POP CULTURE

Movies, TV, music, comics/superheroes, etc.

Stan Lee Made a True Believer of Me

November 15, 2018 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, POP CULTURE

To say that Stan Lee and Marvel have had an impact on my life as a parent and my relationship with my son would be a galactic understatement. And while most may know me as a big comic book nerd enthusiast, I didn’t grow up a Marvel fan.

R.I.P. Stan Lee

“WERE YOU A DC KID OR A MARVEL KID?”

That’s the ultimate question when it comes to classifying comic book fans. You have two choices and you can’t be both, lest it throw the multiverse out of balance or something. This battle between the superhero companies has raged on for decades, though it’s now spilled into the mainstream and involves multi-billion dollar movie and TV franchises.

I was an unapologetic DC kid. Maybe it was my age or the lack of older siblings or just the alignment of the planets, but my love for superheroes was sparked by a trio of campy TV shows featuring DC Comics characters: Batman, Super Friends, and Wonder Woman. Along the way, Aquaman became my all-time favorite character. The Superman and Batman films of the 70s and 80s were life-changing experiences. By the end of college, I’d amassed many, many boxes of comic books, 100% of which were DC.

While I’d been exposed to characters like Spider-Man and Hulk, Marvel’s roster as a whole seemed so strange and underground and anti-hero-y to me. That all changed when I became a dad.

My son’s birth coincided closely with the release of the first Iron Man movie, which inspired me to declare myself an equal opportunity comic book dad. I was determined to buck the system —my son would be both a DC and a Marvel kid. But why would I make this seemingly impossible parenting goal?

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BOOYAH! It’s a ‘Teen Titans Go! To the Movies’ Combo Pack Giveaway!

October 20, 2018 | By Brent Almond | POP CULTURE, THINGS DAD DIGS, THINGS MY KID DIGS

Teen Titans Go!

Teen Titans Go! To the Movies ranks along with another superhero saga as our family’s favorite animated movie of 2018 so far. And if you’ve got a superhero-loving kid between the ages of 3 and 10, you’re likely the same.

My son and I were shouting “BOOYAH!” when we got to attend an early screening this summer, and have been counting the days until the home entertainment release. Well, the day has finally arrived… and you can score your own FREE copy right here!

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Theatre Review: ‘Head Over Heels’ in Love with The Go-Go’s Musical

October 15, 2018 | By Brent Almond | LGBT STUFF, POP CULTURE

Head Over Heels

What do obscure Elizabethan poetry, a superstar drag queen, and the music of The Go-Go’s have in common? At first glance, not a damn thing. Yet when these elements are combined in the new Broadway musical Head Over Heels, the result is a wacky, heartwarming explosion of fun.

A BIT OF BACK STORY

My connection to this musical is multi-layered, and probably not very fascinating to anyone but me — but I’m going to tell you about it anyway. I was attending Dad 2.0 Summit (as I do every year), where I met that rarest and most fabulous of creatures, a fellow gay dad blogger. I thought I knew them all, so was excited to make the acquaintance of Mr. Gavin Lodge. In addition to being a father, a husband and a blogger, Gavin mentioned that he was an actor and that he’d been cast as a standby in a new Broadway musical. My interest was peaked.

He described the show’s story as taken from an obscure, Elizabethan text, and would be performed largely in iambic pentameter. (!) He told me it was called Head Over Heels, and would feature the music of The Go-Go’s. (!!) He said it would also include the first trans actor to originate a role on Broadway. (!!!) I texted Papa about the show and that it would be in previews in New York starting in June and that we were going to get tickets. It was not a question.

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Movie Review: ‘Teen Titans GO! to the Movies’ Goes Bigger, Funnier, Fart-ier

July 27, 2018 | By Brent Almond | POP CULTURE, THINGS DAD DIGS, THINGS MY KID DIGS

Teen Titans GO to the Movies

Movie: Teen Titans GO! to the Movies (PG, 1 hour, 33 minutes)
Moviegoers: Daddy, Jon (8)
Individual Reviews: Daddy ★★★★1/2, Jon ★★★★★

Plot Snapshot: The Teen Titans jump from the small to the big screen, literally…-ish. Bummed they’re the only superheroes NOT having a movie made about them, the team (Robin, Cyborg, Starfire, Raven, and Beast Boy) sets off to prove themselves worthy by acquiring an arch nemesis. Intrigue, time travel and fart jokes ensue — culminating with an epic, world-shattering battle. And also messages about friendship and teamwork.

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10 Life Lessons from 10 Years of Marvel Films: GIF Edition

May 2, 2018 | By Brent Almond | LESSONS LEARNED, POP CULTURE

With the release of Avengers: Infinity War, Marvel celebrates ten years amassing the money-makingest film franchise in history. They’ve also made some really great movies. And mixed in amongst the epic battles, amazing effects, and side-splitting one-liners there lies a wealth of character-building wisdom. One might even say gems of wisdom.

