure, but nonetheless real. And then as it does get into my system and that weariness washes away, I feel like I’m finally coming to life …

It’s not a habit, it’s cool, I feel alive …

I used to also drink a Coke every morning at 9 a.m. as a wake-me-up, but at a certain point I realized that I was going to be awake and stay awake no matter how tired I was, so I was able to cut that one out of my diet. But cutting down isn’t cutting out, right?

Recently, I’ve been thinking about those spoonfuls of sugar as well as all the other facts that prove it’s really, really bad to drink even one can of soda a day. (Don’t click link unless you want to crush any fantasy that you have sort of healthy lifestyle that allows even one can a day.)

Despite all the health risks, I find that I do need—and desperately want, or absolutely crave—that jolt of energy every day. I don’t drink coffee (yes, I have issues), so to get that caffeine, I have decided to try an alternative.

When we were at Pax East back in March, we got a few samples of 5-Hour Energy, and I spent the last few months trying to convince myself to try one. I mean, it promises “long lasting energy with no sugar and zero net carbs.” Sounds perfect, right? Plus it’s got like vitamins, amino acids and tiger blood or something. (I may not have read the entire label, or any of it, really.) What could possibly go wrong?

So about a week or two ago, I put one in my lunch in place of my beloved Coke, and at 2 p.m., pulled it out. I eyed the small bottle dubiously—how could a 2-ounce shot pack as much kick as a 12-ounce can? I opened the top; it was “berry” flavor, which smelled vaguely sweet and looked something like Garotade.

I shrugged and then …

I held my nose, I closed my eyes … I took a drink …

Okay, I still knew that it was day and not night, and I hardly started kissing everything in sight, but at first I didn’t notice anything really all that different. I was thrown off that it went down so quick—I usually enjoy lingering over my Coke. And at first, nothing seemed all that out-of-the-ordinary, so I went back to work.

But then I felt it slowly kicking in. As I posted on my Facebook that afternoon: “I think it’s working—my pulse is racing and I’m having an aneurysm. That’s supposed to happen, right?”

Okay, it wasn’t quite that extreme, but I was definitely feeling more … *energetic*! And by “energetic,” I do mean that my pulse was a bit elevated and my hands were shaking. A little.

Actually, I started freaking out that I maybe somehow had overdosed—and then I quickly reminded myself that there’s been no actual stories of anyone ODing on an energy drink. Well, okay they’ve been linked to heart disease, but that’s slow death, right? You know, up to the point where your heart suddenly stops altogether.

Anyway, I figured that maybe I needed to work off some of my new-found energy, so when I got home, I decided that I needed to do my usual 3.5-mile run. I chose to run at the track I normally run at, mainly because if my heart or brain did in fact explode, there’d be lots of kids playing soccer and their parents to notice, so they’d be available to get me medical attention, if necessary. That or they’d have stories to tell, so it wouldn’t all be in vain.

The good news is that neither my heart or my brain exploded, nor did any of my delicate vital organs, and truth be told, I actually sort of tore around the track at a clip that I’d have to classify as “more sprightly than usual.”

I also didn’t fall asleep until closer to midnight that night (my normal bedtime is closer to 10), but hey, at least I wasn’t dead! Well, not yet.

Anyway, since then I’ve had another 5-Hour Energy or two, and seem to be surviving, even if I do go running. But by the same token, I also haven’t been able to give up my Coke yet … . I’ve been sort going between the two because that’s how you ween yourself, right?

Or is that how you just substitute one addiction for another?

It’s not a habit, it’s cool, I feel alive
If you don’t have it you’re on the other side
I’m not an addict (maybe that’s a lie)…


Jun 122013

So the other night we got together with my Damned Connecticut partners Kate and Steve, and as we were trying to keep their toddler away from things like the TV, phone and that rusty barbed wire sculpture we keep precariously perched atop the python cage, we started brainstorming some ideas for child-care inventions that could help all of humanity.

Here are a few that came from the altruistic parts of our grey matter:

Kiddie hamster ball – Steve came up with this one, and it’s as simple as it sounds: a hamster ball big enough for a toddler to fit inside so they can go all over the place but without actually getting their hands on important items like TV remotes or computers. Plus, they are protected from sharp edges or other things they might bump themselves on.

