What If ‘The Peanuts Movie’ Starred Real, Live Actors?

October 30, 2015 | By Brent Almond | POP CULTURE

As a lifelong fan of Charlie Brown, Snoopy and the gang, I’m more than a little excited about The Peanuts Movie. However, other than the holiday specials, the 65-year-old brainchildren of Charles Schulz have lost a lot of their cultural impact. My 5-year-old knows who Snoopy and Charlie Brown are, but just barely. I can’t wait to fully introduce him to these beloved characters in their big screen debut.

And yet, I can’t help but worry that some of the depth and nuance — the humanity — of the Peanuts gang will be lost in this glossy, animated translation. The comic strips always had a subtle, adult sensibility to their humor that I fear may get dumbed-down by Hollywood. I could be wrong, but just in case…

how AWESOME would it be if there was a version starring real, live, adult actors? I’m sure the kids doing the voice acting in the film will do a swell job, but having adult embodiments of the characters would definitely make them more interesting for this older-than-G-Rated-fan.

With that in mind, below is my fantasy cast. I doctored the actors’ headshots a bit to help sell the match-ups… in case that wasn’t clear. (Warning: not all links are family friendly or SFW.)

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The Peanuts Movie Starring Real Actors: Louis CK as Charlie Brown

Who better to portray the film’s loser of a leading man than comedian Louis C.K.? A master of self-deprecation — and similarly doughy and balding — C.K. is the perfect grown-up (and slightly more bitter) C.B.

The 50 Greatest Superhero TV Theme Songs of All Time: #11-20

October 22, 2015 | By Brent Almond | POP CULTURE

50 Greatest Superhero TV Theme Songs of All Time

We’re getting so close I can taste it — and it tastes like…spinach?!? It’s the penultimate chunk of the 50 GREATEST SUPERHERO TV THEME SONGS OF ALL TIME!

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Buffy the Vampire Slayer is all about creating paradoxes and busting stereotypes. A blonde high school girl (with a very blonde name) who hunts vampires, demons & every other beastly thing…in a town called Sunnydale. Secondary to the core Girl Power message are her posse of nerdy (and mostly super-powered) sidekicks, and her doomed love affair with a soulfull vampire

The same paradoxes exist in the Buffy theme song, composed and performed by the nerdtastically-named Nerf Herder. It starts off with an old school monster movie organ, then kicks into indie rock high gear, all driving guitars and manic drumming, ending with a cymbal crash into a heap of spooky, hormonal fun.

The 50 Greatest Superhero TV Theme Songs of All Time: #21-30

October 7, 2015 | By Brent Almond | POP CULTURE

50 Greatest Superhero TV Theme Songs

No intro this time… let’s just jump right into the action of the 50 GREATEST SUPERHERO TV THEME SONGS OF ALL TIME, part 3!

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Manic, irreverent, nonsensical. That was The Tick…as well as it’s big band-inspired theme song. While the 2001 live-action opener was pretty snappy in its own right, nothing beats the original:

Dot dweeeeeee dot dot dot dwee-dow!
Dot DWEEEEEEE dot dot dot dwee-dow!

Fun fact: The “lyrics” came about when composer Doug Katsaros sang them to producers, to emulate the sound of sliding trombones. The show-runners thought the sing-scatting was funnier, so it stuck.

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.

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.

5 Rebooted TV Shows to Share With Your Kids

June 30, 2015 | By Brent Almond | POP CULTURE

One of my favorite things about being a dad is sharing my passions with my son. Whether it’s a certain song, a board game, favorite holiday or superhero, I never tire of re-experiencing these things together — and through his eyes, for the first time.

This is also true with the TV shows and movies I grew up on. Yet some of the shows and films I loved might not yet translate to a 5-year-old’s mind or patience level; or perhaps they didn’t age well; or they’re just plain impossible to find.

