Hey, look, a food post! For those of you who might not know, I used to have yet another blog called Monkeying Around The Kitchen where I chronicled my journeys with food. After a while — and a lack of posts — I realized two things: one, I just didn’t have time to keep it up and two, I cook for my family, so those posts could easily be shifted over here to Pop Poppa. Hence, the MATK archives can now be found here on PP. Continue reading
Our oldest has started kindergarten! Things have been a bit crazy around here because of the holiday-shortened first week that coincided with all of heading to Michigan for my cousin’s wedding, plus another trip for my folks last week, but I still wanted to take a few moments and talk about this wild new ride we’re on. Continue reading
When I get an email asking if I’d like to sample alcohol for review purposes, I respond with a hearty, “Yes please!” In other ways, I was ecstatic when I got an email asking if I wanted to check out a pair of Scottish whiskies from a company called Speyburn. I actually came home from a trip to Disney World — from the sun of Florida to the grayness of New York — to find the package waiting on my doorstep welcoming me back. It was a nice way to ease back in to regular life!
For a bit of Speyburn history, the company takes its name from the River Spey nearby. When the distillery was built back in 1897, the stones came directly from the river. To find out the closest distributor, head to the official site and pop in your zip code.
Above you can see both bottles with a shot poured of each, but for my first taste of each I actually poured about two fingers in a glass over my whisky stones. Now, I’m far from an expert on tasting spirits and explaining what makes each of them wildly unique, but I know what I like and I like both of these for a a few reasons.
Let’s start with the Speyburn 10 Year Old Highland Single Malt Scotch Whisky. According to the information I was given, this $29 bottle is described as having a “fresh, clean and aromatic with a rich lemony fruitiness” smell to it. The flavor is also described as having notes of toffee and butterscotch. I’ll be honest, the specific sweet notes didn’t light up the toffee and butterscotch sections of my tongue, but this one definitely has a cleaner, easier taste to it. There is a sweetness to it as well, but I can’t quite place what the sweetness reminds me of (maybe like a sweet coffee, but only just barely).
Up next I tasted the $40-a-bottle Speyburn Arranta Casks Single Malt Scotch Whisky. Only available in the U.S., this spirit is created by using “first fill ex-bourbon casks” and comes with a more complex flavor. I personally don’t pick up on the citrus or honey notes in the description, but it is one of the more robust, fiery scotchs I’ve ever had. I’ll admit, at first it was a bit much for me, but the more I’ve sipped, the more I’ve come to really enjoy this one.
So, if you’re looking for a Father’s Day gift — or gift for any Scotch drinker — you’ve got two solid choices here. I’d say the 10 Year Old works better as a smooth, clean sipping Scotch while the Arranta would be perfect for someone who’s a bit more adventurous and wants a wilder drinking experience.
I’ve loved comic books since I was 9 years old. Since then I’ve been lucky enough to turn that affection into a career. As the parent of two kiddos, I want to have samplings of my hobby I can pass them when and if they show interest. Hey, Kids Comics! will chronicle my experience going through these offerings and not only evaluating my kids’ potential interest but also passing along any potential trouble spots for children and parents. As always, I encourage you to read these books first to see if you think your kid will enjoy them.
As usual, I picked up Dance Class Volume 1: So, You Think You Can Hip-Hop? from the library. When my daughter checks out the computer games, I peruse the adjacent shelves of kid-oriented graphic novels. I’m trying to broaden my horizons in this arena by getting some books that might appeal more to her sensibilities. Since she’s taking a ballet/gymnastics class these days, Dance Class by French creators Beka and Crip from Papercutz seemed like a solid choice.
And it was actually pretty successful because she wanted to check this book out as soon as she saw it in the stack when we got home. I knew nothing about the comic, but we dove right in and she seemed to have a good time with it. The book actually has a lot of ties to the world of comic strips in that each page is a self contained gag or story, though some elements carry throughout like the performance of Sleeping Beauty and the dreamy new hip hop dance teacher (was this an Angelina Ballerina story too?). Like with Tiny Titans, I wasn’t sure if she would get the format or the gags, but she seemed to have a really good time with it.
