Friday, October 24, 2014

Stop by the local Comic Book Store as part of your Trick or Treat Plans



On Saturday, October 25, 2014 local comic book stores across the United States and Canada will be giving away FREE comic books for the industry's HALLOWEEN COMICFEST.  Participating retailers will be handing out 12 full size comics and 7 mini-comics to kids, and adults, who stop by and say "trick or treat" while supplies last.  CLICK HERE to see if there is a participating location near you.

The full size comic books are aimed more for teens and adults with titles such as AFTERLIFE WITH ARCHIE, BATMAN-LEGENDS OF THE DARK KNIGHT HALLOWEEN SPECIAL, MAX BROOKS' EXTINCTION PARADE, GRIMM FAIRY TALES HALLOWEEN SPECIAL, RACHEL RISING and RESIDENT EVIL.



There are though a few of the full sized comic books with a kids focus such as HERO CATS, MY LITTLE PONY, and SCOOBY-DOO TEAMS UP WITH BATMAN.



The mini-comics are much more aimed for younger audiences with a compilation by Boom! Studios that includes stories featuring Adventure Time, Peanuts and Jim Henson's Fraggle Rock plus other comics featuring Angry Birds, Little Battlers and Vamplets: the Undead Pet Society.


Don't miss out on the fun! Make sure you swing by a participating comic book store on Saturday, October 25th.  They'll probably be out of the freebies by the end of the day so don't wait until later in the week to try and pick these up or try to actually trick or treat on Halloween at these stores.

For more information, visit www.HalloweenComicFest.com

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Halloween is a Tricky Time for those with Food Allergies


I had never had any experiences with any friends, family, co-workers or acquaintances suffering from food allergies until the day my daughter ate some peanut butter and we found ourselves in a hospital ER not sure if she was going to live or die after going into anaphylactic shock.  Fortunately everything turned out all right but now everyday is a challenge to avoid food and situations that could put her in peril.

I didn't realize just how much food I'd taken for granted over the years was dangerous for people suffering from food allergies either from ingredients or contamination during the manufacturing, baking or packaging of the product until we had to start monitoring what we fed our family.  The feeling of loneliness and exclusion when dealing with others that don't provide compassion or consideration, and in some cases even express hostility, towards your situation is a factor that I hadn't taken into consideration until food allergies started impacting our daily lives and we experienced these situations first hand.  We've already encountered our kids not being invited to play dates and birthday parties because the other students' parents didn't want to deal with our "food allergy" children being at their function.  On another occasion, we had to sit in the back of the room at a school holiday concert  away from everyone else because the event featured a pot luck buffet full of things that weren't safe for my daughter to eat and they fed everyone before instead of after the students performance of songs that my children had practiced for weeks and were very excited to participate in.

Holidays in particular can be a tricky time with so many parties and events that have a focus on food, especially Halloween.  Halloween was always one of my favorite times of year as a child.  I loved the spooky vibe of the season filled with costumes and decorations and of course trick-or-treating was a huge thrill.  While we stay away from many of the trick-or-treat type events surrounding the holiday, we do go out on Halloween night because I just didn't feel that it was fair for my kids to see all the other children in the neighborhood running around having fun and have to make them stay in the house.  We only go to a few houses in our neighborhood though and our kids don't touch or eat any of the candy.  When they get home my son and daughter trade in their candy for a treat bundle that my wife and I put together for them that includes toys and Halloween themed trinkets.  This year they are getting some Disney Infinity video game figures, Crayola coloring sets, and Scholastic books for their candy trade in. As we are imposing on others by visiting their homes asking for treats we take the responsibility on ourselves to be safe but awareness and consideration regarding food allergies by our neighbors is always appreciated.

My children's allergy doctor participates in the Metro Detroit Food Allergy Friendly Trick-or-Treasure event


Our kids are also lucky in that our community has been generous enough to adopt a Food Allergy Friendly Trick-or-Treasure event for children in the Metro Detroit area to attend the Saturday before Halloween that we enjoy going to.  The organizers screen candy labels for ingredient or contamination warnings and only purchase items identifies as safe for kids with peanut or tree nut allergies, though they do make an effort to accommodate for the eight top allergens impacting children.  They than distribute this candy and some other non-food treats (including comic books from Halloween Comic Fest) to businesses in our downtown who are participating sponsors along the trick or treat route so everyone has pre-screened goodies to hand out.

