Jared Warner or something you find in dirty diaper. We aren't sure.

Jared Warner

Star Wars: Republic Commando is now available for PS4 & Switch

Republic Commando Cover Art
(Nintendo)

Finally finally finally finally finally finally Star Wars: Republic Commando is available for PS4 and Switch!

After years of staring longing at used copies of the game running for like $150 on Amazon, you can download an affordable version of the classic squad-based shooter to your barely-last gen console. According to science, this is undeniably very good.

If you’re unfamiliar with the game, it came out in 2005 and was early proof that Star Wars fans had an appetite for stories revolving around the now iconic Clone Troopers. With Bad Batch coming soon, it’s no surprise LucasFilm is revising their early forays into clone stories. This isn’t a remake, it’s the original game ported to new consoles, meaning the graphics are a little outdated but they still look great. It’s honestly kind of charming.

Beyond the lore and storytelling, the gameplay was unique and fulfilling as well. From the official game description:

You are the leader of an elite squad of Republic Commandos, your mission is to infiltrate, dominate, and ultimately, annihilate the enemy. Your squad will follow your orders and your lead, working together as a team – instinctively, intelligently, instantly. You are their leader. They are your weapon.

Oh, and if you’re a collector junkie, those original X-Box discs on Amazon I mentioned have suddenly dropped down to about ten bucks.

First Look: The Last Starfighter Sequel Sizzle Reel by Rogue One Co-Writer

SF Poster
(Universal)

1984‘s not-quite-hit space adventure, The Last Starfighter, never grew past the shadow of Star Wars, but it does have a couple of stand-out things going for it. For one thing, it was a pioneer in using CGI effects – one of the first to create space battles entirely through computer animation. Then there is the scene where an android takes off his own head that haunts my dreams to this day. And of course, it is the single best idea for a movie, ever.

Poster for the film "The Last Starfighter"
(Nerdist)

The story is simple but iconic: a kid from a trailer park spends his days dreaming of a more adventurous life while racking up the high score in an alien-blasting arcade game. Turns out this is no ordinary gaming cabinet, but a test to discover those skilled enough to join the Star League and defend the Frontier against Xur and the Ko-dan Armada! (Which he does.)

For 80s kids, this is the only plot of a movie that even needs to exist.  The film itself has its ups and downs – the CGI effects aged hilariously, but the practical sets and creatures? Awesome. The cast, including The Music Man himself,  Robert Preston?  Awesome. A side story about the aforementioned android replacing the main character on Earth while going on his own hero’s journey and introducing my 6-year-old ass to the damaging influences of body horror? Up for debate, but I’ll say awesome. As the late, great Gene Siskel noted,  it may be “a Star Wars rip-off, but the best one,” and it’s one of those 80’s movies that’s just stuck with people.

Well, the good news is Gary Whitta, one of the writers of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (as well as the underrated Book of Eli) is on a mission to see The Last Starfighter live up to the promise of the premise.  On Whitta’s Twitch stream Thursday he revealed that after years of trying to get a sequel greenlit, he and Jonathan R. Betuel, writer of the original film, are “right at the one yard line.” To drum up excitement, Whitta shared a sizzle reel featuring concept art for the proposed project, The Last Starfighters.

“That’s what we want the movie to sound like [and] that’s kind of what we want the movie to look like,” Whitta said after revealing the imagination-fuelling reel.  The art was designed by Rogue One concept artist Matt Allsopp and a new mix of the iconic score was put together by original composers Chris Tilton and Craig Safan.

Remakes, reboots, and sequels are the current anchors of pop culture these days, so it’s surprising that we haven’t already seen a Last Starfighter continuation. A few years back Earnest Cline’s second book Armada walked the line between rip-off and spiritual successor but wasn’t…well, let’s just say it didn’t capture the je ne sais quoi of the influence material. But according to Whitta, there’s a reason we’ve been left waiting for a return to the Frontier:

“The reason why The Last Starfighter is one of the only movies from the 1980s that hasn’t been remade yet is not because there’s no interest from Hollywood. There’s huge interest for it. The real reason is because Jon, through some crazy loophole of the way that his contract was written … still controls a small piece of the rights and no one can make it without his cooperation. That’s why he’s turned down all these offers to make the shitty straight-to-DVD version over the years because he’s holding out for the big version that we now want to make.”

The team is confident they’ll make it over the finish line but acknowledged that buzz will be a big factor in getting there. They are hoping this reel can get enough people excited that the suits in Hollywood are convinced we’re all on board for the next Star League adventure. “We weren’t interested in re-inventing or rebooting or remaking the movie,” says Whitta. “We wanted to do a sequel that kept the original in canon; which kept the original storyline and honored the original.”

It’s poetic that the original movie’s biggest strength was the imagination behind its concept, and now hope for the future of the franchise rests in a collection of concept art stirring our imagination once more. As star pilot Grig -and maybe Whitta himself – would say, “I’ve always wanted to fight a desperate battle against incredible odds.”

A Lone Starfighter gazes at his ship
(Mike Alsopp)

As Communities Rally To Support Asian Americans Here’s How You Can Help

March In Solidarity With Asian Community Held In Atlanta, After Tuesday Night's Massage Parlor Killings
(Gettty/Megan Varner/Stringer)

Here at The Dad, we usually prefer to share good news or positive stories. particularly anchored in fatherhood, parenting, and families.  But we also believe that dads should be present and accountable within our communities, especially in times of crisis. The shooting spree in Atlanta last week came after a year of increased vitriol and violence against the AAPI (Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders) community. Hate crimes like these are unacceptable and heartbreaking, and we stand with our brothers and sisters against this outrageous and horrifying behavior.

Whenever there is a crisis or reckoning, there are avenues for positive change. Communities band together, everyday heroes rise up to make a difference. And if the arc of the moral universe does indeed bend towards justice, then all who contribute to justice are part of a mosaic that one day reveals a better world. Here are ways our communities are rallying to help in this current crisis, and some things you can do to help the AAPI community.

Data Scientists Organize For Justice – For a lot of white people, the Atlanta attack was a wake-up call to rising anti-Asian violence, while Asian Americans have been desperately warning everyone of the rising trend for months now. Since March, Stop AAIP Hate has tracked hate crimes against members of the Asian community and uses that info to direct resources to build local anti-racism policy.  They publish their data regularly, which helps keep people informed, and everything from donations to calling and reporting incidents can help.

Volunteers Escort Oakland Residents Safely – Many of us have shaken our heads and logged off due to online bullshit.  Jacob Azevedo turned that frustration into something good. After seeing a particularly racist social media post, he commented offering to chaperone anyone within Oakland’s Chinatown neighborhood to help them feel safer. This courage was met with hundreds of messages of support and offers to join him. It was this act of compassion and courage that led to the creation of Compassion in Oakland. The group organizes escorts for elderly Asians, helping people feel safe and creating a deeper sense of community. The volunteer sign-ups have been overwhelming, but there are also positions for content creators and administrators to help Compassion grow.

On the other side of the country, Main Street Patrol offers similar services in Flushing, New York.

$650K Raised For Badass Grandma – In America we’re no strangers to crowd-sourcing emergency help, but the story of Xiao Zhen Xie feels a little more triumphant. When the 76-year-old woman was punched out of nowhere by some random jerk, she managed to fend him off with a stick, putting her assailant in the hospital. Satisfying as that may be, Xie is still suffering PTSD from the event and needed no short supply of medical attention herself. Her grandson started a GoFundMe to help with expenses, which has blasted past the initial $50k goal.

These community actions are necessary and affirming, but there are a number of smaller ways you can get involved and show support to the Asian-American community. These include

  • DONATE. There are many ways you can support; for economic recovery, the Asian Pacific Fund is geared towards helping businesses affected by the pandemic rebuild. You can also consider more personal aid on a community-scale, such as the Asian Mental Health Collective or policy advocates like They Can’t Burn Us All and the aforementioned Stop AAIP Hate.
  • Attend Bystander Intervention Training – The Hollaback Movement offers a free, online, 1-hour training that empowers people to be aware and resilient in situations that could escalate towards a hate crime, and safely intervene before violence occurs.
  • Diversify Your Feed – It may seem like a small change, but seeking out and adding different perspectives to the content you consume not only supports Asian creators, it can greatly increase your own mindfulness. Consider following Youngna Park, the Executive Product Director of Parenting for The New York Times, or subscribe to Asian America: The Ken Fong Podcast.
  • Support your AAPI friends. Ask what you can do to help, but recognize that for many, there’s not a simple answer. This is a trying and exhausting time. The Atlanta shooting spree was traumatic for people who have spent the last year facing rising discrimination and has been a tipping point in unpacking how it’s felt to be in a marginalized community for so long. One of our favorite dads articulates the feelings of this moment well:
@yourkoreandadSometimes it’s not just about your help. ##YourKoreanDad ##StopAsianHate♬ original sound – Nick Cho

Dad and Daughter Cooking Show Champions Representation For Down Syndrome

Cooking With Kitty
(YouTube/FB/Cooking With Kitty)

There’s not much good to say about the year we’ve spent in the shadow of Covid 19. But if you look close enough there are some pleasant surprises. From dads starting their own business to people showing up for each other like never before. And in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin, you can find a family that was able to use their creative spirit to elevate people often overlooked. 

