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March 22, 2017

Feeding the Joneses

By Dom Cioffi

At the end of last summer, just as the school year was beginning, I executed my son’s Xbox.
I had been warning him for weeks that this scenario might unfold if he didn’t show some restraint with his burgeoning gaming addiction. But it didn’t seem to matter. He and his friends would sneak upstairs, or come up with pathetic reasons why they couldn’t play outside, or simply plead for screen time until I cracked.
More and more I started to see the patterns of addiction and it really bothered me.
So, one day when I discovered that he had blown off his homework and blatantly lied to me just so he could play a video game, I became unglued. I gave him a lecture at high amplification and then unplugged the Xbox and stormed out of the room.
My anger was intense enough that I seriously considered tossing the device onto the driveway and crushing it into a million pieces with my sledgehammer. However, something inside of me said that approach might be a touch too intense for a 12-year-old.
Instead, I dramatically walked out to my truck, opened the back door and threw it in, all while my son was watching. As I slammed the door shut, I turned and faced him and in my best angry dad voice shouted, “There! That’s the end of that!”
“What are you going to do with my Xbox?” my son asked sheepishly, as tears welled up in his eyes.
“Goodwill!” I replied pointedly. “Some other kid who knows how to balance homework and fun will be delighted with your donation.”
And with that I went into my bedroom and slammed the door (just for dramatic effect). Later that evening I retrieved the Xbox from my truck and hid it in my closet. But to this day, my son believes it went the way of Goodwill.
Of course, it took all of a week before I started finding my son’s iPad hidden under his bed. I spoke to him several times, warning him that he would lose that too if he didn’t show restraint. I then instituted a rule where the iPad was not allowed upstairs.
Sure enough, within a short time I had to confiscate that device after I noticed that he was having trouble waking up for school. The other clue was a drained iPad sitting on the dining room table each morning.
So now we were down to the iPhone. Personally, I didn’t think my son was ready to have a $600 super computer in his pocket, but my wife insisted that we needed to be able to contact him in case of an emergency. I argued that we never had cellular phones as kids and we survived, but that fact did little to sway her.
Not surprisingly, the iPhone quickly replaced the other devices as a form of entertainment. Every time I turned around, he was hiding somewhere with his phone. The most popular spot was the bathroom. When I would inquire why he was taking so long, he would respond that his stomach was upset. Then I would here a familiar chiming sound echoing from inside, signaling that his device was firmly in hand with a game being played.
I’ve threatened to now take the iPhone away but I’m weary fighting this fight. If history is any gauge, he’ll simply replace the iPhone with something else. So where does it end?
In this week’s feature, “Kong: Skull Island,” we meet a man who is addicted to adventure—so much so that he convinces the government to fund a trip to the most mysterious place on earth.
Set in the 1970s just after the conclusion of the Vietnam War, this imaginative retelling of the classic Kong story finds a crew of scientists descending upon Skull Island, a tiny, uncharted landmass in the deep Pacific. What they find is both intriguing and startling.
I must admit that the special effects in this film are exhilarating as they bring to life some amazing creatures. The storyline is equally interesting with several characters pushing the plot into one tense situation after another.
My biggest gripe with this film was the size differential between the human characters and the monsters. Unlike all previous Kong movies, the producers of this film decided to make Kong and the other creatures freakishly over-sized. This approach, while endearing to younger audiences, left me feeling as though the emotional relationship between Kong and his human compatriots was nonexistent, something earlier Kong films relied upon.
Check this one out if you’re in the mood for a quality monster movie. It has all the eye candy you can ask with a storyline attuned to both child and adult.
A monstrous “B” for “Kong: Skull Island.”
Got a question or comment for Dom? You can email him at moviediary@att.net.

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