Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Transformers: Robots In Disguise Season 2 Announced!!!


   Hasbro Studios is powering up for season 2 of Transformers: Robots in Disguise on Cartoon Network. The studio has said, “Season two will bring back Bumblebee and his Autobots team for all new action-packed battles, fun-filled adventures and other humorous new characters with vibrant personalities that made season one a hit with kids." Robots in Disguise is set years after “Transformers: Prime,” starring the lovable Bumblebee character, summoned by Optimus Prime to lead in a fight to save Earth from a new faction of escaped Decepticon prisoners by assembling a rogue team of unlikely Autobot heroes to capture their new enemies. "Season two will see the return of a more confident, battle-tested Bumblebee as the leader of the Autobots, including his teammates Grimlock, Sideswipe, Strongarm, Fixit, Windblade and Drift. Protecting Earth becomes a mighty task as the team prepares to battle against menacing pairs of Cyclone Mini-Cons, who partner with Deployers to unleash the most powerful attacks and wreak even more destruction than ever." I can't think of a better protector of earth than the beloved Bumblebee character. Each episode is sure to deliver as they "continue to celebrate the continuous underlying themes of teamwork, companionship and the importance of standing up to wrongdoers."

   Transformers has been a part of my life since the 80's. My brothers and I watched each episode of the original series, and has most of the original die-cast toys. Bumblebee was always a favorite, through the more modern Hollywood depiction where he kicks some serious butt on screen. My son has a love for the "robots in disguise" and has always enjoyed watching the adventures of Bumblebee and his crew (we did a Transformers Conctruct-Bots review a while ago and had a blast!!!) The adventures appeal to both my 6YO son and my 10YO daughter who at one point declared that she wanted to marry either Optimus Prime or Bumblebee since they were so cute. That'd make for an interesting "father talk" to be sure!

   The series is well written, and the characters are easy to get in to. The animation is top-notch and makes me want to grab my paper and crayons to start drawing my favorite Autobots!!! Show times are TBD, so stay tuned and check Transformers: Robots in Disguise site for updates from Cartoon Netowork. You'll also find links to games, toys, videos, and apps that will keep the excitement alive until the first season 2 episode. 'Till then,......AUTOBOTS!!! ROLL OUT!!!

J.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Great Dane Outlives Expectations

   When we decided early in our marriage that our first child would be a Great Dane, we did our research. Along side them being gentle giants, we learned that an average lifespan would be 6-8 years. We met the mom and dad of the litter we got our first puppy from, and ended up with "the runt" as she was classified by our breeder. With a common expiration date on her life, we put a lot of effort into what she ate and how she lived to try to extend that. She ate a very clean and healthy diet, and I lifted her out of the SUV as much as I could to save her hips from the stereotypical demise. We ended up with our first baby lasting 10.5 years. I stumbled across the following video, and felt that warmth of our baby Dane's muzzle once more.



   I think we can sometimes believe too much of the press on any topic. While we had our "paws" firmly planted in reality, we also dreamed big. We felt a lot of our Dane's life would depend on our decisions for her. As we move onto other pets, the same rules apply, and we look for better ways to extend the lives of our additional family members. I think the lesson from the Pegasus video, and the life of our sweet Dane, is to not settle for the status quo, and show more effort. I've seen it deliver better results in the lives of pets, children, and a person's own self. Below is a tribute to our first pet, our "little girl", and a wonderful friend.


Miss you girl.

J.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

For The Record - Keeping A Journal


 
"I've never managed to keep a journal longer than two weeks." - J. K. Rowling
 
   There's something to be said about the journal (or diary depending on your age). A record of one's daily life and events. To put down on paper, or on a computer, the things that are deemed the most impactful or important. From the boy or girl that might like you in grade school, to your own child that might have a boy or girl that they like in grade school, keeping a record is something that can pay back great dividends.
 
   My mother had us trying to keep a journal from when we could first put together coherent sentences on paper. In fact, I still have my journals, short as they are, from when I was 8 years old. I can recall the memories of first crushes, things I liked to do, and so forth. If you do not have the best memory, a journal can be a time machine for you and your loved ones. I have wished time and again that I had something of my grandfather's of the same last name. Having died a week after I was born, and a father that is not that open about him, I know next to nothing about him. A journal can provide so many things. We can get a glimpse into our ancestor's lives. We can capture the funny things our children have said (my favorite has been the way one of my kids have morphed "hand sanitizer" into "handitizer").
 
