Category Archives: Media, Advertising and Pop Culture

And I thought hockey Moms were rabid fans

They don’t hold a candle to these folks. I mean, follow European soccer and there are some rabid (and scary) fans, but I don’t think I have seen this kind of fandom demonstrated for 12 year olds. At 2:30 the flares come out for this young Polish side.

Thanks to the Good Men Project.

God is a concept, by which we measure our pain

Maybe this is why I am in a funk today. Just realized it’s December 8th. 30 years.

My mom used to listen to the radio in bed as she fell asleep at night. My room was in the basement of the house. I remember coming upstairs in the evening and hearing the sound of my Mom crying in her bedroom. 14 year old me went in and asked her what was wrong. She told me against the sonic background crackle of AM radio static, through which I faintly heard a voice and a song.

5 Funny Amazon Reviews

Comments on websites are both a blessing and a curse. Take YouTube, for example, where responses to user videos are often juvenile at best. Amazon, on the other hand, oh how I love the comments on Amazon. Maybe it is because Amazon was born out of a community where people had a love of the written word. Here are 5 of my favorite Amazon product reviews that make me laugh.

5. Playmobil Security Check Point

Lord knows I love my Playmobil, but this product takes realistic place settings to a whole new level. All that is missing is the full body scan and inappropriate patdown area. Here’s the review from loosenut:

I was a little disappointed when I first bought this item, because the functionality is limited. My 5 year old son pointed out that the passenger’s shoes cannot be removed. Then, we placed a deadly fingernail file underneath the passenger’s scarf, and neither the detector doorway nor the security wand picked it up. My son said “that’s the worst security ever!”. But it turned out to be okay, because when the passenger got on the Playmobil B757 and tried to hijack it, she was mobbed by a couple of other heroic passengers, who only sustained minor injuries in the scuffle, which were treated at the Playmobil Hospital. The best thing about this product is that it teaches kids about the realities of living in a high-surveillence society. My son said he wants the Playmobil Neighborhood Surveillence System set for Christmas. I’ve heard that the CC TV cameras on that thing are pretty worthless in terms of quality and motion detection, so I think I’ll get him the Playmobil Abu-Gharib Interogation Set instead (it comes with a cute little memo from George Bush).

4. AudioQuest K2 terminated speaker cable

Because, you know, what Dad doesn’t need a pair of $6,800 speaker cables? Review by Happy Customer

I was a bit skeptical, but decided to take a chance and took out a second mortgage on my home to buy these cables. In a great wave of luck however, the cables actually built me a NEW house shortly after I lost mine to foreclosure (I lost my job after missing 2 weeks straight due to illness. Between you and I, though, I was really just spending 16 hours a day tweaking the connectors on these cables to get the best possible sound from my speakers.)

Although I love my new home, I do not love it as much as I do these cables. They are quickly becoming the favorite thing in my life, a position which used to be held by my daughter. She’s old enough to take care of herself now, at least that’s what I tell the Children’s Services agent when they try to lecture me about food and clothing and blah blah blah.

Final verdict: buy 3 pair.

3. Playmobil Police Checkpoint

Another fine product from the realistic setting folks at Playmobil. Review from Christoper Barber.

This playset is one of the best purchases I have made for my three-year-old. In the past, when we have been stopped at roadblocks, or when during one of Daddy’s arrests, he would start crying uncontrollably. Now, after playing with this for the past several months, he is perfectly docile.

As an adjunct to this product, I would also recommend that you purchase the Playmobil Armed Standoff Playset, Fisher-Price Little People Battering Ram, and the Nerf Tear-Gas Canister Deployment Gun.

Bill of Rights sold separately.

2. Tuscon Whole Gallon Milk

Yes, you can buy milk on Amazon. Who knew? Catherine Swinford’s review raises the literary bar for Amazon product reviews.

He always brought home milk on Friday.

