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Our Holiday Newsletter: 12 Days of Christmas, Unfiltered

December 11, 2015 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, LGBT STUFF

Our Holiday Newsletter: 12 Days of Christmas, Unfiltered

It’s been a banner year for same-sex parents. Marriage equality finally became the law of the land; and as marriages increased, so have the number of LGBT parents. Gay dads and lesbian moms appeared in national ads for soup, shampoo, pain reliever, and formula. And as is becoming a yearly occurrence, NPH and his family slayed with their Halloween costumes on social media.

Yet with all of this increased exposure and acceptance comes increased expectations; expectations to have THE MOST FABULOUS WEDDING, THE MOST PERFECT HOUSE, and of course THE MOST ADORABLE, WELL-BEHAVED CHILDREN. On top of that, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been told how “lucky” or “blessed” our son is to have my husband and I as his dads. That’s nice and all, but that’s a lot of pressure. And I’m pretty sure he’d beg to differ sometimes. (See #2 below)

I’ve heard it said that parenting is the great equalizer. Stop by our house sometime, and we’ll be happy to demolish every stereotype you’ve ever heard about gay men being tidy… or put together… or having the energy to stay up past 9:00 pm.

So in lieu of THE MOST LEGENDARY HOLIDAY NEWSLETTER, I’m opting for something a little more honest. Unfiltered, even. Please enjoy a glimpse into our family’s 2015 — along with a few holiday “traditions” — in this (very loose) version of The Twelve Days of Christmas.

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Photo Card Companies & LGBT Families: Happy Holidays or Bah Humbug?

November 30, 2015 | By Brent Almond | DESIGN STUFF, LGBT STUFF

Where are LGBT families in Holiday photo card catalogs?

Two years ago I examined how major photo card companies failed to represent LGBT families even once in their holiday photo cards. I issued a challenge to the four companies profiled, pledging to employ the services of whichever company made the change first to be inclusive of same-sex couples/parents.

The companies I profiled were Tinyprints, Shutterfly, Minted, and Snapfish. I chose these four because they all sent me catalogs, and because they all ranked among the top photo card companies, according to Top Ten Reviews. In the two years since, I’ve received three and then two catalogs, respectively, and have indicated that in the data below. As in 2013, when reviewing each company’s online offerings, I looked at the first couple of pages of Holiday and/or Christmas cards. This generally included between 150-200 cards.

The results are a mixed bag of naughty and nice…

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Hasbro Star Wars Family Game Night: Which Character Are You?

November 16, 2015 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, POP CULTURE

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

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again — one of best parts of being a dad is sharing the things I loved as a kid with my son. And with the release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens looming on the horizon, we’ve had a blast experiencing anything and everything Star Wars-related.

And as if the awesome toys Hasbro sent us recently weren’t enough, they’ve hooked us up again — this time with a box of booty to have our very own Star Wars Family Game Night!

I loved playing board games with my family growing up. We had pretty much every word/trivia/brain-teaser game there was; and I’m sure this contributed significantly to my love of writing. Not to mention my competitive streak.

Game night was always fraught with fun and emotion, and everyone had their role to play. Mom, The Peacekeeper: making sure older brothers were more lenient with the younger; Dad, The Jokester: somehow managing to work a really bad pun into every answer he gave; Littlest Brother, The Ticking Time Bomb: always trying to keep up, rarely able to keep his cool. And then there was me, The Mastermind — masquerading as the mild-mannered big brother, but constantly plotting how to crush my younger siblings when they least expected it. (Cue maniacal laughter)

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

As Jon is just 6, we’re still finding our roles when it comes to game night. But we did have a great time playing LOOPIN’ CHEWIE (his favorite of the bunch) with him and a friend. I’ll just post this photo as a review — you can’t fabricate a smile like this:

Hasbro Star Wars Family Game Night Giveaway

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Stellar New ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ Character Posters Revealed

November 4, 2015 | By Brent Almond | DESIGN STUFF, POP CULTURE

I know, I know — another freakin’ Star Wars thing. I was beginning to tire of the never-ending hype machine, too. But with these new character posters for The Force Awakens released today, I got all giddy again. What can I say? I’m a sucker for a kick-ass poster series.

