Tag Archives: fatherhood

What Dad REALLY Wanted For Father’s Day

7 Jul

fathers day header

letter So now that Father’s Day is firmly in the rear-view mirror and Dad has had a chance to drink coffee in his new kid-painted coffee mug, or perhaps even wear the new tie(s) he got, it’s time to let the world in on a little secret.

As much as we appreciate the little tchotchkes, and we really do, we dads secretly hold out hope that the Father’s Day Fairy will bring something just a little different next year. These are things we’ve likely tripped over on the internet and inadvertently slipped into an hours-long “dude, how cool would that be?” daydream while we pretend to work.

So the next time Father’s Day (or a birthday, or an anniversary, or Christmas) rolls around and you want to do something completely irresponsible for the DorkDad in your life, consider one of the following gifts. I guarantee you you’ll get the wide-eyed “Oh my GAWD! That is SO FREAKING COOL!!!” reaction. When it happens, be sure to get a video and share it on Facebook.

Without further ado, here are three things he REALLY wants for Father’s Day:

 The DL44-Blaster from Episode IV.

The “Maker’s Movement” has seen a huge rise in hobbyists crafting their own fandom. If you want that movie-accurate iron man armor there are countless tutorials on YouTube to show you exactly how to make it in your own garage. You want to make a classic Star Trek communicator, no problem. Here’s where to get the parts and how to put them together.

In that vein I recently came across DL44blaster’s Instagram page and instantly I knew “I must have one.” There he showcases photos of the most movie-accurate replicas of Han Solo’s original blaster from the original Star Wars film you will ever come across. This prop replica may not mean anything to you, but a true Star Wars enthusiast will know it immediately.

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As opposed to the toys you can buy in the store these are cast metal, so they have some real heft to give them authenticity. They also have a locking hammer and functioning trigger and they feel damn real. Rest assured, they are only cast from the original Mauser pistols, so the external detailing is exquisite, but the barrels aren’t even hollow. They don’t shoot bullets, but I can personally guarantee that the *pew pew* works perfect.

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DL44blaster himself is a hotel hospitality worker, who builds these things as a hobby in his spare time, and what you realize very early on is that more than quality parts, these prop replicas are made with pure love. Mine sits on my desk at work (I really need to figure out a display stand/case) and it gives me joy every time I look at it.

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Head on over to DL44Blaster’s ETSY page to see what sort of awesomeness you can get Dad next Father’s Day. And if you’re really interested about how crazy the “Maker’s Movement” can be, take a look at Adam Savage’s one-day-build for the same prop.

The Hat

Let’s be clear. We dads wouldn’t change anything about our lives. We love our families desperately. They are our dream come true. But parenthood can be taxing and you can’t blame us for remembering with fondness the wild-stallion days of years (decades) gone past. If we were wild stallions in our youth, sometimes the drudgery of parenthood can make you feel like that moth-eaten pony at the carnival who keeps going around and around in circles, walking in his own poop. If the DorkDaddy in your life needs an infusion of bad-assness, I’ve got the prescription.

The success of “Raiders of the Lost Ark” and its sequels suddenly made the fedora relevant again. Fanboys could try to get a little of the Indiana Jones swagger by donning a replica brown fedora. But replicas are just that – replicas. Even the ones they sell at Disneyland just never looked right.

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As it was, the company in England that made Indiana Jones’s original fedora closed down shortly after the release of the original move. There were enough copies of the hat made to get through the two sequels, but the original templates and techniques used for his iconic hat were lost for all time. Over the years one hat maker, Steve Delk of the AdventureBilt Hat Company, became known as the best at replicating Indie’s iconic look. He used tradecraft from 100 years ago (who knew beaver felt was even a thing?) to make an Indie fedora that was without peer. When it came time to select a hat maker for Indiana Jones IV, Steve’s hat was chosen and his hats went from being the best Indie replicas to being the *ACTUAL* hat.

