Column, The Movie Diary

Finding the zone

By Dom Cioffi

I’m at a bit of a crossroads with my son. He’s on the verge of turning into a teenager and with that transition he’s displaying many of the negative traits associated with the age.
Lately he’s been on this kick where he believes that he knows everything and I know nothing. I can’t say anything or provide any level of advice where he doesn’t balk at my suggestion. And he’s always got a hair-brained reason why I’m wrong.
When I use logic to break down his arguments, he looks at me and rolls his eyes, like I’m so old I couldn’t possibly understand his enlightened point of view.
Things get worse when his friends are around. That’s when he disregards just about everything I say or throws me feigned compliance and then turns around and does the complete opposite.
Now here’s the kicker: I’m no push-over of a parent and I certainly don’t let my son disrespect me. In fact, I go to great lengths to point out any indiscretions I see in his behavior.
I also have Italian blood flowing through my veins so I’m known to get hot under the collar from time to time. You would think that this combination would result in a super-behaved child, but not in this case.
Don’t get me wrong, my son is no delinquent and I don’t see him headed for a life of crime. What I worry about is that this burgeoning know-it-all attitude is going to get him into unnecessary trouble. I haven’t been able to make him see the light, but I hold out hope that someone will.
Recently, I read a biography about Rod Serling, the famous screenwriter who is best known for scripting the popular television series, “The Twilight Zone.”
Serling also had trouble in his youth and was considered a class clown. Many of his teachers wrote him off as a lost cause since he showed little interest in school or his studies.
However, things changed in middle school when one of Serling’s teachers inspired him to join the public speaking team as an extracurricular activity. She felt that Serling’s need to draw attention to himself might be well-served in this environment.
Immediately, Serling started to shine. His involvement in public speaking led him to a spot on the debate team and eventually had him writing articles for the school newspaper. Serling was opinionated and enjoyed arguing for any topic he felt passionate about, especially social issues.
After high school, Serling decided to forego college and instead enlisted in the army during World War II where he fought in the Pacific theater. The ugliness of war effected him psychologically, causing nightmares and flashbacks that would haunt him for the remainder of his life. But the experience also gave him a perspective on the human condition that would heavily influence his later writing.
After the war, Serling went to college and then started working at various radio stations where he attempted to write scripts for regional programs. Unfortunately, he was met with one rejection slip after another. One day, however, a station manager suggested that Serling’s scripts were better suited for television than radio since they had so much visual content. Serling took the man’s advice and began submitted revised scripts to various television stations.
After 71 rejections, Serling finally found success when one of his scripts was produced for the “Kraft Television Theater,” a show with a national audience. After that broadcast, Sering never had to look for work again.
Eventually he became one of the most sought after writers in Hollywood, where he would find lasting fame as the creator of “The Twlight Zone,” a show that disguised taboo contemporary issues inside of strange, haunting storylines.
And to think, it all started when one teacher found a way to inspire a wayward child. Maybe there is hope for my son!
This week’s film features a story that was undoubtedly inspired by Serling’s work. “Get Out” is a twisted tale about a young interracial couple who attend a community party where the attendees seem “off.” Eventually the truth surfaces and it’s not what you expect.
I must admit that I was pleasantly surprised by this film. The story is delicately crafted to lure the viewer in. Then, in classic “Twlight Zone” fashion, a curve ball is delivered that will leave you speechless.
Check this one out if you’re a fan of “The Twilight Zone” approach. It’s got all the trappings of a high quality thriller with the bonus of several great performances.
A surreal “B+” for “Get Out.”
Got a question or comment for Dom? You can email him at

One comment on “Finding the zone

  1. Stumbled upon your column Dom. So glad to be able to read them again. I just have to comment on your son becoming smarter than you. When my son was 13, I had grown tired of hearing how I knew nothing about anything. Finally one day I stopped and turned around to look him right in the face and said calmly: you know, I have absolutely no idea how I’ve lived on this planet all these years and gotten to where I am today, without you here to tell me how to do it.
    His reaction? The typical eye roll. But I felt SO good!
    Enjoy the teenage years!

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