11884732_451374918367961_8756456776860902534_o

A New Chapter (An Open Letter to J)

It was like yesterday when I decided to leave school and work to become an at-home dad. It was the scariest decision I have ever had to make. The first day was kind of rough. I didn’t realize how many diapers infants went through in a day. I wasn’t sure if I was feeding you too much, or not enough. I wasn’t sure if I was the best person to teach you what you needed to learn as an infant up to pre-school.

Well the day is here. You are now a pre schooler. You know your ABCs, 123s, how to write your name (even though the J is always backwards), and you even know quite a bit about comic books and Star Wars. And even though you know all of that, I can’t help but to feel like Yoda when Luke left Dagobah. I feel like there’s so much more I need to teach you, but I can only hope that I have done enough to make sure that you are ready for the world that is ahead of you.

In the past 3 years, I have been by your side for 1074 of those days (give or take a few). It’s going to take some getting used to, but one day I’ll be able to hear about your day without feeling sad that I wasn’t there with you. Don’t get me wrong, I am excited to hear all about your new memories with all your new friends, but I am just going to miss my partner in crime. 

Life goes by fast, so every once in a while, make sure that you take a second to notice where you are and who you are with. The friends you make in pre-school might not be life long friends, but those memories should be. Make sure that you enjoy learning. Our goal in life should be to learn as much as we can, not so we are the smartest, but so that we are the most informed. Have fun. Play with all the other children at school, and don’t let anyone feel left out. School is what you make of it, and if you take a second, enjoy learning, and have fun, you will be set.

No matter what I say or how I feel, you will be amazing. You have a glowing personality and an eagerness to know everything. I guess all I can do is sit back and watch you become the person you are meant to become, but of course like the Jedi who are one with the Force, I will always be there when you need me.

©Disney

Kids and Gaming

The debate about kids and video games has been going on for decades now. Thanks to Mortal Kombat we now have a rating system that tries to prevent younger gamers from playing the more violent/adult content heavy games, and we now have people advocating for minimal screen time for kids. I want to go on the record as saying that ratings and moderation are not a bad thing, but also I want to say that every kid is different and that you the parent should decide what is best for their kids.

Back in June of 2014 Medical Daily did a write up of a study done by researchers at Nanyang Technological University (NTU) in Singapore that studied if certain mobile games could improve memory and problem solving skills. The study showed that, “while some games may help improve mental abilities, not all games give you the smae effect.” It showed that after people played “Cut the Rope” for 20 hours, they were able to “concentrate 60 percent better, and switch between tasks 33 percent faster, and adapt to new situations better.”

In October of 2014 the University of Toronto set out to find if playing video games would improve sensorimotor skills. The performed a series of tests between regular gamers and non gamers. Graduate student Davood Gozli said the purpose of the tests was to, “…understand if chronic video game playing has an effect on sensorimotor control, that is, the coordinated function of vision and hand movement.” The tests showed that while gamers did not show improved sensorimotor skills, it did show that gamers were able to recognize the patterns of the tests faster than the non gamers.

Gaming also leads the way for kids to be interested in the tech world. One day after playing some games on his Nintendo 2DS, J came up and asked my wife and I how video games were made. My wife pulled up a video on how motherboards are made, and J thought it was amazing. I thought we could even go deeper and check out code.org to intro him into the world of coding. Talk about an amazing resource, if you click here you will be taken to a game that has Anna and Elsa from Frozen teaching your kids how to code. Click here and your kids will learn how to code their own little game with Disney Infinity characters.

Technology is the business of the future, and our kids need to be tech literate if they are going to be successful. Yes moderation is necessary, but we the parents need to decide how much is too much for our own kids. We also need to realize that playing games with our kids can be a great bonding moment. Maybe not while getting yelled at by random 12 year olds on Call of Duty, but maybe by taking down some Frost Giants together in Disney Infinity 2.0 Marvel Super Heroes. It doesn’t even have to be video games. If you are a board game person, find a game that you and your kids will enjoy together. If your kids like RPGs, maybe you should look into something like Dungeons and Dragons and get their imagination going. It doesn’t matter what kind of games you play with your kids, just take some time and play.

***Salt Lake Gaming Con is just around the corner.  I have 6 tickets to Salt Lake Gaming Con that I will be giving away on Monday August 3rd at 6:00pm, so make sure you stop by my Facebook page, because***

What games did you like to play as a kid that you would pass on to future generations?

