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

Jared Warner

The Mandalorian Episode 2 Recap: Light On Plot, Big On ~Themes~

The Mandolorian climbs a sandcrawler

This was a big weekend for Star Wars. Along with the launch of the new first-person, story-driven, apparently very good video game Jedi: Fallen Order,  they went ahead and did the damn thing by dropping the second episode of The Mandalorian sooner than we could have hoped for. I mean, it’s on a Friday release schedule, so it makes sense, but it was still exciting.

This episode was a little shorter than the first, and while some people may want as much show as they can get, I really admire Favreau & Friends for cutting to the chase. So many shows suffer from bloat by adhering to the 45-minute format that commercial breaks dictated, and it’s refreshing to see a show that just rolls up its sleeves, so let’s do the same.

This here is Spoiler Warning territory, so if you haven’t already, get that Disney+ in your life and catch up. Be sure to check out The Dad’s recap of the premiere episode before we dig into the second one below.

Chapter Two: The Child

Apparently, the Dragon Frog can’t carry Baby Yoda’s crib, cause the Mandalorian and is newly adopted muppet baby are hoofin’ it back to the ship. They get attacked by some…guys? For a top-secret-under-the-table-bounty, freakin’ everybody is after this kid. Mando gets injured in the attack, and there is an adorable scene where Baby Yoda tries to force heal his new dad. Ah, but the Mandolorian is far too grumpy for such cuteness. 

When they get back to the Razor’s Crest, it’s being raided by Jawas, and the Mandolorian goes a little bit apeshit on them. I get it, they’re stealing his stuff, but now we finally know why Boba Fett got a little miffed at Vader’s “No disintegrations” order in Empire: Mandalorians are way into disintegrating things. The Jawas bail and The Mandalorian gives a good chase, with Baby Yoda hot on their tails. If the crib can move so fast, though, why didn’t they ride the Dragon Frog back to the ship after all?

Unable to chase down the Sandcrawler, Mando and Baby Yoda return to Ugnaught Notle, who I’m now renaming Uncle Ugnaught. He again agrees to help them, and Notle’s Very Serious Voice™  lets you forget that he really has no reason to keep going out of his way like this. Baby Yoda eats a frog because we all do what we must to survive, violence is a cycle and all that.

When Uncle Ugnaught takes our boys to parlay with the Jawas, The Mandalorian refuses to put down his rifle at first because “weapons are a part of [his] religion,” but does relent when he realizes he is out of options. While this episode has less plot compared to the first one, I think we’re getting the first real hints of what the overall story is about, here. There are a lot of Baby Yoda reaction shots, so we constantly see Mando’s relationship to violence through the eyes of an innocent lil’ dude.

The Jawas demand “The Egg” to trade back the equipment they stole, so the title isn’t just a reference to Baby Yoda. This episode isn’t just a fetch quest, though – we’re learning how morality is going to work in this corner of the greater Star Wars saga. Plus we get to see the control bridge of a Sandcrawler, so that’s fun. Because this is a Star Wars show, our hero must descend into a cave to retrieve his prize, but for some reason, he brings Baby Yoda on this mission. Leave Baby Yoda with Uncle Ugnaught, Mandolorian, wtf you doin?!

Anyway, there’s a fight with a giant Rhino Elephant for “The Egg,” and at last Baby Yoda showcases force powers to suspend the monster in mid-air so Mando can kill it. Look, I know it’s Star Wars, and I know it’s a monster, but it feels like we’re focusing a lot on killing here. Will the show be about Baby Yoda learning violence, or The Mandolorian learning peace?

Not for nothing, but “The Egg” turns out to be a disgusting hairy mess. The Mandalorian brings it back in time for the Jawa’s brunch, and he gets all his spaceship parts back. Baby Yoda is knocked out cold from using the force, and Uncle Ugnaught and Mando discuss how they don’t really understand what happened. I know the Jedi have been mostly gone for like 30 years at this point but is the force itself something that’s fallen into obscurity? People throw “May the force be with you” around so much, mothers from the southern planets probably say it as passive-aggressive shade like my mom says “bless your heart.”

Mando offers Uncle Ugnaught a job on the ship, but he turns it down, saying that he’s worked hard to leave a life of service. I really think this show’s gonna be a journey to our boy taking his helmet off and putting the warrior’s life behind him. At the end of the day, Star Wars has always been about how wars are actually, you know…bad.

The episode ends as Baby Yoda wakes from Force Coma while the ship departs, and our boys are off to whatever fate the galaxy holds.

Blaster Fire:

  • I like that the Jawas cheer when the Sandcrawler goes down a big hill.
  • Star Wars is about balance. It’s in the past, but it’s the future. It’s high-tech, but shit looks old. There are lasers guns, but also wizards. It’s this dichotomy that makes the franchise feel unique and special, and the show is wise to not focus on one element over any other.
  • Loving the concept art over the end credits. It feels both very 70’s Western, and like a love letter to Ralph McQuarrie.
  • Okay, Crazy Theory Time: We’re gonna see a CGI de-aged Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker at his Jedi Temple by the end of this. I know he’s not listed on IMDB, but I’m manifesting it into the universe. Then again, I was DEAD SURE Rey was a Kenobi, so what do I know? But you gotta admit shoving 60-year-old actors into a 30-year-old hologram of themselves is a trend lately.

New episodes of The Mandalorian drop every Friday, and I’ll be recapping them in a much more timely fashion from here on out.

Get Disney+ for $6.99 a month or $69.99 a year.

I have spoken.

The Mandalorian Episode 1 Recap: A Bounty Hunter Walks Into a Bar….

The Mandolorian Walks Into a Bar

I love Star Wars, and dads love Star Wars, but it wasn’t until the end of the first-ever episode of the first-ever live-action show set in our favorite galaxy far, far away that I had a concrete reason to cover Disney+’s flagship show for The Dad. We’ll get to that in a bit, but first, let’s cover our bases by slapping a big ole’ Spoiler Warning on this here piece of content. Since I wasn’t thinking we’d do this when the show premiered, I was…not prepared for this column at first. So this article will cover the first episode, immediately followed by a recap of chapter two here. I’ll have coverage of the rest of the episodes as they release. 

Chapter One:

Meet The Mandalorian. He’s a Mandalorian. On a mission to collect a bounty on Blue Horatio Sanz, he has to rescue his mark from some standard-issue scum and villainy first. The two quickly head back to The Mandolorian’s ship, the Razor’s Crest, which is no Moldy Crow, but I’ll take it. (CAST ME AS KYLE KATARN, DISNEY+ YOU COWARDS).

The opening sequence of the show establishes two things: First, this show will capture the much-coveted “dark and gritty” tone in the Star Wars universe, and #2: they bein’ silly. Brian Posehn shows up as a Star Wars Uber driver, but his landspeeder is immediately eaten by a monster. It’s a comic beat for sure, followed by the second action sequence in the first ten minutes of the show. Despite the “Spaghetti Western” influence, a lot of things happen very fast in The Mandalorian.

Once we get into space, Blue Horatio Sanz is quickly frozen in carbonite after finding the first toilet ever seen in Star Wars. If it sounds like a lot is going on, brace yourself cause we just got started. The Mandalorian meets with his guild rep, Carl Weathers, who only has Empire credits to offer as bounty for former SNL cast members. The Empire is about 5 years done at this point, so the exchange rate there is less than ideal. To compensate, Carl says “Go talk to Werner Herzog, he’s a weird asshole with an under-the-table job and possible existential crisis for you.” 

Werner turns out to be an Imperial. Perhaps a disgraced Grand Moff like Peter Cushing’s Tarkin or something similar. There’s a squad of dinged up stormtroopers that add nice weight and texture to what’s going on. With little spoken exposition about what the galaxy has been up to since Return of the Jedi, we still get plenty of information if you pay attention. Werner and his goon squad don’t reveal what they’re up to – just that they will pay in a Super Special Metal™  for a special bounty, alive or dead. Werner suggests that it’s time to put things in the galaxy back to order, in very Werner fashion. In the grand scheme of Star Wars, I’m very curious if we’ll see the seeds for the First Order planted in this series. 

Before heading out on his mission, Mando takes his new Super Special Metal™  to his Mandalorian village, where it gets turned into a shiny new shoulder pad. What’s awesome is that we learn everything about our boy’s motivations. He’s not just Boba Fett clone, he’s fighting to help rebuild his tribe. If you follow director Daven Filoni’s previous Star Wars work, you know that Mandalorians are tribal warriors who got the shit end of a lot of deals; learning that our protagonist is working in service to a higher cause sets him up for a hard choice at the end of the episode, and (deep breath) makes him way more interesting than Boba Fett ever was *ducks from various tomatoes and furniture thrown at me.*  

We get flashes of a traumatic event from Mando’s childhood, and I honestly hope we never hear more about his past. The whole mystery box structure, where a character’s backstory is the main dramatic question doesn’t serve the immediate nature of Star Wars or spaghetti westerns. I think people forget that Vader being Luke’s dad wasn’t a big deal just because it was a reveal, it mattered because that reveal meant Luke couldn’t kill the bad guy, which is a tough pickle to have at the climax of a movie. Star Wars is best when its problems are rooted in the moment.

