Dear Lord time goes by fast. July 4th is just about here. Some of us have plans. Some of us have no plans. Some of us will be with family or giving thanks for our country, some of us will be doing no such thing.
But there’s something we all have in common: We are all free, and we all like big robots and explosions.
I haven’t seen Transformers: Dark of the Moon yet. But I’m going to. Have I gotten amnesia? Have I forgotten the wasted hours and dollars I spent seeing the first two Transformers?
Yes, maybe I have. Because from the moment I saw the trailer for this flick, I just knew I had to see it. Word on the street is it’s the best of the bunch. Normally, I would give up on a team of “creative” people after they tried twice to make a good movie (the same movie). Maybe it’s because they spent so much darn money on them. Maybe it’s because they shot it in 3D–and the 3D action is being called far and away the best since Avatar. Maybe it’s the girl who’s replacing Megan Fox. But I’ll give Michael Bay his third and final chance to make a Transformers movie that doesn’t have me leading the movie theater with a wince or a headache.
/Film has reported on the great divide between critics and audience members when it comes to this latest movie, which opened on Tuesday in select 3D locations. I read the critics a lot. I don’t always agree with them, but we usually see eye to eye more than me and middle America do. (Speaking of critics, the other “big” movie opening this weekend is the Tom Hanks directed Larry Crowne, which he stars in with Miss Julia Roberts. I’ve read two reviews- LA Times savagely trashed the film, to the point where I knew I had to get a second opinion. Vulture had me covered. David Edelstein says of the “gentle” Larry Crowne, “I found it easy to understand why its trailer is so, so lame—the tagline might as well be ‘Come Smile Awhile.’” Tell your parents to let me know how it is).
But I digress. My point is, while I’m generally on the sides of critics (as opposed to the mass movie going public, or the bureaucratic, elitist, insider sludge of the Academy) I don’t really give a damn what the critics say about Transformers 3 (even the oft-reliable Peter Travers gave Tranformers 3 zero stars, claiming, “Watching it makes you die a little inside.” I hope that shows up on the Blu-ray sleeve). I’m sure the pain of a film like the second Transformers making soooo much money despite their critical warnings is still fresh in the minds of many film critics. I can understand their bitterness. But, while I might have forgotten the utter disappointment and hysterical unhappiness the first two Transformer films evoked in me, I have not forgotten why I saw those films in the first place.
I wanted a good action movie.
He called me Champ.
My dad, perpetual coach and marketing Maharishi, called everyone by a nickname. As a coach, that’s what he did. He gave kids nicknames. It was his way of branding the individual to strengthen the gestalt. Well, that, or he couldn’t remember their actual names. Regardless, the kids loved having them for the simple sake of having them. Because they sounded cool. Case in point: For me, it was either Chuckie or Champ.
Which would you rather?
There was Slick and Flash and Hollywood and Tito. There was Spider and Speedy and Hondo and Hammer. There was Buck and Say Hey Willie, as in “The Say Hey Kid,” as in just plain old “Kid” (my youngest brother’s glorious epithet and all its incarnations, named after the Say Hey Kid himself). There was a nickname for every single kid on every single team my dad ever coached. And my dad coached a lot, particularly me.
I got mine the summer before 1st grade, playing tee-ball for the Orioles. I spent the next 11 years trying to live it down. Champ, it turns out, while perfectly acceptable for a six-year-old playing tee-ball, is not all too appropriate for the captain of a varsity football team.
My old man never taught me how to fish. He never took me hunting. He never sat me down on his work bench, the smell of fresh saw dust stinging my nose, and said, “Son, this is a socket wrench.”
No, he wasn’t a deadbeat. He just wasn’t that kind of guy. I’ve sometimes wondered who I would be if I’d been raised by a real man’s man, but the only conclusion I can come to is: I wouldn’t be me.
A few years ago, I took my girlfriend along for a trip to the cabin my family rented on Lake Michigan. I brought a football. My Dad brought old-time radio shows.
It’s all his fault, really. Along with his hairy back, plump lips, short stature and fondness for procrastination, I have inherited the muscle structure of a line backer. The old man is set at a stout 5’8 and a half while my mother stands at over six feet in heals. It’s amusing to see them at formal events. Her, pale, lanky and dark haired, towering above a husky, sun drenched and balding man. Even though his wife has to bend down to kiss him, he maintains a confidence I can’t seem to find. I haven’t dated a girl taller than me since the 8th grade and she licked my teeth when we made out.
It’s not police code for pot. It’s not Jerry Garcia’s birthday, or the day that Jim Morrison or Janis Joplin died. It’s not the number of active chemicals in marijuana. Yet all around the world, 420 is recognized as stoner code for… For what exactly?
Anything to do with weed, is the general consensus. Whether it’s 4:20 in the AM or PM or 4/20 on the calendar, stoners have been using the date/time/number as an excuse to get high for decades. It’s an inside joke that nobody really seems to understand. So how did the seemingly random number acquire its drug connotations?
I’ll give you a few more hints: It’s not because April 20th, 1880 is the birthday of Adolph Hitler and it’s not because the Columbine shootings happened on April 20th, 1999. It’s not even because Albert Hoffman took the first deliberate LSD trip at 4:20 on April 19th, 1943.
Instead, the ambiguous drug-code came about because a group of high school students were looking for a magical, lost crop of weed in 1971.