Just a little over a year into the MCU Decade, I became a father. Few things have given me more joy as a dad than introducing my son to these characters and these films… at age appropriate times, of course. 😉

So as a galactic-sized THANK YOU to Marvel and Disney, I’ve pulled together 10 of the great life lessons I’ve gleaned from the films. While my intention was to impart these nuggets to my kiddo, they’ve certainly taught me a thing or two, too.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

1. KNOWLEDGE IS POWER
.

Superheroes don’t just throw big punches, they’re also often very, very smart. Geniuses Bruce Banner, Shuri, and Tony Stark have used their knowledge of science and technology to give them an edge against that universe’s bullies. Just don’t rely too much on your smarts, or you might accidentally create a sentient robot set on destroying humanity.

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Designer Daddy’s Ultimate Road Trip Playlist

March 22, 2018 | By Brent Almond | MAKING MEMORIES, POP CULTURE

KIA Road Trip Playlist

Road trips were a big part of my childhood. As a military family, that meant lots of visits to grandparents and cousins each summer and Christmas. Most of these trips were taken in the family van (this was pre-minivan, folks). It was a glorious every-shade-of-brown, tricked out with a movable table, back seat that folded into a bed, and wall-to-ceiling velour. And as the oldest kid, I had the best seat — the captain’s chair behind the driver; feet propped up in the tinted windowsill; plugged into my Walkman as I watched the world whiz by.

College road trips consisted of driving the 787 miles from Waco to my parents in Colorado Springs. It was equal parts breathtaking and mind-numbing, but with the right music (and lots of Dr. Pepper), the trip went by in no time.

Nowadays our expeditions are usually to Grandma and Grandpa’s. Yet music is still an essential part of our travels — whether it’s to entertain a fidgeting second grader or keep Papa awake during I-95 traffic.

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Drag Queens, Wrestlers, and the Life of a Gay Dad

March 18, 2018 | By Brent Almond | LGBT STUFF, POP CULTURE
Drag Queens and Wrestlers

Jon meeting his first drag queen, 2013; Jon (and dads) at his first WWE match, 2018.


For the most part, being a gay dad is like any other parenting experience.
The everyday is filled with a mixture of failure and success; laughter and tears; mealtimes, play times, poop times. And then there are those moments when I marvel at the hilarious dichotomy my life has become.

Case in point… While no one is 100% true to stereotype, our family was staying in our appointed lanes on a recent Friday night. Papa and I were catching up on RuPaul’s Drag Race as our 8-year-old basked in the glorious mayhem of a WWE match.

Jon watched on his tablet with headphones so the noise wouldn’t bother us (and so he wouldn’t hear the more adult drag queen vernacular.) This proved moot, however, as our son began announcing the play-by-play. As he called out the names of the wrestlers, two thoughts struck me:

“How many other families are simultaneously watching RuPaul and WWE?” and
“Wow, professional wrestlers and drag queens are a lot alike.”

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My Warrior Kid

March 14, 2018 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, POP CULTURE

warrior kid thor ragnarok

Having taught my son about superheroes since birth, it’s no surprise that he values a warrior’s strength and power. Whether it’s an over-the-top wrestler, nonsensical ball-encased creature, transforming car/alien/robot thing — or hammer-wielding demigod — nothing gets my kiddo more pumped than good triumphing over evil.

While my 8-year-old’s heroic ambitions are clearly evident in how much time he spends leaping from and jumping on our living room furniture, he also embodies the warrior spirit in other ways. Pardon me while I brag.

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Life & Lunch Notes: Mystery, Wrestling, and Gay Penguins

February 25, 2018 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, DESIGN STUFF, POP CULTURE

These recaps centered around my son’s lunch notes have been evolving, hence the new title, “Life & Lunch Notes.” Lately I tend to freeze up or get busy or easily distracted, and end up not writing about a lot of the things happening in life or bouncing around in my head. Yet they often find their way here, attached to a note.

So I hope someone is finding these posts. And not only enjoying the silly pictures, but the small snapshots of life between lunches.

Welcome, 2018! January SuperLunchNotes, unpacked…

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

1.2 Unikitty

January SuperLunchNotes: Unikitty

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‘Queer Eye’ Gives American Masculinity a Much-Needed Makeover

February 18, 2018 | By Brent Almond | LGBT STUFF, POP CULTURE

Queer Eye on Netflix Toxic Masculinity

The epidemic of toxic masculinity in our country is at a tipping point: serial school shootings; countless #MeToo perpetrators; a no-apologies, pussy-grabbing, saber-rattling president. And the paths to a remedy are complicated and met with resistance at every turn. But might I suggest — as a respite from the violence, misogyny, and bluster — the new version of Queer Eye?

The original Queer Eye (née for the Straight Guy) was a cultural phenomenon that aired from 2003-2007. It was part of the pop culture wave started by Ellen then Will & Grace that contributed to greater, more positive visibility for lesbian and gay Americans.

As reboots are in vogue, Netflix has brought the series back to fabulous life with an all-new cast and new batch of scruffy makeover subjects. With the same set of experts (in Food & Wine, Fashion, Culture, Design, and Grooming) the season’s trailer boasts, “The original show was fighting for tolerance. Our fight is for acceptance.”

Being the long-out gay that I am, I went into this with low expectations on such a lofty claim. Yet as I binged through the season, my cynicism faded, side-eye giving way to tears.

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