About halfway into the episode, Mando heads to some planet to get his job going. If I have one criticism of the show so far, it’s that while the locations are gorgeous, the planets themselves are lacking some personality. “Third Planet In The Hoth System.” “Forest Moon of Endor.” Let’s get some fun geography here, The Mandalorian.

Once on the ground, we meet Ugnaught Nick Nolte who teaches our hero to ride a Frog Dragon in a cool sequence that shows the resiliency of the Mandolorian and gives a bit more setup to their whole “be stubborn” way of life. Essentially this sequence is a lead up to Ugnaught Nolte showing Mando the bad guy’s lair, which is right out of a Clint Eastwood movie. Our hero reluctantly teams up with a droid bounty hunter, IG-Taika Watiti to take out the oddly huge band of generic bad guys. This is the money sequence of the show, and it’s a shame they showed it in the trailers, even though I get it. If you created IG-88 way back in 1980, seeing that character design in action like this must be as satisfying as a cold beer after a freshly mowed lawn. Maybe a smidge more, even.

The episode ends with our bounty bois finding what all this commotion has been about – a Baby Yoda! He’s not Yoda, I know, but his name is still Baby Yoda, I don’t care if the show ever says otherwise. IG-Taika Waititi wants to kill the lil’ bub, but not on The Mandolorean’s watch. With an ice-cold pull of the trigger, our hero makes the choice to become a dad (and give me the opportunity to write about Star Wars for work.) The faceless warrior reaches out to the innocent child. Perhaps things won’t be put back in order quite so soon, after all, Moff Herzog.

Blaster Fire:

  • If dads everywhere don’t start saying “I have spoken” to get their kids to do chores, what are we even doing here? Try with your wife to suffer a 10,000-year painful death, though.
  • I’m so disappointed that we only get one episode of IG-Taika Waititi. The Thor: Ragnarock director showed great comedic acting chops as Korg, and more recently as Imaginary Hitler in his latest film, JoJo Rabbit. It’s a real shame we won’t see him get to play with this restrained character more.
  • The fan service is almost obnoxious at first. Don’t get me wrong, I love seeing Cthulhu Chin Boys, Long Snout Dudes, and the Eyeball Door Knocker Guy* too, but the whole thing with Star Wars was that it was a sprawling galaxy of infinite creatures and gizmos. I get that people like seeing their favorites, and Filoni and Favreau are nailing it, but it does remind me how much I appreciate the new movies for not just playing the hits in the design department.

If you’re all caught up, check out The Dad’s recap of The Mandalorian Chapter Two: The Child. New episodes drop every Friday, and I’ll be recapping them in a much more timely fashion here on out. 

Get Disney+ for $6.99 a month or $69.99 a year.

*Yes, I know what Quarrens, Kubazes, and TT-8L/YZ Gatekeeper Droids are, I have all the Essential Guides To Star Wars Bullshit, do not come at me.

I have spoken.

Preschool Market Woefully Underprepared For Holiday Season


Shoppers may be used to long lines and flustered staff during the holiday season, but nobody was prepared for the pandemonium at a local preschool’s play market over the past week. Ms. Meredith, the class teacher reported that the 3 to 5-year-old little entrepreneurs were committed to creating the “ultimate best super holiday store,” as early as five minutes before opening the doors, but parents were baffled by almost every managerial decision made by the group of mostly potty-trained children.

For starters, Shirly’s Farm-to-Market stand made no effort to switch to a more seasonably appropriate inventory. You would typically expect an artisanal merchant to stock some pumpkin-spiced goodies during the fall and winter, but instead she is standing by the more rustic veggies that made her spring offering such a success.

Farm To Market Playset

When asked if this was a calculated move to offset oversaturation in the market, Shirly responded by holding up a couple of bright red tomatoes, and insisting audaciously that “no, these are pumpkins now, see?” When challenged on that claim, the young farmer pivoted to asking whether pumpkins were fruits or vegetables, and this reporter was forced to concede that while pumpkins are technically fruits, it does seem like they should be vegetables, and the point was dropped.

It should be said that while the preschoolers may have been unprepared to manage a bustling pop-up market, some children at least had an eye for clever branding opportunities.

Cake Pop Playset

“It’s like a popsicle, but it’s cake. Those are my two favorite foods,” said aspiring baker Timothy, showcasing a decadent cake-pop display. Pressed for details about his inspiration for opening a cake pop shop within a pop-up market, the aspiring baker replied, “This one is blueberry, even though it’s pink.” Genius isn’t always articulate.

Still, the cracks of Timothy’s business plan began to show early on. Originally hoping to include a selection of charcuterie and other snackable treats, the young restauranteur was forced to let his friend Melanie take over that side of the budding business. There is a strict sharing policy in place at the market that helps prevent monopolies and the occasional tantrum.

Snacks Playset

Asked if he would do anything different, Timothy looked thoughtful for a moment, then informed me that the cake pop icing doesn’t always fit on top of the macaroons, but he can just put it in the middle and hold it together. Hopefully the same is true of his business model.

It’s not just the food merchants facing a heavy hit during the holidays. Caden mans the sheers at the market barber shop, but patrons coming in for a family holiday photo sometimes walked away a bit confused.

“I don’t really think of myself as a ‘hipster,” said Caden’s mother. “So I was a little confused when he styled me with this beard right out of Brooklyn,” she chuckled. “It just doesn’t fit my mom-aesthetic, you know for a few reasons.”

Barber Shop Playset

If anyone got ahead of the curve, however, it was local jack-of-all-trades Cynthia, who was on hand with her trusty toolkit to help with the holiday decorating. While you wouldn’t think hanging decorations required a full-caliber wood saw, the young handywoman seemed adamant about hacking away at every surface she found. An eager superintendent might be a dream to some, but Cynthia’s enthusiasm left not a lot of decoration-baring structures standing.

Toolkit Playset

“I mean, you expect a little chaos, but this is just insane,” said one local shopper, who conceded that even though her shopping experience was more tiring than usual, she’d still be a repeat customer. “The kids are just so freakin’ cute. What else do you want?”

Pretend Play, a new line of pretend toys from Fisher-Price®, encourages children to explore the wonder of their imaginations with toys that mix wood, plastic, and soft materials. Find out more about Pretend Play here.

Despite being completely plausible to parents, This Just In is satire and intended for entertainment purposes only.

This post was sponsored by:

These Toys Are Great For Telling Toddlers “It’s About Time You Got A Job!”

Fisher Price Doctor set

Kids love to play astronaut-cowboy and princess-ninja. But kids also love to role play as everyday grown-ups—just like their own moms and dads (if only they knew). One of the things we forget as parents is just how serious play is to a kid, no matter what world or adventure they are exploring. Check out 4 moments inside these imaginary worlds that are guaranteed to transport you to a more fun place, too.

Hayden stepped back and admired his work in the mirror. Not every barber would cut and style their own hair, but Hayden wasn’t afraid to take some chances for his craft. He was a little afraid of the scary buzzing sound that hair clippers made, but what good artist isn’t frightened by their work? Most people didn’t know what it was they wanted to do with their hair, which is why Hayden rarely asked. As an old-timey kinda kid, Hayden didn’t see how you could go wrong with the classic looks like the straight line he tried to shave straight down the middle of his own head. Styling wasn’t something he cared for regularly, but for a fancy night out, a little bubble gum works wonders. The most important thing, Hayden thought, as he coiffed his new look, was that you definitely shouldn’t run with scissors. His dad had been very clear about that.

Savannah was nearing the end of her second 15-hour shift of the week. As always, she said she’d be fine without nap time. As always, she was wrong. But in a busy hospital, you don’t have time to second guess yourself. At least there would be a tall glass of grape juice with her name on it waiting when she was done. She’d written it there in marker all by herself. But first things first, she had to clear up a pretty nasty case of Stage 4 Gross Guts Syndrome.  Savannah wondered if she’d left her gloves inside the patient’s tummy after shoving all his bits back in him. She didn’t want the poor guy to worry, so she kept her concern to herself by saying “I hope I didn’t leave my glove in there” really loudly right in front of him. But then she remembered: she hadn’t worn gloves.