Giant water bottle – Again, using the hamster model, this would be a giant bottle of water that you’d set up in the corner of the room, and like a hamster, a kid would be able to go up to it any time they wanted to get a drink. Obviously, other fluids—milk, juice, benadryl—could be substituted, but it would help foster independence and self-reliance, not to mention cut back on the amount of juice boxes that end up in landfills.

Re-loadable diapers – Okay, this is probably only practical for wet diapers—but we’re talking about a sectioned diaper system where the fronts of the diapers are removable (they can be held in with velcro). When a kid urinates, rather than struggle to change the entire diaper, the absorbent front section is simply ripped off and a fresh dry front section is slapped into place. Think about it—most times you end up throwing away a half-used diaper, so to save the planet, you only disposing of fully used diapers!

“Kiddy” litter – Another one of Steve’s ideas, and again, it’s pretty straightforward. If you don’t like the re-loadable diaper and would like to avoid all that work of toilet training, just let the little ones just go as they play! Turn that sandbox into a litter box! Simply scoop away any clumps, re-rake and they’re set to go (so to speak).

The “You Are Not” Playset – Action figures based on my nearly-viral children’s book that helps kids realize that they they are not special and that they will never be President, a millionaire or a professional athlete, but that’s all okay.

Really, there’s not much to this playset outside of the action figure, so if you’re thinking that you’re getting an amazing super cool toy, well … you are not.

Chlorofriends – I’ve written about this before. Basically you’d have stuffed animals with names like Sleepy Sting Ray or Dr. Snoozikins to help young children fall asleep. When each Chlorofriend is given a loving squeeze, it emits a playful cloud of chloroform, sure to send even the most stubborn rug rat to dreamland. (Also available in pillowcases.)

Magnetic pants – This is for ADD-challenged kids who have a hard time sitting in their seats for extended durations, say like during a whole meal—you know, like a civilized human being. These metal-lined pants work in conjunction with a powerful electromagnetic chair: When an overactive urchin starts getting up, just hit the switch and *ZAP* they are pulled back into the proper seated position. Can be modified for use in restaurants, houses of worship, movie theaters, trains, libraries, strip clubs or anywhere else kids tend to run around too much.

Jun 092013

So this may come as no surprise, but my kids are just a lot funnier than I am.

“So are bookcases, Crohn’s disesase and the ending of Life is Beautiful—tell us something we don’t know, Captain Obvious …”

Seriously though, my boys constantly amuse me, mainly because they genuinely get how to be funny—they both have pretty good timing, and eagerly embrace everything from physical humor and slapstick to one-liners and sarcasm. Oh, the sarcasm.

I should’ve been writing down all the amusing quips that they’ve uncorked over the years, but I realized I have been recording it in a way—via Facebook and Twitter. So to share some of what I’m talking about, I went back through my Facebook posts over the past two years or so to find a few gems, starting with this one from the other day:

But there’s been more. For example—

I love this one on so many levels.

They also have a great sense of comic timing …

… and a great sense of the absurd.

Observational humor …

Hard to argue with this one …

Of course, the truth hurts, so it’s funny . ..

… again …

… and again …

… and yet again.

So there’s that. But at least there’s this …

I only wish I knew where they get it all from …


Jun 022013

So here’s a picture of me with mutton chop sideburns, circa 1900.

Wait, what?!

That’s right—I sat for this portrait sometime around the turn of the 20th century, which makes sense since my loving son likes to remind me that I’m so old that I was there when my old pal Thag chipped out the first wheel …

Okay, look again. That’s not actually me (the ears and the tie should be a giveaway)—it’s my great-great-grandfather on my mother’s side, John (or most likely Giovanni) Michael Cacchione, who lived 1856-1926. I don’t have a date on the photo (which my mother got from her genealogy-loving cousin), but I’m guessing he’s actually pretty close to my current age when it was taken.

I hate posting pictures of myself anywhere, but this is special—here are the two of us side by side. (I’m the one on the right, in case you’re not sure.)

"Cousins, identical cous .... er, descendants?"

