The Significance of Music

This article will make more sense if you read it while listening to the accompanying playlist, that J curated himself. Before you hit play, close your eyes, think for a few seconds about the first song that made you feel like you were part of something bigger than yourself. A song that felt like it was written for you. Was the song a song that you heard on the radio? Was it a song from a tv show that you loved as a kid? Was it a song from a movie or a video game?

Music has a way of taking you to a deeper level of existence. It has the power to invoke any emotion at any time. It has the power to enhance every single feeling you have ever felt. Music can bring back memories of times long since forgotten. Music is an integral part of life. In my opinion, without music, life has no soul. It is my opinion that music, more specifically music from geek/nerd culture, can not only do everything that I mentioned above, but it can do so much more.

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There was a time in our lives, when J knew nothing about Star Wars, comic books, Doctor Who, Marvel Studios, etc. In that time, I was so nervous that I was going to find some way to mess up that I made sure that we read all the “Baby’s First” books, listened to all different kinds of instrumental music, and watched Sesame Street video after Sesame Street video. While he seemed to enjoy all those activities, they never seemed to keep him engaged for more that 5 minutes. I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking to yourself, “James, you were being way too hard on yourself as a first-time parent. Nothing is going to keep a that young of a child’s attention for more than 5 minutes.” I myself was coming to that train of thought myself, until one magical day.

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One day, after my wife (at the time) had left for work, I fed J, gave him a bath and sat him in his little chair so I could do some cleaning around the house. At the time, we had a dishwasher that didn’t really work that well, so I mostly washed the dishes by hand. I had the tv tuned to the local news channel so I could have some background noise while I was doing the chores, and I was turning and talking to J every now and then to keep him from getting upset. Nothing I did was working to keep him still. After about 10 minutes I decided I wanted to listen to some music instead of the tv, so I grabbed my laptop, logged into Spotify, and played the soundtracks from Star Wars: A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back.

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In what seemed like an instant, J’s demeanor seemed to change. No longer was he frustratingly swaying in his seat, he seemed to have a calm about him. It looked like his imagination was taking over, helping him to create a story to go along with the music we were listening to. His body language would change with the songs as if he knew exactly was happening in the scenes that the songs came from. A smile went across his face as we listened to Leia’s Theme, and he got a nervous when the Imperial March started playing. It was such an interesting sight to see. This became our daily routine for about a year.

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Right before J turned 4, I decided it was time to show him A New Hope and Empire. We popped some popcorn, got some juice, turned on our TV and VCR, and watched both movies back to back. J seemed like he wasn’t sure what was going on, that is until the main theme hit. His eyes instantly widened and he looked at me and said, “I know this song!!” J was on the edge of his seat for every shot of a blaster and swing of a lightsaber. It was amazing to see J’s reactions when he would recognize the songs, but what was even more amazing was that the next time we listened to just the soundtrack, J was able to describe almost everything that was happened during the accompanying scenes. This is something that has continued to happen with every other Star Wars film and even transferred to almost every single Marvel film and even the Harry Potter films.

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Not only is J able to tell you what is happening in the scenes of the songs are in, but he has now started creating his own stories to go along with his favorite music. This doesn’t just happen with film scores, but also with video game music. J will sit in his room, create playlists on our Spotify account filled with music from and inspired by his favorite games. Whenever he is listening to this music, he is either drawing characters from those video games, or he is making the most amazing creations with his LEGOs.

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Music is the lifeblood for a lot of the things we create in our home. When I am making a costume for J, I am listening to the soundtrack of whatever show, movie, or game that character is in. It inspires me to keep going when I don’t think I can. It helps me push through the creative mental blocks and makes me think outside the box for new solutions. Music from these movies, games, and tv shows has created a bond between J and I that will never be broken. No matter what happens in this life, whenever he hears certain songs, he will think of me and of the love we had for our geeky culture.

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Storm Boy Review

**Disclaimer: I was given a preview link, a stuffed pelican, and a pelican adopted in J’s name in exchange for this review. The opinions in this review are my own.”

