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for Thursday, September 16, 2004

Kelly Isabella

My daughter Kelly turns 13 today, which makes Casa Isabella a two-teenager household. Oh my God, what have we done?

I jest. Kelly and big brother Eddie (16) are terrific kids. Every day Sainted Wife Barb and I have with them is a blessing and a joy. It's like a perpetual Hallmark card.

Kelly is the jock of the Isabella family. She has excelled at recreation league basketball, where she was the top scorer in her age group, and at travel softball, where she was her team's catcher and a consistent hitter. Currently, she is on the Claggett Middle School volleyball team. It's a new sport for her, but she's shown considerable skill as a server.

She is also a straight "A" student, having pulled herself up from a program geared towards students with learning difficulties to top marks without any such assistance. She did it with the same determination and hard work she shows in sports.

When I told Kelly I would be writing about her today, she and I talked about thinks she likes. Some of these were general. Math is her favorite subject. Her favorite foods are barbeque ribs and cheesy potatoes "the way Momma makes them." When she grows up, she wants to be a veterinarian...and she knows that she is going to be famous someday.

Her favorite TV shows in recent years have included BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER and ANGEL. She got into SMALLVILLE near the end of last season and plans to continue watching it this season. Which probably means I have to keep it watching, too, something I wasn't planning to do. The crass manipulation of the ongoing storylines, combined with my inability to suspend disbelief in the face of the show's frequent flights of illogic, put it on my hit list. Kelly bought it another chance with me.

This past summer, Kelly announced she was going to, as she put it, "rediscover her youth." Being as how she was twelve, I figured that would take about an hour-and-a-half tops. But, no, it turned out to be a months-long activity as she watched and re-watched her favorite cartoons and movies.

Mighty Ducks

The very worst of these were THE MIGHTY DUCKS, THE LAND BEFORE TIME, and their Hell-spawned sequels. If any of you know Emilio Estevez, who starred in the first two DUCKS films, warn him that I cannot be responsible for my actions should he ever cross my path. Quack, quack, my hairy Italian ass.

Hell needs to build an entirely new circle for THE LAND BEFORE TIME folks and their simpering stories of annoying young dinosaurs disobeying their parents and learning important lessons about life. There is a new one of these EVERY SINGLE CHRISTMAS and Kelly must have them all. I would kill for one called THE LAND BEFORE TIME: THE COMET FINALLY WIPES THEM OUT!

Don't tell Kelly about those last two paragraphs. She has a volleyball and she knows how to use it.

Kelly also discovered 3 NINJAS, a not entirely unpleasant 1992 movie starring Victor Wong as a feisty grandfather who teaches his three grandsons the art of ninja. His son-in-law is an FBI agent on the trail of an arms smuggler who shares some past history with Wong. The smuggler, played with scenery-chewing charm by Alan McRae, wants Wong to train his henchmen. Gramps and the kids take him down. It's amusing stuff, which led to three not-nearly-as-fun direct-to-video sequels.

Rocky  Colt

Alarmingly, Kelly developed a crush on two of the original movie's young actors: Max Elliott Slade and Chad Power. When asked why she liked them, she responded with the words no father wants to hear from his pre-teen daughter:

"They're hot."

During her voyage into nostalgia, Kelly also started watching cartoons she enjoyed in the dim past of maybe two years ago. She pulled out her old SAILOR MOON tapes and started watching DIGIMON and TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES on the Family Channel. I always thought SAILOR MOON was good, goofy fun, but appreciation of either DIGIMON and TMNT eludes me. Utilizing my fake journalist skills, I went to Kelly for enlightenment.

Here's what I learned:

The Turtles are the best. Raphael is her favorite because he is the one most like her. A quick visit to a TMNT website informs me that he is witty and sarcastic. That's my girl!

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Kelly knows all the words to the theme songs of her favorite cartoons. Sing with me:

Turtles count it off!
One, Two, Three, Four!

Mutant chain reaction.

Livin' underground.

Ninjitsu action.

It's a shell of a town.
Turtles count it off!

One! Live by the code of the martial arts.
Two! Never fight unless someone else starts.
Three! Always stick together no matter what.
Four! If all else fails then it's time to KICK BUTT!

I love bein' (I love bein')
I love bein' (I love bein')
I love being a Turtle!

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Turtles count it off!
One, Two, Three, Four!

There's no one better.

Watch out for Shredder.

They're like no others.

