Thursday, August 16, 2018

YEAR OF THE DOG

In Chinese astrology, each year is related to the zodiac sign of of one of twelve animals: Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog or Pig.  2018 marks the 11th year in the current zodiac cycle making it the Year of the Dog.  We received a mystery package in the mail that turned out to be from W. Bruce Cameron, author of the novel A Dog's Purpose which was also made into a motion picture, filled with goodies to help my family celebrate the Year of the Dog. It included treats for our puppy along with his two newest books → A Dog's Way Home and Max's Story. This was a paw-some surprise!

Our Boxer puppy was infatuated with the doggy snacks packaged inside a fortune cookie container that were included in our Year of the Dog Celebration Package from W. Bruce Cameron. She just couldn't get enough of those. The box also included a portable water bowl and a leash for our dog.


My twins are at Middle Grade Reading Level right now so they were really interested in reading Max's Story. This story about a little dog in the big city was written specifically for young readers like them in mind. One of four middle grade readers adapted from Cameron's New York Times and USA Today bestselling novels A Dog's Purpose and A Dog's Journey it is an enjoyable read for elementary school aged children filled with adorable illustrations by Richard Cowdrey.  Max's Story also has reading and discussion guide at the end of the book providing some extra educational value for kids reading the book.

The kids also enjoyed seeing the movie A Dogs Purpose so they were really interested in the A Dog's Way Home novel we received. This book is also being adapted into a feature film heading to movie theaters. It is the story of Bella a dog that is picked up by Animal Control because pit bulls are banned in Denver which causes her owner Lucas to send her to a far away foster home until he can figure out what to do. But Bella, distraught at the separation, doesn’t plan to wait. With four hundred miles of dangerous Colorado wilderness between her and her person, Bella sets off on a seemingly impossible and completely unforgettable adventure home. This book is just a little bit above my son and daughter's reading level so we've been reading it out loud together.  That has made for some nice family time together with even our puppy sitting in on our huddle as we read through A Dog's Way Home.


It has truly been the Year of the Dog at our home with us bringing home our first family pet a few months ago. Enjoying this package from W. Bruce Cameron was a nice way for our family to commemorate the Year of the Dog with our new puppy.   For more information about this author and the canine adventures he has had published, head over to brucecameron.com. Also keep an eye out for the movie A Dog's Way Home scheduled to be released by Sony Pictures on January 11, 2019 starring Edward James Olmos, Alexandra Shipp, Ashley Judd, Jonah Hauer-King and Wes Studi.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

AVENGERS INFINITY WAR FAMILY MOVIE NIGHT

Wow! Summer really does fly by fast! My kids will be back to school in just a couple of weeks. It seems as if you just snap your fingers summer will be gone. So to make the most of the time we have left, I cooked up a fun AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR family movie night. Setting theatrical box office records on its way to becoming the fourth highest-grossing film of all time, this film that ties together the last ten years of movies within the Marvel Cinematic Universe is now available on Blu-ray, DVD and DigitalHD so you can watch it at home.

The kids had a marvelous time playing with some Avengers themed Swimways pool toys while I grilled hot dogs and hamburgers for the family to eat.  They floated around in the water aboard a super sized Captain America shield floatie pretending they were part of an Avengers adventure. It was big enough with a 55 inch diameter that both of them actually could ride on top of it across the pool at the same time while they played together.



Then my son and daughter teamed up to search for dive rings that featured Avengers characters displayed on them including Black Panther, Captain America and Iron Man. They would turn away from the pool and I would toss them into the water to be searched for.  These have a nice feature in that the dive rings generate bubbles as they sink to the bottom of the pool.  That combined with them being decorated in bright colors didn't make them too challenging to find. My kids love diving to retrieve rings like these and had a blast playing around with these ones from Swimways.

After swimming in the pool and eating dinner out on our backyard patio, the kids continued to dry off before going inside to watch the movie by spending some time outside playing the Marvel Avengers edition of MUNCHKIN from USAopoly.  This card game lets players imagine they are a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent taking part in a comic book style superhero adventure.  Characters draw cards they can use while playing the game which enlist them with the help of allies (like Black Widow, Captain America, She-Hulk or Thor), use of equipment (ranging from Nick Fury's eye patch to Spider-Man's web slingers), or provide special attributes and powers (such as enhanced agility, heightened senses or elemental manipulation).



Then upon each player's turn he or she draws a card from a second deck that either pits them against a villain to fight (which could be an easy to tackle Level 1 Hydra Soldier up to the hard to defeat Loki ranked at Level 20), ensnares their character in a damaging trap, or bestows a useful bonus that is helpful. Utilizing the cards you draw and the roll of a die, this game lets you play out an Avengers mission. Games can involve 3 to 6 players and take about an hour to play.  You are sure to have a super time playing the Marvel Avengers edition of MUNCHIKIN.

