What to Do When Your Child Says “I Hate You”…or Worse

October 6, 2015 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, LESSONS LEARNED


I don’t take my son with me to Target anymore. It doesn’t matter how much groundwork I lay or how often I repeat, “We are not going to buy toys. We are not going to buy toys.” While he might show signs of understanding initially, the moment we cross the store’s threshold, the begging and negotiations ensue. And it just goes downhill from there.

Perhaps I could be a stronger parent, or more patient, or more something else I’m not. But sometimes I need a break from the kiddo — and if I have the option (I don’t always), I do my shopping alone.

Sunday afternoon I had finished some blissfully solo retail therapy, and was headed to the front of the store. I passed the elevator bay and noticed a girl of 6 or 7 whining to her father about something her Mom (who wasn’t there) had said or done differently than Dad — I couldn’t hear it all that well.

But as I passed to the other side of the elevator, I clearly heard the daughter exclaim — rather loudly,
“Dad, you’re worthless!”


The 50 Greatest Superhero TV Theme Songs of All Time: #31-40

September 29, 2015 | By Brent Almond | POP CULTURE

50 Greatest Superhero TV Theme Songs

Before you do anything else, go read Part 1 (#s 41-50). Done? Alrighty, let’s keep going.

What makes a superhero?

There are as many ways to define a superhero as there are cast members in the last X-Men film. For the purpose of this list, I considered any person/animal/robot/being with super/supernatural powers who does good/fights evil OR a regular person/animal/being/robot who does good/fights evil that is super/supernaturally-powered. I omitted shows that fit snugly in the sci-fi genre, because that could be a whole ‘nother list in itself. And because I have other things to do besides watch TV all day (though I wish I didn’t).

Even with my methodology, these weren’t easy to narrow down. You’ll notice this batch of 10 is actually 12, but who’s counting? Oh yeah, I am…


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2010-2013 / 2009-2012

These shows share a spot because they debuted following the hugely successful film versions of their respective title characters. Throughout the 50s, 60s, and 70s, DC Comics pretty much ruled the cartoon superhero realm. However, bolstered by their big screen dominance in the last two decades, Marvel has created some truly spectacular animation… and some truly spectacular theme songs. Avengers: EMH gets the slight edge in epicness, yet Iron Man: AA pulls ahead in coolness, catchiness, and not sounding at all like “Citizen Soldier.”

Fun fact: The Iron Man: Armored Adventures theme song is performed by Rooney, which (apropos of absolutely nothing) is named after Ed Rooney, the principal in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.

Boys, Boundaries, and Blue Balloons

September 26, 2015 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, LESSONS LEARNED

communicating with your five-year-old

To explain the stress there’s been in the house the last couple of weeks… well, I could, but I need to hold it close and protect it, or at least disguise it in prose. And by it I mean him — our brave, defiant, demanding, turbulent, tender boy.

Limits have been being pushed. Or is it boundaries? Whatever they are, they’ve been pushed. Also, buttons.


The 50 Greatest Superhero TV Theme Songs of All Time: #41-50

September 22, 2015 | By Brent Almond | POP CULTURE

50 Greatest Superhero TV Theme Songs

We are in the midst of a TV superhero renaissance. While super-powered heroes and villains have been part of the television landscape from its beginning, recent years have seen a marked increase in not just superhero shows, but good superhero shows. Between network, cable, streaming, and online, there are over 20 programs currently featuring live-action or animated heroes. And with as many as a dozen new shows planned in the next year, superhero fans are singing a happy tune.

Yet the one thing most modern superhero shows lack is a kick-ass theme song. Gone are the action-packed earworms of old. No “Here I come to save the day!” or “Thunder-Thunder-Thunder-Thunder-Cats!” Not even a “Na-na, na-na, na-na, na-na, na-na, na-na, na-na, na-na, BATMAN!”

Instead we’re left with an assortment of indistinguishable instrumentals that do little to set the tone (or tell the story) of their shows — with nary a memorable melody among them. Can you hum the intro to Gotham, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. or Arrow? Didn’t think so.