Fisher Price Market Playset

One day Sheryl knew the world would be excited for her chocolate apples and gummy worm beans, but you don’t build an all-natural empire in a day. In the meantime, the weekend farmer’s market was the perfect place to unload tomatoes, kale, green beans and anything else that she would absolutely not allow on her plate. Yes, even if Daddy chopped them up so small that she couldn’t tell they were there; if she even thought there was an onion in her spaghetti, it was over, pal. Still, to thrive in this economy, Sherly would need to cultivate a strong brand, and that meant making an impression. “That’ll be $2,000.00,” she declared without hesitating. Was this too much to charge for a single tomato? Perhaps. But who’s to say what a truly artisanal food experience was worth? Plus, the customer was her younger brother, and he’d do anything she told him to for at least another year or so.

Fisher Price Camping Playset

Cory wasn’t supposed to have visitors past dark in the forest, but technically he wasn’t supposed to be out past dark at all. So there didn’t seem to be much harm in showing off his expansive 1000-square-foot outdoor retreat when his friends came over to play. As the ranger of this forest, Cory could point out all the major landmarks like the big tree, Daddy’s grill, and the best spot to find worms. The best part about camping out was cooking by the fire, of course. And even though Cory’s forest was usually on the moon or sometimes underwater, the fire crackled delightfully as the marshmallows roasted. The only thing they had to look out for was the bears. Bear was Cory’s dog, but also, sometimes his friends turned into bears. It was a magic underwater forest moon, after all.

Pretend Play, a new line of pretend toys from Fisher-Price®, encourages children to explore the wonder of their imaginations with toys that mix wood, plastic, and soft materials. Find out more about Pretend Play here.

This post was sponsored by:

Fatherhood and Fandom: Chatting With The Man Behind The New Robotech RPG

(Harmony Gold/Strange Machine Games)

In the 80s, kids had it pretty good when it came to after-school and Saturday morning shows. That’s not to say there isn’t a wealth of quality entertainment for kids to enjoy these days, but I’m just not convinced Paw Patrol and Peppa Pig will have the staying power of GI Joe or She-Ra. Among the giants of the era was an odd little number that went against the grain, and changed America’s relationship to cartoons, storytelling, and giant robots forever.

“I think Robotech has such a cool science fiction story that anyone could still latch on to it. And since it’s available on every platform to stream, more and more people are finding it. It’s still capturing people and still a juggernaut in the fandom.”

I’m talking to Bryan Young, the writer of Robotech: The Macross Saga Roleplaying Game from Strange Machine Games, which is available this week for preorder. Co-created with Jeff Mechlinski, the game is designed to give players the feeling they are in Robotech, clocking in at 264 pages of reference material, play scenarios and original in-universe stories by Young.

Robotech RPG
(Stranger Machine Games)

Before the Power Rangers made repurposed footage a standard practice, Robotech was famous for splicing together three entirely different Japanese cartoons with new scripts to become one cohesive story. While some purists scoffed at the creative license, there is no arguing that Robotech is largely responsible for introducing young American audiences to long format storytelling, complicated relationships, and giant machines that could turn into different giant machines.

There was more complex storytelling going on than most fare from that era, especially in how it worked in a long-form story. It was the only show I didn’t feel like I could miss an episode because things would just change too quickly. With He-Man or GI Joe, the episodes were just sort of catch-as-catch-can; there was no continuity to them.”

They say you should never meet your heroes, but Young has spent his adult life staunchly defying that old idiom. As a writer, podcaster, filmmaker, and journalist, he has made a career out of his interests and passion, particularly for genre storytelling. In layman’s terms, “genre” in this case means, you know, nerdy shit.

But more than Robotech, more than the Star Wars analysis that made him “twitter famous” (my words, not his) and more than earning camaraderie with the filmmakers and writers that he idolizes, Young is invested in his family.

“Being a father affects my creativity in ways I could never have even imagined. For one, they’re inspiring. My kids are all incredibly inquisitive and curious and I’m able to tap into that a lot easier because it’s something they continually teach me how to do better.”

We all hope our kids will love the same things we do, but Young knows that it’s better not to push it. “Bringing my kids into my fandoms is less important to me than letting them find their own. I’ll share my passions with them and if they happen to latch on like I did, then that’s great, but I want them to find their own. I love when they get to share those passions with me. This should be a two-way street and they should have the freedom to find what works for them.”

Of course, as many dads know, trusting your kids to find their own interests, even in the shared nerdsphere, can be…challenging.

“I spent like a weekend trying to survive in the harsh Minecraftian wilderness. By the end, I’d carved out a nice cave-dwelling, built fire, and was wearing a wolf-pelt. It was pretty primitive. At the end of the same weekend, Scout, my middle child, brought me over to their encampment and they were like, “Dad! Check out this roller coaster I built!”

Bryan and Family

Some dads think they have to choose between a creative career and a family, but the truth is, being a dad can teach you how to succeed in any area. After all, no matter how hard things can be, parents make it happen.

“As far as balancing the family and work, I try to work on my creative endeavors when they’re sleeping. I get up in the mornings before they’re typically awake and get my work done then so that when I get home, we can spend our time together as a family.”

While keeping his schedule tight, and family time special, Young makes sure to include his kids in the personal and professional enthusiasm he has for his work much as possible. Sometimes, it even leads to new ideas and projects that wouldn’t have happened without involving his kids. “In all honesty, the thing I love is that if my kids have a project they want to work on, we will. When Scout was about 8, they got really interested in learning about presidential assassinations and we went out and sought out a book for them on the topic that would be age-appropriate. When we didn’t find one, we worked on one together and that’s how my book “A Children’s Illustrated History of Presidential Assassination” was born. Scout even did illustrations at the back of every chapter in addition to the work of the professional illustrator who did the rest of the book.”

Truth be told though, sometimes dads just like to show off, and Bryan’s hard work has paid off in major dad bragging rights. “The standout moment for me has to be taking my eldest, Anakin, to the red carpet premiere of Solo: A Star Wars Story. It was an incredible experience and I think I definitely won dad of the year last year for it.”

Part of what makes Robotech so enduring is the stories were designed for kids, but continue to resonate with adults, which makes for an ideal cultural touchstone for dads and their children to share. “The thing that changed viewing Robotech from an adult perspective for me is that there’s a deeper understanding. There’s a lot more honesty in the storytelling than I realized. Granted, there are more rough things in the storytelling than I realized, too, but it’s still so charming that it makes up for any of those hard edges.”

Follow Bryan on twitter for insightful film analysis and inside scoops on all things nerdy and cool, or at www.swankmotron.com for original stories. Robotech: The Macross Saga Roleplaying Game is available now for digital download from Strange Machine Games, and preorders are now open for physical copies that will be released this December.

Skull One

And speaking of inside scoops, I don’t know if this will actually help in your game, but here’s a little tidbit about the writer’s favorite Mecha:  “Has to be Skull One. Roy Fokker’s paint job on that thing is iconic and it’s just a great fighter, full of history and tragedy.” Good luck, pilot.

Hacker Proves P.T. Is More Horrifying Than We Thought

(US Gamer)

Just over five years ago, Hideo Kojima and Guillermo Del Toro released P.T., a playable teaser of their Silent Hills game that never came to pass. Sadly, the demo was pulled from the Playstation Store after the game it promoted was canceled. Since then P.T. has become a ghostly legend in its own right, lingering in the libraries of people who originally downloaded it. But now game hacker Lance McDonald has discovered that some ghosts have a way of…staying with you.

If you don’t know, the basic premise of P.T. was very simple. You wonder through a hallway in an abandoned house that loops through itself across multiple dimensions while a mutated fetus in the bathroom psychoanalyzes you, possibly for eternity. Pretty basic, straight forward stuff. Then there’s also the small matter of Lisa.

(Game Skinny)

Lisa is upsetting. In fact, the first time this writer -who likes horror and is pretty chill most of the time- encountered Lisa, he screamed “Holy Shit!” so loud that he woke up two little girls in the other room, and had to spend half an hour getting them back to sleep. Knowing full well that Lisa would be waiting for him when he came back. *Full body tremor*

Lisa is the vengeful spirit of the house you are trapped in, and she is one of the most effective ghosts in any medium ever. As the game progresses, she will occasionally pop up to scare the crap out of you, or appear behind you in a dirty mirror, daring you to turn around. Her presence is an oppressive one…the slow build, the meticulous tension, and unreliable setting create an atmosphere that makes the game so scary. There’s always a sense that even when you can’t see Lisa, she can see you. Which is true of course, because (dramatic music cue) …she’s right behind you.

Lance re-coded the game’s camera to discover that Lisa is actually always following you. In normal gameplay, you can’t see her when you turn around because that ghost is on you like white on my face when I heard about this nightmare.