Storm Boy follows the story of successful business man, Mike “Storm Boy” Kingley, as actions of his granddaughter make him recount his secluded childhood with his father on what looks like an Australian coastline. As a child on the coast line, Storm Boy rescues and raises an orphaned penguin. What kind of impression will Mike’s stories leave on his granddaughter? The only way to find out is to take your family to see Storm Boy on April 5th.

Storm Boy is a great film to watch with the family. The story is captivating and the film itself is inspiring. Throughout the film, J was thinking of ways that we could do more to help out wildlife around the world. The cinematography is beautiful and the acting is fantastic. I was so happy that we were thought of for this campaign. The conversations J and I had after watching Storm Boy were amazing. I highly recommend taking your entire family to see Storm Boy on April 5th. After you see the film, share your thoughts with the hashtag #StormBoy.

Find out which theaters are showing Storm Boy and get your tickets by clicking here!

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Holiday Travel with Movies Anywhere

***Disclaimer: I was compensated with digital download codes in exchange for this post. Those codes have no bearing on my thoughts on the Movies Anywhere app. I personally have been using it for awhile and absolutely love the app.***

Tis the season for giving and it is also the season for traveling. Traveling can be fun, but it can also be a stressful time.  The days of I Spy, the license plate game, and other travel activities have been taken over by family members wanting their own space in the car with their devices. These days car rides are filled with the driver listening to music or a podcast while everyone else in the car is playing games or watching movies.

When J and I go on car trips he usually packs some toys, books, and his iPad in his backpack. He usually spends the morning reading books and playing with toys. Once it gets too dark to read in the car, the books and toys go back in the bag and the iPad and headphones come out. The night before we get in the car for our trip, J will go through our vast library in our Movies Anywhere app and let me know which movies he wants me to download for him.

I know what you’re thinking, “why not just use other apps for downloading movies?” With Movies Anywhere, you can consolidate movies from your other movie accounts (iTunes, VUDU, Amazon Instant Video, Xfinity, FandangoNow, Microsoft Movies & TV, and Google Play). Movies Anywhere compresses the files so that you can download more movies on to your devices. The app also allows you to set up profiles so as a parent, you can set rating restrictions for your younger kids.

Movies Anywhere takes some stress out of Holiday travel and is an app that every parent should download for their families. Movies Anywhere has teamed up with Disney, Warner Bros, Universal, Sony, and 20th Century Fox to make consolidating your digital library that much easier. Movies Anywhere has a lot of benefits as well. Every now and again Movies Anywhere will give you free movies just for linking your other movie accounts to your Movies Anywhere.

You can download Movies Anywhere on any iOS or Android device as well as the Apple TV, Roku, Kindle Fire, Amazon FireTV, and Chromecast. With so many device options, you and your entire family can enjoy your digital library from anywhere!!

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Everything’s Magic

Magic has always been something that I’ve had an interest in. For as long as I could remember, I wanted to be a magician. I recorded a lot of the TV specials that magicians did in the 90s, I had a few magic kits in my room, and I had all the books. As I grew older my passion for performing magic dwindled, but my love for watching magic grew. I know that magic revolves around distraction and sleight of hand, but for me the sense of wonder is still there. I personally believe that everyone should at least know one good magic trick, especially if you are a grandparent, parent, aunt, uncle, sister, brother, or just a living human being.

When J was a baby I remember having a conversation with myself that I was going to fill his world with a sense of wonder and joy. That he would believe in the unbelievable. When he was old enough to sit up on his own and focus for more that 2 seconds, I started with simple coin tricks. I remember the look in his eye the first time I “pulled a quarter from behind his ear”. The simple coin trick only lasted so long before he realized that I was palming the quarter the entire time, but he would still laugh so hard when I would do the trick because he loved it so much.