Now it was time to watch the movie! We gathered on the living room couch with snacks in hand. I popped the AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR Blu-ray into the disc player. It was showtime!



In this movie, Iron Man, Thor, the Hulk and the rest of the Avengers unite to battle their most powerful enemy yet -- the evil Thanos. On a mission to collect all six Infinity Stones, Thanos plans to use the artifacts to inflict his twisted will on reality. The fate of the planet and existence itself has never been more uncertain as everything the Avengers have fought for has led up to this moment.



Of course in addition to the movie, you have to watch the bonus features included within the home video releases. There is more than 2 hours of material provided in addition to the movie itself. Featurettes provide behind-the-scenes access to memorable moments when characters first meet, the rationale behind some unexpected on-screen pair-ups, explores the frighteningly powerful Thanos, the struggle on Titan and the massive battle in Wakanda. Deleted scenes and filmmaker commentary reveal even more on-set secrets from Marvel Studios’ monumental undertaking. And the gag real showcases a lighthearted collection of on-set antics from all your favorite Avengers.



We had an incredible time during our AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR family movie night! Pick up the movie for yourself now on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray, Digital or DVD wherever movies are sold. For more information about the film, go to www.marvel.com/avengers

Monday, August 13, 2018

LeapStart3D Twitter Party

A Geek Daddy will be co-hosting another great Toy Insider Twitter Party sponsored by LeapFrog this Friday! Learn all about LeapFrog’s newest interactive learning system, LeapStart3D, and the new books kids can use with it to build skills in math, reading, and more. Follow @Geekdad248, @TheToyInsider + @Leapfrog on Twitter, jump into the conversation on August 17 from 11 am - Noon ET using the hashtag #LeapStart3D in your tweets, and complete this RSVP form for a chance to win some great prizes. Must be over 18 years old and live within the United States to be eligible for prizes.

LeapFrong's LeapStart 3D Interactive Learning System that get kids excited about learning by using 3D-like animations to enhance entertaining educational activities.  These interactive animations help children build math, reading, and problem-solving skills. The LeapStart has a library of more than 25 books (each sold separately) which cover a variety of preschool through first grade subjects for kids ages 2 to 7, with more than 30 activities in every book.



My son and daughter loved their LeapFrog Scout and Violet interactive plush dolls when they were preschoolers. They were wonderful toys that my kids cherished and had lots of fun with.  So I was glad to see these puppies featured in one of these LeapStart 3D activity books. Children can set off on a math adventure with Scout, Violet and all their friends in the Scout & Friends Math with Problem Solving activity book. Combined with the LeapStart 3D devices, kids will see amazing 3D-like animations. This book delves into numbers and counting plus touches on life skills such as problem solving.

Other LeapStart 3D compatible activity books include Mickey and the Roadster Racers Pit Crews to the RescueDisney Princess Shine with Vocabulary, Language and Communication Skills, and Pixar Math in Action. Read, race, and learn vocabulary and communication skills with Mickey Mouse. Explore school and life skills with Cinderella, Belle, and Jasmine. Help Cinderella finish her chores using verbs, practice compound words with Belle, or go on a magic carpet ride using position words with Jasmine. Explore math and listening skills with popular Pixar movie characters.  Help Cruz Ramirez and Lightning McQueen time laps, save the day by quickly grabbing numbers with Dash and help Dory get through mazes and pop bubbles to count to 100.



Four lucky winners will win a LeapStart 3D and LeapStart 3D Scout & Friends Math with Problem Solving book. Plus one lucky grand prize winner will win a LeapStart 3D plus the LeapStart 3D books I've mentioned above! Make sure to RSVP and participate in the #LeadStart3D Twitter party on Friday, August 17, 2018 to give yourself a chance to win. Hope to see you there!


Saturday, August 11, 2018

DEADPOOL 2

movie review
After a day spent at Roadkill Nights full of demons and hellcats, it seemed a fitting time to see DEADPOOL 2. After putting the kids to bed, because this R-rated flick definitely earns its adults only recommendation by the Motion Picture Association of America, I downloaded the movie from Movies Anywhere and watched it on my big screen tv.  Director David Leitch and actor Ryan Reynolds, who takes on the persona of Deadpool in the film, embrace the R rating with bravado.  Within the first five minutes of DEADPOOL 2 there are more decapitations and amputations than I could count as the mutant mercenary engages in hit assignments targeting a variety of rogues all around the world with impunity...and this is just starting things off!

