Sunday, December 14, 2014

Marvel Comic Book Tackles Bullying


 A few months ago Marvel Entertainment partnered with STOMP Out Bullying, a bullying and cyber-bullying prevention organization for kids and teens in the U.S. by highlighting that October is National Bullying Prevention Month through publishing variant covers for some of its popular comic book titles that addressed the topic.  Now Marvel is taking things up another notch by publishing in January a one-shot comic book dedicated to tackling the problem of bullying titled AVENGERS: NO MORE BULLYING #1.  The 40 page comic book will be specially priced at $1.99 and feature three separate stories with anti-bullying themes that will involve The Avengers, Spider-Man and Guardians of the Galaxy.

Here's Marvel's press release for more information:

Earth’s Mightiest Heroes are out to make bullying a thing of the past with AVENGERS: NO MORE BULLYING #1, an all-new one shot featuring some of the best and brightest talents in the comic industry as they stand up for those who can’t stand up for themselves.

Arriving in January, this specially priced $1.99, 40 page one-shot contains three brand-new stories from top tier talents. Featuring fan-favorite Gerry Duggan (Deadpool, Nova, Hulk), rising star Sean Ryan (Uncanny X-Men/Nova/Iron Man: No End In Sight), Jeff Loveness, and Jody Houser making her Marvel writing debut, along with blockbuster artists Carlo Barberi (Thunderbolts), Tana Ford (New Warriors) Marcio Takara (Captain Marvel), and Gustavo Duarte.

From the streets of New York to the furthest corners of the cosmos, the heroes of the Marvel Universe are no strangers to bullying and the damage it can cause. Heck, half the time, bullying is why Marvel’s greatest super heroes chose to fight  evil in the first place! Now, Marvel’s diverse roster of super heroes are ready to stand up and help those who cannot help themselves. The Avengers, the Guardians of the Galaxy and the Amazing Spider-Man are out to put a stop to bullies everywhere with these three bombastic, can’t miss stories!

“From Peter Parker, Midtown High’s only professional wallflower, to the ever-misunderstood Kamala Khan, Marvel has a proud history of working to raise awareness about bullying and representing its victims as much as possible,” says series editor Devin Lewis. “Bullying is a problem that can affect everyone in a community, and it’s up to that very community to come together to combat it, and, with this issue, Marvel’s Avengers, Spider-Man, and Guardians of the Galaxy are joining the fight! I know how comic books can help ease that feeling of isolation, and I couldn’t be more proud or excited about the talent we’ve pulled together for this project!”

Face front readers, as the Marvel Universe’s greatest heroes are ready to take on a real world problem more troublesome than any super villain. The best and brightest talent assemble this January for AVENGERS: NO MORE BULLYING #1!



I'll probably be picking this up for my son and daughter to use this as something we can read through together as a teachable moment to reinforce with them that they understand what bullying is and why it is wrong.  Look for it at your local comic book store in January 2015!


For more information about bullying visit www.stopbullying.gov

Download a FREE Alternative Cover for your Guardians of the Galaxy Blu-ray or DVD Case

I've heard a lot of people refer to Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy movie as the Star Wars for today's generation.  Inspired by that premise, artist Matt Ferguson created a mashup of the 1977 Tom Jung theatrical poster for Star Wars with a Guardians of the Galaxy spin to it.  He is providing a FREE download of this artwork as a custom jacket cover you can place on your very own Blu-ray or DVD case.  Matt did an incredible job with this artwork and if you are a Star Wars fan who also enjoyed Guardians this is a must have.  Just remember this is for your own personal use only - download it, print it out, and attach it to your blu-ray or dvd case - please don't take advantage of it for any other purpose.



