5 Terrifying Things About The World Of Special Agent Oso

special agent osoFor the past six years parents have been half-watching the misadventures of Oso, a yellow bear who works for an organization known as U.N.I.Q.U.E. (The United Network for the Investigation of Quite Usual Events). He helps children figure out basic tasks like brushing their teeth and cleaning their rooms using Three Simple Steps. Kids love how Oso struggles with the same problems as their cartoon counterparts, but upon repeating viewings, it has become clear to me that the world of Special Agent Oso features some incredibly disturbing and potentially disastrous elements. Let’s discuss the five most prominent, shall we? Continue reading

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10 Big Questions About The Toy Story Mythos

toy-story-of-terror-2013-1280x720I think about Toy Story a lot. Possibly more than the people at Pixar who worked on the films. Why? Well, I have a two-year-old who is obsessed with all things Woody, Buzz and Jessie. As such, I’ve seen the trilogy roughly 74 million times, often one right after the other.

If you’re unfamiliar with the movies, the basic concept revolves around the fact that toys are actually alive. While humans are around, they act like inanimate objects as we know them, but when the human leaves, the toys display human characteristics. They even worry about their fates, abandonment and other more complicated human concerns.

As an absorber of fiction, I found myself walking away from these showings with a good deal of questions much like I did after seeing Doc McStuffins for the first time. I think the three Toy Story movies are great films built around a fun concept that gets explored more and more as they progress. But, I still have some questions about the mythology presented in therein. So, here’s the ten big questions that have popped into my head about this world of talking toys.

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Dad Training: Five Tips To Prepare For Fatherhood

It’s absolutely true what they say about not being able to explain what it feels like to see the birth of your child. It’s completely unique and pretty indescribable to anyone outside the parent club. While you won’t be able to train for that feeling, though, there are a few things you can do to ready yourself for fatherhood. Assuming you’ve already gotten a good deal of your supplies and baby furniture, I highly recommend giving the following five methods of preparation a shot to help train your mind and body. Warning, they might not all be pretty, but they’re honest!

CARRY AROUND A PSEUDO BABYThe primary piece of advice I have for new fathers–especially ones who will be staying home with their kid like I do after mom goes back to work–is learn how to do everything one-handed. As a work-from-home dad, I’m constantly carrying my daughter either facing out or up on my shoulder and trying to do normal things around the house like picking up, grabbing a pacifier or even buying groceries with the other. The best way to train for this would be to get something heavy–preferably a small, compact mass–and carry it around like a baby for hours at a time. You’ll really feel the burn in your arm, but think of it like training for a sport, the more you do ahead of time, the more prepared you’ll be for game day (which is everyday, of course). Start off with something heavier than your kid is expected to be, that way when she’s born, you’ll actually be used to a heavier weight and she won’t feel as heavy. The most realistic baby-like construct I can think of would be a bag of flour with an ostrich egg for a head. If you can figure out how to combine those two things without the head falling off, let me know.

CRANK UP SOME METAL

No matter how well prepared you are for your kid on a daily basis, there will be times when she freaks out for no discernible reason. She’s unhappy and the only way she can let you know is by screaming her tiny head off. The loud, high pitched scream emanating from your darling daughter will signal a need to be changed or for food, but even when you get really good at translating the various cries, that doesn’t mean you have Flash-like superspeed. There will be time between realizing what she needs and actually being able to help. In that time, she will scream bloody-freaking-murder It’s a sad, heartbreaking thing to witness, but it’s also very hard on the ears. Listening to some old school metal like Megadeth will get your ears used to high pitched, loud sounds.

BATHE A WATERMELON

I got this idea from The Office. When Michael’s ex is expecting, he decides to take on a fatherly role. To prepare him for the birth, Dwight uses a buttered-up watermelon to simulate the kid. It’s not a bad idea. You could even use it for the first item on the list now that I think about it. Anyway, bathing babies can be difficult depending on how squirmy they are, but even the calmest, most water-loving infant will still become slippery as all get out when dipped in water. I figure trying out a bath with a watermelon will offer up a pretty good analog for a baby. If you can bathe a watermelon, you can bathe a baby.

