Monday, January 26, 2015

The Book of Life

 Coloring Page & Movie Giveaway

In promotion of THE BOOK OF LIFE's January 27, 2015 release on Blu-ray and DVD our friends at Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment have provided A Geek Daddy with some color pages for kids to enjoy plus a Blu-ray/DVD/Digital HD edition of the movie to giveaway so one of our lucky readers can have a fun movie night the whole family can enjoy.  Have fun coloring and if you want to show off your child's artwork feel free to scan it and send back to us for an extra entry in our movie giveaway contest.

THE BOOK OF LIFE is a breathtaking animated comedy with a dazzling visual style unlike anything you’ve seen before.  Written and directed by Jorge R. Gutierrez and produced by Guillermo del Toro, the characters venture to the Land of the Remembered and embrace the rich culture and family history brought to life by the all-star voice cast of Channing Tatum, Zoe Saldana, Diego Luna, Ron Perlman, Kate del Castillo, Christina Applegate and Ice Cube.  Torn between the expectations of his family and the desires of his heart, a young man named Manolo sets off on an epic quest that spans three spectacular worlds in order to reunite with his one true love and defend his village. Not your ordinary fairy tale, THE BOOK OF LIFE is a wondrous fantasy-adventure filled with magic, music and fun!


For a chance to win this prize pack you must be a US or Canadian resident over 18 years old and  submit one or all of the following entry methods to earn up to 3 entries prior to 11:59 pm EST on Wednesday January 28, 2015:

 Entry 1: E-mail thegeekdaddy [at] yahoo [dot] com your name and mailing address.  Email subject line should be BOOK OF LIFE.

Entry 2:  Color one of the pages posted above, scan it, and attach it to your email.  Coloring Pages will not be judged but they could possibly be posted on this blog, twitter, facebook, or google+ for all of our followers to appreciate.

Entry 3: LIKE A Geek Daddy on Facebook and provide the name of the account you used in your email.

 All valid entries will be assigned a number in the order they are received and one number will be  selected to determine the winner using random.org.  E-mails will only be used to contact the winner and deleted following the selection of a winner.


DISCLAIMER:  A Geek Daddy Blog will be responsible for selecting the winner of this contest, but Fox Home Entertainment is responsible for fulfillment and delivery of the prize.  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.  If you win this prize on another blog, you will not be eligible to win again.  Winner is subject to eligibility verification. Prize will be delivered by UPS or FedEx so no P.O. Boxes are allowed as mailing addresses. A Geek Daddy Blog did not receive any financial compensation but did receive a review DVD for the blog and the prize that is being awarded to one of our readers for this contest.  A Geek Daddy Blog is hosting this contest as a benefit to our readers. Any opinions in this post are my own.
 #BOLinsiders

Snow on the Ground Doesn't Mean You Can't See Animals Around the Zoo

We made a trip to the Detroit Zoo the other day because my kids wanted to visit its baby giraffe Mpenzi (named the Swahili word for love).  Mpenzi was born on September 30, 2014 is almost four months old now and sure is a "big" baby.  We spent a half hour with no other visitors around watching Mpenzi and his mother Kivuli play together in their pen while a volunteer docent told us about all sorts of interesting facts regarding giraffes.  Kivuli's father Jabari (the second tallest giraffe in a North American zoo) kept sticking his neck out to get our attention and show-off from his pen located next to the mother and baby's.  The docent chuckled that "Jabari loves visitors and can be a real attention hog."


Many people don't think of winter as being a time to visit the zoo, but most are open year long and if you are willing to bundle up and embrace dealing with some cold weather it can be a great experience.  We've made several winter visits to the Detroit Zoo over the last few years and every trip we've essentially had the place to ourselves while having some memorable animal encounters.  During our most recent visit the zoo's grounds were covered in snow and it was a brisk 30 degrees out, but it was also sunny with no breeze so it really wasn't that chilly out as we made our way around.

