Posts by category: Reviews

Marvel Universe LIVE in PDX (Review)

Marvel Universe LIVE in PDX (Review)

My boys had a tough decision to make this morning, after they’d finished breakfast and had to get dressed:

Which superheroes would they be dressing up as to go see Marvel Universe LIVE?

My youngest opted for Captain America, muscle-bound, and carrying his trust shield/Frisbee with him everywhere he went.

My oldest opted for Spider-Man, but — ever the practical one — after wearing the mask for a short time he figured it blocked his view too much, and (wanting to be able to see every bit of the show)decided instead to wear his Spider-Man-print Hawaiian shirt, and attend the show as Peter Parker in disguise.

These tough choices decided, we packed up and headed to the Moda Center at the Rose Quarter, found our seats, and waited for the show to begin.

I think if there’s one word I would use to sum up the Marvel Universe LIVE experience, it would be this:

Spectacle.

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#FitKitchen Tries Out for the Role of my Kitchen “Wingman”

#FitKitchen Tries Out for the Role of my Kitchen “Wingman”

If there’s one thing people know about me, it’s that along with being a dad, singing, and drawing, one of the things I love most is cooking. I write here and on my Facebook page often about the recipes I love, and the new foods I’ve discovered and want to try making at home. One of the “perks” of being an at-home dad is that I am responsible for most meals, which means I often get to cook the things that I want to cook for the family.

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This is the #PowerofDad

This is the #PowerofDad

From even before the time my boys were old enough to start brushing their teeth, we’ve had a little routine around our house about how we get it done before bed.

And like most things around here, it relies on a fun and memorable song. My wife and I being who we are, we even throw in some harmonies:

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A Turducken Christmas

A Turducken Christmas

I make a mean turkey.

By that I mean that I’ve done a lot of experimentation with preparing the big bird for feasting with family and friends, and I have the whole thing down well enough that it is a task that usually falls to me for special holiday dinners. Everyone seems to feel fairly assured that I know the tricks to flavoring it well, keeping it moist, not overcooking it, not killing anyone via salmonella. As my family traditionally does turkey for Christmas, and we were for the first time hosting it at our house, I was again planning on doing some turkey magic.

But then I got a better offer. I was contacted by the good people at Echelon Foods, wondering if I would be interested in making and serving turducken this year.

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Cat Doorman Songbook {Review & Giveaway}

Cat Doorman Songbook {Review & Giveaway}

It doesn’t take long after becoming a parent that you start to become hyper-aware about the choices we all must make when to comes to the things that entertain our children.

Sure, there are questions like “How much screen time is okay for a 2-year old?” and “What age do I let my kids watch Star Wars?”, but I’m talking more about questions like “How do I make sure my kids never, ever fall in love with Barney?” and “Is there any children’s music that isn’t terrible, annoying, or both?”

Thankfully, if you really take the time to look, the answer to the latter is a resounding “yes.”

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Giveaway! Win the Angry Birds™ Star Wars® At-At Attack Battle Game ($39.99 Value)

Giveaway! Win the Angry Birds™ Star Wars® At-At Attack Battle Game ($39.99 Value)

Just in time for this weekend’s momentous Star Wars Day, I got a lovely package this week from my friends at Hasbro.

I’ve long been a Star Wars geek, and proudly. I’ve written before about trying to figure out when and how to introduce my boys to the epic saga (I even participated in DorkDaddy’s brilliant white paper on the subject with other prominent geeky dad bloggers). As a family we watched the first film over a few weeks (and by “first,” I of course mean Episode IV, A New Hope) and my son liked it well enough, though he didn’t really understand it. He has an X-Wing fighter and a TIE fighter, and he enjoyed Star Tours at Disneyland. But I’ve yet to really see that spark of Star Wars love yet.

And so, when I saw that what I received was, in fact, a selection of Hasbro’s new Angry Birds Star Wars toys, I knew I’d found my gateway drug.

Because, really, what 21st century kid isn’t obsessed with Angry Birds?

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Review: Guys With Kids (Pilot)

Review: Guys With Kids (Pilot)

For months now people have been asking me what I think about NBC’s new show Guys With Kids.

The previews sure didn’t bode well. My delightful sweet-hearted grandmother-in-law saw a commercial for it, and seemed like she was ready to storm NBC studios just on principle, in support of the wonderful man (me!) taking care of her great-grandsons.

I definitely didn’t have high hopes, from what I saw. The show looked to be based mostly on the premise that a dude with a baby strapped to himself is inherently hilarious. I also had concerns about a show that is ostensibly about fatherhood but created by Jimmy Fallon — a funny guy, but also a guy who isn’t actually a dad — based entirely on a funny image he got in his mind one day of three guys at a bar watching the game who all turn around and are wearing babies. To top it off, the working title was reportedly DILFs, which sort of tells you all you need to know.

Anyhow, until I saw an episode, I was going to reserve judgement and give them the benefit of the doubt that, at the very least, the goal was to tap into the new parenting zeitgeist of involved dads, rather than to mock dads.