©Marvel Studios

Ant-Man

Not a lot of people were excited when Marvel announced Ant-Man, I honestly was on the fence about the movie. When the first teaser hit the internet, I thought that this movie was going to be amazing and in my eyes this movie was more than I thought it was going to be. Ant-Man has a script that is funny, smart, and the actors did an amazing job bringing the script to life.

Michael Douglas did a fantastic job of bringing Hank Pym to the big screen, although I was a little weirded out when they digitally removed about 30 years from his face.  Evangeline Lilly was amazing and made Hope van Dyne a strong female character for girls to look up to and to look forward to in future Marvel films (wink wink). Paul Rudd did what critics thought he wouldn’t be able to do, and he became Ant-Man. I am excited to see his Ant-Man progress through the MCU.

Michael Peña, T.I. (yes the rapper), and David Dastmalchian were the perfect supporting cast to Paul Rudd and IMO are probably the best supporting cast in the MCU. All three were hilarious and almost stole a few scenes throughout the movie. I also can’t leave out Abby Ryder Fortson. She plays Paul Rudd’s daughter and she also did an amazing job in the movie.

The movies is filled with easter eggs, so make sure you pay attention. Also if you haven’t seen Age of Ultron, you should because there are a few AoU references in Ant-Man. You also get an Avenger cameo, a mid credit scene, and an after credit scene, so stay in your seat until the very end. If you can, see it in IMAX 3D and/or ATMOS. There are so many audible and visual treats in Ant-Man that you really don’t want to miss out on. If I were to grade movies on the regular, I would give Ant-Man an A. It’s in between Age of Ultron and Guardians of the Galaxy on my favorite Marvel movies list (Guardians being #1 of course).

GO SEE ANT-MAN!!!!   

©Sony Pictures

Pixels

I can’t tell you how excited I was the first time that I saw the teaser for Pixels. Then the official trailer came out and we saw that it was going to be an Adam Sandler/Kevin James movie. I thought that there might be a few scenes that would be “pushing the boundaries” so it could get that PG-13 rating, when this really could have been a fun movie even with the PG rating.

There were scenes that felt like they were uncomfortable to shoot, which made them uncomfortable to watch. Specifically a scene between Kevin James and Jane Krakowski that takes place in a bakery. I didn’t buy their relationship, and it looked like neither of them wanted to even shoot the scene. There were also problematic scenes where female characters as trophies, and seeing those scenes made me shudder in my seat. That being said, there are some reasons that I think you should take the kids to see the movie.

All of the scenes with the video game characters were amazing. From Galaga to Donkey Kong, those 8-bit looking killing machines looked amazing and those scenes kept J on the edge of his seat. Q*Bert was amazing and was also J’s favorite character…until the end. The opening and closing credits both were really fun to watch as well. 

If I had a grading scale for movie reviews, I would give this one a C. The concept was good, but the delivery could have been better. As J put it, “I liked the movie, but not the whole movie.”  This is not a movie that I would rush to the theaters on opening night for, but it is one that I would say to watch during a matinee or if your local theater does a $5 Tuesday. If you do decide to watch this movie, watch it in 3D. 

MERCHEQ

Merchandise Equality

It’s been awhile since my last post, I apologize. I’ve been sitting on this post for a while. Partly because I haven’t wanted to step on any toes of the voices already out there. I also wasn’t sure that I had the right words to say at the time, and finally because I think this is a topic that can’t just go away. This is something that we need to keep talking about, and working together to find a solution.

Geek culture is filled with strong women. We see them in movies, cartoons, comic books, and TV shows, yet we don’t see a lot of them in toys. Some “insiders” say it’s because geek culture is male dominated, and that this male dominated culture only won’t pay for products with these strong female characters. But are those people wrong?

Since starting this blog, I’ve seen a few instances that show these “insiders” may in fact be wrong. People lost their minds when the Guardians of the Galaxy merchandise starting hitting the shelves. Not only were Gamora figures scarce, but companies who bought the merchandising license from Marvel/Disney removed Gamora from all packaging and clothing. When Star Wars Rebels toys started hitting the shelves, Sabine Wren and Hera figures were no where to be found. Even Avengers: Age of Ultron came under fire for their lack of Black Widow and Scarlett Witch merchandise. There was even more hot water when Black Widow was replaced by Iron Man on a toy thats literal concept came from a scene in the movie.