CLICK HERE to download your FREE alternative cover for Guardians of the Galaxy Blu-ray/DVD cases.  If you like Matt's artwork follow him on twitter @Cakes_Comics and tweet him a compliment or a thank you for the free jacket cover artwork. And if you haven't bought Guardians of the Galaxy on blu-ray or dvd yet CLICK HERE to do that now.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

The Lights Before Christmas @ Toledo Zoo

A video posted by @geekdad248 on

We recently took a road trip to meet up with some family friends and enjoy the Toledo Zoo's "The Lights Before Christmas" event.  It really was a festive time as we strolled through the place all aglow which impressed both the kids and the adults in our group.  The zoo really does an impressive job decking out the place for the holidays.  What is nice about this particular display is that the zoo focuses on decorating its existing natural scenery with lights rather than have a large number of designer displays being the focal point of the event.  Of course they have a few animal themed displays that catch people's attention too.

 
 
 
 


Some of the highlights of "The Lights Before Christmas" were a dancing light display that was set to energetic holiday tunes, an ice slide, and checking out the zoo's Big Tree which was named by Travelocity as one of the top holiday trees in the nation.  The Big Tree is a Norway spruce located at the zoo that is more then 70 years old and has grown to be more than 85 feet tall.  Seeing the Big Tree decorated is a site to behold.



While my favorite part of the evening was the dancing light show, my kids highlight of the night was the runs they took down the ice slide.  The ice slide looked somewhat tame from afar but once you got on it you really flew down it.

 

My kids also had a great time taking a spin on the carousel while we were there.  My son wanted to ride the "King of the Beasts" and it was nice they had a few lions lined up together on the carousel so my daughter could ride one too next to her brother.



My wife's favorite thing about the night was this pink and purple lighted tree which she just raved about throughout the night.  She also appreciated that we got to see the zoo's polar bears in their display while we were there.


The rates to attend the event are $13 for adults (age 12-59), $10 for Seniors (age 60+), $10 for children (ages 2 - 11) and children under 2 are FREE.  If you purchase tickets in advance online you can save $1 per ticket.  In addition parking costs $7.  Toledo Zoo Members receive FREE unlimited visits to "The Lights Before Christmas" Monday through Thursday and one FREE weekend visit (Friday through Sunday).

We had a great time at "The Lights Before Christmas" and if you live within driving distance of Toledo I would absolutely recommend a family road trip to enjoy it.  Because my kids had such a blast during our visit, the Toledo Zoo's "The Lights Before Christmas" gets A Geek Daddy nod of approval.



For more information, visit www.toledozoo.org 

Friday, December 12, 2014

Up Your Game With frank Body & Facial Scrub



I love the smell of coffee, but ugh I've never developed a taste for liking to drink it.  Courtesy of frank body and facial scrub I've found a good use for the stuff though.  I've been trying out frank which uses coffee to help you get your skin clean and healthy for the last week and it's been working great!

A video posted by @geekdad248 on

Hey why should the ladies be the only ones to have clean skin?  Guys should have healthy skin too!  Men don't want products filled with fragrances and moisturizers and by using frank's coffee-based scrub a guy can get very clean through actually getting really dirty.  #RealMenScrub and that is the key, whether in the shower or leaning over the bathroom sink get dirty and massage frank thoroughly into your skin.  For best results leave it on for 5-10 minutes and then scrub and wash away.  You'll walk away with your skin and feeling cleansed and soothed with the a scent of coffee lingering in the air.

I used the frank Coconut Coffee Body Scrub and it really made a difference for me.  During the winter months, I get really sensitive skin from being cooped up inside with all the dry furnace air.  I noticed that my skin felt really hydrated and much more comfortable than I've felt during this time of year for a long time.  The blend I used contained roasted coffee grounds mixed with sea salt to scrub away dry flakey skin plus brown sugar, coconut flakes and coconut oil to help cleanse and clarify.  It also threw into the mix grape seed oil and jojoba beads to help with soothing and moisturizing my skin. 

frank coffee body scrub let me feel pampered without feeling feminine.  I appreciated that while my wife and kids appreciated how frank left my face feeling as I found them caressing it and telling me how nice I felt.  Who wouldn't enjoy that attention!  Plus it is the time of year for holiday parties and frank really helped me get cleaned up for a spiffy night on the town with my lovely lady.



