Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Once and Future Jack

He was almost here then not. You can't blame him. He's just chillin', doing his thing in the womb.

Jack, also known as John, also known as the baby, has pulled the sword from the stone of our hearts and earned the title of the Once and Future Jack. He was scheduled to take his position on this day, Wednesday, May 30th 2012, but his training has not been made complete. Therefore he will stay behind and complete his training for one more week before being thrust upon this world.

This whole event has been a series of events that is clearly leading to a significant event. It started a year ago when we began taking steps to make an adoption. Adoption was our sword in the stone, and we began looking for the anointed one who was destined to pull the sword from the stone. Jack is the destined one, and it has been revealed in more ways than one.

The first sign came 9 months ago when God sent a "telegram" to my wife via a Southwest Airlines logo. The telegram said, "Your baby is on it's way." (Thank you, Jami, for reminding us). It was clear as a bell, however, the telegram didn't include a time table, unless it was somehow encoded inside the Southwest Logo, which we didn't pick up on. The timetable came 5 months later when I dreamed Jenny was 5 months pregnant. All things being equal in the dreamland of Tel'aran'rhiod we took it to mean we had 4 months left. That was the second sign.

So 4 months later almost as if on cue we got a call. Someone who knew someone who knew someone called us. (Thanks, Sarah, for calling at the exact right time). Sarah connected us to a young woman who wanted to connect us to the life growing inside of her.

Third sign: The night we planned on meeting this amazing and unselfish young woman we were encouraged by my sister to buy some chocolates for her (Thank you, Steph for your suggestion). Target was the chocolatier of choice, so we grabbed the yummiest looking box in the candy aisle and got in line directly behind an uber-pregnant woman and her very generous parents. The courteous red-shirted attendant swiped and bagged everything she had and gave the receipt to her father who paid and then proceeded to cart their new belongings to a shady spot in some pretty nursery near by. We did our thing with the chocolates and the swiping and the bagging and the have-a-nice-daying to the attendant, when suddenly the woman with child and parents waddled towards us saying she was missing a baby boppy cover. How they ever figured that out before getting home and unpacking, I will never know. I mean, I can be halfway through a jar of peanut butter before I realize I bought some bananas a week ago that I never ended up bringing home from the grocery store. Poor bananas.

The red-shirt asked us to check our bag for a baby boppy cover and there it was. As if irony wasn't ironic enough, when we handed over the said baby boppy cover to the father standing there with his pregnant daughter, he looked both of us in the eye and said, "Maybe it's a premonition."

We almost had to be carried out to our car.

Needless to say, we held our chocolates tight before handing them over to the blessed birth mother of our once and future son Jack.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The Latest Buzz by John Bayer

The Polar Bear Periodical feature's a guest blogger this week, John Bayer. The topic of delight this week is a little phenomenon called Reality Television. John Bayer is the creative genius behind the lifestyle/advice blog: John Tells You How to Live (http://johntellsyouhowtolive.wordpress.com). John is an auteur, a raconteur, and a provocateur. When he isn't writing and providing life coaching services to a desperate and needy populace, John collects porcelain kittens and teaches conversational Esperanto. John lives in Southern California. About this opportunity, John says, “I am a huge fan and avid reader of [insert blog]. I am honored that my good friend [insert name] has given me this chance to do his/her job for him/her by writing a guest post.”



The Latest Buzz


The ancient Greeks believed that the titan god Prometheus gave mankind the gift of fire. West African mythology tells us that the prankster Anansi, son of the sky god taught humans the techniques of agriculture. According to Genesis, God gave the first man dominion over all of the other animals. In our time, a new breed of all powerful being has come into existence – the television executive. And these executives – the gods of television – have given us the greatest gift of all: Reality Shows.


God may have given us dominion over the animals; but the television gods have given us the ability to become animals ourselves. Between the cat fights on The Bachelor, the weasels on The Jersey Shore and the jackasses on, well, Jackass; the screen has become a regular Wild Kingdom of lewdness and debauchery. And we, the audience are no better – swarming around our television sets feasting on a putrid and dying medium like so many flies around an antelope carcass.


Of course, as you devolve from human into an insect; it is never enough to simply be one of the flies. You are no mere sycophant. You are born for greatness. You must become Lord of the Flies. You are destined for Reality Show fame. And here are my tips for getting there:


Love the sound of your own voice. The free exchange of ideas between people who respect each other's opinions is for PBS; or worse, the (non-MTV) real world. You should ever and always be the only person talking. If someone else is speaking, interrupt them.