So what can we do? It’s simple. We have to stop talking with only our keyboards and our smart phones. We also need to start talking with our money. When you see merchandise with these strong female characters, buy it and share the purchase on your social media pages. Don’t only look in big box stores, search your local comic book store, or even the parent company’s online store. Show these companies that you really want these figures, don’t just tell them.

header

10 Father’s Day Gift Ideas for a Nerdy Dad

Father’s Day is around the corner and while you are getting pummeled with gift ideas for dad ranging from grill accessories to camping gear, I thought I would share some ideas for those non-outdoorsy, nerdy dads…like myself.

1. Gift Card to Local Comic Shop

If the dad you are shopping for is a fan of comics, he will be a huge fan of this gift idea. Brand new comics these days are about $3.99 with variant covers costing a little more. A $25 gift card will go a long way for your comicbook fan.

2. Marvel Unlimited subscription

If dad likes reading things on his electronic devices more than reading a physical book, Marvel Unlimited is for him. For either $9.99 per month or $69 per year, you have streaming access to 15,000+ Marvel titles, and member-only deals on Marvel comics and merchandise. If you want to pay $99 per year, you get everything mentioned above along with (for a limited time) an exclusive limited edition Hasbro Legends 6’ AU Variant Ultron figure, a variant edition of Age of Ultron #10, a personalized Marvel Unlimited Plus Membership card, invites to member only events, 15% off digital comics and collections every day at the Marvel Digital Comic shop, and 10% off Marvel merchandise every day at MarvelShop.com

3. Comixology e-gift card

Comixology is like your virtual comic shop that has all the comics you could ever want in one place. If dad likes reading on his electronic devices but is more into other publishers (DC, Dark Horse, IDW, etc.), you can get an e-gift card from Comixology and dad can enjoy his favorite comics from his smart phone, tablet, or computer.

4. Hoodies/Graphic Tees

Nerdy/Geeky hoodies and graphic tees seem to be the in thing now. Clothing wise, it has never been a better time to be a nerdy/geeky dad. You can go shop online at places like thinkgeek.com and teefury.com, or you can find nerdy/geeky shirts at pretty much every big box store. You can also follow Styled by Marvel on Instagram for some clothing ideas.

5. RFID Blocking Wallet

Credit cards are becoming so tech savvy that they are starting to become a nuisance. Thanks to RFID technology you can now pay for items just by tapping your cards to the card reader, rather than using the magnetic strip. With advances in technology, we usually run into people who are able to alter the technology to take advantage of people. Criminals are using RFID scanners to steal card information from people using cards with RFID chips in them. Help the dad in your life stop this from happening by getting him a RFID blocking wallet. You can make it extra nerdy by getting him this Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D inspired wallet from thinkgeek.com.

©ThinkGeek

©ThinkGeek

6. Subscription Box Service

Subscription boxes have become such a staple in the nerd/geek community. Every month you get a box filled with nerdtastic items. There are quite a few out there, but here are my favorite 3 that I have come across.

    1. Marvel Collectors Corp – Is the dad in your life a big Marvel fan? You can choose a $25 every other monty for 1 box or you can prepay 6 boxes for $125 and you get a free annual gift. Each box comes with a collectible items created by Marvel and Funko. Each box values at $50 worth of items.
    2. LootCrate – If dad is has a wide variety of things that he geeks out over, LootCrate is the way to go. You never know what you will get from LootCrate, but you will always enjoy when that box arrives at your doorstep. LootCrate has four different plans that you can sign up for. Their one and done box is $19.95, the 3 month plan is $19.25 per month, 6 month plan is $18.95 per month, and the 1 year plan is $17.95 per month. The 1 year plan includes a bonus gift.
    3. NerdBlock – NerdBlock gives you the opportunity to narrow down what you could get in your monthly box. There are 6 different categories to choose from.   There are probably on 4 categories that you would choose for dad. The ComicBlock comes with 3 comics, a shirt, and a collectible for $13.99 per month. The ArcadeBlock is a mystery box that gives you mystery gaming collectibles and a new shirt in every box for $19.99 per month. The HorrorBlock has collectibles from your favorite horror movies and a new shirt in every box for $19.99 per month. And lastly, the Classic NerdBlock is a mystery box filled with all sorts of collectibles and a new shirt with every box for $19.99 per month. You can do a monthly subscription where you pay the cost of the box plus shipping. You can also do 3, 6, and 12 month subscriptions, each of those plans comes out as a one time payment.

7. Netflix Subscription

With classic shows like Star Trek, M*A*S*H, Bill Nye the Science Guy and Netflix Originals like Daredevil, and House of Cards, dad will spend hours being nostalgic and falling in love with new shows when he logs in for the first time. For $7.99 you can stream to 2 screens at a time with HD availability, and for $11.99 you can stream on 4 screens at a time with HD and Ultra HD availability.

