The Mysterious Energy Source of My Children

DSCI2227
Image: Sarah Pinault. After being bitten by a radioactive spider, my son gets energy tips from Steampunk Iron (Wo)Man.

My children, two and five, believe that mealtimes are an unnecessary interruption to their busy lives. My youngest will happily chow down on a handful of Cheerios as he’s bouncing off the walls, but sit him down for a meal and we have a battle ahead of us. My eldest doesn’t even want the Cheerios! Occasionally he will eat a dinosaur tree (broccoli), but most of the time he will even refuse a big plate of spaghetti if it stands between him and his toys.

Whilst they have decided that their intake is not an important part of daily life, their output has not decreased. They have just as much energy, just as much get up and go, as they did while eating seconds and thirds at every meal. I must therefore hypothesize that my boys derive their energy not from food, but from some alternative energy source. I have narrowed it down as follows:

1. They have Kryptonian blood coursing through their veins and derive strength from the yellow Sun.

2. The plastic ring that was given to my eldest by a nice lady at the grocery store actually contains a piece of Starheart and has him encased in a life-supporting force field.

3. They are not merely my sons, but are the avatars of some long forgotten god such as Khonshu.

4. They have a genetic mutation, a la Hank McCoy, that will only fully appear upon reaching puberty. Heaven help me!

5. They were caught in a nuclear explosion while at daycare, and now have the ability to create identical duplicates. What I am seeing is not one active little boy, but several more sedate ones.

6. They are able to convert impact energy into raw strength. Therefore the more active they are, the more things they crash into, the stronger they become.

7. Their energy is linked to their environment, and somehow increases as parental energy levels decrease.

8. Their natural physiology was enhanced by immersion into an electrical field conducted by a chemical compound.

9. They were bitten by radioactive spiders.

That’s why they have more energy than I do 99.9% of the time, surely.

*Musings on my superhero children were originally posted at Wired.com/GeekMom.

First Day of School: Are You Spock or Troi?

bts2PicsArt_1409454905950
First day drop-off feelings for parents. Photo: Melody Mooney/Spock and Troi via Wikipedia.

Today, I am sitting here in a Starbucks, surrounded by other coffee drinkers and Wi-Fi surfers. It seems impossible but true that it’s been over three years since I joined other adults in going out to be together alone.

Yesterday was the first day of preschool for my daughter. My husband and I stood prepared for this big day. We did all of the tours. We read her all of the right “going to preschool” books. We practiced walking with a backpack and saying goodbye. We met her teaching team the week before. We even did a dry run to her school to get the feel of traffic and parking. The emotional landscape was covered as well. I was prepared for tears or transitional meltdowns from her.

0826141256b
When I was young, it seemed that life was so wonderful, a miracle, oh it was beautiful, magical… But then they send me away to teach me how to be sensible, logical, responsible, practical. Photo: Melody Mooney.

What I wasn’t prepared for was my own fallout while saying goodbye. Confused and disappointed, I did the tearful parental walk of shame back to my car. It shouldn’t have surprised me as much as it did.

I have always been more of a Deanna Troi then a Mr. Spock when it came to emotions.

Curious about how others managed their first day, I did a Google search for why parents cry when dropping kids off. The first page of results were all articles on separation anxiety in children. I scrolled through more and finally found an article on the topic in TheDailyMail.com. It featured a back-to-school  survey by Fairy Non Bio, (a UK baby detergent brand). The questions for parents yielded some familiar sounding answers.

It was revealed that parents were five times more likely to cry than their children on the first day. The study also found that the pain of letting go has even provoked some to try for another baby. Half of the surveyed parents pined for their children’s company and a third missed the background noise.

Now, I won’t go that far, this being the first break in my SAHM constant care since 2011. Instead, I, like many moms, pine for the solitude to read and take a bathroom break uninterrupted. The findings also showed that many of the parents expressed that seeing their children dressed for school marked an end of an era. My reaction seemed to be falling to a normal area, but I wanted to dig deeper.

Still concerned that we were doing the right thing, the words to Supertramp’s “Logical” song rang in my head all day. My mind told me what Mr. Spock would say, but I was feeling Deanna more.

10470168_830296697000962_3106437686305561597_o
First day of kindergarten, first day of pooping alone again! Photo: Karen Alpert, BabySideburns.com.