   With today's technology, we can choose to blog, or just keep the pen and paper handy. I kept a hand written journal years ago before switching to a typed computer file for each entry.  I know we can be more involved with capturing the moment with our cell phones rather than just "enjoying being in the moment". If I try, though, at the end of the day I can always take a few minutes to record the day's events. So, as we start 2016, I hope to get back to keeping a more diligent journal. A journal for myself, a blog for everyone else, and maybe some cross-over moments...
 
Happy New Year!
 
J. 

Monday, March 30, 2015

Tinker Bell and the Legend of the NeverBeast - Movie Review


 "...deep down in the darkness, something awakes." 
Tinkerbell and the Legend of the Neverbeast

   So, I first heard of Tinkerbell and the Legend of the Neverbeast from a host of blog friends going to a press conference for the film. With an amazing list of voice talent including Ginnifer Goodwin, Mae Whitman, Rosario Dawson, Lucy Liu, Pamela Adlon, and Raven-SymonĂ©, I had high hopes for our family's viewing. The official plot summary is: "Fun and talented animal fairy Fawn believes you can't judge a book by its cover, or an animal by its fangs, so she befriends a huge and mysterious creature known as the NeverBeast. While Tinkerbell and her friends aren't so sure about this scary addition to Pixie Hollow, the elite Scout Fairies set out to capture the monster before he destroys their home. Fawn must trust her heart and take a leap of faith if she hopes to rally the girls to save the NeverBeast." (Written by DisneyToon Studios).

   The thing you notice in the first 10 minutes is that the story is more about Fawn, and her adventures with the Neverbeast. Tinkerbell is a supporting character, and that scared me for a minute. That melted away as our family got caught up in just what the Neverbeast was up to. While the Neverbeast himself was the highlight of the movie, I thought the Scout Fairies were pretty darn cool. Brave and dedicated, skilled and professional, this troop makes you want to sign up for the cause of protecting Pixie Hollow! The Scouts gave my daughter another example of girls that can kick butt, and I'm veryokay with that.

   (Mild Spoiler) In the end, we say goodbye to the Never beast. While I won't give away any major details, I will confirm that Disney does what it does best, which is give you a great ending that lures out the tears. By the time the incredibly sad and touching music plays over the slow rolling credits, my 9YO daughter was in tears, not wanting to say goodbye, not wanting it to end, and not wanting to ever watch that ending again. (*UPDATE* - Upon the second viewing, when the end scene came, she ran out of the room and sat at the bottom of the stairs in order to not go through the emotional gauntlet like before) We all loved the movie, and have had SEVERAL viewings since. It's fun, powerful, cute, lovable, and everything you'd expect from a great Disney flick. While I thought featuring one of the sidekick fairies would detract from the "Tinkerbell" theme, I was pleasantly surprised, and so were the kids. So check it out! It's worth the ride.

J.






Friday, March 27, 2015

Friday Flush #18

 Friday Flush #18

    I've been saving today's Friday Flush entries for a little while now. It's time to share. If there's something that the past dozen and a half Friday Flush posts has shown me, it's that there is SO MUCH cool stuff, cool people, and overall coolness in the world, that I'm glad I have a place to reference them all. So today we look at old time new technology, little critter home swapping, and plants you can't kill unless you really try. 

Runcible, The Smart Pocket Watch
Like most people these days, I loves me some technology. I also love antiques and old wares, with an affinity for pocket watches. Imagine my delight when I stumbled across the Runcible, a smart pocket watch by Mohohm. George Arriola, founder and CPO of Monohm, said "the Runcible is meant to remove us from how we're so buried in our phones." See the full article by Sean O'Kane at the above link. The features I got excited about were the swappable backings that came in tin, copper, brass, and several types of wood. Also, to add a bit of fun and diversity, pictures and video will be in a round format. In a fun twist of functionality, users will be able to rotate the Runcible to focus and zoom. I got put on the mailing list to be made aware when it was ready for purchase. I'm already starting a change jar.

Hermit Crabs' New Shell
While I've never owned a hermit crab, I've always been fascinated by them. They're adorable in their little shells, and scoot across the ground with such purpose (when their not just chilling there, doing nothing). I've had cousins, nephews, and friends who've had them as childhood pets, and I'd always wondered a few things. Like, are they born that big? If not, does the shell grow with them? Mostly common sense and what little my associates knew filled in the blanks,.....until now. A wonderful little documentary on Vimeo titled "Crabs", dispelled any myths and took me on a fun journey around what these little guys go through as they get bigger. Funny enough, at a time in my life where I'm needing to appreciate what I have as opposed to what I don't, there was a line in the documentary that stood out to me when the littlest hermit crab's new home had a hole in it. The line went, "...but even a bad shell is better than being homeless." 