 

There are plenty of animals on display outdoors even when snow is on the ground.  We have seen our best views of the tiger at the Detroit Zoo on winter visits.  You wouldn't think that Lions from Africa or Kangaroos from Australia would be out in the cold, but we've seen them outside during winter trips as well.  Though the lions do like to lounge on the warming rocks in their exhibits on these snowy cold days.

 

Winter is a great time to see the polar bears who are much more active and playful when there is snow on the ground.  The Detroit Zoo provides multiple heated indoor locations where you can view the bears, as well as an assortment of seals that are also native to the arctic climates, and while these areas are often uncomfortably crowded when the weather is warmer my kids normally have the run of the place during our winter visits.


The best plan for a winter zoo visit is to make sure you know where all the indoor exhibits are and map out how you can get around using them as bridges to get out of the cold.  Our normal path at the Detroit Zoo involves jumping inside these display areas between viewing the outdoor exhibits: Penguinarium, Butterfly Garden/Bird Aviary, Otter Habitat, Reptile House, Chimpanzee & Gorilla Enclosure, Rhino Exhibit, Giraffe House, Arctic Ring of Life, and wrapping up our trip with a stop at Amphibianville before leaving.  The Detroit Zoo does have a Winter Map posted online of their own recommendations for a route through the zoological park which is pretty much the reverse of what I just described.

Here is some info on some of the indoor areas that people who don't have annual memberships and regularly attend the Detroit Zoo may not know:

The Reptile House is in the middle of the grounds and a nice break to get out of the cold between the long walk between the indoor exhibits at the rear of the zoo and those at the front.  It is normally empty of people when we have visited in the winter and kept at a tropical humid temperature making it a very comfortable place to be on a cold day.  The real bonus though is that the snakes are always very active when we've stopped in on our snow day visits compared to the summer months when the crowd noise tends to send them hiding in their exhibits.



I don't believe many people realize their is an indoor Rhino Exhibit at the Detroit Zoo as it is always empty when we visit.  It provides nice views of the animals from a heated gallery, plus some cool benches to sit down and take the load off.



The Giraffe House is heated, open and has benches to sit on.  You can get up close to these gigantic creatures with a much better view than what you can see outdoors during the warmer months.  You really don't understand how tall these animals are until you stand up right next to one.

The Otter Habitat viewing area is heated but the pond environment where the animals swim and lounge about isn't and when the weather is cold these animals love to play....the most active we've ever seen the otters has been during our winter trips.

Going stir crazy in your house, maybe a winter road trip to a zoo is just the ticket to get out and about.  Make sure you contact the zoo before you go to confirm their winter hours (which normally are normally different than during the peak months) and that they are actually open the day you want to go.  Check to see if the zoo has any special events going on during the winter too as part of your trip planning.  For example the Detroit Zoo has several WILD WINTER WEEKENDS with special themed activities going on during those events.


CLICK HERE to search a list of all the accredited zoos and aquariums in the United States and see which ones might be close enough to you for a family road trip.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Aspiring Athletic Wear Designer Creates Stellar Star Wars Themed Soccer Uniforms



The indoor soccer team I play on thought we were sporting some great jerseys when we selected the stormtrooper themed shirt pictured above to wear during games for our most recent season.  We were put to shame though by an aspiring clothing designer named Nerea Palacios who has showcased a line of Star Wars themed soccer kits (what serious players and fans call uniforms) on her website that are pretty fantastic.  Hoping to garner the attention of Nike or another sporting attire brand to hire her to professionally design soccer kits, Palacios created a number of outfits tied to specific Star Wars characters to demonstrate her talents and gain some attention.


The soccer kit themes include Han Solo, Chewbacca, Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, Obi-wan Kenobi, R2-D2, C-3P0, Darth Vader, Boba Fett, and Stormtrooper.  All of them are impressive, most impressive ... though my favorites out of the bunch are the the droids R2-D2 and C-3P0.


To check out the full gallery of her Star Wars soccer kits visit www.behance.net/nereapalcacios.  Good luck with your job hunt and fashion designing career Nerea - May the Force be with You!