Dan Storey is a dad and self-taught amateur chef known in his hometown for his chili, which has won numerous awards and cookoffs. His wife, Kim says that he “creates masterpieces out of thin air. He approaches cooking as a science and really loves to do it.” But the real star of the Storey’s kitchen isn’t Dan. It’s his 13-year old daughter, Kitty.

Dan, Kitty, and Jet Storey
(Kim Storey)

Kitty is a teen with a dual diagnosis of Down syndrome and Autism who loves to experiment in the kitchen with her dad. Since April of 2020, the two of them have hosted a YouTube cooking channel, Cooking With Kitty, where they have spent the year teaching others how to prepare an increasingly impressive variety of amazing dishes.

“Kitty truly enjoyed her Independent Living Skills class at school,” her mom says. The program helps teach life skills such as grocery shopping and cooking for kids in Special Education. For Kitty, the class was also a huge part of her Occupational Therapy, which helps her with fine motor skills. When school was in session, the teacher would take the kids on trips to the local grocery store to buy ingredients, and follow up with a lesson on preparing the meals. But when the pandemic forced schools to close, families everywhere had to adapt fast. An unexpected result was that Kitty, Dan, and Kitty’s mom Kim found a new outlet for creativity.

Teachers would email recipes to make at home, and in order to show their work, Kim began filming Dan and Kitty cooking them together.

“Kitty has such a fun personality and such a great sense of humor, and some of the videos started turning out pretty good. So, I started sharing them on my social media pages. I received such a great response from friends and family. I even had some of them tell us that we should create a YouTube channel for her. After a bit of hemming and hawing over it, we decided to go for it.”

Kitty Storey
(Milwaukee Journal Sentinal)

The early episodes of Cooking With Kitty are pretty straightforward; simple recipes like fruit salad and Swedish meatballs, cooked in the crockpot. Forty episodes later (and counting) the Storeys have continued to up their game, and with Dan’s natural talent, Kitty is becoming dang near a gourmet chef.

“As we went on we realized that Kitty was capable of a lot more than what we even realized. With guidance from her Occupational Therapist…we started introducing new skills every week in her episodes. A lot of the episodes are foods that we eat on a regular basis. But, after so many episodes you need to figure out something new. That’s where recipes like Chicken Biryani and Moroccan Chicken Bowls started coming in.”

The family took a break in January, but Season 2 is already in full swing, and Kitty and Dan have gained a lot of recognition. Along with local news showing Kitty some love, she was nationally recognized and featured by The National Down Syndrome Society, and YouTube featured her during their National Day of the Girl Celebration.  But if there’s one thing cooler than getting on news, it’s getting your own donut. Cranky Al’s, a local favorite donut shop, filmed an episode with Kitty to create the “Kitty Donut” during Down Syndrome Awareness Month, with proceeds going to the local Down Syndrome Association chapter. They sold about 3,000!

Kitty With Joey Carioti

“The response that we have gotten from the community has been overwhelming and so heartwarming. I was contacted by another Mom whose son also has a dual diagnosis. He is non-verbal. She told me that they started watching episodes of Cooking With Kitty together in an effort to motivate him to want to try to do what Kitty does. Not only is he making progress with his cooking and OT skills…..but he has been trying to verbalize simple words such as “pot” and “pan”. I broke down completely when I heard that…Representation matters so very much. It is so important for people like Kitty to see themselves in the media…doing typical activities just like everybody else. And, it is also so very important that other people recognize that our kids are not an old, antiquated stereotype.  We’re not quite sure where this journey will take us….but as long as we know that people are enjoying what we do, and that it’s helping not only Kitty….but kids like her….we’ll keep on doing it.”

At the heart of the show is family. Mom films while Dad and Kitty cook. And over time the production values have grown as much as the culinary skills. But even with a sleek channel intro, you can tell the coolest thing for Kitty is the chance to work with people she loves. Her favorite episode is a toss-up between making a Rainbow Pride Cake with her uncles and Fancy Grilled Cheese with her BFF Allie. Allie and Kitty have been friends since they were 3, but Uncle Shawn created all the graphics for the show, so it’s a tough call. 

The best part though: “We found that if Kitty helps to prepare the meal, she is willing to eat whatever it is she prepared.” A kid who will eat anything? Absolutely amazing. 

“Keep Moving Forward” – Resources For Sharing MLK’s Legacy With Your Kids

Civil rights leader Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. relaxes at home with his wife Coretta and first child Yolanda in May 1956 in Montgomery, Alabama
(Getty / Michael Ochs Archives / Stringer)

“If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.”

Every third Monday of January we recognize the impact and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. We honor the man and his work by taking “a day on, not a day off” to learn more about the struggle for equality, and find opportunities to better our own communities in his spirit.

For a lot of kids growing up now, the history Dr. King lived and changed can feel like another era altogether, rather than a mere 53 years. According to Tanara Burke, the former associate director of the National Voting Rights Museum in Selma, AL, and the director of Just BE, Inc., “Dr. King is almost a fictional historical character to many young people…They don’t get that they are (in many cases) one generation away from him and that they are directly affected by some of the gains he and others like him fought to achieve.”

To help kids fully understand Dr. King and the world he inhabited, Scholastic has recommended a series of books for all age-groups which can help your family keep history relevant.

If You Grew Up In The Time Of Martin Luthor King

cover for the children's book If You Lived in The Time of MLK
(Exodus Books)

This series of books for grades 2-4 is a fun way to introduce children to different eras. With an engaging question-and-answer format, and full-color art children can learn what it was like to participate in the Montgomery Bus Boycott, stage a sit-in at a lunch counter, join the famous March on Washington, and more.

Martin Rising: Requiem For A King

Cover for Martin Rising: Requiem For A King
(Scholastic / Brian Pinkney)

The award-winning Pinkney duo celebrates Dr. King’s nonviolent struggle for civil rights –– as he transforms America through the spirit of love. This poetic and beautifully illustrated book for grades 4-7 conveys the final months of Martin Luther King’s life –– and of his assassination –– through metaphor, spirituality, and multilayers of meaning.

Chasing King’s Killer: The Hunt for Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Assassin

Cover for "Chasing King's Killer"
(Scholastic)

Learning about the tragedy and horror of Dr. King’s death can be as important as learning about the ideals he devoted his life to.  For older kids in grades 7-12,  bestselling author James L. Swanson gives an astonishing account of one of the saddest moments in American History. It can be tricky for parents to navigate questions about Dr. King’s murder, but it is necessary for all of us to remember how his quest for peace ended in a shocking moment of violence. Swanson’s book can help contextualize the event to teach kids how far we’ve come, and how far we have yet to go.

Along with educating our kids about history, today is an opportunity to bond with our kids on the only federal holiday recognized as a day of service. Of course, during a pandemic, serving the community can be difficult, but there are ways you can participate from home. Even attending a virtual event or talk can be the start of meaningful conversations with your kids to inspire them. The National Museum of African American History & Culture has moved their annual celebration “A People’s Holiday” online, and The King Center, Coretta Scott King’s nonprofit memorial will also be holding online events today.

For a more engaging activity, consider supporting Historically Black Colleges and Universities. HBCUs arose in the 60s as a response to education inequality, and award a large portion of bachelor’s degrees held by Black students. Advocating for these spaces honors the work done by Dr. King and encourages future heroes to find their footing. The best way to support them is by calling a local representative and advocating for continued federal spending.

However you choose to remember Dr. King with your family today and throughout 2021, you are choosing to honor history, courage, and an unrelenting pursuit of justice.

“Everybody can be great…because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.”

-Dr. Martin Luthor King Jr.

The ManDADlorian Chapter 10: This Show Really Hates Space Animals

Baby Yoda Eggs
(starwars.com)

Boy, they sure seem to enjoy killing animals on this show, huh? Like any good dad, it is Mando’s sacred responsibility this week to take care of some spiders, and it’s not like he had seven thousand glasses to put over them.  But after last week’s Bantha sacrifice, not to mention that whole part where Clan Mudhorn murdered a Mudhorn…Let’s just say it’s startin’ to feel like kind of a thing.

