POP CULTURE

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

SuperLunchNotes for Spring

April 10, 2017 | By Brent Almond | DESIGN STUFF, POP CULTURE

SPRING IS IN THE AIR!

Flowers are blooming! Bees are buzzing! And of course lots of excited young’uns are scurrying about, frolicking in the sunshine like kittens on Red Bull.

It’s possible your kids are just excited about spring break; but in all likelihood they’re already looking ahead to summer. Help keep those little minds focused on the last few months of school by celebrating all things spring! I’ve pulled together some of my favorite spring-themed lunch notes to help put some fresh fun in your kids’ lunch.

THINK GREEN

When it comes to ideas for springtime lunch notes, just look out the window. Plants, flowers, and trees; butterflies, bugs and other creepy-crawlies; birds, frogs, picnics — you get the picture. And don’t forget Earth Day is April 22!

superlunchnotes lunch notes for spring

There’s no shortage of springy characters to be found in comics, video games, TV and children’s books. L to R, top row: Bulbasaur (Pokémon), Groot (Guardians of the Galaxy), Curious George, Clayface (DC Comics/Batman). Middle row: Wasp (Marvel comics/movies), Toad (Super Mario games), Kermit the FrogAnt-Man* (Marvel). Bottom row: Red (Angry Birds), Spider-Man, Superman, Poison Ivy (DC Comics/Batman).

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Girl Power for Boys: 10 Action-Packed Shows Featuring Powerful Girls

March 28, 2017 | By Brent Almond | POP CULTURE, THINGS MY KID DIGS

Typical boy. All boy. Boys will be boys. I cringe every time I hear those phrases — whether used to praise, admonish, excuse, or label a boy; especially when it’s my boy. And especially when it’s me saying it about my boy.

Stereotypes are convenient, yet entirely dismissive of a child’s ability (and need) to experience beyond what society expects of them. As his father, I strive to fill my son’s eyes, ears, and mind with all the richness and diversity the world has to offer. And as he’s got two dads, making sure he’s surrounded by strong females is at the top of that list.

In addition to the real women in our lives, superheroes have been a way to introduce Girl Power to my son. From the books we read, to the notes I put in his lunch, and of course the TV shows and movies we watch — he’s never lacking for examples of strong, wondrous women.

Below are 10 of the best examples of Girl Power shows for boys* currently on Netflix, all “Boy Approved” by my “all boy” boy.

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Powerful Girl:
STEALTH ELF
Show: Skylanders Academy

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girl power for boys - skylanders

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My Marvelous Superhero Family

March 13, 2017 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, POP CULTURE

So I did some work with Marvel Comics (I ❤️️ typing that!), where I talked about everyday heroes. I nominated my friends the Scheers for Marvel’s #WhoIsYourHero campaign. If you haven’t read it yet, go do that.

As part of the gig, Marvel sent me some cool superhero merch so our family could play dress up, mug for the camera, and display the true essence of our own superheroics. Not content to just pose and shoot, I called upon my mutant design powers (and my family’s patience) and spent some time tinkering in Photoshop and Procreate.

Presenting, my family — as our Marvel Superhero selves.

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Adventurous & headstrong; loves to make a racket and swing hammers around the house. 🔨 JON is… THE MIGHTY THOR!
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My Marvelous Superhero Family

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Who Is Your Hero?

March 7, 2017 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, LGBT STUFF, POP CULTURE

I’ve written about Super Heroes on this site a lot. Like, a lot a lot. Spandexed super beings have been part of my life for as long as I can remember; and becoming a father only deepened my fandom as I passed down all this adoration, excitement, and knowledge to my son. Yet while I ensure that Jon is up on his origin stories and rogues lists, I want him to know heroes exist in real life, too.

Marvel Comics Super Heroes

Click to view SUPER sized!

A Family of Super Heroes

We’ve been lucky enough to know such a team of heroes, in the form of The Scheer Family — who I’m nominating as part of Marvel’s Heroes Come In All Sizes campaign!

I’ve written about the Scheers before, too, but am always thrilled to share their heroic story.

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If Trump Were My Kid: 17 Bits of Fatherly Advice for the New President

January 19, 2017 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, POP CULTURE

As Donald Trump takes office, I’m struck by many things: fear, anger, frustration, waves of nausea. I’m also reminded (almost daily for the past year) just how childlike America’s new leader is. Not in a wide-eyed, full-of-wonder kind of way, but more of a throwing-himself-on-the-ground-and-holding-his-breath-till-he-gets-his-way kind of way.

