Howdy. I'm Matt Todd. My wife and I have four kids and a dog,. I'm passionate about orphan care. I'm a die-hard fan of the Evansville Aces, the Indiana Hoosiers, and Star Wars. I'm trying to live life by the Todd family motto: "It behooves us to live!"

I made 7 year old me extremely jealous last weekend

This post about nostalgia, Star Wars toys, and classic arcade games contains affiliate links. I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links. Learn more in my Disclosure Policy. As always, thank you for your support.

I’ve only been working at the new job for about two months and I’ve already done some pretty memorable things. I got to tour a local bottling plant and was very tempted to pull a Laverne and Shirley. I was a good boy and didn’t do it. But, man. It was so tempting.

Then, not long after that, I had the opportunity to tour a local radio station and Continue reading I made 7 year old me extremely jealous last weekend

Star Trek fans: this dad needs your help!

Kids in Space

I have a big confession to make. Some of you aren’t going to like it. But that’s OK. I’ve come to grips with this horrible parental neglect that I’ve been practicing for the last decade or so. The whole situation is what it is and it’s time that I man up and own what I have done.

Or what I haven’t done.

I like to dabble in the art of geekery. I enjoy a good superhero story or a sci-fi flick. I still wouldn’t qualify myself as a “gamer,” but I have allowed myself to get caught up in the occasional pursuit of video game domination. It’s because of my interest in all things geek, I’m pretty excited (it took all that was within me not to say “pretty geeked” here) about Indy PopCon*. But when push comes to shove, my first true geek love has been and always will be the Star Wars universe. That being said, there’s plenty of room for Star Trek.

And that’s where I’ve failed my kids.

This might even be a bigger failure than the fact that Aiden’s favorite Star Wars episode is Attack of the Clones. I don’t know how I allowed this to happen. Frankly, I’m embarrassed to admit it.

My kids have never watched Star Trek.

There. I said it. I know this is a travesty. But it’s time to fix this situation. And that’s where I need your help.

Since I’m introducing them to the Star Trek universe, I need to provide an introduction. How do I do that? Where should their starting point be as they boldly go where they had not gone before?

Come on. You knew that reference was coming.

Begin at the beginning?

In The Sound of Music, Maria tells us that the very beginning is a very good place to start. That ain’t happening here. Thanks to Netflix, I recently had the chance to re-watch Star Trek: The Motion Picture. And that’s definitely somewhere I don’t want to start with them. In fact, I’m not even sure if they’d miss anything if they never saw it. Unless they desperately need to understand some cultural reference to V’Ger. Or fall asleep. Then I guess they could watch it.

Now that we’ve established that we aren’t beginning at the beginning, where does that leave us? I remember watching The Wrath of Khan in the movie theatre. I didn’t eat my popcorn during the rest of the movie after watching this scene. I was scared those wormish things were in my bucket of popcorn and would crawl into my ears.

Oh man. It still makes me squirm. That’s some good filmmaking right there.

Since I’ll be watching it with them, I could guide them through the film, filling in the gaps along the way. That would make sense, right? Then I could follow with the two subsequent sequels that complete this story arc.

I have no desire to watch Star Trek V again. So I don’t really want to subject them to watching a bunch of retired guys flying around the universe in search of the Divine. It just didn’t hold my attention and I highly doubt it’ll capture theirs, either.

OK, so we’ve established that I’m not going to initially show them The Motion(less) Picture or The Final Frontier. Might as well throw Insurrection and Nemesis into that category, too. They’re decent movies, but let’s face it: Insurrection feels like it’s just a really long episode of The Next Generation. It doesn’t necessarily feel like a film. And Nemesis? Well, it just feels like a big ol’ mess.

So that leads into the reboot.

Let’s recap, shall we? 

This is the order I’m thinking of showing the Star Trek films to my kids:

  1. The Wrath of Khan (II)
  2. The Search for Spock (III)
  3. The Voyage Home (IV)
  4. The Undiscovered Country (VI)
  5. Generations
  6. First Contact
  7. Star Trek (reboot)
  8. Into Darkness

OK, Star Trek lovers, I need your insight!

Is this the right path to take? Or should I start with the Next Generation films and then somehow fill in the story after those? The problem with doing that is they really won’t care that much about Kirk’s appearance in Generations if they don’t know who he is or why he is so significant.