WATCH A ZOMBIE MOVIE OR TWO

This one’s a two-fold bit of preparation. First off, ff you’re queasy about gore and plan on being around for the birth, it might make sense to desensitise yourself a bit. I recommend finding the more graphic entries in the horror sub genre like Zombie or Dawn Of The Dead. Secondly, the truth of the matter is that your baby will resemble a zombie on more than one level. She will be a slobbering, single minded creature who makes noises only found in monster movies (just replace “brains” with “milk” and you get the idea). You will love her with all your heart, but you will notice her zombie-like tendencies. Might as well get used to them with a few fun flicks.

BORROW A BABY (BUT DON’T LOSE IT)

If you don’t feel like picking up some sacks of flour or watermelons on your next trip to the store, the real best way to get ready for a baby is to borrow someone else’s, preferably while the parents go elsewhere. That will really give you the full effect of having another tiny life completely dependent on you. Food, waste management, entertainment, clean-up, it’s all on you. Just remember that you can’t just pass your kid off at the end of the day when you’re actually a parent. That would be cheating.

Good luck new dads! Any advice from other veterans out there? I can only speak for the first few months so far.

5 Comic Book Gadgets Every Parent Really Wants

With San Diego Comic-Con wrapping up yesterday, I figured it would be time to toss out a few real world, parental applications for some of the gadgets I’ve been seeing in comics since the second grade (and even earlier on TV). To set a few parameters, I’m keeping these solely to human inventions. That might not seem like a big distinction to people unfamiliar with comics, but if I opened this up to everything in the pages of comics, it would have just one item: a Green Lantern ring. That sounds like kind of a dull idea to me, so I’m working within some limits. Let’s hop on in!

SANDMAN’S GAS GUNAssuming it’s got no side effects–and we’d expect nothing less of brilliant golden age inventor Wesley Dodds, better known to the world as Sandman–I don’t think there’s a parent in the world who wouldn’t mind a little back up when the kid’s screaming so loud her face is turning purple. Even if it weren’t safe for the kid, maybe mom and dad could point the knockout gas gun at themselves and finally get a solid nap.

SPIDER-MAN’S WEBSHOOTERSNot a day goes by that I don’t wish I had Peter Parker’s most ingenious invention. In the world of Spider-Man, he built a super strong web fluid that can shoot webs he uses to swing around the city. Sure, it would be cool to websling around town, though it would be a little difficult where I live as there aren’t too many tall buildings. What I really wish I had the webshooters for is to grab things just out of reach around the house. I constantly find myself sitting somewhere, holding the baby and needing to grab a pacifier halfway across the room. Webshooters would be a fantastic fix, but I think it would make a mess of our place.

MR. TERRIFIC’S T-SPHERESA member of the Justice Society of America, Mr. Terrific is a super genius with 14 PhDs and Olympic gold medals. He uses his mental and physical skills to help people all over, but the tech he built that would be a lifesaver for me and other stay at home parents is the T-Sphere–a floating spherical, voice actived computer that also throws out holograms to look at. That would definitely solve the “not enough hands” part of being a dad and a¬† writer. I’d also use one as a baby monitor and maybe have it do my grocery shopping.

DOCTOR OCTOPUS’ ARMSIf the T-Spheres don’t work out, I could definitely do with Doc Ock’s extra metal appendages. Who wouldn’t want another pair of arms or two? I’d probably trade the crazy metal claws with more human like hands so I could type and also cover them in something fluffy so as to not accidentally bonk the baby. I’d also prefer the kind that don’t bond to your skin and make you go insane.

BATMAN’S UTILITY BELTOh man, if I ha a utility belt like Batman’s I wouldn’t have to worry about carrying around a diaper bag. Instead of carrying tear gas pellets or shark repellant, I’d keep wipes, extra diapers, pacifiers and milk in there, but also probably a batarang or two just for funsies!