While the number of children with food allergies is still a small percentage of the population, the numbers are unfortunately growing.  Today, 1 in 12 children, approximately 8 million children living in the United States, are allergic to peanuts, tree nuts or milk, ingredients commonly found in candy.  What is really scary is that cases of the most life-threatening allergy, peanuts, have doubled in the last five years.  So there really are quite a few families dealing with food allergies at Halloween, more than you may have been aware of.



1. CONTAMINATION IS AS BIG AN ISSUE AS INGREDIENTS

Microscopic contamination of food or candy can make treats unsafe even if they don't have the allergen in their actual ingredients.  Don't just look at the ingredients on labels but also watch out for labels that identify if a treat was processed, prepared or packaged in a facility with the allergens.

2.  HOME BAKED & BAKERY MADE ITEMS ARE A NO NO

Unfortunately, even with washing, if the same bowls, pans, utensils and other kitchen tools are used to make and prepare items that contain allergens there is a significant risk of contamination though the food itself may not have the allergen as an ingredient.  That often makes home baked goods and items from bakeries off-limits for kids with food allergies. 

3.  IT IS NOT JUST EATING - TOUCHING ALLERGENS CAN CAUSE REACTIONS

In the case of my daughter, peanut or tree nut oil can be absorbed into her skin causing a reaction.  A child with peanut butter on their hands touching her skin or someone inadvertently contaminating a toy, seat, or desktop by handling something containing peanuts or tree nuts than her handling the same item creates a potential hazard.  Being wary of multiple types of exposures is so important.  The simple act of the wrapper from a piece of candy being torn and thrown into a goodie bag or trick-or-treat sack could contaminate the wrappers of every other item included with it.

4.  LET KIDS GRAB TREATS THEMSELVES OR PUT ITEMS IN THEIR BUCKETS - DON'T TRY TO HAND THEM CANDY

It can be really scary to have a food allergy and someone is trying to force candy you know you shouldn't be touching in your hand.  Every year we have well-meaning people trying to force my daughter to take Reese's Peanut Butter Cups from them by handing them to her even when she says no thank you.  Let the kids grab treats from a bowl or drop them in their trick or treat bucket just to be safe.

5.  LISTEN TO THE KIDS

If a child has a food allergy and sees that you are giving out something they shouldn't have they'll probably tell you and say thanks but I can't have that. Often times my kids just won't take unsafe candy from a bowl or will simply let someone drop it in their bag and not say anything knowing they are trading it to us at the end of the night.  It is when people start trying to force my kids to handle unsafe candy from them where problems occur though.  Every year I witness people telling my kids that food allergies aren't that big of a deal and go ahead and try it.  Than I have to step in!

It amazes me that my kids are always polite and say "thank you but I can't have that because of a food allergy so no thanks" yet adults get angry and argue with them.  Really?!!! 

6.  EVERY CHILD SHOULD HAVE A FUN HALLOWEEN

Try to provide treats at Halloween that are safe for everyone so no child is excluded from Halloween fun.  If you feel it is a necessity to include treats that aren't safe for everyone than provide other options and make sure you keep things segregated.  Many of the food allergy deaths reported within the United States the last few years have been from accidents involving safe and non-safe foods being intermingled.

The charity Kids With Food Allergies has provided a nice digital booklet with tips on trick or treating and other fun activities for food allergic children titled Celebrating Halloween With Food AllergiesCLICK HERE to download it.

 7. SPREAD THE WORD

Because a majority of people do not have food allergies it just doesn't occur to them how important it is to make their home an allergy-friendly stop on the trick-or-treat trail or to take precautions at parties or community events.  Please share this post with friends and families to help make everyone aware!



This Halloween, the charity Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE) is encouraging people to start a new tradition that will help make this holiday season less scary for children with food allergies: the TEAL PUMPKIN PROJECT.  This campaign encourages people to raise awareness of food allergies by providing non-food or food allergy safe treats for trick-or-treaters and painting a pumpkin teal - the color of food allergy awareness - to place in front of their house or display a free printable sign from FARE featuring a teal pumpkin on their front door.



VALU HOME CENTERS has a nice post on their website about how to create a teal pumpkin and participate in the  #TealPumpkinProject.  CLICK HERE to check it out.

For more information about food allergies please visit the FARE website at www.foodallergy.org

Monday, October 20, 2014

Halloween @ the Zoo



During the Halloween season we often skip out on many of the trick-or-treat type events hosted for children because of my daughter's severe peanut allergy to avoid the risks and hassles involved with the candy and goodies that go along with them.  One thing that we do do every year to enjoy the Halloween atmosphere with our kids, and it has become somewhat of a family tradition for us, is take a trip to the local zoo to enjoy their Halloween decorations.

