Irish Storytelling (Part 1): My Father and I

PART ONE:  My Father and I

I don’t know what has inspired me to pursue and exhibit anything artsy, because my parents never really have had that quality. It’s nothing against them, and I am not holding that statement against them.  However, I play the guitar and had a year and a half of the keyboard back in the day; my parents don’t play an instrument.  In essence, they love music and have definitely influenced my interest in enjoying a wide variety of genres.  Nobody else would have shown me how to play those vinyls.  With the exception of notes or cards, my parents are not writers.  With the exception of the dying newspaper and a magazine here or there, my mom isn’t much of a reader when you compare her to my father.  His influence challenged me to take on classics rather contemporary; in grade school, kindergarten through senior year, maybe it was due to the fact that they didn’t know much young adult literature, I would pick up something by a dead author for a book talk or report.  It was definitely fun when doing a book talk on Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None in front of your seventh grade class, reading that crude little poem about and foreshadowing each individual demise.  Aside Mr. Kane, I would have given two of my fellow students the knowledge of knowing or hearing about that book before I did a report on it.  However, it’s my own fault for not looking into contemporary or YA Lit, because I had my favorite authors and I looked them up whenever I went to the library.  I wanted to read those classics.
I’m very happy that Syracuse has its own local authors:  I really do think Bruce Coville was a great inspiration to me.  I remember writing stories on my own time, and basing the horror aspect around his work.  Plus, who didn’t think their teachers were aliens?!?  At times, the content and imagination went too far, and we can all thank Stephen King.  Yet, I simply wanted to be the next Edgar Allan Poe.
I still do.
That’s defining the beauty of my parents:  they gave me the power of choice in order for me to grow up and define my own person.
My dad read to me, sat down and read with me, and helped me out quite a bit throughout the years when it came to various homework-related issues.  Everything is definitely appreciated.  I learned the ability to really appreciate a story through his raising me.  Whether you’re telling or listening, writing or reading, my dad guided me through the basics of what makes up a good story.  He has told me numerous stories growing up; although, these orations were recollections of growing up in the Irish/Czech household of eight children or adventurous friend stories, he told them objectively and fluidly and without any hesitation.  Many times, I feel his friend-related stories parallel the storytelling of John Steinbeck in Tortilla Flat.
I’ve heard new stories lately as well as retelling of some, which are consistent.  The stories my brother have already known about never get tiring, entertaining us and everyone listening.  If you know my father, he’s not a bullshitter.  He’ll tell you like it is, or how he’s thinking.
This brings me to another opinion-based fact of my father:  I think he would have made a great teacher.  In the literal sense, until his retiring, he was a special education teaching assistant for a variety of age levels and school settings.  My father did a great job of raising his two kids, as well as being there for others in the neighborhood.  His impact traveled for miles, especially his voice when he was yelling at my brother and/or I.  He was strict, but never overbearing or domineering; he punished and grounded my brother with a big fat and grey respect cloud in the room.  Yes, he got infuriated and yelled–a lot–but he would come up to my brother and I, while we were exiled in our respective bedrooms, and he would talk to us.  Dad would ask us if we knew what we did wrong, if we learned, and if we were going to do it again.  We definitely learned from our mistakes.  I don’t remember if we made a mistake more than twice.  I do say twice, because I can clearly recall his asking, “What did I tell you last time?”  Our punishments/groundings usually began at 1-Week increments, but often ended 20 minutes after the dispute.
However, he was always willing to lend a helping hand with our school work.
Due to my father’s love to learn, he’s usually watching the History Channel or documentaries when he isn’t watching True Blood or Boardwalk Empire, he would have been a great school teacher.  History or Social Studies would have been his primary niche, and he would have been able to teach any grade; however, he would have done well as an English college professor.  He’s great with kids and adults, and he really pushed my brother and I to do well, but gave us space at the same time to choose our own destiny.  It was on our own shoulders if we did the work or not, not his.  After all, he wasn’t the one taking classes.
