August 24, 2016

Earth-like Planet Found?

Exciting space news, people!

(CNN) In a discovery that has been years in the making, researchers have confirmed the existence of a rocky planet named Proxima b orbiting Proxima Centauri, the closest star to our sun, according to a new study. It is the closest exoplanet to us in the universe.

Cool stuff, right? It’s close to our sun so the whole “we’ll get superpowers because of a red sun” isn’t going to happen. Still, it’d be exciting if there’s life out there. See the CNN link below.

Source: Closest rocky planet to our solar system found – CNN.com



August 23, 2016

Warning: More Superhero Posts To Come (But It’ll Be About Parenting Too)

I know this is DaddyTips.com, but I think there are going to be more superhero posts to come. You have been warned.

Danger Will Robinson

This will not come as a surprise to anyone who knows me or anyone who reads this site with even moderate regularity. I mean… well, I’ll let the picture say a thousand words.

Me and The Avengers movie.

Personally I prefer The Avengers. Have I mentioned that lately?

In case anyone is wondering, the phrase “Me and The Avengers DVD Combo Pack = happy dad” is still true. I could watch that movie almost any time. Luckily there is a steady supply of other stuff to watch, some that even doesn’t have superheroes in it like Stranger Things. (Stranger Things is all the things, by the way. I’ve already watched it twice. It’s good the second time around, in case you were on the fence about watching it again.)

Deutsch: Zentrale Heterochromie: Grüne Iris, u...

Deutsch: Zentrale Heterochromie: Grüne Iris, um die Pupille herum jedoch ein braun-gelber Ring (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

(The image above is totally unrelated and is included just to freak you out a little.)

I will be doing a better job of tying the superhero stuff into parenting and related topics. Not that this is necessary. To paraphrase Whit Honea from way back when we both blogged for Babble.com, superhero movies are relevant to a parenting blog because I’m a parent and I like superhero movies. (Whit’s kind of awesome; check him out here, and also everywhere.) I also watch them with my kids. The values they impart are important. Not that it’s all about values. It’s also about fun, and sharing something fun. The world is a rough place. There’s a reason it’s called “escapism.” But while escaping, it is worth noting that sometimes there are good values being imparted. Acceptance of others (Vision and Scarlet Witch). The complications of friendships (Captain America: Civil War). How awesome and weird it would be to have super-powers at age 15 (Spider-Man). OK, that last one isn’t really a value. But those three are all from the same movie. I’ve got more than that, trust me. Because with great power, there must also come great responsibility. (Ahem.)

Face front True Believers! Welcome to the DaddyTips age of Superhero Parenting! Trust me, it’ll be a fun ride.



August 19, 2016

Stranger Things Is All The Things

The Netflix series Stranger Things is all the things. I’m serious. I’ve never been affected by a television show like this before.

I’m going to attempt to explain. Please don’t get the men in white coats. I will also attempt not to spoil anything because you should watch Stranger Things and be amazed by it. There is a chance that I will mention something that happens on the show but I’m going to try not to.

DaddyTips, 'Strange'ified

 

(Make your own ‘Strange’ified text at MakeItStranger.com. But wait until you’ve watched the show.)

Everything about Stranger Things, including the pitch-perfect and totally brilliant fonts, is pure nostalgia. You can read about those aspects of the series everywhere. (Links are included below.)

What I haven’t read yet is what I think, which is the following:

Stranger Things is a dream I had but didn’t have, memories of a life I never lived but also did.

That’s harder to explain. I’ll give it a shot.

I grew up in the city. Lived in an apartment. Never learned to ride a bike. The kids in Stranger Things live in the suburbs, in houses, and ride their bikes everywhere.

Somehow, as I watched the series, especially the middle episodes (there are only eight in total, which is perfect both for your time and for the story being told), I found myself viewing the screen through a haze that I can only describe as memory, or a dream, or some combination of the two. The rest of my living room faded out and all I could see was my television. I mean this almost literally. It was an experience that I wish everyone could have because it was unlike anything I’ve ever felt before, at least when it comes to a TV show.