Sharing from my own pre-parental life experience, I can recall another time when I felt this pain of letting go. As a stage actor, there is this lovely time right before a play opens; a bittersweet limbo that lies between creation and observation. It was always a perfect place for art to live. The gift we as performers were sharing was safe from criticism and judgement there in the Neverland.

The last three-and-a-half years of being a parent felt somewhat similar. The gift I was sharing now with the world was my daughter. Would she be welcomed, understood, and respected for all of her amazingness? Would she be accepted and embraced?  Was I being overprotective or greedy, wanting to keep her safely unschooled and keep her to myself?

I was over-thinking this. I mean, it was just the first day of preschool. My anticipation was probably no different from the thousands of parents posting backpack pictures on Facebook.

Looking just a bit more online,  I found a post by Karen Alpert on the hilarious Baby Sideburns Blog. Karen is a fellow mommy blogger and the author of I Heart my Little **sholes.

This amazingly funny picture of Karen and her own daughter brought my deeper musings into perspective. It provided the laugh I needed to get over myself.

Today is the second day of school. Already, it seems much less loaded. Somewhere between tears and laughter, I realized something important. I needed to give myself a bit of a break. I had practiced understanding when my daughter was feeling overwhelmed. I encouraged her to cry and to get out her feelings. If it was good advice for her, it was good advice for me and for you readers, too.

It is okay to feel these big milestones. Go easy on yourself. Get yourself an iced Earl Grey. Accept a Troi-like virtual hug and a Mr. Spock “live long a prosper” from this GeekMom.

Superhero Summer with SuperHeroStuff.com

Superhero family Summer! \ Images: SuperHeroStuff.com
Superhero family summer! Images: SuperHeroStuff.com.

Living in Florida, you can bet that my summer (and the rest of the year) involves hanging out by the pool or lounging on the beach. I’m never at a loss of what to wear while soaking up the rays, because SuperHeroStuff.com has me and my family covered (literally). This year, I decided to pair each member of my family up with a geeky swimsuit, as well as recommended reading material.

As the saying goes, ladies first. For the ladies, I picked out a Supergirl Wrap Halter Bikini ($43) that will make the boys go crazy. The only downside to this bikini (or upside for the guys) is the top alone ties in three different places and the bottom ties in two places. This is great for personalizing your coverage, but it can be a little difficult to do without a second set of hands (that’s where the guys come in handy). The Supergirl Women’s Costume Tank Dress ($27) goes great with this bikini and doubles as a cover-up when you want to walk the shops. For those who like to have a little music at the beach, check out the Superman symbol speaker wallet ($29). My reading material of choice for this outfit includes Superman/Batman Vol. 2: Supergirl, Supergirl Vol. 1: Power, and Supergirl Vol. 2: Candor. You can store it all in a matching Superman backpack ($55) and Supergirl Makeup Bag ($13). Supergirl Summer Fun

Next, we have a few things for the guys. In my “It’s a bird. It’s a plane. No, it’s…” collection, Superman shines with a comfy pair of board shorts ($32), the Superman Front & Back Image T-Shirt ($22), an embroidered hat ($20), a towel ($15), a rubber bracelet ($6), and a sweet collection of Superman titles including: Infinite Crisis, Superman: Birthright, and Superman/Batman Vol.3 : Absolute Power. Everything can be thrown into a matching Superman backpack ($59).

Superman Summer Fun

For the younger variety, I have designed two outfits—one for the girls and one for the boys.

The girls’ outfit was inspired by Wonder Woman! It includes a modest two-piece bathing suit ($25), an action-packed shirt to cover up between swims ($15), a Wonder Woman action figure ($19) to battle with the boys, and a journal ($15) to write down all their superhero thoughts. The reading selection includes age-appropriate Wonder Woman titles including Wonder Woman: Trial of the Amazons, Wonder Woman vs. Circe, and Wonder Woman: Creature of Chaos. Then, you can pack it all up in a Wonder Woman Backpack ($49).

Wonder Woman Summer

While the girls are pretending to be Amazons, the boys can have fun climbing the walls with a Spider-Man-inspired collection.