7 Cartoon Heroines I Watched That Lucy Can Look Up To

Right up front: Jem, She-Ra and Rainbow Bright will not be on this list. It’s not because those characters are lame or bad role models or what have you, but because I didn’t watch their cartoons when I was a youngin’. I think I’ll save those ladies for another list in the future, maybe after I do some more research (ie sitting around watching cartoons). This one’s all about the rad animated females who brought an air of feminine mystique and radness to the toons of the 80s and 90s aimed at boys. Bear with me because most of these entries will be based on the some pretty old memories. I don’t pretend to be an expert on these gals, but do think they kept it class while kicking butt. If anyone wants to send me DVDs to correct any mistakes I’ve made, I have no problem with that.

APRIL O’NEIL (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)

It’s never easy being the only girl surrounded by a bunch of immature dudes, but April O’Neil handled herself with grace, poise and a badass attitude that let her in the thick of interdimensional and mutant conflicts for decades. Sure, the Ninja Turtles had to come to her rescue from time to time, but April handled herself well and was also a professional newscaster. Heck, anyone who can get a job wearing a one-piece yellow jumpsuit should be lauded, am I right?

STEELHEART (Silverhawks)Like a lot of the women on this list, Steelheart was usually the only woman on a team full of men. Back in the 80s–and probably still today to some extent–cartoon and toy makers didn’t think boys would like watching girls in the their shows or buy female action figures. Still, some broke through the glass ceiling and made an impression. The twin of fellow Silverhawk Steelwill, Steelheart (a.k.a. Sergeant Emily Hart) not only threw down against Monstar and his goons, but was also a gearhead!

LADY JAYE & SCARLETT (G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero)I’ll be honest, as a kid I didn’t really pay attention to the names of characters, especially when I had them in toy form. However, I do remember G.I. Joe members Lady Jaye and Scarlett. One had red hair and the other threw javelins at people. One dated Flint while the other was all about Snake-Eyes. Anyway, the point is that they were tough chicks fighting the international terrorist organization Cobra. At least that’s my memory of it all, but it turns out that Lady Jaye got knocked out a lot. I might have to watch these again before showing Lucy. I guess I need to pick up Shout Factory’s DVD sets!

TEELA (He-Man And The Masters Of The Universe)Even with the skimpy costume and the fact that she always played at least second (sometimes third and fourth) fiddle to He-Man, Teela still earns a spot on the list for not only being Man-At-Arms’ protege, but also because she at least went out there and got her hands dirty. Sometimes trying is enough, you know?She was also a pretty good fighter and always spoke her mind, especially when it came to giving Prince Adam trouble for being a lazy coward. Turns out She-Ra was more of a badass, but I didn’t know that growing up. I do have some of the DVDs, though, so Lucy and I can watch them when she gets a little older.

GLORIA BAKER (M.A.S.K.)

While her name might bring up images of an 80s politician rocking perfectly coiffed hair and shoulder pads, Gloria Baker was actually an integral member of the M.A.S.K. team. But, she wasn’t just the token lady, she was also a black belt, drove badass sports cars that turned into submarines, helicopters and planes and also rocked a helmet called Aura that could throw up a force field. Eat it fellas. Thankfully, Shout Factory has most of Gloria’s adventures coming to DVD so dads like myself can share them with their kids.

CHEETARA (Thundercats)

Unlike a lot of the other women on this list, Cheetara wasn’t the only female in her group, the Thundercats. She was joined by what we would now call a tween Thundercat named WilyKit. A huge part of the team, Cheetara sported super speed, excelled bo staff manipulation and was no slouch when it came to hand to hand combat. She was also a kind and loyal member of the team with the ability to briefly see the future. More importantly, Cheetara wasn’t always at the mercy of her male counterparts. She’s pretty much the best member of the team and that earns her the top spot on my little list here. Cheetara for the win!