Tag Archives: superheroes

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.

hermione

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

How a Dorkdad names his kid.

31 Dec

lenty of parents spend plenty of time agonizing over what to name their new child. With our third only a few short weeks away we are starting to feel impending deadline on the horizon. In that way we are no different than most other couples. In truth, we’ve come to the names for our children in the most normal way and plan to do so again with the third, but when you’ve got a Dorkdaddy in the family it adds an additional layer of complexity and angst. The following story is an account of how we came up with the names of our first two children, and potentially the third. I feel obligated to share because if you met my children and learned their names after knowing me for any length of time, you might jump to a few unfortunate conclusions. I want to set the record straight. Some details have been changed because it’s never a good idea to plaster the actual names of your children all over the interwebs. The point is made just as well.

 ******

DorkDaughter:

My wife and I had a relatively easy time arriving at a consensus on her name. There was a particular name we both liked the sound of that coincidentally worked as a derivative of the names of my wife’s grandmother, both my grandmothers (one just recently deceased), and my mother. We wrapped my wife’s other grandmother’s first name up into a middle name for our daughter and whammo… child was named and everyone was happy.

DorkSon#1:

The OTHER Spock, and his father.

Two years later and our first child was at a very chatty time in her vocal development. We found out we were having a son and the search for the perfect name began. I was keen on incorporating my grandfather’s first name, Westin (also my middle name) and my wife wasn’t opposed, but there was a  lot of back and forth about whether it worked better as a first name or middle name. Now at this point I have to point out my life-long borderline-obsession with all things Star Trek. Anyone who knows me knows that I have an encyclopedic knowledge and irrational love of Star Trek. We all have our things, Star Trek is mine. Now it just so happens that at that time my sister had a crush on a guy named “Spock”. “Spock” was the topic of discussion around the dinner table relatively often back then. For whatever reason my 2-year-old daughter imprinted on that name, and for a time every strange man she came across she called “Spock”. The three of us were on a walk one afternoon, and we were kicking around names for the new baby. We asked our daughter what she wanted to name her new brother. “Spock,” she said. My wife and I both looked at each other. “Spock Westin”. We liked the sound of that. It just seemed to work.

Westin, by itself is a relatively normal name – as is Spock. But nobody who knew me and my aptitude would ever believe my assertions that I did NOT name my son after one of the primary characters of the greatest science fiction franchise of all time. In fact the name was chosen by the boy’s older 2-year-old sister, who in turn got the name from a boy my sister had a crush on, with absolutely no knowledge of the greatest science fiction franchise of all time. The association concerned us, but ultimately we decided to go with it, and I’m glad we did. As much as I love Star Trek, I love my son that much more. As hardwired as Star Trek is in my DNA, whenever I hear the name “Spock”, I think of my son first and the sci-fi character second.

Dorkson#2:

For what it's worth, I have the original printing of this in mint condition in a box up in my attic.

The roots of this child’s naming dilemma stem all the way back to the week Dorkson#1 was born. My wife and I went out to dinner alone on one of our very last nights together as parents of only one child. During that night’s conversation we whimsically discussed what we might name a third child if it ever came. We both agreed that we loved my great grandmother’s first name. If we had a third, and it was a girl, that was going to be it. We also agreed that if we had another son we would like to incorporate my wife’s favorite grandfather’s first name, Peter. But my wife was pretty firm on keeping “Peter” as a middle name. Then my wife looks off into the distance and says, “You know, I’ve always liked the name Logan. If we have another boy I think I like the name ‘Logan Peter’”.

I stopped dead in my tracks, needle scratched off the record, mid-mouthful of pasta carbonara.

If there is one thing this Dorkdaddy geeks out over more than Star Trek, it’s Marvel superheroes; my absolute favorites being Spiderman and Wolverine. As the rest of the western world knows, Spiderman and Wolverine’s secret identities are Peter Parker and Logan (last name unknown) respectively. My wife had just suggested that if we have another son we should name him after (or, more accurately, give him the same names as) the two greatest superheroes (in my opinion) of all time.