One of Trump’s most infantile characteristics is his apparent inability to accept advice. Not from former presidents or members of his own political party. Not from career military generals or the entire intelligence community.

Since there’s little hope for our new president behaving like a rational adult (much less, presidentially) I thought I’d appeal to Trump’s childishness with some fatherly wisdom.

So I went through all the lunch notes I’ve made for my son, and pulled together a few I thought might help Donald in his new job. Keep in mind these were originally created for a little boy between the ages of 4 and 6. Also keep in mind how scarily appropriate they are for the new Leader of the Free World.

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1. WITH GREAT POWER COMES GREAT RESPONSIBILITY.


If Donald Trump Were My Kid: Fatherly Advice for the New President

What it doesn’t come with is the right to be mean to someone because of their gender, race, orientation, religion, or disability. Or any reason, really.
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12 Days of Christmas Lunch Notes

January 2, 2017 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, DESIGN STUFF, POP CULTURE

12 days of christmas superlunchnotes

As with many of my ideas, this one started bright but with very little planning — certainly not enough to allow for the predictable unpredictableness of the holidays.

“I SHOULD DO A ’12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS’ SUPERLUNCHNOTES! I’M SO NIFTY & CREATIVE! AND I’M SURE I CAN THINK OF ALL TWELVE, SO THERE’S NO NEED TO PLAN THIS OUT VERY FAR IN ADVANCE!”

I was zipping along doing a note a day to culminate on Christmas Eve. But then my 7 year-old got sick. Then some work crises sprung up. Then I traveled to Texas for a friend’s funeral. Mix in all the seasonal insanity of shopping, decorating, planning — and for the first time in our new house — hosting, and that puts me here, on January 2nd, posting about Christmas. Right on schedule.

In my defense, my (after-the-fact) research shows that “The Twelve Days of Christmas” is in fact about the days following December 25th, not those preceding it. Ergo, this post is actually a little ahead of schedule. Gold star for me. ⭐

Blah, blah, blah — here are the notes, along with a few notes on the notes.

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Remembering George Michael, Celebrating Freedom

December 26, 2016 | By Brent Almond | LGBT STUFF, POP CULTURE

George Michael

In 1990, I was deep in the closet, deep in the heart of Texas. I was in my fourth year (of five) at Baylor, sharing an apartment with three friends from my ultra conservative, evangelical, charismatic church. I lived in a bubble within a bubble within a bubble of repression and denial. And buried deep in my sock drawer were two CDs of the “secular” variety, hidden away like so much auditory porn. Janet Jackson’s Rhythm Nation 1814 was great for walking the Bear Trail and driving around town with the windows down; but it was George Michael’s Listen Without Prejudice, Volume 1 that filled countless hours spent in the painting studio, or that flowed from headphones as I silently lip-synched in bed.

I had plenty of other memories tied to George Michael’s music: awkwardly slow dancing to “Careless Whisper” in high school; “I Want Your Sex” blasting from a dorm window while parents (mine included) assisted their freshmen kids on move-in day; being mesmerized by George and Andrew’s legs in the “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go” video.

But Listen Without Prejudice touched my soul in ways no other music had. It was Michael’s response to the well-deserved hype of Faith, choosing to downplay his image and focus instead on songwriting and emotion. In nearly every song, his longing for love and connection echoed my own. “Praying for Time,” “They Won’t Go When I Go,” “Something to Save,” “Heal the Pain,” “Soul Free,” “Waiting for That Day” (which included a snippet of “You Can’t Always Get What You Want”) — all resonated, and still do.

And then there was his voice. Michael’s voice — particularly on that album — is what I always wished mine sounded like, or imagined it would sound like in heaven.

The only time I saw George Michael perform live was singing “Freedom! ‘90” at the Equality Rocks concert in 2000. He’d only been out officially for a couple of years, so all of RFK Stadium celebrated the song’s newfound significance for Michael, and for our community’s burgeoning, well… freedom.

That song still gives me religion — true religion that comes from the abandonment of repression. A soulful experience of reveling in self-expression. Singing from the pit of my stomach that I am who I am, haters and self-hatred be damned.