Be easily outraged. Take offense at everything everyone says about you. If someone compliments you, learn to misinterpret it as a slight. Soon people will learn not to speak to or about you at all. Take offense at this.


Yell. A lot.

Have no knowledge of American history, world literature or current events. Facts are not your friends. Television producers and studio executives are looking to fill their reality shows with personalities who are dumber than they are. This is no small feat. If you are too intelligent, consider undergoing an invasive procedure to correct the problem – such as electroshock therapy or a Celebrity Apprentice marathon.


Have an off-putting personality. Barring that, be married to someone with an off-putting personality.


Have no discernible talent. Barring that, know how to make cakes.


Avoid competition shows. The word “competition” carries the implication of ability or talent. I reiterate, talent is to be avoided. Competition shows stress the contest over the characters. This is not
for you. You don't want to be booted off on episode two because your chicken was undercooked and sent three people to the hospital. Remember, the Kardashians didn't build an empire on talent.


The only exception to the “no competition shows” rule is: Become a judge on a competition show. They're loud. They're rude. They're easily outraged. They set themselves above everyone else in the universe. They criticize the smallest weaknesses in others while displaying no discernible talent of their own. This is a perfect storm, or what they like to call in the biz - “pulling a Gordon Ramsey.”


Though not entirely necessary, it helps to have a stupid nickname. Like “Snoodle” or “The Happenstance.”


Make enemies wherever you go. Stab your friends in the back. Stab your family in the back. Stab perfect strangers in the back. If someone refuses to turn around, stab them in the front. Friends are for humans, not insect kings.


The road to reality show fame can be an arduous one requiring perseverance and tenacity. If you didn't completely understand what the previous sentence meant, then you are well on your way to becoming a Reality Show Superstar. Though the competition to get onto a reality show is fierce, the opportunities are almost limitless. Here are just a few of the new reality shows currently casting:


The Real Housewives of Fire Island
Kim and Kourtney Versus Mothra
America's Next Top Accountant
The Los Angeles Free Clinic Presents The Deadliest Catch
So You Think You Can Menstruate?
The Jersey Shore Goes to Afghanistan
Freebasing with the Stars
Are You Hotter Than a 5th Grader?

So there you go. I can give you the tools, but it's your job to implement them. So, get out there and make it happen. And, hurry! The rest of us are getting hungry.


Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The Wonder Years: Our Struggle with Hormones and Puberty

January 31, 1988, was a very important day in the history of our nation. First and foremost, it will go down in the annals of the Google search engine as the day that the Washington Redskins embarrassed the Denver Bronco's in Superbowl XXII. Second and fivemost, it was the day that millions of teenagers tuned in to watch Winnie Cooper and Kevin Arnold begin a sordid Shakespearean affair with a single kiss. From 1988 until 1994, The Wonder Years captivated me. In my opinion, the best show of the 80's decade and arguably the greatest comedy/drama series of all time.

 

The Wonder Years was remarkable television...for many reasons, not the least of which was the narration of Daniel Stern. (Yep that's the clumsy bad guy from Home Alone.) The nasally, reminiscent voice-over of Kevin's adult self reminded us that it's all in the past, that high school is over, and that the worst and possibly the best years are gone.
"Thirteen is a crazy age.
You're too young to vote and to old not to be in love.
You live in a house someone else owns...
[Camera shows WINNIE's house through KEVIN's window]
but your dreams are already somewhere else." (episode #46)

We followed Kevin Arnold through his teenage years while he navigated through the battlefield of adolescence to claim the rewards on the other side of puberty. A television show about puberty. That word still makes me shiver. It was punishing, and it left us helpless in the combat zone of junior high school. However, the hormones had a blast, running to and fro through the amusement park of our little bodies, riding blood vessels like roller coasters. We were enamored with Kevin Arnold, his trusty sidekick, Paul Pfeiffer, and the innocent, emotional, and enigmatic Winnie Cooper, as they all fought valiantly against the onslaught of those hormones. We were fighting with them, growing up with them, living and dying with them, every Sunday night, for six seasons.

Like battle weary soldiers standing on the edge of sanity we stood with Kevin, Paul, and Winnie. Our heroes on Sunday evening helped us stake flags in every corner of our endocrine system, claiming victory over every gland. We will not be governed by an ocean of hormones that don't care whether we live or die. We will make decisions based on logic, instead of irrational exuberance. We will ignore the acne and the cracking voices. We will use razors and buy deodorants. We will not drool over the opposite sex... in public. We will keep our pants on and our eyes up. We will... or we will at least try... most of the time...some of the time...

