Brew Review: Goodwood Ale, Stout & Honey Ale

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.

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Celebrate Father’s Day With Speyburn

speyburnWhen 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.

Speyburn-10YO-LOW-res_2_0Let’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).

SPEYBURN-ARRANTA-PACK--LOWresUp 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.

Hey, Kids Comics! – Dance Class Volume 1: So, You Think You Can Hip-Hop?

Dance Class panelI’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.

dance class vol 1As 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.

dance class pageI 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.

Hey, Kids Comics! – Mermin Books 2 & 3

mermin book 3 am i doing it panel

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.

mermin book 2 the big catchAfter being drawn to the first volume of Joey Weister’s Mermin from Oni Press, I was already excited bout the next two books. As it happened, I was able to score Mermin Book 2: The Big Catch and Mermin Book 3: Deep Dive from the library and tore through them. To give a bit of a recap, the first volume found Mermin, prince of the underwater city of Mer heading to the surface where he started palling around with some kids.

The Big Catch picks up immediately afterwards with Mermin’s underwater pal Benni and fellow grade schooler Penny joining up with Mermin’s group of friends. While they deal with bullies and other usual school stuff, there’s also a pair of self appointed paranormal investigators trying to prove that our boy is an alien. This all comes together at the end as Mermin faces off against one of the agents in a homemade mech suit before ending in a cliffhanger revealing that he needs to return home!

mermin book 3 deep diveWhich, of course, leads right into the third book which finds Mermin bringing his pals underwater to Mer where tensions with neighboring Atlantis are taut as a fishing line. While there, the kids learn more and more about Mermin, his family and the deal with his brother. Without giving too much away, this one ends on an even bigger cliffhanger that takes Mermin’s friend Pete away to Atlantis!

Even without such an Empire Strikes Back-esque ending, I’d be hooked on this series because I love the kids — from Pete’s nervousness to Penny’s amazing courage — and am fully intrigued when it comes to the hows and whys of Mermin’s self-imposed exile on the surface. Weiser’s cartooning and storytelling chops continue to impress and stay incredibly consistent throughout all three books lending a continuity between all three volumes that makes it feel like one whole thing. The third book also allows Weiser to expand the visual look of the book which sounds like it will continue into the next, which hits in September.

In the red flag department, these next two volumes are pretty consistent with the first. There’s a bully kid named Randy who is a total jerk, the talked-about death of a particular character (who I think will pop up eventually) and more fisticuffs, but not anything more than you might see on an average Cartoon Network adventure series. Speaking of which, I’d love to see a Mermin cartoon if anyone’s paying attention. There’s a mountain of goodness to be mined here for a multi-season series.

Hey, Kids Comics! – Three Thieves Book One: Tower Of Treasure

three thieves tower of treasure panelI’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.

three thieves tower of treasureI’ve had my eye on Scott Chantler’s Three Thieves Book One: Tower of Treasure for a while now. It’s on the top shelf of my library’s kid-friendly graphic novel section and I found myself drawn to it thanks to the title (which reminds me of an Indiana Jones installment) and the young heroine on the cover. I like how she’s dodging arrows on her own, but also worried about the situation as a whole.

Opening the book, I was treated to a tight cartooning style that reminds me of older newspaper strip artists but with a precise modern viewpoint. The clean coloring and composition of the book make it a big, bright, fun adventure on the whole even though there are several dark moments for our heroine and her pals to survive.

TowerofTreasureOnline_pg041Speaking of the heroine, her name is Dessa Redd and she’s an acrobat in a traveling circus along with her friends and coworkers Topper and Fisk. She has a mysterious past that involves a kidnapped younger brother that catches up with her during a performance that goes awry. Blamed by the circus folk for ruining their latest meal ticket, she decides to go along with Topper’s plan to rob the nearby treasure tower to make up for her earlier mistake. Given her acrobatic skills, she has relative ease making her way through the traps set up by the mysterious Greyfalcon, but the heist does not go off without a hitch and our heroes have to figure out a way to avoid capital punishment.

I’m personally not a fan of faux-medieval fantasy stories, but this one sticks more to the real world adventure (traps, escapes, treasure) than the mythical which I appreciate. It’s kind of a mix of the aforementioned Indiana Jones vibe and something like Princess Bride. The fantasy motifs allow for more interesting-looking characters like Topper and Fisk, but don’t take away from the reality of the situation which is pretty serious for the titular Three Thieves.

That’s also the biggest red flag of the book for parents. The main characters are threatened with hunger and death at various points and the Queen is an all around awful human being, but I would put this on the same level of your average Disney movie. Actually, while reading this book I kept thinking that it would make an awesome movie. I try not to get too far into that headspace when reading comics, because it’s not the point, but a live action version of this would be AMAZING, especially given the prominence of the young female character. I’d be stoked to take my daughter to see Tower Of Treasure on the big screen.

Anyway, Chantler’s world feels so lived in and interesting that I just want more of it, which is good because I’ve got the second and third books sitting here waiting to be read! If you want to check out more about Three Thieves, head over to the official website where you can actually read pages from the story to see if it’s up your and your kids’ alley.

Hey, Kids Comics! – Mermin Book 1: Out Of The Water

mermin 004

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.

mermin book 1 out of the waterEvery week or so, I head to the library with my daughter. She likes to start the visit by playing the kiddie games on the computers, which works out great for me because it’s right near the kids’ graphic novel section. I’m always looking for new books to check out and Joey Weiser’s Mermin Book One: Out Of Water practically jumped off the shelf at me. Ever since He-Man, I’ve been a big fan of merpeople and The Creature is my favorite of the Universal Monsters, so why not read what looked like a kid-friendly version of that?

This graphic novel from Oni is rated A for everyone according to their internal system and follows the adventures of Mermin, a merperson from Mer who appears on the beach one day and winds up going home with a kid as a thank you for saving his life. That in and of itself sounds like the set-up of a great 80s movie, but there’s also a mystery because Mermin doesn’t want to go anywhere near the water. Hmm, what could that be about?

mermin 013Well, I won’t spoil the mystery, but I thought Weiser strung it out at a nice clip while also putting Mermin and his pals through some of the usual trials and tribulations that come with school and kids not always being open to newcomers. There are plenty of solid lessons to be found in this book about acceptance, understanding, empathy, exploration and friendship without being hamfisted about them.

So let’s get into red flag territory. There is a degree of violence and destruction in this comic. A trio of Mermin’s fellows from Mer show up to bring him home and a battle that threatens his human friends in various ways ensues. While the situation remains serious (both to the story and in tone), it’s kept fairly cartoony. Basically, if you’re kid watches shows like Adventure Time, you’ll probably be okay with them checking out this book.

Speaking of the cartoony artwork, I love Weiser’s style. The figures are simple, but emotive and easy to love. When I had this book from the library my daughter wasn’t interested in reading comics (which has thankfully changed after a trip to the comic shop last weekend but I did show her the cover and a few pages. She seemed instantly drawn to Mermin and his friends. The cartoon-like nature of the characters makes it easy for kids who are used to those kinds of images from TV and storybooks to be drawn into a story even in a different format.

Overall, I give Mermin Book One a big thumbs up and recommend you give it a try. I’m going to see if my four-year-old’s interest in comics continues and will get this one back from the library to see how she likes it. Meanwhile, I’m going to move on to the next two books in the series and see where it goes from here!

Hey, Kids Comics! – The Clouds Above

the clouds above crane panels

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.

the clouds above by jordan craneJordan Crane is a comic creator whose work I’ve been hearing about from my more indie comic-oriented friends for YEARS, but The Clouds Above is the first of his works I actually sat down to read. Last week while my daughter played on the library computers I did my usual perusal of the kids’ graphic novels and there it was. I wasn’t sure if it was actually appropriate for younger readers (our library system doesn’t seem to really understand what most of these books are), but I knew that I wanted to read it.