Kind of eerie, right? That or there’s just not so many branches on that family tree. (More of a pole?) I know we’re related, but come on: Same profile, same nose, eyes, brows, chin, lips and receding hairline. Oh, and if I was patient, I could grow those sweet ‘chops in about two weeks, probably with the same amount of gray. Uncanny.

Let’s put it this way: I don’t even have that much resemblance to *my own father* or *my own sons*—and we’re all a lot closer in terms of genetic material than me and g2-granddad. (Or so I always thought … hmmm.) I don’t even look that much like my grandfather (g2-granddad’s grandson), the middle link in this line. What the hey?!

But yeah, clearly a pair of handsome devils, separated by about a century or so. Despite my son’s beliefs, I never met g2-granddad, and neither did my mother. If my math is on, my grandfather Clem (ol’ Giovanni was his maternal grandfather) only would’ve been about 14 when he died, so I don’t know what kind of relationship they had. They all lived in the same Brooklyn, N.Y., neighborhood, although g2-granddad immigrated from Italy when he was middle-aged and most likely spoke very limited English. Clem was born here and only spoke English, as best I know.

Still, the whole thing is remarkable to me—that I could still look so similar to a relative born over 160 years ago, and one who’s back four generations up the family pole … er, tree. Again, I know I shouldn’t be so shocked, but I can’t help it.

Of course, my next question is how much are/were we alike in other matters? I’m having flashes of Jan Brady’s Aunt Jenny here. My grandfather is long gone so I can’t ask him about his grandfather, and what my mother knows is all from what tidbits and stories her father shared. Recording devices were only just coming into the picture, so I have no sense of what he sounded like or how he moved or how he comported himself on a daily basis.

Obviously, great-great-granddad John didn’t surf the internet looking for celebrity flesh, but did he maybe have a special picture of Nellie Bly showing a bit more ankle than was socially accepted? Not to besmirch his legacy or anything—I suppose I do that just fine without dragging him directly into it.

Yet, I have to wonder:

• If people who drove buggies slow in the passing lane made him buggy.

• If he was any good at the broad jump, or excelled in any sort of athletic pursuit—given his heritage, maybe he was also good at the bocce.

• If he was rather shy and that seeing his picture posted for the public to see in a forum like this would’ve freaked him out. (Scour the intrawebz and I guaran-damn-tee you that the picture above is the only picture of me that I’ve ever posted of myself *anywhere*.)

• If he enjoyed writing—although given the dearth of written materials associated with him (read: none), that’s evidently a “no.” Maybe he enjoyed telling stories, which is sort of the same thing, although he probably never discussed his gastrointestinal issues in public. Chances are he didn’t make a lot of silly Top 10 lists.

• If he was innately curious and often thought about the questions of the universe, such what life was on other planets, how life would evolve or if his great-grand-grandson would end up being an utter dork.

• If at any family picnic, he was really content to sit in the shade and enjoy the breeze.

• If he was meticulous in his personal grooming. Those ‘chops have nice tight lines, and he’s keeping it close and neat up top, too—I know that his son (my great grandfather) was a barber, and he may have been one, too. My mother used to cut my hair using my great grandfather’s scissors; I now do it (with an electric razor) as well as my son’s.

• If he had a sweet tooth that demanded chocolate (or whatever sugary confections he enjoyed) on an hourly basis.

• If he would’ve rather spent the day hanging out with his kids more than pretty much anything else life had to offer.

• If he could find the humor in anything and pretty much took nothing seriously—other than posing for photos.

• If he had such a twisted sense of humor that he would think this Garfunkel & Oates tune (VERY NSFW … or the general public, now that I think of it) is as brilliant as I do.

• If he was as open-minded so even if he was horribly offended by that video, he would sort of shrug and be like, “Well, if you want to go to hell with those harlots, that’s up to you.”

• If in coming to the U.S. after the Civil War, he did so because he also believed in and loved freedom and all the opportunities that this great country provides.

The good news is that, based on history, I feel fairly comfortable saying that my grand-great-grandson will be a good-lookin’ dude. So, at least he’ll have that going for him. The rest … well, I guess we’ll have to wait to find out ….