I would assume that very few of you would suggest that we start with the reboot. Right?

And then once we’re done with Star Trek, I guess I should introduce them to Indiana Jones, Back to the Future, and Ghostbusters.

Oh man. I’ve failed my kids. I’ve failed them.

Please help!

Oh, and live long and prosper!

 

 

*Yeah. That’s an affiliate link. I’m a member of the Indy PopCon Street Team! 😀

Our trip to the Indiana State Fair

Thanks to the good folks at Indy with Kids, we were given free tickets to this year’s State Fair. It’s a good thing, too. We had already decided that family economics were going to prevent us from purchasing tickets this year. There was much disappointment with that realization. Until Indy with Kids swooped in and saved the day!

State Fair 2013Indiana State Fair 2013Indiana State Fair 2013Indiana State Fair 2013Indiana State Fair 2013Indiana State Fair 2013
Indiana State Fair 2013Indiana State Fair 2013Indiana State Fair 2013Indiana State Fair 2013Show Hope Celebration

Indiana State Fair 2013, a set on Flickr.

One of the highlights of the day was an ’80s arcade. Who woulda thunk that Tron and Pole Position would generate that much buzz with the kids? I tried to get Aiden to play me in Street Fighter. He refused. Probably wise of him. He would’ve been toast because he would finally be playing in my world. It would’ve been biplanes all over again.

Thanks again, Indy with Kids! We had a great time!

X is for x-wing

Of course X is for x-wing. If you’ve read this blog for any amount of time, you shouldn’t be surprised by this at all. What else could X be for? X-Men? I guess. X-ray? Maybe. Xylophone? A cop-out. If any letter is perfectly combined with any word, it’s X with -wing. X always has been and always will be for x-wing. Unless I do this challenge again next year. Then I’ll have to pick another word for X because using x-wing again would be cheating. Right?

x-wing in the Death Star trench

From video games to role-playing, I’ve always chosen to fly an x-wing for the Rebellion. OK…there was that short stint where I was totally engrossed in the TIE Fighter video game experience while in undergrad, but we’ll not dwell on that right now. It was because of the x-wing that I begged my parents to take me to Showbiz Pizza. I didn’t care about the food. I didn’t care about Rock-afire Explosion. All I cared about was climbing into that cockpit and destroying the Death Star again and again and again. This was my favorite game of all time. All. time. I would give practically anything to own one of these machines. I don’t think any other game comes anywhere close to the amazing awesomeness that was the Star Wars arcade game.

Star Wars arcade game screenshot x-wing

As a child, I regularly played Star Wars with Darren, who lived a few houses down from us. We would act out scenes from the movies and even make up our own stories. We would draw out battle plans and brief the other Rebel pilots before going out on our missions. It seems that Wedge was always getting in trouble with us, the commanders, because he wouldn’t pay attention during the briefings. Of course, when it counted, Wedge was always came through as our x-wings engaged in heavy fighting against Imperial TIEs.

Me and Darth Vader

I’m hoping they keep the x-wing around in the new movies that Disney produces. I kind of missed them in the prequels. You know what would be even better? Chewbacca flying an x-wing. That would totally blow my mind. Because, like the x-wing, Chewbacca is kind of a big deal.

Hey – a guy can dream, can’t he?

Oh by the way – I was totally listening to The Battle of Yavin while I wrote this. But that really shouldn’t be a surprise. Should it?

W is for Washington Square Mall

A to Z Challenge 2013 W is for Washington Square Mall

Back in the Day

When I started high school, our school corporation had an open campus policy. One of the cool things about this was that we could go off campus for lunch. There was a church that was within walking distance to the school. They did some kind of nifty outreach that involved lunch and games (I honestly never went, but I heard some cool things about it). Of course, upperclassmen could drive off to who-knows-where during their lunch hour. Since I was an underclassman when this policy was in place, I was limited in where I could go because I lacked the freedom that comes with a valid driver’s license. Fortunately, some merchants at Washington Square Mall had gone together and paid for a school bus to shuttle students to and from the mall every day.

Genius. Pure genius.

Food Court at Washington Square Mall
image via Washington Square Mall

I’m pretty sure we kept some of their food court vendors in business. In the image above, you can see a wall in the background. There used to be a burger joint there. I ate there regularly. In fact, I was such a regular customer that they’d start making my order before I was even at the front of the line:

Student Special with cheese. Large Coke.