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Disney's 2015 Movie Lineup is Blockbuster Gold

This is the year to buy Disney stock because 2015 is when their brand acquisitions over the last decade are coming together for a stellar movie lineup that is as good as gold filled with blockbusters that may generate record profits for the company.  Pixar, Marvel, and Star Wars will be combining with classic Disney brands (Cinderella, The Jungle Book, and TomorrowLand) that will have people young and old excited to go to the movie theater throughout the year.  I'm both excited by all these movies and a little concerned about just how much lighter my wallet is going to be if my family actually goes to all the movies at the theater we want to see...and as great as digital downloads or DVDs can be they still don't match the thrill of viewing a blockbuster on the big screen.  So with no further delay, here's the 2015 list of feature films from Disney:

STRANGE MAGIC - January 23 (Touchstone Pictures/LucasFilm)


"Strange Magic" is a madcap fairy tale musical inspired by "A Midsummer Night's Dream." Popular songs from the past six decades help tell this animated tale of a colorful cast of goblins, elves, fairies and imps, and their hilarious misadventures sparked by the battle over a powerful potion.



McFarland USA - February 20 (Walt Disney Studios)

A cross country coach in a small California town transforms a team of athletes into championship contenders.



CINDERELLA - March 13 (Walt Disney Studios)


A live-action retelling of the classic fairy tale about a servant step-daughter who wins the heart of a prince. This is the number one movie my six year old daughter wants to see this year.



Monkey Kingdon - April 17 (Disney Nature)


It has become a tradition for Disney to release a nature themed movie around Earth Day and this year's topic is monkeys.  Monkey Kingdom is a documentary that follows a newborn monkey and its mother as they struggle to survive within the competitive social hierarchy of the Temple Troop, a dynamic group of monkeys who live in ancient ruins found deep in the storied jungles of South Asia.



AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON - May 1 (Marvel)


This might have been the most anticipated movie of the year until word came out that a new Star Wars movie would be coming out.  Sorry Marvel but this will still be a huge blockbuster.  In this sequel based on the characters from Marvel comic books, when Tony Stark (Iron Man) tries to jumpstart a dormant peacekeeping program, things go awry and it is up to the Avengers to stop the villainous Ultron from enacting his terrible plans.


TomorrowLand - May 22 (Walt Disney Studios)


This movie is still pretty shrouded in mystery but is based on the TomorrowLand section of Disney's theme parks and stars George Clooney.  Here's the synopsis:  Bound by a shared destiny, a teen bursting with scientific curiosity and a former boy-genius inventor embark on a mission to unearth the secrets of a place somewhere in time and space that exists in their collective memory.


INSIDE OUT - June 19 (Disney / Pixar)

This animated film tells a story from the perspective of the emotions inside the mind of a little girl.


Ant-Man  -  July 17 (Marvel)

Armed with a super-suit with the astonishing ability to shrink in scale but increase in strength, con-man Scott Lang must embrace his inner hero and help his mentor, Dr. Hank Pym, plan and pull off a heist that will save the world.


THE JUNGLE BOOK - October 9 (Walt Disney Studios) 


A live action telling of the classic story of an orphan boy is raised in the jungle with the help of a pack of wolves, a bear, and a black panther.  The Disney animated version of this movie is a favorite of my kids so you know we'll probably be going to see this as a family outing.

Untitled Cold War Spy Thriller - October 16 (DreamWorks Pictures)



Directed by Steven Spielberg this movie produced by DreamWorks Studios is being distributed through Disney. It tells the tale of an American lawyer recruited by the CIA during the Cold War to help rescue a pilot detained in the Soviet Union.