The boys collection includes ultimate Spider-Man board shorts ($17), the Spidey mask t-shirt ($16), the Spider-Man Symbol 39Thirty baseball hat ($22), a Spider-Man plushy ($14), a lunchbox ($16), and the kid-friendly Marvel Universe Ultimate Spider-Man ($9) series. Pack it all up in a webcrawler-approved backpack ($23). Make sure you remember to throw some sunscreen in both of the kids’ bags before you hit the water.

SpiderMan Summer

When it comes to quality, it’s hard to beat SuperHeroStuff.com. I’ve had some of my shirts for five years, all without any issues when washing them. I recommend you get any items that are 100-percent cotton a size up, just in case they shrink the first time you wash them. And ladies, if you like the bathing suits and are well endowed like me, you will want to look over the bathing suit sizing very carefully. Bathing suits are not returnable, so if you mess up your size, you are out of luck.

GeekMom received these items for review purposes.

The World According to Wolverine

The World According to Wolverine \ Image: Insight Editions
The World According to Wolverine \ Image: Insight Editions

After reading The World According to Spider-Man, I had to pick up The World According to Wolverine,  because I was curious how the writer would take Wolverine’s berserker rage and tame it down for all-ages.

There’s a lot about Wolverine’s world that, until recently, has been a mystery. Wolverine takes the time to clear some of it up himself in his own words. He admits that he has a few rough edges about him that tend to leave blood behind (and it’s generally not his). Since this is a kid friendly book, he mentions a few of his past mistakes without getting into the guts-and-gore of it all.

The writer chose the smart path and based this Wolverine off of the more recent incarnation where Logan is the Headmaster of the Jean Grey School for the Gifted. He admits in the beginning that he may not be the best person to give out the sort of advice included in the book, but decides to do it anyway hoping the reader will learn from his mistakes.

He goes in order through his history as a child who discovered he was a mutant (check out the Wolverine: Origin comic book series) and continues through his days on the X-Force and up to his current position with the X-Men.

At each stage in his life, he uses his past to teach a lesson about working on a team, trusting others and yourself, dealing with loss, and how to take a step back and focus on your internal struggles verses always throwing your fist around when you get mad.

Don’t expect the witty sarcasm in this title that was in The World According to Spider-Man. Wolverine is in true character: by that I mean he tells it like it is. He warns his readers several times about being careful when it comes to making stupid choices.

I’m a big fan of anything Spider-Man / Wolverine, so I was really happy to see two pages dedicated to their at-times forced partnership. I was even happier to recognize some of the references Wolverine makes to their adventures together, including being stuck back in time together (one of my favorite Spidey / Wolverine stories).

There are some inserts in this book, but none of them really jumped out at me as anything special. They’re worth checking out when they show up in the book.

If you, or someone you know, would like to learn more about Wolverine and what makes him tick, you should check out The World According to Wolverine. It will give you a nice rounded view of the man with the claws and why he is the way he is.

Disclaimer: GeekMom received a review sample.

The World According to Spider-Man

World According to SpiderMan Image Insight Editions
World According to SpiderMan. Image: Insight Editions

The past few months, I’ve fallen in love with Spider-Man. I just can’t get enough of the wise-cracking webcrawler. What better way to learn more about him than with a book by Spider-Man himself? The World According to Spider-Man by Dan Wallace opens with a letter to the reader from Spider-Man, and it goes uphill from there with Spidey breaking the fourth wall to give you an inside look on how to be a superhero. It’s not all glory though, and Spidey does talk about some of his lower moments as well as his higher ones.

Included in this book are some fun removable items including clippings of the Daily Bugle, pictures from Aunt May, and Peter Parker’s report card. There is also a special “guest” section that was written by Aunt May and Venom. These pages are nice because you get to hear about Spider-Man from another character’s point of view and it breaks up the constant wise-cracking.

Speaking of removable inserts, the science section with Reed Richards of the Fantastic Four has two reference cards from Horizon Labs that made me laugh out loud. “So you’ve become unstuck in time” and “So you’re on an unfamiliar planet” talk about the various things that Spider-Man has learned when dealing with one or the other another. Longtime comic book fans will recognize some of the references, while newbie readers will laugh at the craziness of it all.

Of all the information that Spider-Man provides, including how to build your own rogues gallery of super villains and how to balance a love life, my favorite is The Art of Witty Banter and How to Keep a Secret Identity.