Because it helped me up my game frank body scrub gets A Geek Daddy nod of approval.  For more information about frank, visit us.frankbody.com or connect with them on social media on Facebook or Twitter.  At $17.95 for a resealable package of frank body scrub this could be a great holiday present for the guys you may be shopping for .... hint hint.

I partnered with the Life of Dad - The Social Network for Dads and frank to test out this product that looks like dirt but makes your skin feel great along with a great group of dad bloggers.  Speaking of dirt, if there is any Life of Dad blogger I know that is an expert at getting dirty it is Dad or Alive.

Dad or Alive - Check out his blog!

You know Dad or Alive always is getting his kids into trouble, I wonder what mess he's getting them into now?! I'm sure that frank's will be able to help scrub their troubles away...you do have to get dirty before you can get clean!

Disclaimer:  I was compensated for my participation in this Life of Dad promotion by frank_body.  The opinions are my own.


Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Don't Let Food Allergies Haunt the Holidays

Photo - Chandler Swink / Courtesy of Oakland.edu

On Thanksgiving Day when most of us were eating turkey feasts and watching football, William and Nancy Swink were deciding whether or not to remove their 19 year old son Chandler from life support at St. Joseph Mercy Hospital.  A few days earlier Chandler, who was diagnosed with a peanut allergy at the age of 2, had gone into anaphylactic shock caused by a food allergy reaction when he was somehow exposed to an allergen while being at a friend's house who was baking peanut butter cookies.  Only being given a 2% chance for survival by doctors, his family allowed Chandler to pass away that evening.  What a tragic way to spend a holiday and the nightmare scenario for any parent who has a child who suffers from a severe food allergy.


Chandler hadn't led an easy life dealing with bullying from elementary school through high school by students, and the parents of some of his classmates, who were outraged that food restrictions had been placed on them by the school for Chandler's well-being.  Despite this Chandler grew up to be a great young man according to all accounts from people who knew him that was going to school at Oakland University to become a nurse so he could have a career helping people in the medical field.  More than 600 people attended Chandler Swink's funeral saying good bye to a life that ended way too soon.

We discovered my daughter had a severe peanut allergy when she was around the same age as when Chandler was diagnosed.  No one in our family, my side or my wife's, has food allergies and we really didn't know much about the topic.  Then one day while our daughter was eating peanut butter she started howling and screaming.  Her face turned red with huge hives and her head began swelling.  I raced her to the emergency room at the hospital a mile from our home.  As we raced into the hospital my daughter's eyes and throat had swelled shut.  I didn't know if she was going to live or die at that moment.

The doctors and nurses at Beaumont Hospital did an exceptional job in saving my daughter's life and preventing her from suffering any long-term injuries from the incident.  Our family now is constantly on guard about avoiding situations that could put her in life in jeopardy again.  My daughter has to avoid ingesting food that not only has peanut as ingredients but also may have been contaminated by contact with them during the production or packaging of it.  Exposure to the proteins in the peanuts against her skin could also trigger a life-threatening anaphylactic reaction so you have to be careful of residue that could come from touching a surface or another person...yes playing with a toy, using a shampoo, shaking a hand, or even getting a kiss could potentially cause a food allergy reaction.  This can be so especially challenging to get your hands around because you are dealing with trying to avoid something at a microscopic level.

Like Chandler, we've encountered many people who don't think that our daughter's food allergy is "a big deal", don't want any restrictions placed on them to help protect children with food allergies, or just don't care and believe it is just our family's issue to deal with and if something bad happens it is my daughter or our family's own fault.  While we understand that our daughter's medical condition is our burden to deal with we also believe that when it comes to school and public spaces that there should be some level of safeguards in place to allow people with food allergies to be able to live healthy and productive lives without fear that someone else's actions could hurt them. 

