Richard Tocci

Richard Tocci
Just when you thought it was safe, I show up...

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The contents of this blog are my own comments and opinions and do not reflect those of my family, friends, colleagues, clients, employers, or anyone else I may know. Additionally, their comments and opinions are not a reflection of me or this blog. Any links contained in posts are maintained by third parties and are not under the control of this blog, and as such, this blog is not responsible for their content. All links are provided "as is" with no explicit or implicit warranty of any kind.

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Sunday, February 15, 2009

Revenge of the Sith

Recently I got into a conversation on Facebook about certain sci-fi and fantasy movies. The subject moved from Indiana Jones to Star Wars.

(Just to clarify things, the Crystal Skull, while entertaining, seemed a bit of a departure from the previous three movies -- The MacGuffin was a little too odd for my taste, the action was a bit sub-par and a little unbelievable, but I enjoyed the movie anyway)

In 1999 when Episode 1 was released, I felt it laid a great framework for the remaining parts of the so-called Prequels. The opening scene displayed Jedi powers not seen in such detail -- Jedi Speed, uses of a lightsaber such as deflecting energy beams and cutting through blast doors, and the fear of some of the invading forces that a pair of Jedi were even on board, displayed the true nature of the Jedi we had never seen before. It also helped that actors like Liam Neison and Ewan MacGregor played the title roles, and played them very well.

But as the Prequel Trilogy pregressed to the 2nd episode, I felt the choice of Hayden Christensen was not a good idea as Anakin Skywalker. Later, I decided it was a good choice, because he played the whiny father of Luke Skywalker well enough to be believable. By the time Revenge of the Sith came out, I was happy to see the Trilogies bridged, but at the same time, I found myself wanting more.

Revenge of the Sith was NOT enough for me. Scenes were deleted that led to the Rebellion and Yoda's landing on Daghoba, and I think they should have been included. While the scenes kept in the final movie were packed with action, I wanted more -- LOTS more. Here is a list of items I really needed to see done better than they were:

  • The battle between Yoda and the Emperor -- if Yoda and the Emperor were so powerful, why didn't they flat out destroy the Senate? That room should have been torn to pieces after that battle, with Yoda escaping, as he did, but barely, and nearly costing him his life. I mean, come on, I wanted to see all of those Senate flying pods flung all over the place, with Yoda Force-throwing others and then POW! -- midair destruction. Force lightning flying every time the Emperor had a free hand. The lightsaber fight was quite good, and that saved that scene, but I wanted to see Clash of the Titans, I wanted Neo and Smith, I wanted Frank Miller's Batman vs. Superman from "The Dark Knight Returns", but in the Star Wars Universe.
  • The battle between the Emperor and Mace Windu -- Mace Windu, apart from Yoda, was the most skilled lightsaber duelist in the galaxy. He was fighting the Dark Lord of the Sith, and I felt like it went too slowly. From what I've read, Ian McDiarmid wound up wanting to do some of the fight scenes himself, but it needed to be more fast paced, more brutal, and I was jipped of that.
  • The Cutdown of Anakin Skywalker -- "Don't do it -- I have the high ground"...what the hell kind of line was that? Why didn't Anakin just go after him, in anger, on the ground, and then Obi-Wan Kenobi could just cut him down right there, not in the air, and then let him burn. I liked the emotion Ewan showed in that scene, but it was almost too little, too late.
  • The Dialog -- couldn't SOMEone edit the damn script after Lucas wrote it, and made the dialog a little better?
  • Yoda communing with Qui-Gon Jinn -- At the end of Episode I, Qui-Gon Jinn, the maverick Jedi Master to Obi-Wan Kenobi, was killed by Darth Maul, the apprentice to the Sith Lord. Qui-Gon is mentioned briefly in Episode II, and then at the very end of Episode III by Yoda when he tells Kenobi he has more training for him to do. There was a short scene in Episode II where Yoda was meditating, and one can clearly hear Qui-Gon's voice. This should have been expanded, even if only for a few minutes per movie. I would have tied to two Trilogies together better.
Now, this is just my opinion on the subject, and I was not entirely disappointed. I still love Star Wars -- I just think it could have been done a little better than it was.

Friday, February 13, 2009

A Marriage Ends, and The Road Ahead...

Well, today, it happened. Finally. After a year of being separated, it finally happened. My marriage to Felicity Young is now officially, legally, over. It happened between 8:30 and 12 noon today, based on the decree we both signed off on a couple of weeks ago.

I'm not happy about the divorce. Don't get me wrong -- I'm glad it's done and over with, I'm glad this day is here. But the divorce represents a failure, and I do not like failure, so therefore, I am not happy.

It's true -- I hate failure. Failure means I didn't learn what I needed to learn about marriage to keep it going and make it work. In this case, however, I don't think that would have mattered. Fliss told me several times it was not all my fault. Her feelings on marriage had a lot to do with its failure.