The "Merc with a Mouth" continues his foul mouthed, wise cracking ways that has made the character popular in the original DEADPOOL movie as well as in Marvel's comic books as he breaks the fourth wall of media chatting and joking with the audience throughout the show.  Reynolds as Deadpool continuously tosses out pop cultural references, potty humor, sexual innuendos, and off the cuff comedic barbs to zing movie watchers. On one hand the movie is a parody of superhero movies yet on the other it also is filled with jaw-dropping action scenes and a story that has some legitimate chops to it.  Mutant powers, sword play, and gun battles provide an exciting fantasy romp through an edgy side of the Marvel comic book universe making DEADPOOL 2 an entertaining escape from the reality of normal day to day life.



In this movie, the smart ass mercenary Deadpool faces the consequences of having a career as a murderer for hire.  As his world falls apart around him, the X-Men lend a hand in helping him put his life back together. As the movie progresses, we witness this flawed character actually evolve into a hero.

When Deadpool joins in on a mission to deescalate a standoff between police and an angry teen named Russell who is being held at a rehabilitation center for children with mutant powers, he can't keep his restraint in check when discovering the boy is being abused.  The cold blooded killer comes out and Deadpool starts eliminating the teen's abusers inflicting his own sense of justice on them.  This end up with both Deadpool and Russell being sent to a prison built specifically to restrain criminals with mutant powers.

This leads Russell on a path to one day become a vicious murder in the future who kills numerous innocent people … including the wife and daughter of a genetically enhanced soldier named Cable who travels back in time to eliminate the threat to his family.  Deadpool attempts to protect Russell from Cable but finds this super soldier more than he can handle on his own.  So he enlists the aid of a number of X-Men including Colossus, Bedlam, Domino and Shatterstar to help save the life of the young mutant from Cable and overcome the advanced weaponry possessed by this man from the future.

Can Deadpool and the X-Men save Russell from Cable? Will their actions chance the course of the future? Could both Russell and Deadpool lives be transformed from this encounter?  You'll have to watch the movie to find out!

dvd release date


DEADPOOL 2 is available now to add to your home entertainment video library with a digital edition of the movie.  A nice aspect of digital movies is you don't need to leave your house to rent or purchase a disc nor have to physically store it someplace.  Just purchase it online and then download or stream the movie on a mobile device or television like I did with Movies Anywhere.  Plus your movie collection is stored on the cloud. Easy and convenient!

The movie will also be available to purchase or rent on Blu-ray and DVD as of Tuesday, August 21, 2018. I'd missed seeing DEADPOOL 2 at the movie theater and had been looking forward to its home video release. I wasn't disappointed! For more information about the film, visit www.foxmovies.com/movies/deadpool-2.  You can also tune into Deadpool's social media antics on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.


ROADKILL NIGHTS

Dodge
Woodward Avenue is a 30 mile road that stretches from downtown Detroit heading north through several suburban communities and eventually loops around the city of Pontiac. During the heyday of American Graffiti style cruising the streets (1950s - 1970s) in automobiles, Woodward dotted with drive-in diners, that had names like Maverick's, Susie Q and Totem Pole, and often the scene of drag races was the place to be. There isn't much cruising and street racing going on along Woodward these days, except for in mid-August each year when a series of events celebrating Detroit car culture take place along this stretch of roadway.

This year's festivities led off with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles' Dodge brand sponsored ROADKILL NIGHTS and will culminate with the WOODWARD DREAM CRUISE which has thousands of automobile enthusiasts parading classic cars and hotrods around the thoroughfare for a day. Dodge's ROADKILL NIGHTS event turned a portion of Woodward in Pontiac, Michigan and the adjacent M1 Concourse Race Track into a car lovers' amusement park.  From 10 am through 10 pm they hosted drag racing actually on the avenue as well as provided thrilling vehicle rides on the M1 Concourse's skid pad and race track. Check out my ROADKILL NIGHTS experience in the video below:



DRAG RACING ON WOODWARD AVE


Yes! They actually shut down a portion of the street and let people sign up to drag race on it.  There were all sorts of cars doing it too, not just hotrods. One of the races I saw pitted a 1970s era station wagon versus a mustang from the '80s.  Another had a brand new Jeep Grand Cherokee duel a '70s muscle car. A classic roadster took on a muscle car .. and so on.  Later in the evening some professional drivers jumped in on the action, including Mopar Dodge Top Fuel driver Leah Pritchett and Mopar Dodge Charger Funny Car driver Matt Hagan, and there was also some heats featuring car celebrities like Richard Ray Rawlings from Discovery Channels' FAST N LOUD and Bill Goldberg from History Channel's FORGED IN FIRE: KNIFE OR DEATH. Oops! Rawlings actually crashed his Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat into the wall taking off from the line giving Goldberg the Roadkill Nights Celebrity Shootout title. With amateur, celebrity and professional drivers there was a whole lot of interesting racing to see.

