music

A Totally Awesome Birthday Party 50 Years in the Making

July 30, 2019 | By Brent Almond | DESIGN STUFF, MAKING MEMORIES, POP CULTURE

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!

Birthday Party

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!

50th Birthday Party Invitation

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Autobots, Roll Out! It’s a ‘Bumblebee’ Family Fun Kit Giveaway!

April 15, 2019 | By Brent Almond | POP CULTURE

Bumblebee Giveaway

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.

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Avenge the Fallen: Nursery Rhymes Edition

March 29, 2019 | By Brent Almond | DESIGN STUFF, POP CULTURE

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

 

Avenge the Fallen Nursery Rhymes

1. Humpty Dumpty

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Superpowers: Excellent climbing skills, high source of protein
Weaknesses: sitting, balance
How he fell: his butt is super round
Current status: scrambled
.

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Giveaway: Have a Rockin’ New Year with ‘School of Rock!’

December 27, 2018 | By Brent Almond | POP CULTURE, THINGS MY KID DIGS

School of Rock

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! 🤘

GIVEAWAY DEETS:

  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.

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Theatre Review: ‘Head Over Heels’ in Love with The Go-Go’s Musical

October 15, 2018 | By Brent Almond | LGBT STUFF, POP CULTURE

Head Over Heels

What do obscure Elizabethan poetry, a superstar drag queen, and the music of The Go-Go’s have in common? At first glance, not a damn thing. Yet when these elements are combined in the new Broadway musical Head Over Heels, the result is a wacky, heartwarming explosion of fun.

A BIT OF BACK STORY

My connection to this musical is multi-layered, and probably not very fascinating to anyone but me — but I’m going to tell you about it anyway. I was attending Dad 2.0 Summit (as I do every year), where I met that rarest and most fabulous of creatures, a fellow gay dad blogger. I thought I knew them all, so was excited to make the acquaintance of Mr. Gavin Lodge. In addition to being a father, a husband and a blogger, Gavin mentioned that he was an actor and that he’d been cast as a standby in a new Broadway musical. My interest was peaked.

He described the show’s story as taken from an obscure, Elizabethan text, and would be performed largely in iambic pentameter. (!) He told me it was called Head Over Heels, and would feature the music of The Go-Go’s. (!!) He said it would also include the first trans actor to originate a role on Broadway. (!!!) I texted Papa about the show and that it would be in previews in New York starting in June and that we were going to get tickets. It was not a question.

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Revved Up, Refreshed & Ready to Roll: My Spring Break with Kia

April 18, 2018 | By Brent Almond | MAKING MEMORIES, THINGS DAD DIGS

I landed in San Diego fresh off a week-and-a-half of my son’s spring break — however, I was feeling anything but fresh. Spring break as a parent is not the Bacchanalian catharsis you may remember from your youth (or from watching MTV); it’s not even a relaxing week spent lounging in the sun. Instead it’s a lot of scheduling/juggling of play dates, museums, movies, trips to Grandma’s, and whatever the hell you’d call Dave & Buster’s — all of which has the potential to suck the life out of you.

Yet this short jaunt to Southern California was just the thing I needed to recharge my batteries, rev up my engine, and get me back on track for the next adventure. [FYI: This was a parent blogger event paid for by Kia, hence all the car/driving metaphors. Buckle up — there’s more up ahead.]

From the start, this two-day immersion excursion sparked my creativity at every turn.

First off was the rock & roll theme — meticulously carried out in every aspect of the experience. Most of our time was at the Hard Rock Hotel, which was cool and contemporary and comfortable all at once — a music museum with turndown service and a mini bar.


My Spring Break with KiaMy Spring Break with Kia READ FULL ARTICLE >>

Designer Daddy’s Ultimate Road Trip Playlist

March 22, 2018 | By Brent Almond | MAKING MEMORIES, POP CULTURE

KIA Road Trip Playlist

Road trips were a big part of my childhood. As a military family, that meant lots of visits to grandparents and cousins each summer and Christmas. Most of these trips were taken in the family van (this was pre-minivan, folks). It was a glorious every-shade-of-brown, tricked out with a movable table, back seat that folded into a bed, and wall-to-ceiling velour. And as the oldest kid, I had the best seat — the captain’s chair behind the driver; feet propped up in the tinted windowsill; plugged into my Walkman as I watched the world whiz by.

College road trips consisted of driving the 787 miles from Waco to my parents in Colorado Springs. It was equal parts breathtaking and mind-numbing, but with the right music (and lots of Dr. Pepper), the trip went by in no time.

Nowadays our expeditions are usually to Grandma and Grandpa’s. Yet music is still an essential part of our travels — whether it’s to entertain a fidgeting second grader or keep Papa awake during I-95 traffic.

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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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‘Twas 10 Days Before Christmas: Playing Santa With Google Home

December 15, 2016 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, THINGS DAD DIGS

Whoever invented Santa Claus should be ashamed of themselves. As should all of us who have continually used him to leverage good behavior from our kids. And we bestow upon Santa all of these mystical powers and superhuman abilities, setting expectations at nothing less than Magical Candy Nirvana.

Then we, as parents, HAVE TO DO ALL THE WORK!

But instead of drowning your sorrows in hot cocoa, or stress-eating an entire roast beast, sit back and enjoy a holiday poem about a nifty device that’s been helping me make it through this crazy-making most special season.

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‘Twas ten days before Christmas, and all through my head
Every detail was spinning, filling me up with dread;
The stockings weren’t hung and the cupboard was bare,
Tho in a fortnight, fam’ly all would be there.

As a parent, I wear lots of different hats;
Chef, chauffeur, coach, doctor, and of course, diplomat.
Yet at Christmas I don the most stressful chapeau;
It’s red, and requires I say “Ho, Ho, Ho.”

Google Home helps parents play Santa

In addition to all my normal dad duties
There’s shopping and cooking, and trimming of trees,
And wrapping and boxing and lighting and stuff;
It’s enough to make any parent cry, “Enough!”

Does my kid still believe in St. Nick? Matters not.
That to-do list is now my list, and entails quite a lot.
So how will I tackle these tasks on my own?
And how will I do them sans bitch, gripe, or moan?

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2016 Holiday Gift Guide for Uncommonly Good Dads

November 25, 2016 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, DESIGN STUFF

Holiday Gift Guide for Dad

I’m often told that I’m difficult to shop for. Always on the lookout for just the right watch/shirt/shoes/socks/gadget/doodad/etc., I usually end up just buying things for myself. My assumption being that my long-suffering loved ones won’t find this special snowflake of a thing on their own. Luckily, my long-suffering husband has figured out a few places to successfully shop for me.

One of those places is UncommonGoods. Papa and I have been satisfied customers for over 10 years, and whether we’re shopping for family, friends, or coworkers, they never fail to surprise with their clever, well-designed, eco-friendly gifts.

For this year’s Holiday Gift Guide, I’ve searched UncommonGoods and put together a list of some of my favorites from their collections of gifts for men and dads (check out those full collections here and here). HINT: If you’re shopping for me, this would be a good place to start…

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