THE GOOD DINOSAUR - November 25 (Disney / Pixar)

After a traumatic event unsettles a lively Apatosaurus named Arlo, he sets out on a remarkable journey, gaining an unlikely companion along the way - a human boy.  This is the move my son really wants to see this year.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens - December 18 (LucasFilm)

This of course is the movie that I and millions of other fans are looking forward to 2015 with each of us wondering if this will be a hit like the original trilogy or a flop like the prequels that followed. For those of you who may have been hiding under a rock for the last year or so this new movie is a continuation of the saga created by George Lucas set thirty years after Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi (1983).

So that's the Disney movie lineup for 2015. What do you think?!  Have fun at the movies this year my friends ... I know my family and I will be having a blast!

Friday, January 23, 2015

Celebrate NATIONAL READING DAY with Your Family


January 23rd has been designated National Reading Day to celebrate and encourage reading by children. Whether it is a parent reading to a preschooler or an elementary school aged child reading on their own, most medical and educational experts contend that children should be reading or read to every day because it helps develop vocabulary and communications skills that are vital for both learning and social interactions.  For our family, I read each night a bed time story to our kids before they go to sleep.  During the preschool years every night I'd read Dr. Seuss's ABC plus one other story from our home library of children's books to mix things up.  Now that my twins are in kindergarten, I've given Dr. Seuss' ABC a rest but we still read a book every night.  Lately, my daughter's favorite bed time story is CORDUROY by Don Freeman and my son's is HAVE YOU SEEN MY DRAGON? by Steve Light.  Here are a few other of our favorite bed time reading books:

PETE THE CAT & HIS FOUR GROOVY BUTTONS by James Dean

llama llama red pajama by Anna Dewdney

DUCK @ THE DOOR by Jackie Urbanovic

IF YOU GIVE A MOUSE A COOKIE by Laura Joffe Numeroff

BEDTIME MATH by Laura Overdeck

A nice way to celebrate National Reading Day is to mark the occasion by creating a list of some of the books you'd like to read in 2015 and then enjoy reading them throughout the rest of the year.



In recognition of National Reading Day and the Blu-ray/DVD release of the movie The Book of Life on January 27, 2015 our friends at Fox Home Entertainment generously provided my kids with some art supplies so they could create their own books telling stories about our family's adventures and traditions.  So my 6 year old twins spent some time today writing and drawing about our family.  After looking over their books, I do have to say I look pretty darn impressive as a stick figure. Seriously though they really did a nice job with their books as my son wrote about his favorite family trip memories to the beach, zoo, and Disney World while my daughter's story focused on traditions like carving pumpkins at Halloween, going to the Thanksgiving Day parade, Easter egg hunts at grandma and grandpas and watching Detroit Tigers games with her daddy.


Fox Home Entertainment also included in our kids' National Reading Day gift bags some nice The Book of Life themed notepads created by PinholePress.com for them to sketch in and a gift card so our family could make our own customized photo books through this website. Between now and Valentine's Day (February 14, 2015) get 10% off all Pinhole Press products when you use the code: BOOKOFLIFE.

Adventures, family, and traditions are all themes in The Book of Life.  The movie tells the story of Manolo, a young man who is torn between fulfilling the expectations of his family and following his heart, as he embarks on an adventure that spans three fantastic worlds where he must face his greatest fears and realize what is most important - family and loved ones.

For more suggestions on reading selections for children, check out the Library of Congress' Kids Section  www.read.gov/kids.  Like the worlds pictured in the movie The Book of Life, when you read books fantastical places are opened up to your imagination so have fun exploring!  Happy National Reading Day everyone.



#BookofLifeReading

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Superman Unchained



I recently read SUPERMAN UNCHAINED: DELUXE EDITION, which is a graphic novel collection of a nine issue comic book mini-series by DC Comics featuring the talents of the publisher's dynamic duo creative team of writer Scott Snyder and illustrator Jim Lee, and was thoroughly impressed.  It was an impressive read with artwork that popped your eyes to the pages bringing the story to life.  Superman Unchained embraced the classic elements of comic books and enhanced them with a modern taste of life to provide an action packed adventure that pits the man of steel versus a like powered adversary, the entire world, and himself. 
From the skies above Metropolis to the four corners of the globe to the star-streaked spaceways beyond, one man is synonymous with the word “hero.” Since his arrival marked the dawn of the superhero age, Superman has waged a never-ending battle for truth and justice, no matter when or where.