Well, the pilot premiered last night . . .

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Book Review: 30 Things Future Dads Should Know About Pregnancy

30 Things Future Dads Should Know About Pregnancy

by Hogan Hilling

About the Book

How prepared do you feel about becoming a new dad? 30 Things Future Dads Should Know About Pregnancy provides a refreshing perspective on how a man can transform into a caring and devoted dad—without losing his masculinity. Included is practical, priceless advice and insight into your pregnant wife’s thoughts and behavior, helping you reach your full potential in one of the most important roles of your life. These 30 Things will teach you how to:

  • Bond with your pregnant wife and unborn child
  • Adjust your priorities while still having time for what you enjoy
  • Deal with your wife’s mood swings and sex issues
  • Ask for and accept help
  • Network with other dads, one of your greatest resources
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Book Review: The Paranoid Parent’s Guide

Book Review: The Paranoid Parent’s Guide

I’ve never thought of myself as much of a worrier.

However, when it comes to my son, at times I’m not so different from many parents–the ones whose entire day seems to be filled with time spent worrying about the potential hazards and dangers to children that surely are around every corner, just waiting to pounce.

This generation of parents really does seem to worry more than any other before us. We baby-proof everything, we buy or boycott products based on ever fluctuating recalls and rumors, and we spend far too much time worrying about all the things we think are going to scare, injure or kill our child the moment our back is turned. It’s no stretch to admit that many parents even go so far as to feel like their excessive worrying makes them better parents. But the truth is, the things we worry about the most are the things least likely to ever harm our child, and we waste far too much time, money and sleepless nights worrying.

Enter: The Paranoid Parents Guide.

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Goodnight Moon and the Emperor’s New Clothes

Goodnight Moon and the Emperor’s New Clothes

Goodnight Moon is overrated, ugly and boring.

There, I said it.

The illustrations are poor, the colors are garish, the perspective is ridiculous, and the text is downright lazy:

“Goodnight nobody. Goodnight mush.”

Seriously, Margaret Wise Brown?

I understand the appeal, of course. I know that it’s considered a “classic”, with almost every parent being given multiple copies when they have a baby, and there’s a sense of tradition in reading it to your child that appeals to parents if they had it read to them when they were young too. I honestly have no memory of it from when I was little, but for all I know it was my favorite book. Well, I don’t mind admitting it’s possible I had terrible taste in books when I was an infant, so I’m not worried this position is indefensible.

And hey, it’s not like my son doesn’t enjoy it at all, often including it in his frequent “make dada read every book in sight” adventures. He mainly likes pointing out the kitties and the balloon. With a little bit of effort there can be a certain lyricism to the words that I can see being an aid to lull a child to sleep… assuming he isn’t kept awake at night wondering why a bunny has pet kittens and a tiger pelt rug.

Isn’t that bunny a little young to have a phone in his room? And dang, that bowl full of mush is bigger than the poor kid’s head, no wonder he didn’t finish it all before bed.

Anyhow, I am seriously starting to suspect that high regard for Goodnight Moon is little more than an invisible robe, and no one wants to be the one to tell the Emperor that his ding-dong is hanging out.

Or maybe we’ve just convinced ourselves that any book that requires techniques for surviving its boringness (“Look! The clocks hands and the mouse have moved on the next page! Thrilling!”) must be good literature, or else it would never have become popular…? It’s like Moby Dick or Wuthering Heights or something.

I’m not even suggesting my son won’t come to love it more and more as he grows. I don’t plan on cutting him off from it or anything. Some day I might even shed tears of joy as he reads or recites it to me on his own. I’m not a heartless monster.

But I still think it’s a terrible book.

Am I alone here?

NOTE: I forgive Margaret Wise Brown and Clement Hurd for their awful “classic”, because I love The Runaway Bunny.

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Book Review: Home, Away

Book Review: Home, Away

I’m still relatively new to this whole blogging thing, so I was a little bit surprised when I got an email from a representative of Chin Music Press asking if I’d be interested in receiving a copy of Jeff Gillenkirk’s upcoming novel Home, Away, explaining that it follows a professional baseball player who walks away from a Major League career to care for his son, so it might be of interest to me as an at-home dad.

I was definitely intrigued!

I won’t pretend to be a professional book reviewer, but having now (finally) finished the book I wanted to share my thoughts on it.

——

Home, Away

By Jeff Gillenkirk
Chin Music Press, 2010

“A powerful, stirring novel about family, love and the depths of compassion played out against the dramatic backdrop of professional baseball.”

Jason Thibodeaux is a promising 21-year old pitcher, with a young son he adores and a bright future ahead. Having just taken the year off from college ball to care for his son Rafe while his wife Vicky finished law school, Jason is anxious to return to the field and kick-start his very promising baseball career again. But with the sudden, messy collapse of his marriage, a bitter divorce, and an unwillingness to repeat the mistakes of his own absent father, Jason finds himself forced to fight tooth-and-nail for his son. Sadly, it’s a fight Jason can’t win, even as his career catapults him into the big leagues — complete with $42 million contract…

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