While the “official” Star Wars posters are some of the most iconic in cinematic history, they tend to get a bit busy. Even the new one — overflowing with detail and daring dissection/interpretation — is a mite a lot overcrowded.

Star Wars The Force Awakens Character Posters collage

Click to enlarge/download this nifty collage for use as a Facebook cover photo. You’re welcome!

That’s why I love these new posters so much. Star Wars is about the big picture, for sure. But at its heart are the individual people/creatures/droids we’ve come to know and love, root for and hate. It’s what sets the Star Wars universe apart from so many other sci-fi stories — character.

And while these may not be as hip as this series from The Matrix Reloaded, or as action-packed as this set from the final Harry Potter film, they are singularly striking and powerful. Weapons drawn, staring us down… simultaneously allowing us a glimpse into their souls (or lack thereof).

Okay, I’m rambling. Enjoy the posters.

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The Force Is Strong with These Gay Dads in Campbell’s Soup Commercial

October 8, 2015 | By Brent Almond | LGBT STUFF, POP CULTURE

Gay Dads Featured in Star Wars Campbell's Soup Commercial

In the last couple of years — leading up to SCOTUS legalizing same-sex marriage — the appearance of gay dads and lesbian moms in national TV commercials and online ad campaigns has become more and more common. I’ve featured many of them on this site. And while I’ve always been excited to see families like mine celebrated this way (or exploited, depending on your level of cynicism), I’ll admit they no longer have the same impact on me as they once did. Until last night.

Take a look at this new Campbell’s Soup commercial I spotted (during Modern Family, natch), which stars real-life gay dads having a “Vader-Off” in an attempt to get their son to eat.

Actors David Monohan and Larry Sullivan — a married couple in real life — star alongside their young apprentice, Cooper, as part of Campbell’s Real, Real Life campaign, and to promote their line of Star Wars soups. The family also appears briefly at the end of a second ad in the series.

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New Ads from Hillary, Dove, Tylenol Show Gay & Lesbian Families. Does It Still Matter?

June 25, 2015 | By Brent Almond | LGBT STUFF, POP CULTURE

new ads with gay and lesbian families

As the months and days have counted down to the presumed legalization of same-sex marriage, more companies (and politicians) continue to produce ads with gay and lesbian families and couples. But do they still make an impact? What do they say about the companies airing them? Do they still even matter? READ FULL ARTICLE >>

Pop Secret, Star Wars and the Battle of the Bag

June 11, 2015 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, POP CULTURE

Let me drop some Jedi Master-level parenting knowledge on you: Just because you grow up an epic Star Wars fan, then became a dad and go into hyperdrive raising your child in the ways of The Force, things might not turn out exactly as you’d imagined. With the passing of time and the expansion of Mr. Lucas’ universe, stark differences have emerged between generations of Star Wars enthusiasts…

  • When I was a kid, Darth Vader scared the bejeezus out of me — as was intended. Upon his first viewing of Episode IV, my then 4-year-old son squealed with glee at Vader’s debut.
  • When I was a kid, we called it STAR WARS, not A New Hope. Not Episode IV.
  • When I was a kid, you could easily find t-shirts with Luke, Han or the droids on them. Nowadays, the majority of Star Wars clothing for kids is adorned by the Dark Side — Vader, Boba Fett, Stormtroopers, etc.
  • When I was a kid, we collected action figures. Today? After six films and multiple animated series, there are hordes of figures in every size, not to mention headphones, watches, bike helmets, lingerie, pet costumes, snowboards, wedding rings, toilet seat covers, bathrobes, chopsticks, sleeping bags, and oh yeah, LEGO. SO. MANY. LEGO.
  • When I was a kid, there was no Jar Jar Binks.

Despite all these differences, there are two things that bind my son and I together like The Force: We both love a good light saber battle, and we both love to eat popcorn when we’re watching the Star Wars films. So when I signed on to help promote the #PopWars Video Contest for Pop Secret’s Pre-popped Popcorn, I knew my video had to include copious amounts of popcorn AND an epic light saber battle.