I must admit, I did find myself laughing at some of the jokes, which I wasn’t really expecting. I didn’t fully get into this book though because of a few characters and choices made in regards to them. First, there’s a young woman named Lucie who isn’t skinny as a rail (she looks like a normal kid, in other words) and she’s sometimes the butt of fat jokes. Many of those come from the mean girl character Carla. They’re far from the worst examples of either stereotype (as you can see in this panel), but I’m not super excited about presenting my kids with them, at least right now.
With that in mind, I planned on returning this book to the library and maybe not mentioning it again, but then I saw my daughter practicing her ballet movies with this book opened up to the page where they describe the different positions. I was blown away. So, I think I’ll maybe give these books a read-through ahead of time and note where some of the jokes I’m less comfortable with are so I can change or skip them when reading because she really seems to dig it right now.
I had big plans for doing a series of Halloween-related posts here on the blog leading up to my favorite holiday, but it just didn’t happen thanks to that whole parenting thing and work getting in the way. I did, however, do some all-ages, Halloween themed reading that is worth posting about thanks to some books I picked up at the library.
The Adventures Of Scarygirl by Nathan Jurevicius grabbed my attention just from the cover. I love cartoony art styles in comics and this book has it all over the place. The story itself follows the misadventures of the title character who makes friends with a sea monster and a somewhat magical rabbit. She wants to find out why she was dumped in the woods, remembering the face of a specific man, and heads towards his location. The adventure is fraught with betrayal, threats and other dangers that eventually make Scarygirl realize that this man might not be the source of enlightenment she hoped for.
Here’s the thing, though, this book is presented without dialogue. There are some sound effects in here and there are speech bubbles, but they’re filled with images of people and places or a handful of symbols. Even as a 32 year old adult who’s read comic books for a third of his life, I had some trouble following a few of the details, so I’m not sure if that will make it better or worse for a younger reader. I showed my 4-year-old some of the pictures and she dug the style, but she wasn’t too interested. When I read her other comics, I know she can get a bit lost as to which panel I’m reading from and she should be focusing on, so this one might not be the best choice. On the other hand, though, a lack of words might break down some barriers for kids, so I’d recommend checking this one out and presenting it to your kids. If they don’t get too freaked out by some of the pages, they might be all up for this one.
Speaking of the pages, dang this artwork is just gorgeous. While reading the book I found myself wishing I could play it like a video game. I must not have been the only one because it is also a video game that I now very much want to play. Has anyone played it?
I was also very quickly and easily drawn to Chris Schweizer’s The Creeps Volume 1 Night Of The Frankenfrogs. As I’ve mentioned more than once, I love the films of the 80s aimed at kids that put them in real danger like Monster Squad, The Goonies, Cloak & Dagger, E.T. and even The Gate. I got that vibe just from the cover of this book from Amulet Books and was not disappointed.
The Creeps centers around a quartet of outcasts each with a specific set of skills that helps them rid their town of supernatural and sci-fi threats. These kids try to save the world from frakenfrogs while avoiding the rest of their classmates who hate them and dealing with the bad guys behind the infestation.
Again, I showed this one to my daughter but she wasn’t ready to make the commitment to a graphic novel. Still, she seemed to like the look of the characters and was appropriately grossed out by the monsters. To my mind, this book feels like it would fit in with the first batch of original Nickelodeon cartoons from the 90s like Doug, Ren & Stimpy and Rugrats. If that sounds like it might be up your kids’ alley (or yours) then go ahead and give this one a shot!
DC Super Hero Girls is here and I’m already a big fan! The cross-platform initiative plans to take many of DC Entertainment’s popular female characters, re-envision them for a younger crowd and make them easily accessible to kids, specifically young girls. The general idea was announced in the past few months, but USA Today scored the first look at the roll out this afternoon.
DCSHG will come to life in a variety of arenas. There’s a cartoon presented in webisode chunks (the first one is here) from WB Animation plus a line of toys from Mattel, comics from DC, books from Random House and a variety of other offerings that will presumably make themselves known through the official website.