Still, Chapter 10 is a classic episodic story. It doesn’t contain any big revelations, there are no major plot twists. It’s just a point A to point B adventure, and audiences today are often expecting more cataclysms-per-minute in their pew-pew shows. We’ll just have to wait for more Boba Fett, or maybe the rumored series?  We’ll have to wait for more answers about why the Empire wants Baby Yoda, and we’ll have to wait to know if Din and The Kid wind up at Luke Skywalker’s front door one day. But, hear me out on this:

Good. Star Wars has always been molded after the serials our parents or grandparents would go see in theaters back when everything cost like a quarter. Mandalorian is old school entertainment, with immediate stakes contained within each episode. It’s Flash Gordon, or Kung-Fu – a tour through the Star Wars galaxy, one animal-eviscerating adventure at a time. Remember when X-Files would do an episode about the oil-in-your-eye conspiracy aliens? It was so exciting because it wasn’t every dang episode. The big payoffs are earned, with smaller, weirder stories.

So this story begins with a few random jerks pulling some Wile E Coyote nonsense on our heroes. Sometimes the Mandalorian is a dragon-killing superhero, sometimes he’s tripped by a clothesline. It’s assumed these dudes are trying to find Baby Yoda, but when Little Metal Face gets ahold of the kid, he’s quickly willing to trade for Mando’s jetpack, so…?

What we really get here is yet another example of Baby Yoda watching his new dad trick some dude into his own death.  The Mandalorian on whole is definitely saying something about morality. But what that is, and if the creators are doing it consciously is still up in the air. When I’m feeling particularly God-Brained, I think they’re laying better groundwork for a surprising character journey than Game of Thrones was able to achieve in its final season. Other times I think the writers are just like, “ha ha look at this idiot fall down!”

Back at the Mos Eisley, Mando finds Amy Sedaris playing Sabbac with a giant ant who has the greatest character name of all time, Dr. Mandible. This is a fun nod from director Peyton Reed, who directed both of Marvel’s Ant-Man films, but he also feels right out of the original cantina scene. It used to be Star Wars had more room for designers to be like “lets stick a werewolf in there.” The good doctor has a contact who’s heard about another Mandalorian on a nearby planet, but Mando has to ferry that contact there to get the tip. He reluctantly agrees to take on Frog Lady and her eggs as passengers, and yes that is her name. She’s credited as “Frog Lady”. (Good for them, honestly.) Frog Lady needs to go to the estuary moon of Trask to meet up with her husband so they can start a family with her backpack of eggs.

Let’s talk about the eggs. Baby Yoda likes to eat the eggs. Getting the eggs is his whole arc today. It’s…not NOT upsetting. The whole point of the episode is how precious those are to Frog Lady, and she seems very nice!  Distressing. We know lil’ bub snacks on amphibians, but Frog Lady is a person; it just seems complicated. Frog Lady’s eggs are unfertilized, so Baby Yoda isn’t doing anything more murderous than eating an omelette, but it’s still weird. According to Lucasfilm Art Manager Phil Stostak, it is supposed to be funny, but in an unsettling way? Mission accomplished, Phil?

Furthermore, if there are both frogs and frog people, are there also little unevolved human-animals running around? Are Kowakien monkey-lizards to Star Wars humans as regular monkeys are to real-world humans? Is no one else asking the important questions?

Anyway, two X-Wings run the plates on the Razor’s Crest and realize Mando’s who hijacked that prison ship way back in Chapter Six.  One of the New Republic fighters is played by Paul Sun-Hyung Lee, from Kim’s Convenience, because this is the most Dad-friendly show on the air. The other is Trapper Wolf, the now-recurring character played by Star Wars Big Brain, Dave Filoni. I kinda hope Filoni keeps showing up as the show’s de facto New Republic guy. He’s gaining on Wedge Antilles and Snap Wexley’s screentime, so I’m expecting at least a cameo in the hopefully inevitable Squadrons sequel.

Mando fumbles his way through the conversation in a scene reminiscent of Han trying to talk his way out of trouble on the Death Star before we’re treated to a spaceship chase, which I think we could all use more of in these trying times.  The Razor’s Crest is pretty bulky, but Clan Mudhorn are able to evade the space police on an icy world. Although the ship is made out of I guess aluminum foil, because it gets shredded up pretty good. Mandalorian wants to wait until morning to start repairs, but Frog Lady rewires the remains of Richard AyoDroid to communicate how desperate she is to reach her husband. Guest characters keep getting Din to do things by reminding him of the once proud and heroic nature of the Mandalorians. Partly because he is reluctantly honorable, and partly because the precious eggs are like chicken nuggets to Baby Yoda, Mando agrees to skip the nap.

The final sequence of the episode is the one everyone will remember. Frog Lady finds a nice hot spring to warm up with, and Baby Yoda becomes the big dumb idiot character from any of the  Alien movies. Here come the ice spiders. This particular monsters of-the-week may remind Rebels fans of the Krykna, but Szostak has confirmed they are a different creature inspired by the same piece of Ralph McQuarrie concept art for Empire Strikes Back.

Fun fact: based on the original idea, these spiders are actually spores from a big plant, so maybe we’re not actually pissing off the Space PETA this time.  (Keep Star Wars weird!) It’s not actually confirmed these spiders are the same, but the idea was explored in some of the old Kevin J Anderson books from the 90s. Disney may have upset some fans by de-canonizing the EU, but they always bring back the cool stuff.

Anyway, Mando, Frog Lady, and Baby Yoda make it back to the ship which, again, is as sturdy as an iPhone so not very helpful. Fortunately, the New Republic pilots show up again to save the day. Apparently, they’d gone home to rewatch last the last season of The Mandalorian and decided that Din was an okay guy for almost (but not quite) saving the life of the prison ship guard last season. Mando is free to duct tape the Razor’s Crest back together and we close with the crew limping their way towards Chapter 11.

So a light plot, but with lots of character. Odds are the next episode will give us maybe a Bo Katan or Sabine Wren appearance, but this little adventure was a classic weekly serial. You love to see it.

BLASTER FIRE

  • A nod to the old Westerns this show celebrates is how shooting and punching people have basically the same effect. In the opening fight, two guys get, like, kinda hit in the side with a rifle weighing maybe 12 pounds, and are out cold. Real Gunsmoke action.
  • I said it last season, but I am a sucker for fun sci-fi planet naming, so I’m very psyched to see the “estuary moon of Trask” in the next episode.
  • The music when Baby Yoda gazes on the eggs is straight out of 80’s style Spielberg. It’s all synth harp and wonder. It’s probably just to set up the joke of ‘dem eggs getting eaten, but it was still a lovely addition to the score and aesthetic of the show.
  • The Mandalorian supports co-sleeping.

The ManDADlorian Chapter 9 Recap, Easter Eggs, and Minor Freak-outs

Mandalorian and Cobb Vanth
(Disney+)

You’ll have to forgive me for this one, but the last time we saw Din Djarin and Baby Yoda it might as well have been a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away….specifically 20,000 years ago, in the year 2019. With an incredibly divisive election, a global pandemic, and the Bon Appetit Youtube channel getting canceled for most of the year, nothing could be more welcoming than the warm nostalgia bath that is The Mandalorian

But the show works because it’s more than a collection of cameos from the Bad Motivator Droid, and writer/director/creator John Favreau opens season two with his signature blend of restrained storytelling and refreshingly straightforward action. Let’s talk about all the things that made me excitedly turn to my partner and whisper “that’s [whatever it was that was on the screen].”

So, ManDADlorian and Baby Yoda are searching for more Mandalorians to help track down any remaining Jedi. The best person to ask? Cyclops John Leguizamo. But the one-eyed gangster instead turns on our heroes because we need a cool pre-credits fight scene. After making short work of the bad guys, Din promises the one-eyed double-crosser won’t die by his hand, which of course is just a badass little fake-out move – the kind of loophole nomadic drifters love to throw around. Maybe I’m getting ahead here, but I think this little trick says something coming from a guy who normally takes himself too seriously. It’s one of a few examples throughout the episodes that Din isn’t the same dude as last season. Fatherhood changes you, man(dalorian).

We’re off to Tatooine again because apparently there are only six planets in Star Wars. No, I’m kidding, there’s a good reason for going back this time BUT THAT’S IT. NO MORE TATOOINE FOR A GOOD LONG TIME, STAR WARS, I MEAN IT. Din reunites with Amy Sedaris’ Motto who doesn’t know where this mystery Mandalorian is, but does know about a mystery town full of mysteries to investigate. Our old buddy R5 helps with a map, and the poor little guy still hasn’t had a nice oil bath since blowing his own motivator to keep R2 and 3P0 together in A New Hope

(Lucasfilm)

Off to Mos Pelgo we go, with Baby Yoda strapped into a speeder like Robin riding shotgun in the Bat-Pod. It doesn’t take long for Din to find the Mandalorian he’s been looking for: Timothy Olyphant! And he’s not a Mandalorian, he’s just wearing Boba Fett’s armor! Here’s where Favreau’s visual flair really sings. When Olyphant’s Marshal takes off the helmet, fans are given the longest, closest look at the OG bounty hunter’s visage. It’s a real soak-it-up moment. But more importantly, is how this immediately ups the stakes: We know Mandalorians don’t take their helmets off. This dude just blasphemed in front of our super religious main character, and the show lingers in that moment, combining fan service with character-driven stakes. 