No Kill Plants 
Yahoo! Makers ran an article called 6 Spring Plants You Can't Kill (Unless You Really Try). I love mother nature. I love the foliage this planet is blessed with. I love the rich colors and the diverse shapes. I love the smell of the flowers and the oxygen our trees produce. I DON'T, however, like that I can kill just about anything that comes into my home. I feel like I could probably kill a fake plant at this point. As a couple, my wife and I are trying to add more green to our front porch, so this article came at the right time. I plan on talking with our local nursery to make sure I'm choosing the right plants for our region, but the point is still the same. There are plants out there, resilient to the torture I'm ready to provide (even if it's unintentional). So I give the advice to you that I give to myself. Be brave, get out there, and get your hands dirty. The payoff is quite satisfying.

   I leave you with a clear mind going into the weekend. We talked about making technology fun, being not too crabby, and being brave to plant some foliage.  This post will begin the kids' week off for Spring break, sooooo..........wish me luck!

J.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Ultimate Spider-Man: Web Warriors - Toy Review

video

"Remember, with great power. comes great responsibility." - Uncle Ben, Spider-Man

   Spider-Man is one of those superheroes that is fun, adventurous, and if you're not looking, can teach you to be a better human being. The lessons learned in my youth about an average boy given immense power who chooses to use it for good made in impact on me. As an iconic hero of the Marvel world, Hasbro has teamed up to offer some downright awesome toys. Upon the reveal, BOTH my 5YO boy and 9YO girl were all over the gear listed below. Here's The Cheeky Review:

Marvel’s Ultimate Spider-Man: Web Warriors Web Slingers RACER
(Ages 4 years & up/Approx. Retail Price: $14.99) 
Can the enemies of justice keep up with the Web Warriors? Not when they’re at the wheel of their web-launching vehicles! You can launch two webs from its vehicle racer. Choose from characters from the hit animated series Marvel’s ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN: WEB WARRIORS like SPIDER-MAN with ATV, AGENT VENOM with Motorcycle and more! Each figure vehicle sold separately. *The Quad is a sweet vehicle. Agent Venom is a cool take on the character. You kind of get a two for one. After we got done with target practice, we rolled the quad with Agent Venom across the tile floor. Both were a good time.

Marvel’s Ultimate Spider-Man: Web Warriors Web Slingers BLASTERS
(Ages 5 years & up/Approx. Retail Price: $14.99) 
Send webs flying into action! Load a web onto your Web Slingers blaster, then pull back and launch it at the included target! Hone your web-slinging abilities and help the Web Warriors defeat their enemies. The Spider-Man Web Slingers Blaster lets you get in the action with your own Spider-Man gear! Choose from characters from the hit animated series Marvel’s ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN: WEB WARRIORS like SPIDER-MAN , IRON SPIDER and SPIDER-MAN 2099.Each sold separately. Requires 2 AAA batteries. Demo batteries included. * While it took time to learn how to aim, this item was played with last, so we had three targets in total to aim at. I could see the excitement in my 5YO's eyes as he was envisioning himself as the webbed hero. The Cheeky Daddy was having a hard time not taking it over for himself!!!

Marvel’s Ultimate Spider-Man: Web Warriors Web Slingers TRICKSHOT SHOWDOWN Playset
(Ages 4 years & up/Approx. Retail Price: $24.99/Available: Spring 2015)
Now kids can join the Web Warriors in web-launching action with the Trickshot Showdown playset! This web-blasting arena includes a 6-inch scale Spider-Man figure, 2 stretchy webs, and 5 targets to blast! The Spider-Man figure can attach to the spinning crane and go crashing through the doors to attack the villains. Targets include a spinning Venom and collapsing Green Goblin. * While the wearable and individual action figures are a load of fun, a decent sized playset seems to unleash the imagination the best. It helps to put the child (and parent?) into the world. We had fun shooting at the 6 or so targets and did some fun hero role playing. Thumbs up for this one.

