As a human being on Earth, you either just saw Black Panther at the theater or you’re desperately searching for a babysitter so you can go check it out. Either way, you’re probably anxious for more. Of course, if it’s superheroics you’re after, Netflix is littered with Marvel movies and shows to fill that particular void. But if you’re looking for more of the feel, look, and talent that makes Black Panther special, here are some recomendations you might want to check out.
In this edition of Dad Grades, we take a long, hard look at one of cinema’s worst dads: Peter McCallister from the 1991 holiday classic Home Alone, portrayed by the late, great John Herd.
Home Alone is a harrowing tale about the far-reaching consequences of unauthoritative parenting, paint can physics, and pre-TSA- checkpoint air travel. In the movie, 8-year- old Kevin McCallister must thwart two bumbling thieves after he is mistakenly left behind in the suburbs of Chicago while his family vacations in Paris.
Any dad seeking to empathize with the patriarch of the McCallister family must do so with a necessary suspension of disbelief.
“Well, there’s no way I’d accidentally leave my child home alone.”
Look, I think we can all agree the whole foolishly abandoning your kid in one of America’s most intrinsically violent major cities thing is, by every conceivable metric, a lasting blemish on your parenting record. But no. I’m not talking about that.
If you’re looking to explore Peter’s inadequacies as a father, look no further than the first act.
First, a burglar enters the McCallister domicile, unnoticed, disguised quite skillfully as a police officer. The McCallister kids ignore the cop lingering in their foyer in lieu of more important matters at hand, like misplaced sunblock, displaying a complete and utter lack of respect for authority.
He gets nothing. Not a “hello.” Not a “may I help you?” Not even a “the 4th amendment clearly states you cannot legally enter this house without a signed search warrant.” Peter McCallister has what seems to be a bafflingly lenient open-door policy. Strike one for Peter.
Eventually, the pizza guy shows up. Now Peter has two strange men idling in his foyer while his children run about unsupervised.
At last, Peter comes downstairs. Ignoring the pizza delivery guy, he chats briefly with the cop, assuring him their automatic light timers will deter any foreseeable holiday burglaries. Spoiler alert: they don’t.
Buzz, Peter’s oldest son, enters. “C’mon dad,” he says. “Let’s eat.”
And just like that, he leaves. There is an officer of the law in his foyer. There is a delivery gu who has yet to receive payment of $122.50 in his foyer. But pizza, I guess. Strike two.
Next, Kevin finds out his family has already eaten all the plain cheese pizza. Instead of simply picking olives off of a less than ideal slice, he viciously attacks his brother Buzz, tackling him into a bunch of red Solo cups filled with… milk.
That’s right. Milk. I’d be hard-pressed to come up with a drink less complementary to pizza than milk. Seriously? Milk? One possibility is that the film’s screenwriter, the legendary John Hughes, has never in his life actually eaten pizza. As a notoriously proud Chicagoan, this is highly improbable.
It’s far more likely that this bewildering drink preference among the McCallisters is somehow Peter’s fault. “Hop in the van, kids,” I imagine him saying. “We’re all going downtown for some Chicago deep dish and a nice, savory round of milk.” Absolutely revolting. Strike three, Pete.
The Good: Peter and his children share very little screentime together. But even though he does unforgivable things, like serving milk with pizza, he does show genuine concern once it becomes clear that Kevin has been left behind. For that, I applaud him.
The Bad: No, seriously. Milk? That’s a slippery slope, pal. First your kids are drinking milk with pizza and then, before you know it, they’re ordering coffee with a cheeseburger. Wasn’t Fuller, the bedwetter, drinking Pepsi? Just give everyone Pepsi, dude. Milk. Jesus Christ. You’ve got to be kidding me. Milk.
The Verdict: Peter McCallister is a textbook example of bad parenting. Need more proof? Revisit the final scene where the whole family comes home to Kevin. Peter asks Kevin what he did while they were gone. Kevin responds, “Just hung around.” The family shares a hearty chuckle and then everybody just… leaves. Peter just walks away from his almost definitely traumatized 8-year- old. Just ends the conversation and walks away like he’s a cop or something.
Peter McCallister’s Final Dad Grade: D-
What’s next, Bugles 2: Electric Bugleloo?
Just when you think Hollywood is fresh out of ideas, all out of superheroes to put on screen, lacking any bestsellers to adapt or classics to remake, just when you think studio executives couldn’t possibly be any dumber, they go and green-light a movie based on a popular vending machine snack and totally… make it clear that you were right.