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Steve lives in Missouri and is still making hats. Each one is custom fit and hand-made for the wearer. In a world filled with assembly-line, factory made, mass produced junk, there is something very magical about putting on something of this quality – even without the connection to Indiana Jones. If you think the DorkDaddy in your life would appreciate *THE* Indiana Jones fedora, head on over to Steve’s Website.

The Hat

I promise the Father in your life can’t help but feel like a badass when he puts this hat on.

A Galaxy Far, Far Away

Almost two years ago, in anticipation of my 40th birthday, I wrote this blog post about a group of fans who restored one of the original, most iconic set pieces of the original Star Wars movie way out in the wilderness of Tunisia. I the piece I quipped about how I needed to see these places before I died, how my 40th birthday was the perfect excuse, and lamented about how I had nobody to go with me and actually make it happen. Then my amazing cousin sent me a text message and long story short, 10 months later she and I were walking in the real sands of Tatooine (or Tataouine as the actual Tunisian city is spelled).

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Simply put, if the DorkDad in your life is a Star Wars nerd, there is no holier ground than South West Tunisia.

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Yes, the American media has given a lot of air time to Middle East unrest spreading into the largely Westernized, primarily Mediterranean Tunisia. In conversations with my contact there the question was asked “Would you tell someone not to visit France because of what happened to Charlie Hebdo? Would you tell them not to go to church in the United States because of what’s been happening in The South of your country?”

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I can’t speak to any of that. All I can say is that Tunisia is an amazing place. The people there are generous, and friendly and my experience there was nothing short of life-changing.


Now think about the DorkDad in your life. You have nearly 6 months until Christmas… a year before next Father’s Day. Imagine the look on his face when he opens his present to find a shiny new DL-44 Blaster, authentic Indiana Jones fedora, or plane ticket to Tunisia.

-Dork Dad

Metaphor For Life

27 Feb

Metaphor header     letter A few Saturday mornings ago Episode IV and I were snuggling together in bed talking about her upcoming birthday: “So you’re going to be nine pretty soon” I said. “That’s pretty cool, huh?” “You know what that means, Daddy.” “What?” “That means I’m half way done with living in your house.” *input the sound of a grown man getting punched in the solar plexus* Before I go on any further, watch the video below. The reveal happens at about 0:09. I promise it isn’t what you think it’s gonna be. That’s how it’s always been with her. One day when she was 16 months old she just decided “Today is the day I’m going to start walking”. No lead up. No rehearsal. No preparation. Just *BOOM*. Off she went. “See ya, folks! I’m out’a here!” When she learned how to ride a bike it was pretty much the same thing. When this girl decides she’s going to do something, there is absolutely nothing in the world that can tell her she can’t do it. My mother likes to tease me that it wasn’t my academic prowess that got me into dental school. I got in on pure moxie. She’s probably right. It’s no mystery where Episode IV got it. If you knew her, the fact that she asked for a unicycle for Xmas wouldn’t surprise you… in the big picture. In the moment though, sitting there over raviolis and mashed potatoes when she made the request, I’d be lying if I said that UnDorkMommy and I weren’t a little shell-shocked. We exchanged looks as if to say “WTF?!” because seriously, what 8yo girl asks for a unicycle for Xmas? Apparently mine does. So courtesy of Grandma and Grandpa, a unicycle is exactly what she got. in the store I was convinced it was going to go one of two ways. Either she was going to try it once or twice, figure out that it was too hard and move on, or it was going to be 6 months of Saturdays at the elementary school basketball court while my little drama queen got mad at the unicycle for not doing what she wanted it to do.   As it turns out it only took 4 practice sessions. That’s it. Done. Off she went.       I love that my girl doesn’t accept the notion that there are things in this world she cannot do. When she makes up her mind how things are going to go, there is no discussion. That’s just the way it’s going to be. That will serve her well in life, in this world that is tougher for women than it is for men. I am especially proud of the fact that, as opposed to her slacker father, she is willing to put in all the hard work necessary to make it impossible for anyone to tell her “no”. So consider this a warning: If you happen to sit on the admissions board at Stanford University in about nine years, be advised. My daughter is coming for you, and she won’t take “no” for an answer.   -Dork Daddy

Mycology

28 Dec

 

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letter Hiking is part of the routine around the DorkDaddy household. With three kids of varying maturity levels (and a dog with absolutely zero discipline) nature walks are usually more of an exercise in keeping your cool than they are Zen communing with nature. We live in the most spectacular redwood forests in California and it’s important to us that our kids learn to appreciate the natural world as much as the material world.