I’m happy to say that, The Clouds Above (published by Fantagraphics in 2005) is a great story that can be enjoyed by readers of all (or rather most) ages. The 224 page, 6×6-inch book follows the adventures of a boy named Simon and his talking cat Jack as they discover a secret staircase to the clouds on top of Simon’s school. While ascending, they talk to birds, teach a sentient cloud to fly, fight storm clouds and eventually find their way back to school.

I appreciate that Crane keeps the material light and kid-friendly without shying away too much from emotional scenes. There’s a part of the story where their cloud friend turns himself into rain, but saves Simon and Jack so they don’t smash into the ground. There’s a sad beat there, but then the cloud says he’s happier than he’s every been now that the birds are enjoying the puddles he has become. I thought this was a particularly beautiful scene that probably has a teaching moment buried inside that I’ll figure out upon further reflection.

the clouds above clobber panel jordan craneAs far as red flags go, there is talk of death (“We’re gonna die!”) and a teacher beating Simon with a phone book, but not much is made of it and she’s ultimately made to look a fool which is important because she’s one of the few violent characters in the book. The others are birds, but birds are always jerks, so that stands to reason. Essentially, if your kids like Adventure Time, I think they’ll enjoy this book as both feature a boy and his talking, yellow animal friend going on a somewhat surreal adventure.

The Clouds Above not only works well as an all-ages story, but also offers a nice bridge for younger readers transitioning from storybooks to comics. Thanks to picture books, kids are used to this idea of information being doled out in one-page bites so Crane’s one-panel-per-page style here makes sense for them . I’ve noticed when reading comics with several panels per page to my daughter that it can be a little hard for her to keep up, so I try to point to each panel. Crane eliminates that problem altogether while also keeping a nice pace to the story.

I haven’t been able to get our 3-year-old to actually sit down and read The Clouds Above just yet — it’s like harnessing a tornado most days — but I did sit with our 11-month-old the other day and read it to him. He actually sat through most of it which is pretty huge considering his usual attention span is roughly 11 seconds!

Like I said, I got mine at the library, but you can buy a copy as well through the Amazon link above. You can also download the first 20 pages of this graphic novel from publisher Fantagraphics to see if it’s your bag.

Ultimate Spider-Man Web Slingers Toy Review With Lu

ultimate spider-man web warriorsFor several months last year, I did weekly interviews with some of the people who make the Disney X D Ultimate Spider-Man cartoon. It was a really fun experience that resulted in some fantastic interviews over on CBR. Thanks to some scheduling shifts, I’m not doing those at this point, but I still have a soft spot in my heart for this cartoon that started bringing all kinds of alternate universe Spideys into the mix. Of course, this makes for a great deal of fun toy opportunities that license-holder Hasbro has started fully taking advantage of with their Web-Slingers line.

A month or two back, I received a box of toys for review from Hasbro that included the basic Spider-Man figure, Agent Venom Figure with ATV vehicle, Iron Spider Blaster glove and the Trickshot Showdown playset. The overarching action feature for this line is a series of stretchy rubber webs that hook onto parts of the toys and launch into various targets. Even though my nearly-four-year-old tried to get me to open them up for weeks, we didn’t get to it until last week. I figured it would be fun to record the whole thing with my Flip camera and post the results which you can see here. I would have cut the nearly 10 minute video down, but every time I looked to edit, the kid started doing something cute.

Since recording the video, I’ve placed all these toys back in the box they came in (you can see it in the video) and Lu has taken them out to play with about once a day. It’s funny, she kept asking me what every little part was for — the sticker that looks like steps on the playset, the rubber webs, the shooters, the targets, the crane — but after I told her they’re just they’re to play with, she hasn’t been as caught up on those things.

As a long-time action figure collector and fan, I do have a few comments. First off, these toys look like they fell right off the TV screen which is crucial when dealing with toon-based toys. The figures themselves are a little stiff, but that goes away the more you play with them. The only one that wasn’t is the Venom ATV toy which, contrary to what I said in the video, doesn’t have much in the way of articulation. The knees are permanently bent, which I didn’t notice at the time. I know more joints equal more cost, but I personally love my Spidey figures to be as flexible as possible. Lu doesn’t seem to care about any of that, but it’s something I noticed.

I also love how the ATV rolls around on our carpet and the playset is super fun. Even without shooting the webs, this fairly simple set offers plenty of play potential whether your kid is like mine and just likes to have a setting for her figures to run around on or if you’re like me and want to bash through some doors and swing around. It actually reminds me of the classic Karate Kid dojo set that I loved as a kid.ultimate spider-man web spinners line up

I don’t know if I’m just inept or what, but the stretchy web things just do not work for me. I saw the man do them with ease at Toy Fair and figured I could do it myself, but that has not been the case. The kid’s gotten it a few times, but no luck on my end.

On another level, I wish this line had some female toys for my daughter to play with. This might be part of that age-old idea that female action figures don’t sell or might go back to the TV series (not sure if any female Spideys are on there), but it’s a bummer. I passed my daughter a box of JLU toys I’ve had for years and she immediately pulled out all the ladies and started playing with them, so clearly there’s interest there.

Even though I had some problems with these figures, I think that overall they are rad playthings for younger kids. They seem sturdy enough to withstand the kind of strenuous playing that younger kids can and should put their toys through. I’m seriously thinking about tying a string to them, sticking one end up high and just swinging them around!

The Pop Poppa Nap Cast Episode 94

pop poppa nap cast logoThe Pop Poppa Nap Cast Episode 94 covers some recent changes in my work schedule, the end of a terrible month, lots of comics and movies and a few tips about teaching your baby sign language.

Here’s the Fluttershy Lu got along with the Horror Classic Funko Mystery Minis Jason Vinyl Figure I scored.

astro city through open doorsMeanwhile, if you want to check out Astro City, I highly recommend going to the beginning with Life in the Big City, but you can also pick up the book I just did called Through Open Doors. The Spider-Man issue I mentioned is actually Web of Spider-Man #81 and I reviewed it over on UnitedMonkee.com.

deerDeer aren’t all bad…I guess.

big hero six blu-rayTo see the Frozen elements in Big Hero 6, head on over here.

Keep your eyes peeled on UM for a more formal review of Cronos. But, I did review Pacific Rim and The Strain, if you’re interested.

The two kids comics I mentioned are The Clouds Above and Littlest Pet Shop: Open for Business.

I called Aunt May Peter Parker’s grandma. Obviously this is a huge geek goof. It’s clearly his aunt. Please forgive me oh wrathful geek gods.

For more of me check out UnitedMonkee.com, Comic Book Resources and @PoppaDietsch on Twitter.

The Marked Ones: My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic Adventures Of The Cutie Mark Crusaders

my little pony friendship is magic adventures of the cutie mark crusadersOver the past few years, I’ve tried to embrace the world of My Little Pony Friendship is Magic to see if it’s something my 3-year-old daughter responds to. At first, she didn’t seem all that interested, but since that first introduction she has become a huge fan of the spinoff series Equestria Girls and also watches the regular series when it pops up on TV. Since we moved last fall, we’ve got much better cable which increases her choices and also allows for us to tap into On Demand. Not long ago we caught an episode called “Call of the Cutie” which focused on three younger ponies named Sweetie Bell, Scootaloo and Apple Bloom who don’t yet have their cutie marks, the symbol that appears on the horse’s flank that indicates their special skill. So, when I got an e-mail asking if I’d be interested in reviewing My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic: Adventures Of The Cutie Mark Crusaders I was very much on board.

Since then, my daughter has watched this five episode disc all the way through several times. The other day I asked her what she likes about it and she essentially said that she appreciates seeing young ponies going on adventures. I thought that was really interesting, but it makes sense considering how young or youthful all her favorite main characters from animation are. It just makes sense that she’s appreciate younger characters with manes!