How else besides total and utter creative bankruptcy do you decide to make a movie about Flamin’ Hot Cheetos?
To be fair to Hollywood, the movie – thank the gods! – won’t actually concern Chester Cheeto or anthropomorphized cheese snacks. But after witnessing such cinematic dreck as the Emoji movie, you can’t blame the general public for being wary.
According to Variety, the movie, which was the subject of a bidding war and currently bears the title “Flamin’ Hot!”, will instead track the rags-to-riches story of Richard Montanez.
Known as “the Godfather of Multicultural Marketing,” Montanez is the son of an immigrant and a former migrant farm worker who went from picking grapes to working as a janitor at Frito-Lay, where he came up with the idea for “Flamin’ Hot Cheetos.”
The snack helped Frito-Lay become a pop culture mainstay, and took Montanez from custodian to the C-suite.
Twitter, of course, cares little for your “facts” and “information” concerning what the movie will actually be “about.” No, Twitter only cares about jokes.
The news of the movie inspired a #HotCheetosMovie hashtag and after reading many of the associated tweets, it’s safe to say that the film GOT BURNT!
[tweet 967514097167183872 hide_thread=’true’]
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Once people realized the movie wouldn’t feature talking Cheetos, the tide turned:
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Stay tuned for more movies based around your favorite late-night snacks, provided there’s a heartwarming, timely, American story at its core. Something tells me my friend’s destructive gas station sandwich habit won’t be yielding any Oscars anytime soon.
The fact that I’ve been a dad for going on six years still seems ridiculous to me. Weirdly, it feels ridiculous that it’s been six years already and that it’s only been six years. One of the biggest surprises of fatherhood has been the way it distorts time and memory. I used to think about what I would be doing in five or ten years, but now I almost exclusively measure my life in minutes and hours. How many minutes until the bottle is ready for the baby? How many hours until nap time? How many minutes until we can leave the playground? How many hours until they wake up, again?
And my recollection of the past now seems to have similar time constraints. Now that we’re on baby number three, it is exceedingly difficult for me to remember much of anything about when my second child was a baby, let alone my first. Parenting tunnel vision is real. It’s as if my parent brain only has room to process what is necessary to keep me and my children alive. Let’s focus on keeping these kids fed and cleaned and safe, my brain tells me.
It took me a long time to feel somewhat okay about this feature of my parenting experience. This impermanence used to frustrate me to no end. I would chastise myself often and tell myself to do better. Just focus, I would say. You can remember everything if you just try hard enough! But slowly, as time passed and more memories faded into blurs of color and sound, I came to realize that the life of a father, particularly a stay-at-home one, can be so mundane and routine that attempting to catalog it and remember it all is a hopeless task. I learned that the truly memorable parts in the journey—the traumatic and the transcendent—can’t be controlled. You can only wait for the transcendent to find you and hope that the traumatic never will.
For example, I remember when my oldest son was two and he fell while I was getting him ready for bed and bit his lip. I remember his blood and my anguish for having failed him. Luckily, our traumas have been like this one—small. I also remember the time a butterfly made a surprise visit on a spring afternoon and brightened our day. For whatever reason, that little moment felt transcendent. Which just goes to show you, the things we hold onto for the long term might be the big ones, but that doesn’t mean that the fleeting moments are any less valuable.
Andrew Knott [@ExplorationsOfAmbiguity]
Want to share a story about fatherhood? Email [email protected].
Cast your mind back to the 1990s. It was a simple time for hip-hop. Back then, it was an either-or kind of deal. East Coast vs. West Coast, Bad Boy vs. Def Jam, Biggie vs. Tupac, Puff Daddy vs. Suge Knight. Yeah ok, there was the Southern scene, but basically, you could just ignore OutKast and Arrested Development and you were back to the two-party system.
Nowadays things are a little different. Atlanta is a key player, as is New Orleans, Houston, Detroit, and you’ve even got bloody Canadian’s joining in! Basically, there’s a lot of people rapping these days, and you can kind of find something for everyone.
Something you might not be aware of though, is that the British have gotten pretty good at it. Maybe you like British accents, maybe you want to impress someone with your knowledge, I don’t know what your deal is, I don’t know you. Either way, here are some of my favorite British rappers for you to check out.
A lot of British rap music over the past twenty or thirty years hasn’t necessarily been hip-hop music; genres like jungle, garage, and grime have taken a lot of the limelight. But in the past few years there has been a serious rise in straight-up hip-hop, with the record label High Focus leading the charge. Arguably the stand out artist from the High Focus roster is Brighton’s Ocean Wisdom.
