Roger Moore, James Bond Films and My Dad

Roger Moore has died.

Some of my fondest childhood memories involve Roger Moore, James Bond films and my dad. My father was a big fan of Bond. I am not sure if he ever read the books, though I suspect he must have read a few, but my dad was a fan of the films. His favourite Bond was the original, Sean Connery, and I might agree with that choice now (it’s kind of hard to choose), but as a child my preference definitely was for Roger Moore.

Bond. James Bond.
Bond. James Bond.

I can’t remember the first Bond film I watched. I just know it was Moore’s version of Bond and I have a feeling it was the Man with the Golden Gun. But whichever film it was, I was instantly caught up in the excitement of the Bond mythos. Any time a new film came out, I was there in the theater. More importantly, any time one of the movies played on TV, I was allowed to watch it.

My parents were reasonably strict when it came to bedtime, but when a Bond film was on TV, I sat with my dad and watched. Sometimes, the movies would start early, at about 8:00, but more often than not, they started at the usual TV movie time of 9 PM. It didn’t matter that my bedtime on weekends was about that same time; Bond movies were a “special event” that I was allowed to stay up for.

My dad was 45 when I was born and though my father had been active as a younger man, by the time I came along, he was settling into a rather sedentary lifestyle. I didn’t play baseball with him, or any sport really. That might have been part of the reason I never really developed a fondness for most sports. No, if I did anything with my dad, it was to toss a Frisbee, or occasionally go for a bike ride, but those things didn’t happen very often. My dad was a busy man. He had a lot of responsibilities at work and I can remember him occasionally bringing paperwork home. He would start it after supper and continue past my bedtime. Combining that with the fact that my father was the disciplinarian in the house meant that when I was very young I didn’t have a particularly close relationship with him. I loved him, of course, and felt loved, but we just didn’t seem to have much time together.

But when Bond was on? Well, that was our time.

When I read about Roger Moore’s passing, it brought back all kinds of memories about my dad, but mainly the simple act of sitting beside him on the couch watching these movies. So, thank you Roger Moore for giving me and my dad something to “Bond” over.It may seem like a silly thing, but the memories are priceless.



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Becoming a Superhero!

The Pulse-Pounding Origin!

From my earliest memories, I had two life goals: become a writer and become a superhero. I had everything all planned out; I was going to train in martial arts for several years, then I would make a costume for myself (in the classic red and blue). Finally, I would introduce myself to the local police and let them know that I was going to be helping them to apprehend all the villains of the city.

This was my honest goal. I was fully convinced that this would be how I lived my life, writing novels by day and fighting crime by night. In my childhood understanding of the universe, wanting something was enough to know that you would eventually have it. I didn’t consider any alternatives because I didn’t need to.

As the years went by, life interfered with those plans. I never did learn martial arts beyond a few week’s worth of judo, but I did design my costume. It was pretty snazzy, too, so it is a shame that I was never able to make use of it. It also should have been evident that I wouldn’t really become a crime-fighter given that I always needed to toss a dog biscuit down the stairs into the basement before going down, so that my dog would lead the way and distract any monsters living there while I ran and grabbed whatever I needed.

By the time I was a teenager, a secret identity may have been useful. I was rather shy and so having a mask to hide behind may have been liberating in some ways, but it never really happened. The closest I came to heroics in those days was to take up archery and swordplay in an attempt to emulate Robin Hood.

Throughout those years, I was reading a lot of comics. I still had the dreams of being a hero, but had now resigned myself to living vicariously through Spider-Man, Batman and others. It was also around that time that I started to play various role-playing games. I loved the Marvel Super Heroes game, but even when I played Dungeons & Dragons, I would often play a Paladin, the epitome of the “good guy” in that game. When I joined a group that played other, darker games like Shadowrun, I still played my character as someone with a strong moral code, often with outfits that bordered on superhero costumes.