After a long hard week full of days he would burst through the door, his fatigue hidden behind a smile. There was an icy jug of Tuscan Whole Milk, 1 Gallon, 128 fl oz in his right hand. With his left hand he would grip my waist – I was always cooking dinner – and press the cold frostiness of the jug against my arm as he kissed my cheek. I would jump, mostly to gratify him after a time, and smile lovingly at him. He was a good man, a wonderful husband who always brought the milk on Friday, Tuscan Whole Milk, 1 Gallon, 128 fl oz.

Then there was that Friday, the terrible Friday that would ruin every Friday for the rest of my life. The door opened, but there was no bouyant greeting – no cold jug against the back of my arm. There was no Tuscan Whole Milk in his right hand, nor his left. There came no kiss. I watched as he sat down in a kitchen chair to remove his shoes. He wore no fatigue, but also no smile. I didn’t speak, but turned back to the beans I had been stirring. I stirred until most of their little shrivelled skins floated to the surface of the cloudy water. Something was wrong, but it was vague wrongness that no amount of hard thought could give shape to.

Over dinner that night I casually inserted,”What happened to the milk?” 
“Oh,”he smiled sheepishly, glancing aside,”I guess I forgot today.”

That was when I knew. He was tired of this life with me, tired of bringing home the Tuscan Whole Milk, 1 Gallon, 128 fl oz. He was probably shoveling funds into a secret bank account, looking at apartments in town, casting furtive glances at cashiers and secretaries and waitresses. That’s when I knew it was over. Some time later he moved in with a cashier from the Food Mart down the street. And me? Well, I’ve gone soy.

1. The Mountain Three Wolf Moon Short Sleeve Tee

The grandaddy of Amazon reviews imo. So lovingly paid homage to in an episode of The Office, and sweetly reviewed on Amazon by B. Govern

This item has wolves on it which makes it intrinsically sweet and worth 5 stars by itself, but once I tried it on, that’s when the magic happened. After checking to ensure that the shirt would properly cover my girth, I walked from my trailer to Wal-mart with the shirt on and was immediately approached by women. The women knew from the wolves on my shirt that I, like a wolf, am a mysterious loner who knows how to ‘howl at the moon’ from time to time (if you catch my drift!). The women that approached me wanted to know if I would be their boyfriend and/or give them money for something they called mehth. I told them no, because they didn’t have enough teeth, and frankly a man with a wolf-shirt shouldn’t settle for the first thing that comes to him.

I arrived at Wal-mart, mounted my courtesy-scooter (walking is such a drag!) sitting side saddle so that my wolves would show. While I was browsing tube socks, I could hear aroused asthmatic breathing behind me. I turned around to see a slightly sweaty dream in sweatpants and flip-flops standing there. She told me she liked the wolves on my shirt, I told her I wanted to howl at her moon. She offered me a swig from her mountain dew, and I drove my scooter, with her shuffling along side out the door and into the rest of our lives. Thank you wolf shirt.

Pros: Fits my girthy frame, has wolves on it, attracts women 
Cons: Only 3 wolves (could probably use a few more on the ‘guns’), cannot see wolves when sitting with arms crossed, wolves would have been better if they glowed in the dark.

Honerable mention for Three Wolves shirt goes to DrCoolSex (and bonus point for working in Tuscon Whole Milk):

What are your favorite reviews on Amazon?

Changing your profile pic on Facebook is a start

If you are on Facebook, you may have noticed that your news update is beginning to look a lot like some bastard love child offspring of Hanna-Barbera and Walt Disney as profile pictures get changed. To go along with the change is the message:

Change your FB profile picture to a cartoon from your childhood. The goal? To not see a human face on FB until Monday, December 6th. Join the fight against  child abuse, copy & paste to your status and invite your friends to do the same!

My profile picture right now is Batfink, a little known cartoon character that aired after schools when I was a kid.

This is fun (and perhaps the largest collective copyright infringement movement I have ever seen hehehe ), but there needs to be more in order for this to work. Changing your profile picture does send a message, but ultimately it is a meaningless act.