“The Cutie Mark Chronicles,” “The Cutie Pox,” “Flight To The Finish,” “Pinkie Pride” and “Twilight Time” are all quality episodes that aren’t too on-the-nose about their themes which deal with lots of growing-up issues. The whole idea of not having cutie marks yet is a great metaphor for development that I think can be useful in the future. I’ve come to realize that, while some elements of these shows might go over the kids’ heads at this young age, they can be used as points of reference later on when you’re trying to explain aspects of life to your kids. I recommend sitting down and watching these episodes with your children and taking mental notes for what might be useful later on.

My only complaint about this DVD is that it doesn’t include “Call Of The Cutie” which sets the whole thing up. That’s just me though. I like context, but I’m pretty sure my kiddo doesn’t care.

Hey, Kids Comics! – The Batman Adventures & Adventures Of Superman

superman batman alex ross

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.

the-batman-adventures-vol-1Over on my pop culture blog UnitedMonkee I reviewed a pair of trades collecting comics I thought might be good for kids to check out, but probably aren’t solid for younger kids. Like I said when I reviewed Batman ’66 Volume 1, I’m always looking for versions of these characters I love that I can pass along to my 3-year-old, but I’ve got to say that The Batman Adventures Vol. 1 and Adventures of Superman Vol. 1 aren’t those books, at least for another few years.

As you can see in the review I wrote over on UM, I do actually love both of those collections, but I did want to point out to this audience that they might not be the best introductions to these characters for little kids. Even though The Batman Adventures is based on a cartoon — the amazing 90s ‘toon Batman: The Animated Series — it’s still aimed at kids a bit older than my daughter’s age.

Sometime in the past year I was watching Batman: TAS and she came in the room and it freaked her out. Also, when I showed her the covers to this and the Batman ’66 book, she quickly went to the cartoonier book. I think the inherent darkness of TAS — both in visual style and tone — is just a bit too intense for her. The nice thing about a comic like this that’s based on a show, though, is that you can easily sit your kid down in front of an example and if they dig it, then you’re good to jump into the series. I’ll probably wait until Lu’s a few years older before going down this particular route with her, but I’m always looking for more kid friendly Bat books.

adventures-of-superman-vol-1I was also curious to see if the digital-first, but printed Adventures Of Superman anthology series would be a good place for our kiddo to start experiencing the superhero that changed my life. This series has a variety of stories by all kinds of amazing writers and artists that run the gamut from Superman figuring out a good mission for his backwards clone Bizarro to Superman’s mom wishing he’d come home for dinner. Much like with the Batman book, I think this is a wonderful batch of comic books, great for a new reader, just not a super young one because the Man of Steel is still dealing with a variety of people trying to kill him on a regular basis.

There are definitely stories in here that are cool for kids, but have you ever tried to flip past one story to get to another with a pre-schooler looking on? It can lead to more than a few problems. However, a good way to get around that might be to go back to these stories’ digital roots which can be found on Comixology. In that format, each “issue” is broken up into different downloadable chapters that cost $0.99 each. This would allow you to show them just the ones that you think they’d be into without the hassle of them seeing you skip past the ones that aren’t.

 

Blu-Review: 101 Dalmatians Diamond Edition

101 dalmatians diamond editionI basically jump at the chance to get my hands on any review copy of a Disney movie these days. Not only do I love the long standing tradition of animation from the House of Mouse, but I also like showing these older films to my daughter who has a fairly set rotation when it comes to her movie choices. So, when I got an email about 101 Dalmatians: Diamond Edition, which hits stores today, I was easily excited.

Luckily, our 3-year-old was in an open-minded headspace when this set came in the mail because she was pretty jazzed to watch it (not something that happens all the time). She might not have been instantly familiar with this film from 1961, but she does watch a lot of Disney Channel which means she’s seen the interstitials featuring some of the puppies which convey messages like “wipe your paws” and “take a nap.” That was enough to get her in and we’ve watched the movie probably six times since then. It’s become a solid family favorite.

While watching the film, I realized that I’d never seen 101 Dalmatians all the way through, at least not in the past two and a half decades. I kept remembering plot points from Lady And The Tramp and possibly Oliver And Company, so the plot of this movie was mostly a nice surprise. We start off with Dalmatian Pongo narrating about his pet Roger who needs a mate. Soon enough he spots fellow dog Perdita and her pet Anita. Soon enough the two couples are married and puppies are expected. Enter the villain of the piece Cruella De Vil who wants the puppies to make a coat out of. She sends her thugs to steal them and when the humans can’t figure out where the puppies are, Pongo and Perdita use the Twilight Bark to convey word to other dogs. Thankfully, this works, and the parents go on an epic journey to get a whole lotta little dogs away from the baddies and back home.

I enjoyed this story quite a bit because it moved along quickly and didn’t lag. The marriage happens quickly, the parents get on the case as soon as possible and the movie doesn’t really slow down in the last 30 minutes or so as the long trek home kicks off. There’s even some pretty funny moments that have me laughing out loud — though less so, now that I’ve seen the movie so many times.Cruella-de-Ville

Here’s something I thought of while watching the movie that I want to run by you, faithful readers. Is Cruella De Vil the worst Disney animated villain around? I’m thinking she is because her whole goal is to murder the children of the protagonists. Who’s worse than that? Scar offed his brother in front of his kid, which is pretty bad, but this is basically mass murder, right? Let me know what you think in the comments.

Since this is a Diamond Edition, it’s packed with extra features, including a batch from the first DVD release. I haven’t had time to dig into those or any of the commentaries, but we did watch “The Further Adventures Of Thunderbolt” which is a fun continuation of the cartoon the dogs watch before their adventure continues. There’s also a cool episode of Walt Disney Presents called “The Best Doggoned Dogs In The World” from 1961. Canine-centric, the episode not only features videos of dogs walking on two legs that had me howling (puns!), but also a presentation of the film to get viewers excited. While watching the black and white episode, I realized it must have been a trip seeing ads for the movie on TV and then going to the theater and seeing the whole thing in color. Musta been pretty cool.

 

Anyway, I thought this film was pretty great and my daughter agreed. She didn’t seem too creeped out by the super-evil Cruella, but mileage may vary other kids. A good test is probably to show your kids her first appearance and see how they respond. She sure gets crazier, but that’s a good baseline for her scariness. If they don’t like that, it’s probably a good idea to hold off on more 101 Dalmatians until later.

Taking A Swing At Clarence: Mystery Piñata

clarence mystery pinataLast week I reviewed a copy of the Steven Universe: Gem Glow DVD and mentioned that I also received a review copy of Clarence: Mystery Piñata. Now that we’re closer to the 12-episode compilation’s Feb. 10th release date, it’s the perfect time to talk about the show my daughter refers to as Flarence for reasons untold.

Like Steven Universe, Clarence is a series that comes from an Adventure Time alum, in this case Skyler Page. Unlike those other two shows, though, this one does not revolve around any kind of supernatural or sci-fi elements. Instead, Clarence focuses on the title character, a boy who lives with his mom and step-dad and hangs out with his friends Jeff and Sumo.

When I first saw the ads for Clarence, I wasn’t sure if I would like it because it seemed like the title characters was a bit too doofy for my liking. However, after going in on deep dive thanks to Mystery Piñata I’m glad to say that, while he’s not the smartest kid in the world — that’s where his buddy Jeff comes in — he’s got a huge heart and a lot of genuine enthusiasm. On either side of him you’ve got the complete craziness of Sumo and the overly intellectual Jeff which makes for a nice balance that I remember from my own childhood.

My three-year-old daughter loves the silly antics on this show, but I’m fond of it because I love the kid-based lifestyle it represents. These are kids who run around in the woods and play outside, going on adventures and whatnot. That’s the kind of life I had as a child — I grew up right across the street from a small city park — and I worry that it’s becoming extinct in a world that’s become overly paranoid and worried.