As an adult, I never lost my love of superheroes and still wanted to do something in life that would let me help people. I ran through a number of career options, ranging from doctor to police officer, but for various reasons never pursued any of them (that other dream of being a writer was still on my mind through it all). When the late, great MMO City of Heroes appeared on the scene, I fell in love. I was able to design my character, design his uniform, choose his powers, and then go fight all manner of super villains. I figured that this was as close as I would ever get to being a hero (aside from maybe virtual reality at some point).

Then the magic happened.

A Hero This Way Comes!

When my first son was born, it was one of the most amazing experiences of my life (the other highest point being the birth of my second). I was thrilled with this new addition to my family and looked forward to all the amazing things we would be doing in the future. One of those things, of course, would be sharing a love of comics and superheroes. I didn’t expect that my son would allow me to become more of a hero than I ever imagined.

Family heroics

My boys have friends who have, sadly, grown up without their dads. In some cases, the dad left when they were young. In other cases, they left before the kids had the chance to know them. In far too many other cases, the dads are at home, but almost completely uninvolved in the lives of their kids.

My family is everything to me. They are the reason that I wake up each morning. They are the reason I want to better myself, so that I can provide more for them. I am far from a perfect dad; I have a temper at times, I can sometimes be too lenient and other times be too harsh, and then there are times where work keeps me away from them more than I want, but when I am with them, I try to be with them.

I like to think that I have a pretty good relationship with my boys. Again, it’s not perfect, but I don’t know if that  is even possible. Maybe it’s not even desirable. After all, having flaws and difficulties that we can strive to overcome lets us teach our kids how to do the same. My boys know that life is messy. It’s hard. It’s not always fun. They also know that the most important thing is to love and support one another.

At a point in my life when I had stopped thinking it was possible to be a hero, I became one, simply by doing my best to be a good father. This is something that any parent can do as well. If you want to be a hero, then be there for your kids. Your TV shows can wait. Your cell phone can be put down for a while. Things can wait. Your kids need you. Being a parent is hard work, but it is also the only way most of us will ever get to experience being a hero.

Growing up, I thought that being a hero was about saving lives. That certainly does qualify, but we often underestimate the effect we can have by simply being present in a life. We can guide our kids, make them better than we are. We can build an amazing future simply by raising amazing kids. Any one of us could raise a child to be a president or prime minister. Maybe a scientist or a doctor. Maybe an astronaut. Maybe just someone who is in the right place at the right time to help someone who needs them.

If we all do that, we can all be heroes, and the world can be the kind of place we have only dreamed about.


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I’d Rather Fight a Supervillain

Well, maybe not, but it’s a toss-up. Given that this site is intended to talk about being a parent, amoung other things, I thought I should do a post on parenting advice for teens. After all, aside from the “terrible twos,” which really aren’t all that bad, being the parent of a teen is the most trying part of being a parent for many of us.

The thing is, I am not sure I can really give advice. I mean, I’m just a dad like any other. I don’t have any Oprah-like advice to dole out. I have my days where I feel like I am just barely hanging on… but… My son is a good kid. I have a lot of trust in him. I know that while he may make some silly mistakes and questionable decisions, he has a good heart and will try to do the right thing.

While it may seem at times that some alien creature has taken over his body (which has grown with frightening speed over the past year or so) and he may appear to be on a quest to turn my hair grey or drive me screaming into the streets, there are also moments where the little boy he was shines through. As much as he wants to appear mature, he is still a kid. It’s easy sometimes– especially now that he’s officially the tallest person in the family and soon to need a razor– to think that he is all grown up; he can do pretty much everything by himself. It’s not that he needs us for much anymore, aside from a bit of nagging about homework or cleaning his room.

Except that he does need us.

Contrary to what he might think sometimes, he doesn’t have all the answers. Neither do we as parents, but we have a much better chance of finding them together, and I think that may be one bit of advice that I could give: work with your kids instead of trying to control everything, especially as they get older. Let them make their own decision where possible. there’s nothing wrong with that. You maintain the power to veto what you disagree with, but letting them start to decide things for themselves when possible is a good thing.