I’m not sure how I forced down that last bite of food, but I remember just sitting there, staring at my wife, dumbstruck at the words that just came out of her mouth. It seemed like forever before she spoke. “What?” she said.

“You do realize what you’re saying, right? I’ll give you five minutes to retract that statement, because if you don’t, and we do have another son, I’m going to hold you to it.” Bless her sweet heart. My wife is so UN-dorky she had absolutely no idea.

The five minutes came and went, no retraction. We went through the entire meal, and still she could not figure out what elicited that response in me. Afterwards, driving home I had to come clean and tell her. “Oh no. Oh no, no, no, no, no, no, no” she said after realizing her drastic error. But it was too late. The window for retraction had passed. The die was cast. She couldn’t make a legitimate claim that minus the pop-culture, superhero association, she didn’t like the SOUND of “Logan Peter”. She was committed. And wouldn’t you know it? We ARE having #3, and it IS a boy.

There are so many things WRONG about this, don't even get me started.

In all honesty I have no desire to actually name my child after superheroes. Even in my Dorkdaddy-opinion, Nicolas Cage crossed a line when he named his son “Kal-El” (Superman’s Kryptonian birth-name). But I’m very happy to use my wife’s favorite grandfather’s name along with another name we both like the sound of. That’s a perfectly rational, normal way to name a child. But when those names coincidentally are the very same names as two superheroes I have had a better-than-healthy relationship with all my life, most people would assume I went the Nicolas Cage route, rather than the rational, normal route.

As it stands we are still not settled on “Logan Peter” for the son that will make his arrival very soon, precisely because of the association with those superheroes and my better-than-healthy relationship to those same superheroes. But in all honesty, there are no other contenders. “Logan Peter” is polling way out ahead of all the other contenders at the Iowa Caucus. Sure it has some baggage that voters (me and my wife) will have to get past, but looking at all the other candidates it really is the frontrunner.

Just under eight weeks before the election, and the nomination is all but cinched.

“Logan Peter” in 2012.

-Dork Dad

(as always your reactions and comments are welcome below)

Dress-up DorkDaddy

28 Dec

hen I was 5 years old I was the only kindergartener in public school who willingly wore a tie to school.

Hello 1979!

I had three in the bottom drawer of my dresser and I remember them all very vividly: the blue one in the picture, a brown one and a red one, clip-ons all. I didn’t wear them every day (what sort of uptight, type-A, Alex P. Keaton public school kindergartener would THAT be?) and my parents certainly didn’t make me wear them. I wanted to wear them. I wanted to wear them because that’s what my Dad wore every day when he went off to work (with requisite obnoxious pattern, wire-rimmed John Lennon glasses, and the out of control white-man’s afro you would expect from 1979). I’ve mentioned before how the word “buddy” has special meaning in our family. At that time in my life there was me and my dad, and then there was everything else. He was my superhero. He was my idol. He was my buddy. Wearing the ties to school when nobody else did was my outward expression to the world that I was dressing like my Daddy because what he and I had was special. It still is.

Ain’t it the truth?

Now I’ve got a little disciple of my own, and the hero worship is pretty clear from the other side of the relationship. He spends most of the day 

superfriends

with his mother, sister and grandmother, so when I’m around he’s very locked into me and whatever it is that I’m doing. Even though he can’t articulate it with words, when we’re together I can see in his eyes the same feeling I felt putting that tie on back in 1979. What my son and I have is special. He tells me all the time, “We’re buddies, Daddy”. He and I both know how much more that means than the words all by themselves.

Bat-Men

I don’t wear a tie when I go off to work, as much as Art Dugoni and Peter Schiff tried to write that into our Dental-DNA. (Sorry guys. I just can’t do it). Even so, history repeats itself. The son becomes the father. For everything there is a season – turn, turn, turn. That feeling I had with my dad, the feeling that what he and I had was special, I also have with my son; as well as need to reinforce that bond however we can, and to outwardly express it for the world to see.