A little break time reading. \ Image: Dakster Sullivan
A little break time reading. \ Image: Dakster Sullivan

The Art of Witty Banter only goes on for two pages, but they remind me why I love Spider-Man so much. How to Keep a Secret Identity has a nice little jab at Superman that made me chuckle and my husband (a big time Superman fan) roll his eyes.

My favorite joke in the book is when Spider-Man is talking about the Avengers and their battle cry. I don’t think the artist, Mirco Pierfederici, could have drawn this scene any more perfectly. (Hint: It involves Lego bricks.)

Author Dan Wallace did a nice job capturing Spider-Man’s attitude and personality in this title and the inserts he wrote up and designed were an added bonus.

For those of you worried your child will rip the book trying to get at the inserts, have no fear. The inserts are attached with a substance that feels kind of like rubber cement and they are easy to remove and put back.

The World According to Spider-Man comes in at 62 pages, which makes it a nice break time read for adults, or a fun learning experience for kids who need to turn off the video games for a while. I highly recommend this book for any fan of the webcrawler, ages 6 and up.

GeekMom received a promotional copy for review purposes.

GeekMom: Comic Book Corner — Spider-Man and Space Mountain

Space Mountain
Space Mountain, Art by Kelley Jones © Disney

Happy Comic Release Day! Welcome to another installment of GeekMom Comic Book Corner, where we recap our adventures in comics for the week. This week I let the giggles fly as I read The Ultimate Spider-Man, and Kelly takes us into the world of Disney comics with Space Mountain.

Dakster Sullivan — The Ultimate Spider-Man: Ultimate Collection Vol. 1 by Brian Michael Bendis  and art by Mark Bagley

Ultimate Spider Man Ultimate Collection Vol 1. \ Image: Marvel
Ultimate Spider Man Ultimate Collection Vol 1. © Marvel

Last night, despite a pounding headache, I picked up my copy of The Ultimate Spider-Man: Ultimate Collection Vol. 1, which encompass the first thirteen issues from the hit series by Brian Michael Bendis.

These first thirteen issues give the traditional origin story with Uncle Ben’s death, but it also gives a different twist on his killer and how Spider-Man goes after him. And when it comes time for Peter to get a job, he gets a dual role as Spider-Man photographer and website tech for the Daily Bugle. I thought the addition of Peter working on the Daily Bugle website gave his origins a nice modern update and something more solid to do after school than running around taking pictures all day.

Something else that’s different in this story-line is Gwen Stacy, or the lack of her, that is. Mary Jane is the only girl that Peter shows interest in and they have a nice relationship for most of the book. My guess is that this was written for the younger generation whose unfamiliarity with Gwen caused her to be omitted entirely.

In terms of villains, we see the beginning of the Green Goblin and we meet Doctor Octavius in his pre-transformed state. Electro makes an appearance as well, but it’s brief and he’s more of the hired help at this point in the story.

Most Spider-Man issues I’ve read had me chuckle inside, but this volume actually had me laughing out loud. My favorite part was when Spider-Man took on the Kingpin and started reading fat jokes off of note cards. The jokes he was making were just too funny to hold in.

I know that the X-Men will eventually show up as guest stars in this series, and I can’t wait to see how they interact with Spidey.

The Ultimate Spider-Man is appropriate for anyone 10 years old and up.

Curious to know what I’m pulling this week? Check out my pull list on Comixology.

Kelly Knox – Space Mountain by Bryan Q. Miller and Kelley Jones (Disney)

Is it trite to say that the new original graphic novel Space Mountain is a fun ride? It is? Too bad, I’m saying it anyway.

space-mountain
© Disney

Space Mountain is an epic, family-friendly, time-traveling space adventure in the same vein as the 1979 Disney flick The Black Hole. Granted, I don’t remember much of The Black Hole because it scared the bejeebies out of me as a kid, but I do know that Space Mountain has a lot of the same deep-space adventurous vibe. And, you know, a black hole.

It’s the year 2125, and two space cadets from the Magellan Science Academy get the chance of a lifetime when they win a ride on a time-traveling spaceship. Once they join the crew and begin their journey to 24 hours in the future, something goes horribly wrong. The kids must save the crew–and history as we know it–before it’s too late.

The graphic novel is based on the Disneyland attraction of the same name, but doesn’t overdo the park references. If you’re a fan of Disney parks, though, you’ll get a kick out of the cameos here and there as parts of Tomorrowland make an appearance. (Tomorrowland was the working title of the book, and would have worked even better, but it was presumably changed because of the upcoming film with the same name.)

