Archive | May, 2013

“Daddy, how does Superman shave?”

30 May




letter unless you’ve been living under a rock lately, you know that there’s a new Superman movie coming out this summer (June 14, thankyouverymuch). This is the movie that’s supposed to relaunch the franchise, and as you might guess I’ve been following its development for years. All during the lead up I hoped against hope that it would be a movie I could take my kids to. Then came the announcement of the PG-13 rating. Well crap. I guess we’ll be waiting a few years before the kids can see that one.

…but that doesn’t mean I can’t show them the trailers (much like I did with “The Hobbit”).

Besides being incredibly well crafted (they play me like a fiddle with themes of fatherhood as well as superhero-y goodness) the trailers show Clark Kent during his vagabond years between Smallville and Metropolis, as he’s trying to figure out who he is and what he’s going to do with his life. At some point he seems to wind up on a fishing trawler, “Deadliest Catch”-style, and while he’s pulling king crab out of the sea Clark Kent is sporting a very respectable beard. Then later, as he accepts the mantle of the Man of Steel, he appears again cleanly shorn — the clean-cut, all-American big, blue boyscout. The beard is something new to Superman lore. In his 75 years of service, Superman has never really done the facial hair thing. Before the “Man of Steel” trailers came out, a google search for “Superman beard” yielded precious few images. But search now and you’ll see this:


A couple Saturdays ago I was showing Episode IV and V the “Man of Steel” trailers on YouTube (there are 10 or so, if you count TV spots). After each one I could see the wheels in my 4.5 year old son’s head turning. I could tell his mind was chewing on something. After a few minutes he finally asked me, “Daddy, how does Superman shave?”

Think about it. The question totally makes sense. Dude is impervious to bullets, asteroids, knives, radiation (except the kryptonite-variety). What material on earth could possibly shave off the whiskers of an invulnerable super-being? As it turns out, Gillette has launched an advertising campaign on just that notion. They’ve employed top-notch TV scientists (and Kevin Smith) to discuss that very issue. “How does Superman shave?” Maybe my son has a future in advertising and marketing. You hear that Gillette?

(incidentally, if you want to see all their theories and weigh in on what your favorite is, click on the link here)

In any case, longtime readers may remember an older post “Now I’m Smooth” where Episode V came up to me one morning and asked for a shave. I used a picture in that post relevant to the topic at hand. You see, serious Superman nerds have known the answer to Gillette’s question for some time. Back in the mid-80’s DC comics rebooted the entire Superman character in a series coincidentally titled “Man of Steel”. In that series, artist John Byrne provided this gem of a picture to answer the question Gillette is asking now — “How does Superman shave?”


The answer, of course, is Kryptonian heat vision.

I just don’t want to know what burning Kryptonian hair smells like.

-Dork Dad

Force For Fun: Episode 3: Don’t Hold Your Breath

28 May

Week 3 of the Pringles Force For Fun, free Star Wars stuff giveaway starts now.

Pringles The Force For Fun Logo

The recipe for success:

1) Treat yourself to the YouTube video below.

2) Click on the super sweet Star Wars earbuds and enter for a chance to win them.


3) Tell all your friends.

May The Force be with you.

-Dork Dad

Force For Fun: Episode 2 – Darth Visits

20 May

Week 2 of the Pringles Force For Fun, free star wars stuff giveaway starts now.

Pringles The Force For Fun Logo

The recipe for success:

1) Treat yourself to the YouTube video below

2) Poke the Ewok with a stick to enter to win some free Star Wars stuff.



3) Tell all your friends.

May The Force be with you.

-Dork Dad

Dear People Magazine,

16 May


Dear People at People Magazine,


This past week when your most recent issue was delivered to my office I noticed a grave error on the cover. Normally I wouldn’t take the time two write in, but this error was so egregious I felt a moral obligation to help you make a correction.

You see, this week’s cover showcased a picture of Hollywood A-lister Gwynneth Paltrow with the heading “World’s Most Beautiful Woman!” Now I don’t have anything against Ms. Paltrow. I’m sure she’s a very nice person and she certainly is a lovely looking lady. I can see how your editing staff would be tempted to crown her “World’s Most Beautiful Woman!” but when they were considering candidates, I suspect they were unaware of another, lower-profile woman.