Why?? What reason would Kojima do this other than for a guy on twitter to figure it out five years later and scare the crap out of everyone again?

Lance continues his thread by showing a video of Lisa following the player through the game world because she is apparently an actual sentient demon that Kojima has trapped inside a “video game” to protect all of humanity from her grasp.

Haha F that. F that whole thing.

Honestly, though it’s these weird choices in game design that make Kojima such an artist. While Silent Hills never came to be, the next game from the veteran creator, Death Stranding will be released this November. So far we know that the new game will feature Norman Reedus using digital piss as a weapon and feature a character named Die Hardman. *Rubs hands over face while deeply sighing*

Meanwhile, keep up with Lance’s Twitter and Patreon account for more discoveries from the inside of your favorite games. He’s also finally confirmed a long-standing theory that the only way to beat P.T. is to whisper the name “Jack” into the microphone at the right time, despite there being no reasonable way anybody could possibly figure that out.  Good job, Lance, you’ve probably doomed us all!

How Fortnite Turned Me Into My Dad

Jared Plays Fortnite

“Can you hear me?”

We’re in a dilapidated bus, suspended by hot air balloon high above an island. To our left, I can make out a pirate ship, while on the right a giant meteor is seconds from cataclysmic impact, but frozen in time. Talking to me is a dad I’ve been randomly paired with for a round of “DUOS.” This means we’ll have to work together to outwit, outmaneuver and outpace the other 50 or so players in the game to survive. Fortunately, it’s not my first time playing Fortnite… that was earlier this afternoon.

Fortnite Meteor

“Do you have a mic?” he asks. I do not. I am to be a silent companion. A watchful burden.

This poor guy’s so screwed.

Here’s the thing. My editor wanted to set up an online gaming league for The Dad community and figured the best way to start would be with the game that all kids are currently obsessed with. “It’ll be funny,” Joel said. “I don’t think there will be anybody playing who’s very good.” I wonder, would the US Army see better recruitment if they adopted Joel’s tactic of “the other armies probably suck?”

“I’m gonna head over that way if you wanna follow me.” There is no discernible way to see where he is pointing. We’re not actually in the game world.

Now, I’m obviously not a pro gamer or anything, but I’m no slouch. I’ve beaten Dark Souls, for crying out loud! Okay, my friend Holden, who IS a professional, walked me through it but still. I know the ropes.

Dark Souls Endgame

My earliest memories of video games are of the late 80s, being sent to bed after getting frustrated at my own dad for being the worst possible Luigi of all time. It was like he couldn’t grasp the basic physics of an 8-bit world, something that was so intuitive to me. Playing Tecmo Bowl, dad would grumble when I managed to pull off win after win just by throwing a hail mary for every single play. His meticulous strategies didn’t work in Nintendo-verse, and it drove him nuts.

As an 80s kid, I figure I’m generationally dispositioned for gaming.  A new physics engine doesn’t baffle and confound me. “Surely,” I thought, “I will pick up a new gaming world’s mechanics fast enough to not be a total asshole.”

I was wrong

“I’m going for the big robot if you wanna follow me,” says my involuntary, but not unkind guide in this unhinged world. I knew the robots! My first and only Fortnite round consisted of being stalked by one for ten minutes earlier in the day. It’s exciting to know things! I jump out of the bus and aim for the ridge I remembered having the robot. My partner is… across the map. There are, I guess, different robots? Good start. 

“We’ll figure it out,” my guy chuckles. I am silent, a mindful apprentice.

I glide to the ground closer to my friend’s landing zone than expected but spontaneously transform into an old western gunslinger. I’ll later learn this is called Tilted Town and there’s a deep and rich history here. There used to be towers. Now there’s a saloon. This game is weird. 

Fortnite Tilted Town

Arriving at the graveyard where my mentor has staked his claim, we begin foraging for materials. He has a gamertag that I can barely decipher, so in my head, I call my friend Dale. He sounds like a Dale. Now that we’ve got boots on the ground, I must find a way to let Dale know I can hear him, and his guidance is appreciated. I can’t talk, but I can communicate the way the ancients did; by jumping up and down in, and immediately running sporadically back and forth, like Lassie in camo pants. Yes, I know there are the little dance moves you can buy in the game, but there is a storm brewing and time is short.

Suddenly someone jumps out from behind a crypt, hoping to get the drop on us. In shock, I fling my harvesting ax at his head but miss. Dale is quick on the draw and dispatches the intruder handily. You have to stay sharp on Battle Island. We make our way to the big robot.

On the road, we come across an abandoned town that I would think is ripe for looting. “Someone’s been here,” Dale says. I’m learning the scavengers code to this cartoon dystopia. We don’t have time to loot anyway because the storm is coming, and a quick glance at our map shows the safe zone an impossible distance away. The stakes have suddenly been raised, but Dale stays cool. He explains that there’s some sort of, I don’t know, trampoline thing we can use to get airborne, then take our gliders to safe ground. It makes as much sense as tubes that lead to dungeons, so sure. 

Something I do really enjoy about this game is the escalating tension. Dale desperately explains how the jumping mechanism works. He’s Tom Cruise, and I’m Simon Pegg in Mission:Impossible, except you could infer that Pegg’s character is good at video games in those movies. But it’s that sort of endorphin rush leading up to our hitting the space trampoline thing at the same time, getting sent flying into the air. It’s triumphant. I’m with you, Dale! I may be dumb, but I’m no idiot!

Except I’m like… nowhere near the guy again. And I’m barely in the air at all. WTF?

“If you need to jump higher, you can hit the bubble again.” Once more, I’m being afforded more patience than I deserve.

The only bubble I see is the giant glowing field of energy directly beneath me in the center of the island? Does he mean that?

Fortnite Skydive

Hope so, since, you know, gravity. As I fall, prep to land perfectly in the rebound zone and shoot back into the sky much better this time. I won’t let you down, Dale, this is going to be awesome.

Except this is not the bubble he was talking about. Again, descriptors like “over there” or “that one” are very deceiving in video games, and there is something maddening about losing all physical forms of communication.

Anyway, I find myself in a weird crash site where time doesn’t exist and gravity is wonky.

Obi Wan Happy Landing Gif

Separated again, we’ve entered what Blake Snyder would call this the Long Dark Night Of The Soul portion of the story, but there’s no time to wallow. Dale needs me! (He doesn’t). 

So, I hoof it. It’s a long walk. And boring. I wish there was something interesting…some encounter where I got the drop on someone and the lessons Dale taught me clicked into place, but no, I just take a walk until I find him. He didn’t comment on my absence, even though it had been several days, or perhaps a minute and a half. It’s hard to understand time on Battle Island.

“There’s only two more left, and they’re in that building up there.” There’s only one building around, so I’m almost confident I know what he means by “there.” Somehow I’d derfed myself into the final showdown. It was us against some guy who called himself AssClown that had literally wiped the floor with everyone else in the server. Gotta admire that kind of moxy. 

Crouching in the bush, I watch our prey building wooden ramps along the side of a fortress. I have literally no idea how anyone can build this stuff while still managing to, you know, play the game. How do you switch back and forth from guns and crafting so fast? How do you put the, like, floors in the right place?

Suddenly I get a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. I  recognize what is going on here. I had finally turned into my own dad from back in the 80s. I crossed some threshold of understanding what a child finds intuitive. It wasn’t a generational thing, it’s the same generation gap that will always exist, just with a higher pixel count.

Without warning, AssClown was airborne and flying directly at us. I couldn’t believe it, I had him in my sights. He couldn’t shoot back. We were gonna win! He dropped out of his glider and landed right in front of me, brandishing a skinned shotgun that I think he bought in the item store, but I’m not one to point fingers.

If this were a movie, a very satisfying end would have been for all the lessons my friend tried to teach me to click together. I would get the edge over the AssClown, and win the day. Or, if we were doing a later ‘00’s dark and gritty kinda thing, I’d wheedle away his health, but just before he took me down, Dale would step in front of the bullets, and take Ass Clown down with him, leaving me scarred for life, but reborn a man. A poignant story of sacrifice and new beginnings.

Of course, it’s not a movie. What actually happened a guy named AssClown shot me to hell, and like a tortured ghost, I had to sit and watch Dale go down seconds later.

Obi Wan I have Failed You

“Ah, it’s tough to fight two guys by yourself,” He said. (Apparently, there was a second guy?) Ouch, Dale.

But then a beat later “…But that’s okay.”

In the afterlife of Facebook chat, I was excited to thank my companion, whose name was not Dale. See, I’m not as dumb here as I am in the game. I know that I’m bad! Haha! Haha? 

His disappointment in losing had already dissipated.  “I tried to win it for us, man. Sorry, I couldn’t get there,” Dale. A dad. A hero.  