But before the dawn came the darkness. When another with incredible power, far more than that of mortal man, fell to the Earth. One who could spell the end for the Man of Steel.
                 DC COMIC'S SUPERMAN UNCHAINED BOOK BACK COVER


When I was a kid Superman's tag line was fighting for "Truth, Justice, and the American Way" and that fit pretty nicely into the geo-political landscape of the time when Christoper Reeve was playing the superhero fighting villains on the big screen while it was the United States versus Russia fighting it out for power and influence every night on the evening news. Times have changed but the theme of "American Way" is a big part of this story...just not involving Superman this time but rather is the focus of a brand new character. Superman Unchained is the story of another alien landing on Earth decades before Superman and being adopted, not by a caring and loving Midwestern farming couple like Kal-El was but rather being discovered by scientists and  soldiers who trained him to be the ultimate tool of military might for the United States.  This alien, named Wraith, becomes the U.S. military's ultimate secret weapon.  Superman Unchained opens with a scene from World War II showing the bombing of Nagasaki but readers notice it isn't an atomic weapon unleashing radiation upon the city...it is the Wraith.  The story reveals how scientists have used Wraith the enhance society's technological advancements during the 20th century and the military utilizes the alien as needed to protect the country's interests.  The Wraith himself believes his ultimate purpose in life is to protect and preserve "The American Way" as he is instructed by his handlers in the military. 

While you may think everyone in the world loves Superman because he always saves the day, a big focus of this story is on how no one trusts the Man of Steel believing that at sometime he is going to turn on the Earth for his own self-interests.  Superman Unchained shows how the Justice League led by Batman has created contingency plans to stop Superman if need be and the U.S. military has developed special weapons to deal with him and has Wraith ready to intervene if they believe the Kryptonian needs to be taken down.  And of course there are people like Lex Luthor who don't trust Superman because the hero stands in their way to power.  The story also delves into how Superman doesn't necessarily trust himself in being able to solve every problem he is faced with and deals with his need for perfection when it comes to saving lives.  In one scene Superman struggles with how can he save every life in a building when it is coming toppling to the ground.  Another scene has Superman distraught because while he was able to save the crew of a space station that is plummeting out of orbit he isn't able to keep all of the space debris from falling on a populated area of the Earth which of course would cause injuries and possibly deaths.

Yet the debris never landed and Superman is perplexed about how that collision was avoided and where it otherwise went to.  Clark Kent begins an investigation that discovers that the space station was brought down by a terrorist group called Ascension that wants to destroy the world's use of technology and take the planet back to a more simplistic existence.  It also leads Clark Kent to discover that someone else secretly intervened to save the space debris from hitting a U.S. military base ... Wraith.  Superman begins searching for Wraith leading him to "the Machine" which is a secret black ops division of the American government that General Lane (Lois Lane's father) was recently promoted to lead and which has been controlling events throughout the world since the 1930s thanks to Wraith who is an alien that may be more powerful than Superman who has been working for the U.S. government for over 70 years.



To go any further describing the story would be filled with spoilers, so we'll just say confrontations and conundrums ensue with Superman finally having to face the question how far will he and can he go to make sure no innocent human life is lost while he is serving as the planet's adopted protector?  Superman Unchained also examines can being too patriotic or passionate about something destroy one's practicality as Wraith's unbridled dedication and passion for the "American Way" leads to some destructive incidents that seem contrary to what he is trying to achieve.  The book also features the ultimate win-win scenario for Lex Luthor that reminds you that some of the most dangerous super villains use their brain power rather than brawn for some of the best confrontations.

You can pick up the SUPERMAN UNCHAINED graphic novel from Amazon.com.  This is a super comic book - check it out!