Those teenage brothers.
One, Two, Three, Four!
One, Two, Three, Four!
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles!

Digimon The ability and willingness to kick butt is very important to Kelly. When asked why Tai was her favorite character from DIGIMON, she said it was because he was really cute and because he knew how to kick butt. I think these are acceptable male-judging criterion for her age, much more comforting than "he drives a hot car" and "his parents are out of town for the weekend."

Kelly's restricted to an hour of TV each day during the school week, but she rises early on the weekends to catch up on the shows she's taped. In addition to the cartoons mentioned above, she also watching TEEN TITANS, SHAMAN KING, and something called BEYBLADE V FORCE. I'm not sure what that last one is about; when I've peeked in on Kelly watching it, all I've seen are typical anime boys with wacky hair doing battle with souped-up tops.

We watch TEEN TITANS together. She thinks Robin is "the bomb" and has a crush on him. She also asks me lots of questions about the Titans and their foes, which I can't answer because I stopped reading the comic book even before Marv Wolfman stopped writing it because it was edited by the world's wickedest editor and because DC keeps changing the rules. Does anybody know what the origin of Beast Boy is now that the Doom Patrol has been retconned/rebooted? Because I sure don't.

Shaman King

SHAMAN KING is a new favorite of hers. She thinks Yoh Asakura is "the hottest cartoon character" she's even seen. I have offered to let her read his adventures in SHONEN JUMP, but she's put off by the whole "read right to left" thing.

Almost all kids watch cartoons, but Kelly has developed a real passion for the medium. I asked her why she liked them so much and got this response:

"They're awesome. I'd be nowhere without them. They teach valuable lessons."

Hmm...that sounds like someone trying to snow Dad into letting her watch an hour-and-a-half of TV per day during the school week. Then again, who of us can dispute the inspirational message offered in the chorus of the BEYBLADE V FORCE theme song:

Waited so long, standing for you,
The world beneath your feet.
Crumbling down, you come around,
To realize what I can be!
I've paid my dues and
I've earned my kicks,
I'm taking the stage,


Gonna steal your thunder,
Coming up from under,
I got your number,
Gonna stand your ground,
Turn your head around,
I''m gonna take you down 'cos


Don't waste my time, play with my mind,
I already know your destiny.
At the end of this race, I'm taking your place,
For now and all eternity!
I've paid my dues and
I've earned my kicks,
I'm taking the stage,


You think you're hip,
But you're going down for a trip,
So you better get over it!!!
Take a ride,
Shake up your head high,
Don't go wasting my time 'cos
You're mine!!!
I've paid my dues and
I've earned my kick,
I'm taking the stage,



You've probably figured out by now that I think my daughter is one of the swellest kids on the planet. Like all kids, she can be a challenge sometimes, but, at the end of the day, when I tuck her in and say good night, I literally thank God for blessing me with the amazing and loving family I have.

Happy birthday, Kelly. I love you and I'm very proud of the exceptional young lady you have become.

And to the loyal legions of TOT readers...

Thanks for spending part of your day with me and indulging me in this birthday letter to Kelly.

I'll be back tomorrow with more stuff.

Tony Isabella

<< 09/14/2004 | 09/16/2004 | 09/17/2004 >>

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Zero Tonys
ZERO: Burn your money before buying any comic receiving this rating. It doesn't *necessarily* mean there's absolutely nothing of value here - though it *could* - but whatever value it might possess shrinks into insignificance before its overall awfulness.

ONE: Buy something else. Maybe I found something which wasn't completely dreadful in the item, but not enough for me to recommend it when there are better comics available. I only want what's best for you, my children.

TWO: Basic judgment call. I found some value, but not enough to recommend it. My review should give you enough info to decide if you want to take a chance on it. Are you feeling lucky today, punk? Well, are you?

THREE: This denotes something I find perfectly respectable. There are better books out there, but I wouldn't regret buying this item. Based on my review, you should be able to determine if it's of interest to you. Let the Force guide you.

FOUR: I recommend anything earning this rating. Unless you don't like the genre, subject matter, or past work of the creators, I believe you'll enjoy this item. Isn't it uncanny how I can look right into your soul that way?

FIVE: Anything getting this rating is among the best comicdom has to offer. You should buy/read this, even if the genre/subject matter doesn't appeal to you. It's for your own good. Me, I live for comics and books this good...but not in a pathetic "Comic-Book Guy" sort of way.

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