The Detroit Zoo does a nice job of creating artistic Halloween displays made out of pumpkins that you can appreciate as you stroll around the zoo grounds.  With the purchase of an annual pass to the zoological park it also doesn't cost us any extra money to take my minions on a special outing just to spend an afternoon enjoying the decorations. The changing fall colors often add a nice pallet of reds and oranges as a backdrop to enhance the decorations on display that really helps boost our Halloween spirit.

 Here are a few of our favorite displays from this year's visit:

Cinderella's Carriage
The Lorax
Christmas in October
Butterflies
Where the Wild Things Are
Witches Brew
Sesame Street
Detroit Sports Teams
In addition to the pumpkin art work, my kids always want to run up and hug the giant inflatable jack-o-lantern on display.  Yes Charlie Brown there is such a thing as the Great Pumpkin!


The DETROIT ZOO is located at 8450 W. 10 Mile Road in Royal Oak, Michigan.  During the month of October it is open 7 days per week (10am - 5pm/Weekdays & 10am - 4pm/Weekends).  For more information, visit: www.detroitzoo.org

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Pay Whatever You Like to Receive A Huge Bundle of DarkHorse Star Wars Comics on Humble



Don't miss out on this great deal! The Humble Star Wars Comics Bundle lets you pay whatever you like to download a huge selection of digital comic books published by Dark Horse that includes Star Wars Omnibus Volume 1 (the first 26 issues of the Star Wars comics printed by Marvel alongside the movie in 1977), the first four issues of the Star Wars: Empire series, and the Star Wars: Jedi, Crimson Empire, Darth Maul - Death Sentence, and Blood Ties: Jango & Boba Fett mini-series.  Pay $1, $5, $10, $25 whatever you are comfortable with and can afford to purchase these great comics that are provided DRM-free and accessible in multiple formats (CBZ, EPUB, PDF).

To encourage people to spend a little more than a dollar or two there are some incentives for spending a little bit extra.  First of all you can designate some of the money that you spend to be donated in support of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund (CBLDF).  The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund is a non-profit organization dedicated to protecting the First Amendment rights of comic book artists, consumers, retailers, and publishers. Since 1986, the CBLDF has managed and paid for the legal defense of individuals whose First Amendment rights are threatened for making, selling or even reading comic books.  One of CBLDF's more recent projects was successfully defending Ryan Matheson, an American citizen who was unlawfully arrested at Canadian Customs and wrongfully charged with importing child pornography for having digital comic books on his laptop computer which contained innocuous manga images.  Ryan's case cost the CBLDF $75,000 to defend.

Secondly, if you spend the average people are paying for the Humble Bundle (which is currently around $10) you will be provided an additional five selections which includes Knights of the Old Republic Volume 1 Blood of the Empire (11 issues),  Knights of the Old Republic Volume 1 Commencement (7 issues), the first six issues of the Star Wars Legacy series, the first five issues of the Dark Times series and the Darth Vader and the Lost Command (5 issues).  Plus if you spend more than $15 dollars total the first six issues of Brian Wood's "STAR WARS" series are included in your bundle.  So if you spend at least $15 dollars you will get a bundle of 89 Star Wars comic book issues with a combined value of $190 if you were to purchase them individually on the Dark Horse digital marketplace website.  The Brian Wood's Star Wars issues provided in the Humble Bundle for example would cost you $10.99 and the Star Wars Omnibus Volume 1 is priced $9.99 if you were to buy them directly from Dark Horse's website today.


I can testify that these are some great selections in the Humble Star Wars Bundle because I already own most of the issues included in this package.  So while unfortunately this deal isn't that great for me, I can say it really is an exceptional opportunity for anyone who would enjoy reading Star Wars comics and hasn't already collected these editions.

Don't wait to take advantage of this opportunity though as it ends on Wednesday, October 29th @ 11 am PT.  For more information, visit: www.humblebundle.com/books

Note if you are planning to view these comics via a tablet, e-reader or smart phone there are a few things you need to do to access your downloaded comics.  CLICK HERE for all the details.

Marvel to debut a Star Wars: Rebels comic book in April 2015 based upon the Jedi Cowboy

Following up on the recent success in the debut of the brand new animated television series Star Wars: Rebels, Marvel has announced that it will adding a new series to its upcoming lineup of Star Wars comic books coming out in 2015.  Marvel takes over the publication license for Star Wars comic books from Dark Horse in January 2015.  Star Wars -- Kanan: The Last Padawan will be a monthly comic serial that ties into the Star Wars: Rebels animated series being aired on the Disney XD cable channel. 