But as the saying goes, “Everything old is new again.” (Or was it, “All of this has happened before, and it will all happen again”?) In any event, pretty much anything you were into as a kid (movie, cartoon, comic book, toy, video game, etc.) has been rebooted, rehashed, reconfigured or reborn into a new iteration for you and your kids to enjoy. Here are just a few examples* that our family has found to bridge the generation gap!

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5 Rebooted TV Shows from Your Childhood to Share with Your Kids

Super Friends
/ Young Justice

Super Friends was absolutely my favorite show as a kid. How can you lose with Superman, Batman & Robin, Wonder Woman and Aquaman? Yet as I watch the episodes now, they are as corny as the Wonder Twins’ jumpsuits are an unholy shade of purple. They were fine when my son was little-bity, but today’s kids (at least mine) have much more sophisticated tastes, and Young Justice fits that bill perfectly. It’s like Teen Titans, but with more glowering. Junior versions of the Super Friends/Justice League take on global threats, led by an ultra cool water-sword wielding Aqualad! And don’t worry, the old-timers show up from time-to-time, too.


9 Netflix Titles for Non-Traditional Families

May 30, 2015 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, LGBT STUFF, POP CULTURE

As part of what is often labeled a “non-traditional family,” (or NTF*) I strive to fill our son’s life with people, experiences, and stories that reinforce that there’s a place in the world for everyone, regardless of their age, gender, skin color, or how their family is made — including an adopted boy with two gay dads.

While our family may be atypical in it’s makeup, we are extremely typical (boringly so) in that we have the same worries as so many other parents.

How will our son do well in school?” “Will he ever eat his vegetables?” “Who will his friends be?”

Yet add to that list “Will he be treated differently for having two dads and being adopted?” and we’re back in non-traditional territory. And as any NTF parent can attest, finding books, toys, TV shows, and movies that represent your family can be challenging.

netflix titles for non-traditional families

One great resource I’ve found is something we already had — our Netflix subscription. As a long-time Netflixer (?), I consider myself an expert at finding the perfect show to appease or distract my energetic 5-year-old – or even provide some occasional downtime for his two dads.

Below is a list of nine great Netflix titles that provide just the right mix of entertainment, encouragement and empowerment for our little NTF.


Celebrating ‘Supergirl’ and Girl Power With SuperLunchNotes!

May 18, 2015 | By Brent Almond | LESSONS LEARNED, POP CULTURE

girl power superlunchnotes

Ever since I started putting notes in my son’s lunches, I’ve tried to ensure a good representation of female characters. The same goes for educating him about superheroes outside the context of lunch, and about life in general. Yet any parent that has attempted to teach gender equality to their kids knows it’s an uphill battle. As much as you try to debunk stereotypes, model acceptance, and expose them to what’s fair, you’re regularly thwarted by a toy company, or the aisles of a retail store, or that boy at preschool who convinced your kid that “Frozen is boring…because it’s for girls.”

Then last week, the trailer for the upcoming Supergirl TV show debuted, and I saw a glimmer of hope on the horizon…


GMCW Concert ‘When You Wish’ Ticket Giveaway



Who wants to see me on stage as a dancing bear?

You’re in luck, because I sing with the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington DC (GMCW); our next concert is When You Wish, featuring music from animated films and TV shows… and I’ve got FOUR TICKETS to give away!


Movie-Inspired DIY Valentines

February 10, 2015 | By Brent Almond | DESIGN STUFF, POP CULTURE

movie-inspired DIY valentines

In honor of Valentine’s Day, I combined my love of movies with my love of, well, love — to create some fun, crafty valentines. Each one portrays an iconic movie duo, coupled with quotes from their films. Feel free to share with family, friends, crushes or classmates – or get inspired to make your own!

Head over to Fandango Family to see the full reveal (as well as printable templates and handy tips for each), and then come back here before February 14 for a couple more DIY valentines that didn’t quite make the “family-friendly” cut for Fandango’s page.

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If you REALLY want to make my heart go pitter-patter, head over to the Designer Daddy Facebook page and click the “Like” and “Get Notifications” buttons.
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