Episodes IV, VI and DorkDoggy.

Episodes IV, VI and DorkDoggy.

When our troupe isn’t bickering loud enough to scare away the wildlife, the redwood forest is a great opportunity for this DorkDaddy to display my encyclopedic knowledge of middle school-level science, and hopefully spread my enthusiasm for the subject. At this point Episodes IV and V could teach their own teachers a thing or two about banana slugs (arliomax californicus), ferns, conifers, life-cycles, photosynthesis, adaptations and natural selection. But on the down side, we’ve been through these forests so many times we’re running out of new things to discover and talk about.

A UCSC student having a mind-altering experience.

A UCSC student having a mind-altering experience.

This Christmas Eve morning we woke to a perfect, cloudless blue sky and decided it would be best for everyone to get out of the house for a walk before launching into the family obligations. Episode IV was already bitter about being forced to attend a church event for her cousin later in the day, so I was prepared for another bicker-fest hike, and indeed that’s how it started.

A beautiful cluster of... I don't k now the taxonomy here.

A beautiful cluster of… I don’t k now the taxonomy here.

“But I don’t want to go. Why do I have to go? It’s not fair that you’re making me go. We *ALWAYS* go to all of her things…” and on and on and on.

Zen communing with nature? I don’t think so.

Concentric fungal growth rings.

Concentric fungal growth rings.

But sometimes all it takes is a little bump to scratch the needle off the record, and as we walked (bickering) we began to notice that something was different about this trail we’d hiked a hundred times before. On past expeditions I’d taught my kids about producers (plants), consumers (animals) and decomposers (fungi, etc.) and in so doing explained that fungi flourish in a warm, dark, moist environment (like your gym socks). Recently our area had experienced torrential downpours, followed by unseasonably, ridiculously pleasant warm temperatures. Combine that with the decomposing leaf litter on a redwood forest floor and you have a fungal perfect storm.

We checked for Smurfs. There were none.

We checked for Smurfs. There were none.

Just like that we were shocked out of our standard bicker-fest and into a reverent (Zen communing with nature) frame of mind. There by our feet, along the trail we’ve walked countless times with jaded eyes, was a fungal firework display the likes of which I’ve never seen before. Anyone with their eyes open couldn’t help but bathe in wonder at nature’s splendor, and in the presence of such a marvel it was impossible to be snarky.

Lacy, jaw-droppingly beautiful fungi.

Lacy, jaw-droppingly beautiful fungi.

We walked the trail moving from discovery to discovery, indulging as much time as we wanted at each stop to take it all in. Episode IV and I waxed poetic about lifecycles, natural variation, and survival strategies. The conversation transitioned quite organically into the different ways that people choose to live their lives. Only now, as opposed to the snarky footing at the beginning of the hike, our conversation came from a more observant, philosophical posture. Instead of counting the minutes until we could get the kids back into the car, we lost ourselves in conversation, surrounded by a once-in-a-lifetime natural event.

We chose not to focus on what these were growing on.

We chose not to focus on what these were growing on.

For my part, I was able to have what I could only describe as the perfect outdoor experience: an intellectually stimulating conversation with someone I love, surrounded and inspired by natural wonder I have never seen before. For her part, Episode IV was able to come to an understanding about people who exist on different, sometimes seemingly incompatible points along the religious spectrum. She was able to reconcile how doing the right thing isn’t always the easiest thing and ultimately later that day she happily attended her cousin’s church event with no bitterness.