It was a cheeseburger and fries with a drink. I know. It’s not the best thing to eat on a regular basis. But it was affordable. And tasty. That wasn’t the only thing I ate, though. I also remember ordering the breadsticks and cheese dip from Noble Roman’s. I still love their breadsticks. So good.

After eating, we usually had some spare time before the bus would take us back to school. Being the non-gamer gamer that I was, my friend Matt K. and I would head over to the arcade and spend the rest of our time (and quarters) playing Cyberball. We were pretty good. In fact, I think we were unstoppable.

Cyberball arcade game
Image via Arcade Museum

Many would try to beat us. Few (if any) could. I tried playing the game on my own a couple of times. I didn’t play nearly as well because the computer-controlled player didn’t do what I knew Matt would’ve done. It was like I was playing with a hand tied behind my back. Or something like that.

My How Things Have Changed

Our school’s campus closed after my Freshman year. While I didn’t like it at the time, I’m pretty sure it was the right decision.

Washington Square Mall has changed a lot since then, too. I can no longer get the student special with cheese and a large Coke because the burger joint is no longer there. Of course, I wouldn’t be able to get my “regular” anymore anyway because I’m no longer a student. But that’s not the point. It seems that a lot of stores that I remember visiting at Washington Square Mall have gone the way of the burger joint – they’re no longer there.

I think the last time I visited Washington Square was in 2008. My heart broke a little as I walked through the nearly empty hallways full of unoccupied storefronts. It was a ghost town; a shell of what it used to be.

A Lesson Here

I’m sure there’s a lesson here. Maybe it’s that seasons change. Or maybe it’s that I should’ve broadened my culinary horizons and had a salad every once in a while. Or maybe something about relying on high school students to keep you in business. Or maybe the lesson is that if I’d kept all those quarters I’d fed that video game I’d probably be able to buy my own Cyberball machine by now.

I don’t know, but I’m sure there’s something could learn from it.

What do you think?

U is for up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, B, A, select, start

The Konami Code (up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, B, A, select, start – to get a ton of lives for two players) was our best friend when Kevin and I would play Contra.* I finally got to the point where I could beat the game without my brother’s help. I have this feeling that we also came pretty close to beating the game without using the secret code. But don’t quote me on that. I could be dreaming things again.

I also had to use the cheat code (007 373 5963) to get to Mike Tyson on Mike Tyson’s Punch Out! because, for some strange reason, I could never beat Super Macho Man. I knew the tricks. I just couldn’t beat him. I could, however, beat Mike. And I was much more effective at it than Mr. Fresh Prince.

I guess you could say I was a bit of a gamer before I realized there ever was such a thing. Things are a little bit different now. And I’m not entirely sure if it’s by choice.

I remember challenging my uncle to a game of Biplanes on our Intellivision console. Yes. We had an Intellevision instead of an Atari. And it was awesome. I felt kind of bad for him because I flew circles around him. Seriously. Circles. All the time. It was a dogfight, after all. Don’t get me wrong. I didn’t feel bad enough to let him win. I just felt bad for him.

Intellivision biplanes

I couldn’t really understand why someone couldn’t “get” a game like this. I mean, the premise is very straightforward: shoot down the other plane before you get shot down. Doesn’t get more simple than that. Right?

It’s funny how things change. It’s funny how the tables have turned. I definitely know what it was like to be my uncle now. Because Aiden regularly trounces me in Madden and NBA 2K12 and any other sports-related game on the wii. But that’s OK. I’m sure I could’ve totally wiped him out in biplanes.

But since I don’t think I’ll have access to an Intellivision console any time soon, I’ll just keep looking for a Konami Code for dads to beat their kids in video games.

*I just discovered this site. This is not good. And fabulous. All at the same time.

 

wii!!!

My father in law got a wii a while back. Since he found out, Aiden has been looking forward to going down and visiting his grandparents. He looks forward to visiting them anyway, but he’s been extra-excited the past few weeks.

We finally went down this past weekend. And the kids had fun playing around on the wii. I tried a few games, too. I boxed a few rounds and I must have used some muscles that I don’t normally use because my shoulders are still sore!

Maybe we need to invest in a wii so I can get some more exercise.  🙂