Ocean dropped his debut album Chaos 93 in 2016 and his debut single, “Walkin’,” gained him international attention when he took Eminem’s title of the world’s fastest rapper, somehow delivering 4.45 words per second over an incredible 3 minutes 47 seconds.
This year, he is back with a new album, Wizville, that features some titans of the UK hip hop scene, Rodney P, Roots Manuva, Jehst, and even features a cameo from Wu Tang’s own Method Man. Definitely check out the debut album, but for now listen to new single “Revvin’,” featuring grime legend Dizzee Rascal.
Similar to Ocean Wisdom in that his music is hip-hop through and through, Loyle Carner is another star on the rise in the UK scene. If you like your hip-hop to be wholesome, then this is the guy for you – not like Fresh Prince wholesome either. Loyle does say cuss words.
It’s just that this guy loves his family (his mum was his date to the Brit Awards in February), he respects women (he threw a man out of his show for groping a crowd surfer) and he is socially conscious too (he teaches disadvantaged youths to cook through a scheme he created called Chilli Con Carner), and it all comes through in his music.
His music is heart wrenchingly honest, raw and real. Songs about wanting a sister (“Florence”), missing his dad (“BFG”), and worrying about talking to girls (“+44”) are complimented by classic hip-hop themes of ambition (“Ain’t Nothin’ Changed”). Generally, he is a great lyricist, has great beats, and seems to be a really good guy too.
You’ve probably heard songs by M.I.A. over the past ten years, and it’s probably fair to say she’s one of the more successful exports. Songs like “Paper Planes” and “Bad Girls” have been global hits that have featured in movies and commercials (that’s how you know they’re good). As a result, you might be forgiven for thinking that she has just a couple of bangers and that’s all. But you’d be wrong if you thought that. She’s now released 5 albums that are packed full of quality.
On Kala (arguably her most famous record), M.I.A. tackles a range of social issues, whilst also sampling a very diverse range of music, from The Clash and Pixies to Ilaiyaraaja and The Wilcannia Mob. Her influences are vast and wide, and that comes through regularly in her music, and just listening to an M.I.A. album can introduce you to a range of music you’ve never heard before, or show you something you’re familiar with in a totally new light.
My personal favorite comes from her debut album Arular, the song “Sunshowers” just, it just does it for me.
Arguably one of the most influential trip-hop artists from the UK scene is Roots Manuva. His influence is far-reaching. It’s been argued that his music was a precursor to the grime scene and in 2014 Vice said that his debut album (1999’s Brand New Second Hand) is still the best thing to come out of UK hip-hop.
In the late 1990s, Roots Manuva did something that a lot of other British rappers had failed to do to that point. He made Britishness something to rap about. While the East and West Coast scenes in America were rapping about slinging drugs and shooting people, Roots was able to bring a sense of authenticity to his music by rapping about cheese on toast and drinking pints of bitter.
Probably his most famous and successful song was “Witness (1 Hope)” from his 2001 album Run Come Save Me. Be warned: Once you listen to this you’re going to want to be English.
Grime has had a few artists breakout and hit the mainstream in the past 15 years or so – the likes of Wiley, Lethal Bizzle, and Dizzee Rascal are some of the more recognizable names from the scene. But probably the biggest of them all is the current darling of the UK rap scene, Stormzy.
Not only has he had a slew of radio hits, but his debut album (Gang Signs and Prayers) was the first Grime album to peak at number one in the UK album charts, getting certified Platinum in the UK within a year of its release.
Part of the reason he has enjoyed the success he has is because he has a very level-headed, socially conscious voice that he puts towards good and popular causes. Calling out the prime minister in an award acceptance speech in February this year, for example.
Obviously, check out his album, but some of his best stuff is from his early demos and EPs. For example, “Not That Deep” from 2014 EP Dreamer’s Disease.
To round this off, let’s talk about something slightly different. Kate Tempest isn’t really a hip-hop artist. She is a poet and she is a spoken word rapper, and she is incredible. She is one of those artists that has such a way with words that you can close your eyes and just let her paint a landscape with her lyrics.
Her debut album, Everybody Down, was nominated for the Mercury Prize in 2014, but arguably, the 2016 follow up Let Them Eat Chaos is an even stronger piece. Tempest is a playwrite too, and you can tell when you listen to Let Them Eat Chaos. There is a cast of characters that repeat throughout, there is an atmospheric, dream-like quality to the beats, and her softly delivered bars penetrate your mind perfectly. If you let it, Let Them Eat Chaos is the sort of album that can change the way you hear music.