Standing sturdy and proud in the leaf litter.

Standing sturdy and proud in the leaf litter.

Not bad for a couple of silly mushrooms.

Best. Hike. Ever.

 

-Dork Dad

"Daddy, that one looks like it's made out of butter." Notice the banana slug sprinting away from us in the background.

“Daddy, that one looks like it’s made out of butter.” Notice the banana slug sprinting away from us in the background.

Editor’s note: I’m aware that this post comes off as more-or-less a photo blog. That’s OK. Every one of these pictures was taken within the scope of a single 60 minute hike. If anyone out there has some legitimate scientific knowledge about the species I’ve shared here, please pass it along. My reverence at the experience was almost matched by my frustration at the holes in my knowledge about what we were looking at.

Not all fungi look like umbrellas. These look more like antlers.

Not all fungi look like umbrellas. These look more like antlers.

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It was almost like they were breathing through their gills.

It was almost like they were breathing through their gills.

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We called this one "the brain."

We called this one “the brain.”

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These tiny mushrooms seemed to cascade down (or up) the wood.

These tiny mushrooms seemed to cascade down (or up) the wood.

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A funnel.

A funnel.

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I believe the yellow growth isn't fungi. If memory serves, it's what we call a slime-mold.

I believe the yellow growth isn’t fungi. If memory serves, it’s what we call a slime-mold.

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Pretty sure this is a slime-mold too.

Pretty sure this is a slime-mold too.

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I bet this one would give you some interesting dreams. (do *NOT* even think about it)

I bet this one would give you some interesting dreams. (do *NOT* even think about it)

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We had pancakes for breakfast. You can guess what we called this one.

We had pancakes for breakfast. You can guess what we called this one.

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Mushrooms the size of dinner plates.

Mushrooms the size of dinner plates.

 

 

 

Dear Sephora

6 Nov

Dear Sephora Header

 

letter A text message flashed across my phone yesterday. It was a snapshot of a magazine ad my wife ran across that day… a magazine ad that my daughter had clearly come across earlier, and felt compelled to leave her social commentary for anyone else who should stumble upon it. This is what she saw:

dear Sephora

 

In case you need help translating 3rd grade handwriting it says,

“This lady is ugly. I think you should wear makeup if you want to, not ’cause you have to. Don’t over-do it.”

My daughter may be opinionated. She may be bossy. She may be dramatic. But nobody can say she doesn’t have a strong self-esteem, and there is nothing a young woman needs more, growing up in the world we live in, assaulted on all sides by magazine ads like this, than a strong self-esteem.

Way to push back, honey. You tell ’em what real beauty is. That’s my girl.

 

-Dork Dad

Halloween 2014

31 Oct

Happy Halloween to all the dorks out there.

 

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As You Wish

23 Oct

as you wish header

letter Memories are the currency of childhood. Whether it’s playing in the dirt on a Saturday or some epic, once-in-a-lifetime story they’ll be telling their grandchildren, it’s our job as parents to provide the experiences that those memories are made of. I make no bones about the fact that I try to tip the scales for my kids in the latter direction as much as possible. Hell, I’ve got an entire blog dedicated to it. Recently the planets aligned in just such a way as to turn what promised to be an awesome childhood memory into something truly epic. This is the story:

The last few years we’ve done the cheezy, family-Halloween thing. Last year we were all Harry Potter characters. Many, many months ago during family movie night watching “Princess Bride” we decided that that was going to be the theme this year. We divvied up the roles and the kids gradually got more excited as they pictured themselves dressing up in the rolls they would play. Meanwhile I started planning in my head how to get my entire family dressed up, because you know I wasn’t about to do no store-bought costumes.

The costume-making began in earnest last month when I took Episode IV out to Goodwill to hunt for Inigo Montoya gear. 20 minutes in the shop and she came out with all this gear. You can see she was already getting into character. The kids got more and more excited as each piece of the puzzle got put together and as Halloween approached.