UnDorkMommy isn’t a movie star, and for that reason I can forgive your editing staff for being unaware. Had they known her I’m sure they would have made a very different choice for this week’s cover.

I have taken the liberty of mocking up a correction for your editing staff. No doubt as soon as you see it you will want to recall all of last week’s issues and publish a re-print with the more accurate cover I have provided below.

There. Isn't that better?

There. Isn’t that better?

Please send my regards to Ms. Paltrow. When she sees how beautiful UnDorkMommy is I’m sure she’ll agree a correction needs to be made.




Dork Daddy

What You Can’t Do With Kids – Lego Helm’s Deep

14 May



letter I try my best to bring as much “awesome” into my kids’ lives as possible. We go on nature hikes and I teach them about all the creepy crawlies we see. We build epic lego Super Star Destroyers. We’ve got a real working 1983 stand-up Star Wars arcade game in our garage. Heck, we built a freakin’ hovercraft in the backyard. I want my kids’ lives to be filled with magic. I want them to look back on their childhood and think “Wow. That was amazing!!” I want them to look around at the rest of the world and know that what we had during these precious, fleeting years was truly something special… something above and beyond… something legendary.

Helm's Deep 2

Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not looking for anyone to stroke my ego. I know my kids are having an epic childhood. But just when I’m starting to feel good about my epic dad-ness, something comes along to remind me not to rest on my laurels. I’ve known this feeling before. Right after I finished Episode V’s amazing Optimus Prime Halloween costume, Ron Fugelseth exploded onto the internet with his “Toy Train In Space” video.

Helm's Deep 3

Making its way through various dorky social media channels this morning, this collection of pictures stopped me in my tracks. Check out this monsterous Lego build of Helm’s Deep (from “The Lord of the Rings” for those of you who don’t know) by Rich K and Big J. It’s made of more than 150,000 bricks and 1,700 mini-figs. It weighs roughly 160 lbs and takes up an area roughly the size of a ping-pong table. At the moment it’s about 90% complete, but the entire completed build will be on public display at the Cincinatti Comic Con Expo in mid-September, and again at BrickWorld in Ford Wayne Tx. in late-September.

Helm's Deep 1

Helm's Deep 4

Helm's Deep 7

Call me crazy, but I see a project like this and think to myself “I could totally do that!”

Helm's Deep 8

Then I do a little quick mental calculus to see what it would take to make it happen in my house: 150,000 pieces at roughly $0.16 a piece (retail) comes to about… $24,000. That’s OK. Episode VI doesn’t need to move out of the closet into an actual bedroom for at least another year or two. Then there’s the build time. The two guys who put this together said it took about 4 months to build. Since I’ll be doing it largly by myself let’s count on 8 months locked away in the garage working — not interacting with my family. And while we’re talking about the garage, I suppose we’ll have to park the minivan out on the street for the next 8 months, since the garage is the only open ping-pong table sized workspace in the house.

Yeah. Right.

Helm's Deep 5

$24,000. 8 months away from my family. My wife dragging all three kids out in the rain to get them in the car. <<sarcasm>> Sounds like a plan! Let’s do this! <<sarcasm>>

Naw. There’s no way a responsible father with three little younglings who need to get to T-ball, and ballet practice, and open houses yadda, yadda, yadda, could make something like this happen for real. But you want to know what I CAN do? You want to know what could possibly be even MORE epic than building a $24,000 Lego replica of Helm’s Deep in your garage?

Taking your kids to the LegoExpo, seeing the display in person, turning to them with a wink and a knowing look in your eye and wispering quietly to them, “We could totally do that.”

Because we totally could.

-Dork Dad

Force For Fun: Episode 1 – Wookie Mistake

13 May


“With your wisdom, I’m sure that we can work out an arrangement which will be mutually beneficial and enable us to avoid any unpleasant confrontations.”

-Luke Skywalker, Star Wars Episode VI – Return of the Jedi

At long last. I’ve been hinting at it for weeks. But today is the day I finally get to officially launch:

free star wars stuff

At this point imagine if you will John Williams’s legendary score bursting on your ears, the familiar music bringing to the surface feelings and memories that have become an essential part of our cultural identity. The fanfare peaks. The emotions swell from within you. You’re just starting to get into it when all of a sudden…


…the needle scratches off the record.