But rather than harping on what’s lacking in the current bumper crop, I want to celebrate the rich, raucous history of where campy TV, catchy jingles, and spandex-clad heroes collide…by making an EPIC LIST. Over the next few weeks, I’ll be ranking the TOP 50 SUPERHERO TV THEME SONGS OF ALL TIME! My choices are based on popularity, catchiness and cultural impact… with a heaping dose of personal preference. I welcome your criticisms, your praise, and your suggested omissions!

But first, let’s kick things off with a BANG!, a POW! and a penis-shaped car!

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These animated shorts aired only 12 times during a 15-year period on Saturday Night Live, but this questionably close pair of heroes certainly left their mark. Ace and Gary (voiced by Stephen Colbert and Steve Carell) poke fun at Batman and Robin’s oft-rumored homoerotic relationship, while both the animation style and silly/serious theme song ape the ‘toons of the 1960s and 70s. Kudos to creator Robert Smigel for crafting a jingle from such an unwieldy mouthful of words.

The In-Between Boy

September 17, 2015 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, LESSONS LEARNED

In-between boy

Last night I sat and watched as my son played out an allegory for his life at this moment in time. Having eaten his dinner, my five-and-three-quarters-year-old requested ice cream. I got one of his “baby bowls” from the cabinet, after a second or two of consideration as I skimmed through the options in my well-oiled (though oft -addled) dad-brain:

“Though he does fine with the plates, his clumsiness rules out a ceramic bowl. The plastic ones Papa and I use for ice cream are rather deep — he’s still a bit short to reach inside… Plus a smaller bowl would do better for a smaller portion. Baby bowl it is.”

I placed the ice cream in front of him at the table, then ever-so-carefully scattered out sprinkles until he’d declared there were enough. He then jumped up, scrambled to the cutlery drawer, and came back wielding a large, red-handled spoon. He explained he needed a grown-up spoon because “my mouth is so big.” Truer words.

As I finished my salad, we talked about school and who his new friends were and the song about elephants he learned in music class that day. And he ate his ice cream. Vanilla with rainbow sprinkles, in a too-small baby bowl, with a spoon too big for his talkative mouth. He would pick off the tiniest of bites with his giant spoon, careful to get a couple of sprinkles in each nibble, placing some atop the ice cream if the spoon failed to snatch some. Perhaps his micro-bites were an attempt to avoid brain freeze or him wanting it to last longer or trying to avoid catapulting the entire scoop out of his bowl.

Whatever the reason, I continued to soak in the image of my newly-minted kindergartner with his tiny bowl and huge spoon, reflecting on recent weeks and the growing pains it had brought us. His final morning with preschool classmates and teachers closely preceding the afternoon he met his kindergarten teacher; his first day of class a mere two days later. I worried it was too quick; too abrupt a transition, but he took it in stride. No tears, only excitement tinged with nervousness.

On that transition day, after seeing his classroom and chatting with his Mrs. Kelly, we roamed the halls of the new school as a family, dodging teachers and parents, kids of various sizes and speeds, exploring the cafeteria, the library, the gym. As we maneuvered these large, crowded, foreign halls, my in-between boy would absentmindedly reach up for my hand, feel it was there, then drop his back to his side. Never looking up, never taking hold, always moving forward. My hope, that it was with the knowledge I was by his side, had his back, and was ready to take hold when he needed it. And to let go when he needed that, too.

It was a bittersweet moment, and a portend of the weeks ahead, between then and the ice cream. Weeks that have seen a straining to grow more, to catch up, to chase after the big kids, to be his own person. And the fall-out from falling short or trying to go too far, too soon. Meltdowns and tantrums. Defiance and anger. But with moments of joy and triumph, laughter and maturity in-between.

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Dinotrux! Netflix Original + 20 Pop Culture Mashups Ranked

September 8, 2015 | By Brent Almond | POP CULTURE

netflix dinotrux mashup of fun & adventure

Whenever I hear about a new show or film combining one thing with another (killer robot monkeys, alien zombie bunnies, Sharknado), I automatically think of the scene in the movie Big where Tom Hanks (possessed by his younger self) sits in on a pitch meeting at a toy company. After examining a proposed toy, created entirely from market research, younger self Tom offers this critique:

“It turns from a building into a robot, right?
Well, what’s fun about that?” 