Boba Fett's Helmet
(Ringer)

The Marshal is Cobb Vanth, whose story is rehashed from the Star Wars Aftermath books; showing how the Empire falling was great, but also led to more immediate problems for the Outer Rim. The Empire’s whole big selling point is order through fear and control. And sure enough, once the Death Star is destroyed, some Dune-looking jerks from the Mining Guild come shoot up the bar because…i dunno, there’s nothing to mine on a desert planet? Cobb escapes with an ice-cream maker of fancy rocks, which he trades to some Jawas for Fett’s armor so he can go back to town and get his Justified on.

The new marshall in Boba armor gives us more than one wink-wink during the episode, but the most ludicrous/fun is finally seeing that sweet not-suitable-for-children-under-3 rocket launcher finally have its moment in the sun. 

Cobb Vanth Fires His Backpack Rocket
(Gizmodo)

Back to the story at-hand, the real Mandalorian challenges Vanth for the armor. Vanth, however, notices Baby Yoda which clues him into the fact that Mando has a potential soft spot. Before any blasters go off, the village is attacked by one of the graboids from Tremors, which is not your daddy’s Krayt Dragon. Vanth makes a deal to fork over Boba’s armor if Mando will help him take out the monster of the week.  

The second half of the episode follows our helmet buddies teaming up with the Sandpeople, who are also looking to take down the Krayt. We got a hint of Din’s familiarity with the nomadic tribe in season one, but this episode is the most we’ve ever gotten to see of the Tusken culture in a mainstream story.  The tension between them and the citizens of Mos Pelgo is kind of the dramatic hook of the story, even though we don’t even get into it until the third act. I kinda wish we had a little bit more of that baked in throughout – when Vanth speaks to the townspeople to convince them to team up with their sworn enemies, we don’t really have a relationship with either side to make the union satisfying.

While scoping out the Krayt’s nest, Vanth makes a reference to it being an empty Sarlacc pit. Flag that for later.  We see more and more of the Krayt Dragon as the episode goes on, and it’s definitely one of the bigger departures of old-school design the show has done yet. Though, while the original McQuarrie concept and the KOTOR boss both have chonky boi dragon legs, the skeleton C-3P0 whines about in New Hope looks more serpentine matching what Disney has given us. 

Krayt Dragons From Various Media
(Lucasfilm)

The final battle with the dragon plays out the same way it did in the Knights Of The Old Republic video game, with some added Jetpack action. They plant charges outside the cave and lure the beast out to get blown up. Things don’t go all that great, Krayt dragons have acid lava, apparently.

While Baby Yoda didn’t have much to do in this episode, the real catharsis moment comes when Din hatches a plan to blow up the dragon from the inside. We get our second nod to -and don’t hate me for this- but to how much of a big dumb loser Boba Fett actually was when Mando pops Cobb in the back.  The famously faulty jetpack sends our new friend shooting off the same way it got the last guy to wear it swallowed by a desert snake-spider, but this time the whoopsie-doo ends up being a life-saver.

Look, I’m just gonna say what nobody else will admit: Cobb Vanth is way cooler than Boba Fett. Sorry, not sorry. Before getting himself swallowed with a Bantha strapped to the gills in space-dynamite, Mando tells Cobb to take care of The Kid. Throughout the episode, the Marshal changes in Din’s eyes from blaspheming armor thief to Baby Yoda’s Godfather. One of the main themes of the show is having a strict ideology and perspective that is challenged through the actions of others. The Mandalorian keeps having to change his mind about people – and droids – who may not follow his creed, but still uphold his standard for honor.

You know, I’m really curious to see how that goes. I wonder if he’ll end up having to face-off against someone who possibly shares his creed, but not his sense of honor. Like maybe another Mandalorian? Perhaps someone we’re already familiar with, or like maybe a legacy character who we all have preconceived notions about? I dunno. Something fun. Anyway, the episode ends and nothing else of note happens.

Ha, no I’m kidding, of course. Temura Morrison, who played Jango Fett in the prequels, shows up at the last second looking all chewed-up-by-a-sarlacc, and we all – every one of us, not just me – screamed out loud. I’m clearly not even a Boba Fett die-hard but this is the kind of serotonin drip I pay Disney for. Now, technically this could be any number of characters since literally all the clones would be played by him in live-action, but c’mon. It’s Boba Fett. That’s why they teased the dead Sarlacc earlier, and also: every other thing that happens this episode. Who else is it gonna be, Cody? FOH.

Guess we’ll have to come back to Tatooine again this season after all. *shakes fist*

Blaster Fire:

  • VIBRO-BLADES! Or I guess, VIBRO-AXES!  I guess we’ve seen these before, but seeing them all vibratey was a treat. Here’s the thing, I believe you can overdo fan service callback stuff, and that Star Wars should always try to be new and weird; but I also clap and say “yay!” like a toddler given ice cream when they pull out random old KOTOR Level One weapons 
  • W. Earl Brown, who played Dan on Deadwood, was the Weequay behind the bar in Mos Pelgo, essentially reprising his role with Olyphant in what is basically the greatest TV show of all time. And now I want Space-Deadwood. 
  • Seeing some theories that that Cobb Vanth’s speeder bike is made out of Anakin Skywalker’s old pod racer, but that’s one-to-many coincidences for me in my Star Wars. It’s the same model engine for sure, but my head cannon will say it’s just a nod to the design until told otherwise.
  • “Sand people always travel single file, to hide their numbers.” 
Sand People In Single File
(Lucasfilm)

I miss “I have spoken.”

Awkward Pics Make Better Memories: A Defense Of School Picture Day

A Series of Pictures of the writer, from early school pics to today.

I am going to share with you something that is deeply, profoundly personal. It’s something I had buried years ago in my mind. I wanted to physically bury all copies of this relic at one point, but my mom wouldn’t allow it. Long story short: I’d forgotten about this, but in the days of social media, none of us are safe from our parents finding dark artifacts from the past and sharing them with the world. Brace yourself. Here is what I saw when I checked my notifications this morning.

Awkward School Pic of kid with glasses in front of a digital star field

….Oh….oh Jared…What happened here? Well, the year was 199…1(?), and it was school picture day. Now, there’s plenty to dissect here – horizontal stripes, tinted glasses, jeans that are let’s say, “relaxed fit.” But those glamour stars in the background are truly the piece de resistance. 

Why would I vouch for this background that seems to be missing a unicorn or something? The early 90s was a magical time when dinosaurs came to life on the movie screen and your school pictures could look like they were taken in front of a space-laser battle. So what I expected when I checked the “starfield” box as my preferred background while standing in line in the Bartow Elementary gymnasium was something closer to: 

Awkward School Pic With Background Replaced By Laser Grid

Aw heck yeah. Once digital editing became commonplace, most kids my age ended up with pictures where the background was replaced with what I would today describe as a screen-saver sorta deal. But back then it was freakin’ awesome.

But school picture day, like life itself, doesn’t always go as planned. I remember being so embarrassed weeks later when the prints came back. What was I going to do with these freaking glamour shots? Nevermind that there wasn’t much for an eight-year-old to do with pictures, regardless of how they came out. 

The thing is, that’s really part of the value of the whole School Picture Day tradition. In the last decade or so, we’ve become a society more obsessed with pictures than ever before, with social media making amateur photo-journalists of us all. It’s tempting to think you don’t need a “school picture” in a year where the concept of “school” is loose at best. But take it from a nerd who aimed for the laser grid and landed among the stars, having a set memento of a certain time just hits different than a regular ole’ insta post. (Even if you’re not crazy about the results at first). 

This is true for parents as much as it is kids. Take the best picture of me ever taken, for example:

A Kid Making A Goofy Grin For School Picture Day

That was my peak, it’s been downhill since. I would like to congratulate myself on somehow throwing some side-eye while still staring directly ahead. Here’s the thing, though.  My mother hated this picture. She didn’t tell me that at the time; I was a child, that would have been damaging. But growing up means if you have cool parents you get to become friends with them, and then you get to catch up on all the gossip about you from when you were a kid.