In the long run, I believe this was the best decision. Good decisions are not always the ones that make us feel better in the end. The marriage would have ended anyway, I believe. I think I saw this one ending before Fliss ever asked for the divorce. But I tried to keep it going, and that didn't help matters any.

I am happy it ended now because Alex and Hayden will adjust to mother and father living apart. Alex knew something was going on a while ago. He knows Mom and Dad live in different places, and while he did not fully understand why, he's adjusted to it pretty well. He's figured out a few things, and tries to play off that as much as he can -- he's tried the "I want to go to (Parent's Title here)'s house now!" and that just does not work. He knows that, but he tries anyway. Hayden, on the other hand, is too young for this to matter and will adjust to it better than Alex.

What's next? Not marriage, I'll tell you that. I am NOT looking for someone to settle down with. I'm just not that interested in that right now. My tax bracket changes now, too. Anyone have any ideas how to save $250 a month on paying a single man's tax rate? I have a few ideas but will welcome any and all suggestions!

A female friend of mine joked with me recently when I told her that I signed my divorce papers. She said "Oh, really? So...uh...How YOU doin'?" While I laughed at this, I realized that, in some respects, some women would see me as "new meat" and might even be after me now that I am newly single and unmarried. Let's be honest, I hold certain qualities a woman looks for in a man -- I am good with children, I have a steady job with a fair income (less take home now that I'm divorced and paying the single tax rate, thanks mainly to Texas state mandated child support formulas -- anyone in Maryland that complains about the support YOU pay should drop me a line, and I'll tell you how much I pay, and then you can shut the hell up!), and I have a decent sense of humor. While I know these are positive features, I am not delusional -- I am not the handsomest man on the planet, and I won't likely be dating a Playboy model in the near future, but it is true that men, like women, are put up on meat block to be surveyed, not always at their own request, and almost certainly not always fairly. It's unfair, but it's reality, and I'll deal with it as best I can.

Additionally, I am NOT going to sire more children. I'm done. No Mas. In fact, to nearly guarantee this, I plan to have The Surgery. Yes, that's right...Snip Snip. Like my friend Steve Vyhlidal used to say when playing dominoes, I'll be Shootin' Blanks. Seriously, I'm pushing 40 and the last thing I want is more children. I am VERY happy with the 4 children I have now. My immediate family is complete. I'm finished. No Mo' Kids! Did you hear that in the back row -- The Richard Tocci Jr. Baby Factory is now CLOSED!

What does that do for possible dating prospects? Don't care -- I'll be dating, not looking to settle down. If you look at me and say "Wow, I wouldn't mind being with him and having a few kids", I'll be moving on. In case you didn't hear me:

No More Kids!

The biggest problem I had writing this blog entry was coming up with a title. I considered "Freedom", "Another One Bites The Dust", and "The End" but they all seemed too crude and inconsiderate. I can't bring myself to be too mean -- I did get two wonderful children from this marriage, so regardless of it all, I have them, and they have me, and that's better than anything else in the world.

And now, this chapter ends, and the next one begins...

Monday, February 9, 2009

My Mother was Right...Sort Of...

My mother had this theory when I was young. It was an odd theory then, and still is, but I've been forced to look back at it several times in the last weeks. I hate to admit my parents were right in ANY way, just as my children, I'm sure, hate to admit when I'm right, so I take no pleasure in this.

I'll see if I can put the theory into the proper form:

The behavior of a child is directly proportional to the need and/or inability of the child to perform solid excretion.

Yes, that's right. My mother said that behavior problems were caused by the child needing to take a poop.

I am NOT making this up! She told me once that I was misbehaving (and I'm not sure that I was, honestly), and that I needed to go to the bathroom, to "go take a shit". Seriously -- she made me go into the bathroom, and sit down, until I...well, you can guess. You can also guess I didn't...well, you know...and went on to do something more productive that afternoon -- like go down the street and look at porn magazines at my friend's house.

Fast forward 20-some-odd years. Hayden spent the weekend with me and had a hard time eating on Friday night. He basically puked up what he ate before he got to me. By Saturday, his diaper had nothing but pee in it.

So I called the ex and asked if Hayden had been having some trouble eating lately. Yes, he had some trouble for the past few days. He was also irritable and was not happy most of the day Friday.

So Saturday morning I feed him his Pediasure and Cheerios and then for lunch he had refried beans and carrots with applesauce. A few hours later, after much straining, he passed what I can only describe as a very healthy bowl movement. It was easy to see the problem -- the first half of it was like concrete, the latter half more along the lines of normal excretion.

So my mother was right...sort of. Yeah, he was not happy, but he was not "misbehaving", and he was not happy because he needed to go potty VERY badly.

Note to self -- give ex a copy of Hayden's Daddy Time Menu and he'll be right as regular in no time.

And people wondered why I never brought a girlfriend home to meet my parents...