“But wait a minute,” said my friend Shannon. “What if I don’t want any free Star Wars stuff? I come to your blog to read about your cute kids and your beautiful family. I don’t want to hear about someone trying to sell me something. That’s just obnoxious.”

OK. Here’s the deal:

Pringles, along with the people at Star Wars, have launched a 6-week campaign called “The Force For Fun”. They’ve recruited ten bloggers to help direct internet traffic towards the campaign. As incentive they’re offering participants the chance to win some cool Star Wars stuff. In addition, at the end of the 6 weeks, the blogger who directs the most traffic through his/her site to the campaign will win “The Ultimate Star Wars Weekend Getaway”. Now goodness knows how they found this blog or why they chose it to be one of the 10, but they did — and I’m very grateful. Ultimately, all they’re asking of me is to put you on to some pretty decent fan-made Star Wars/Pringles mash-up YouTube videos, and offer you a chance to win some cool Star Wars stuff once a week for five weeks. I can feel pretty good about that.

So here’s the promise we’re going to make each other:

I promise to keep things fun. I promise that I will do everything I can not to make this little contest be a drag. I will integrate it into the regular dorky stuff you typically see around here in a way that shouldn’t detract from the usual high standard of fun, dorky, family-ness you’ve come to expect.

In return, *EVERY WEEK* you promise to enjoy the videos and enter the contest I share — and really there’s no reason not to. The videos are quite clever and well made, and for crying out loud, the contest could get you some decent free Star Wars stuff. You also promise… and this is crucial… to SHARE THE HELL OUT OF THESE CONTEST POSTS every week via whatever social media platform you prefer. Remember, I’m going against nine other bloggers here, and each of us has to generate as much contest participation as possible through our own personal blogs.

So before I officially launch into the promotion, let me leave you with one final thought:

If you don’t do it for yourself, do it for my kids. I mean just look at them. Don’t these kids deserve “The Ultimate Star Wars Weekend Getaway”?



Pringles The Force For Fun Logo

This weeks Pringles/Star Wars “The Force For Fun” YouTube video is “Side of Fries — Wookie Mistake” by Brooke Dooley, Jordan Allen and Luke Rocheleau. Seriously, it’s something I could see me and my college buddies putting together before we all got — ahem — old, gray, and… well… kids. Check it out:

And now that you’ve done that, take a minute to enter yourself in the Pringles/Star Wars “The Force For Fun” giveaway. This week you can nab a sweet Star Wars themed USB drive. I bet you it holds more memory than the entire R2-D2 unit did way back in 1977. Click on the picture below to be whisked away to the Rafflecopter giveaway (I’d love to embed the widget in the body of this blogpost, but doesn’t permit JavaScript).

widgetThank you so much. Good luck. Don’t forget to share this post with everyone you know (for my kids’ sake) and to come back and do it all again every week through the duration of the campaign.

Remember, The Force will be with you, always.

-Dork Dad

100 Words

11 May

100 words


Because of the way you move through the room. Because of the way your smile sounds on your voice. Because every single curve on your body is in exactly the right place. Because of the way your hair smells and the way it tickles my face.  Because of the twinkle in your eyes when you’re making mischief, and the look on your face when you’re asleep. Because of the feel of your heart and the warmth of your skin when you’re holding me. Because of the magic you made with our children, and the magic you make with our family. Because everything I love about my life I can trace directly back to you.

Happy Mother’s Day.
I love you.
-Dork Dad

Playing For The Other Team

9 May



letter HHere at headquarters we are very up-front about where we stand on the Star Wars/Star Trek spectrum. I don’t have anything against Star Trek, per-se. I would even go so far as to say I respect the franchise and hold it up as a top-tier member of the DorkDaddy pantheon of dork-worthy endeavors. I can even say with relative certainty that I have seen every episode of every branch of the Star Trek media conglomerate. I have my certificate of Star Trek competency, even if the certificate itself is stuffed in a drawer somewhere – as opposed to my Star Wars competency certification, which hangs on my wall in a custom mahogany frame alongside my gilded credentials, signed by R2-D2 and C3PO themselves, identifying me as a founding member of the Star Wars Fan Club.

OK, I may be talking in hyperbole there. But I WAS a founding member of the Star Wars Fan Club (in 1978) even if I’ve lost my original membership card. But I digress.