Not long ago we got my dad an Xbox, and you know, he’s pretty good. My favorite games of all time are the Mass Effect Trilogy, so I got him some preowned copies at the local Gamestop for Father’s Day. (I know, I’m a decadent gift giver.) Those are much more dad and my speed. You get to think a lot, the story is engaging and the action sequences are fun, but straight forward. And no 12-year-olds dunk on you.

So, perhaps I’ll venture to Battle Island again one day. Just like dad staying up late to grind Mario Brothers when I was 7, I won’t be content until I “get good,” which may never happen.

But today I think I’ll go visit my dad and play a game with him, now that we’re finally on the same level.

The Dad’s Council of Grilling

Dad Grill Masters

For dads, grilling is an essential skill, a beloved pastime, and a favorite way to impress the family. Not to mention it’s the best way to one-up Carl from down the street, always showing off his sous vide machine and refinished deck. Nobody cares, Carl! But what is it about grilling that makes it so appealing?

We sat down with dads from New York, Philadelphia, Cincinnati, LA, and Toronto for some frank talk about the art of cooking franks (and burgers and everything else). We found that some elements of grilling are universal, but all dads bring something unique to the table. Join us for an honest talk about buns, beers, and everything in between.

Okay, right out the gate: Gas or Charcoal?

Cincinnati: Ah, the great debate of our times.

NYC: This is anonymous, right?

Toronto: I’ve heard from a science standpoint that gas is actually better. Although I’ve also heard you have more options with charcoal, like smoking and such. But I still like the convenience of turning a knob, especially in the era of fatherhood. It’s all about saving time.

Philadelphia: Gas. I don’t like washing my hands.

Cincinnati: Team Charcoal! Gas grills are just inconvenient outdoor gas stoves. CHANGE MY MIND.

LA: Yeah, if you’re grilling with gas you might as well just haul your oven outside. I don’t see the point.

NYC: I like charcoal because I like to make the little brick pyramids. It makes me feel connected to the ancient ways.

What is your main grilling inspiration?

LA: …What?

NYC: Like, what is more important to you? The perfect party or the perfect burger? I, for one, don’t enjoy hosting a bunch of people, but grilling up the perfect steak is how I relax during a busy work week.

Cincinnati: Grills, to me, are experiential and communal. Grilling is either time for me to chill on the deck alone, or time to have people over and cook up a ton of food and hang out.

NYC: Yes, those were the options, haha.

LA: Party first, food second. A good burger is nothing without a beer in your hand and your friends hanging out.

Toronto: Okay, dad admission: I’ve often manned the grill to avoid chatting with my family.

NYC: Oh, you gotta switch to charcoal then. Way more time behind the grill.

Cincinnati: Or get into smokin’ meats. Gotta watch that for days.

Toronto: Hmmm. Yes, I’m beginning to see the genius in this.

Do you have any grilling wins you’re particularly proud of? Or, #fails you still shake your head over? 

Toronto: Just yesterday I was grilling with the kids behind me shooting each other with water guns. Nice moment.

Philadelphia: Grill Win: Taught my children the importance of the toasted hot dog bun.

NYC: Sometimes the simplest lessons are the best ones. 

Cincinnati: That’s great. I’ve taught both of my kids to grill. We were jokin’ earlier about using it as a way to avoid family, but it’s a good bonding experience too for sure. Although last week I volunteered at my kid’s swim meet and had to man the grill. It was 90+ degrees and I grilled up 100+ burgers and hot dogs. It was a nightmare.

NYC: Is that a win or a fail? 

Cincinnati: I am not a grill master but I wore my Grill Master University shirt IRONICALLY. I was standing there dying from heat exhaustion, trying to keep up, overcooking everything. A lot of disappointed swimmers that day.

NYC: Well a crispy hot dog is better, in my opinion. 

Cincinnati: Truth. 

LA: STRONG DISAGREE. Boiled all the way, baby. 

NYC: WHAT?! Are you, a pigeon living on the streets?  

Speaking of toasted buns. What is the ideal bun for burgers and dogs? 

NYC: Toasted, obviously. And I like whole wheat. A lot of burgers you see these days use brioche bread for the buns. I’m not a fan. It’s too sweet, and they don’t hold anything together. 

Philadelphia: I’m not too picky, but the bread needs to be fresh. Oh, and with cheese melted on top. Well, I mean on the inside. Not on top of the – you get what I’m saying.  

LA: Thing I do with buns sometimes: spread a light layer of ranch on both sides of the bun and broil in oven for five minutes.

Toronto: Ranch buns? Whoa. 

Philadelphia: Seeds or no seeds on a bun? 

NYC: Seeds all the way. The more texture the better. I really like Everything Rolls

Philadelphia: This is the maximum number of seeds I’ll accept on a bun:

Weird Burger

NYC: That is the scariest thing I’ve ever seen. 

Cincinnati: Get out of here man. Seeded bread is highly underrated. 

LA: Did your kid make that out of Play-Doh? 

Do you have any signature recipes or something you’re known for behind the grill?

Cincinnati: Keeping things simple is key. Burgers for me are lean ground beef, garlic, Worcester, soy sauce, and an egg. That’s it. For fun, sometimes I’ll let my kids pick a special ingredient to throw in, like putting cheese in the patties for example.

NYC: Juicy Lucy! That’s pretty good, but I like to throw some bread crumbs and different seasoning rubs in to play around a bit. 

Cincinnati: Yeah, those are clutch. I like Texas rubs the most. 

NYC: I added a Kansas City rub to a hot dog, and like, I did it as a joke, but it was the best hot dog I ever had. And if I’d boiled it, all that seasoning would have washed off, so, boiling hot dogs is a sucker’s game. 

LA: Alright, alright. 

Toronto: I’ve started chopping up raw bacon slices and sprinkling them into my burger blend. Things have been going pretty well. 

Philadelphia: Here’s a dad hack. I grill frozen pizzas. My kids think I’m a pizza chef. I do nothing. 

Cincinnati: You’re a cheater, but I respect it. 

So what is it about grilling that makes it, you know, “grilling?” If it’s not the heat source, or even the food itself, then what is the secret sauce of grilling?

LA: Grill lines make food taste better. That’s science. 

Toronto: Channel your inner caveman, playing with fire. But also, sometimes you gotta be really impressive with like a crazy good made-from-scratch meal. 

Cincinnati: Yep yep. Like I mentioned, the experience of it. Taking time. Food I grill just tastes better to me, but maybe it’s actually not any better? Maybe because I went through the process of building the fire and cooking it that way, maybe that made it taste better to me.

NYC: I think it’s the sizzling sound, honestly. It does something to the brain. The sound of meat hitting the grill is my self-care. 

Cincinnati: Plenty of good veggie or non-meat options for the grill, too. 

Speaking of vegetables, let’s talk sides. What are the most important things at a grill besides meat? 

NYC: Can’t go wrong with mushrooms. They’re good on burgers and steaks and on their own. And asparagus. I keep ordering asparagus at restaurants, thinking I like it, but it’s only good homemade. Steakhouses make them too bland, they need to be oily. 

Cincinnati: There is only one way to cook asparagus, and that’s to cook a pound of bacon, and then cook the asparagus in a little bit of the leftover bacon grease.  

LA: Texas Toast. 

NYC: Yes, bread. America’s favorite vegetable.

Philadelphia: I mean, the most important things include beer and good tunes. 

Quick, name your *must-play* cookout song. 

NYC: *whispers* Don’t say Carly Rae Jepsen. Don’t say Carly Rae Jepsen. Don’t Say Carly Rae Jepsen. 

Cincinnati: Haha. Reminds me of this tweet:

Philidelphia: “Got to Give it up” by Marvin Gay. 

LA: The best grilling song is “Feel My Heat” from Boogie Nights. 

Toronto: “Summer in the City,” The Lovin Spoonful. 

NYC: Okay I still say if CRJ can get Tom Hanks in a video, then she’s Dad Approved, but in the interest of not getting yelled at on the internet,  my official grilling anthem is “Street Fighting Man” by the Rolling Stones. 

LA: Wide range between those. 

NYC: I am a man of many levels.

Grill Dad
All the essentials for a The Dad Approved BBQ

Beer cans, or bottles?

NYC: Cans are better. Keeps light out so the beer isn’t screwed up. And it stays colder longer. But there is something that just looks better about a bottle, and it’s more satisfying to take a swig from them. 

Philadelphia: Frosted mug.  

Cincinnati: Ooo, satisfying as heck. 

Dad Joke Pint

LA: I love a frosted mug, but it gets too warm too fast by the grill. And then if you don’t have backups, then the first beer is perfect but the next 35 are disappointing. 