I only picked up this graphic novel because Bryan Q. Miller wrote it, and I was hoping for another space adventure like his recent creator-owned book Earthward. I wasn’t disappointed. While it’s a little early to introduce my 5-year-old to time travel and paradoxes, I will happily share Space Mountain with her when she’s a little older.

 

Looking for something else, readers? Check out this week’s listed books:

DC-Comics-Old.jpg marvel-logo1.jpg

Action Comics #32
Aquaman And The Others #3  New Series
Batman ’66 Meets The Green Hornet #1 (Of 6) New Mini-Series
Batman And Robin Vol. 3 Death Of The Family TP
Batman And Robin Vol. 4 Requiem For Damian HC
Batman Arkham Asylum Living Hell Deluxe Edition HC
Batman Eternal #9
Batwing #32
Before Watchmen Minutemen Silk Spectre TP
Earth 2 #24
Green Arrow #32
Green Lantern #32
Hellblazer Vol. 8 Rake At The Gates Of Hell TP
Hinterkind #8
Justice League 3000 #7
Looney Tunes #219 Kid Friendly
New 52 Futures End #5 Weekly Series
Stormwatch Vol. 2 TP
Stormwatch Vol. 4 Reset TP
Swamp Thing #32
Swamp Thing Vol. 4 Seeder TP
Tiny Titans Return To The Treehouse #1 (Of 6) New Mini-Series Kid Friendly 
Trinity Of Sin The Phantom Stranger #20
Vampire Diaries #6
Wake #9 (Of 10)
All-New X-Factor #9
Amazing X-Men #8
Amazing X-Men Annual #1
Avengers #24.NOW
Avengers World #7
Black Widow #7
Captain America #21
Cyclops #2 New Series
Deadpool #27 (Wedding Issue)
Indestructible Hulk Vol. 4 Humanity Bomb HC
Inhumanity HC
Iron Fist The Living Weapon #3 New Series
Iron Man #27
Loki Agent Of Asgard #5 New Series
Magneto #5 New Series
Miles Morales The Ultimate Spider-Man #2
Miracleman #7
Moon Knight #4 New Series
New Warriors #5 New Series
Nova Classic Vol. 3 TP
Original Sin #3 (Of 8)
Painkiller Jane The 22 Brides #1 (Of 3) New Mini-Series
Punisher #6
Punisher MAX By Jason Aaron Omnibus HC
Superior Foes Of Spider-Man #12
Uncanny Avengers Vol. 2 The Apocalypse Twins TP
Wolverine And The X-Men By Jason Aaron Omnibus HC
idw-logo.jpg Dark-Horse-Logo-2.jpg

G.I. JOE A Real American Hero #203
G.I. JOE Origins Omnibus Vol. 1 TP
Judge Dredd Mega-City Two #5 (Of 5)
Maxx Maxximized #8
Parker The Martini Edition Limited Variant Edition HC
Samurai Jack Vol. 1 The Threads Of Time TP Kid Friendly
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #34
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Vol. 8 Northampton TP
X-Files Art Gallery #1
Angel And Faith Season 10 #3
Dragon Age Library Edition Vol. 1 HC
Ghost #4
Lobster Johnson Get The Lobster #4 (Of 5)
Mass Effect Foundation Vol. 2 TP
Michael Avon Oeming’s The Victories #12
Nexus Omnibus Vol. 5 TP
Robert E. Howard’s Savage Sword #8
Toshiro TP

Acronym Key: VC = Variant Cover / HC = Hard Cover / TP = Trade Paperback / GM = GeekMom Recommended Reading

Happy Meals, Gender Options, and The Amazing Spider-Man 2

2014-spiderman2-mcdonalds
Photo: McDonalds.com

There have been many posts and grumblings online regarding the ever-present gender-specific policy of Happy Meals from McDonald’s, which have increased with the release of The Amazing Spider-Man 2.

Being responsible GeekMoms, we have an ongoing interest in examining gender stereotypes in toys. A post from last August took on the issue of the girl-focused Lego Friends line; Building on Her Own Terms: From Lego Foe to Lego Friends. The real-world results of Cristen Pantano and her journey of acceptance is one I can relate to with my own preschool geekling girl. Whether it be pink or red Legos, the thrill of seeing a new skill set blossom which was thought to primarily belong to sons and not daughters is greater than the sum of a few misplaced artistic choices and packaging fumbles.