8. Movie Tickets

Why not surprise dad with tickets to a movie that’s already out or even pre-sale tickets to an upcoming movie (Ant-Man comes to mind). You can find pre-sale tickets from Fandango.

9. Tickets to upcoming Con

In my opinion, convention tickets are the ultimate Father’s Day gift. I am not just talking about comic conventions, there are many different kinds of conventions going on throughout the year. You can look into tickets for cons like the Las Vegas Star Trek Convention, Dragon Con, or something like Walker Stalker Con. If you have never had a convention experience, I recommend finding a more localized con. For example, I wanted to make sure that a con was something that I could do with a toddler, so I attended the first Salt Lake Comic Con. The convention was held 5 miles from my house and it was small enough that I felt like I could do everything that I wanted to plus we go to see everything that I wanted J to see. Now J and I are planning on going to conventions outside of Utah. Going to cons can be expensive, but they are so much fun and it’s something that you can make a family outing.

10. Nerdist.com’s Ultimate Convention Hoodie

If you decided to go with tickets to a con, you can’t go wrong with Nerdist.com’s Ultimate Convention Hoodie as an additional gift. For $65 dad is getting the best hoodie he could ever need for his con experience. Look at this picture and tell me this is not the coolest hoodie in the entire world.

©Nerdist Industries

©Nerdist Industries

StarWars Logo

May the Fourth Be With You: A Guide to Celebrating Star Wars Day

Star Wars is an integral part of geek/nerd culture. We all have our reasons why Star Wars is important to us and why we want to share it with our children. For me, Star Wars showed made me believe in the impossible. It showed me that our imaginations have limitless potential to create brand new worlds. I want my son to see what I see in Star Wars. I want him to use his imagination to its fullest potential.

As you can see, Star Wars holds great meaning to me. It is something that my father shared with me, and it is something that I can share with my son. Monday is May 4th which means that cities across the world will be celebrating the Star Wars Universe. You may be thinking to yourself, “How can I celebrate Star Wars Day?” And the answer is, there is no correct answer. You can celebrate it however you want. It could be something big like cosplaying as your favorite Star War character, or something small, like wearing your favorite pair of Star Wars socks. If you are unsure how you can celebrate May the Fourth, here are a few things big and small that you can do to celebrate Star Wars day on your own, or with your friends and family.

Start your morning off with your favorite Star Wars song:

Whether it’s the Main Theme or the Imperial March, playing your favorite Star Wars tune will get you ready for a great Star Wars themed day.

Wear some Star Wars clothing:

It could be anything from a pair of socks to an amazing t-shirt. Don’t be afraid to show your geek side, millions of people will be with you in spirit.

Find Star Wars events in your area:

Maybe there is a movie marathon going on at your local theater, maybe there’s a 5k walk/run going on at the park, or maybe a local gallery is featuring Star Wars art work from local artists. Just search and find some events and meet up with more Star Wars fans.

Cosplay:

Put together a quick Jedi outfit with some robes and a lightsaber, use two milk jugs to make a storm trooper mask, wear a cape and bring out your inner Lando or Vader. Don’t worry if people say “your body type doesn’t fit the character,” or “that is a cheap looking costume.” Forget those people. Cosplay is all about fun, if you think you’re going to have fun making and wearing the costume, then do it.

Marathon the movies at home:

If you are the type of person who doesn’t like big crowds, just marathon the movies in the comfort of your own home. Invite a few friends over, order some pizza, make some popcorn, sit in your favorite Star Wars pajamas, grab some drinks and prepare yourself for awesomeness.

Catch up on the Star Wars animated shows:

Have you watched all of Clone Wars (it is really good, you should watch it), are you caught up on Rebels (it is really good, you should be watching it)? No? Then you may want to get yourself ready for an even longer marathon. It’s worth it, I promise. You could also check out Phineas and Ferb: Star Wars, we loved every second of it.

Read your favorite Star Wars books:

There are so many Star Wars books out there, you can read the extended universe (no longer canon), the old comicbooks, the new comicbooks (which you really should be reading, they are amazing), or you can read some of Jeffery Brown’s Star Wars books with your kids.

Whatever you do this May 4th, just remember to have fun celebrating something that means so much to you. I hope you have a good Star Wars Day, and May the Fourth be With You.

Little Luke Skywalker

What are your Star Wars day plans? Share them in the comments.