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Here is something that came out of the blue. Before LTD was addicted to Mickey Mouse Clubhouse his love belonged to Yo Gabba Gabba. It was all Yo Gabba all the time, he even watched the episode, New Friends, featuring Jack Black. This first viewing went without incident or notice. However, a little while later he was watching Mr. Black riding his motorcycle through Gabba Land and he just flipped out. Big time. All we heard from the kid was a strong chorus of ‘I don’t like Jack.’ This was followed by tears and screaming. I don’t like Jack. It became the little guy’s mantra. He would say it randomly and unconnected from the TV. I’m talking a severe and mighty reaction that seemingly came out of nowhere. ‘I don’t like Jack.’

On the now few occasions when we play a Yo Gabba Gabba episode, before it starts LTD chimes in the with now familiar refrain. I don’t like Jack. The good news is that I won’t have to sit through Black’s version of Gulliver’s’ Travels anytime soon. I’m just glad we don’t live in LA in case we bumped into Jack at a fancy restaurant where I can only assume we would be dining.


LTD really had no interest in television for his first two years. We occasionally would put something on and see if he would watch, which he did, for about ten seconds then he would look away and focus on something else. However, that all changed after he turned two. His little mind realized he was missing something and started to make up for lost time. Thanks to the DVR he has never seen a commercial and he only watches shows on the pre-approved list. His TV diet consists mostly of Yo Gabba Gabba and Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. He will occasionally watch a Little Einsteins or Imagination Movers, but he remains loyal to his first loves DJ Lance Rock and Donald Duck. Thankfully, we have only experienced the TV stare a few times as he mostly is able to listen to us while watching (the pause button comes in handy in this regard). Somehow it feels uniquely American to see the warm glow of the screen reflect in his staring eyes.

I will say that we do try and place limits on his viewing time and I will concede that rainy days perhaps spike the needle away from his daily average. I figure his current favorite is Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. I’m not 100% happy with such an early indoctrination to the Disney money out of my wallet treadmill, but at least he gets up and moves to the Hot Dog dance instead of just lying back with a blank stare. Now that, to quote Game of Thrones, ‘winter is coming’ it will be a challenge to keep his eyes unglued from the screen. Hopefully the children’s museum won’t think we are abusing our family membership when I take him every day.

Media Review – Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

snowwhite_blurayNow I have never been a Disney fan, they seem too big a corporation to be something one can love, but they have a few good properties that I don’t think anyone can find fault with. On October 6th, they will release Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs on Blu-ray and while I don’t really like their ‘limited time only’ policy I think we can all agree that Snow White is the best-animated movie of all time, take that Veggie Tales: The Pirates Who Don’t Do Anything. I have been thinking whether or not the 1939 masterpiece holds up after all these years and if a boy would enjoy it. I think the answer is yes on both counts.

I’m sure LTD will like the movie if for no other reason than I tell him too. I have only been a parent for six months, but it is my understanding that kids do everything they are told. For me, I could take or leave the singing and the dwarfs, what I really enjoy is just how beautiful the film looks and the classic animation style that I wish they still used today. My only fear is that the witch may give him nightmares just as the ,Witch in the Wizard of Oz did to me.

John Hughes 1950-2009

mommr“I yelled at Kenny for coloring outside the lines! Megan and I are starting to watch the same TV shows. I’m liking them. I’m losing it!” – Jack Butler, aka Mr. Mom

The world reacted pretty much the way it should have to the sudden death of John Hughes last week, which is to say that it honored him as the creator of perfect 80’s movies that captured teens in a true light. However, I would like to call attention one of his earliest works, the stay at home dad comedy, Mr. Mom.

John Hughes script was not only funny, but was ahead of its time. Let us not forget the talented Michael Keaton who brought the words to life and forever put the word woobies in the American vernacular. Mr. Mom taught me not to feed a baby chili and the importance of Schooner Tuna. Thank you John Hughes for speaking truth to power with comedy and heart.

Oh, Look it’s 8:30, Time for Bed

I’ve never been a night owl, but this is getting ridiculous. I used to go to bed between 11 and midnight and now, not so much. The days are long my friends and I feel every second of them when the sun goes down. Beginning around 9pm I hit a wall, sure I’m awake but it’s only on a technicality, my body is still vertical. On nights when LTD sleeps all the way through, I don’t feel it as much, but for obvious reasons when I get up at 1am and stay up for half an hour, the next day I really feel it.

Crashing so early screws up a lot of things in the late evening, things like dinner. By the time The Mommy gets home from the office we have a limited window of time to feed the baby and ourselves before our tanks hit empty. Most nights we have pretty well oiled machinery in place to deal with all the items on the nightly checklist, but on those evenings when we are in the tall grass it is just brutal. The truth is that when I am in the weeds I have no problem going to bed at 9:30, I feel no shame. And thanks to the DVR we don’t miss Burn Notice.


Product Review – Wee See

So we recently broke our no TV under two years of age rule, but it doesn’t really count because we watched a DVD. We figured a dvdDVD was a good exception I mean it’s not like we let him watch Jerry Springer. The Wee See DVD is basically like a living mobile that LTD watches while sitting up instead of on his back in the crib. The DVD features a series of black and white shapes set to relaxing music. The contrast is truly vibrant and borderline hypnotic. When the black and white shapes pull apart or move across the screen they are accompanied by cool sound effects that mimic the ripping and falling movements of the shapes. LTD stares but is unclear how much he is actually taking in; the real joy comes when I stare at the shapes. Between the simple images and the music it actually relaxes me and as long as there isn’t a hidden subliminal message inside telling me to cluck like a chicken, I guess it’s all good. The big bonus from my point of view is that LTD also finds the music calming. The original score by The Polyphonic Spree’s Tim DeLaughter is playful without drifting into Raffi territory. Now that LTD is at an age where he really enjoys bright colors more than the black and white spectrum we listen to the music more than watch the DVD. All in all, a great way to chill out when both baby and parent are stressed.

wee see – collection one from Rolyn Barthelman on Vimeo.

He Comes From a Land Down Under

So The Mommy had reserved a few Daddy DVDs in her Netflix queue for me to watch before the big event. Well, as you can imagine things were a little stressful in the lead up to LTD’s arrival and needless to say The Mommy’s Netflix queue became a low priority. About two weeks after LTD’s birth, a DVD arrived in the mail the subject of which was, what should a new father expect during pregnancy. Although the train had left the station, we watched the DVD anyway, basically fast-forwarding through it.

Another daddy DVD arrived in the mail when LTD was about two months old. This time the DVD was more appropriate because it dealt with what to do when you bring the baby home. I was too tired to really watch it and again we set the remote to fast-forward. The funny thing about both DVDs was that they were filmed in Australia by an Australian filmmaker who was documenting his experiences becoming a first time dad. While watching the DVDs, I wasn’t really listening to the parenting advice I was cracking up every time the on camera dads called their baby’s blokes and mates (drinking Fosters the whole time). Turns out Nappy is Australian for diaper. I felt like Crocodile Dundee was giving me parenting advice. “That’s not a pacifier, this a pacifier.”