While I enjoyed all of the episodes on this DVD, I think “Pretty Great Day With A Girl,” “Clarence’s Millions” and “Jeff’s New Toy” are favorites right now. In the first Clarence realizes that girls are pretty cool and fun to hang out with. It deals with a lot of gender issues without smashing you over the head with them. The middle one finds Clarence developing a kind of currency that winds up taking the school by storm. In the last, Jeff gets a flying toy based on a robotic Supreme Court justice that he wants to just keep on a shelf. Clarence can’t handle not playing with a toy and gets into some shenanigans. Both episodes not only show off the characters well, but also remind me of situations my friends and I got into in grade school.

Here’s the episode list, along with the chronological order of appearance according to Wiki!

“Fun Dungeons Face Off” (Episode 1)
“Pretty Great Day With A Girl” (Episode 2)
“Lost In The Supermarket” (Episode 4)
“Clarence’s Millions” (Episode 5)
“Jeff’s New Toy” (Episode 7)
“Zoo” (Episode 11)
“Rise ‘n’ Shine” (Episode 12)
“Average Jeff” (Episode 18)
“Slumber Party” (Episode 16)
“Dream Boat” (Episode 15)
“Too Gross For Comfort” (Episode 23)
“Neighborhood Grill” (Episode 21)

Hey, Kids Comics! – Batman ’66 Volume 1

batman 66I’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.

Batman 66 Vol 1As a kid, my first real exposure to Batman came from the Adam West TV show. Even though I was growing up in the 80s, a few decades after the series first aired its impressive 120 episode run, I was lucky enough to catch them on reruns. At the time, I just took the campy antics at face value, but still fully enjoyed watching the exploits of Batman, Robin and Batgirl as they took on The Joker, Riddler, Catwoman (or Catwomen, more accurately), Egghead and the rest. For years, the only way you could see these episodes was if they happened to be on TV as the home video rights were a tangled mess. In the past few years, though, those rights have been detangled and simplified to the point where we now have Batman: The Complete Television Series, action figures and other collectibles and a comic book from DC called Batman ’66.
Continue reading

Taking A Shine To Steven Universe: Gem Glow

steven universe gem glowFor over a year, my daughter stuck to PBS and The Disney Channel when it came to her viewing habits. In the past year or so, she’s migrated away from public television (I’ll always love you Sesame Street, I’ll see you again when Jack’s older!) and now prefers On Demand and Cartoon Network. I’m cool with this for the most part, especially because CN has a variety of cool shows from wildly creative people like Steven Universe and Rebecca Sugar. Continue reading

Hey, Kids Comics! – Tiny Titans: Welcome To The Treehouse

Tiny Titans class photoI’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.

Tiny Titans Welcome To The Treehouse Volume 1The very first comic I ever tried to read with my daughter was Art Baltazar and Franco’s Johnny DC title Tiny Titans. I was a huge fan when the book launched in 2008 thanks to its mix of inside DC fan humor and ridiculously adorable artwork. It was like a classic comedy comic, but tailor made for DC Comics fans like myself. However, she was probably two years old at that point and wasn’t interested in reading comics of any kind.

More recently, when I got the idea to start looking at various kids comics, I pulled Tiny Titans: Welcome To The Treehouse off my shelf. I got through the first issue of six collected in this volume and set it aside to do that whole parenting thing. Later that day we caught an episode of the excellent Teen Titans Go! on Cartoon Network. When that was over and I saw that my daughter had enjoyed herself, I showed her Tiny Titans and started reading to her, pointing out the characters as we went. She loved it and it has since become a mainstay in her reading rotation. Continue reading

Quick Movie Review: How To Train Your Dragon 2 (2014)

how to train your dragon 2A few years back my wife and I watched the first How To Train Your Dragon and enjoyed it. So, when the sequel came out, we wanted to give it a look, but knew that there was no way we’d get to see it in the theater. After it came out, I bumped it to the top of the ol’ Netflix queue and after a few days sitting around, we watched it with our three-year-old daughter.

If you’re not familiar with the films, they take place in a Viking-esque world that is inhabited by dragons. In the first film, the people of Burke come to respect the things they once hunted and killed thanks to the efforts of eventual dragon rider Hiccup (Jay Baruchel). By the time the second one rolls around, the people of Burke all have and love dragons, but there’s a warlord out there named Drago who is putting together a dragon army…for some reason. While trying to communicate how great the creatures are to Drago, Hiccup winds up meeting a mysterious person who helps facilitate a dragon sanctuary.

Overall, this is a fun, action-packed movie that looked like DreamWorks had warped a few levels in the old CGI department, but I don’t think I can out-and-out recommend it for fellow parents of young kids. The battle scenes are pretty intense and so is the lead bad guy Drago. Voiced by Djimon Hounsou, the so bad he’s bad baddie roars his way through most of his scenes (and also happens to look a lot like Marvel villain Blastaar). There’s also a very shocking death about 30 minutes before the movie ends that happened to go over my kid’s head, but didn’t stop her from asking “Where’s ____?” We’ve explained death to her as best we can, so she kind of understood “They died,” but I was a little worried that the revelation would be more devastating.

Still, she seemed to enjoy the movie even with those moments. I’m not sure how much of these movies she absorbs on the first go-around, but I bet she’d give it a thumb’s up. On the other hand, I’m not sure if it’s a movie that I’d add to the collection just yet because I do worry that after repeated viewings, those heavier elements might become more apparent. I don’t want to completely shield her from everything, but I also don’t want to expose her to too much. That’s the great complexity of parenthood!

The Pop Poppa Nap Cast Episode 87

pop poppa nap cast logo The Pop Poppa Nap Cast Episode 87 goes back to cover New Year’s and my wife’s birthday, plus my attempts to get on an hourly schedule and the various ways they were thwarted this week.

Check out the Babes In Toyland post I wrote here.

scheduleHere’s a look at the schedule and check-list on the wipe board in my office.

WebMD has a solid post on Fifth Disease.

littlest pet shopLittlest Pet Shop Season 1 gets a big thumbs up from me!

For more of me check out UnitedMonkee.com, Comic Book Resources and @PoppaDietsch on Twitter.

The Pop Poppa Nap Cast Presents: TJ & Brett Love Christmas!

tj and brett love christmasA few weeks ago, my buddy Brett White and I started talking about our love of all things Christmas so we decided to record a podcast about it! You might notice I sound like I’m a little under water for the first 20 minutes or so. This is the first time I’ve recorded via Skype with the monitors on which was throwing me off like crazy. Also, I thought about cutting my daughter’s quick appearance, but it was just too cute.

And now for some show notes!

I highly recommend checking out Brett’s appearance on Hear Me Out. It’s even Christmas-themed!

The Santa’s Workshop LEGO set Brett mentioned can be seen here.

Dig my list of non-traditional Christmas movies over on Topless Robot.

For what it’s worth, right after recording, I saw that one channel shows The Santa Clause 1 and 3, while another shows 2.

Don’t believe me about Eggbert? The New York Times did a story on him a few years back.

I mentioned the MiniMate Christmas village from a few years ago which you can see above. Shot on my very first “smart” phone, I believe. As if you couldn’t already tell.

Here’s Muppet Family Christmas, which Brett mentioned and I haven’t watched yet, but I want to!

The Pop Poppa Nap Cast Episode 83

pop poppa nap cast logo The Pop Poppa Nap Cast returns with episode 83 which covers packing up the old condo, the big move, my parents getting out here and our new way of life.

You can’t tell me this Bubble Guppies song isn’t catchy as all get out.

For more of me check out UnitedMonkee.com, MonkeyingAroundTheKitchen.com, Comic Book Resources and @PoppaDietsch on Twitter.

The Pop Poppa Nap Cast Episode 79

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The Pop Poppa Nap Cast Episode 79 covers Jack’s continued teething problems, Lu’s new school friend and me sharing my thoughts on the #HeForShe campaign.

Most of the horror movies I mentioned seeing were done during kiddo nap time, though a few were watched after everyone went to bed. If you only see one newer scary movie this year, make it Resolution!

