Over on my pop culture blog, UnitedMonkee, I’ve been running down lists of my favorite movie-watching experiences of the year. While going over everything I watched last year, I realized that I had a great deal of fun watching movies with my kids, and not just the repeated viewings of Moana and Barbie Video Game Hero!
We’ve finally hit the sweet spot in my house where we’re doing nightly reading with the kids — dubbed Books & Bed, yes I’m a professional writer — and they want to check out comics! I’m sure I’ve talked about this here and there, but actually reading comics with kids can be a little tricky. Even if they’re interested in the format, leading them along in the right order and keeping them invested for what can be a longer reading experience, can lead to boredom or even frustration. Now that our oldest is reading more and more on her own and has had a fair amount of experience with comics, though, she’s a lot more interested.
And that means I’m buying more kids comics, which I’m pretty stoked about. Over the summer we spent some time at my inlaws’ place and I found myself with an afternoon to myself and a new comic book shop called Midgard Comics & Games to explore! I usually dive through longboxes looking for random 90s comics that I’ve always been curious about, but that time I decided to lean into the kid’s rejuvenated love of the medium and walked away with Supergirl, Cosmic Adventures In The 8th Grade by Landry Q. Walker and Eric Jones as well as the second volume of Scooby-Doo Team-Up, which I will get to in a later post.
Like most parents, I’m always looking for potential projects to keep my kids busy (ie: not screeching or fighting). So, when I got an email about checking out 8-Bit Art‘s Sticky Note Art Kit packs revolving around the classic Nintendo Super Mario Bros. game, I was definitely interested, especially because I spent far more months than I’d like to admit trying to beat that game earlier this year and the kids actually got into it right alongside me. Continue reading
One of the great things about all the streaming services out there in the world is that older kids’ shows continue finding new life. Teletubbies has definitely been one of those shows and its recent reappearance on Nick Jr. has made it a favorite in our house. Our three year old son especially likes the show and has become a big Po fan. Every single time we watch an episode — even ones we’ve seen before — he roots hard for the little red creature to be selected by the windmill or for him to pop up at the very end of the show.
So, when I was asked if I wanted to check out the recent Teletubbies Bubbles DVD, I jumped at the chance. Thanks to a radioactive cat and a trip to New Hampshire, we haven’t had as much time to absorb this one as we probably would have otherwise, but the boy loved what he saw. I mean the first episode is about bubbles and, to paraphrase Paul Rudd in Knocked Up, kids go crazy over bubbles. In fact, I’d say that the “Bubbles” episode on this disc is not only worth the price of admission, but also the next best thing to actually letting them run around with tiny plastic rings and soapy water. Continue reading
I do this thing where, after enjoying something, I have a desire to dive into all things related to said thing. So, when my kids had such a great time watching Honey, I Shrunk The Kids last month, I immediately started telling them about that film’s 1992 sequel Honey, I Blew Up The Kid. “In the next one, a two-year-old grows huge and stomps around” is a great sell for six- and three-year-olds in my experience. Continue reading
You never know how, when or where your kids will finally be interested in the things you love. When I first heard about DC Superhero Girls a few years back, I was super stoked because it looked like it would be perfectly up my daughter’s alley. Young women with cool powers all going to school together and fighting bad guys? What could be better?! Continue reading
One of my favorite aspects of parenthood is connecting my kids to the pieces of entertainment I enjoyed so much as a child. For every positive Honey, Shrunk The Kids experience, though, there are plenty of shows, books or movies that they just don’t get into. I’m going to keep trying, though.
A few years ago, I realized that I didn’t have any Roald Dahl books on hand for when my kids decided they wanted to get into longer form stories instead of just picture books. I lucked out and got a good batch of them in an eBay auction. Since then, my wife and daughter have read through The BFG, Charlie And The Chocolate Factory and Matilda and a few others. Our son likes the idea of reading chapter books, but doesn’t always have the attention span.
While cleaning out my car, I found a tome that I figured might work for him: Dahl’s The Enormous Crocodile. I didn’t know anything about this book which was originally published in 1977, but soon realized that it was both short and packed with Quentin Blake’s illustrations! It seemed like a great middle ground for our son, so we gave it a whirl and he loved it! Continue reading
As a kid, I was a huge Honey, I Shrunk The Kids fan. Now that I think about it, it might have been the first kids-in-a-crazy-situation movie that I saw and loved. I’d go on to fall for movies like Goonies, The Gate, Monster Squad and Cloak & Dagger, but it may have all started with this film (or maybe it was E.T.).
The movie stars Rick Moranis as hapless inventor Wayne Szalinski who just can’t figure out how to make his shrinking ray work. Much to everyone’s surprise, a stray baseball accidentally hit through the attic window by one of the next door neighbors leads to both Szalinski kids — Amy (Amy O’Neill) and Nick (Robert Oliveri) — getting shrunk along with the two neighbor boys Little Russ (Thomas Wilson Brown) and Ron (Jared Rushton). Smaller than ants, they wind up having to struggle to get across the backyard into the house and back in front of the shrink ray in hopes that Wayne can fix them. Continue reading
Last weekend I found myself unexpectedly sitting in a theater watching Smurfs: The Lost Village. My daughter had been invited to one of her kindergarten classmates’ birthday party and I went along, thinking that I would simply drop her off and maybe hang around for the food-and-cake portion. Instead, on the way there, she asked if I could stay and I didn’t really have anything better to do, so I stayed. Continue reading
I’m trying something new with an unboxing video. I was surprised to see the first Funko Disney Treasures box appear on my door and figured I’d record the kids opening it. Hope you enjoy and if you do, head over to the official site and sign up for a subscription!