As you can see in the aforementioned animation, the general conceit here is that all of these young heroes attend the same high school where they’re trained how to use their abilities for good. It sounds like a mix of Ultimate Spider-Man and Monster High or the My Little Pony: Equestria Girls movies.
From checking out the character page of the official site, it looks like Wonder Woman, Supergirl, Harley Quinn, Poison Ivy, Batgirl, Katana and Bumblebee will take center stage, but others like Catwoman, Cheetah, Hawkgirl, Star Sapphire, Beast Boy and Hal Jordan will also appear. Follow the link at the beginning of this paragraph to go through each of them, read through their bios and even click around to see their specific powers and abilities.
The characters will also make their way to toy aisles thanks to Mattel’s action dolls. USA Today got the first look at these. Above you can see the foot-tall versions of Wonder Woman and Supergirl alongside the 6-inch takes on Harley and Bumblebee!
As a lifelong fan of comic books — specifically the ones published by DC — I’m very excited about the track that DC and WB are taking with this concept. Ultimately, I wish we didn’t have to make such a big effort to create entertainment that doesn’t alienate girls from the world of super heroes, but this seems like a really solid move. My daughter already has a good deal of comic-related toys in her ever-growing collection, but the fact that more will be aimed specifically at her is aces in my book!
On the 101st episode of The Pop Poppa Nap Cast, I’m joined by my longtime friend and internet superstar Geof Grubb. You can check out his Reddit (I don’t really know what that means) here and also the Instagram account he set up for the patches he draws on for his daughter Layla every day here. In the episode we talk about everything from being stay-at-home dads to the joys of spending some mindless decompression time with video games.
There aren’t much in the way of show notes this time around, so I’ll embarrass both of us by posting this picture of Geof and I from high school. This is us before prom our senior year. I cut out the ladies because I haven’t seen them in over a decade.
Hi Gang, welcome to the 100th episode of The Pop Poppa Nap Cast. I have an awesome guest with me this time and it’s my amazing wife Emily! This episode follows a brand new format and I think it’s pretty snazzy! If you want to compare this episode the first one, you can listen to it here.
Here’s a behind the scenes look at the outline we were working on off of the big board:
And this is a picture of what my wife calls a Boyfriend Pillow, but what Target calls a Bed Rest Pillow.
Meanwhile, Bedknobs and Broomsticks is far more entertaining than Babes In Toyland.
I thought Adventures Time Season 5 was parentally informative, but Em’s still not a big fan of our 4 year old watching it. We’re both not sure about Monster High.
Book-wise, I’m a big fan of all three of these, even if Jack thinks books should all have touchscreens. Frozen Fever: Anna’s Birthday Surprise, Joy’s Greatest Joy/Simply Sadness and Oh, The Thinks You Can Think! are aces in my book.
Unfortunately, these two have seen better days, so I’m going to try cleaning them up with some Clearasil Stayclear Vanishing Acne Cream as suggested on this site. I’ll let you know how it goes.
This week’s Pop Poppa Seal Of Approval goes to Jack’s favorite toy, the Kid O Hide and Seek Discs!
I remember watching Despicable Me with my wife back before we had kids and enjoying the movie, but not thinking much of it after that. By the time the sequel came out, our daughter had basically taken control of the television and it was nearly guaranteed that we watched the DreamWorks film on a regular basis. So, when Minions came out earlier this summer, we wanted to get her to the theaters to see it. Luckily, my dad was up for the task and took her a few weeks ago. But, they weren’t the only ones who wanted to catch it on the big screen, so when my wife and I saw that one of the local drive-ins was doing a Minions/Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation double bill, we jumped at the chance (my M:I 5 can be read here if you’re interested).
I’ve got to admit, though, I had no idea what this movie was about thanks to the commercials. I knew from covering movies for a living that it was some kind of prequel to DM, but that was about it aside from some odd scenes of a trio of Minions running around what looked like a British palace.
So, here’s the deal: the Minions evolved to serve the most despicable thing around. They did alright for a while, but after a series of dead masters, they found themselves holed up in some frozen mountains yearning for leadership. Three of their number — Kevin, Stuart and Bob — set out to find a new overlord and eventually come to find Scarlet Overkill (Sandra Bullock) who wants the British crown for herself. From there you get accidental betrayal, Minions in a palace and an epic fight at the end.