The book I mentioned really enjoying on my phone is R.L. Stein’s Red Rain. Great stuff so far.

Little-Princess-post

There’s just something about Little Princess that gets under my skin. Lu loves it though. sleeping beauty diamond edition

Disney’s Sleeping Beauty: Diamond Edition is fantastic. Pre-order a copy or just wait until it hits stores next week on Oct. 7th.

Here’s a video of Emma Watson’s UN speech as well as the blog post supporting stay at home dads by Aaron Gouveia over at Time.com. And, for a funnier view on the whole thing, read Dead and Buried’s “Just Say No To Parenting Equality.”

For more of me check out UnitedMonkee.com, MonkeyingAroundTheKitchen.com, Comic Book Resources and @PoppaDietsch on Twitter.

The Pop Poppa Nap Cast Episode 74

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The Pop Poppa Nap Cast Episode 74 recaps the last two weeks, including our trip to New Hampshire (Jack’s first long car ride), a solid house update and a special appearance from this week’s co-host, Lucy.

I should note that when I said I was thinking of going to the store on Tuesday, I said “alone,” but meant “with the kids.”

If you’re in the area, keep an eye out for Tumblebus.

toy story of terror bluray

If you missed out on my Toy Story of Terror story, check it out here.

As you heard, Lu’s a big fan of Pinky Dinky Doo and Harry & His Bucket Full of Dinosaurs. We’ve been watching them on Netflix, but you can also follow those links for some Amazon offerings.

tomboy by liz prince

Tomboy: A Graphic Memoir by Liz Prince is fantastic. A funny, witty, clever and emotional personal story that I think all parents should read. It gives an interesting look behind the curtain of a young woman dealing with gender issues.

For more of me check out UnitedMonkee.com, MonkeyingAroundTheKitchen.com, Comic Book Resources and @PoppaDietsch on Twitter.

The Pop Poppa Nap Cast Episode 66

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The Pop Poppa Nap Cast Episode 66 covers Jack’s recent growth spurt, Lu’s early mornings and a few thoughts on the children’s books If You Give A Mouse A Cookie and In The Night Kitchen.

Fisher-Price Newborn Rock n' Play Sleeper

I can’t believe I haven’t written about the Fisher-Price Newborn Rock n’ Play Sleeper before here on the blog! It’s a great bed-side sleeper for infants and is also super portable and can be folded up during the day if you’re tight on space like we are. It gets the Pop Poppa Seal of Approval even though I didn’t say it int the episode!

Do your kids like If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Joffe Numeroff and Felicia Bond and Maurice Sendak’s In the Night Kitchen? Also, the animated Sendak DVD I mentioned is called Where the Wild Things Are and Other Maurice Sendak Stories.

While talking about the cartoon I can’t remember all the way, I called it Nintendo instead of Nickelodeon. Woops!

For more of me check out UnitedMonkee.com, MonkeyingAroundTheKitchen.com, Comic Book Resources and @PoppaDietsch on Twitter.

The Pop Poppa Nap Cast Episode 63

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The Pop Poppa Nap Cast Episode 63 bestows the virtues of Aarón Sánchez’s cookbook, the Vanderbilt mansion property, Joovy strollers and Barbie, while grousing about crummy internet and nap frustrations.

simple food, big flavor aaron sanchez

The fantastic Aarón Sánchez cookbook is called Simple Food, Big Flavor: Unforgettable Mexican-Inspired Recipes from My Kitchen to Yours, check it out if you’re even remotely interested in Mexican cooking.

The Vanderbilt Mansion is actually a National Historic Site. Check out this site for more information.

joovy ultralight caboose stroller orangeThe stroller we got is called the Joovy Caboose Ultralight , ours is orange.

Let’s talk Barbie links! Barbie Life In The Dreamhouse can be seen here. It’s also on Netflix Instant. The exact doll Lu got is called the Barbie Bedtime Princess Doll. As you can see, Lu was very happy with hers. Finally, the two movies I talked about are Barbie: A Perfect Christmas and Barbie Fairytopia Magic of the Rainbow. I fully support all but the Fairytopia movie which wound up feeling a lot like the far better Tinkerbell flicks from Disney that are also available on Netflix Instant.

For more of me check out UnitedMonkee.com, MonkeyingAroundTheKitchen.com, Comic Book Resources and @PoppaDietsch on Twitter.

The Pop Poppa Nap Cast Episode 47

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The Pop Poppa Nap Cast Episode 47 is all about our recent vacation in Walt Disney World. This one’s got detailed information about the Grand Floridian Vacation Club Villa tubs, the super long wait to see the princesses from Frozen and digging out after we got back.

The Disney Jr. character breakfast I mentioned in Hollywood Studios is at the restaurant Hollywood & Vine.

I still haven’t had a chance to download all the pictures off of our camera because of space issues, but you’ll see them as I get caught up on Photo Diaries.

For more of me check out UnitedMonkee.com, MonkeyingAroundTheKitchen.com, Comic Book Resources and @PoppaDietsch on Twitter.

The Pop Poppa Nap Cast Episode 44

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If you were looking for updates on my car problems, our house hunt and baby movement, then the 44th episode of The Pop Poppa Nap Cast is for you!

The Colosseum is in Salem, NH. Go there. It’s fantastic.

If my story about a bad job interview that I was completely unqualified for didn’t bore you to tears, you can hear me talk about another weird interview, plus my career at Wizard in the episode of Matt & Brett Love Comics I was on.

You can either scroll down to check out my Despicable Me 2 review below or click this link.

For more of me check out UnitedMonkee.com, MonkeyingAroundTheKitchen.com, Comic Book Resources and @PoppaDietsch on Twitter.

The Pop Poppa Nap Cast Episode 32

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The Pop Poppa Nap Cast Episode 32 covers a recent parental visit, new yard sale-purchased toys and some of the more difficult aspects of parenting I’m experiencing these days.

little people farm

According to This Old Toy, the Little People Farm we got was the one that came out in the late 90s. The Farm and Little People also earned the Pop Poppa Seal Of Approval. the shining

The Shining is still freaking me out! When I’m done, I’ll write up a review over on UnitedMonkee.com.

special agent oso

 

Please, don’t let this dumb-dumb bear be your kid’s main teacher.

The Dad and Buried post I talked about is called “Phasing Out Phases” and can be found here. I’m becoming a huge fan of Mike Julianelle’s writing which earned him the Pop Poppa Of The Week.

For more of me check out UnitedMonkee.com, MonkeyingAroundTheKitchen.com, Comic Book Resources and @PoppaDietsch on Twitter.

The Pop Poppa Nap Cast Episode 31

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There’s a whole lotta New York Comic Con talk on this episode of The Pop Poppa Nap Cast, which happens to be the 31st episode if you’re counting.

The article I mentioned about moms taking it easier on themselves and each other is called “Moms When Are You Going To Learn?” and was posted on So Wonderful, So Marvelous.

My review for The Frighteners can be read over on UnitedMonkee.

Unfortunately, I can’t seem to find the exact Cinderella crown on Amazon, so I can’t link to it right now, but I’ll keep looking and let you know when/if I do track it down.

For more of me check out UnitedMonkee.com, MonkeyingAroundTheKitchen.com, Comic Book Resources and @PoppaDietsch on Twitter.

The Pop Poppa Nap Cast Episode 29

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The 29th episode of The Pop Poppa Nap Cast talks about being sick, dealing with a growing amount of work and how Once Upon A Time can be wildly confusing to a toddler.

dst spider-man bust

Okay, so maybe the Diamond Select Toys Spider-Man statue IS a little scary.

A more detailed account of my Ambitious Halloween Reading List can be found over on UnitedMonkee.comJ.-August-Richards-in-Marvels-Agents-of-SHIELD-TV-Series-2-650x432 J. August Richards’ Mike from Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. scored the Pop Poppa Of The Week this time around. Check the show out tonight at 8:00OPM on ABC. lulu ladybug

Much to my wife’s chagrin Sam Washaw’s Lulu Ladybug earned the Pop Poppa Seal Of Approval this week!