Unfortunately, there are plenty of people in the world who just don't care about the safety of people with food allergies.  A recent incident in Michigan where a school board member named Linda Grossman joked "just shoot them" during a public meeting in regards to the concerns of parents and staff about food allergies that these kids should just be shot highlights the problems many families with food allergy children in schools have in providing a safe and healthy environment.  The Grossman incident was  followed up by a shameful editorial by the Detroit News' Dan Calabrese that criticized school district parents for demanding Grossman resign and mocked food allergies as not being a serious threat.  I also noticed tweets and posts from people defending Grossman because she was being sarcastic and arguing parents should be doing a better job of teaching kids to protect themselves.  This shows that despite the alarming increases in children with dangerous food allergies our society still has a lack of knowledge on the topic and a great deal of apathy towards people suffering from the condition.


So why should Grossman be condemned for an off-color joke?  Why should people be upset by "just comments" made by someone.  Well actually her comments were an action.  Grossman shirked her responsibility as an elected official by not acting in a professional manner, being dismissive of food allergies being a threat to the safety of students, and by mocking the parents and staff expressing concerns.  Being a school board member is a serious responsibility that Grossman didn't treat seriously and therefore she deserved to go.  Food allergies isn't a topic that should be joked about, especially when people are dying from this medical condition.



I'm so glad that Dr. Matthew Greenhawt, M.D. from C.S. Mott Children's Hospital jumped into the fray writing an editorial titled "5 Reasons We Shouldn't Joke about Kids with Food Allergies" criticizing people like Grossman and Calabrese for believing a joke isn't that big of a deal.  This doctor's critique really is a great way to make this topic a teachable moment for the community.  He writes "Food allergy is not a laughing matter, and these children should not serve as a target of derision." 

Here are Dr. Greenhawt's 5 reasons that joking about food allergies, especially in schools, is a serious matter:

1. Food Allergy is a rapidly growing chronic condition, affecting as many as 8% of children.  Reactions can be quite severe, potentially fatal and terrifying to experience.  There are no cures or treatments for food allergies.

2.  Children, especially those with chronic health conditions are fragile and vulnerable.  They should never be the butt of a joke.  This sets a horrible tone that it is acceptable to make light of someone, and demonstrates ignorance of and lack of empathy for those living with a particular condition.

3.  Accommodating multiple health concerns within a school is challenging, but us not an excuse for a public display of intolerance of any student for any reason, including a health condition, religion, race or income.

4.  School districts are a community, and members of the community must work together to solve problems.  Administrators must lead by example.  Derisive attitudes by school board members are counterproductive.

5.  Federal disability law affords children with food allergy and other conditions the right to seek accommodation.  It is the school's legal duty to comply as such.


Holidays can be a stressful time for people dealing with food allergies with there being such an emphasis on food being a part of celebrations.  Now is especially a time of year where the consideration and compassion of those who don't suffer from food allergies is appreciated by those that do.  It is also important to keep in mind that recent food allergy deaths have been of teenagers and young adults so if that age group is having difficulties just consider how hard and stressful it is for younger children preschool through elementary school age to deal with it, especially if you take the position that its the parents sole responsibility to make sure their kids can protect themselves.

Please keep in mind that an allergen doesn't need to be an ingredient to make food unsafe.  If someone has a food allergy please note that most food cooked in a bakery, processed in a facility that makes other food with allergens on the same equipment, or is made in someone's home is probably going to be off limits for someone with an allergy because of the threat of contamination.  It is more than just checking the ingredient label and seeing that there are "no nuts" to make sure something is safe.  People making and trying to give our child home made treats is one of our biggest headaches when it comes to looking out for our daughter especially around school functions, community events and even family gatherings.  It's not that we don't trust them or appreciate the offer but rather the risk of another trip to the hospital, or worse, just isn't worth it.



Kids with Food Allergies has two nice online pamphlets with tips for celebrating Christmas and Chanukah with children that have food allergy.  The web site Snack Safely also has a nice guide on checking out treats for food allergy concerns before serving them at a holiday function or party. Though the safest option at schools really is a food free celebration.