Some of the standout tracks are probably “Ketamine for Breakfast,” “Europe is Lost,” and “Breaks,” but the album closer, “Tunnel Vision,” is the one that really does it for me.
There is much more British hip-hop out there, and I’ve overlooked an awful lot in this article, so it’s right that I throw out some honourable mentions to the likes of Jehst, The Four Owls, Klashnekoff, The Streets, Wiley, Dizzee Rascal, Rodney P, Skepta, Wretch 32, Professor Green, Doc Brown, Little Simz, Kojey Radical, Fliptrix, Speech Debele, and so many more.
So the world of hip-hop over in North America might want to remember the words of Paul Revere because the British are coming, and we are bringing fire.
One day in spring 2016, I began randomly texting Jaden Smith tweets to my wife with no explanation. Over nearly 2 years, I sent her over 50 Jaden Smith tweets.
Here are some of my favorites…
May 26, 2016
Ah, the one that started it all. Not sure what’s funnier, that she never asked me about it again, or that she thought I was sending this to someone else? Who would I send this to? If I sent it to someone else, would it be LESS weird?
June 1, 2016
She has tiny little arms. Probably can’t do any pull ups. That’s why she didn’t respond.
July 1, 2016
I think it was about this time that she confronted me in person.“It doesn’t make sense,” she said.“
Just because you don’t understand it, doesn’t mean that it doesn’t make sense!” I shouted and walked out of the room.
She never confronted me about them again.
July 20, 2016
Early on I made a decision not to alter the tweets in any way, which meant leaving that first letter capitalized. Maybe it was a give away? Maybe not. But I’m very method. I’m the Daniel Day-Lewis of text message pranks.
July 28, 2016
August 8, 2016
It’s fun teen slang that means I’ll finish the mirror framing project this weekend.
December 27, 2016
“Not the answer i was looking for… Speaking of treadmills…”
January 4, 2017
Nobody actually calls me Scoop Life. ????
February 9, 2017
“I dunno. Maybe?”
March 13, 2017
I told her I dropped the needle on the record industrial complex for the 5th time this month while I bathed in sorbet. WHO JUST LETS THAT GO?
July 13, 2017
I sent this one on our 10th WEDDING ANNIVERSARY. Probably won’t see 11. She’s gonna divorce me.
December 28, 2017
Just a lil math laundry. K
January 22, 2018
February 7, 2018
On February 7, 2018, I left on a business trip. But the weather was bad so I was stuck on the tarmac for 2 hours. So I decided to end Jaden Tweet Texts once and for all.
First, I sent her the video that is currently Jaden’s pinned tweet…
February 7, 2018
…and another strange image he posted.
February 7, 2018
I decided to spell it out. “Yep, I just ignore it”
February 7, 2018
“so random and anti climatic” is the story of my life… and Jaden Smith’s tweets.
Please take a moment to text a loved one a Jaden Smith tweet with no explanation. Screenshot the results and email [email protected]. I’d love to see it.
You’re a wizard, Daddy!
The internet is a treasure trove of information, a cesspool of toxicity, a collection of terrible hot takes, and a vast landscape of inspiration and empathy. It’s also a great place to go if you want to feel bad about your parenting, and not just because there are so many people out there ready to judge that picture you took of your kid in is car seat.
Anytime you are feeling good about your dadding, just hop online and you’re sure to encounter the latest example of some other, better dad who used his DIY skills and ingenuity to build something awesome for his kids.
Today’s example is Peter Fragola, the dad behind the blog “Chronicles of a New Dad.” Peter is a school principal and father of two sons, and when he moved his family into a new house that has a crawlspace underneath a stairway, the Harry Potter fan knew exactly what he was going to do with it: recreate Harry Potter’s famous “Cupboard Underneath the Stairs” for his kids to play in.
It took Fragola, who sports an arm full of Harry Potter tattoos, about two weeks of working at night after his kids had gone to sleep to transform this:
His version of the Cupboard Under the Stairs is far less bleak and more fun than the one in which Harry Potter himself dwelled before being whisked away to pursue his destiny at Hogwarts. The handy dad included stencils of famous Potterverse quotes, a collage of Daily Prophet newspaper clippings, and a collection of accessories, like a stuffed Hedwig and a copy of The Sorcerer’s Stone.
When you’re a little kid, there aren’t many things you enjoy more than creating forts and pretending to have magic powers, and with their very own Cupboard Under the Stairs, Fragola’s kids will be able to do both at once.