I knew I had to step up my game, so I started buying decks of cards with the intention of learning so many card tricks that J would never know what hit him. I started reading magic blogs, and watching YouTube videos, but J was still young, and I couldn’t hold his attention enough to get the pay off of performing a card trick, so I went back to the simple coin tricks that I knew. Time went by, I worked on a few freelance post-production audio projects, I started this blog, and I eventually forgot the card tricks that I had learned.

Fast forward to this last summer, J and I were playing a card game while watching a magic show on Netflix and he asked me if I knew any card tricks. I told him I might know a few, and his eyes lit up like it was Christmas morning and Santa had just left him a Radio Flyer Luke Skywalker Landspeeder. I shuffle the cards and start telling him a story about the trick I was doing (completely made up BTW). He picks a card, I tell him to put the card in the middle of the deck, I expand on the story while shuffling the cards and tell him that if I put enough pressure on the cards that his card will magically flip in the deck. I told him that I don’t know if I had the strength and needed his help, he pushed on the deck of cards with me and poof. We went through the deck and there it was his card was the only card flipped the opposite way. He freaked out and ran straight to his room screaming about how amazing that trick was. He told his friends at school, strangers in the store, and pretty much everyone else that he saw that I knew magic.

That experience brought back a little bit of the spark I had as a child for performing magic. I decided that instead of performing for the masses, I would learn card tricks for J. To again build that sense of wonder and belief in the unbelievable. This is why I think that everyone who kids in their lives, grandparents, parents, aunts, uncles, older siblings, etc. should have at least two magic tricks in their pocket. There is so much happening in the world today that kids need a little magic in their lives.

Just a little note, if you’re looking for a trick that will blow the minds of the kids (and adults) in your life, you might want to learn this trick. J asks me to do this one at least 4 times a week.

Ch-Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes

           

Recently, events happened that have changed the way I go about my day to day and have affected how I do the things I do as Nerdy at Home Dad. I’m not going to go through specifics because it is not really anyone’s business but my own. These events have forced me out of what I have grown comfortable in as Nerdy at Home Dad (being involved in the everyday aspects of J’s life and being able to make costumes on a whim). I have had to leave that comfort behind and do something I thought I wouldn’t have to do for a while, get a job.

After said event, I immediately started applying for jobs because I needed to be able to know that I could find a way to support my pack the best way that I could. I applied for over 150 jobs in the span of two weeks. Most of them I knew were out of my league, a lot of social media manager jobs, marketing jobs, PR jobs, and yes even some audio engineering jobs at some gaming companies. As I thought, I was not “qualified enough” to get those jobs. After that I was asked if I was “too good” to work in the world of fast food, again. My answer to that was, yes. I am too good to work in fast food. I did my time in fast food and while I will always appreciate the work ethic I gained from those jobs, I don’t need to go back and work 80 hours as a fry cook.

I thought about picking up my old job in the electronics department at Target, but when I talked to my old boss, they said they were not sure if they’d be able to accommodate my availability with volunteering at J’s school and needing to be off at a certain time to be able to pick him up from after care at his school. Because of that conversation I decided to not try to get my old job back.

While I was unemployed, I started driving for Lyft. Picking up strangers (mostly drunk) on the weekends seemed like a great way to make some extra scratch while waiting for someone to hire me. Eventually, I stopped driving for Lyft because it costs a lot of money to keep a car clean when you have a 7-year old child. I told myself that I would go back to driving once I had enough money to get my car detailed, which would theoretically be after I got a job and received my first paycheck.

Fast Forward another week, I get a call from a potential employer asking me to come in for an interview. It’s a retail sales job, but not anything like I have done before in my years “on the job” for Target. This place is a high-end clothing store with merchandise so expensive that I would have to max out my credit cards (2) to get one item. As I walked in for my interview, I saw the pricey merch and thought that there was no way they would hire me. Not only had I never really worked in a clothing store before, but I also had a 6-year gap in my employment history.

The interview went better than I thought, and I was offered a job the next day. I hesitated to accept the job because I knew this meant big changes were on the horizon and I didn’t want to face those changes. In the end, I’m glad I accepted the job.