So, let’s all remind our networks that, if we really want to send a strong message that we believe violence and abuse against children is something we do not tolerate in this society, let’s back it up with some action. I urge you to not only donate some cash to an organization that works to eradicate this issue, but send the message out to others in your network to do the same. Make the change mean something. Here are some suggestions:

Pole dancing for kids

Seriously. A studio called Tantra Fitness in Vancouver is offering summer classes in pole dancing for kids.

The Canadian company, which operates in Vancouver and Langley, has taught students age nine and up in regular classes, and has gone as young as five years old in private lessons.

Maybe I am wrong here. Maybe the type of pole dancing being taught at Tantra Fitness is rooted more in the ancient Chinese circus tradition of pole dancing. Oh, wait a sec. What did you say the names of those pole dancing classes were? Bellylicious, Sexy Flexy, Pussycat Dawls and Promiscuous Girls?

Apparently, it’s an awesome ab workout. Yeah, well, if I want my 6 year old daughter to have rock hard abs, I’ll pick an activity that isn’t rooted in thousands of years of sexual history, like maybe the monkey bars.

“Children have no [erotic] association with the pole whatsoever,” says Morris, arguing that kids would see the same apparatus at a firehall, playground or circus. “Unless you teach someone how to grind and make reference to taking off your clothing, there’s nothing wrong with it.”

Oh, wait. This is MY issue. I am the one who is making the act of pole dancing sexual, projecting MY opinions and attitudes about the sexual nature of pole dancing onto the activity. Because, you know, the little girls (thank goodness) have no idea that there is anything sexual about dancing around a pole. But doesn’t that fact make this activity even more repulsive? Hey, I have an idea! Let’s teach our little girls to be sexual without them actually realizing they are taking part in an act most of society finds sexual. Nothing like preparing them early on with the necessary skills they will need to understand the hyper-sexualized world they inhabit. I mean, being a kid is already confusing enough, let alone being a girl. Do we need to make it even more confusing for little girls by adding in the complexities and gradient shades of gray involved with sex? Why even go there with 5 and 6 year old girls?

Yep, nothing says wholesome summer fun like pole dancing.

7 Anti-princess Princess Books

I am not sure if The Girl is outgrowing her princess phase, but it certainly hasn’t been the focus of her attention in the past little while like it was at one time. That said, they are hard to ignore and Princesses still pop up from time to time. Like Patricia Coppard, we also try to expose The Girl to Princesses who don’t fit into the standard Princess stereotype. But it isn’t easy.

I once went to the public library with my daughter looking for anti-Princess Princess books – the kind with strong female characters who don’t end up living the Prince’s life at the end. I asked the librarian if she could recommend something that was about Princesses, but not the Disney kind. She could not recommend a single book. Even after I prompted her with a “something along the lines of The Paper Bag Princess, perhaps?” she still could not think of a book to recommend. So, after searching around the library ourselves, we finally found The Gypsy Princess about a young gypsy girl named Cinnamon who longs to live a Princess life until she actually gets to and finds it isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

Man, I wish I had Patricia’s list of recommended books that day because it looks like there are some good ones. So, if you are looking for a few anti-princess princess books, here are a few that she recommends, with a few of mine tossed in.

  1. The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munch
  2. The Gypsy Princess by Poebe Gilman
  3. Princess Smartypants by Babette Cole
  4. Sleeping Bobby by Will and Mary Pope Osborne
  5. The Princess and the Packet of Frozen Peas by Tony Wilson (Patricia’s personal favourite)
  6. Princesses Are Not Quitters by Kate Lum
  7. Princess Pigsty by Cornelia Funke.

Care to add to the list? What is your favorite non-princess princess book?

Watch It’s a Wonderful Life for free online

Update December 12, 2009. looks like the video has been pulled.

Like most people there are certain movies that I watch every year during the holiday season. A Christmas Story, Scrooged, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, and It’s a Wonderful Life.

It’s a Wonderful Life, in particular, seems to have a real cultural relevance today. Not only are the themes of the movie timeless (the importance of community and the power of one), but the setting for the movie seems so contemporary considering the events of the past year. While we in Canada have been somewhat shielded by the financial turmoil south of the border, the past years financial uncertainties have certainly rippled across the border. Considering the movie is well over 60 years old, the story of corporate greed, failed banks and financial institutions, and foreclosed homes is the stuff that we are, sadly, read about everyday.