Don't let food allergies haunt the holidays!  How bad would you feel if you were involved in causing someone to have an allergic reaction?  How bad do you believe the Swink family or anyone else injured by food allergies will be hurting this holiday season?  Tis the season for us to show kindness to one another!  If you have a healthy child give thanks today and take a moment to consider how you may be able to be kind to a family that is not so blessed.

For more information about Food Allergies please visit FARE - Food Allergy Research & Education at www.foodallergy.org.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

We're Celebrating the DVD Release of Guardians of the Galaxy with a Twitter Party

RSVP for the #OwnTheGalaxy Twitter Party 12/8
This post has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. & its advertiser

To celebrate the Tuesday, December 9th release of Guardians of the Galaxy on Blu-Ray/DVD/HD Digital, A GEEK DADDY is going to be co-hosting a Twitter Party.  Join us for the #OwnTheGalaxy Twitter Party on Monday, December 8th @ 8pm EST as we talk about the movie and all the great bonus features available on the Blu-Ray/DVD/HD Combo pack that is available at Walmart.  Plus party attendees will have the chance to win one of five $100 Walmart Gift Cards we'll be giving out as prizes during the event.  There will also be a $50 Walmart Gift Card Early Bird Prize that will be selected from everyone who RSVP's and tweets a specially designated tweet before the start of the party.

One of the things I especially appreciate about Guardians of the Galaxy and why our family is excited about adding it to our home entertainment library is that it is an original movie for a new generation to enjoy rather than a remake or sequel to a past movie.  The film is an adaptation of a lesser known Marvel comic book so for many people this is their first introduction to the characters and settings.  It is so nice to see some real originality and creativity in a movie and I really believe this is what has elevated the movie to be such a popular hit.

Join us on December 8th to share your thoughts about Guardians of the Galaxy and discuss why you really want to bring it home for your family to enjoy.  CLICK HERE for more information on the rules for the party and to RSVP for it.  On the night of the party, join in by using the  Collective Bias party grid or search for the hashtag #OwnTheGalaxy on Twitter.  I'd also encourage you to follow my party co-hosts: @Guardians, @blm03, @mausekindmom, @ReviewDadMedia, @MattDanTodd & tsue1136.  I'll be participating using my personal twitter account @Geekdad248 instead of the blog's account @Geeky_Dad.


Here are a few fun tidbits about Guardians of the Galaxy to help you get in the mood for the Twitter party and you may want to keep an eye out for as trivia questions during the #OwnTheGalaxy event:

  • The movie's soundtrack album "Awesome Mix, Vol. 1" reached number one on the US Billboard 200 chart, the first film soundtrack to ever reach number one without a single original song.
  • Vin Diesel recorded all of his "I am Groot" lines in several different languages, including Russian, Mandarin, Spanish, Portuguese, German, and French so that they could use his real voice in the film around the world.  He recorded the character's iconic line over 1,000 times.
  • Chris Pratt lost 60 pounds to portray the Star Lord character.  He is known for playing the part of Andy Dwyer on the NBC television series Parks & Recreation.  He will have a key role in the upcoming movie Jurassic World.
  • Peter Quill's space ship in the movie is named The Milano after Alyssa Milano because the movie's director decided Quill had a childhood crush on her when developing the character's background and personality.
  • Rocket Racoon was modeled after a real life racoon named Oreo.  Bradley Cooper who voiced Rocket Racoon cited Tommy DeVito (Joe Pesci's character in the 1990 movie Goodfellas) as his influence for portraying the popular Guardians character.
  • To prepare for the role of Nebula, actress  Karen Gillan actually shaved her head.
  • Stan Lee has made a cameo in all of the Marvel movies, including the animated Big Hero Six, and was originally featured in Guardians as one of the Collector's boxed trophies giving Groot the middle finger.  Disney executives didn't like that and has the Director, James Gunn, change it to Stan Lee being an alien Casanova.
  • The Collector's residence in the movie is a space station called Knowhere.  In the comic books, Knowhere is the base of the Guardians of the Galaxy.