I suppose one could say that what I’m describing is what happens when you see a great movie, or at least what used to happen when you were younger and less jaded about entertainment. Maybe you are still less jaded, and if so, I envy you. In a world with so many entertainment options, it is difficult not to evaluate work differently than I once did. The sheer joy of seeing Star Wars for the first time is something that no one will ever experience again, if for no other reason than because no movie will ever come out of nowhere the way Star Wars did in 1977. That doesn’t mean the new stuff isn’t good. It is. (We all know how I feel about the first Avengers movie.) It’s simply different.

Stranger Things is different as well. Yes, the show taps into old movies, referencing specific ones. That’s not why I loved it. (If you’re interested in knowing what those references are, that information is very easy to come by.) What the show did for me was the following: it managed to be both entertaining and, in some very strange way, present a life experience that I never actually had. It’s the deepest form of nostalgia.

I want to repeat that one more time because it sounds so unbelievably odd: Stranger Things felt like something that happened to me, even though it obviously didn’t. (Again, I don’t want to spoil anything for you, but trust me, Stranger Things didn’t happen to anybody.)

A person could argue that this is simply the movie references at work. This person may be right. I don’t think they are. Somehow, the Duffer Brothers created a piece of entertainment that sprang forth from my own brain, from my my own memories of something I never actually experiencedThat is an impressive piece of work.

A few specific things I loved about the show:

  • The moment when Winona Ryder, who is so good in this she deserves every award, is going to leave her house but decides she’s going to stay instead. It sums up her character, and it’s an astonishing piece of acting.
  • The kids. Where did they get these kids, a time machine? I didn’t think they made kids like that anymore.
  • No parents. Yes, the kids have parents. But they are rarely seen. That’s extremely retro, and so important to the artistic success of the show. As a parent, I would never allow my children to be on their own the way I was, which is the way the kids on the show are. It was a different time. And I’m not a ‘helicopter parent’. Mothers and fathers simply don’t allow children to do their own thing the way parents in the 80s did. That’s not a social commentary, it’s a fact.
  • The walkie-talkies.
  • The majority of the adults, in particular the two parents (other than Winona Ryder) that we see more often than others, and also the science teacher. Well, and the police officers. OK, I like everybody on the show.
  • Yelling through rooms. “Time for dinner!” “OKAY! (gets quieter) Now listen, here’s what we need to do.” (Not a direct quote.) The jump between jarringly loud and normal speaking voices is something that I don’t think we do anymore. I know I did it. It’s a small detail, one of many, that make Stranger Things possibly even greater than the sum of its wonderful parts.
  • THE KIDS. ALL OF THEM. Everyone is talking about the main group of kids, and for good reason. They’re amazing. I want to include every kid, even the ones with small roles. And speaking of small roles…
  • The characters, and the actors who play those characters. Every detail in Stranger Things has been picked over in numerous articles online. This is because those details were carefully chosen. (Apparently there is one car that isn’t the correct year. I can’t find the story but I’m sure you can if you want to.) Every character, even the small ones, gets something to do. The main characters each have so much going on that in a lesser show it would be distracting. On Stranger Things, it isn’t. Orange is the New Black, another brilliant (for different reasons) Netflix series, manages a similar feat. But Stranger Things does it in a shorter amount of time and on a show with kooky stuff. Orange is the New Black is brilliant in part because it is based on events that actually happened, and as it continues, on events that still are happening, even if it’s not these specific events happening to these specific people. (That is, prisons are super messed up places and horrible things are happening in them.) Stranger Things somehow is about things that happened even though there is no way they could have happened. And in real life, everybody has a story. EVERYBODY ON STRANGER THINGS HAS A STORY. You don’t get to hear about all of their stories, which is also just like real life. (Again, please don’t get the men in white coats. I am aware that Stranger Things is a television show.)
  • D&D

There are so many other pleasures that came from watching this show. A friend told me when I started watching it that Stranger Things had “all the feels.” I thought I knew what he meant but I didn’t. Stranger Things brought up emotions in me that I didn’t know I could still access. I frequently had to pause an episode because I found myself getting more than a little verklempt. Three times while watching Stranger Things, I ate chocolate. Not because I was hungry, because I needed it. That has literally never happened to me before.

