So… FIFTH GRADE. Even under normal circumstances, that phrase brings a mixture of shock, awe, gratefulness and stress. So let’s throw in a global pandemic and some at-home, online learning for added effect, shall we?
Needless to say, the last few months of fourth grade were not what we (or anyone else) had planned. I’m sure there are some kids out there who thrive at distance learning. My child is not one of them. His ADHD, combined with a penchant for non-stop, action-packed video games, made for some very frustrating attempts at on-screen classes. We made it out the other side alive, which I consider a win.
Also needless to say, Jon and I both enjoyed the hell out of our class-less summer. But now here we are again — the excitement of a new school year mixed with the stressful virtuality of it all.
The start of this new decade also marks a couple of major personal milestones. Inconceivably, I am now the father of a ten-year-old. And as this site debuted on my son’s first birthday, I’m also starting my tenth year as a blogger. So to commemorate my ten years as both Daddy and Designer Daddy, I’ll be sharing a series of Top 10 lists throughout the year. Each post will feature the most amazing/fun/memorable things/experiences/whatevers from the last decade.
First up, movies.
Taking my kid to the movies was one of those things I dreamed about before becoming a dad. And since becoming a parent, going to the movies has been one of the few shared activities that (almost) never ends in a meltdown. Even the crappy movies give us things to talk and laugh about — and the great films are made even more magical by experiencing them together.
Note: these are not necessarily the films my son would say are his favorites, as he declares each and every cinematic experience THE BEST EVER. This is my list, consisting of our grandest father-son movie going adventures.
First day of school pics have become ubiquitous in the world of social media. Whatever did we do before pre-printed grade signs and frantic, front porch photo sessions? Me — being me — I like to add a list of superlatives to further document this moment each year. It’s my version of the annoying holiday newsletter.
But lest you think I’m only showing the best, brightest and Photoshoppyest version of my so-called parenting life, here’s a little back story on this year’s more-chaotic-than-usual first day of school photo.
Around this time last year, I was feeling weighed down by both my age and my weight. The strain of my mental and physical health was taking a toll, and I was becoming increasingly less social. So when my husband asked what I wanted to do for my 50th birthday, I half-heartedly suggested a trip. I was in no mood for a big party, to be the center of attention, to spend hours around other people pretending to be upbeat and happy.
Then somewhere along the way, I took some much-needed steps to resetting my life. As these steps grew into leaps and bounds, I gained confidence, got excited about life again, and determined that I did, in fact, want a party. Inspired by a friend’s 90s-themed birthday, I decided to show these Millennials how it’s done and throw the most bodacious 80s-themed party ever!
If I’ve learned anything these past nine years of fatherhood, it’s that pampering yourself, partying with friends and blowing off steam are VITAL to being an effective, happy and sane parent. Having also been in a creative slump, this birthday party became a great outlet for me to flex my design muscles in fab, fun ways.
If you were there, thanks for celebrating with me! If not, here’s a taste of how much fun I had turning 50… and here’s to 50 more!
[click all pics to enlarge]
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WANNA’ BE STARTIN’ SOMETHIN’
The invitation was going to se the tone — and hopefully get folks excited to come — so the pressure was on for it to be beyond tubular. A few selfies, a little retro font hunting and a bit of Photoshop later, and voilà!
As a gay dad, teaching my son to celebrate the LGBTQ community has been a top priority from the beginning. Doing so not only ensures he feels proud of his own family, but it also reinforces the compassion I want him to show to others, including those that are bullied or excluded because of who they are or who they love.
Once again, pop culture has proven to be a fun and creative tool to introduce my son to all manner of colorful, queer characters. Not surprisingly, they made their way onto quite a few of the notes I put in my kid’s lunchbox, which I’ve pulled together in this list of LGBTQ superheroes.
Some of these may come as a surprise, as they are depicted as LGBTQ in certain media but not in others. Unfortunately, few are clearly and consistently portrayed as queer, so I’ve provided context and resources when warranted.
One of last year’s biggest big screen hits was Bumblebee, the retro reboot of the Transformers franchise. While the film’s scope may have been downsized from the previous overblown installments, it made up for it in copious amounts of heart, fun, and a totally awesome 80s vibe.
We’re less than a month from the premier of Avengers: Endgame, and the MCU is at peak zeitgeist. You probably saw Avengers: Infinity War (it made over $2 billion, so the odds are you did). If you’re like me, you’ve been awaiting this follow up film with gamma ray-levels of anticipation. I’m assuming you’ve also seen the Endgame trailer… along with 80 million other folks, and counting.
You may have also come across the Avenge the Fallen posters. They feature the heroes that survived Thanos’ universe-altering snap in full color; those that got dusted are in a somber shade of black and white. Cool stuff.
The Internet definitely saw the posters, and has been meme-ing the bejesus out of them. You can check out a few of the funnier versions here and here. Among the lampooned are Game of Thrones, Lion King, RuPaul’s Drag Race, and of course the Life Alert commercials.
Being the superhero fan that I am… and the lover of puns… AND a dad — I had to toss my two cents into the mix. So without further fanfare, here is my fatherly homage to The Fallen…
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AVENGE THE FALLEN: NURSERY RHYMES EDITION
1. Humpty Dumpty
Superpowers: Excellent climbing skills, high source of protein
Weaknesses: sitting, balance
How he fell: his butt is super round
Current status: scrambled
I still remember showing the School of Rock movie to my son a couple of years ago… and that he then proceeded to watch it multiple times over the next few days. The story of the wacky, kid-at-heart substitute transforming his students into rock stars is any kid’s (and former kid’s) dream come true!
So I’m SUPER STOKED to be giving away two tickets to School of Rock: The Musical to one of you awesome readers! 🤘
• Winner will receive a pair of tickets (2) to School of Rock
• Performance Date: Thursday, January 17, 2019 🎸 7:30pm
• Location: The National Theatre 🥁 1321 Pennsylvania Ave, Washington DC 20004
• Prepare to have your minds blown and your sock rocked off.
Movie: Aquaman (PG-13, 2 hours, 23 minutes)
Moviegoers: Daddy, Jon (9)
Individual Reviews: Daddy ★★★★1/2, Jon ★★★★★
Plot Snapshot: Aquaman is the quintessential — and literal — fish-out-of-water story. As the son of forbidden love between a lighthouse keeper and the queen of Atlantis, Arthur Curry must weigh his life on the surface world against his responsibilities to the undersea kingdom… and prevent an aquatic apocalypse in the process!
This blog post has been decades in the making. It was written before I saw the Aquaman movie, and will not change after I’ve seen it. Please check out my review of the film.
These are the two most common responses when someone learns Aquaman is my favorite superhero. As he’s been my go-to hero since I was a mere guppy, fielding these questions has been a frequent — and often frustrating — ordeal.
Thing is, nobody ever asks Superman fans why he’s their favorite. The same goes for Batman, Spider-Man, Wolverine, Captain America, Wonder Woman, The Flash, Thor, Hulk, Black Panther, Batgirl, Green Lantern, Black Widow, Iron Man, Captain Marvel, Storm, Deadpool, Daredevil and even the friggin’ Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
As my fandom was questioned over the years, I’ve had ample time to ponder its roots and reasons. As the wave of the character’s film-related popularity is cresting, I figured I should finally share my thoughts.
So in honor of the King of the Seven Seas — here are the top seven reasons Aquaman is my favorite superhero.