My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my DorkDaddy. Prepare to die.

My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my DorkDaddy. Prepare to die.

Slowly but surely, piece by piece, hot-glue burn by hot-glue burn I got all 5 family costumes put together, posting updates on Facebook along the way.  as you wishDuring a long drive I heard on NPR an interview with Cary Elwes, the actor who played the main character in the story, the same character Episode V was dressing up as. Apparently he’d just written a book chronicling the making of the movie and was making the publicity rounds. That prompted me to post this picture of Episode V stating “It’s about 80% done. Still a couple details to get nailed down.”

80%

Later that day I got a message from a friend over Facebook:

“You know Cary Elwes is signing copies of his book in the area this week, right?”

My response was less than elegant. “Uh… now I do.”

It was time to swing into action.

A quick glance at the week’s schedule. Yep… it was doable.

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There was a panicked trip to the arts and crafts store, a few more hot-glue burns, an emergency Amazon.com purchase, but I was able to get the finishing touches put together on the big kids’ costumes just in the nick of time. On the day of the event I picked the kids up from school and whisked them away into the minivan for a long drive up to where we were headed. 2.5 hours later we made it up to the location to find people already lining up on the side of the building. One thing minivans are good for: changing into your Halloween costume without having to locate a public bathroom.

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Episode IV was a little nervous at the prospect of heading out into public in her full costume, which was understandable since there’s a cheesy moustache involved and she’s 8. I gave her the option of dressing down, but she decided she’d go for it and it was a good thing she did. The evening was all uphill from there. As the three of us crossed the street and they came into view of the people in line, the crowd erupted in applause. We worked our way to the back of the line and everyone along the way complimented them on how amazing they looked. The wait was shortened by people coming up asking to take pictures with my kids in their costumes. They ate it up.

As we walked into the building the manager told them “Wow. Those are the best costumes I have ever seen.”

As we took our seats people turned around to tell my kids “Oh my gosh. You guys look amazing.”

Then the main event. Mr. Elwes came out and told some fun stories about making the movie. He was funny, charming, gracious… and 5 minutes into his schtick he stopped suddenly, looked at Episode IV, pointed to her and in front of 300 people in the room said “You, with the moustache. God bless you.” At one point he asked the audience “How many Men In Black are there here tonight?” Episode V stood up and again the crowd cheered.

nice

When it came time to sign autographs and meet the fans he was particularly gracious when Episodes IV and V came around. He came out from behind the table, again to the cheers of the whole crowd, and gave some extra time to my kids. He played with them. Mugged for photos with them, and was an all-around gentleman.

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When it was all done I loaded two exhausted kids into the minivan for a very long, very late drive home. Along the way I got this text message from my wife, and I knew it was all worth it:

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-Dork Dad

Healthy Dad

21 Oct Healthy Dad

Healthy Dad   letter My wife asked me if I liked it.

“No. Who the hell likes getting up at 5:00 am to get bossed around and beat up before going to work?”

My wife asked me if I feel better.

“No. My trainers are incredibly effective. They hit a different muscle group each time so I’m sore EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.”

My wife asked me if I’m going to keep doing it.

“Yes. I’m going to keep doing it.”

The truth is I do feel better. I can get up and down off the ground more easily when I’m wrestling with the kids. I can pick up Episode VI and throw him on my shoulders now without feeling like I’m on the verge of collapse. I’m don’t seem to be losing pounds or inches, but I can feel my arms and shoulders are thicker and my core is more solid… or at least it doesn’t jiggle as much.

I plan on bitching and moaning every step of the way. I’ll never be one of those people who enjoys exercise, but it’s still got to get done. It’s one of those things that responsible people have to do… like paying taxes. Here’s to being a #HealthyDad. Thanks to Anthem Blue Cross, who sponsored the campaign, for including dads in this important discussion about family health care. My views are based solely on my experience as a parent, and not as a medical professional.

-Dork Dad

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