   Each of the toys listed above were fun to get into. The Web Slinger function of the rubber "ammunition" does take a bit of time to get good at, but was a good time with my 5YO boy. There was a fair amount of smack talk verses the bad guys we were up against! Good times ahead,.....my Spider-Sense is tingling!!!

J.

FTC Disclosure: This is a sponsored post on behalf of Hasbro, practically another member of the Cheeky family with how long they've been in our home. Toys were provided for review. All opinions are that of The Cheeky Daddy, Jason Swann.

Friday, February 6, 2015

The Friday Flush #17

The Friday Flush #17

   Oh, it's Friday, in the biggest way. With sick kids draining the last ounce of energy and patience from mom and dad, I peruse the internet for something cool. I know I've really only scratched the surface, and who knows, maybe in a few years I'll have amassed a nice collection of awesome links. For now, you end the week with Google Maps image stitching, someone taking over Google's old archive projects, and choosing your digital devices.

HyperLabs
   I remember the day when Google Earth debuted. I was blown away when I could see my truck parked in my mother's driveway, like I was a target in Will Smith's Enemy of the State. Things have taken another leap with Hyperlabs, that stitches the street view images from Google Maps into video. I took a peek at the example video and was immediately impressed. Of course, picking a great stretch of road and putting it to moving music takes a good eye, but the end result should be pleasing, no matter the skill level. At the least, it seems like a great way to capture some fun vacation memories of drives from the past.


The Internet Archive
   There was a time when we all heard that Google was going to basically digitize the world. Every book was going to be available digitally and they were going to be the ones to do it. A lofty goal, but it seemed like Google was the behemoth to do it. Alas, time and money, (and profit) all get in the way, and projects get abandoned. There is, however, a group that has vowed to take over the task. The Internet Archive is a group committed to taking over the task.  The original article on medium.com detailed the chain of events leading up to the "change of the guard". Some of the achievments: 6 million public domain books, 1.9 million videos, 6,000 ephemeral films, including vintage advertising, educational and industrial footage, 2.3 million audio recordings, 137,000 concert recordings,, 10,000 audiobooks from LibriVox and more, the largest collection of historical software in the world, and so on. It's worth checking out. 

Product Chart
   When it comes to our electronics, we Americans love choice. One of the biggest problems I have had over the years, is the issue of too many choices. I hit this wall of indecision when we looked for a new digital camera, laptop, tablet, and smartphone. The people at Product Chart have a beta version of a tool that can help with that. The comparison chart features an interactive way to search, compare, and choose a product covering smartphones, laptops, MP3 players, solid state drives, and flash drives. It's fun to play with and helps with that lingering problem of choice. 

    So happy Friday, and take it easy. We've looked at the world stitched together, the world digitized for consumption, and a way to choose a device to consume that world. Have fun!

J.  


Friday, January 30, 2015

The Friday Flush #16

Friday Flush #16

   The first week back to school after three weeks off on Christmas vacation has been a bear. Kids that don't want to get up. Parents that don't want to get them up. Homework that does not want to be done. Ahhhhh, this is the life. I find my escape at times by finding  videos online that take my breath away, inspire, or in any other way give me a small escape. Friday Flush #16 brings you the jet pack man, undiscovered WWII images, and,.....well.....the universe.

Dual Flight Jet Pack
I think we've all thought about how cool it would be to fly. I came across JIM CROW a while ago and was blown away by his jet pack. A-MAZED I tell you. I watched him fly solo, with jets, and it was just incredible. I read recently that his goal was to do a dual flight with another jet pack. I watched his new video on YouTube and the ending gave me the chills. I love the innovation, and I love the "dreamer" aspect of this story. Gives whole new meaning to the "spread your wings" bit. Give it a watch, and don't forget to play it to the very end. I got goosebumps. I'm sure you will too.

31 Rolls of Undeveloped Film from a Soldier in WWII Discovered and Processed
I've always had an interest in the various aspects of war. The causes, the dedication of an individual, etc. I inherited my grandfather's book of pictures from his time in Papa New Guinea. 
I saw a link via Reddit about 31 rolls of undeveloped film from WWII that photographer Levi Bettweiser purchased at an auction in Ohio. The process is inspirational and the result is nothing less than preserving history. They reminded me of the kind and quality of the images from my grandfather's book. Every day shots from the war, that give more personality to such an epic event. The full video of the project can be found at http://www.rescuedfilm.com/#!rescuedwwii - so take a look when you have some time to watch and absorb.