My son and I don’t have cheezy 70’s ties, but whether by chance or design, we have managed to accumulate virtually identical T-shirt drawers, and as often as we can we parade our matching outfits wherever we go.

Handsome Devils

Spider-men

I was talking about it with a mother at the elementary school as we waited for the kindergarteners to be excused. She mentioned how cute it was that my son and I did that, and that she actually looked forward to seeing what new combinations we come up with week after week. (On a totally separate note, if you want to get attention from the ladies just go to the grocery store hand-in-hand with your irresistibly adorable 3 year old son proudly sporting matching Captain America T-shirts. It’s like catnip for hot soccer-moms. Too bad ladies. This DorkDaddy is very happily married.) Whether we’re going to the grocery store, playing in the park, heading off to the comic book shop, or watching his sister’s soccer game, when my son and I are out and about “dressed same”, my heart just beams. Just like back in 1979 there’s me and him, and then there’s everything else. When he looks up at me at the grocery store, holding my hand, wearing matching Captain America T-shirts, the look in his eyes tells me he feels it too.

Caped Crusaders

Dress-up play isn’t limited to public outings either. Obviously it’s crucial that a Dad takes part in his kids’ fantasy play, sometimes as passive participant, sometimes as a guide. There’s just as much magic to be had when Daddy plays Batman and son plays Robin, as there is when son plays Batman and Daddy plays Robin. In this way we also have the opportunity to invite others into our special relationship. Big sister gets to be Princess Leia. Mommy gets to be Wonder Woman (I’ll totally get you the outfit if you want, Honey).

I promised my wife I would never publish this photo. PLEASE don't tell her.

But that presents another problem. In a matter of weeks my relationship with my son is about to be changed forever. Another man is coming into his life with whom he will rightfully be closer than he and I can ever hope to be. Everything will change. It will never again be just the two of us. When his baby brother is born he will have to foster the relationship between the two of them on his own, as he sees fit. I won’t ever again be able to say he is my #1 guy – that it’s just me and him. When the baby comes it’ll be just me and him… and him. When considering the “dress same” dynamic in our relationship I’ve often thought of how I could work it into a group of three, as opposed to two. Of course we could all three wear “same” T-shirts, but then we’ll wind up looking like those annoying groups you see walking around amusement parks. That’s too dorky even for me. I have come up with one viable, thematic option, but my wife vigorously vetoed the idea when I showed it to her. In truth, as a hardcore advocate of Team-Star Wars (and, indeed, founding member of the Star Wars Fan Club from way back when) I’m not sure I could bring myself to pull the trigger on that one.

This one goes too far even for me. But it *would* work for three of us. The only question is who wears the red shirt.

By the by, if you are a DorkDad interested in indoctrinating your kid(s) in much the same way, or if you have a DorkDad in your life who needs birthday/Christmachanuquanzacah presents, I have found two websites incredibly enabling in that regard. Give Superherostuff.com a look-see, as well as ThinkGeek.net. The nerd(s) in your life will thank you.

Something about apples falling from trees... If my grandpa were here I'm sure we could have found a Green Lantern shirt for him too.

For now, we’ve got about 8 weeks before our party of two becomes a party of three. I’m going to soak up all the me-and-him time I can. At the moment that means that means I’m wearing my Captain America T-shirt while he wears his full, head-to-toe Cap. Costume (mask, shield and padded muscles included).

This Captain Hammer will be Captain America's sidekick any day.

I know it won’t last forever. He won’t always want to “dress same”. The day will come when my boy will need to do everything he can to distinguish himself from me, rather than bond himself to me. But if I’ve done my job as a father, the bond we form in these early years will make the roots of our relationship grow wide and deep. Until then, as long has he’s willing, as long as he wants to outwardly express our special relationship, I’m going to do everything I can to encourage it.

 

-Dork Dad

%d bloggers like this: