Dad Beatboxes To Comfort Crying Baby

The Dad Of The Month, October 2020: Steve Braun

(Photos courtesy of Tori A. Emerick Braun)

We are honored to announce The Dad of the Month for October 2020: Steve Braun. Over the years, Steve has shown that he’s not only an all-star dad who wants his kids to experience all the fun life has to offer, but that he’s ready and willing to dig deep and do the real work when life gets hard. Here’s what his friend John wrote for his nomination:

“Nobody embraces or deserves the title of dad like Steve. His kids mean everything to him and it shows, as he’s constantly teaching them something new.

“Steve is a father of 4 that never stops doing for his family. In the summer it’s every imaginable outdoor activity like sailing, camping, swimming, or as simple as teaching them how to fix things like cars or household repairs. Then in the winter, it’s running his kids all over for hockey games and practices, but not to just watch. He’s also the coach, trainer, or referee. Somehow he manages to cram snowmobile rides in there too.

“Then 2 years ago, everything changed when his youngest son was diagnosed with retinoblastoma which in simple terms is eye cancer. Steve doesn’t miss a single appointment whether it be for a checkup or an in-depth revolutionary new surgery created strictly for his son Zayne. The expense incurred and the time spent in hospitals is quite vast. Steve always looks ahead at the future and how much Zayne will be able to do instead of looking at any limitations brought on by the surgeries, or the fact that through this battle, Zayne has already lost one eye.

“No matter what Steve is doing or where he is going, he loves having his kids with him to share in every experience.”

To honor Steve and his tireless endeavors to be the best dad he can be, we’re giving him $500 and some special edition dad gear. Steve’s thirst for adventure, excitement for life, and steadfast dedication to his family are admirable characteristics that we should all strive for. Cheers!

Click here to read more or nominate a special dad in your life.

The McRib Is Back Nationwide for the First Time in More Than a Decade

McRib is Back
(McDonald's)

In a rare good news piece from 2020, McDonald’s has announced it’s bringing back the McRib nationwide. It’s the first time since 2012 the chain will be selling the beloved sandwich at all restaurants. Typically, McRib season starts in waves at different locations in different regions. But it’s 2020, and we need a win, and the McRib is here for us.

Honestly, 2020 has been sort of a bananas food year. We have a Reese’s Candy Robot and a chicken nugget in space. We have bags of Lucky Charms marshmallows and Cheetos Mac and Cheese. A nation-wide McRib season is just the cherry on top.

If you’ve never had a McRib before, A-what’s wrong with you? And B- it’s delicious. The McRib is a seasoned boneless pork sandwich smothered in barbecue sauce and topped with onions and pickles. It’s perhaps the most addictive sandwich they’ve ever created.

“The McRib has been a beloved menu item at McDonald’s since its inception nearly 40 years ago,” said a spokesman in a press release. “There’s nothing quite like the taste of the McRib. To our customers, it’s become more than a delicious, saucy moment…it’s a season, and it’s taking the internet by storm. That’s why this year, we’re proud to serve the McRib nationwide for everyone to enjoy.”

Of course, this brings up some questions, like, if it’s so delicious, why not just have it on the menu all the time? It seems like a McSteak. Entire apps have been created to try and help searchers find a McRib close to home, but now they’ll be able to get one wherever a Big Mac is sold.

The McRib is back, everywhere, December 2nd.

The Dad Gaming Bootcamp: How To Take Over Rocket League Before It Takes Over You

Rocket League Car on Busy Freeway
(Getty)

I bought Rocket League for my son for his 8th birthday. He’s probably played 20 times since then. I’ve played it nearly every single day since. 6 months later, I am ranked Platinum.

Sometimes it feels like I’m amazing at this game, but I know that compared to many, many others…I’m terrible. But that’s exactly what keeps me coming back. It’s what experts call “flow” and it’s so addicting. Like throwing back some Planters Pop & Pour, proud sponsors of The Dad Gaming League, once you start, you just keep coming back.

Rocket League is the most sport-like game I’ve ever played. The strategy and coordination, sure, but I think mostly it is because of the progression of skills. It’s one of those games where you can come in, learn the basics, and have a blast. But there are so many skills that can be honed and refined over days, weeks, months, and YEARS, just like real sports. Yes, really. The soccer car game. 

Normally we write comprehensive “getting started” posts that will help newbs get up to speed immediately while giving experts some tips and tricks they can use as well. However, the skill range of Rocket League players is just massive. The difference between a first time player and a Grand Champ is hard to fully comprehend. And that’s what makes the game so great.

So here we’ll list out the top things to focus on, in order of importance, to get started in Rocket League. But a lot of these things may just link out to other sources. And that’s because a single comprehensive training guide for Rocket League cannot exist. Everyone’s journey will be different. 

PREREQUISITE: HAVE FUN

So there are a ton of Rocket League guides out there right now. 99% of them are geared towards mechanics and skills and how to sweat it out and grind and get better fast. We have a lot of that too, but more geared towards casual players who want to have a good time. See, above all else, we recommend you go into Rocket League with one goal in mind: to have a good time. In true dad fashion, we know it doesn’t matter who wins or loses, we just want everyone to try their best and have fun.

Rocket League lends itself well to sweaty players who want to prove to everyone they are better than them, talking trash along the way. But it doesn’t have to be that way. We encourage you to go into it expecting to have fun and doing just that. So while you can work your way up the ranks and do all of the right things, try not to take it too seriously, and absolutely don’t be a toxic player. Tell the other team, “good shot,” when they make a good shot. Never use “what a save!” sarcastically. And say “gg” at the end of each match, win or lose. This is what being a dad and Rocket League are all about.

So work on your skills if you wanna, but above all else: have fun and treat teammates and opponents kindly. *Dad steps off his soapbox* 

Now, for how to play. 

Camera Settings
Before you even get in to try your first training module or play your first practice game, change your camera settings. The defaults are just so bad. They’re very zoomed in on the car and tough to see the full field. Making this change will make your experience so much better and your leveling up so much faster. You’re welcome to jump right in the game and play with the defaults, find what you like, and change later, but I’d recommend changing them to the below settings right out of the gate…

Play the Bots
The most accessible way to get started is by playing the always-polite bots. In local matches, you can play against varying skill levels of bots. Play some games against the easiest bots, then when you find yourself winning most, increase the difficulty. The max difficulty for bots is not anywhere near the max skill level of real people, so you can use this to get your skills up before jumping into online play.

This tip is listed early because you can jump in and play against bots right away for fun. All the while working on the below skills and returning, again and again, to practice what you learn.

Training Training Training
As I’ve gotten better at Rocket League, I’ve realized the importance of training. It’s laughable, but I’ve even told my wife, “Sorry, I can’t hang out tonight, I have to TRAIN.” This particular move is NOT recommended, but for real, training is important.

You should spend a certain amount of time each RL gaming session in training before you jump into a match. There are a few methods of this.

When you start the game up for the first time, it’ll walk you through the basic controls. This is important for getting started, so take it seriously. From there, there are built in training modules for things like shooting, defending, etc. Try those on beginner. There are also custom modules that are really great for honing particular skills. You can browse them within the RL interface, or Coach JSU gives some really great training package codes in his videos.

Lastly, FREE PLAY is an invaluable resource. It’s just you and the ball. Seems basic, but you can do all kinds of things. Practice dribbling, knock the ball in the wall and then try to nail a shot, or even use your infinite boost to learn to fly.

Kickoffs
This skill is so early mostly because I want to get the word out that LEFT GOES FIRST. Kinda kidding but not really. You’ll notice that you are positioned randomly for kickoffs. Some spots are closer to the ball than others. Whoever is closest should go for it and the other people can defend or boost up. The far left and right diagonal spots are always closer than the back positions. So whoever is there, goes. And if there is one on the left, and one on the right, the one on the LEFT goes! When in doubt, use quick chat to let your team know “I got it!”

The easiest way to get to the ball fast is full gas and full boost all the way through. Then double jump (flip/dodge) into it at the last second. More advanced technique allows for flipping on the way to the ball to get there quicker and preserve boost.

Speed (Boost and Lips)
Rocket League is a game of accuracy and positioning, but above all it is about SPEED. Getting to the ball or in position quickly is vital, and boost is the easiest way to make this happen. But don’t use it all up and have nothing left. You’ve gotta preserve boost.

When you hit supersonic speed, you’ll notice a trail behind your wheels. This is essentially MAX SPEED. So when that happens, you don’t need to use boost anymore. Preserve it.

The quickest way to accelerate is actually not boosting, but flipping. So if you need to get back on defense and go the whole length of the stadium, try to boost a little to get started, and then do two rapid front flips to hit supersonic speed as fast as possible. If you get used to flipping forward to gain speed quickly, you’ll preserve boost and get where you need to go fast.

Flipping into the ball at the last second has the same speed effect, but this time on the ball. Flipping into the ball is the best way to blast a harder shot.

Positioning (Rotations)
Positioning is nearly as important as play mechanics. Even if you have amazing skills in everything else, if you spend the whole time chasing the ball around the field, you’re not going to have a good time, bro, and your team will lose and hate you.

An entire book could be written about positioning and rotations. But the thing to know is that a good and efficient 3s team will always be “rotating” or taking turns being in particular positions. If you’ve spent time on offense trying to pass or take shots, when you run out of boost or possession changes, it is most likely time to get back on defense so whoever was back can move up. It’s not about fairness; it’s about a smooth movement of players around the field to set up pass/shot opportunities and all the while make sure the goal is covered.

With good rotations and positioning, your team won’t need someone planted in the goal, not moving. There will be smooth movement and someone who is ready to be goalie when needed, but also able to take advantage of missteps by the other team.

Shot accuracy and Big Booms
Take some shots when you have an opening! The key to getting better at shot accuracy is to take a lot of shots. In training, sure, and also in games. Keep at it and you’ll gradually get better. Focus on lining up the shot as well as you can as you approach. Those are higher percentage shots.

The other key part of getting good shots is hitting shots with power. A slow moving ball is an easy one to save. But if you hit the ball solid, with speed, and you flip into it right at impact, you’ll launch it at a speed that is much tougher to defend.

Dribbling and Flicks
Just like in soccer or basketball, dribbling is maintaining possession of the ball and moving down the field to where you want to take it. Free play is an amazing place to practice this. Most recommend turning ball cam off when dribbling. Just drive around, slowly tapping the ball on the front of your car and get used to this. Then, when you’re in a game, don’t just blast a wild shot from way downtown, put your dribbling skills to use. This is especially important in 2s or 1s games, with less people to come take the ball away.

Once you have your dribbling capabilities down, you’ll find that sometimes, if you creep up on the ball quickly from the side, the ball will slide onto the top of your car. If you have the ball on top of your car and you single jump or flip forward, it’ll POP into the air straight ahead. Congratulations, that’s your first flick. This type of shot is great for catching opponents off guard who may be coming to challenge your dribble, but also great for popping the ball over a goalie who has to fly high to try to get it.

Aerials
For new players, aerials are easily the most intimidating skill. Don’t let it be. Work on the other stuff first.

The thing about aerials that I found is that it starts with something far simpler: boost+jump.  Early on hitting jump and boost at the same time felt so strange, but for us dads with adult-sized thumbs you get accustomed to it. So start by getting used to hitting boost and jump at the same time when trying to reach those slightly higher shots.

Once you have that down, you’ll find you can press and HOLD boost and jump at the same time. The holding of the boost button will simply allow your jump to continue. If your car is aimed upward, you are flying. Again, just practicing this, and doing it in game when trying to reach balls, will get you used to the mechanics very naturally.

To get higher even faster, you can press that jump button twice. As long as you aren’t pressing any direction on your joystick, your car will push a bit higher on that second press (rather than flipping). Try that to get higher faster.

Just by getting in the habit of this boost+jump button pressing, it’ll naturally lead to more advanced mechanics on aerials when you’re ready.

And Beyond…
Again, this article attempts to give you some skills and things to think about as you start your Rocket League career. But mannnnnnn, people in those champ, grand champ, and SUPERSONIC LEGEND ranks are just unreal. They all have their own styles and mechanics. So if you’re at the level where you are ready to progress, seek out some more advanced material. There’s a ton on YouTube and other places. And join up with a group like The Dad Gaming – Rocket League. There are a ton of extremely elite players there, who are always happy to help folks of all skill levels!

For more of a hands-on look, check out some clips on The Dad Gaming Youtube page:

Above all else, have fun with it! Rocket League is my favorite video game of all time. I love it so much, and I can’t wait to stock up on some Pop & Pours on tournament night to play with all the great Dad Gaming League friends –  It’s gonna be a blast!

(This article was written by the head of The Dad Gaming, Joel Willis. Though he will readily admit he’s not very good at this game, he is getting better all the time. And everything he knows about the game was taught to him by Rocket League Grand Champ and Coach JSU, who also advised on this article and created the instructional videos referenced.)

This post was sponsored by:
Planters

18-Year-Old Kroger Employee Steps up When Senior Can’t Pay for Groceries

Teen helps elderly customer buy groceries
(Youtube/WCPO 9)

Being a teenager is a confusing and exciting time. You’re just learning to navigate the world, gaining independence that you didn’t have as a little kid. You have the opportunity to make big life decisions on your own, making mistakes and learning lessons as you go. Sometimes, the teenage years bring some form of rebellion as you begin to explore your newfound freedom. Other times, being a teen means using the lessons you learned throughout your childhood to change the world for the better.

Like many teens, 18-Year-old Teo Jordan from Covington, Kentucky has a part-time job. He’s saving up money to buy a car, so every hour of every shift counts. Recently, Teo reached into his pocket and took out some of his hard-earned money. But he wasn’t about to spend a chunk of his car fund on something frivolous – in fact, he wasn’t even spending the money on himself.

While at Kroger, the grocery store where Jordan works, he heard a cashier tell an elderly customer that he didn’t have enough money to pay for the groceries in his cart. Rather than helping the man put back some of his items, Jordan pulled $35 from his wallet and made sure the customer went home with all the food he needed.

“I just seen I wanted to help the guy,” Jordan told WLWT-TV. “I saw that he didn’t have the money for all the groceries that he wanted. The cashier told him he would have to put some of the thing back so I just thought in my head I would give him this $35 so he could have all the food that he wants.”

The kindness Jordan showed a complete stranger at that moment without hesitation speaks volumes of his character. Though the sole purpose of Jordan’s job is to take home a paycheck, this selfless teen took himself out of the equation when someone else needed the money more.

“Just treat people the way you want to be treated (and) always help out if someone needs it,” Jordan said, a lesson that some people take a lifetime to learn (while others never learn it at all).

Teo Jordan grew up watching the adults around him make choices, and as kids do, he learned from them. Though we can’t make decisions for our kids, we can teach them through doing. They aren’t guaranteed to take everything we say and do to heart, but moments like this remind us that we’re doing something right.

“I am proud of Teo. I’m overwhelmed with joy,” Jordan’s mom, Stephanie Burton said. “You try to instill in your kids right and wrong but you don’t know if they comprehend, so yes I’m very proud.”

Tiny Toons Reboot Sends 90s Favorites to College

Tiny Toons Reboot
(HBO Max/Cartoon Network)

A bit of old-school animation seems to be making a comeback!

Granted, by old-school I mostly mean the 90s, but still. Space Jam is getting a Lebron-starring sequel, The Animaniacs are coming back next month for more pop culture skewering, and now the Tiny Toons are being rebooted for HBO Max.

Tiny Toons Looniversity got a two-season order and will follow the stars of Tiny Toons Adventures into college.

The synopsis, from Deadline: “The Tiny Toons Adventures reboot follow the characters’ comedic ambitions all the way to Acme Looniversity, the esteemed institution of higher high-jinks learning, where young dreamers become professional toons. Here they form long-lasting friendships with one another and perfect their cartoony craft while studying under the greatest cartoon characters in history, the Looney Tunes.”

The series is one of several kids shows under development at HBO Max, including Unicorn: Warriors Eternal and three series from popular children’s book author Mo Willems.

“Tiny Toons Looniversity will capture all the clever, subversive and smart humor that made Tiny Toon Adventures such a standout series,” said Tom Ascheim, President of Warner Bros. Global Kids, Young Adults and Classics. “Fans old and new will love to laugh at and with these characters all over again.”

When I was a kid, the Looney Tunes were huge, and now it seems like they may be making a bit of a comeback. It’s pretty clever to incorporate them into the show as mentors for their younger counterparts.

My kids basically have no idea who Bugs Bunny even is, but thanks to HBO Max, it won’t be long before they do!

Jeff Bridges Shares His Perspectives as He Begins Cancer Treatment

Jeff Bridges Updates about cancer
(IG/JeffBridges)

The Dude is feeling the love as he begins cancer treatments and is enormously grateful for it. Earlier this month, beloved actor Jeff Bridges announced he had been diagnosed with lymphoma. Bridges recently posted an update as he began treatment for it, and thanked everyone for the outpouring of support he’s seen.

As his treatment begins, he let his supporters know he’ll be keeping them updated via a journal on his website, and posted a “dramatic” picture from the hospital.

His blog is simply titled “New shit has come to light- I’ve got cancer…” in a callback to his infamous line (one of many) in ‘The Big Lebowski’. In it, he opened by writing about all the love he’s felt.

“This cancer thing is bringing on feelings of preciousness, and gratitude, and good old fashion love, and lots of it, big time. I’m feeling so much of it comin’ my way, and man, I appreciate it. It’s contagious, all this love, like some kind of positive virus.”

He also wrote that cancer had made him appreciate mortality and impermanence, and left him ‘realizing that if I have s— to share, now’s the time.” His first batch of insights includes doodles on the importance of our environment and trees, a link to a music video from his band, and more.

He closes it with his heartfelt call to make the world a better place together:

“If you’re into it, I’ll be sharing my perspectives on this site. I’m looking to be in partnership with you guys in creating a beautiful life and world for all of us.

All in this together.”

We abide.

Keep Off The Grass! Winter Lawn Care Is A Cinch With These Tips

winter lawn care
(Getty/poshfoto)

Dude, your yard looks great. The grass is at the right level. You finally found your groove for creating the perfect mow pattern. And that groundhog? Yeah, he’s gone. You’ve spent hours each week perfecting your lawn. You planted the bulbs your wife bought and even found a spot for the stupid sparkling gazing ball your kid “needed.” Lawn care was practically a part-time job for the last six-ish months. Now winter is coming and you’re packing away that lawnmower and looking forward to a break, right?

Ehhh… not so fast. In order to keep from basically starting over in the spring, you’ll need to put in just a bit more work in the fall with some winter lawn care best practices. It’s also a good idea to remain vigilant over your yard, even in the darkest days of winter. Here’s what you need to know and do.

Start winter lawn care in the fall

Do Leaf Control

We know both Finn and Fido love crunching through those autumn leaves. However, leaving them sitting on your grass can take its toll. For your absolute best bet at a healthy lawn, rake often and pick up the piles immediately. If you can’t get to them right away or they end up rain-soaked on your lawn, you leave your yard more susceptible to critters and your grass is likely to end up diseased. At the bare minimum, use your mower to mulch the leaves into dime-sized pieces.

Aerate Your Lawn

What’s it feel like when you walk across your lawn? Is it firm or do your feet sink into the earth? Aerating your yard is beneficial no matter what, but a harder ground is more likely to benefit.

What is aerating?

To aerate literally means to add air or give air. In other words, loosen the earth under your grass so it’s not so compacted.

How do you aerate?

You can do this in multiple ways. There are spikes you can strap onto your shoes so you can walk your lawn and push holes into the ground. There are also tools/machines you can buy that you push across your yard. As they roll over your grass, they pull out plugs of dirt and, again, leave holes to help loosen the dirt.

Why should you aerate?

An aerated lawn has multiple benefits. To begin, you already know that plants need oxygen. Those holes also allow better drainage during rain and snow. This not only brings water to your grass roots, it also helps avoid standing or pooling water. As an added bonus, it also helps with your next step…

Feed, seed, and treat your grass

Did you know there’s actually stuff you can put on your lawn now that will settle in over winter and help your yard look even better in the Spring? Scotts Turf Builder, for instance, has several different fall and winter lawn treatments you can use, depending on what your lawn needs.

Once winter arrives

Keep off the grass!

No. Really. Your grass is much more fragile during colder temperatures. If your dog likes to run in the same path around the yard, look for ways to redirect him every few days, so he doesn’t wear down a path. And, while your kids’ occasional romp through the snow won’t do much damage, make sure they’re sticking to the walk or driveway on regular treks out of the house.

Treat your snow carefully

When managing snow, there are two things to keep in mind: How long snow piles will sit on your lawn and what you’re using on hard surfaces to melt the snow. If your neighborhood plows the street and you end up with snow piled on the easement, it might be worth getting out the shovel and moving it elsewhere. Piled up road slush carries a lot of weight… and harmful chemicals from cars. Leaving snow berms sitting on your grass can actually cause mold, too. Another way harmful chemicals seep into your grass? The chemicals in the “salt” used to melt the snow and ice off your walkways.

This is hard, right? If you have a pet, you might already be buying a special ice melt that’s less painful for your pooch. Is it safe for your lawn, too? There’s a ton of products out there. In the long run, it might be a matter of choosing the lesser of two evils. If you’re only worried about your lawn, calcium chloride is the best option. And if you must use straight rock salt? Use it as a pretreatment before the ice and snow arrive instead of using it after the fact. Why? You can use a lot less if you use it before instead of after.

Clear the yard of clutter

Finally, don’t shoot the messenger on this, but you need to bring in anything you can and cover the rest. Winter winds blow ornaments over and knock branches down. Part of your yard’s charm is the cute accessories. Don’t let winter ruin them — that crap is expensive! For bigger pieces, try to invest in covers or even just cheap tarps and bungee cords from any hardware store.

Just a heads up, if you buy stuff using the provided links, The Dad may collect a small commission.

12 Funniest Parenting Tweets of the Week 10/30/20

Funniest Parenting Tweets of the Week 10/30/20
(Getty/Westend61 Twitter/HenpeckedHal)

We’re almost there, the spookiest time of the year is quickly approaching. Not spooky because of the ghosts and fake blood, but because the amount of candy kids consume in a few-hour period can turn them from kid-level goofy to a turbo-powered ball of energy until they inevitably crash on the floor at 9 pm with half a Twix bar hanging out of their mouths. In preparation for the long day ahead, take a few minutes and enjoy some good old parenting humor. We’ve rounded up 12 of the funniest parenting tweets this week because kids shouldn’t get all the treats on Halloween. This one’s just for the parents.

Sorry I’m late there was traffic in the living room

Usually, the answer is no

They learn so young

It’s like you’re not even trying

If this isn’t art I don’t want to know what is

Wait until you see #2 – I mean, the second impression

He just aced middle school health class

Crayola’s new “Existential Dread” line is killing it

Third time this week

So heartwarming when they pay attention to your interests

A beautiful family moment

And then they’ll tell you how you messed it up

Did you miss last week’s funniest parenting tweets?

New ‘McBroken’ Website Tracks Every Broken Ice Cream Machine at McDonald’s

McBroken McDonald's Ice Cream Tracker
(McBroken.com Instagram/McDonald's)

It’s the crushing news you expect to hear every time you go to a McDonald’s: our ice cream machine is broken. It’s such a common experience it’s almost rarer to find a McDonald’s that will actually sell you ice cream. It’s even become fodder for stand-up comedy. But now a hero has emerged from our midst, a hero who created a website that tracks every single McDonald’s ice cream machine in America and whether or not it’s currently working.

There’s no questioning McDonald’s standing in the fast-food world. They even try to flex that by offering off-beat items like burger scented candles, just because they can. That doesn’t mean they are resting on their laurels, either, given their new spicy chicken nuggets were a hit. The constantly broken soft serve, machines, are a big hole in their offerings.

24-year-old software engineer Rashiq Zahid is at least making it easier to find the machines that are up in order to save yourself a disappointing trip. He built a website tracking the operational ability of every soft serve machine. How?

 

View this post on Instagram

 

Sweet.🍦

A post shared by McDonald’s (@mcdonalds) on

“I reverse engineered mcdonald’s internal api and I’m currently placing an order worth $18,752 every minute at every mcdonald’s in the US to figure out which locations have a broken ice cream machine,” he tweeted. So, by taking advantage of the online ordering (without actually completing his $20,000 ice cream order every minute), he gives real-time data on ice cream at McBroken.com.

He certainly didn’t expect it to blow up the way it did, but it’s been a massive hit online. In less than two days, his site got more than 1.5 million unique users, with 16 million interactions with his McBroken map.

The entire project came from his attempt to order a McSundae using the digital app, but to no avail.

“I was like, there must be something that can be done about this,” he told The Verge. And thus, one bot later, McBroken.com was born, and we never have to be surprised by a McDonald’s soft serve machine again.