The entire movie is available online or watch it below.

via Open Culture’s list of movies you can watch for free online.

Hey YouTube – Dads might find it useful, too

One thing that has remained consistent in the 6 years I have been writing this blog is that society still views us Dads as secondary parents. Case in point, the new YouTube channel aimed at parents (or so their blog post says it is). Great idea to aggregate the best parenting videos on YouTube into a single collection. Very useful for parents. So, then why call the channel “For Moms”? Why not call the channel “For Parents”?

I know, it seems like such a little thing, but again and again these types of semantics are important as they reflect the underlying belief that Moms are the only ones in the family that might be interested in information about parenting. In other words, Dads don’t care.

ARGGGGHHHHHHH.

Look, YouTube, I know it’s not intentional to shut out Dads like this. You might not have even thought about the title in these terms since it is just an accepted norm in our society that Moms are the go to person in the family when it comes to parenting. But I find it hard to believe that not a single person sitting around the table at YouTube talking about this channel did not see the title as being exclusionary to Dads? I mean, YouTube must have at least one Dad on their staff working on this stuff who might have stood up and said, “hey, wait a sec – why not me?”

And while I am ranting, why do you need to refer to your new parenting channel as a “survival guide”. Yeah, parenting is hard work and I realize you are trying to be fun and playful, but to equate parenting with being in “survival” mode? C’mon, surely we can do better as parents than simply hunker down into “survival mode” for 20 odd (and yes, at times it is really odd) years.

Sigh. The battle continues….


The Lorax

I was never introduced to The Lorax by Dr. Seuss when I was a kid, so it came as a pleasant surprise to stumble across the story in a Dr. Seuss collection my daughter recently got.

If you are not familiar with the story, it is a dark, cautionary tale about environmental stewardship, corporations and consumer culture that resonates just as strong today (if not moreso) as it did when it was released in 1971. My daughter (who, at 5, seems to be exhibiting inherited signs of her Dad’s penchant for occasional dips into the melancholy pool) loves it, despite the rather bleak tone.

Apparently, a CGI big screen adaptation of the story is in the works and scheduled to be released in 2012. Until that arrives, this 25 minute animated special from 1972, voiced by Eddie Albert, works for my girl.

How High School Musical warps my sons reality

Considering I am not a big fan of much of the  pop culture aimed at youth, I was surprised at how much I enjoyed High School Musical. Okay, maybe I shouldn’t be that surprised. After all I was a drama geek in high school, went to drama summer camp, and grew up on a diet of Grease and Fame. I was probably one of the few who not only saw The Pirate Movie when it came out in the early 80’s, but believed Kristy McNichol should have won an Oscar. So maybe I shouldn’t be that surprised to learn that I actually like the High School Musical movies.

For the most part, the messages are positive, the role models are decent and the skank factor for the girls is not off the chart (you can read the review from Common Sense Media & get their take on the series). Even the mean girl is not all that mean, and most of the movies are good clean fun with lots of dancing & singing that I expected my ballet loving singing & dancing daughter would respond to. And she did.

What I didn’t expect was the way my son would react. He also loves them, not so much for the singing and dancing, but because of the sports. High School Musical has turned my son into a full fledged wannabe jock. You name it – basketball, baseball, golf, he wants to try it all, and I have spent a good deal of my summer in the backyard shooting Little Tikes hoops and tossing balls for him to whack at with his plastic bats. It has been a hoot to see him get so excited about sports, whatever the source of his inspiration.

There is one problem, however (hence the title of the post). Knowing his love of all things baseball recently, I decided to introduce him to the sport at the pro level, so we sat down to watch a game on TV. After watching for about 10 minutes, the little guy turned to me.

“Dad.”

“Yes.”

“When do they start dancing?”

Seems that in his HSM influenced world, this is how ball games go.

Let’s see Roy Halladay bust it like that!