The Wonder Years, took us from 7th grade to graduation day. And somewhere in the midst of all those English tests, chemistry labs and sibling rivalries, one of those rewards I was referring to earlier, began to emerge. I call it LOVE now, but back then it was "LIKE."

Kevin and Winnie, an epic "like" story. 

KEVIN: Winnie, you know I don't get you!! One minute you like me, the next you don't. You've been doing this all year. First you kiss me, then you act like you don't like me. If you like me, fine, if you don't, quit acting like it!!
KEVIN: I just have to know if you like me or not. And don't give any of that "like me" like me stuff.
NARRATOR: Well, that was it: a straightforward, face-to-face, yes-or-no question. And I was going to stand there until I got my answer.
WINNIE: I don't know.
KEVIN:
"I don't know"! What do you mean you don't know?
WINNIE: I mean I don't know. I really don't know. [On the verge of tears] I wish everyone would just leave me alone. I don't know what I'm doing.
NARRATOR: This was something new. I mean, I always figured girls knew exactly what they wanted. They knew; they had a plan. Or maybe they didn't.
NARRATOR: Maybe they were just as confused as we were. Isn't that great?
NARRATOR: It--it's horrible. They don't know either. That means nobody knows.

KEVIN: You mean you really don't know?
WINNIE:
No.
KEVIN: Oh.
KEVIN: Well, I'm sorry.
WINNIE: What for?
KEVIN: I don't know.
NARRATOR:
As I stood there that cold night, I realized for the first time in a long time that Winnie and I were feeling the same thing.

Love in the hearts and hands of teenagers is like Icy Hot in the underarms and undershorts of Ronald McDonald. But what can we do? You just got to ride it out. Let it wash over you. Let the pain make you feel alive and believe as Shakespeare did, "It is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all."

Almost two decades have gone by since the last season of The Wonder Years aired, and I've figured out a couple things. The fact is, each one of us is still a walking hormone. The hormones won. We didn't defeat them. We keep them at bay, with things like political discussions, and careers, and long division, but we all know that hormones are just beyond that tiny ridge bouncing around like paranoid junkies, countless in number, waiting for the right girl to walk by, or the right guy to whistle at us. Then we have to corral them back in with a show on the Discovery Channel or a walk through the forest.

Looking back, I realize that the reason The Wonder Years was such a great show was because it was a revealing documentation of the most transformative, dramatic and hilarious stage of human development.

The Awkward Stage. 







Sunday, May 13, 2012

Happy Mother's Day, Mom - Here's a Sneak Peek

There's a reason I waited until Mother's Day to post this blog.  Last year for my Mom's Birthday I gave her a couple of websites, one of which was Kenhornby.com. This was in celebration of the the wonderful man who is my late father and her late husband. 
It's just a simple site right now, but I'm working on something that will be much more involved. Here's a sneak peak, Mom. 
Happy Mother's Day




Tuesday, May 1, 2012

The Polar Bear's Rules for Movie Goers



1. Go online and find out if there is a "Secret Scene"
Once in a while, theater goers who dwell in their positions during the epic credit roll will be rewarded with a "Secret Scene". It's quite thrilling, like seeing a narwhal off the coast of Greenland. It can tie a movie together or blow your mind with a cliff-hanging promise of a sequel. This doesn't happen all the time, not even most of the time or some of the time, actually...hardly ever, but that one time you do get the chance you want to be there. You don't want to find out from Howard Johnson over in retail that you missed seeing the narwhal. The realization that you missed part of the movie will haunt you and you will never be satisfied. Movie ruined.

2. Get there early.
The early bird catches the proverbial worm and lands the best possible viewing angle, audio vortex, and power position. Every theater and or living room has a sweet spot. Find it. Put a stake in it. Claim your reward. Getting there late means you get to sit in the bottom left side of the auditorium, two feet from the fire exit, craning your neck, getting your ears drums blown to shreds, next to the guy who is constantly wiggling and throwing popcorn because he is 2-years-old. Movie Ruined.

3. Don't get popcorn.
It's tempting because it's so full of salty, buttery goodness, and it seems to fit so well with movie culture. Let's face it, you'll be finished with it by the time the previews are half over, and somewhere during the first scene you'll realize you have that infernal kernel that's stuck between the right incisor and your outer gum agitating you during the entire movie. You'll be finding it for an hour with your tongue, then letting your tongue lead your finger like the blind leading the blind until you start to taste blood. Movie Ruined.