The other night, after reading our nightly dosage of Harry Potter it was time for our routine 10 minutes of Netflix/YouTube before lights-out. We’ve pretty much torn through all the age-appropriate stuff you can stream online (for free). On a whim I typed into the Netflix search box “Star” on the off chance that the original trilogy was available for streaming (fat chance). To my surprise, in the “available for streaming” screen popped up the original 1966 Star Trek series (digitally re-mastered versions).


gore and skin and violence as it existed in 60’s-era television

I looked at my two little cherubs, snuggled at the end of the bed in their pajamas, under the covers, waiting for movies, and did a quick “appropriateness” assessment of my memories of the original series. There’s very little blood (beyond Kirk’s legendary chest scratch). There’s no sex (unless you have a problem with 60’s go-go-dancing outfits), and the “violence” is laughable by today’s standards. Seriously, have you watched Kirk’s epic battle with the Gorn lately?

So I decided it was time. I selected Season 1, Episode 1 (skipped the pilot), flipped my iPhone around, and my big kids got their very first taste of classic Star Trek. If you’ve got kids the same age as mine I must say, truly the only issue you’ll have watching classic Star Trek with them is the pacing. By today’s standards the plot points move incredibly slow. Each of those hour-long episodes could easily be compressed into a half-hour. But my kids stuck it out for 15 minutes or so, enough to warrant giving it another go tonight.

Watching Star Trek with your kids isn’t about indoctrinating a child into another level of nerdiness (as much as UnDorkMommy might think it is). It isn’t even about the lofty socio-political commentaries of the series(es) that academics like to point out. It’s about cultural competence. It’s about being able to hold a conversation with that stranger at the office Christmas party.

In that same way I have used Netflix to educate my children on some of the cultural touchstones of my childhood. We worked our way through the entire “Transformers” and “Voltron” animated series long ago. Recently we’ve covered most of the “He-Man” and “She-Ra” cartoons. Episode IV even powered through all three seasons of “Jem and the Holograms”.  (So, so, so cheezy. We had no idea how bad they were when we were watching them. Trust me. They’re bad.) Next on the list: “Thundercats”.


Every single one of these is currently available, streaming on Netflix.

Certainly “He-Man” and its ilk don’t register quite as high on the cultural-competency scale. But I loved “Transformers” and “He-Man” back in the day, and it gives me and my children something else in common. And even though I never watched “Jem”, my sisters certainly did, and now my children have something in common with their aunties.

That… and the look on the lady’s face after school when she heard Episode IV singing “Woah-o-o Jem is truly outrageous… truly, truly, truly outrageous…!” was priceless.

Like it or not, no matter where you register on the nerd-spectrum, Captain Kirk, Mr. Spock and “Beam me up, Scotty” are part of the American lexicon. It’s like football, Loony Tunes, or Elvis. You don’t have to be all crazy into it. You don’t even have to like it, but you have to be aware of it. And if you want to be functional in social situations, you have to have at least a passing knowledge of what it’s about.

Because no matter how averse you may be to the greater dork sciences, the fact of the matter is we have taken over. You can either get on the train or get left behind.

-Dork Dad

Fan Fiction

6 May

letter My daughter is a girl growing up in a boy’s world. I try not to eclipse my wife’s influence with the kids, but let’s be honest – the beacon of my nerdiness shines a little (a lot) brighter than hers. What are the top-tier nerdisms that my family is bathed in? Comic books. Superheroes. Lord of the Rings. Harry Potter. Star Wars. Transformers, power tools, Legos, bike riding…

While raising my children I’ve made a point of teaching them that power tools are also for girls, and the kitchen is a great place to be a boy (although my own cooking skills are pathetic… definitely not leading by example here). But my daughter is still a girl, and as she navigates the world she has to find her own role-models, her own superheroes that she can relate to.

In the world of popular culture there are woefully few top-tier female superheroes out there for a girl to latch on to. Think about it. What options are there? Wonder Woman? They haven’t been able to manage a feature film, or even a television series since the Linda Carter days. Princess Leia? The princess herself is cool, but any true fandom leads to an investigation of the actor who plays the character. Have you seen Carrie Fisher lately? She’s a brilliant writer and public speaker… if she can stay sober long enough to string a sentence together.

It's not like we're going to see this movie any time soon.

It’s not like we’re going to see this movie any time soon.