To get to the bottom of the Mc-noise about the Happy Meals, I decided to brave the slings and arrows from those who boycott fast food to get to the bottom of this not-so-happy meal issue. We’re not a family that eschews McDonald’s. There is a certain nostalgic comfort in those golden arches. But it did catch me off-guard when the pleasant young employee asked if I was buying “for a boy or girl.”

We opted to buy both versions and found that Ella, my daughter, really wasn’t into the massive wind-up spider that came with the boy-themed meal. She did, however, love her purple hair clip with the Spider-Man insignia and immediately put on her black webbed headband. I was a bit disappointed in her choice to shun the spider, since she had more recently been playing with a friend, who is a boy, and came home wanting a remote-controlled tarantula that climbs the wall—so much so, it made her Christmas list (in May!). The flights of fancy of a 3-year-old do change quickly.

Another change I noticed recently is her vocabulary for toys and clothes in general. She has begun placing most things in either “boy” or “girl”categories. This was a little heartbreaking for me. I tried to explain that items do not have to sit in one gender or the other. I reinforced that it’s okay for her friends who are boys to like pink, just as it’s okay for her to wear superhero shirts. Still, she has become adamant about gender assignments. It may be a battle that I lose, but I will keep on trying to neutralize the playing field.

So it bothered me a little to discover that McDonald’s still offers boy or girl Happy Meals. It’s not the gender-predictable colors of the toys that bother me; I wrote a piece not too long ago explaining that in our house, “pink” is not a four-letter word. My concerns are about gender-assigned content. My feelings aside, Ella was pleased to have a choice in toys and ultimately went with the girl theme. This left me thinking that it may make more sense for McDonald’s to offer an “option A” or “option B” meal, leaving gender labels out. Gender neutrality could even lead to more sales and happy parents. Going forward with change, it would be wise of Ronald to remember that “with great meals comes great responsibility.”

Mc-fumbles and gender strides aside, my GeekMom Spidey senses were tingled enough by the Spider-Man 2 toys to create this short review with my 3-year-old daughter.

Towel Day: 42 Occurrences of The Number 42 in Pop Culture

42 © Lincolnian via Flickr
42 © Lincolnian via Flickr

Any good geek knows that the answer to the great question of life, the universe and everything is 42. But were you aware just how often that number has crept up in pop culture? From apartment numbers to Hurley numbers, dates to car registrations, the number 42 is everywhere when you start looking hard enough. Here are 42 examples of the number turning up in pop culture.

1. The first reference that Douglas Adams made to 42 was during a sketch called “The Hole in the Wall Club” in which Griff Rhys Jones mentions the 42nd meeting of the Crawley and District Paranoid Society.

2. In Star Trek, the USS Enterprise (NCC-1701-D) has 42 decks.

3. In The X-Files, Agent Mulder lives at apartment 42.

4.In Caprica the license plate of Starbuck’s truck is “FB 42 E3.

5. In Spore, the Staff of Life is limited to 42 uses.

Continue reading Towel Day: 42 Occurrences of The Number 42 in Pop Culture

Spider-Man Swings Into Stride Rite

Marvel Spider-Man X-celerators  Image: Dakster Sullivan
Marvel Spider-Man X-celerators / Image: Dakster Sullivan

Spider-Man swings into Stride Rite this year with their latest Marvel line. My last experience with Stride Rite shoes was not the greatest, so when I was asked if I wanted to check these out, I was a little scared. Since my son is a huge Spider-Man fan, I decided to let him give them a try. If anyone could quality test shoes, it’s my 6-year old son.

I choose to let him test out the Marvel X-celerators.

Image: Marvel
Image: Marvel

As soon as the shoes arrived my son fell in love. I took them out of their box and asked him to go review them for me. Noticing his blank stare, I rephrased said, “Put them on and run around.” That he understood. After a few times running up and down the hallway, he declared that the shoes were “awesome.”

A few weeks later, I asked my son a few simple questions about the shoes. First, I asked him how they felt and he replied, “Comfy and very comfy.” Second, I asked him how he liked them and “great” was his only reply (this could be because he was playing on the iPad at the time).