Pop Secret, Star Wars and the Battle of the Bag

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Similac’s Formula to End the Mommy Wars Falls a Bit Flat

January 26, 2015 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, POP CULTURE

A new video from Similac does a near-flawless job of illustrating — and then defusing — the so-called “Mommy Wars.” Yet by excluding half of all parents from the name of their campaign, they undo much of the goodwill built up during the ad.

Take a look, and be sure and watch all the way to the end.

Founded in human nature and fueled by the Internet, the Mommy Wars have been raging in full force for quite a few years. Mothers, physicians, psychologists, educators and all manner of experts and amateurs weigh in on all manner of parenting-related topics: circumcision, vaccinations, diet, working or homemaking, spanking or time-outs, “cry it out” or co-sleeping, attachment parenting, Tiger Moms, helicopter parents, etc., ad nauseam, ad infinitum. Often perched atop the list: breastfeeding vs. formula.

Similac, a primary purveyor of formula, tackles this titular issue (and several others from the list above) in their new spot, set within an initially humorous gang war between multiple parent posses. In addition to the bottle- vs. breast-feeders, you see baby carriers & stroller-pushers, stay-at-home-moms & corporate office moms, disposable & cloth diaperers – all posturing on the playground. A bunch of dads can even be found rocking baby carriers and (natch) manning the grill.

SIMILAC - MOMMY WARS - DADS

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Tylenol Recreates Norman Rockwell Painting with Lesbian Moms

December 16, 2014 | By Brent Almond | LGBT STUFF, POP CULTURE

A new campaign from Tylenol brings an iconic Norman Rockwell painting to life with more diverse depictions of family – including an Asian family, an African American family, and a family with lesbian mothers.

Tylenol Norman Rockwell Lesbian Moms

Few would associate the word “modern” with Norman Rockwell. Many of his most recognized paintings are full of sentiment and nostalgia, rendered in an ultra realistic style — none of which earned him the respect of art critics. Yet as a young artist, I was fascinated not only by the detail of Rockwell’s work, but also how he portrayed America in the 40s and 50s. This was the world of my parents and grandparents, so I always felt a connection – as if I was looking through an old family photo album.

“Freedom From Want” is arguably Rockwell’s most well-known work. Part of a series for The Saturday Evening Post originally intended to promote patriotism, it has since become synonymous with the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays; epitomizing The American Family. Yet, like most of Rockwell’s early work, it focuses only on white (and straight) America — something that causes a decided disconnection for many today.

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Old Spice and the Horrors of Adolescence

December 15, 2014 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF

I grew up the son and grandson of Baptist ministers — men not historically well-versed in the art of scented body sprays. While I learned many valuable lessons from my father, his knowledge of man fragrances was not something he passed down to me. I recall in 9th grade wondering why my dad’s new aftershave smelled so familiar. Upon investigating his medicine cabinet, I discovered he was slathering himself with Charlie every morning. The smell was familiar because my most recent (and much more experienced) girlfriend had worn it. I was horrified. Disgusted. Confused. Now I understood why every time my dad walked by I had flashbacks of being cornered in the church kitchen during Vacation Bible School. The combined memories of her ample bosom and the cloying amounts of perfume she wore still causes me to gasp for air.

Thus, I was left to learn how to “Scent Responsibly” on my own, experimenting with all manner of colognes and deodorants, with varying degrees of success. But my son will never have to endure what I went through. Nor will any other young man, ever. Thanks to Old Spice and their line of Re-Fresh Body Sprays.

Originally launched in January with the viral video “Mom Song,” Old Spice introduces new scents and products via the fatherly response, “Dad Song.” Check out this new masterpiece below…

As you can see, “Dad Song” illustrates in song (weird, weird song) the contrast between the long-held notions that moms want their boys to never leave home, while dads can’t wait for them to grow up and get out. I was the oldest of 4 boys, yet I found the portrayals in the ad did not mirror my experience. While both my parents were understandably forlorn when their eldest (and best) flew the coop, the couldn’t wait for the other three to pack it up and move on with their lives. I guess I’m just special that way.

In any event, your dear old Designer Daddy and his new best friends at Old Spice have got a mountain of manly merch to stuff the stocking of every man in your life. Poor phrasing aside, every man needs to smell good and this is some seriously bounteous booty.

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