If you could only teach your kid ONE thing about grilling…what would be the lesson? 

Cincinnati: Every dad already knows this instinctively, but when you’re holding the tongs, it’s SO IMPORTANT to give ‘em a few test-clicks every once in a while, to make sure they’re still working.

Philadelphia: True foundational skill. Once that’s set, the rest comes easy. 

This conversation was sponsored by Kroger’s Private Selection, who provided us with all the perfect ingredients for delicious Summer BBQing in any time zone. Kroger believes that summertime should be simple, and from gourmet ingredients to inspired shortcuts, every Private Selection product is designed to elevate everything about your favorite meals. While The Dad was paid to feature Private Selection, our opinions were not solicited, and we stand by them. Seriously, the brisket dogs are good as heck.

This post was sponsored by:
Kroger’s Private Selection™️

7 Ways to Reignite Your Summer BBQ

Late Summer BBQ
(Getty / Klaus Vedfelt)

In the closing days of summer, it’s important to rack up as much time behind the grill as possible before the long winter descends to rob us of all joy. Don’t get us wrong, we know dads would keep the grill lit during a blizzard, but you might have trouble convincing your family to join you out on the deck. 

Now, maybe you’ve got a tried-and-true burger blend recipe, or perhaps you like to rely on “grill instinct.” Either way, the latter half of summer is the best time to get inspired with new ideas to bring it home when you fire up the coals. (Or crank up the propane. We don’t judge). Here are some of our favorite ways to turn any ole’ BBQ into the neighborhood event of the year.

Switch Up Your Steak


Nothing beats a perfectly grilled steak, but once you find a cut and method that works, it can be hard to branch out and try new things. Steaks are sacred, but their simplicity should encourage a spirit of adventure.  Some of the thinner cuts like flanks, skirts, and hangers don’t get the love they deserve considering their fantastic flavor and perfect charring. As for seasoning, a little salt and pepper are all you need, but a pinch of Herbes de Provence can add an elevated dimension to your flavor profile.

If you are more of a traditionalist, you can still add new life to the classic cuts by tweaking your cooking method. Wood planks have been a staple of seafood grilling, but it’s a great way to add a deep, smoky flavor to a T-Bone or other hefty steak as well. It’s excellent for keeping burgers juicy, too.

Better Apps = Better BBQ

Gourmet Pigs in a Blanket

Sure burgers and dogs get all the cookout credit, but to keep people happy, you need a killer spread placed from the get-go. 

Pineapple may be a controversial usurper of pizza, but it’s a perfect way to add bright and refreshing flavor to a grilled meal. Wrap some perfectly cut chunks in bacon, then brush with a simple glaze made by whisking together brown sugar, cayenne pepper, garlic powder, and soy sauce. See the step-by-step here.

Of course, let’s not overlook the greatest party app known to humanity, the Pig in a Blanket. Skip the canned meat, and go for a big ole’ Private Selection smoked sausage, cut up and wrapped in puff pastry for a gourmet take on this favorite. You can find a more detailed recipe here.

Help Your Hot Dogs

Hot Dog Bar

Now let’s get to the main event. Why are so many hot dogs served with all the flair of one of those eating competitions where buns are dunked in water to be more esophagus efficient? Be better than that. Hot dogs deserve it. 

Toasting buns is a given, but stand out with bread that does more work than hold the dog. An inspired example: . You can also wow the crowd with a toppings bar. Our favorite options are chopped roasted red peppers, olives and feta cheese for a Mediterranean dog, or cubed ham and leftover pineapple from those bacon bites we talked about, to turn the BBQ into a luau. 

Show Off With Sides

Gourmet Corn

If your idea of baked beans is…just a can of baked beans, then we could venture a guess as to why people aren’t writing home about yours. Simmer them with a couple of tablespoons of Memphis inspired BBQ sauce and dijon mustard to add waves of flavor; if you still have some bacon left, here’s where it goes.

Grilling corn on the cob makes for deliciously charred kernels, but there’s so much more you can do to make your husky bois stand out. Set aside the basic table salt and try experimenting with more exotic flavors. Chimichurri makes for a bold Argentinian flavor, while a little Garam Masala spices add an Indian touch.  If you’re more an Italian fan, a brush of garlic butter with basil and a sprinkle of parmesan cheese is *chef’s kiss.*

Finishing Touches

Chimichurri Steak

We talked about chimichurri for corn, but don’t forget that it’s a perfect complement to some of those thin cuts of steak we were playing around with, too. The fresh herbs, lime, and garlic make for an easy but memorable finishing touch to any meat, but it’s also a unique dipping sauce for fries or -better yet- drizzled over a savory potato and veggie packet.

Also, who says you can’t break out the grilling tongs for date night? Skip the tie and jacket, and bring the steakhouse to your backyard with more gourmet finishing sauces like bearnaise and porcini truffle. She might not even notice that you snuck in a late-season grill session.

Get Some Saucy Sauce

BBQ Ribs

The sauce is boss when it comes to BBQ, and the more playful you get with yours, the more exciting your cookout will be. Alcohol-infused sauces are maturing as a niche gem for foodies and grillmasters alike, and Kroger’s Private Selection has introduced more nuanced varieties than the sticky-sweet bourbon sauce you may be used to.

Shred up a slow-roasted pork shoulder and mix in Pale Ale & Mustard Sauce for a BBQ classic without having to dig up a whole pit. Barrel-Aged Kentucky Bourbon BBQ Sauce maintains the sweet profile with some oakiness for a fuller flavor that’s excellent for spatchcock chicken.

Weeknight Grill

Grilled Pizza

Okay. Not every day can be a weekend. Sad but true. Still, the grill is just sitting there; why not use it for more casual weeknight dinners on top of your cookout extravaganzas? 

Frozen pizzas are lifesavers for exhausted parents everywhere, and can go from freezer to plate after 15 minutes on the grill. Now, we’re #PepperoniGang4Life, but an Italian Buffalo Mozzarella and Arugula is a perfect pie for the last days of summer. 

Then there is the ultimate Tuesday meal: tacos. You may not think of Taco Tuesday as a grilling occasion, but before you head to work one day, toss a strip steak into a baggie with a healthy dollop of carne asada marinade. By the time you get home, you’ll have the main ingredient ready to hit the grill, and it’s taco-time by 7. Check out the full recipe here.

Just because Summer is winding down doesn’t mean you have to put your grill skills to rest. This article is sponsored by Kroger’s Private Selection, which is designed to elevate everything on your plate. From gourmet ingredients to inspired shortcuts, each Private Selection product is designed to make your summer menu delicious and simple. Shop online, or at your local Kroger store year-round, because grilling seasons may come and go, but dads know how important it is to keep their game up, even in the offseason. 


This post was sponsored by:
Kroger’s Private Selection™️

The Dad’s BBQ Breakdown

Barbecue Sauce Dripping

What is Barbecue?

BBQ, if speaking literally, is a method of cooking meat “low and slow,” as the saying goes, usually in a pit or a smoker. But BBQ is also the best dipping sauce for chicken fingers and the third-best flavor of potato chip (Salt ‘n Vinegar is where it’s at). To some folks, a BBQ is even just a gathering of friends and family, with food cooked on a grill, and no actual barbecue involved.  

People have different ideas about what makes BBQ. There are four main regional varieties, from which most BBQ flavors derive, but what makes each unique? We wanted to know more about what defines the definitive American meal, so Kroger hooked us up with the details that went into making their Private Selection Regional BBQ Sauces. While regional BBQ is about more than sauce, the Kroger team did extensive research in bringing to life the handcrafted flavors that put the BBQ Belt on the map. Grab your bib; we’re digging in. 

The Beginning

Before we get into a big internet brawl over where “real BBQ” comes from, let’s get on the same page as to how it all began.  “Barbacoa” is the word Spanish settlers used for the indigenous cooking method of roasting meat with indirect heat in a pit in the ground. The Spanish took the idea North to the European colonies where this whole USA thing kicked off. You didn’t need expensive cuts of meat to make a lot of delicious food this way. So, as the colonies expanded, BBQ became an affordable crowd-pleaser for church picnics, political rallies, and other community events. 

The Carolinas

A purist will tell you BBQ belongs to the Carolinas. That’s where the real beginnings of what we call BBQ today took place. The Carolinas insist that hog is the only animal worthy of the name “BBQ” and pride themselves on chopped pork sandwiches and whole-hog roasts. Back then pigs were abundant in the south, but they were much leaner than the porkers of today, so slow-roasting them over a pit was the best way to tenderize the meat.