More than anything else, though, I think the best advice I can give in regards to parenting a teen is this: raise the best pre-teen that you can. Raise the best young child that you can. Raise the best toddler and baby that you can. By the time your kid is a teen, they are largely set on the path that they are going to walk. The easiest way to know that your teen has a level head, is trustworthy and a good decent person, is to know all that about them before they reach their teens.

Having kids is the best job in the world. So cliché, I know, but very true. My kids are the greatest part of my life. My son is growing into a wonderful man and I know he’ll be great so long as we can get through the raging hormones and crazy mood-swings.

So yeah, I guess there won’t really be much in the way of advice on this site after all. I’ll write about our experiences, things that we go through and how we survive them, but the only real advice to be had is just common sense: be with your kids as much as you can. get to know them. Be there for them when they need you and give them space when it’s safe to do so. Love them, trust them, have fun with them, because they’re awesome.

Are Superheroes Still Relevant?

I guess my thoughts on the matter are already pretty evident, given that I’ve chosen to devote this site, in part, to them. I think that superheroes are not only relevant, they’re vital. Why?  Superheroes flourished during dark times. The Golden Age of comics started in the late 1930’s. During World War 2, comics had immense popularity as heroes garbed in red, white and blue fought the Nazis and other villains. These ultra-patriotic heroes were an inspiration to their readers, showing that truth and justice could overcome evil in the world.

Today, things are a bit more complicated. Not all of our battles are being fought overseas. Many are taking place right here at home. Many are not even physical conflicts, but rather ones involving morality and simply trying to determine what is “right.”

Somewhere along the way from the Golden Age through to today, superheroes became much darker. Where once a character like the Punisher stood out from the pack, distinguished by his methods and willingness to kill villains, he is now fairly commonplace. Many heroes kill now. The hero who always knew what was right and always did it has been replaced by conflicted, uncertain heroes who make mistakes almost as often as not. The superhero of the modern age is less of a superhuman and more of a normal human with super powers.

There is a great quote in the movie Tomorrowland:

The probability of wide-spread annihilation kept going up. The only way to stop it was to show it. To scare people straight. Because, what reasonable human being wouldn’t be galvanized by the potential destruction of everything they’ve ever known or loved? To save civilization, I would show its collapse. But, how do you think this vision was received? How do you think people responded to the prospect of imminent doom? They gobbled it up like a chocolate eclair! They didn’t fear their demise, they re-packaged it. It could be enjoyed as video-games, as TV shows, books, movies, the entire world wholeheartedly embraced the apocalypse and sprinted towards it with gleeful abandon. Meanwhile, your Earth was crumbling all around you. You’ve got simultaneous epidemics of obesity and starvation. Explain that one! Bees and butterflies start to disappear, the glaciers melt, algae blooms. All around you the coal mine canaries are dropping dead and you won’t take the hint! In every moment there’s the possibility of a better future, but you people won’t believe it. And because you won’t believe it you won’t do what is necessary to make it a reality. So, you dwell on this terrible future. You resign yourselves to it for one reason, because *that* future does not ask anything of you today. So yes, we saw the iceberg and warned the Titanic. But you all just steered for it anyway, full steam ahead. Why? Because you want to sink!

It’s pretty scary, but I find there’s a lot of truth there. It’s for this reason that I feel superheroes are as important now as they have ever been– perhaps more so. I want my kids to have someone to look up to that exemplifies what is best in people. It doesn’t matter to me if it’s a fictional character; many of my heroes come from literature and entertainment, but they are symbols and exemplars of behaviours and ideals that I believe in.

With superheroes very prominent in our entertainment right now, I see a great opportunity for lessons to be imparted and morals to be highlighted in a way that can reach many, many people. I believe that a sense of optimism, a desire to help others and a willingness to act upon what one believes to be right is of utmost importance right now. Heroes need to lead the way again. They may simply be images on a page or movie screen, but these characters can inspire us. They can make us heroes.

And, of course, superheroes are just fun.