Dad Grades: Jack Torrance – The Shining

This week in Dad Grades, we take a closer look at Jack Torrance, the axe-wielding patriarch in Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 adaptation of Stephen King’s The Shining.

As the films opens, we see Jack (skillfully brought to life by Jack Nicholson) as he’s driving his family to the Overlook Hotel. An impressive feat in and of itself, considering Jack was still three decades away from an iPad he could shove in his son Danny’s face for the duration of the trip.

(Credit: Warner Bros.)

One can only assume that, had there been a second kid in the backseat, Jack may have snapped almost immediately, veering the family Volkswagen off the side of the mountain and effectively ending the movie with a total runtime of four minutes.

More observant viewers will notice that Danny is not wearing a seatbelt in this scene. Despite the good example Jack is setting, his is textbook child endangerment.

They arrive at the Overlook Hotel and settle in. One month later, Jack endures a wholly occupying case of writer’s block as Danny leaves his toys everywhere.

(Credit: Warner Bros.)

Some film historians speculate that, in the original script, Jack was supposed to step on one of these toy cars while barefoot, bringing us right to the moment where he decides to start swinging a firefighter’s axe at everybody.

True King-heads, however, know the real inciting incident that drove Jack to madness was this:

(Credit: Warner Bros.)

A toy bus in the arch of your shoeless foot is one thing. Lipstick on the door is another. Danny doesn’t even attempt to soften the brunt of his inevitable punishment by drawing something cool. No. Instead, he just ruins his tired mom’s evening, who wakes up and begins screaming for one of two reasons: 1) it was some $90 Sephora lipstick, or 2) her child is exhibiting signs of severe dyslexia. Nobody knows for sure.

At this point, Jack begins chasing his family with an axe. This collection of scenes brings light to Jack’s biggest flaw as patriarch of the Torrances: the inability to respect bathroom privacy.

(Credit: Warner Bros.)

Among Jack Torrance’s long list of fatherly foibles, this one is the most irritating. The bathroom should be a space of tranquility and reflection. Jack does not seem to understand this, as he determinedly hacks open the bathroom with his axe, pokes his manic face in, and delivers the film’s most iconic line:

(Credit: Warner Bros.)

Unbelievably rude.

Jack eventually falls victim to the bitter cold and freezes to death in a hedge maze.

(Credit: Warner Bros.)

At the end of the day, Jack Torrance is an adequate dad. Not all dads make the time to take their families on road trips to haunted hotels built on Native American burial ground. Jack Torrance did. He obviously needs improvement in terms of disciplinary skills, though. Remember, no woodchopping implement is quite as effective as being grounded for a weekend in their room with no TV or video games. Don’t ground them for too long though. Prolonged isolation can drive someone mad. I saw it in a movie once –  I forget the title.

Some people will probably say, “I strongly disagree, Vernon. When it comes to fatherhood, I think Jack Torrance is quite clearly a novice.”

And to those people I say: the word you’re thinking of is novelist.

Jack Torrance is a novelist. Idiot.

Jack Torrance’s Dad Grade: B-

Little Skateboard Fairy Becomes Youngest Brazilian To Win Olympic Medal

This year, skateboarding became an official Olympic sport, and it didn’t take long for it to make headlines. Tony Hawk reflected on how “surreal” it is to see the sport that he pioneered and helped make famous be elevated to such a prestigious stage. Then, two 13-year-old girls won medals in the first-ever skateboarding event, making news all over the globe.

It turns out it’s not the first time one of them went viral.

Rayssa Leal, a 13-year-old girl from Brazil, won the silver medal in the first women’s street skateboarding event. Leal has a nickname, the “Little Skateboard Fairy” (Fadinha do Skate in Portuguese), that she earned six years ago when footage of her skateboarding in a full-on fairy princess outfit – complete with wings – went viral.

Now she’s the youngest Brazilian to win a medal at the Olympics:

Not only did Tony Hawk help pave the way for skateboarding’s respectability, but he also helped Rayssa get her nickname when, six years ago, when he shared the video that made her famous:

She didn’t stop skating, getting better and better until she qualified for and competed in the Olympic Games. And now she has a silver medal.

I bet it will go great with a princess gown.