Now, I don’t know why Mom didn’t like this picture…maybe it’s ‘cause I look like a huge dork, but that’s something she always appreciated about me. Regardless, she wanted to have them retaken. Fortunately, Nana took her by the hand and said “Jan. Don’t you dare change that. One day it will be your favorite picture of him.” And Nana was right. To this day this is the pic that Mom keeps on her desk at work, and it’s her absolute favorite. My guess is that this pic is documentation of when I started becoming the guy I am today. It’s the first time my “okay, whatever” attitude really came shining through.

So don’t just take a school picture, celebrate how awkward, weird, unexpected they are. In a time when we spend twenty minutes capturing moments “for the ‘gram” it will mean more to have a memento of our kids and families as they are, not how we curate them on social. 

To celebrate National School Picture Day, Lifetouch will be creating America’s Yearbook -a digital compilation of user-submitted pictures capturing the spirit of picture day. For 84 years, Lifetouch has been shaping yearbooks featuring all the things that make school pictures so memorable, from fads to goofy expressions. You can submit your favorite throwback school pictures for a chance to be featured in America’s Yearbook on Oct. 5. Then a few select winners will receive free school pictures, yearbooks, and school supplies for the school of their choice! It’s a great way to celebrate where we’ve been, and all the goofy unexpected places we’ve yet to go.

Submit your favorite school pictures here.

 

This post was sponsored by:
Lifetouch

The Dad Gaming Bootcamp: Mario Kart & How To Completely Destroy Your Kids

Dad's racecar crosses the finish line

(Expert advice from The Dad Gaming Mario Kart Season 5 winner Joel Willis. With expert consultation from Season 1, 3, 4, 6, 7, and 8 winner Mick Winzeler and Season 9 winner Martin Flores.)

As dads, we want our kids to be winners. Usually. The main exception being when we play them in Mario Kart.  It’s written in The Dad Law that dads are never to take it easy on their kids in Mario Kart. EVER. Life doesn’t work that way, and neither does Bowser on his Wild Wiggler on Rainbow Road. So pick up the sticks and try not to cry when you get lapped, son. 

For the 2nd event in The Dad Gaming League, we’ve teamed up with Planters to throw an all-star, all-dad Mario Kart tournament! On Friday, September 18, we’ll have a 150cc tournament, a 200cc tournament, and possibly even Battle. Reminder, you do not have to be good to play any event in The Dad Gaming League. (In order to play this tournament though, you need Mario Kart 8, a Switch console, Nintendo Online and the will to take your child’s optimistic spirit and crush it without remorse.)

To sign up, click here. Whether you’re competing in this tournament, or you want to level-up your skills in order to impress/destroy your kids, we’ve got you covered. So, pop your favorite Planter’s Pop n’ Pour and join us on a spin through The Dad Gaming Bootcamp. 

These tips progress from easiest and most essential, to more advanced. So be sure you master the first ones, and then move on through the list to become a Mario Kart esports pro. LET’S-A-GOOOOOO.

Don’t go in the grass, dirt, or hit the walls

So this one is unbelievably obvious and basic. But as I most often shout to my kids whilst trying to coach them, “Stay in the middle of the track! Go in a straight line and quit swerving all over the place!” 

The first goal is to keep Basic Max Speed, which you achieve by not getting slowed down by obstacles or the path. As soon as you touch a non-track surface such as grass or dirt, your speed drops dramatically. In 150cc (the 2nd fastest kart in the game) or below you can basically hold the gas down the whole time. So stay on the track and you’ll keep at the basic max speed. Beyond that, you’re going to need boosts. 

Speed boost at the start (just after 2)

The earliest boost you can get is right at the start! Here’s a protip: Watch the start countdown. “3… 2… 1….” Start holding down the gas immediately after “2.” This will give you the most boost. If you’re a little late, it’ll be a little less boost. If you are a little early, you will burn out. This is relatively easy to master and starts you off right, and teaches the most important lesson: timing is everything. 

Jump on bumps

In Mario Kart 8, there are ramps all over the place. Right at the top of a ramp, hit the jump button. Your guy will do a little flip and get a speed boost. This move can quickly become a habit and you’ll do it even without thinking, and because, again, there are ramps all over the place. It can help a ton.

Actually, try it off of any bump you see. It doesn’t just have to be a proper ramp. Any track object that gets you airborne for the slightest bit can be used to get a jump boost. These can add up quickly!

Hold an item behind you for defense

Now that you’ve got a good start and are getting a little boost for every jump, you’re going to quickly find yourself out in front of the pack, especially if playing my children, who are notoriously trash at this game. To maintain your lead, it’s time to play a little defense.

You gain items in this game by driving through the multi-colored question boxes littered around the track. Certain items you can hold behind your cart by holding the “use item” (L) button. You can do this with bananas, green shells, red shells, and bombs. While driving, you’re holding gas anyway, if you have one of these defensive items, you will hold L as well and it’ll stay behind you. It may feel weird at first, but it’s worth getting used to. Now, if someone fires a red shell at you, the item will deflect it!

When you release the L button, the item gets released. If you hold back on the joystick while releasing, it will shoot the shell, banana, or bomb behind you. This all makes it difficult to snag some snacks, so keep your Pop & Pour nearby for quick-crave release. 

IMPORTANT: If you hold a bomb behind you and it gets hit, you’ll get caught in the explosion! So best to release those back behind you if anyone is approaching.

Holding items behind you does not save you from a blue shell! Only a Super Horn can help with that. (You may also use a mushroom to speed away just before the blue shell drops, but it’s gotta be perfectly timed!)

Get 10 coins as quickly as possible then don’t worry bout more

Coins are dramatically misunderstood by many Karters, especially my kids, who are just so, so bad at this game. 

Coins increase your base speed. More coins you have, the faster your core speed. Great! But the max effect is 10 coins. So try to get 10 coins quickly, then don’t worry about ‘em.

Drifting – turn boosts

Drifting is absolutely essential to being competitive in Mario Kart. The only reason it’s so far down this list is that it’s a little tricky for noobs, like my kids, who are terrible. But give it some practice and you’ll be drifting on every turn in no time.

To start a drift, do a little hop right before a turn. You’ll want to hold down the jump button (R). Depending on the direction your guy is facing when landing, your kart will begin turning a bit more in that direction. Keep holding the jump button! Try steering left and right with the joystick. You’ll find that if you turn into the drift, the kart turns EVEN MORE than normal. But if turning against the drift, it’s impossible to even turn that direction, but you can get the kart nearly going straight. 

As you keep turning and holding that jump button, eventually colors will appear behind your cart. Blue… orange… pink. The longer you hold a drift, the more powerful the boost when you release. After the turn, let go of the jump button and OFF YOU GO. Boom. That’s it. 

The most important skill in the game.

Know it, love it, master it. You’ll find that the mechanics of drifting also help taking sharp turns faster, and you’ll wonder how you ever turned without it.

Item management

Now that you’re drifting and boosting all over fools like my abysmal kids, you’re gonna be wayyyyy out in front. You need to start thinking strategy. The differentiator amongst top competitors is often item management. There’s some randomness when it comes to items, but there’s also strategy in how you manage them. Everyone’s style here may be a bit different, but there are some things to know…

If you’re out in front, you really want to have some defense. That is, holding a shell or banana behind you. 

When you’re in front, the items will almost always be a coin or a banana. So try to get a double item box so you can at least get something for defense if you need it. This also means that if you have a banana, you can drop it right behind the double item box, quickly replace it, and make that double item box tougher to get for those behind you. Muauahahahaha. Eat it, kids. 

Bombs are absolutely destructive if there are karters just behind you and you’re out in front. Drop that bad boy behind you and speed away like you’re in an action movie. 

Getting used to the best way to use each item is a matter of trial and error. If you have a big lead and someone overtakes you unexpectedly, how did they do that? What items did they use?

When you get mushrooms or a star, resist the urge to blast it immediately. Try to use it to cut difficult corners or take shortcuts, because the boost item will negate the speed loss of going off track. 

Know the courses,  time trials, & shortcuts!

Speaking of shortcuts, I guarantee there are more of them out there than you know! In The Dad Gaming Mario Kart we do a different time trial each week. Some people will spend HOURS on a track, sometimes trying to beat their own best time by just tenths of a second. You can’t do this without knowing all of the track shortcuts. 

There are lots of videos on YouTube to search for more intel. (You can start with MK8DX Records.) After learning the above tips…. Watch a record time for a particular track on YouTube, note all the shortcuts, and then spend 20 minutes trying to get a good time on your own. Now do that for every track. That is BY FAR the best training you could do in Mario Kart 8.

Know the courses – proper lines!

Time trials and watching record times on YouTube is not just about shortcuts. Also watch the “lines,” or the path you take on the track. Sure, taking a turn on the inside is faster, right? Well entering and exiting turns in particular spots, on particular tracks, can be more efficient and also set you up for what’s next. Getting down to that level of detail is important to be elite, which my kids have no hope of achieving.  

Drafting

If you get right up behind another racer, after a few seconds, you’ll see a wind effect blowing and your Kart will speed up significantly, then you’ll blow by them!

I tend to see this happen the most at the start of a race when everyone is so close together. It doesn’t happen quite as much as you’d expect otherwise, because a few seconds behind someone is kind of a lot. But if you can make it happen, the boost is pretty solid. Just watch out for the guy in front dropping a banana on ya!

Whether you’re attempting a draft of not, you can see the item the person in front of you has. So if they have a green shell or banana, don’t try to trail directly behind them.

200cc, get used to brake drifting

Once you’ve mastered all of the above, and you’re ready to put it to the real test, strap in and kart-up to the start line of a 200cc match. Everything you’ve learned still applies, except faster. You will no longer be able to hold the gas down the entire match! You may even need to press a button you’ve never pressed before: the brake. 

You won’t need the brake on straightaways, only turns. And since you mastered drifting, you’re still going to be drifting on almost every turn (holding the jump button). So the main thing you need to know for 200cc is brake drifting. When you’re FLYING around the turn in 200cc, holding down the jump button and drifting, just let off the gas and tap the brake button a few times. In some cases, you may need to press it, not tap, but a lot of the time, simply tapping it will keep you from slamming into the wall.

Get used to holding jump, drifting, letting off gas, and tapping brake. It’s a strange combo. But you’ll have it in no time and destroying peeps at 200cc. Then the biggest difference between 200cc and 150cc is your kids will be crying 2 minutes sooner.

So there you have it. You’re ready to compete with the big boys and bask in the defeat of my children and yours as well. Use their tears to wash down some Planters Pop & Pour and we’ll see you on the tracks September 18th! 

This article and The Dad Gaming League are sponsored by Planters. Enjoy delicious snacks without gunking up your controller with Planters Pop and Pour

This post was sponsored by:
Planters

Parenting Is Hard. One Ritual Helps Keep Me Going

A Dad Considers Ritual Multivitamins

I’m usually up around 5 in the morning, and I don’t get much “me time” until 9 or 10 at night; just in time to fall asleep for the last 20 minutes of whatever show my wife and I are “watching.” Being an adult usually means running from one crisis or calamity to another, and it can take a toll.

The suggested solution to this issue is to work out, eat better, practice meditation and all sorts of activities that are, you know, not the sorta thing parents would have a lot of time for. And even if you’re a few months or years into the parenting gig, finding your way back to a routine of self-care is not easy. Even I would start weeks making big promises about getting in three weight training sessions, or swearing off fast food; this proved a great way to end every week feeling like a total loser jerk. When I was offered a monthly sample of Ritual, a daily multivitamin supplement, it seemed like an easy way to fit in something for myself.  

Now, Ritual is a multivitamin supplement with a soft spot for parents. The company gained notoriety with moms for developing a prenatal multivitamin that specialized in transparently-sourced nutrients without all the shady fillers a lot of brands cram into their products. They’ve recently launched a line for men with the same philosophy of scientifically-developed multivitamins, and while that’s all cool, what really intrigued me was the philosophy behind their design: That no pill or powder can make you stronger –– a refreshing angle for someone essentially trying to sell me a supplement. Instead, Ritual emphasizes that foundational health starts with small daily habits. 

If finding time to take care of myself was a challenge, I could manage to take two little pills a day. At least to start, right? 

Now, let’s be clear. Ritual didn’t give me sudden superhuman abilities or mental clarity. I was still groggy in the mornings and exhausted at night – I didn’t immediately start hitting my workout goals. There’s no magic pill. What I could do is stand in front of a mirror every day, open the Ritual container and look myself in the eye knowing that no matter what happened that day, I’d done something to help support my health. Something for myself.* 

So what does Ritual do then? Well, the big goal of a multivitamin is to help fill nutritional gaps in the diet. Yes, Brad, we all know that eating a pure Mediterranean diet that we cooked over campfires made from ancient trees would make us good to go, but the year is 2020, and that’s not in the cards. So Ritual provides key nutrients to help fill nutrient gaps in most modern men’s diets, using transparently-sourced nutrients that you can feel good about putting in your body. 

I take Ritual’s Essential for Men 18+ which is formulated with key micronutrients to help support men’s health –– including heart, brain, muscle, and normal immune support.*  The key differentiators here are their nutrient sourcing and No B.S. formula. For example, they get their Magnesium, which helps support bone health*, from Odgen, Utah. I’m not saying I needed to know my Vitamin K2 comes from Oslo, Norway, but when it comes to supporting heart health it’s comforting to see such transparency.*

At this point, it might go without saying that all of Ritual’s products are vegan-friendly, non-GMO, as well as gluten and major allergen-free. Since their whole thing is about accountability in their products, this commitment to quality isn’t surprising. I’m not even vegan, but I have to agree that it seems like multivitamins should be? I don’t know what goes into non-vegan multivitamins, but it’s not a filet mignon I can tell you that.

I can’t promise that I’ll be hitting my workout goals every week or even rejecting the Dad Tax of all the extra fries that fall to the bottom of the bag. But after a few weeks with Ritual, I believe there’s something to be said about starting small. Sure it’s just taking two little minty multivitamins every day. But that’s a habit that makes it easier to commit to other personal goals. This week I’ll commit to getting up early one day for a run. Next week, I’ll squeeze in a weight training session. It’s not a multivitamin that makes this happen, but if I can show up for one easy Ritual, I can see a path to another, and then another after that.

Heck, even the ritual of taking Ritual has to be flexible!  Mornings are chaotic, I’ve run out of the bathroom and forgotten to take them. It happens. But you just gotta keep committing to your habits. (Sidenote: The delayed-release design of the capsules means I don’t get an upset stomach if I end up taking the multivitamins later in the day on an empty stomach. Little details like that are nice.)

Ritual helps me remember the most important lesson in taking care of myself: you have to show up every day. Real health comes from habits that become ingrained in your behavior as second nature. The most effective way to build those habits is to commit to them actively…as a ritual. If mine, for now, is remembering to take two little minty multivitamins every day, that’s a foundation to build on. 

Ritual is committed to quality ingredients as a key to helping support foundational health. You can learn more about which of their products are right for you here.

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

This post was sponsored by:
Ritual

Fortnite Bootcamp – Impress Your Kid Or At Least Not Embarrass Yourself

The Dad Gaming League’s first event is Fortnite, on August 21. Sign up now to reserve your spot on the Battle Bus.

The first gaming event we held was a custom Fortnite match in a private lobby of about 10 dads playing. People were randomly squaded up, everyone was laughing, getting along, even making friends. It reminded me of the old days playing Goldeneye with my buddies, except these were members of our internet community who didn’t know each other, and were 100s of miles apart. That spirit of comradery is what’s behind the whole The Dad Gaming community – giving dads a fun excuse to take a break, get away, and play games with cool people.

Epic snack-makers Planters knows this better than anyone, and they love the community spirit; so we squaded up to launch a full-fledged The Dad Gaming League. This monthly competition will champion that essence of fun and “anyone can play” spirit. (So you don’t have to be good to win a prize.)

However, if you’re brand new to Fortnite and you don’t want to embarrass yourself too hard -or if you’re pretty decent and looking for a couple of areas to work on- we’ve got you covered. Any dad’s path to leveling up starts here.

These tips start for the newbiest of newbs, and gradually get more advanced. Start at the beginning. Once your eyes start to glaze over, take a break, pop some Planters, and jump onto the Battle Bus. Because the best way to get better at any game is to lose A LOT.

QUICK OVERVIEW OF HOW FORTNITE WORKS

Fortnite is a quintessential Battle Royale game. This genre of game is that a large group of online players drop into the same world, called the map, and fight it out. When someone is eliminated, they’re done. So the number of players in the game continues to drop throughout the match. To keep it interesting, there is a storm that will damage you closing in on the island, making the play area smaller and smaller as time goes on.

You drop onto the island empty-handed, so you want to immediately find some weapons, powerups and other items to help you thrive and survive. Unfortunately, there are no Planters Pop and Pours on the Battle Island.

LINGO

There is a lot of shorthand dads use when squadded up. These terms were completely lost on me when I started and it made things very confusing. So if you’re starting fresh, here’s your first real advantage:

Battle Bus – This is your entry to the island. At the top of each round, you choose when to jump off the bus and parachute to where you want to land.

Circle – The playing area. This is where the storm hasn’t closed in yet, and it shrinks every few minutes or so.

Slurp – This is the neon blue health substance found in “pots” and scattered in lakes and rivers throughout the map. It heals you over time, not all at once.

Full Pot – This is a “Large Health” item. It’s a big blue jar of “Slurp.”

Mini -This is a “Small Health” item. It’s a small vial of Slurp.

AR – Just like in real life, this is what we call those bigass fast shooting guns.

Engage – Confront another player or team in battle. It’s a big map at first, so you don’t always have to fight. Engagement is a choice…for a time.

Final Circle – This is the endgame, when the storm has zeroed in extremely tight, and all remaining players are thrown together in sweet chaos.

Bot – This is an AI enemy who appears to be another player in the game, but is basically just a dummy to fill out the map and make you feel like you actually got some kills.

Skin – This is the term for how your character looks. You can buy or earn various skins that include character designs and costumes.

Default – This is what we call the basic no-investment character mold. If you log on for the first time and hit play without swapping anything, you’re playing as Default.

TACTICS

SURVIVE
Hide!  First things first, don’t get shot right away. Hang out on the Battle Bus a little bit and then when you do jump out, land where other people don’t usually tend to go right away. It’ll take a few rounds to learn all the locations, but if it looks like a big structure or base, it probably has a lot of items to snag….but a lot of other people will be interested in trying for them.

The first time I played Fortnite was at my wife’s friend’s house. There was a 10-year-old there who was nonstop talking crap to me about how I was a “noob” and he was better than me at Fortnite. I challenged him to see who could last the longest. He landed, got some eliminations, but finished 40 or so?

On the other hand, I strategically rode the Battle Bus as long as I could, dropped far away, and proceeded to sneak around, hiding at every place I could, always searching for predators.

Eventually, someone found me, engaged, and I was quickly eliminated. But I got 6th. (Now who’s the noob?) Usually, you’ll need to be pretty decent at offense to finish in the top ten. But I’ve found for beginners, the easiest way to finish top 25 is hiding. DEFENSE WINS CHAMPIONSHIPS.

WATCH THE STORM
Hang out on the outer reaches of the circle. Move-in as the storm gets smaller.

When you’re on the outside of the playing area, you don’t have to watch your back as much, because you know people will be less likely to sneak up behind you.

Watch the clock, though, and be ready to move. The circle doesn’t shrink automatically, but the Storm does move faster than you do.

STAY SNACKED UP
A single Battle Royale can last about 20 minutes. As any kid who has been asked to turn off their video game mid-game will tell you, you do not want to quit during a match. Keep snacks handy. Planters Pop and Pour is ideal here. It allows one-handed snack consumption and keeps the controller clean. I kind of think it was designed with dad gamers in mind.

DON’T BE SO QUICK TO ENGAGE
Learn the “Third Party” strategy. If you see multiple players or squads, let two groups fight it out and be the third party there to clean up at the end. This was called “pickin’ cherries” back in my Halo days, but what was dishonorable for the Master Chief is a sound strategy in Fortnite.

READY TO ENGAGE? LEARN TO ATTACK BY PLAYING TEAM RUMBLE
It takes lots of battles to learn the proper way to engage and how to be more accurate. Try playing the Team Rumble game mode to get a feel for combat. Battle Royale means once your out, you’re out. In Team Rumble, when you get eliminated you automatically respawn and you’re back in the action, giving you lots more experience at eliminating (and being eliminated). It’s not the most satisfying game mode, but it helps you learn.

LEARN THE WEAPONS, PERFECT YOUR LOADOUT
You’ll want a variety of weapon types, as well as healing items, but there are only so many item slots available. There’s also a color-coding system to how powerful each weapon is. In ascending order, they are: grey, green, blue, purple, orange.

JUMPING AS A DEFENSE MECHANISM
To avoid being sniped, some more advanced players jump all the time. They’ll jump across an open field like Mary freakin’ Poppins. I was always the type who’d rather not be so noticeable. But jumping is a great defense against attacks, especially close range. Start panicking? Start jumping. You may just make it out.

AMMO MANAGEMENT
I am a terrible shot. I can spray and spray and not land a single hit. So then when I have to reload and the opponent is engaging me, it can feel like a lifetime. One thing I started doing to help is I will take my favorite weapon choice, and put two of them right next to each other in my loadout. So if I empty one of them, instead of reloading, I just switch the other and keep firing. Essentially gives you double the ammo without reloading.

It is also possible to use this technique with Pop and Pour snack containers.

KEEP WATCHING AFTER YOU GET ELIMINATED
When you’re out, you’ll get to spectate the person who got ya. Keep watching and you might pick up on some strategies or tips. Sit back with your Pop and Pour, and watch it like a movie.

LEARN TO BUILD
You’ll notice this tip isn’t even in here until number 10. Dads notoriously don’t like Fortnite as much as other first-person shooters because of the building. A common joke is you fire a single shot and your opponent instantly has a five-star hotel. It can be frustrating when you don’t know how to do it. (Which is why we host a weekly no building event.) But you can use it to your advantage with very little effort. Simply learning to build a ramp will help you access much more loot, and it’s a simple two-button press. The same goes for building a vertical wall. If you can get used to quickly pressing those two buttons, you can throw one up as an opponent engages you. That simple wall will save a lot of damage and buy you some time.

And most importantly:

HAVE FUN, BOND WITH YOUR KID
I had a Nintendo as a kid and I loved it. But my dad never played video games with me. No big deal. But now, as a parent, the only reason I have a video game system is so I can play with my kids. It’s a bonding tool.

My son is super into Fortnite skins, while I proudly remain “a default.” But since he is so into them, I’ll gladly play with him to beat the season challenges and unlock new skins for him. We collaborate with each other as a team, we chat, we laugh, we have a blast.

Sure, he enjoys it now because he gets to unlock some new skins. I enjoy it because I’m spending quality time with my kid doing something he loves. I know it may sound far fetched to non-gamers, but I truly believe that when he is an adult, he’ll look back with fondness at the times his dad helped him beat Fortnite challenges to unlock skins. And those parent/kid moments, the unforgettable memories… that’s what it’s all about.

This article and The Dad Gaming League are sponsored by Planters. Enjoy delicious snacks without gunking up your controller with Planters Pop and Pour.

This post was sponsored by:
Planters

SIGN UP NOW FOR THE DAD GAMING LEAGUE

The Dad Gaming League Launch Announcement

Our days are filled with housework, work-work, and keeping one or more small humans happy and alive. We wouldn’t trade it for the world, but sometimes dads need a break.

This year, The Dad is teaming up with Planters to bring you the first-ever The Dad Gaming League–a season of big games, delicious snacks, and comfortably moderate stakes! Each month we’ll host a tournament of a fan-favorite game, hosted and live-streamed by The Dad. Sign up today!

MONEY, SWAG, AND SNACKS (OH MY)

We have over $5000 in prizes, but giveaways aren’t only for sweaty try-hards. We’re parents. We just want everyone to try their best and have a good time. We’ll randomly give away cash, cool swag, and Planters snacks to people who sign up, not just the elite gamers. Get eliminated first in a particularly embarrassing fashion? You get a prize! 

Most exciting of all? We’ve teamed up with Planters to create the first-ever official The Dad Gaming esports jersey. All Event winners will get these bad boys. And we’re giving them to 25 random people just for signing up!

The Dad Gaming League Jersey

Gaming and snacks go together like that video game plumber who dresses in red and his brother who dresses in green. So we’ll be dropping tons of epic Planters snack loot boxes. And while gaming, we’ll be throwin’ back some Planters Pop-and-Pours, designed with gamers in mind. These aerodynamic containers let you snag a delicious mouthful of Planters snacks while keeping your hands and controller free from salt and oil! 

Joel gaming with pop n pour

(Rules and restrictions apply. See for details.)

HOW TO PLAY

You can play in as many of the events as you want. After signing up, each month we’ll send you specifics for how to join each event.

SCHEDULE 

  • August 21 – Fortnite
  • September 18 – Mario Kart
  • October 9 – Rocket League
  • November 13 – Apex Legends
  • December 11 – Super Smash Bros
  • Week of December 28 – TBD Bonus Holiday Tournament

JOIN THE LEAGUE! 

BOOTCAMP

Interested in gaming, but worried about lookin’ like some sorta noob? Fear not! We’ve got you covered. Each month we’ll release a The Dad Gaming Bootcamp article outlining strategies and need-to-know terms relevant to each game, so you’ll have plenty of time to get up to speed. The Dad Gaming League is designed to level-up all dads together!

Nothing is better than sharing the controller, and some awesome snacks with the kids. 

So pull up a gaming chair, dim the lights, pop some Planters Honey Roasted Peanuts – maybe some Cheez Balls for your little squadmate, and get ready to game!