DISCLAIMER:  I received access to read a digital edition of this comic book from the publisher for this review.  Access to the comic book was concluded at the end of my reading it and a positive review was not required .  I did not receive any financial compensation for this post.  The opinions expressed are my own.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Strawberry Shortcake: Snowberry Days

Coloring Page & Movie Giveaway
Strawberry Shortcake: Snowberry Days DVD Release - February 10, 2015

 

If you have a little girl in your life like I do then you are probably very familiar with Strawberry Shortcake the cute little sweetheart with a fruity getup that was originally created by Muriel Fahrion in greeting cards for the American Greetings company.  The character was expanded to a line of dolls produced by Kenner Toys (the same company that made the Star Wars action figures in the 70s & 80s that I played with as a kid) and became a huge fad with young girls in the 1980s.  I remember my sister had a number of the dolls in the Strawberry Shortcake collection and all the kids on the block were wowed by how each of the figurine's hair smelled like her fruit or desert theme.  During the 80's Strawberry Shortcake was everywhere with clothing, books, stickers, television specials, even her own Atari video game from Parker Bros to go along with the toy line.  Interest waned in the 90s but you wouldn't know that now as she is as popular as she has ever been with a new toy line by Hasbro that and a series of television shows and movies distributed by 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment. I can testify to her renewed popularity because my daughter has a bed room full of clothes, dolls, toys, books, and videos featuring the character.  So Strawberry Shortcake turns 35 years old this year and during that time she has grown a little older moving from a young girl to a tween but she is still a very sweet thing that never became spoiled.

If it is too brisk to go out and play this winter, print out and enjoy the coloring page above to keep your kids entertained.  It is promoting the upcoming release of a new Strawberry Shortcake feature titled SNOWBERRY DAYS that will be available on DVD and via digital download on February 10th, 2015.  Additionally, in honor of Strawberry Shortcake's 35th birthday one lucky A GEEK DADDY blog reader will have the chance to win a free DVD/Digital prize pack courtesy of our friends at 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment.  For a chance to win this prize pack you must be a US or Canadian resident over 18 years old and  submit one or all of the following entry methods to earn up to 3 entries prior to 11:59 pm EST on Sunday February 1, 2015:

Entry 1: E-mail thegeekdaddy [at] yahoo [dot] com your name and mailing address.  Email subject line should be Snowberry Days.

Entry 2: LIKE our facebook page and include the name of the FB account you used in your email.

Entry 3: Follow us on Twitter ( @Geeky_Dad ) and include your twitter handle in your email.

 All valid entries will be assigned a number in the order they are received and one number will be  selected to determine the winner using random.org.  E-mails will only be used to contact the winner and deleted following the selection of a winner.


Strawberry Shortcake: Snowberry Days
‘Tis the season for winter fun in these berry cool Strawberry Shortcake episodes. A fun-filled playtime is interrupted when someone notices that the squirrels are low on supplies in “The Berry Long Winter.” Blueberry’s success with her own specially designed ice skates have the other girls feeling left out in “The Big Freeze.” And Raspberry’s spring fashion show plans are put “On Ice” when cold weather and an out-of-control fountain covers the catwalk fruit-colored ice. Join Strawberry and her berry best friends as they discover working with others ensures a Snowberry good time for everyone.

CLICK HERE to order Strawberry Shortcake: Snowberry Days on Amazon.com

DISCLAIMER:  A Geek Daddy Blog will be responsible for selecting the winner of this contest, but Fox Home Entertainment is responsible for fulfillment and delivery of the prize.  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.  If you win this prize on another blog, you will not be eligible to win again.  Winner is subject to eligibility verification. Prize will be delivered by UPS or FedEx so no P.O. Boxes are allowed as mailing addresses. A Geek Daddy Blog did not receive any financial compensation but did receive a review DVD for the blog and the prize that is being awarded to one of our readers for this contest.  A Geek Daddy Blog is hosting this contest as a benefit to our readers. Any opinions in this post are my own.

#SnowberryDays