While I am sad that I can’t just drop everything and start making costumes for J any time I want, I am still planning on making costumes, I’m planning on writing even more posts, and maybe J and I will collaborate on children’s book. I am just going to have to get better at something I’ve never been good at, TIME MANAGEMENT!!!

Anyway, sorry for the length of this post. It’s just been awhile, and I didn’t want anybody to think we are going away anytime soon. As a matter of fact, I think you are going to get sick and tired of how much we are going to be around now! Thank you for being a part of this journey with us and thank you all from the bottom of our hearts for all the love and support you’ve shown us over the years.

Christopher Robin Review

**Christopher Robin has a 104 minute runtime and is Rated PG**

Christopher Robin is a great film to watch with the family. If you loved going to the Hundred Acre Wood through either Winnie the Pooh books or cartoons, then you will love taking that journey with Disney’s Christopher Robin.

Set post WWII, Christopher Robin is an over worked and possibly underpaid manager type who is seems to be getting less and less time with his family. After planning a weekend in the country with his family, he is told he must work through the weekend instead of spending time with the family. What to do, what to do?

Along with his family and work problems, Christopher Robin’s childhood friend needs his help tracking down their other friends in the Hundred Acre Wood. What has happened to Eyoree, Piglet, Kanga, Roo, Rabbit, Owl, and Tigger? Has the evil Heffalump taken Christopher Robin and Pooh’s friends? Will Christopher get to spend some much needed time with his family? I guess you’ll just have to go and get your tickets today so you can find out the answers to these important questions!

I loved almost everything about Christopher Robin. It had a great balance of humor mixed with elements of drama and a hint of action. I loved the look of the characters from the Hundred acre wood. They all looked like real stuffed animals and not so much like scary CGI monsters. For the most part the timing seemed solid, but there were a few scenes that seemed a little long winded to me. The cast and voice actors were brilliant, the scenes looked beautiful and the story was lovely.

J (7) and I (32) had the chance to take my mom (54) to see Christopher Robin and we all enjoyed the movie very much. This really is a movie for people of all ages. So, gather the family together and go see Christopher Robin today!

 

Teen Titans Go! To The Movies Review

***Teen Titans Go! To The Movies is rated PG for action and rude humor and has a runtime of 93 minutes. ***

Teen Titans Go! To The Movies is a fantastic movie to see with the kids. The movie brings in the same humor from the Cartoon Network show, while throwing in some amazing Easter Eggs that every DC fan will love. There’s even some pretty amazing Marvel Easter Eggs throughout the movie as well.

I would recommend showing up on time for this one. There is a pretty amazing Batgirl short that kicks off your movie going experience. I thought the short was well done, but think that it would have been better if it had more of the Shea Fontana feel of DC Super Hero Girls.

In the movie, the Teen Titans, seeing every other hero with their own movie, are trying hard to a movie of their own until they realize that it won’t happen without having their very own archenemies. The Teen Titans think they find their archenemies in Deadpoo…I mean Deathstoke. Will the Titans get their own movie? Will they save the day? I guess you’ll just have to see for yourself!!

As far as end of credits sequences, there is a mid credit scene that fans of the Titans will go wild for, and there is an Avengers-esque shawarma end credit scene that maybe lasts for a second. I’d stay for the mid credit scene, and then maybe wait until the home release to see the end credit scene.

With a killer soundtrack and deep pop culture references Teen Titans Go! To The Movies has a little something for everyone. If the style of Teen Titans Go! is not for you, then I at least recommend watching this one when it becomes available for home release. Parents, be warned there are a plethora of butt and fart jokes that will have your kids (and probably you) laughing for days.

J and I both give Teen Titans Go! To The Movies two thumbs up and personally I think that this movies is one of, if not the best animated super hero movie in existence. Really a fantastic job to everyone who worked on this movie. Check out our YouTube review to hear what J thought in his own words.