4. Go to the bathroom before the opening scene.
It doesn't matter if you have to go or not, just do it. This might mean missing a couple previews, but that's okay. You can go home and watch them on YouTube because some 8-bit, pizza roll eatin', blog jammer posted it yesterday. Don't get stuck some where in the middle of the movie trying to figure out which is the least important 45.8 second section of the film. Make that, 57.9 seconds if it's number two. When you sit back down every one is sobbing and you realize it was the most important 57.9 seconds thus far in the entire. Movie Ruined.

5. Don't fast forward or turn away during the love scenes.
Key contextual elements might be missing from the end of the movie. You'll be asking yourself "Why is it so significant that everything in the movie is black and white except for that orange umbrella in the final scene." It's because you missed the sex scene. It's like your standing at a locked door and you don't have the key. The key is back in that love scene you wouldn't watch. Movie ruined!

Nostalgic Feeling needs Creative Healing

You know that feeling you get when you smell that Croatian girl in front of you at Burlington Coat Factory, and it reminds you of a steak you had in an airport during a layover in Vienna, Austria. Then you grunt slightly thinking of that steak and the roasted red potatoes that you almost didn't get because the mixed vegetable medley sounded better. Then the final synaptic memory breaks free, and the entire trip comes flooding back into recollection, the people, the places, the time. Despite that epic sneer from the Croatian girl you just offended by grunting and smiling at her backside, your feeling pretty good, waxing reminiscent on "The Good Ole Days."  What happened there? Nostalgia happened, in the form of an olfactory evoked recall, and it is very powerful, almost as powerful as pure instinct. Just ask advertising agencies around the world.
Here's the order: Fear, Sex, and then Nostalgia. An elite assembly evoking strong emotions, intended primarily for the survival and continuation of the human race. Over the years, our mothers, our husbands, our girlfriends, our teachers, our bosses, and even our children have learned that these things can be used to motivate even manipulate each and every one of us. Fear-mongering has gotten a bad wrap ever since our mothers told us that if we kept making that ugly face it would freeze that way. But despite it's overwhelming negativity, it sells the most product. And the term "sex sells" has been a staple of good salesmanship ever since Eve stood there all sexy and nude and whatnot holding that cursed piece of fruit in front of Adam. Who hasn't jumped on that bandwagon? Everyone talks about fear and sex, but for the lionhearted and chaste among us, I'm going to delve into this phenomenon of nostalgia. To start I would like to provide a list of things that give me nostalgic feelings and see if you don't agree.
1. Corn dogs dripping with grease



2. 8-bit arcade games in an actual arcade




3. Comic books




4. Matchbox cars in the sandbox



5. Saturday morning cartoons



6. Riding bikes until you pee in your pants.



7. Old playgrounds



8. Box Turtles



9. Disney princesses



10. Icy pops on a Friday afternoon.



And one last thing, any webpage beginning with: You know your a child of the 80's if...
Most feelings of nostalgia induce positive vibes, unless of course you are getting re-acquainted with a favorite song that suddenly reminds you of why you had to find that happy place under the stairwell in junior high school. That would be considered a totally freakin' nostalgia backfire. However, nostalgia has been a golden goose for the Hollywood box office, automobile companies and toy manufacturers. As a father I'm enjoying seeing these flashbacks of my childhood, as a consumer I'm a sucker for those advertisements, but as an artist I'm disgusted.
Where did all the creativity go? In the interest of going green creative minds everywhere have entered the Age of Recycled Ideas. Ford Mustangs that harken back to the glory days of the 60's, Cabbage Patch dolls on the shelves in Wal-mart 15 years after they were cool, and a blockbuster movie based on the most boring adventure game ever, Battleship. "C-4" "Awww... you sunk my battleship." I can still see the faces of those kids on the front of the box, having the best time. Sorry, Hasbro, I never had any fun playing that game. Maybe if I had used real C-4...



Creativity is a last resort now-a-days. Why? Because it's cheaper. The price to earnings ratio is much more acceptable in such a questionable economy. Who wants to go out on a limb for a new idea, when there are so many old ones that work so well. Why not play the nostalgia card? It's working because we are all suckers for it. We don't realize that it will soon come back and bite us. The world needs creativity, it needs artists to create something out of nothing. Who knows, if we keep going down this path of least resistance we'll be making remakes of remakes of remakes, and theaters will vomit digital video out of their projection booths because we have become lukewarm.
Don't get me wrong, the creativity is there it just needs space. It needs money. it needs recognition. Don't let your weakness for nostalgia push the creative genius's further out into the starving artist sea. Support the arts. The reason the remakes are good is because they are resting on the shoulders of the greats, the originals.
It all started somewhere.
...and don't even get me started on Reality TV as my wife makes me watch American Idol.