You can’t just rip off a good idea, tweak it slightly, and automatically expect it to work. It’s obvious when “grownups” are just trying to capitalize on a trend, and when a kid (or a kid at heart) creates something truly inventive — their passion and inspiration clearly shines through.

Such is the case with Dinotrux, a new series on Netflix that successfully re-imagines the “mash-up” genre into something fun and exciting for kids and families. Based on Chris Gall’s series of children’s books, Dinotrux smooshes together dinosaurs and construction vehicles, as well as several Reptools (reptiles + tools). It’s kind of hard to believe no one had done this before!


Celebrate World Play-Doh Day!

September 7, 2015 | By Brent Almond | DESIGN STUFF, MAKING MEMORIES

I participated in an Influencer Activation on behalf of Influence Central for Hasbro. I received product samples to facilitate my review as well as a promotional item to thank me for my participation.

As I’ve said many times before, one of the best parts of being a dad is getting to relive my favorite things from childhood alongside my son. It happens when I’m introducing a superhero, we’re watching a movie or playing a board game. Even an experience like the first day of kindergarten — telling him about mine, hearing about his. I get such a charge out of seeing things through his eyes.

And few things connect the generations like Play-Doh. Next to drawing, sculpting things from Play-Doh was my favorite form of creative expression as a tyke. And that seems to be pretty universal — every kid (and former kid) loves the doughy stuff, whether they end up being an artist or not.

World Play-Doh Day

To celebrate this universally awesome toy/craft/pastime/plaything, Hasbro has created something extra special for World Play-Doh Day on September 16. They’ll be hosting a virtual “parade” on their Facebook page, featuring sculpts showing the theme of national pride!


Back-to-School Lunchtime Fun & a $100 Fandango Giveaway!

September 3, 2015 | By Brent Almond | POP CULTURE

Back-to-school Fandango movie card giveaway

Designer Daddy and Lunchbox Dad are here to get you in the back-to-school spirit with a lunchbox full of movie fun!

Remember how awesome summer was?
Trips to the beach? Staying up late? ALL THE AWESOME MOVIES?!? Yet if you’re like me, your family is already in full-on back-to-school mode — neck deep in homework, after school activities, PTA meetings, etc. I’m stressing myself out just writing that!


Officially the Parent of a Kindergartner

August 31, 2015 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, MAKING MEMORIES

Okay, yeah. I went ahead and did one of these annoyingly cheesy, Pinterest-y “First Day of School” photos. But with that face, how could I not? Don’t worry, I took plenty of sweet (i.e., non-goofy) ones to send Grandma and Nonna. But my kid is a Grade A Ham, and I intend to exploit share that with the world.

First Day of School - Kindergarten

So how’d it go? Jon mentioned during his bath last night that he was a little nervous. When pressed further, he was concerned about having so much fun.

This morning he was eager, but not maniacally so. After we took our photos in the backyard, I told him we had to go inside so I could put the camera away. He said he wanted to meet us out front, so I watched as he struggled a bit to remount his backpack, grab his lunchbox, and walk ’round the house where he sat patiently on the steps until Papa and I made our way out.


Yvonne Craig as Batgirl: A Gay Boy’s First Favorite Superhero

August 21, 2015 | By Brent Almond | MAKING MEMORIES, POP CULTURE

Actress Yvonne Craig passed away Wednesday at the age of 78. She was most well-known for portraying Batgirl on the über-campy Batman TV show… and she was my first* favorite superhero.

Batgirl Yvonne Craig

Like many superhero-loving adults of a certain age, Batman was my favorite show growing up (just to be clear, it was already in reruns). I didn’t get most of the jokes or recognize the rogues gallery of guest stars, but it was awesome because it was “real people” (not cartoons), and oh so bright and colorful.


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