For more of me check out UnitedMonkee.com, MonkeyingAroundTheKitchen.com, Comic Book Resources and @PoppaDietsch on Twitter.

The Pop Poppa Nap Cast Episode 27

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My apologies for the lack of episode last week and this one’s lateness, but life tends to get in the way of all my internet aspirations. Anyway, the 27th episode of the Pop Poppa Nap Cast runs down our recent vacation to Ipswich, gives an update on our house hunt and gives the Pop Poppa Of The Week to one of my favorite authors!

me and lu at the beach

Lu and I had a pretty good time at the beach, even though it was chilly.tangled

Tangled is a reimagining of the Rapunzel story. It’s pretty cute, but just about everything loses its cuteness after the 300th viewing.sid the science kid

I thought I’d done a post about my dislike of PBS’ Sid the Science Kid, but apparently I hadn’t. Basically, no other kid show bothers me this much. Even though the general message is “science is cool,” something I completely agree with, it just seems incredibly dumb and filled with one-note characters. Bleh. sesame street

Here’s the Geek Mom article about the new season of Sesame Street! Thank Henson for new content.the little endless storybooks

Jill Thompson’s excellent The Little Endless Storybook and Delirium’s Party: A Little Endless Storybook earned the Pop Poppa Seal Of Approval. I also recommend reading the actual Sandman comics either in regular trade form or the exquisite Absolute editions.brad meltzer the book of lies

And, finally, Brad Meltzer easily earned the Pop Poppa Of The Week, not just for writing a series of novels I’ve gotten hours of entertainment out of, but also reminding me how important it is to tell your story to the world. Seriously, check out The Book of Lies, it’s pretty darn great. I wrote a review of it a few years back over on UnitedMonkee, check it out!

For more of me check out UnitedMonkee.com, MonkeyingAroundTheKitchen.com, Comic Book Resources and @PoppaDietsch on Twitter.

The Pop Poppa Nap Cast Episode 26

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Thanks for your patience once again regarding this holiday-belated episode of The Pop Poppa Nap Cast. The 26th episode covers the Labor Day Weekend, taking care of house business and my thoughts on gender and how niceness comes into play.

You can read Catherine Newman’s complete article, titled “I Do Not Want My Daughter To Be ‘Nice'” over on The New York Times sitemagic trackpad

Apple’s Magic Trackpad earned the Pop Poppa Seal Of Approval this week. As an added piece of goodness, I used this bad boy to help while recording and editing the episode. The-League-Kevin and ellie

Finally, here’s Kevin MacArthur (Steve Rannazzisi) with his daughter Ellie from The League also known as this episode’s Pop Poppa Of The Week.

For more of me check out UnitedMonkee.com, MonkeyingAroundTheKitchen.com, Comic Book Resources and @PoppaDietsch on Twitter.

The Pop Poppa Nap Cast Episode 16

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The Pop Poppa Nap Cast Episode 16 runs the gamut from parental visits and Father’s Day fun to Lu’s upcoming first trip to daycare.

If you want to read the first entry in my recurring “Ultimate Spider-Man” interview series, click this link.

The official Stormville Flea Market website.

Above you can see the three books I mentioned in the podcast: If I Ran The Circus, The Disney Junior Encyclopedia Of Animated Characters and The Amazing Spider-Man Look and Find. Follow those links to Amazon if they sound like something you’d like to check out.

The Adventure Time Blu-ray review I mentioned can be seen here. If you want to buy them for yourself, click the following links:

And here’s the short piece I wrote for Spinoff Online about Girl Meets World getting officially picked up by Disney.

I wrote this piece about how Superman changed my life and this one  about Man of Steel.

Read more of me on UnitedMonkee.com, MonkeyingAroundTheKitchen.com and on Twitter @PoppaDietsch.

The Pop Poppa Nap Cast Episode 14

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The latest episode is all about movies, sleep and some of the adorable things are darling daughter has started to say.

A Talk Boy commercial to help jog your memory.

my neighbor totoro

If you like the sound of the My Neighbor Totoro (Two-Disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo) pick it up through this link, it helps the site! Below you can see a picture of Professor Kusakabe with his daughters Satsuki and Mae.

my neighbor totoro

The Pop Poppa Nap Cast Episode 12

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The downside of being sick, working from home with a deficient immune system, temporary tattoo goodness and Rob Reiner all on this week’s episode of The Pop Poppa Nap Cast.

Here’s a link to check out A Goofy Movie (Walt Disney Gold Collection). I’ve since ordered Goof Troop, Volume 1 too.

I actually first wrote about Yo Gabba Gabba way back in 2010 when Muno appeared in some pretty great Kia commercials.

If you want to check out more Yo Gabba Gabba, dig Yo Gabba Gabba!: Party in a Box. The record I picked up was Yo Gabba Gabba: Music Is Awesome Volume 2 (Amazon Exclusive Sticker Version). I have no idea what Brobee toy I talked about, but if you can figure it out let me know.

I hadn’t actually seen the video for Weezer’s “All My Friends Are Insects” yet, but it’s amazing.

In case you missed my more detailed review of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, you can check it out here.

SafetyTat’s website is here. We went with the TatBuilder Basic set which costs $19.99. Definitely worth picking up.

The specific episode of New Girl I referenced is called “Winston’s Birthday” and, for now at least, you can check it out on Fox’s website.

The Pop Poppa Nap Cast Episode 10 – FIXED!

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I’m really sorry about the janky version of this episode that went out. I was in a rush pre-vacation and didn’t check to make sure it was the way it should be. Here it is as originally intended!

In this episode we prepare for Disney World while also talking about a super fun party with friends, the waning days of Wizard and how that experience has helped me refrain my bad days now. Oh, and fun with baby talk!

I was actually right that a pidgin is a combination of two languages! I know this because I looked it up on Wikipedia!

If you’re curious to see what other offerings Golden Books have right now, check out the official Random House website.

If you’re interested in The Spirit Is Willing check it out on Netflix Instant, that’s what I did. If you want to read more about it, check out my review over on UnitedMonkee.

The Pop Poppa Nap Cast Episode 9

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In the latest episode of The Pop Poppa Nap Cast, the nice weather gets me all twitterpated, Lu gets her first haircut and we talk about bathies.

If you’re interested, here’s my review of Red Dawn from UnitedMonkee.com.

I can’t seem to find the full speech that Brett Cullen’s Tom Eckert gives to his boys in the movie, but part of it’s in this clip:

If the Fisher-Price Little People Splash ‘n Scoop Bath Bar sounds like your cup of tea, check it out through this link.

The Pop Poppa Nap Cast Episode 8

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As the weather goes from great to grey, I talk about everything from nice weather memories and Mariah Carey to Mickey Mouse coloring books and how the movie Spring Break holds up as a good lesson on how to be a worthwhile person.

If you missed it, here are a pair of Photo Diary posts about us going to the park from Friday and Tuesday.

Here’s my wildly uninformed Sesame Street post from last year.

If you’re interested in checking out Sesame Street: Old School – Volume One (1969-1974) pick it up from Amazon.

And here’s a few images if you’re curious to see what Big Bird and Oscar looked like originally.

When I said that they hung out in a junkyard on The Cosby Show, I meant Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids – The Original Animated Series, Vol. 1 (with Bonus CD). I’m fairly certain Rudy and Theo never found themselves digging through trash.

The inimitable Mariah Carey singing “Always Be My Baby.”

If you’re curious to read my review of Summer School , head on over to UnitedMonkee. If you want to buy the film, follow that first link to Amazon.

The Pop Poppa Nap Cast Episode 7

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The latest installment of The Pop Poppa Nap Cast focuses on a recent trip to New Hampshire for Easter, the many cartoons I want to share with my daughter and a big thumbs up for a new sitcom and my favorite diaper bag.