Minions did an excellent job of continuing on the fun and tone of the DM movies — which both feature a good deal of heart along with the out-there, sci-fi-tinged antics that come from classic movies and cartoons. I love how they were able to take those elements and portray them through a historical context that ties back into the main films by the end. In other words, this is one of the better prequels around because it didn’t get too caught up in the specific gags and events that made the first two movies popular, but instead carried on the tone and heart to its logical conclusion.
All that being said, I now hope that SPOILER Gru & The Minions becomes an animated series that I can watch with my kids on Netflix or something because that dynamic right there — mad scientist boy with nearly unlimited help — is perfect for ongoing antics.
I realized something today: I’ve never properly written about Adventure Time here on Pop Poppa. I’ve compared everything from other cartoons and comics to the longrunning series created by Pendleton Ward, but haven’t really gotten into it much over here. I also reviewed the Blu-rays of the first two seasons, but that was over on UnitedMonkee.
In that post, I talked about how I first heard about the show and how much I appreciated and even loved the big, bright elements seen thanks to the fantastic Blu-ray presentation. That’s all still here in the fifth season, which originally aired between 2012 and 2014 in addition to the rad friendships and relationships between our heroes Finn and Jake.
I also mentioned how much my then-2-year-old daughter liked watching the first two seasons, which is still the case, though she’s far more taken with the larger number of kids channels we have after moving into a house last year. She still asked to put the Season One and Two Blus in from time to time, which raised a few eyebrows from my mom who watches the kids over here on a daily basis. When she was 2 I wasn’t worried about some of the heavier material, especially the stuff between Marceline and her dad or the episodes featuring the ultra spooky Lich because so much of that flies over their heads at that age. I would frequently ask if she was okay with what she was seeing and she’d say yes, so it didn’t seem like a big deal. Continue reading
When I was a kid, there weren’t a lot of fun ways to show that you were a superhero fan. In the 80s and 90s, the heroes were somewhat well known, but nowhere near as ubiquitous as they are today. To give you an idea, it took over a year for me to find a shirt with a simple Superman symbol on it whereas today you have several options just at Target alone.
So, when I got an email from the fine folks over at Warner Bros. Consumer Products about a whole batch of superhero-themed back-to-school products for girls and boys I was equally excited and jealous. I would have LOVED a Superman lunchbox when I was a kid! But, I’m even more excited that my daughter will have her choice between Batman, Superman, Batgirl and Wonder Woman ones from Thermos when she goes back to school! Jinkies, there’s even a Scooby-Doo one. All five of these are well insulated and padded to keep lunches safe, while the superhero versions also come with a smaller zipper compartment along the bottom.
But, school’s about more than just lunch (apparently). To get all of those pesky books to school, you can use Fast Forward Inc.’s Supergirl or Batgirl Mini Backpacks or the Batman one which comes with a lunchkit.
Finally, dig these last few accessories. The Accutime Cape Watches featuring Superman, Wonder Woman and Batman will allow your kid to count down the minutes to recess all on their own. Meanwhile, the Batgirl Vaultz Locking Binder Pouches actually come with a combo lock to keep your phone, cash and other supplies from falling into the wrong hands and the Batman Vaultz Locking Pencil Box looks like it’ll keep your stuff secure while still looking like it came right out of the Batcave!
Real talk? I’m 32 and been out of school for about a decade, but I’ve got my eye on that Superman lunchbox, the Wonder Woman watch and the Batman box. Head on to your local school supply retailers or online to get while the getting is good.
The crazy-delayed 99th episode of The Pop Poppa Nap Cast is finally here, even though it was recorded nearly a month ago! Just push play to hear about surviving a sick house, going “down the Shore,” one crazy night and my first official comic book pitch!
The comic shop I mentioned visiting is called October Country. It’s in New Paltz and it’s rad.
I’m not sure when I’ll be back for the next episode, but I’ve got a few fun things planned to celebrate the hundredth episode! Stay tuned!