SQUAD UP

Fill out the form and join the squad! 

You can also join us to hang out and talk gaming, parenting, and gaming while parenting in our Facebook group. Or follow us for gaming content on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or Twitch.

Pick up the sticks, grab a Pop and Pour, and we’ll see you out there.

This article and The Dad Gaming League are sponsored by Planters. Enjoy delicious snacks without gunking up your controller with Planters Pop and Pour!  

15 Crazy Facts You Don’t Know About Star Wars

(20th Century Fox)

Ghostbusters, Die Hard and Back to the Future all have hardcore fanbases. But people don’t just like Star Wars, they like knowing everything there is to know about it. I grew up with all the Essential Guides, Visual Dictionaries, and Incredible Cross-Sections, but every day Twitter informs me that I am like a mid-grade Star Wars nerd, at best. So, depending on your own level of fandom, the mileage you get on this 15 Facts article may vary, but I promise we dug up some cool things your average nerf-herder wouldn’t know:

1. There Is No Light Side Of The Force

Obviously I have started with a bold claim, but the fact remains that nowhere in the Star Wars movies is there a reference to the “Light” side of the force. In the original movie, the Force was presented as an all-encompassing aspect of life. The “Dark Side” was more of a shadowy corner of the Force, rather than a fully developed B-side. As the series progressed over 40+ years, the idea of duality grew from such a massive good vs. evil story. The prequels made it pretty official by focusing on the whole “Chosen One bringing balance” runaround. Still, the closest the movies have gotten to identifying the Light Side is Kylo Ren struggling with “the call to the light” in The Force Awakens. So what is the true nature of the Force? Is the Force a balanced yin and yang, or is it ~everything~ and that just means there’s a dark corner? The answer is: Star Wars is a fairy tale that is fun to talk about.

2. The Ewok Language Is Real

Ben Burtt, the man behind Darth Vader’s breathing and the lightsaber hum, created most of the languages in the galaxy far, far away. Ewokese was based on the Kalmyk Oirat, a language spoken in Russia after Burtt heard it in a documentary. In fact, most alien languages in movies are created by rearranging sounds and words in real languages, because making them up out on your own is really hard. Yub nub!

3. There Are No Bras In Space

When we lost Carrie Fisher in 2016, we lost not only our Princess and General but one of the most honest and hilarious voices in Hollywood. In her memoir-turned-performance piece, Wishful Drinking, Fisher shares the reasoning George Lucas gave for not letting her wear underwear. 

“What happens is you go to space and you become weightless. So far so good, right? But then your body expands??? But your bra doesn’t — so you get strangled by your own bra. Now I think that this would make for a fantastic obit — so I tell my younger friends that no matter how I go, I want it reported that I drowned in moonlight, strangled by my own bra.”

I guess Gold Bikinis have a little more room to breathe?

4. Yoda Dang Done Gone To The Damn Dark Side

Dark Yoda
(Star Wars Underworld)

In the Clone Wars-era novel Dark Rendevous, there’s a moment where Yoda and Count Dooku have a little lightsaber fight chit-chat about the nature of the Force. During the debate, Dooku does the basic “you don’t know the power of the dark side” spiel, which Yoda throws back in his face, basically saying “yeah-huh.” Of course, the book is not officially canon, as it was released pre-Disney, but A) “canon” is a made-up way to classify different made-up stories. It’s all made up! But if you insist on following the rules when it comes to imagination stories, then may I refer you to the episode “Destiny” from the sixth season of Clone Wars. Yoda meets his own dark shadow in the Wellspring of Life, and while it’s not spelled out, the implication is that he maybe went through, like, a phase.

5. TIE Fighters Sound Like Elephants

Back in the sound booth, Ben Burtt combined the sound of a car skidding on wet pavement with an elephant…neighing? Honking? What do you call the sound elephants make?* Either way, that goofy noise is what’s behind the intimidating screech of the Imperial Navy’s staple fighter.

*I looked it up, it’s called honking. TIE Fighters honk like elephants. That’s cannon.

6. David Prowse is Banned From All Official Events

David Prowse is the body inside Darth Vader’s armor, and as far as he knew he was the voice of the iconic villain as well…right up until he saw the movie at the premiere. While we can all agree that hiring James Earl Jones to dub Vader’s lines was one of Lucas’ better decisions, he probably should have, like, mentioned it? The British bodybuilder spent years being understandably  -but vocally- frustrated about the snubbing, to the point that he was finally banned from all official Star Wars events in 2010. According to Lucas’ representatives, Prowse had “burned too many bridges.”

6. A New Hope Is The Reason You Have To Leave When Movies Are Over

Back in the day, buying a movie ticket would let you hang out in the cinema all day. Rather than a scheduled attraction, you bought admission to the theater and could stick around for whatever you liked. That changed when Star Wars became so popular that people would sit and watch it multiple times in a row. Film distributors quickly changed the rules to capitalize on multiple viewings. This is why you have to awkwardly smile and nod to the teenagers trying to clean while you wait for a three-second joke after the credits of a Marvel movie.

7. The Original Millennium Falcon Was Kinda Meh.

Before Colin Cantwell landed on the flying hamburger design for Han’s bachelor van, his original concept was much closer to a classic rocket tube. This earlier version, known as the “Pirate Ship” was even built by ILM modelmakers before George Lucas saw the similar-looking ship from Space:1999. The creative direction was to ensure Han’s ship was wholly unique and original; so the Pirate Ship was retooled into Leia’s Tantive IV, which is the very first ship we see in the franchise.

8. The Opening Crawl Cost Lucas His Seat In The Director’s Guild

According to movie rules in the 1970s, a movie needs to have opening credits. Of course, Lucas had a different vision for kicking off the biggest adventure ever. Lucas resigned from the Director’s Guild and paid a fine to have his movie start with the iconic crawl, rather than telling us who the third executive producer was.  This did cost the original trilogy another director, though/ Steven Spielberg, who was in good standing with the guild, was later unable to sign on to direct Return of the Jedi as he originally hoped.

9. “Endor” is Elvish for “Middle-Earth”

Endor’s race of Fozzie Bears may be closer to dwarves than elves in stature, but warriors more attuned to nature than technology is something Tolkien’s elves would surely appreciate. Fantasy writers gotta stick together, yo. Speaking of Ewoks…

10. Kenny Baker Was Originally Supposed To Play Wicket

The man behind – or rather, inside – R2D2 was originally supposed to play the young Ewok in Return of the Jedi. Baker fell ill during filming, and the role was passed to an 11-year-old boy who was an extra on set. The kid was a HUGE Star Wars fan, so getting recast as an actual character and hero to the Rebellion was a big role upgrade. That boy, of course, was Warwick Davis, who would grow up to be a successful actor famous for roles in Willow, the BBC Chronicles of Narnia miniseries, the freakin Leprechaun in Leprechaun, and Harry Potter.

11. There Are No Clone Trooper Costumes From The Prequels In Existence

…Because every single one of them was CGI. Every single one. So, my condolences to the 501st Legion, but if y’all really want film-quality replicas of Clone Trooper armor, you’re gonna have to walk around with those little CGI tracking balls stapled to a unitard.

12. Darth Vader’s Chestplate Has A Secret Message

In Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, Vader’s control panel displays three lines of text under the buttons on the left side. While it looks close enough to Aurebesh (the Star Wars language you see on control screens and such through the movies), the lettering is actually Hebrew. The translation isn’t exact, but the general gist reads “His deeds will not be forgiven until he merits” which is, you know, freakin’ rad.

13. Luke “Pulls” His Lightsaber By Throwing It

Movie magic at it’s finest: when Mark Hamil would reach out with the Force to bring his lightsaber to hand, they’d film him just chucking the thing across the room, then reversing the footage in the final edit. Legitimately hilarious visual.

14. The Millennium Falcon Can Travel 25,000 Light Years Per Day

The Falcon Makes the Jump To Lightspeed
(Yahoo.com)

While I think applying any sort of real-world science to the Big Laser Movies misses the point, Han and friends do seem to get places awfully fast, even with the fastest ship in the galaxy. Of course, all fictional spaceships travel at the speed of plot, but it turns out there’s some math that says the Falcon blows the Starship Enterprise out of the water in a space race. With only the vague technobabble of  “.5 past lightspeed” as a reference point, Slate put together a pretty cool interactive chart that maps out how fast various classic sci-fi ships can run.

15. The Force Is Yoga.

This one’s for all of us. As George Lucas explained to Empire Strikes Back screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan, “If you want to take the time to do it, you can do it. It’s like yoga, anyone can do it.” So. We are all one with the Force, and the Force is with us.

These crazy facts are a part of our dad trivia series, where we drop some pop-culture science you can impress your dad pals with at the next BBQ.