For a girl looking for a hero to identify with the options are pretty slim. <<editor’s note: I should emphasize FANTASY hero, because Episode IV’s mommy is a pretty super-human role-model for any young lady to live up to>> But it seems that our little girl has finally settled on a candidate: Hermione Grainger (from the Harry Potter stories, for the unDorks out there).

Besides a passing physical resemblance, one of Hermione’s characteristics that Episode IV identifies with most is her academic success. We’re four books into the Harry Potter series and in every one Hermione is showered with praise as “the most gifted witch in her class” and she gets special favors from her professors because of it. My daughter also thrives in school, and lives off of the accolades that she gets there. Hermione excels at school where others struggle, and she’s always the voice of mature reason when Harry and Ron are about to do something stupid. Episode IV has two dopey younger brothers for whom she, like Hermione, often takes on the “responsible adult” role. Hermione avoids mischief when she can, but she also knows that once in a while a little mischief is necessary – and when she does it, she excels at it. If anything Episode IV is a little less averse to mischief than Hermione might be. In short, when my daughter sees Hermione, she sees herself.


Episode IV is also the sort of person who is constantly peaking behind the curtain. She loves the fantasy, but she never forgets that it’s actually fantasy. She always wants to know “how do they do that” when we’re watching movies. This line of thought naturally leads her to investigate the actor behind the character, and in this regard she relates even more. Emma Watson, at least publically, is a classy, well spoken, beautiful, educated young woman. She seems to have escaped the trappings of childhood fame. I’d much rather have my daughter cast her gaze in that direction, rather than… say… Kristen Stewart.

Friday afternoon Episode IV looked up at me and with frustration in her voice said “Daddy, I just… I wish…” She couldn’t find the words, but clearly there was something just below the surface she needed to get out. “Daddy… someday can I be in a Harry Potter movie?”

“Well, you never know, honey” I responded. “But I don’t think they’re going to be making any more Harry Potter movies for a very long time. They’ve already made all the books into movies.”

Her brow furrowed, stymied by the realities of the world that are beyond her control. But my daughter is nothing if not tenacious.

Saturday morning I woke up to find her hard at work at her art table, which in-and-of itself is nothing special. 1st graders have a lot of pent-up, creative energy they need to exercise. We’ve got stacks and stacks of her artwork we can’t bring ourselves to throw away. I stumbled through the morning, getting my coffee, getting the boys taken care of, figuring out the schedule for the day – the usual. Then from across the house at her art table I heard Episode IV say “There, Daddy. I’m done!”

What exactly had my academically precocious, Hermione-identifying 1st grade daughter done with her Saturday morning? It seems she had written a book, by which I mean a full-on book, complete with cover, title, illustrations, a table of contents, chapters and nuanced plot-points.

On her own, my daughter had written a Harry Potter book. She gleefully explained to me how Lucious Malfoy was the new Defense Against The Dark Arts teacher, and how Hermione and Ron were keeping a secret from Harry that had something to do with his parents. She was all-in. She was invested. She poured everything she had into this brand new chapter in the Harry Potter saga…

…for the exclusive purpose of making another movie that she could star in as Hermione.

Take that, world where things are beyond her control. She wasn’t going to let a little thing like no-more-books get in her way. Bam! Now all we need is a director, studio-backing, and a sound stage.

I flipped through the book, amazed. This was incredible even for her sky-high standards. “That’s amazing, honey” I said. “I mean really. Wow.”

“Thanks, Daddy” she replied. “Can we make the movie now?”

-Dork Dad

The 4th Will Be With You

4 May

letter Ican’t give away the specifics yet, because details haven’t been finalized and all the contracts haven’t been signed yet. But I did finally get permission from the suits, given today’s date, to share this little teaser for the next big thing to come to this little blog. Here you go:

After showing her this video, my fried said to me “But what if I don’t want a bunch of free Star Wars stuff?” Don’t worry. I’ll weave the promotion into the normal stuff I do around the blog to keep the obnoxious-factor to a minimum. But you should know that, amongst other things, the promotion will pit 10 blogs against one another. The blog that generates the most action on the contests over the course of 6 weeks will win the grand prize: “The Ultimate Star Wars Family Weekend Getaway” (details to be determined)

So if you don’t do it for yourself, do it for my kids; because you know… don’t these kids deserve “The Ultimate Star Wars Family Weekend Getaway”?


Happy May the 4th, folks. Have a great weekend.

-Dork Dad

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