Kanan Jarrus, who is often described as a "Jedi Cowboy", is the leader of the rebels in the new Star Wars: Rebels television show.  Prior to the destruction of the Jedi Order in Star Wars Episode III he was training as a padawan.  The new comic book will explore the character's early life, depict his padawan training and relationship with his Jedi master Depa Billaba , and how he went into hiding after Order 66 and prior to the events in the novel Star Wars: A New Dawn and Star Wars: Rebels.  The comic book series will be written by Greg Weisman who is an executive producer for the first season of Star Wars: Rebels and illustrated by Pepe Larraz who is currently providing the artwork for Marvel's The Mighty Thor.

Check out this interview on Marvel.com with Greg Weisman about this upcoming comic book series.

Star Wars -- Kanan: The Last Padawan will be joining Star Wars (featuring Luke Skywalker, Han Solo and cast from the original movies) and Darth Vader themed monthly comic books and a Princess Leia mini-series in 2015.  Keep an eye out for all of these titles in 2015.

Friday, October 17, 2014

WEEKEND GIVEAWAY: Earth to Echo Movie Prize Pack



Did you see EARTH TO ECHO, the family adventure movie of the summer, when it was in theaters?!  When a youthful trio of best friends stumble upon a mysterious creature hiding out in their neighborhood they become entangled in an epic journey that goes beyond their wildest imaginations.  This movie is a cross between the movies Goonies & E.T. from my youth tweeked and angled to connect with today's Millennial generation.  This PG rated motion picture was a perfect fit for those who have elementary school aged children and wanted to enjoy a family outing to the movie theater.


Missed it at the theaters or want to see it again?  Don't worry you can now enjoy it in the comfort of your own home as the DVD and Blu-ray are being released on October 21st, 2014 just in time for a Halloween treat for your family. To highlight the October 21st Blu-ray/DVD release of EARTH TO ECHO, our friends at FOX HOME ENTERTAINMENT are providing one lucky A GEEK DADDY BLOG reader with a digital download/blu-ray/dvd movie prize pack.



 UPDATE:  Congratulations to David K. from Houston TX who won the Earth to Echo Prize Pack

To enter to win this prize pack:

ENTRY #1:  E-mail thegeekdaddy [at] yahoo [dot] com your name and mailing address with the subject line EARTH TO ECHO.

ENTRY # 2:  For a second entry follow A GEEK DADDY BLOG on GOOGLE+  and include the account name you using to follow on Google+ in the above noted email.  Your Google+ account info must be included in your ENTRY #1 e-mail  for your second entry to count.

All valid entries will be assigned a number and one random entry will be chosen to receive the Earth to Echo prize pack. You must be a US or Canadian resident to enter over the age of 18.  For a chance to win submit your entries before Sunday, October 19, 2014 @ 11:59pm EST.   A random winner will be selected on Monday, October 20, 2014. A Geek Daddy Blog will be responsible for selecting the winner of this contest, but Fox Home Entertainment is responsible for providing the prize and its delivery to the winner.  By participating in this contest you waive any liability towards A Geek Daddy Blog or its publisher that may arise from your involvement with this promotion.  Only one entrant per mailing address per A GEEK DADDY BLOG giveaway.  If you have won the same prize on another blog, you will not be eligible to win again.  Winner is subject to eligibility verification.  P.O. Boxes are not allowed as mailing addresses for this contest.

 About Earth to Echo:

EARTH TO ECHO is a tale told through the eyes of Tuck, Munch and Alex, a trio of pals who make an out-of-this world discovery.  The best friends venture out of their neighborhood to find the true meaning of friendship.  After receiving signals on their phones, they meet Echo, a small but amazing energetic alien trying to make his way back to his home planet.  As they race to help their new friend, the boys will discover that little Echo has touched their hearts in unexpected ways and changed their lives forever.

To prepare you for this adventurous, exciting and heart warming film, the FOX HOME ENTERTAINMENT INSIDERS - which A GEEK DADDY BLOG is proud to be a part of - have compiled a list of the best way to spend time with your friends outside and away from your cell phones!

1.  PICK UP GAMES: There is nothing like a sports pickup game with all your neighborhood friends.  Between sitting in class all day and coming home to do homework, a quick game, whether it is hockey, baseball, basketball, or soccer, will let you use up some of that energy you've been storing! This is also an awesome way to make new friends.

