Tag Archive for fatherhood

Form vs Function in the Battle of the Sexes

Your Robot Overlords
Originally uploaded by MikeOliveri.

The Midget’s teacher put out a call for parents to help build robots. Who am I to pass up an opportunity to take an hour or so out of the workday to help kids play with aluminum foil, cardboard, and PVC tubing?

Not only was I the only dad to show up, I was the only one to show up with a battery-powered reciprocating saw. Hot glue? Pipe cleaners? Yeah, we’ll get there.

First we need to cut some shit up.

I got to work with the Midget first. I asked him what kind of robot he wanted.

“A Death Robot!”

That’s my boy! By the time we finished, his robot had a jet pack and a flame thrower. If you look at the picture, you’ll see a tall robot with eyes as black and evil as our souls. Yeah. That’s the Death Robot.

That’s about the time I noticed the robots the women were building were all… different. They’re all cutesy smiles and clever, crafty bits that make their robots look all nicey-nice. Sure, a couple had jet packs, but you don’t see any chest-mounted torpedo launchers on their robots. They were more worried about hair and hats.

(Yes, hair. On a robot. No, I don’t get it either.)

Our robot doesn’t even have a mouth. The Midget did ask if it needed one, but in the end we decided it wasn’t going to eat; it would be too busy roasting the flesh from your bones.

Function over form, baby.

The next kid I helped built a different robot. His is the second from the right, with the pipe-cleaner smile and the big doe eyes. Mom obviously packed his kit, because he had a whole rainbow of pipe cleaners and bags of marshmallows and cotton balls. Mom had a design in mind and he rolled with it.

Hey, it’s cool. It’s the kid’s project, after all. We glued it together and he was happy as a clam when he went back to class. Moments later, out came the Midget’s best buddy. He sat down with his scissors and bottle of Elmer’s glue, and he had a bag of whatever knick knacks his folks found at the bottom of a drawer.

“No sweat, Buddy,” I said. “We got all these other parts to work with.”

His eyes lit up as he surveyed the cardboard tubes, the PVC pipes, the extra caps and bottles, and yes, the reciprocating saw.

“Now, what kind of robot do you want to build?”

“I want him to have a sword for chopping up bad guys!”

Not hard to see why he and the Midget were buddies.

“Rockin’.” I picked up the saw. “You want to help me cut up the PVC?”

His expression wasn’t hard to read. A little later we had a squat robot with eye stalks and a jet pack. That’s him to the left of the Midget’s Death Robot. He’s even got big, stomping feet to shake the earth as he walks. Sadly the lunch bell rang before we could work up a sword.

Once again, no mouth. This robot just gets down to business. Friendly? Cuddly? Not when there’s a horror writer and a reciprocating saw involved!

I can’t wait to build some more robots tomorrow.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

The Perils of Fatherhood

The Wife handed me a nice, big chunk of my ass again today.

Yes, again. I have a bad habit of forgetting what the rugrats should and shouldn’t be watching, and I have yet to live down a two-week streak of nightmares the Midget had when he was two. Nightmares caused by a viewing of the climax of Aliens. My thinking at the time was something like “It’s edited for TV, how bad can it be?” My defense was “But he said he wasn’t scared! He wanted to watch it!”

My first lesson in Fatherhood. Well, among the first.

See, the Wife and I had two very different upbringings. I was a kid when John Carpenter’s The Thing hit an old cable network called ONTV, and my old man recorded it. By the time I was a teenager, we had literally worn that tape out, as well as another with recordings of First Blood and Robocop. Conan the Barbarian? No problem. Aliens? I could quote it on command. By the time Predator came out, we just had to see it in the theater.

The Wife’s family, meanwhile, stuck to Disney flicks. The Wife was weaned on a steady diet of musicals, Shirley Temple, and The Wizard of Oz. The closest she came to any kind of violence was Doctor Who (when it still ran on PBS Channel 11 out of Chicago) and James Bond flicks. James Bond is nothing to sneeze at, but he doesn’t hold a candle to An American Werewolf in London.

As such we’re operating on two different gages of appropriateness. Hers is set to Metric, mine Imperial. Hers is well maintained, always oiled, and calibrated regularly. Mine’s rusting, jams, and has a tolerance of a yard, give or take a cubit.

And the moment the Midget started quoting Frylock from Aqua Teen Hunger Force, my gage got thrown out in the street. I was pretty good about referencing hers for a while, too, but somehow it made its sorry way back into the house. I felt bad and made it a sandwich rather than telling it to stay out there where it belonged. Then we shared a couple beers and reminisced about the good ol’ days.

Which leads me, at last, to the ass-whoopin’.

The Midget got on the subject of kidneys. The Wife explained their form and function, and of course the word “pee” entered the conversation.

“Some people have thorny bugs with big, sharp teeth living in their pee!” the Midget informed his mother.

Oh shit, thought I. I’m toast. Because yes, I knew exactly where this was coming from.

“Why do you say that?” the Wife asked, already shooting a glare in my direction.

“I saw it on TV! The guy was peeing in the river, and the bugs climbed up his pee and into his kidneys!”

“Yeah,” the Squirt chimed in. “And they said ‘I don’t want to see your ass!'”

Oh shit!

“And what exactly were they watching, Daddy?” She rose from the couch like the Kraken from the sea.

Metalocalypse!” the Midget supplied.

“What?” I asked, feigning innocence. “Haven’t you ever heard the stories about the parasites in the Amazon? Murderface was peeing in the river, and the parasites climbed into his kidneys! It’s a survival lesson!”

“Yeah, and he was naked!” the Midget said.

“Ix-nay on the Etalocalypse-may.” I shot a nudge into his ribs.

“And then their jaws melted off!” the Squirt added.

It was completely unrelated. See, these Amazon warriors blew some kind of hallucinogenic dust into the characters’ faces, and they started seeing some crazy-violent stuff, right? A continuation of the life lesson, to be sure. When you go into the Amazon, you best back some heat, Son! But the Wife took a step in my direction, so I bolted for the door.

Her nostrils flared. Furniture flew through the air. Fire rained down from the heavens. The children plead for her to spare Daddy’s life. But the little Roman emperor in her head said “Thumbs down, Byotch!”

Thus began the ass-handing.

Good thing they didn’t tell her about The Venture Brothers

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

Take Another Hit, Frankie!

Li’l Frank Booth

Originally uploaded by MikeOliveri.


Poor Squirt. The doc put him on a nebulizer to treat a respiratory infection, so he gets to wear this mask three times a day.

Of course, the first thing I thought of was Dennis Hopper in Blue Velvet. I tried to get him to say “I can hear your freakin’ radio you silly guy!” but he wasn’t much interested. Though I do wish I had my camera handy when he was wearing it and simultaneously having a gunfight with his brother.

I keep telling him “Take another hit, Frankie!” Fortunately the Wife hasn’t seen Blue Velvet and has no idea what I’m talking about.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

In retrospect…

…it probably wasn’t a good idea to tell the children they’re just going to have to deal with the monsters in the room on their own because they broke their cow flashlight.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.