‘Police Academy’ Star Michael Winslow Makes Comeback After Raising His Kids Solo

No matter how much you plan and prepare, having kids is a constantly-changing and unpredictable experience. Our lives look a lot different than we ever could have anticipated, and for some, life’s curveballs forced us to put important things on hold. “Police Academy” actor Michael Winslow stepped away from his career after the death of his wife, dedicating himself to raising his kids as a single father. But now that his kids are grown, Winslow is making a triumphant return.

Michael Winslow refers to himself as a “voicetramentalist,” but it’s difficult to properly describe the range of his skillset. Winslow stunned viewers with his unique talent, appearing in over 25 movies and TV shows in the 80s alone. Michael Winslow can make sounds – seemingly any sound, using his mouth and probably some sort of magic.

After his first wife Belinda Church passed away, Winslow’s life did a 180. Rather than building upon his massive success as an actor and comedian, Winslow focused on fatherhood. On a recent episode of America’s Got Talent, Winslow returned to the spotlight in front of millions of viewers around the world, stunning a whole new generation with his carefully crafted skill.

Simon Cowell, one of the show’s four judges, recognized Winslow immediately. Expectations were high, given that Cowell knew what “The Man of 10,000 Sound Effects” was capable of several decades ago. Even so, Winslow blew the judges and audience out of the water with his unique and mind-blowing performance.

Winslow combined storytelling, comedy, and the talent that sets him apart from the countless other comedians auditioning for AGT. Beginning with a story about his childhood, Winslow shifts seamlessly into other captivating topics. He brings stories to life with his sound effects, and by the end, a good portion of the audience was staring in open-mouthed awe. Winslow received a well-deserved standing ovation and four resounding yeses from the judges.

“My life has changed again for the better, and I’ve gotten another blessing,” Winslow told Terry Crews after his flawless performance. “America’s Got Talent is the place for me to show I still have something to offer. I’ve still got some sounds to make, and there’s still room for a little more.”

“It’s Surreal,” Tony Hawk Reflects on Olympic Skating, Tests Out Tokyo Skatepark

Skateboarding made its official debut as an Olympic sport, marking an important turning point for skaters around the world. Few people have been as instrumental in the evolution and popularization of the sport over the years as Tony Hawk – so naturally, the legend himself made an appearance at the Olympic games.

Over the past several years, Hawk has vocalized his need to slow down. Though he’s maintained his intense passion for the sport, skating took an increasingly noticeable toll on his body. Regardless of his ability (or willingness) to compete, Tony Hawk wanted to ensure he was there to celebrate the massive milestone in skateboarding history – recognition of the sport that may not have happened without him.

Tony Hawk attended the monumental event as a commentator for NBC, putting his extensive knowledge of skating to the best possible use. He wasn’t there to skate, but he’s Tony freaking Hawk. Skating is in his blood. Obviously, he had to test out the first-ever Olympic skate course at Ariake Urban Sports Park.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Tony Hawk (@tonyhawk)

“As a kid that was mostly lambasted for my interest in skateboarding, I never imagined it would be part of the Olympic Games,” Hawk marveled in an Instagram post.

“It’s surreal to now be in Tokyo bearing witness to this milestone in the most unprecedented circumstances. I know in the end it will help to grow skateboarding’s profile internationally, exposing our passion to an audience that has never seen it before or simply refused to embrace it.”

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Tony Hawk (@tonyhawk)

The skating legend reflected on the importance of the event, the fact that kids watching at home could very well be the next generation of skaters. The legitimization of skateboarding as a sport has been a long and arduous process. But much like the validation athletes feel after qualifying for the Olympics, the inclusion of skating in the 2020 Olympic Games validated the sport as a whole.

“I predict it will be one of the highlights from all of the Olympic Games coverage this year,” Hawk concluded, “and I’m here for it.”

A 13-Yr-Old Skateboarder Made Olympic History With Her Gold Medal Performance

A 13-year-old girl became the first female Olympic gold medalist in skateboarding and, in the process, became one of the youngest gold medalists in Olympic history. Skateboarding was officially added to the list of games this year, which is very cool, and is a true testament to Olympic skateboarding analyst, Tony Hawk.

Momiji Nishiya, a Japanese native who reportedly loves rocking the baggie jeans and t-shirts that many skateboarders sport, dominated the competition and bested the rest of the world’s best skateboarders. Nishiya just came to skate, and she crushed it.