Thank you, George Michael, for sharing with us your voice and your soul, your trials and your bliss, your longing and your freedom.
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Let me tell you a secret
Put it in your heart and keep it
Something that I want you to know
Do something for me
Listen to my simple story
And maybe we’ll have something to show

You tell me you’re cold on the inside
How can the outside world
Be a place that your heart can embrace
Be good to yourself
Because nobody else
Has the power to make you happy

From “Heal the Pain”

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Struggling or know someone who is? Call 866-488-7386 for The Trevor Project.

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Doodles, Diversity, & Lunch Notes

December 13, 2016 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, LGBT STUFF, POP CULTURE

Here we are at the end of 2016, and Holy Haircut, Batman! — it’s been a roller coaster of a year. I can’t recall a recent 12 months that contained as many highs and lows. Between the election and all the ugliness it exposed, the numerous police shootings of black men, and the Orlando nightclub massacre, it’s been an especially harrowing year for women, people of color, immigrants, Muslim-Americans, Jewish-Americans, and the LGBTQ community.

Yet through it all, there have been constants to keep me grounded: my family, feeding said family, and my love of superheroes. So the lunch notes were pretty constant, too.

Doodles, Diversity & SuperLunchNotes

Since starting this adventure three (!) years ago, I’ve tried to include a good mix of characters: DC and Marvel; comics and non-comics; human, animal, and whatever the hell Pokémon are. But this year in particular both inspired and challenged me to step up the diversity being represented in my son’s lunch notes.

Dude, they’re lunch notes. With cartoon characters on them. GET OVER YOUR ARTSY-FARTSY, DRAMA QUEEN, HOLIER-THAN-THOU SELF.

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Movie Review: ‘Storks’ Better Than Expected

September 23, 2016 | By Brent Almond | POP CULTURE

storks movie review

Movie: Storks (PG, 86 minutes)
Moviegoers: Daddy (47), Jon (6-3/4)
Individual Reviews: Daddy ★★★1/2, Jon ★★★★

Plot Snapshot: Storks deliver babies…or at least they used to. Now they deliver packages for a global internet retail giant.  Junior (Andy Samberg), the company’s top delivery stork, is about to be promoted when he accidentally activates the Baby Making Machine, producing an adorable, and wholly unauthorized, baby girl. Desperate to deliver this bundle of trouble before the boss gets wise, Junior and his friend Tulip, the only human on Stork Mountain, race to make their first-ever baby drop – in a wild and revealing journey that could make more than one family whole and restore the storks’ true mission in the world.

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[The remainder of this review contains mild spoilers.]

Storks is actually two stories told simultaneously, merged at the end. The synopsis above is from the film’s marketing materials, but it fails to mention the other plot line of an overworked couple and their only child, Nate, who longs for a baby brother.

Trigger warning: If you’ve got an only child longing for a baby brother (or sister), be prepared to squirm a bit. I know I did.

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We Are the Dreamers of the Dreams: RIP Gene Wilder

August 30, 2016 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, POP CULTURE

RIP Gene Wilder, Willy Wonka

I love Gene Wilder’s Willy Wonka so much. Like most people my age, I saw Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory many, many times growing up. I was drawn to Wonka as a kid, and even more so as a parent. Not because he’s sweet and colorful and cheesy — well, not JUST those things. It’s because Wilder also plays him as clever, sarcastic, and a little intimidating.

My son doesn’t scare easily. He was largely unfazed by The Avengers  or The Force Awakens or Jurassic Park. Yet Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory is one of the few films that sent him crawling into my lap — of course during this scene. Any kid’s movie that can creep out my un-creepable kid (and cause him to need some cuddles) — while encouraging him to both behave and follow his dreams — is tops in my book.

Speaking of following dreams, the quote on my son’s lunch note today is from one of my favorite WWATCF scenes. Just reading the words themselves, this looks to be an inspiring, heartwarming sentiment. But when Wonka said it, he was smooshing Veruca Salt’s face in his hand, scolding her for doubting the existence of snozzberries. As well he should have, because Veruca was being a whiny brat. And because if Wonka says something is real, it’s real, dammit.

My other favorite role of Wilder’s was Dr. Frederick Frankenstein in Young Frankenstein. In it he played opposite the most amazing comedic actress of all-time, Madeline Kahn. I’d like to think they’re up in heaven reenacting this romantically riotous moment…
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Rest in Peace, Gene. Thank you for sharing your magic with us — your smart, stupid, silly, sarcastic, snarky, sweet, scary, splendiferous magic.

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Check out the lunch notes I make for my son every school day, by following me at SuperLunchNotes on Instagram.

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