I hope you watch Stranger Things and that you enjoy it. I realize I’ve probably oversold it to the point where if the show doesn’t give you a foot massage while feeding you peeled grapes it won’t live up to the type. I apologize for that. Watch it anyway. It’s really good.

Other articles:

(Warning: many of these stories will reveal details of Stranger Things that it would be better for you not to know before you watch. This may not matter to you, which is fine. The warning is because I want to do my part to give you the experience that I had, which is impossible. But I want to try. I’m getting verklempt again. OK, here’s the list.)

Stranger Things Is a Nerdy Story That Is So Much More Than Its References, io9

Gizmodo’s Stranger Things coverage

I don’t totally agree with this, but I’m glad someone did it:
Stranger Things, Side-By-Side With Every Excellent Film It Borrows From (Sploid/Gizmodo)

An article from The Guardian about Winona Ryder, who is SO GOOD ON THIS SHOW

Read this Business Insider article only after you’ve watched the series; I don’t even want to include the title because it’s spoilery.

Watch this after you’ve watched the show. It’s very funny. (io9)

A review of Stranger Things and another Netflix series, The Get Down (The New Yorker)

Here are even more articles. Some of them look cool. See the disclaimer, but also this one: if don’t want to know anything about the show before you watch it, wait until after you do to read these stories. It’s OK. We’ll wait. And if you want to talk about Stranger Things, leave a comment below, or hit me up on Twitter.



August 18, 2016

What The Hell Is Up With That Robbery?

If you’ve been following the Rio Olympics at all, you likely have heard about Ryan Lochte and his teammates being robbed at gunpoint.

Taser Gun

(Note: the photo above is a taser. It was in the DaddyTips image library. It has nothing to do with the story. But it is a gun, albeit not a deadly one.)

Unless it never happened. Which is not what we’re saying AT ALL. This is just reporting what others have reported and adding some musings about the “Dad is my Spokesperson” thing.

According to the AP, two of Lochte’s teammates were pulled from a plane and had their passports seized. That seems odd to me. Here’s some details:

USOC spokesperson Patrick Sandusky said Jack Conger and Gunnar Bentz were released by local authorities after being pulled from a flight at the Rio de Janeiro airport, with the understanding that discussions would continue amid uncertainty over what truly took place during a late outing the night Olympic swimming wrapped up at the Rio Games.
Fellow teammate Jimmy Feigen also plans to talk to officials, Sandusky said, as he navigates a judge’s order that keeps him in Brazil. The order similarly called for Lochte’s passport to be seized, but the star swimmer had already returned to the United States before authorities could enforce the decision.
A lawyer for Conger and Bentz said Thursday that they won’t be allowed to leave Brazil until they provide testimony to investigators. The swimmers didn’t speak to reporters as they left the airport, shuttled away by a black car waiting outside. They departed for an unspecified location in Brazil and had yet to testify, said attorney Sergio Viegas. (emphasis added)

Kinda bizarre, right? Is it possible that they made the whole thing up? Apparently accounts of the details of the event have changed, which is less surprising when you read that Lochte and his teammates were, according to published reports, inebriated. What is very strange to me is that the athletes aren’t being allowed to leave the country. That feels punitive.