The silver medal went to ANOTHER teenager, this one from Brazil.

“I didn’t think I could win, but everyone around me cheered me on so I’m glad I was able to find my groove,” Nishiya said after winning. She beat out the reigning world champ and several other favorites, and in doing so she became Japan’s youngest-ever gold medalist. Very cool.

In fact, Nishiya almost became the youngest gold medalist ever, but she’ll have to settle for silver in that category. She is a little more than two months older than American diver Marjorie Gestring was when she took home a gold medal in the 1936 Olympic games in Berlin.

It’s pretty cool to watch a teenager on the world stage make history in her sport, and history in the Olympics period. It was an awesome debut for the sport growing in popularity, and hopefully, it will be cemented in future editions of the Olympic games.

Netflix Is Developing a Live-Action Pokemon Series

Fans of Pokemon & Detective Pikachu, it looks like we’re getting even more live-action shenanigans featuring the popular pocket monsters.

As reported by Variety, a new live-action Pokemon series is in development at Netflix.  Unfortunately, it’s all still in the very early stages of development as no plot details or casting plans have been revealed, but it’s happening.  Joe Henderson, who is co-showrunner and executive producer on Netflix’s ‘Lucifer’ series, is attached to write and executive produce.  Kind of a strange pairing when you think about it, but considering Henderson was able to keep Lucifer going for so long on Netflix after it was canceled by FOX, he has to be a solid choice.

Sources have also mentioned that the project will try to replicate the look and feel of Detective Pikachu.  Who knows if it’ll take place in the same universe as the film, but I was actually really impressed with Detective Pikachu.  The whole family and I loved it and I thought it captured the essence of Pokemon.  Also, Ryan Reynold‘s voicing Pikachu is just too good not to love.

While Detective Pikachu was great, it did feel restricted with its story and locations.  Hopefully, this Netflix series will focus more on the journey like the games do.  You know, traveling to different cities to battle Gym Leaders, all that fun stuff.  There’s a lot of potential here to do something really awesome and epic, so I’m definitely keeping my fingers crossed that they can pull this one off.

“Still Got It,” Orlando Bloom Flexes Archery Skills 20 Years After LOTR

Sometimes, you learn a skill for a job and you throw it on your resume for life, even if you’ve completely forgotten how to use it. That’s decidedly not the case for “Lord of the Rings” actor Orlando Bloom, as he recently took to Instagram to flex the archery skills he picked up when playing Middle Earth’s Legolas nearly 20 years ago.

He shared a video of him calmly firing arrows directly at a target and captioned the vid “still got it,” referencing his skill with the bow when it came to helping Frodo and Co. on their journey. It was one of his first major roles as the Lord of the Ring movies became MONSTER hits, well ahead of their time when it comes to expensive fantasy movies.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Orlando Bloom (@orlandobloom)

The first movie in the series, “The Fellowship of the Ring” debuted two decades ago. Bloom was just a kid (ok, young adult) and now he’s a dad (he’s got a 10-year-old and a 10-month-old). But he’s the type of dad that’s not above trotting out heirlooms from his glory days. Him picking up a bow and nailing a target isn’t that different from a dad dusting off his high school baseball regional championship medal before a game of catch in the yard.

It’s one of the quintessential dad questions; do we still got it? That thing we were effortlessly good at in our 20s, is there still a part of that person inside us? And the answer, always, is yes. Of course, we can still go hard on the pickup basketball court (OK, maybe it hurts longer the next morning). Of course, we can throw a perfect spiral 30 yards down the field. And of course, we can pick up a bow and pretend we’re slaying Orcs.

LeVar Burton Begins His Dream Job as Jeopardy Guest Host

The moment all “Jeopardy!” fans have been waiting for is finally here! Yes, LeVar Burton begins his stint as the guest host, and you can literally take his word for it. It took a massive fan campaign, Dick Van Dyke advocating for him, and even Ryan Reynolds, but we finally have the people’s host where he belongs. And some are hoping he’ll be a permanent fixture.

LeVar Burton is the guest host of Jeopardy for the final week of July and he said after 45 years in the entertainment business, the team he worked with at Jeopardy is the ‘very best.’ He also said his favorite part was meeting the contestants and just marveling at how good they were at the game. And admitted he was nervous about his shot behind the podium.