The Pop Poppa Nap Cast Episode 7

The episode of The Big Bang Theory I mentioned that inspired Lu to sing “Soft Kitty” is called “The Adhesive Duck Deficiency.” I live blogged it back in 2009.

You can check out the piece my friend Sean Collins wrote about He-Man over on Vorpalizer.

While I’m linking to my pals, here’s the piece my buddy Rob Bricken wrote about the wacky He-Man/She-Ra holiday special that he wrote for io9.

As I mentioned in the episode, I’m trying something new with a little bit of advertising. If you’re interested in any of the products or DVDs I mentioned in the show follow these links to Amazon. It’ll help the show for sure, so thanks in advance. Here’s what I talked about this episode The Big Bang Theory: The Complete Third Season, Big Bang Theory – Soft Kitty Head Plush, DuckTales – Volume 1, Walt Disney’s Uncle Scrooge: “Only a Poor Old Man” (Vol. 12) (The Complete Carl Barks Disney Library), Walt Disney’s Mickey Mouse Collector’s Box Set (Vol. 1-2) (Walt Disney’s Mickey Mouse), Chip ‘n Dale Rescue Rangers – Volume 1 and Plastic Man: The Complete Collection.

And of course, I’ve got to separate out the recipient of this week’s Pop Poppa Seal of Approval winner, the Diaper Dude Diaper Bag, Black, the best diaper bag for guys around.

If you’re curious, here’s the review I wrote of one of my new favorite podcasts Hear Me Out. Give it a listen, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

The Pop Poppa Nap Cast Episode 4

pop poppa nap cast logoThe fourth episode of The Pop Poppa Nap Cast hits chock full of geekery from a video game-creating dad to a little girl mashing up Star Wars and princesses plus a few positive thoughts on Pixar’s Brave, the importance of keeping yourself happy and more!

The Pop Poppa Nap Cast Episode 4

Here’s the Disney Princess commercial I mentioned:

I first wrote about Brave on this very blog here.

Here’s the Wired story on Mike Mika, the guy who remade Donkey Kong for his daughter.

The Her Universe story on McKenna.

 

Pop Poppa Product Review: The Snack Trap

When Lucy started eating solid food and wasn’t quite so mobile, I used to put her snacks in a bowl on the floor. She’d tip it over ever now and then and wind up eating off the carpet quite a bit as most kids do. One day I remembered that we had this thing called a Snack Trap in our increasingly disorganized baby cupboard and decided to give it a shot. Now I can barely pry it out of Lu’s hands for naps and potty time.

It’s an incredibly simple design with just two parts. You’ve got your plastic two-handled cup adorned with some kind of cute animal (ours has a monkey on it as you can see) and then a more rubbery top piece that allows the kid to put their hand in without pulling out all the contents at once. The great thing about the Snack Trap is that she can hold onto it like a sippy cup and run all over the house without making as much of a mess. I say “as much as” because every room in our house as at least a few pieces of cereal that we wind up stepping on, but that’s mostly because she drops them or pulls out a few more than she can handle when dipping in for more snacks. It’s not a perfect system (though when it comes to babies and toddlers, I don’t think such a thing exists) but it had become one of her favorite things, has given her some independence to eat and run as she pleases and definitely keeps the number of cereal bits on the ground lower than we had become used to. For all that, the Snack Trap gets the Pop Poppa seal of approval.

Speaking of which, does anyone want to design a Pop Poppa seal of approval?

Pop Poppa Product Review: BooginHead’s SplatMat

As our little Lu continues to get more interested in getting directly involved in the feeding process, the messier things can get. Her lunch tends to consist of black beans and then another frozen thing like pears or sweet potatoes. She likes the beans because she can pick them up and pop them in her mouth. She’s also getting more interested in using her own spoon, though she doesn’t always hit her mouth.

My wife saw the potential for food to start flying and purchased a SplatMat from BooginHead. This is essentially a 52-inch round piece of Phthalate and BPA-free plastic that you just lay down under the kid’s eating area to catch anything the little darlings drop. It’s easy to fold up and you just need to spray it down and let dry if you have a particularly messy meal.

My comic book loving brain wishes the thing was cool, like it automatically folds and unfolds itself with the touch of a button, but if that did exist, it’d probably be a lot more expensive than the SplatMat’s $20 price tag. I don’t know if my wife bought this from the site itself (follow the above link to buy directly from BooginHead) or from one of her baby deal sites, but I’d say it’s a smart purchase especially if you have carpeted floors in the eating area.

Pop Poppa Product Review: BosoBuddies

I’ve talked about our travel system before and it’s still doing well by us, though Lucy’s getting bigger and we have to switch out car seats soon. However, before moving on to our next car seats, I wanted to bestow the virtues of a little product called BosoBuddies that you can buy on etsy. If you’re like me, you go out with your kid a lot alone and it can be a pain in the butt keeping the car seat straps out from under them when you’re situating them. I tried sliding the metal clip part under a plastic thing on the side of the seat, but that only worked about a quarter of the time on one–never both–straps.

Enter the BosoBuddies. It’s a simple design, but it has made all of our car trips that much easier just by it’s very existence. See, the button part you see in the above picture is attached to a stretchy cord that you loop through to attach onto your car seat handle. The other other end of the cord has the ribbon as well as it’s own loop. So, what you do, is, when you undo the car seat, you wrap the ribbon end around the strap and put the loop over the button so it stays. Simple as that. Pull the tab and you’re undone and ready to pop the kid back in the seat. It sounds a little complicated and when my wife first explained it to me, I told her not to bother, but after weeks of frustration with the straps, I asked her to pick some up the next time they appeared on one of her deal sites (a post about those is coming soon). If you’re wonder, we have the Orange Flower w/ MultiColor Stripe Ribbon version.

Much like the Itzbeen, I assumed I wouldn’t need something that performs such a simple task, but was proven wrong by the day to day experience of watching and raising a child. However, you can learn from my initial lack of interest, pick up your own set of BosoBuddies and avoid all kinds of frustration! I would even recommend paying the full $15 if they don’t show up on deal sites, they’re worth that and more.

Pop Poppa Product Review: Balboa Baby Shopping Cart & High Chair Cover

Back before Lucy was born, I was cleaning up her room, opening some of the gifts we had received and trying to find places for them. The Balboa Baby Shopping Cart & High Chair Cover was one of the more confusing of the bunch. See, it’s kind of like a Popple in that the cover actually folds up into itself into a kind of oblong football. At the time, I got frustrated in about one minute and tossed the thing aside.But now, it’s a huge part of pretty much any trip my wife and/or I take with the baby. See, the idea is that you unfold the Popple and place it inside a shopping cart or high chair so that the baby not only has more support but also isn’t touching the same thing that hundreds of other kids have touched. Once Lu started sitting up pretty well on her own, we were able to start using it and it has been a wonderful addition to our trips to the grocery store and restaurants. I’ve got a variation on the Balboa that I keep in my car (the Balboa stays in my wife’s) and it’s good, but not nearly as simple or compact. The only problem? They’re pretty expensive at $45.83 on Amazon with the one I got from Target running about $20 0r so. Is the Balboa worth the extra $30? Hmm, probably not if it’s coming out of your own pocket. However, I highly recommend putting one on your baby registry and hope that someone with bucks hooks you up!