Here’s what Lochte’s father Steve had to say (this is why I’m writing about the whole thing on DaddyTips):

Lochte’s father told The Associated Press by phone from his Florida home that his son called him Tuesday after arriving in the United States. The 32-year-old swimmer was going to pick up his car and buy a new wallet to replace the one that he said was stolen.
“I’m just happy he’s safe,” Steve Lochte said. “It was an unfortunate experience for him and the other three. I don’t know what all the controversy is. They were basically taken out of the taxi and robbed. The main thing is he’s very lucky that he’s safe and that all they got was his cash and wallet.”

So Ryan Lochte was allowed to leave Rio.

A brief word about the whole “Dad as Spokesperson” phenomenon.

This is something that I continue to be fascinated by. Why does a 32-year-old need his father to speak on his behalf? Athletes in particular seem to have their Dads talk for them, especially in situations like, say, the NFL draft. We saw that in Jerry Maguire; the father of someone Jerry is trying to represent is clearly running his kid’s life. In that case it makes a bit more sense. The kid is young, impressionable, possibly not that great with money. That was the case in Jerry Maguire. It’s probably a little less true today. But Dad as head of the Athlete Brain Trust? OK. I can work with that.

It’s “Dad as Spokesperson” that I get stuck on. It happens more often in sports than anywhere else, but it also occurs in entertainment. At a certain point, I would think that one wouldn’t want want to have one’s parents speaking for you. (I apologize for that sentence.) It just feels weird to me. I love my kids but I want them to be able to speak for themselves, especially at the age of 32.

This should in no way be construed as a dig at any athlete, nor should it be seen as shedding any doubt on the story that U.S. Olympic athletes were robbed in Rio. The story is bizarre and doesn’t seem to be getting covered the way I would like, which is to say that this seems like a straightforward series of events — guys get robbed at gunpoint, police investigate, they get to move on. People not being allowed to leave the country? That’s odd. Bottom line: we’re just reporting what other outlets have reported, outlets with actual reporters doing journalism. If you want to read more about the whole mess, there are links below.

Three American Olympic swimmers planned to meet with Brazilian law enforcement Thursday to discuss a reported robbery targeting 12-time medalist Ryan Lochte and his teammates, a U.S. Olympic Committee official said.

Source: Ryan Lochte’s swim teammates to meet with authorities on robbery – Chicago Tribune



August 18, 2016

Well That Got Weird Quickly

Nice article about Star Trek Beyond (written by my former colleague at Babble, Whit Honea). Discussing whether or not it’s OK to take the kids. Spoiler alert: Whit says it is, with the caveat that your mileage may vary. (That’s usually the case, but I was glad to read that there wasn’t any blood and guts, which is usually what bothers me.)

Then I read the comments. I’ll let them speak for themselves.

Star Trek Beyond article insane comments

Generally it’s a good idea to skip the comments. In this case, though, I’m glad I didn’t. Because commenters responded the same way I did, which is to reply with a hearty, “What the hell are you talking about?” Or, to put it another way:

 

Here’s what parents can expect from ‘Star Trek Beyond.’

Source: Are Your Kids Ready for ‘Star Trek Beyond’? | Fandango



August 10, 2016

Picture of Mom Watching Daughter Win Olympic Gold

As Lin-Manuel Miranda tweeted, “This will put good feelings right in your face.”

From The New York Times, h/t Lin-Manuel Miranda.

More Hamilton at Amazon


1 Comment | Tags: | Posted under Blog

August 9, 2016

Small Desk Space Tip

Here’s a tip from Lifehacker for those of us with limited desk space.

Also features numerous links to other specific things to do with certain types of desks, and specific ideas, which is always appreciated. Rather than reblog the text from their site, I’ll let you go check it out for yourself.

My computer with desk

My computer with desk (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Dear Lifehacker, My workspace isn’t the most spacious or open. In fact, it’s downright small and clutter-prone. Do you have any tips for making the most of what little desk space I have—on the cheap, of course?

Source: How Can I Make The Most of My Meager Desk Space? (Lifehacker)


1 Comment | Tags: , , , , | Posted under Blog