“I was more than nervous, I was absolutely petrified,” Burton said. “And I don’t know that that feeling ever went away.”

As a thank you for his hosting work, Jeopardy is making a donation to his charity of choice, and for Burton, that’s Reading is Fundamental, championing children’s literacy.

“They provide thousands of books to children every year and in most instances, these kids are getting their own books for the very first time,” LeVar said. “The amount of money that we raise here on the show is going to make a huge difference in the life of many, many kids.”

The Reading Rainbow and Star Trek star finally got the chance tens of thousands have been clamoring for, and Burton said he could not let the opportunity pass by.

“I have been a fan of Jeopardy all of my life,” he said. And for the people who have been fans of Burton all their lives, this is the week they’ve been waiting for, as the internet campaign bears fruit starting this week. The host with the Mister Rogers vibe who’s dedicated himself to making kids excited about reading could be the perfect permanent host, but for now, fans get a full week to see what that world would look like.

We Finally Have a Trailer and Premier Date for “Dexter: New Blood”

Thanks to a panel at Comic-Con this weekend, Showtime has given us the first full trailer for the “Dexter” revival Yup, we finally get a more comprehensive look at the new life for our rebooted vigilante. Not only did we get a trailer, but we also got an official premiere date, as “Dexter: New Blood” (awesome name) hits Showtime on November 7th.

The 10-episode revival has already made huge news by bringing back one of its best villains, John Lithgow, albeit in a brief role. They’re also bringing back another dead fan fav in Debra, so we’ll have at least a few familiar faces as Dexter starts a new life in a new town.

Dexter, aka “Jim Lindsay” is now a sales associate at Fred’s Fish & Game. It seems like he’s trying to move on from his past, but this would be a pretty boring show if he had it all figured out and he’s just living a completely normal life in a small town. Oh no, the old Dexter is still in there, and you can see him in Jim’s eyes anytime there’s a knife in the frame.

“I kinda have a thing about blood,” he tells an annoying customer, telling him way more than the man could ever understand. The trailer is all about trying to move on from the past, and how you can hide it, but you can’t run from it. In other words, Dexter gonna Dexter, as we can deduce from the scenes of him hanging around a crime scene, playing with knives, and the way he looks at a blood trail in the snow.

Here’s the thing; this show is going to be good. I know a lot of fans are hesitant to believe that, given how things trailed off in later seasons and obviously at the terrible ending. But that’s the whole reason the revival even exists, to leave fans with a better memory of the character and show. The people who made the show great in the first few seasons are back, and even star Michael C. Hall said making up for the finale was part of why this is happening.

“The chance to revisit it and, in the process, redefine the sense of the show’s ending and the sense of the show’s legacy was certainly part of our motivation,” he said in his Comic-Con panel.

The first of the 10 new episodes drops November 7th, and we’ll see how Jim Lindsay becomes Dexter again in a small town in upstate New York.

‘The Munsters’ Are Coming Back…Rob Zombie Style?

The Munsters are not who first come to mind when imagining the super intense world of Rob Zombie movies. Hell, comedy itself isn’t really the guy’s “thing.” But, when you break it down, Zombie’s movies always seem to center around the concept of family. His iconic House of a Thousand Corpses franchise and Halloween remakes both have something to say about the bonds of blood (Get it? Cause it’s spooky?) Perhaps as far as frightfully fun new takes go, pairing the most over-the-top filmmaker and the most innocent sitcom characters could be interesting.

If you’re not familiar: The Munsters were horror-adjacent oddballs from a primetime 60s sitcom, similiar to The Addams Family, But while Gomez and Morticia were advocates for being creepy and kooky, the Munsters just wanted to fit in. The humor came from how bad they were at doing so. It’ll be interesting to see what the least-conforming guy in horror will do with characters as wholesome as Herman Munster, a big Frankenstein with a penchant for dad jokes. Fortunately, Zombie has shared a ton of pre-production glimpses on his Instagram, including set and costume designs and makeup tests.

The director previously shared news of his adaptation with an ecstatic announcement, calling it his dream project:

“Attention Boils and Ghouls! The rumors are true! My next film project will be the one I’ve been chasing for 20 years! THE MUNSTERS! Stay tuned for exciting details as things progress!”

It may not make the most sense. But it’s sure to be a ghoulishly good time.