Woodward drag racing


RACING SIMULATORS


For those of us who couldn't get behind the wheel to do some street racing on Woodward Ave. there were some impressive race simulators to try out. You could participate in a head-to-head competition against fellow car enthusiasts in the Dodge Challenger SRT Demon simulators, which offer the latest state-of-art motion technology to deliver incredibly realistic special effects and virtual head-to-head drag racing. Wow! It almost felt like you were behind the wheel of a real Dodge Challenger SRT Demon – which with 840-horsepower is one of the most powerful muscle cars ever built. I won 2 out of my 3 races on the Demon Simulator reaching virtual reality speeds exceeding 135 miles per hour. That was fun!

Dodge Challenger Demon

DRIFT DRIVING EXPERIENCE


On the M1 Concourse's skid pad, people could get inside a Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat and be taken literally for a spin. Talk about burning rubber! Take Disney World's Tea Cup sensation but amped up with the horsepower of a muscle car to give yourself one hell of an amusing ride. I was all smiles spinning around the course. Oh yeah!

Drift Ride

RACE TRACK THRILL RIDE


Hang on as you ride along with a professional driver at breakneck speeds around a loop of the M1 Concourse Race Track. Speeding through straight aways and skidding around corners is an adrenaline inducing thrill ride. I had an amazing time racing around the track! Just a little bit slower than driving along I-696 and no worries about getting a ticket. AWESOME!

race track


I had a great time and appreciate Dodge inviting me out for the day to experience the event firsthand. Hopefully they will be back again sponsoring ROADKILL NIGHTS again next year.  For more information about Dodge's lineup of hot rods or news about special events and other interesting things the brand may be up to, head over to dodgegarage.com

Friday, August 10, 2018

THUMB WRESTLING CHAMPIONS

kindie rock
The title of the debut album for the kidcentric musical group, THE GREEN ORBS, caught my attention and I had to learn more about them.  What a great name "Thumb Wrestling Champions" is for giving a fun, quirky vibe to an album that also matches the musical style of this brother and sister duo performing on it. The Green Orbs celebrate silly situations through song in the hopes that kids of all ages will laugh and sing along.


From providing a twelve step program for kids who have a problem with eating their vegetables to Toby the Turtle's tips about  taking things slow "Thumb Wrestling Champions" spoofs adulthood while providing children with practical advice.  Take a look at the lyrics for the album's songs here while waiting for the full album to come out.  With songs that feature characters like Doug the Bug and Ruby the Toothfairy, The Green Orbs kindie rock spin on music for kids is both relatable and relevant to these young audiences.

Because of my admiration for the album name, I arranged for us to do a giveaway of "Thumb Wrestling Champions." Who wants a CD? Complete the rafflecopter entries below by the album's September 7, 2018 release date for a chance to win. One lucky winner will be randomly selected from all eligible entries.  Must be a United States resident over 18 years old to participate.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
For more information about the band, visit thegreenorbs.net


kindie rock

Thursday, August 9, 2018

HELP GRANT BOOK WISHES BY VOTING IN GO ORGANICALLY GIVES BACK SWEEPSTAKES

Learning is already tough enough for many students without having to worry about not having adequate school supplies.  Yet there are schools throughout the United States where kids don't have basic necessities like paper and pencils much less quality books to read.  It is back to school time and you can lend a hand to help get supplies for the student body at a needy school so they can start off the year on the right track by voting in the Go Organically Gives Back Sweepstakes.

Head over to goorganicallysnacks.com/gogivesback between now through August 29, 2018 to cast a vote for one of five highlighted schools.  The school that tallies the most votes will win Back-to-School Kits for its students filled with items they need courtesy of a partnership between Go Organically Fruit Snacks and the non-profit educational advocacy group First Book.

Go Organically Snacks has also pledged to fund up to 50 Book Wishes made by educators from across the country to First Book based upon the number of overall votes received for the Go Organically Gives Back Sweepstakes.  Book Wishes are a combination of grants and product donations from First Book to help students receive books and school supplies based upon requests received from teachers from impoverished regions of the country.



By simply casting an online vote, you can help some needy kids make sure they have basic supplies to help them get through the school year.  It only takes a moment to vote and these donations can make a big difference for the students they aid. Plus, you could win too!  People who vote in the Go Organically Gives Back Sweepstakes are entered into a drawing for a chance at winning an grand prize that includes an e-reader, beanbag chair and more! Ten lucky runner-ups will receive Go Organically® Organic Fruit Snacks prize packs.

So don't wait! Go vote right now! NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Must 18+. Ends 11:59 p.m. ET 8/29/18. For official rules, visit www.goorganicallysnacks.com/GOGivesBack.

Go Organically Fruit Snacks are made from real fruit juices and purées that have been certified organic by a USDA approved auditor.  Their products are free of artificial coloring and flavors, preservatives, high fructose corn syrup, gluten, genetically modified ingredients and trans-fats. A nice healthy selection to send to school with kids for lunches and snack time.