Even more unique is the Carolina BBQ flavor, which comes not just from the meat…but the mustard. In the 1700s, the government gave German immigrants land grants in hopes of boosting South Carolina’s agriculture economy, and they all brought mustard with them. A lot of BBQ is rich and sweet, but the original BBQ sauces out of this region were mustard and vinegar-based. To this day, an excellent Carolina-inspired sauce will be bright, and tangy, with just a hint of sweetness.


Smoked meats over a BBQ Pit

As people set out for the West to claim their fortune, they brought the BBQ fad with them. However, cowboys aren’t called pigboys for a reason, and brisket became the go-to meat for Texas-style BBQ. Even though beef is tender without a long cooking process, smoking would help it keep longer. No “pard’ners” complained about this development.

Sauce is more of a finishing touch in the Lone Star State, so Texans adapted theirs to be thicker and richer. The vinegar base is rounded with Worchestershire and roasted tomatoes, but the real kicker in a Texas-Inspired BBQ sauce is the black pepper flavor that hits your tongue right away. Pour this over sliced brisket, ribs, and sausages smoked for up to 16 hours for BBQ that punches you in the jaw, and melts in your mouth. 


Memphis is most famous for dry-rubbed pork ribs, but that doesn’t mean they skimp on the sauce. Ribs are rubbed in a (dry, obviously) mixture of seasonings that give it a hickory flavor, but once those bad boys come out of the smoker, dipping is fair game. 

Bluff City is a port town, so when BBQ aficionados set up shop, they had access to a lot of new ingredients. The Mississippi River’s favorite cargo was molasses, which is where the sweet, sticky style of BBQ sauce many Americans love comes from. The best Memphis-Inspired sauces feature a tangy flavor as rich as the blues, paired with the sweet touch of molasses. We may not use Old Man River like we used to, but the region’s history as a shipping hub allowed their distinctive style of sauce to spread far and wide.  

Kansas City

The last stop on our BBQ tour is Kansas City, a town with just two men to thank for putting them on the meat map of America. In 1908 Henry Perry began to marry East and West traditions by selling racks of ribs, sliced brisket and fatty pork-ends on sheets of newsprint for a quarter. When his friend Arthur Bryant took over the restaurant, he added a peppery flavor to the signature sauce that went on to become legendary.

Kansas City Ribs

You may not be able to find Bryant’s recipe, but a good Kansas City Inspired BBQ Sauce is made in the same tradition. The sauce from this region is thicker than most, with the same sweet molasses flavor from Memphis, but subtle peppercorn notes that give it a unique spin.

What’s Next? 

The thing about BBQ is permeation. It is not one method or flavor but a slowly evolving tradition. BBQ takes its time. Back in prohibition days, when BBQ restaurants first started popping up in Memphis and Kansas City, the idea of alcohol-infused sauces would have gotten some strange looks. If you managed to get your hands on booze, why would you douse a pork shoulder with it? These days -thank the maker- alcohol isn’t as frowned upon, and chefs are finding exciting ways to incorporate it into unique regional flavors. Small batch sauces like a Pale Ale & Mustard Craft BBQ Sauce add a hoppy kick to the traditional Carolina flavors, while a Kentucky Bourbon sauce adds oaky texture to the sweeter side of BBQ. Bourbon and Balsamic Steak Sauce, while not technically BBQ, brings the spirit of the cuisine full circle by creating gourmet flavors at an affordable price point.

Kroger PS Bourbon BBQ Sauce

So at the end of the day, there is no single BBQ experience. There are four regional varieties, with an ever-growing list of sub-categories, but my dad will still call throwing some chicken wings on the grill “having a BBQ.”  The truth is, real BBQ isn’t tied to one meat, flavor, or even method of cooking. What BBQ is really about, is taking the time to appreciate what you’ve got, and getting to try something that could be new, but is always familiar. 

This article was sponsored by Kroger’s Private Selection Brand, who provided us with each of their regional BBQ sauces. Kroger believes that summertime should be simple, and from gourmet ingredients to inspired shortcuts, every Private Selection product is designed to elevate any occasion.

This post was sponsored by:
Kroger’s Private Selection™️

Everything Dads Want To Watch This Month On Netflix, Amazon, HBO & Hulu

July Streaming

Look, either you’re someone who is already excited that Stranger Things 3 is here, or you’re not. Either way, it feels like you don’t really need us to tell you about it. Instead, we’re sticking to our wheelhouse and sharing picks for the best new streaming releases that dads need to know about. So if you’re stumped for family film night, hopeless at choosing a date flick, or just jonesing for a good rock-em sock-em dad movie, we’ve got you covered. Here’s what’s now – or soon to be – streaming on Netflix, Amazon, Hulu and HBO. Some are new, some are old, but all of them are better than scrolling for an hour saying “well what do you wanna watch, dear?”

Family Night Movies: 

Kid-friendly movies that won’t bore you out of your freaking mind.

A Little Princess (Hulu, July 1)
This is a don’t-judge-a-movie-by-the-poster situation. While the VHS cover your wife remembers from the Blockbuster days looks like a half-assed hallmark movie, this Alfonso Cuarón (Harry Potter & The Prisoner of Azkaban) classic is fantastic. An adventure about the love between a father and daughter, you will find yourself wrapped up in the story as much as your kids, no joke. There’s only a teeny tiny bit of colonialism to cringe through, but everyone’s favorite Onion Night, Liam Cunningham, plays the dad!

Wallace & Gromit: Curse of the Were-Rabbit (HBO, July 1)

Wallace & Gromit
You can’t go wrong with Wallace and Gromit, and this is the only theatrical length release in the series. This time the clay-namic duo are pest control agents fighting a scourge of vegetable stealing rabbits, when a brainwashing device thing turns Wallace into a giant rabbit monster.  This won the Oscar for best animated film of 2005, and is a nice change up from the sing along fairy tale style kids movie.

Mary Poppins Returns (Netflix, July 9)
Despite being made almost 50 years later, this sequel feels totally true to the spirit of the original. I thought for sure it’d be a soulless money grab, but Emily Blunt nails it, and Lin Manuel Miranda’s music is enjoyable, while not infectious; so you probably won’t have to keep listening to it in the car forever! Although, no joke, “The Cover Is Not The Book’ is a. Show. Stopper.

The Princess and the Frog (Netflix, July 16th)

A Crocodile playing a trumpet

On the other side of this Princess scale is one of the the most criminally underrated Disney movies. This was the last of the traditionally animated Disney flicks, which will take you back to the golden era of 90s Disney, but still feels fresh enough to be entertaining for everyone. Also, the music in this is one thousand times less annoying than whatever the Frozen II song is probably going to be. 5 Stars.

The Epic Tale of Captain Underpants Season 3 (Netflix, July 19th)
This is not a recommendation. This is fair warning that on July 19th your TV needs to be mysteriously broken.

Date Night Movies: 

Kids staying with the grandparents for the night? Here’s your fix for grown up flicks.

Bull Durham (Hulu, July 1)

Kevin Costner and Tim Robbins

in 2003, Sports Illustrated called this the greatest sports movie ever made, and while there have been some good ones since, it remains one of the funniest. I mean, it’s not Major League funny, but it’s got more jokes than all these new romcoms about millennials who hate weddings, but have to go to a bunch of weddings.

Frankenstein’s Monster’s Monster, Frankenstein (Netflix, July 16)
This David Harbour (Stranger Things) mockumentary follows the rising star searching for the truth about his father’s legacy in what looks like a mix between Documentary Now and how Orsen Wells actually was.

I mean…what?

Hellboy (Amazon, July 23)
And on that David Harbour note, the awful Hellboy movie he made, like last month is already available! You probably made the right call skipping it in theaters, but Prime is perfect for catching up on ridiculous movies without the cineplex pricing. If you and yours like playing your own version of MST3K at home, or would rather just make out on the couch for a couple hours instead of actually watching something, look no further than this popcorn disaster.

Movies To Show Your Kids But Not Tell Their Mother

Look, I’m not saying these movies are appropriate for children, and am in no way advocating that you show them to your kid. Especially if they’re younger than a preteen.  I’m just saying when our dads showed us these movies when we were preteens, those were like, landmark movie watching experiences that blew our freaking minds, right?

Caddyshack (Netflix, July 1)


Ah, the good ole’ days when Chevy Chase being an asshole was funny, and Bill Murray being weird wasn’t just for hipsters. Caddyshack 2 is of course, not necessary, but they threw that in there too if you’re bored or sick one day.

Roadhouse (Netflix, July 1)

Road House

Long before the John Wick series introduced a world where every single person was a secret assassin living by a code of conduct, Patrick Swayze suggested that all bar bouncers operated like roaming samurai, living by a code of honor. This Wal-Mart bargain bin staple is filled to the brim with sex and violence, so again, The Dad does not earnestly recommend showing it to your kids. But i mean, like, c’mon.