2. BIKE RIDES:  With your parents permission of course, take a cruise around the neighborhood with your friends!  Also, make sure you wear a helmet.  You can use your imagination and make fun adventures out of your journey!

3.  HIDE N SEEK:  A neighborhood game of HIDE N SEEK is the ultimate outside activity.  With permission from your parents, and of course, using the buddy system when it comes to hiding, Hide N Seek is sure to be an awesome time.

4.  BACKYARD CAMPOUT:  Ask your mom and dad to set up a backyard camp out for you and your friends! Start by setting up a tent and marking your territory with your sleeping bag! You can spend the night telling scary stories and eating S'mores!

5.  CHALK:  The most underrated outside activity has to be chalk!  It is so much fun to create fun pictures and even games with all your friends.  You can play hoscotch, or tic-tac-toe or use your imagination to draw wonderful pictures.

DISCLAIMER:  A Geek Daddy Blog did not receive any compensation beyond a review DVD for the blog and the prize that is being awarded to one of our readers for this contest as part of being a member of the FOX HOME ENTERTAINMENT INSIDERS blogger program.  A Geek Daddy Blog is hosting this contest as a benefit to our readers. 

 #EchoInsiders

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Star Wars Battle Pod Video Game Flies Into Arcades January 2015


With the proliferation of home video game consoles and the fact that most phones probably have at least one game loaded on them (I happen to have Angry Birds: Star Wars and Star Wars Pinball on my iPhone) you wouldn't consider there to be much of a market for manufacturers to be creating new video arcade games.   Bandai Namco Games Inc. is betting that arcades aren't dead just yet though and has invested in a brand new video game titled Star Wars: Battle Pod.  It allows players to take command of vehicles from the original trilogy of films such as X-wings, the Millennium Falcon, snowspeeders, and speederbikes and race through digitally reproduced scenes from the movies in arcade-exclusive game play beginning in January 2015 within the United States and a global release will follow later in the year.   The Battle Pod features a unique dome screen enveloping a player's entire area of sight that leaving him or her with a sense of actually piloting and taking part in scenes from the film.

"The Star Wars universe is a vast galaxy of memorable experiences and epic storylines and we intend to put that level of fun and control in the hands of fans with Star Wars: Battle Pod," said Satoshi Oshita, president and CEO of Namdai Namco Game Inc., in the announcement release promoting this new video game. "Players can jump right in to true-to-film battles on Endor, Hoth, Death Star II, Yavin, and more."



Today's arcades are different than the ones I went to as a kid.  They are much more focused on providing "experiences" rather than actual game play because it is too easy to play games at home or on the go now.  But you currently can't replicate racing on a mechanical jetski or motorcycle (which seem to be some of the more popular games when my kids and I go to the arcade) in your living room or on a phone.  So in that same light this new Star Wars video game provides a visual experience with its multi-dimensional screen that can't currently be replicated outside of the arcade.  From the video previews it appears this game really lets players become immersed in the Star Wars scenario they select and live out a scene from the movies rather than trying to "win" a game or beat levels.  It appears for a set amount of money you are guaranteed to complete your selected mission in  one take versus having to spends lots of hours and tons of quarters trying to get from one level to the next.

In an interview about Star Wars Battle Pods with John McKenzie, president of Bandai Namco Amusement America and Europe by Polygon.com it was noted by the gaming company executive that there would be five levels to the game that each are designed to be accomplished in one sitting so players can enjoy it within a set amount of time for a set amount of money.  "When you go into an arcade you need something that delivers an experience you can't get at home," McKenzie said. "That typically means these much bigger, experiential titles. Games that feel almost like a theater experience or augmented reality, rather than simply something you play for fun. The added benefit of a game like Battle Pod is that it delivers a set experience, typically three to four minutes long, for a set price."



The Battle Pod game will feature five separate scenes to select from key moments in the original trilogy of Star Wars movies and each featuring a different memorable vehicle relevant to that scenario.  In Endor, players race through the forest moon on speeder bikes.  There is a Death Star II scene where you race around and through the space station in the Millennium Falcon.  You try to repel the Imperial attack of the Rebel base on Hoth in a snow speeder.  You can also pick from either Darth Vader's TIE fighter or Luke Skywalker's X-wing to reenact the famous Deathstar space battle from the original Star Wars movie.

So keep an eye out at places like Dave & Busters or Chuck E Cheese for this new video game. It looks pretty darn cool!  I know for sure my kids and I will be on the look out for it.