They may not end up becoming wizards themselves, but they’re certainly going to feel like their dad has magic powers.
I didn’t choose Neil Young’s “Razor Love” or Johnny Cash’s “For the Good Times” because I wanted to make my kids cooler. I simply didn’t know the words and melodies to a whole lot of lullabies. I figured if I could sing something in hushed tones, or better, hum, why couldn’t it be something out of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame catalog? It just sort of happened, and then it happened again with my second son. Now each has a “special jam.”
One of the things I associate most with my father is music. I remember fingering the spines of his records in a hallway closet when I was seven or eight-years-old. I remember my first music purchase, a cassette of Van Halen’s 1984—one of his favorite bands at the time, with my soccer goal money. I remember being grounded for a whole month after pulling the emergency brake of the brand new Pontiac Firebird and ripping a gash on the driver side door, but being allowed to sit with my father for 43 minutes and 38 seconds, listening to The Who’s Who’s Next album—each silence between songs was filled with the things we wished we could say. I remember after my parents’ divorce, being the one kid to choose to stay with my father, and waking to the sounds of his windows rattling to The J. Geil’s Band’s “Musta Got Lost.”
Every year, for either his birthday or Father’s Day or Christmas, I’ll throw something at him; the Black Keys, the White Stripes, the Heartless Bastards, the Crooked Vultures, with the hope I can somehow repay him musically, usually to minor success.
Because of my father, my kids know the words to Chuck Berry’s “30 Days.” They know when to howl to Warren Zevon’s “Werewolves in London.” They also know (probably to my father’s chagrin) when to pump their fists to Bad Religion’s “Requiem for Dissent.”
Years into the future, when my oldest hears the opening line, “I’ve got to bet that your old man…” he’ll remember his father stroking his hair and humming in a night-light lit room. Maybe tears will stream down the face of my younger son as he hears Johnny Cash begin soft and low, “Don’t look so sad…”
I’m not attempting to manufacture melancholy or construct horcruxes of memory, rather I think that having something tangible or audible to bind memories to may come in handy in times of sorrow or struggle, something to remind them that their father is near or somewhere, tapping his foot, thinking of them. A song will remain and hold a piece of us, our time, a car ride, a reprieve from being grounded, a moment of bliss that they can turn to for comfort.
I hope that my children have no trouble remembering me. I hope that there is more to me than music when all is said and done, but I know memories fade far too quickly, and it doesn’t hurt to give them something to which they can anchor fond memories of time with their father.
Mom had some explaining to do
I’ll be honest, I don’t remember much from my science classes: a little something about osmosis, what a dissected frog smells like, that time my friend Tim asked Mr. Winters if a woman could give birth to a snake, and a few other things. But that’s about it.
Something tells me that the woman who had her story go viral on Twitter last week won’t forget what science class at California State University taught her anytime soon.
It all started with what should have been a pretty standard and innocuous lesson about blood types. But while using a Punnet Square to trace the way her parents blood types influenced her own, one student noticed something that didn’t quite compute.
The shock was so extreme that two classmates took to Twitter – unbeknownst to each other! – to share the story.
Tweeter @infinityontina thought the girl had discovered she’d been adopted…
im in bio class and we’re going over blood type and uhhh…. i think a girl just found out she was adopted omgggggggksnfkekdjjd
— ohhhh honey! (@infinityontina) February 20, 2018
But it turns out she did’t have all the details.
Thankfully, @anyahettich did, and she started a thread that laid out what sounds like the plot of a soap opera. The girl hadn’t been adopted, but her father wasn’t actually her father…
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The assignment should have been simple, and it surely was for most of the students. But for this one, things weren’t lining up.
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HEr parents’ blood types shouldn’t have yielded any offspring with the blood type she had.
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She went home to investigate and when she got back to class, the professor followed up…
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And things got real.
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Her mother had kept this a secret from her daughter and her husband for some 21 years, and all it took for the skeleton to get dug up was one unwitting science professor! (About the only thing that could make this more insane is if the professor KNEW all along and planned the blood test assignment on purpose.)
Twitter was rapt, liking Anya’s original tweet 287,000 times and retweeting it nearly half as many. Hopefully they stuck around to see the end, which was perhaps the least shocking aspect of the entire saga.
[tweet 966369201991557120 hide_thread=’true’]
Yeah, that makes sense.
Are you Peter, Homer, Bob, Rick, or Hank? Today is the day you find out.