Airplane! (Hulu, July 1)
Surely you’re aware that this is the funniest movie ever made?

Dad Movies

What’s that? You have the freedom to sit down and watch something just for you? Reveal your secret, oh wise one. But first, here are some movies perfect to bask in before you fall asleep on the couch.

Rocky 1-5 (Hulu, July 1)


Look, you may think the first Rocky movie is the only one that’s any good, and you may be “correct” in that “analysis” of these “films.” But there is legit a robot in Rocky IV, and it rules, and if you say you don’t like that one, you are a dirty liar.

True Grit (2015) (Amazon, July 14)
“Fill your hand you son of a bitch!” is the greatest line of dialogue ever written, and getting to see Jeff Bridges’ take on Rooster Cogburn is very satisfying. Don’t get me wrong, nothing beats the John Wayne classic, but the Coen Brothers did a pretty bang-up job of trying. Plus, Matt Damon is a better actor than Glen Cambell. By like, a lot.

Apollo 11 (Hulu, July 20th) & First Man (HBO July 20)

Apollo 11

If I learned anything from my own father, it’s the one dad move to rule them all: take control of the remote, put on a documentary about outer space or WWII, and then immediately fall asleep. Well, good luck nodding off during either of this year’s moon landing movies, because they’re both awesome.  Apollo 11 is composed of never-before-seen footage and audio recordings from mankind’s greatest achievement; no documentary style talking heads here, this is designed to let you relive the Apollo mission as though you are there when it happened. Then, while First Man isn’t quite a documentary, director Damien Chazelle (Whiplash, La La Land) really outdid himself, and the final half hour might as well have been filmed on the moon itself.

Oh, and speaking of space movies and my own dad, you can see them both when the groundbreaking miniseries, From The Earth To The Moon returns to HBO on July 15th. He played the guy who figured out the windows for the Lunar Lander, and in true dad-fashion, reminds me that he “basically saved the space program” every chance he gets.

Nasa Scientist
Russell, a professional nerd. (HBO)

So there you go. Now there’s no excuse to just stream The Office again. Happy streaming!

Guy Harvey is Giving Dad Shoes A Run For Their Money

For most of my childhood growing up in Florida the work of Dr. Guy Harvey was basically the only art that I knew existed. Okay, that may be an exaggeration, but you would be hard pressed to find a mom-n’-pop restaurant in my home county that doesn’t have one of Harvey’s prints on the wall. And even if you don’t know the name, you probably recognize the style.

Guy Harvey painting of a marlin and a sea turtle

But Guy Harvey is more than just a popular artist. He’s a marine life conservationist and scientist whose environmental work, along with his iconic paintings, have made him a hero for everyone with a soft spot for the sea. For families who fish or sail, his paintings represent a whole lifestyle of easy-going fun. He’s baically to sports fisherman and boating dads what Jimmy Buffet is to day drinkers.

Now Harvey has partnered with Jack Schwartz Shoes Inc to introduce a line of casual footwear featuring the iconic artwork that made him so popular among fishermen and grillmasters a like.

Guy Harvey Shoes
Beauts (Guy Harvey)

“We’re proud to be partnering with JSSI to create comfortable, colorful, quality shoes that can take you from the boat to the beach to the barbecue,” – Dr. Guy Harvey

The Castaway Flyer sandal goes for about 50 bucks, and both the Atlantic and Gulf linen oxfords are $55. Considering that a fresh pair of New Balance will set you back $80, and your wife won’t roll her eyes if you wear these out to dinner, that’s pretty good.

Now, nobody is saying dads should ditch their white sneakers, here. After all, there will always be yard work. These puppies are more for lounging on the deck, or avoiding hearing your wife say “are those really the shoes you’re wearing?” every now and again. 

I kind of expected the shoes to be styled the same way as a lot Guy Harvey merchandise, with his art heavily featured. When he partnered with Norwegien Cruise Lines, the design was front and center, so part of me wondered if the shoes would look kinda like…

Guy Harvey in front of a cruise ship decorated with his artwork.

But the shoes are actually really clean, simple takes on oxfords and sandals, which was a great way to go. Comfy, but classy, that’s the way dads roll.

For both of the full shoes, the image lives on the insoles, while on the flip-flop — excuse me, I’m from Florida. Ahem. While on the sandal, the art is tastefully printed on the bottom of the sole.

There are other little design touches nodding to Harvey throughout the shoe, like his signature Marlin etched into the sole, and a nautical flag detail. It’s a nice touch for any Captain Dads out there, but also minimalist and clean enough for any landlubbers wardrobe. They even passed the Lego test.

Like walking on air.

Even though they’re reasonably priced, a portion of the profits go to The Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation to fund research and education programs aimed at ocean conservation.

The GHOF are global leaders in tagging and tracking sharks and billfish, and their work helps keep the ocean’s ecosystem balanced and safe for future generations to enjoy. The shoes are great, and the cause is even better.

You can get your own pair here.

This post was sponsored by:
JSSI X Guy Harvey

What’s New for Dads On Netflix and Amazon

Documentary Now S03, Spider-Man, Platoon

Summer is here and movie season is in full swing. But while Godzilla stomps and John Wick shoots their way through cinemas, there is plenty to be excited about for dads who like to stay in for the night. We’ve gone through the new releases coming to our favorite streaming platforms and are presenting our picks for the must-watch movies and shows for dads and their families.

Netfix is pulling out the big guns right out the gate with Batman Begins and The Dark Knight. Well, okay, not the big guns, cause Bale Batman doesn’t shoot people or rip their faces off with a bat-tire, but you get what I’m saying. With all the Avengers excitement this past year or so, it’s fun going back to the “Distinguished Competition” for super heroics with a little less banter and a little more Krav Maga. The Nolan Batman movies started streaming on the 1st.

Though if you’re understandably a little tired of capes and cowls, there are some classic dad movies like Oliver Stone’s Platoon or Sidney Lument’s Network that are perfect for kicking everyone out of the living room and enjoying. Bonus points if you can pull off yelling every half hour or so about how they don’t make “pictures” like that anymore. 

If you need a family movie night, two of last years best movies are available this month, and they happen to be kid friendly! Starting June 11th you can catch Ralph Breaks the Internet, and Spider-Man: Into The Spiderverse drops on the 26th. Both were nominated for Best Animated Picture, with Spiderverse winning in the end, although to be fair, it was actually the best movie of last year, animated or otherwise.

Also for the kids, Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch arrives June 5th. Why anyone would want to watch a Christmas movie in June is beyond me, but I made my parents watch the Babar Christmas special like five thousand times when I was a kid, so hey, tis the season.

As far as binge-worthy shows go, June’s got you covered with the third season of Documentary Now! on June 3rd. If you haven’t watched this show, you are missing out on the funniest freaking thing on television. Bill Hader and Fred Armison, along with Seth Myers and just about every other funny person in the country have come together to produce parodies of the most prestigious documentaries ever produced. It’s just fantastic.

Then on June 5th we get a new season of Black Mirror. Following the success of the Bendersnatch choose-your-own-adventure, this 5th season of the techno-nightmare anthology is going back to basics with three new episodes. This season Miley Cyrus was cast in one of the episodes, which makes as much sense as anything else on the show, I suppose.  

Finally, it’s the end of an era with the final season of Jessica Jones on June 14th. This will be the last we see of the Marvel Defenders characters on Netflix, and while the franchise had its ups and downs, Krysten Ritter’s Jones was always a standout. While the show’s second season suffered from a lack of David Tennent, here’s hoping the final season goes out with a bang. Also, geez, we really do a lot of superhero stuff these days, huh?

You can check out all of the Netflix titles available this month here.

Amazon tends to release the bulk of their new content at the end of the month, so rather than tell you about the June releases coming three weeks from now, here are the movies and shows that are newly available. 

Good Omens, a limited series adaptation of the Neil Gaiman and Terry Prachett novel, follows David Tennent as a demon and Michael Sheen as an angel who are best friends trying to stop the apocalypse. Like Gaiman and Pratchett, it’s funny, weird and just incredibly British.

Fleabag Season 2 is perfect for a night after the kids go to sleep. The sometimes sad but always hilarious series from Pheobe Waller-Bridge (Solo: A Star Wars Story) is a great date night binge watch that’s romantic but not sappy, snide but not cynical.

As far as movies go, you can’t do much better than Friday Night Lights. Even if you don’t care about football, it’s hard not to love this story of a Texas high school team. Sure, FNL went on to become an arguably even better TV show, but Billy Bob Thorton’s Coach Gains walked so Coach Taylor could run.

And finally, get ready for Quentin Tarantino’s new movie by going back to the beginning with the as-good-as-you-remember Reservoir Dogs.

Check out all of Amazon’s streaming for May and June here.