Pop Poppa Toy Review: Kid O Stack & Nest Cups

Even with all the bells and whistles available to kids today (my daughter Lucy is obsessed with trying to get her hands on my iPhone), sometimes it’s the most simple toys that wind up capturing kids’ imaginations. Like many baby toys, the Kid O Stack & Nest Cups (warm colors), were a gift from a friend. The great thing about having awesome friends is that they all offer different and new sets of eyes and points of view when it comes to what might make for a fun kid’s toy. Had I seen these stacking and nesting blocks I don’t know if I would have given them a second look, but they’ve turned out to be a favorite of our daughter’s.Lucy’s still too young to be able to stack or nest the blocks herself, but that doesn’t mean she’s not interested. My wife or I will stack them up in front of her and she has a tendency to grab the middle block in an attempt to pull the whole tower towards her. As you’d expect, this doesn’t work out and the blocks all fall down in front of her, but she really seems to like winding up with just the one block. I like this toy for several reasons. First and foremost, the kid likes it, so that makes it aces in my book. I think the bright colors will help her eventually learn those names and the versatility of blocks as toys in general will allow them to be played with other similar toys. Versatility’s big for this pop poppa. But, probably my favorite aspect of the toy is that it can all be contained within itself at a smaller size. Nearly every other toy she has is as big as it is and doesn’t get any smaller, but this one can be nested and therefore fit in her overflowing living room toy basket better. As the one who does a lot of the picking up and cleaning, I appreciate that. Hey, there’s nothing that says that toys can’t be fun and practical (I hope not, at least).

Pop Poppa TV Review: Up All Night Series Premiere

I was equal parts interested and wary of NBC’s Up All Night (Wednesdays at 8:00PM). On one hand, I love Will Arnett (even though Running Wilde lacked any real basis in reality and therefore gave me no foundation to stand on while laughing at hijinks) and like Christina Applegate. Plus, I dug the idea of a sitcom based on a shared experience that I now have with the characters. They’re both new parents with the wife working and the dad staying home to watch the baby. My worry was that it would be all corny “Oh man, we NEVER get any sleep anymore,” jokes which seem so obvious and tired (PUN!) that they don’t sound appealing to me right now. Maybe that’s just because Lucy’s been waking up to feed a lot more lately and it hits a little close to home at the moment. Oddly enough, the season premiere didn’t live up to either expectation, but wound up going in a completely different direction.

I caught the first episode last night with my inlaws. We’re on a family vacation in Massachusetts this week, hence the lack of blogging, though I do have some good ideas read to rock once we’re back at home base. Anyway, while I liked Applegate and Arnett together, they came off as pretty one-dimensional in this first episode as it solely revolved around them trying to impress their cool-looking new neighbors and Applegate’s boss, the Oprah-like Maya Rudolph assuming that the baby hated her. The point of all this was for them to reconcile their switch over from hip married couple to boring parents, which was very plainly expressed throughout the episode without much subtext or real emotion. Again, maybe it’s because I’m dealing with things like this now (not that I was ever super cool, but you get what I mean) and it’s very real to me. I can tell you how it all feels and it doesn’t come off as cartoony and jokey, it hits you in the gut. Actually, maybe I will tell you what it feels like in a later post…

Another complaint I had was that all of the secondary characters came off as very one dimensional. I think there’s a lot of potential in Rudolph’s, but there was no depth there this time. The baby wallet stuff was pretty funny though. Then you’ve got the sycophantic assistant, the lame neighbors who don’t actually say anything the whole episode and the super-great nice guy played by Nick Cannon, who was definitely charming, but too nice (who agrees to come over at midnight to watch a baby so you can go over to your neighbor’s party and act like you didn’t call the cops on them?). Oddly enough, the cool new neighbors came off as the most interesting to me because they looked cool, but didn’t seem obsessed with it like Applegate and Arnett. They were just living it, you know? I wouldn’t mind watching THEIR show, actually.

Overall, this first episode felt like a misstep. I think they should have focused more on the parents as real people dealing with their child instead of aging cool kids dealing with age, because at the end of the episode I don’t really care about anyone in the show. And why should I? What was I given to really grab a hold of? With that being said, each character still had a line or two that made me laugh and some interesting moments here and there, just as a whole it felt imbalanced. Maybe if this was the third or fourth episode and I knew these characters a little better, it’d be interesting, but opening your series with a showcase of how vapid and status-conscious your leads are doesn’t seem like a great idea to me. At the end of the day, I’ve only got so much time to watch TV in the evening (we are DVR-less in our house) and I will most likely be jumping over to ABC’s line-up from 8-10PM on Wednesdays because the combination of The Middle, Suburgatory (love the concept, hate the title), Modern Family and Happy Endings is a lot more compelling for me as both a fan of comedy and a parent. But, I’m still rooting for Up All Night. Hopefully it’ll be like Parks & Rec which started of dismally and has since turned into a great series. Fingers crossed.

Pop Poppa Toy Review: The Skwish

Babies and toys seem to go hand in hand. When the very much appreciated baby gifts start rolling in, you’ll notice a good deal of little toys, from squeaky things like Sophie to stuffed animals. Surrounded by these things, you get the idea that your kid is going to pop out and want to be entertained by something other than you. As it turned out, Lucy had no interest in toys for a few months. I think it’s because everything in the world is new to a baby and they’re just taking everything in. Who needs toys when your hands and feet are constantly blowing your mind?

In the past month or so, our daughter Lucy started showing an interest in toys, so we started bringing them out. Some she likes more than others, but she really digs the Skwish. This wasn’t a gift, but something we found a few weeks ago at a nearby closing Borders. My wife found it while I was looking for a new copy of Crime And Punishment (they were out, can you believe it?) and it turned out to be a pretty big hit.

Created by Manhattan Toy, the Skwish might just be the ultimate baby toy. There’s all kinds of different things for the kids to grab onto, from the balls on the end to the sticks to the black bands holding everything together. Lucy loves holding the thing and flailing around with it, even sticking it in her mouth. It also makes noise as the balls on the sticks move back and forth, which she seems to like. Plus, when she gets a little bigger and maybe understands her hands a little better, she’ll be able to actually squish the thing.

It’s a really simple toy, but really well put together and highly recommended.

Pop Poppa Review: Itzbeen

When my wife first told me about the Itzbeen, I thought it sounded ridiculous. Who needs a device to keep track of how long ago you changed, fed or slept your baby? Like pretty much everything baby-related, I deferred to her wisdom and she wound up getting her own Itzbeen thanks to Amazon for around $20.

And thank goodness she did because now that I’m both watching Lucy on a daily basis and busier than I’ve ever been as a freelancer, this thing has become indispensable. When you’ve got a lot on your mind, it’s really easy to forget the last time you changed a diaper or put the kid down for a nap and this thing keeps track of it for you. Basically you hit the assigned button for change, feed, nap and a fourth bonus button and it restarts the clock from zero so you know how long it’s been (get it?) since the last time you did whatever that thing is. There’s also a clock, switch on the bottom to help women remember which side they last breastfed on, nightlights, optional sounds (which we have turned off) and a lock so you don’t accidentally hit a button when it’s rolling around in your diaper bag. Yes, I have a bitching diaper bag, but I’ll get to that when I’ve got more time.

More tech-savvy folks might just as soon use use an app or some such to keep track of these things. I would assume that kind of app would keep track of everything that happened in a day, collate that information and give you a detailed read out of your kid’s pooping habits for the week. I don’t have a smart phone or an iPad or an iPod Touch so that’s not an option, but I will say that sometimes having a gadget at your disposal that does one thing and does it quite well is an asset. If I had to fumble through a series of icons to find the one I wanted and then tap the right button with my fat fingers while I’m trying to respond to an email and figure out if the baby is crying because she’s hungry or tired or poopy, I think that might be too much. I’d much rather grab the white thing on my coffee table, glance at it, get the info and move on. I just wish it didn’t look so much like our baby monitor, that gets a little confusing at times.

Of course, the efficiency of the Itzbeen completely relies on how disciplined you are with hitting the buttons. I’ve forgotten to hit the button on several occasions (heck, several times today), but overall it’s a great little tool to use when you’ve got a million things going on in your head at once. If I had a stamp of approval, the Itzbeen would get it. Hmm, now I need a stamp…and a logo…

And now, the Barenaked Ladies video for “One Week” because it pops into my head every single time I write, say or think about the Itzbeen. And it’s all because of those first two words.

I was 15 when that song came out in 1998, it will be 28 years old when my daughter is the same age in 2026. Almost everything about that sentence makes me wince.