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 the new decade also marks a couple of personal milestones: becoming a father and the birth of this blog. To commemorate ten years as both Daddy and Designer Daddy, I’m 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.
Hey kids, it’s TV time!
As with movies, I knew TV was going to play a big part in the experiences I shared with my child. Regardless of where we’ve watched them – from the couch, on my phone, in the car — these shows have made the biggest impact and produced the fondest memories for this TV-junkie dad and his screengazing offspring.
Note: like my movie list, these aren’t necessarily the top 10 TV shows my son would come up with (he would denounce ever liking anything as baby-ish as Wonder Pets!) These 10 are the programs I regularly watched with my kid, represent benchmarks, or were just plain fun.
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.
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.
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.
To say that Stan Lee and Marvel have had an impact on my life as a parent and my relationship with my son would be a galactic understatement. And while most may know me as a big comic book nerd enthusiast, I didn’t grow up a Marvel fan.
“WERE YOU A DC KID OR A MARVEL KID?”
That’s the ultimate question when it comes to classifying comic book fans. You have two choices and you can’t be both, lest it throw the multiverse out of balance or something. This battle between the superhero companies has raged on for decades, though it’s now spilled into the mainstream and involves multi-billion dollar movie and TV franchises.
I was an unapologetic DC kid. Maybe it was my age or the lack of older siblings or just the alignment of the planets, but my love for superheroes was sparked by a trio of campy TV shows featuring DC Comics characters: Batman, Super Friends, and Wonder Woman. Along the way, Aquaman became my all-time favorite character. The Superman and Batman films of the 70s and 80s were life-changing experiences. By the end of college, I’d amassed many, many boxes of comic books, 100% of which were DC.
While I’d been exposed to characters like Spider-Man and Hulk, Marvel’s roster as a whole seemed so strange and underground and anti-hero-y to me. That all changed when I became a dad.
My son’s birth coincided closely with the release of the first Iron Man movie, which inspired me to declare myself an equal opportunity comic book dad. I was determined to buck the system —my son would be both a DC and a Marvel kid. But why would I make this seemingly impossible parenting goal?
Movie: Teen Titans GO! to the Movies (PG, 1 hour, 33 minutes)
Moviegoers: Daddy, Jon (8)
Individual Reviews: Daddy ★★★★1/2, Jon ★★★★★
Plot Snapshot: The Teen Titans jump from the small to the big screen, literally…-ish. Bummed they’re the only superheroes NOT having a movie made about them, the team (Robin, Cyborg, Starfire, Raven, and Beast Boy) sets off to prove themselves worthy by acquiring an arch nemesis. Intrigue, time travel and fart jokes ensue — culminating with an epic, world-shattering battle. And also messages about friendship and teamwork.
For the most part, being a gay dad is like any other parenting experience. The everyday is filled with a mixture of failure and success; laughter and tears; mealtimes, play times, poop times. And then there are those moments when I marvel at the hilarious dichotomy my life has become.
Case in point… While no one is 100% true to stereotype, our family was staying in our appointed lanes on a recent Friday night. Papa and I were catching up on RuPaul’s Drag Race as our 8-year-old basked in the glorious mayhem of a WWE match.
Jon watched on his tablet with headphones so the noise wouldn’t bother us (and so he wouldn’t hear the more adult drag queen vernacular.) This proved moot, however, as our son began announcing the play-by-play. As he called out the names of the wrestlers, two thoughts struck me:
“How many other families are simultaneously watching RuPaul and WWE?” and
“Wow, professional wrestlers and drag queens are a lot alike.”
These recaps centered around my son’s lunch notes have been evolving, hence the new title, “Life & Lunch Notes.” Lately I tend to freeze up or get busy or easily distracted, and end up not writing about a lot of the things happening in life or bouncing around in my head. Yet they often find their way here, attached to a note.
So I hope someone is finding these posts. And not only enjoying the silly pictures, but the small snapshots of life between lunches.
Welcome, 2018! January SuperLunchNotes, unpacked…
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The epidemic of toxic masculinity in our country is at a tipping point: serial school shootings; countless #MeToo perpetrators; a no-apologies, pussy-grabbing, saber-rattling president. And the paths to a remedy are complicated and met with resistance at every turn. But might I suggest — as a respite from the violence, misogyny, and bluster — the new version of Queer Eye?
The original Queer Eye (née for the Straight Guy) was a cultural phenomenon that aired from 2003-2007. It was part of the pop culture wave started by Ellen then Will & Grace that contributed to greater, more positive visibility for lesbian and gay Americans.
As reboots are in vogue, Netflix has brought the series back to fabulous life with an all-new cast and new batch of scruffy makeover subjects. With the same set of experts (in Food & Wine, Fashion, Culture, Design, and Grooming) the season’s trailer boasts, “The original show was fighting for tolerance. Our fight is for acceptance.”
Being the long-out gay that I am, I went into this with low expectations on such a lofty claim. Yet as I binged through the season, my cynicism faded, side-eye giving way to tears.