As a teacher… err, a school teacher, my father would have incorporated a variety of dynamics to the classroom instead of just simply standing there to teach.  With the changing time and technologies, he would have greatly taken on learning what is new when enhancing classroom learning.  His personality would intimidate the students, but not scare the shit out of them.  Well, maybe some could be exceptions.  He wouldn’t need to send kids to the principal or In School Suspension (ISS).
When my mom meets up with one of her many groups (The Girls, the elementary school teachers, or former coworkers from back in the day), my dad is milling about the house or watching television with wine or a tumbler of Jameson in hand.  Lou is often around to hang out with him, but that stir crazy cat loves to be outside, and then he comes inside, and then he wants to go back outside.  Lou doesn’t say much, nor does he drink Jameson, so I come by to be a more suitable partner.
We have dinner, which usually consists of meat cooked never to well, a starch, and a salad (because we have to eat healthy).  After the wine is poured, we are good to eat.
Post dinner, we have the second glass or wine or switch to the Jameson while we pop in a movie.  On Friday, we watched Being Flynn, the adaptation of Nick Flynn’s memoir, Another Bullshit Night in Suck City.  Paul Dano plays Nick and De Niro plays his father, Jonathan. Jonathan, who completely avoids contact and any sort of relationship with Nick, essentially reconnects with his son while the latter works at a homeless shelter.
The previews make the movie look interesting, and I was delighted by the end of the film.  I cannot complain about he performances of either actor, and they seemed to have a great chemistry throughout the film.  De Niro is De Niro, and that’s all that can be said.  Dano has been proving himself lately.  Granted, Dano will probably never be a De Niro, because you cannot claim the persona of a great actor.  Dano has a very long career ahead of him, so he can gain that credibility.  However, once De Niro retires or passes on, essentially his number will be retired.
The Road was another movie that dad and I highly enjoyed together, especially because I bought him the book about a year before the film came out.  Father and son versus the apocalypse.  We enjoyed both versions of the story.  Taken 2, however, was a whole other story.  Dad and I, as soon as the movie ended, I currently have been referring to the film as Taken Again!–I have to add the exclamation point for effect and cheese–we looked at each other as the credits begun, asking each other:  Is that it?
I’m glad he enjoys our time together as well.  We actually talk about the movie:  acting, plot, characterization, cinematography, and dialogue.  Its comforting to be a dork with the guy who helped create you.
Although I do love a good horror, comedy or action flick, I hold dramas at the top of a favorite genre.  With the formers, any sort of feeling displayed or taken from the characters is lost within or in between laughs and explosions.
I want to know the characters and their intentions.  I enjoy and want to feel terrible when the characters do in order level with the people I see.  It’s reassuring to get lost in the movie, in the character, because there is a desire to care.  I often say this, but I often judge a movie based on whether or not I can see this on a small stage.  Can this be played out, literally?
It’s all about tangibility.  However, I will get into this in the next post.
My friends have been a great support with this whole blog thing, but my father hasn’t read any of the posts to my knowledge.  I am not offended.  The computer they own is very slow/outdated, and he probably does not know his way around the Internet as some of us do.  He hasn’t read any of my short stories, poetry, or bits and pieces of the novel.
I am curious about what my father would say about the poetry I have written.  He’s very much into poetry, and introduced Whitman, Dickinson, and Frost to me at an early age.  Granted, I didn’t fully understand much of the poetry due to my being so young, but I still don’t fully understand some of it today.
Well, some of this is true for everyone else.  Hey, I’m picky on letting people read my rubbish.  Speaking of my rubbish–my writing–I am going to be posting another short story!  It took me a while to coax myself to do so.  Due to the length, I will be posting it in parts.  I can edit the story this way, pushing myself to do so bit by bit.
However, I simply want all of you–my family, friends, and strangers–to enjoy what I am offering.  This is, also, true for the individuals in Russia, China, Ukraine, Germany, France, South Korea, and Moldova who have visited the sites.  Yes, I did say Moldova.

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