Stride Rite Spider- Man X-celerators / Image: Stride Rite
Stride Rite Spider- Man X-celerators / Image: Stride Rite

Since he didn’t seem to want to be interviewed about his footwear, I decided to take him out for some field testing. The Velcro straps were easy to put in place and stayed in place while he played. The grip on the bottom of the shoes didn’t fail him once. His actions while wearing the shoes and his lack of complaining when he took them off gave me all the data I needed.

He wore the shoes actively every day for a month. Once the month was over, I looked the shoes over for wear and tear. I was surprised to see that there was no more than the average damage on them.

I have to say these shoes might have changed my mind about Stride Rite. They’ve lasted longer than his previous pairs and he still enjoys wearing them.

The Spider-Man X-celerators are available online and at select Stride Rite locations.

In exchange for my time and efforts in  reporting my opinion within this blog, I received a free review sample. Even though I receive this benefit, I always give an opinion that is 100% mine.

The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in all its Geeked out Glory

In November 2000, I hopped on a bus with fifteen other exchange students and went down to New York City. It was my first trip there and to say I was excited was an understatement. I was determined to take full advantage of my semester in the US, and so rather than go home with friends for Thanksgiving, I was to spend three days devouring everything that NYC had to offer. Luckily another student wanted to do the tourist thing with me so I was not alone on my mad rush. We woke early, hopped on the subway and headed downtown. Nobody told us there was a parade in New York on Thanksgiving morning.

Image: Sarah Pinault

When we encountered barren streets alternated with jam-packed streets, and police on every corner, we asked one of them where to go. We set up shop outside of a Duane Reade and for two hours, stomped our feet, hooted, hollered and made merry with the masses. It was amazing.

While I am a Christmas fanatic, my husband is decidedly a Thanksgiving man. Thus over the years I have become more and more vested in this wonderful holiday and it’s traditions. For me the highlight of my Thanksgiving celebrations is the parade. This particular parade began in 1924 with live animals and street performers, the first balloons were added in 1927 with the debut of Felix the Cat. That first year, Felix was filled with air, helium wasn’t used until the following year. Suspended only during World War II due to the need for rubber and helium in the war effort, the parade has been a Thanksgiving staple in New York every year since.

This year will be the 85th parade and we can expect to see 15 giant character balloons; 44 ornament balloons including balloonicles and balloonheads; 27 floats; 1,600 cheerleaders, dancers and performance group members; 800 clowns; 11 marching bands; numerous celebrity performers, and, of course, Santa Claus.  Sonic the Hedgehog makes his return this year, along with a balloon created by Tim Burton. Pikachu and Spiderman also make their return trip down 34th street this year. Here’s a run down of the more geeky offerings in the balloon department, listed by the year they were introduced. A full listing can be found on Wikipedia:

  • Image: Macy’s Press Release

    1939: Superman

  • 1966: Superman (second version)
  • 1972: Astronaut Snoopy (the second version of Snoopy in tribute to Apollo 11)
  • 1980: Superman (third version and also the largest balloon to appear in the parade)
  • 1987: Spider-Man
  • 1993: Sonic the Hedgehog becomes the first video game character in the parade
  • 2001: Jimmy Neutron and Pikachu
  • 2003: Super Grover
  • 2006: Pikachu with Poké Ball (2nd version)
  • Spider-Man (second version)
  • 2011: Sonic the Hedgehog (second Version)

Every year, I look forward to seeing which Broadway shows are going to be showcased in front of Macy’s. I’m a little scared this year to finally have a glimpse at the Spiderman Musical, but if I lived through Legally Blonde, I can certainly get through this. The disclaimer here being that I love all musicals, no matter how corny!

There have also been several floats over the years that nodded to the geek community:

  • 1985: Masters of the Universe
  • 1987: Marvel Comics
  • 2003: Tutenstein
  • 2006: Space Station Discovery
  • 2010: Pokémon Black and White
  • 2011: Universal Orlando Resort – though I’m reserving judgment on this one until Thursday.

As for me, I will always have a place in my heart for the Dancing Grandmas of 2000! Happy Thanksgiving.