When someone asks if I want a beer, I usually say yes. So, when the fine folks over at Goodwood Brewing Company asked if I wanted to try out a few of their offerings, you know I was all over it. As you can imagine, I was incredibly excited when the box featuring two each of the Ale, Stout and Honey Ale showed up on my doorstep.
The cool thing about all three of these beers is that, in addition to the usual brewing process, they also spend some time in a barrel. In the case of the Ale, it hangs out in a bourbon barrel. As you can kind of see in my less-than-stellar photo here, this one pours out golden and beautiful. It’s got a nice, sweet smell, but then also includes a nice kick. You can definitely taste the woody notes from the barrel plus slight notes of the bourbon itself without that very distinct flavor overtaking the drink. At 6.0% alcohol by volume, this is the lowest of the bunch, but would definitely make for a nice drink, especially on a nice day outside hanging with friends.
I then moved over to the Stout, which is also aged in a bourbon barrel. Like the ale, this one had a nice sweet smell to it with a nice nuttiness. Some companies go super thick when it comes to a stout, but this one was more manageable and looked beautifully dark and luxurious. The sweetness from the smell definitely comes through in the taste, as do the bourbon notes which were stronger to me in this than the ale.
The taste comes in with a flash, but then mellows out leaving me wanting more. As I drank this smooth stout, I sensed more of the vanilla flavors floating around in there. I’m not the biggest stout fan in the world, but I definitely enjoyed this one and would love to grab a few to drink on a cold night next to the fire.
Finally, I sampled the Honey Ale Aged in a Brandy Barrel. I’m not exactly a seasoned brandy drinker, but I enjoyed the toasty, semi-sweet scents and flavors that came through. It comes out as a beautiful orange color and pops on the tongue before offering an easy finish. With all of the flavors at play, this one feels like a more sophisticated, grown-up beverage. I loved drinking the woody, boozy tinged beer, but can also imagine it adding some mega flavor to a barbecue sauce or even tacos.
I can easily recommend each and every one of these beers for you to try and will be keeping an eye out for these and other kinds like the Goose Aged On Hemp, India Pale Ale On Spruce Tips, Lager Aged On White Ash and Saison Ale Aged In A Red Wine Barrell.
For the first few years of my daughter’s life I knew, basically, everything she saw or did. As the one staying home with her, it was up to me to switch through movies — like all three Toy Story flicks in succession every day for a week — and do my best to ignore it so I wouldn’t be driven insane by pure repetition. Now that she’s older, our son’s got his own favorite shows and my folks live in town, I’m way less tuned into what they see, which I’m totally okay with.
When Moana came out last year, both kids were pretty excited and wanted to see it straighaway, as did my wife who’s a big Disney fan. I wasn’t as interested, so they went one day while I stayed home and watched football. They came home singing the songs and I soon found myself singing them as well after the soundtrack became the most requested CD in my wife’s car. Knowing a musical’s songs before seeing the show itself is an interesting thing because you get something of an idea about how the story works, but not the full picture.
That’s what I felt while watching the review copy of the Blu-ray we luckily received the day before Mother Nature dumped feet of snow on us. As I’m sure you know, this one comes from the same people who made Frozen and Inside Out, which are favorites in our house, with music by Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda. The story revolves around a young girl named Moana (Auli’i Cravalho) who has a special relationship with the ocean and wants to explore it, even though her father says she should just be happy with what’s around her, a bristle-worthy idea for her and too.
In an effort to stop darkness from spreading to her island, Moana plans to sail out into the ocean, find the demigod Maui (Dwayne Johnson) and make him return Te Fiti’s heart which he stole a while ago. Soon they team up and wind up facing everything from coconut pirates and cold-encrusted, David Bowie-esque crabs to giant lava monsters in an effort to make things right.
I was immediately taken with the look and feel of the film. The water looks amazing. I remember when CGI liquid looked like pixelated Jello, so it’s still impressive to see it appear so great on screen to the point where it’s even a character. I also really enjoyed the concerted effort the filmmakers made to make the film feel and look authentic to a Polynesian island culture. I’m far from an expert, but I did visit New Zealand as a kid where I saw some things that were definitely reflected in this film. It felt authentic and respectful and honest, all of which are pluses.
Story-wise, I wasn’t super into it at first because the general idea felt a lot like Brave as the young woman didn’t want to participate in her royal familiar obligation. This really clicked during the scene where Moana’s running around the jungle, sliding down vines and whatnot. It reminded me of when Merida races on her horse through the forest. I mentioned the similarity to my wife and she said the comparison wouldn’t last and she was right. Besides, the idea of wanting to live your own life and explore the world as you see fit are about as universal as it gets.
All in all, I really enjoyed the film. It makes great use of not only the culture it’s reflecting, but also epic journey conventions. Moana and Maui each face their own challenges along the way, wrestle with their goals and ultimately persevere. Plus, it sure looks pretty and The Rock’s great in everything!
I haven’t fully gone through the extra features yet, but I loved the “Inner Workings” short and the “Gone Fishing” one is fun too. I’m also curious about the “Warrior Face” deleted scene and the bit about the clothing because I have distinct memories of both of those from my brief stay at a Maori village as a kid.
I’m sure I’m not alone in wanting my kids to like at least a few of the things I’ve come to love over the years. They’ve shown passing interests in comics, cartoons and a few others, but right now our biggest shared love is the band Weezer. If you’re curious about how I got into them, I wrote all about it over on UnitedMonkee.
Anyone with kids can probably guess, though, that getting there wasn’t as simple as just putting on a copy of the Blue Album and rocking out. Instead, it was a multi-stop process, one I actually started about five years ago when our daughter was just a baby. How we went from barely interested to listening to “Buddy Holly” on repeat while driving my son over to my parents’ house — we get through it three time exactly on a good day — is a fun story, so let’s jump in. Continue reading