Andromeda Galaxy
While I live on the 3rd rock from the sun, the great expanse of the universe has always captivated me. Most every night, as I lock up the house, I step out onto my porch and gaze up at the sky. In the summer, I take my time. In the winter, I haul but back inside. So you can imagine my sense of awe when I found the video of the 1.5 gigapixel image of the Andromeda galaxy as seen by the Hubble telescope. Somewhere around the 0:47 mark, my mouth dropped open and I felt more small and insignificant than ever before (and then afterward, got back to worrying about the little things in life). This was breathtaking, and I know if you take a quiet moment to watch and reflect, you will be awestruck as well.

Happy Friday all. Be inspired.

J.



Thursday, January 29, 2015

DYI Disney Infinity Poster Art


"The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing." 
- Walt Disney

   It's not a secret that our family has been wanting Disney Infinity in for home for nearly a year leading up to this past Christmas. The kids made no bones about it, and mom & dad masked their desire as "for the kids". We started the new year, defeating frost giants in the Marvel Avenger's play set. The kids got WAY creative in Toybox mode. Having come off a Guardians of the Galaxy high, we also delved into Marvel Guardians of the Galaxy play set. The game play is fun, the chance for both male and female gamers to be represented is cool, and the adventure seems endless. 

   One aspect that I hadn't anticipated is a little bonus gift that came with our starter kits. #DisneyInfinity starter kits include an incredibly cool 16" x 23" poster that features characters from that play set. I was tickled to have a few in our possession after the holidays and figured they'd be pinned up in the kids' room in no time. However, the creative side got a hold of me and I got to planning for a fun project with these awesome posters.
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A quick method to make these lovely bonus posters into a permanent art piece for the kids' room goes as follows:
1. I purchased a cedar tongue and groove board from Lowes, then sized and cut the wood to fit the size of the posters.
2. Assembly was easy with drilling pilot holes and putting both pieces together with wood screws.
3. I moved the project inside and prepped for the nest steps.
4. I adhered the posters to the wood with Modge Podge, working out the bubbles with a roller and my hands.
5. Once dry, I took the pieces outside for sanding.
6. Light sanding on the corners aged each piece. A small amount of dark finishing wax was used to age even more. An afternoon to dry, and they were ready for hanging.


   As Walt Disney's quotes says above, I talk a good talk, but need to do more. The Wife and I have SO many ideas that we want to see come to life, but when you boil down all the talk it comes time to actually do something about it. It was easier on this project, because our family is in the middle of a Disney Infinity REVOLUTION!!! These little posters are just simply the exclamation mark to highlight this moment in time. It adds something to the kids' room that they are passionate about (as well as mom & dad). The wood portion adds some dimension to already amazing artwork. The whole project was a creative outlet for dear old dad. Lastly, it's a way for me to show my love for the Disney brand, as it has brought us so much happiness and joy from when I was a boy, to the present day with our little family.

Happy gaming. 

J.







Monday, January 26, 2015

The Annoying Sibling Syndrome


"Mock,...Yea-ah,...Ing,...Yea-ah,...BIIIIRD!!!...Yea-ah,...YEA,...Yea-ah..."
- Lloyed and Harry, Dumb and Dumber

   The day previous to this post, The Wife looked back and saw our 5YO son reenacting the above scene sitting next to our 2YO daughter. She told him to knock it off, and in a frustrated voice muttered, "Geez,....Lloyd." I busted up laughing since I also noticed our poor wee girl had the same look on her face as the guy in the middle. 

   In a long line of annoying siblings, our boy can be the leader of the pack. While he is sweet, loving, tender, caring, and a snuggle-bug,....is also a button pusher and bluff caller. Once he's in the car, there's an invisible timer to see how fast he can get me to blow up like the guy from Dumb and Dumber. It can be mind-numbingly irritating, but then, wasn't I a young boy once?

   This is the key point. Our pediatrician once said that our boy is "very bright, and with that, he needs engagement or he will get bored." So the challenge is to be "creative in a really interesting way..." (Dr. Oatman, Gross Pointe Blank). Sure, we can plan outings, excursions, invasions, etc., but what does one do in the car? I'm not a fan of putting a movie on EVERY time we enter the vehicle. That can spiral out of control. The flip side of that is Lloyd singing Mockingbird in my daughters face.

   So the challenge continues. Any thoughts are welcome. Suggestions will be considered. Patience will continue to be tested. In the meantime, here's the most annoying sound in the world.

J.