 

LEGO, Marvel Team Up for Super Fun

With the kickoff of the San Diego Comic Con yesterday, the timing was perfect for LEGO and Marvel to announce the marriage of two of America’s the world’s favorite pastimes. According to this media release,

“Marvel has granted LEGO Group the rights to develop a distinct Marvel branded construction toy collection — LEGO SUPER HEROES — which will bring the characters, vehicles and action of Marvel’s renowned universe to the world of LEGO® build-and-play adventure.”

Watch for LEGO minifigs of Marvel characters such as Iron Man, The Hulk, Captain America, Thor, Hawkeye, Loki, Black Widow, Wolverine, Magneto, and more. New characters should be available in May of 2012 (coinciding nicely with the release of Marvel’s The Avengers movie), but GeekMoms at the San Diego Comic Con can catch a sneak peek at the LEGO booth. Color me jealous.

Spotlight On Geek Crafts: Comic Salvage

All Images: Courtesy of  Comic Salvage

I’m a sucker for re-purposing. When I was younger I would take my dad’s beer bottle caps, punch holes in them, and make earrings. When it came time to plan my best friend’s baby shower, I massacred some Little Golden books rather than visit One Stop Party Shoppe. So when Sue at Comic Salvage contacted GeekMom and said “Hey check this out!”, well I couldn’t resist.

I’ve been an Etsy surfer for several years now, I helped my mother-in-law set up her shop, after being introduced to the site by a friend, then I toyed with my own store. I never did get over my fear of PayPal to make anything of it. When I saw Sue’s creations at Comic Salvage, I decided to take the plunge and make my first Etsy purchase. A few days later, one very nice delivery man, and I am in love, with the jewelry that is.

I don’t have the patience to make my own jewelry. I’ve tried, it doesn’t make me happy. Having someone else do it however — now that I can do. I bought a “POW!” necklace for myself, and a speech bubble necklace for my 16-year-old niece that I thought was more than appropriate. I’m always a bit dubious buying sight unseen, but these pieces satisfied every doubt I had about weight, length and quality. I was impressed by the craftsmanship that has gone into these pieces; the wrapping itself was a work of art. I couldn’t resist chatting a little more with owner, Sue Smith, about how she got into the comic book/jewelry business.

GeekMom: How did you get started?

Sue: This idea was floating around in my head for about two years.  I never really knew how to go about starting it, so I researched a lot.  I tried to figure out what kind of materials I would use, what would look best and without costing a fortune.  I’m a stay-at-home mom, so I was looking for something to do that was creative, but could also bring a little money into our home.  I started with an Etsy shop that had some of the comic book jewelry, fabric and vintage inspired pieces.  I realized very quickly that the comic book jewelry was doing well and that I should start a shop dedicated to it!

GeekMom: What made you pick comic books?

Sue: That’s an easy one.  My husband is an illustrator and has been collecting comic books since he was a kid, so I’m surrounded by them.  We love collecting anything vintage, especially toys and books from our childhood.  We are often scouting out garage sales and flea markets for some good finds.  I’ve always noticed the excessive amounts of distressed comic books that were out there.  A lot of them are missing covers or ripped and not worth much.  I loved the idea of recycling them into little pieces of history that you can wear!

GeekMom: What have been your favorite pieces to work with?

Sue: I love them all, but I guess my favorite are the necklaces with the dialogue balloons.  I love being able to express an emotion whether it’s inspirational or funny.  I also love making my “puzzle links.”  They are cuff links that reveal one image when put together.

GeekMom: Do you make duplicates?

Sue: I haven’t used a duplicate yet.  There are so many comic books out there, that I haven’t come across the need to use an image I’ve used before. I probably won’t for a long time.  Each piece is taken from an original vintage comic book, which makes it unique.  I only use comic books that are 20 years or older.

GeekMom: Do you do custom work?

Sue: Yes, I do custom pieces!  There are so many characters out there and people have their favorites. I wouldn’t want to deny them that!

GeekMom: Have you had any peculiar requests?

Sue: No, I wouldn’t say I’ve had any peculiar requests.  I have had one favorite so far.  A customer asked me to make her cuff links for her fiance as a wedding gift.  It was for Robocop, which was actually really hard for me to find. I found the perfect picture and sent her the cuff links and the comic book it came from.  It’s going to be handed to him on his wedding day, which is so cool!  It’s stories like this that make my job so fun!

No Superheroes were harmed in the making of this jewelry.