For more fun trivia and a lively discussion about the movie, please make sure to join us for the #OwnTheGalaxy Twitter Party on December 8th (8pm EST).

Marvel Provides a Sneak Peek @ New Star Wars Comic Book Series

Comic books featuring the cast of characters and story lines revolving around the original trilogy of Star Wars movies aren't anything new as Marvel Comics had a monthly series in print during the time these films were released which was published between 1977 and 1986.  Dark Horse Comics followed that with a monthly series called Empire that had a variety of story lines tied to the movie Star Wars: A New Hope, including how Luke Skywalker's best friend Biggs Darklighter defected from the Imperial Navy to join the Rebels, that ran from 2002 through 2006.  More recently Dark Horse published a monthly series titled STAR WARS that was focused on the time period directly after the events in Star Wars Episode IV that ran from 2013 into 2014.

Marvel Comics is regaining the license rights for Star Wars comics in 2015 and is debuting a series titled STAR WARS with brand new stories focused on the time period between the movies A New Hope and Empire Strikes Back.  While this isn't exactly new territory to explore in the world of comic books, what is new about what Marvel is doing that will set these stories apart from previous ones is that they will now be part of the recognized canon for the Star Wars story.  This means they will be considered officially as much a valid part of the Star Wars universe and its over all tale as the movies.  In the past novels and comic books were treated more like fan fiction than an extension of the movies - as past published works are now known as the Legends Collection - so including these new stories as an official part of the Star Wars saga is really a brand new arc for comics.

With excitement for the upcoming Star Wars Episode VII The Force Awakens blockbuster that is arriving in theaters in December of 2015 joined with the fan and critical praise for the new Star Wars: Rebels animated television series there is a lot of excitement and renewed interest in the franchise that Disney acquired from George Lucas in 2012.  Marvel Entertainment, which was also acquired by Disney in 2009, is adding to this hype with its renewed publishing of Star Wars comic books.  In fact ComicBook.com is reporting that Star Wars #1 has collectively received more then a million orders from comic book stores for the series' January 14, 2015 debut issue.  Putting that into perspective, the last comic book issue to print and sell a million copies was the milestone 500th issue of BATMAN in 1993.

For all the fans counting down the days until January 14th, Marvel just released a sneak peek of the upcoming Star Wars #1:

 

So here is the synopsis from Marvel for the upcoming #StarWars #comicbook series:

Luke Skywalker and the ragtag band of rebels fighting against the Galactic Empire are fresh off their biggest victory yet—the destruction of the massive battle station known as the Death Star. But the Empire's not toppled yet! Join Luke along with Princess Leia, smugglers Han Solo and Chewbacca, droids C-3PO and R2-D2 and the rest of the Rebel Alliance as they strike out for freedom against the evil forces of Darth Vader and his master, the Emperor. Written by Jason Aaron (Original Sin, Thor: God of Thunder) and with art by John Cassaday (Astonishing X-Men, Uncanny Avengers), this is the Star Wars saga as only Marvel Comics could make it!




Another angle that Marvel is using to drum up sales and to also cater to its collector markets is that there will be a variety of variant covers, at least 13 of them, that will be printed in quantities significantly lower than the main release version of the comic book.  One will be my favorite comic book artist Alex Ross that will pay tribute to the original cover of Star Wars #1 published by Marvel Comics in April 1977.   Another variant will interlock with the first issue covers of the upcoming Darth Vader series and Princess Leia min-series to create a poster when all three are combined together.  The one I like the best though is a reproduction of the Kenner package for their Luke Skywalker action figure which is the first Star Wars toy I ever owned as a kid and which the artwork I find to be just really impressive.  



So what do you think of Star Wars #1 ... are you going to be picking up a copy from your local comic book shop?