“Ukulele Dads” Find Unconventional Way to Bond with Their Babies in the NICU

“Ukulele Dads” Find Unconventional Way to Bond with Their Babies in the NICU
(SUPPLIED)

When counting down the seconds until your new baby enters the world, a million questions race through your mind. What kind of food will they like? Will I finally have a worthy Mario Kart competitor? What kind of person will they become? There is, however, one question that doesn’t really register (because you won’t let it) – will I be able to bring my baby home?

This is the jarring reality for many families around the world. NICUs (neonatal intensive care units) everywhere give targeted, expert care to infants born prematurely, or infants born with serious medical issues. While the NICU is undoubtedly the best place for infants who need extra attention, that doesn’t make it any easier for parents who desperately want to take their babies home. As a parent, you’re filled with a fierce determination to take care of your children. The unfortunate truth is, in some situations, you are forced to step aside so that someone else can take the reins. One group of dads at the SSM Health Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital in St. Louis, Missouri found a way to cope with the stress of the NICU and bond with their babies in an unlikely way – through the sound of their ukuleles.

It all started with Kelli McKee, the music therapist at Cardinal Glennon. Music therapy is often a hugely important aspect of patient recovery, but this time, McKee turned her attention to helping both parents and patients cope. In 2019, McKee began to turn an undoubtedly difficult, stressful time for families into an opportunity to bond – but she needed all dads on board. She began teaching dads of infants in the NICU to play the ukulele, so those dads could utilize music as a tool to connect with their infants – they became known as the “Ukulele Dads” group.

Ukulele dads
The Ukulele Dads (SUPPLIED)

Music is probably the closest thing we have to real-life magic, and one dad named Aaron Dohogne experienced this firsthand when he began to play ukulele for his son, John. John has been in the NICU since July of 2019, and Aaron’s ukulele (gifted to him by the Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital) has brought immeasurable comfort to both father and son.

“It gave me something to do when I didn’t know what to do”, Aaron told The Dad. “John doesn’t smile, and he can’t talk yet, but he started reacting to my music. He would focus on my hands on the cords. It gave me a way to connect with my son.”

The coronavirus has thrown yet another monkey wrench into the Dohogne family’s already challenging situation, with the hospital limiting visitors to only one parent per day. This roadblock didn’t stop Aaron from expressing his unwavering love for his son in the best way he knew how – Aaron started recording songs at home, and his wife, Maeve, would play the videos for John.

“Being in the NICU is really hard when you’re doing it alone,” expressed Maeve, “I didn’t want him to forget his dad.”

Playing anything ranging from nursery rhymes to songs that truly express Aaron’s love for John (a favorite is “From Me to You” by The Beatles) has helped ensure that even during the most challenging times, Aaron would be there for his son.

Kelli McKee constantly sees firsthand the incredible impact her work has on her patients. She explains, “While the ukulele may only be four strings, it was a way for him to say the four words he needed to most, ‘I love you, John’”.

The Trailer for Disney+’s Hamilton has Arrived

Hamilton Trailer
(Disney+)

There aren’t a ton of upsides to a global pandemic forcing everyone inside and closing down concerts, restaurants, cafes, and movie theaters, but there are some.

Hollywood has stepped up to help make things easier on everyone forced to stay home by releasing movies straight to streaming services for rental and purchase, and in some cases, they’ve even sped up their timelines and put things out long before they ever intended to. Perhaps the most exciting example of this is Disney+’s announcement that they were releasing the Hamilton musical a full year before they initially planned on it.

This Independence Day weekend (July 3rd, to be exact), the most celebrated and in-demand Broadway musical in decades, is coming to Disney+ for your viewing pleasure. This isn’t a movie version of the stage play, it’s the actual play itself, featuring the original cast (which includes Lin-Manuel Mirando, Daveed Diggs, and more), filmed on Broadway as it is presented every night. Or, as it was presented before Broadway shut down to flatten the curve.

We’re not sure yet when we’ll be able to go back to the theatre, but on July 3rd, you’ll be able to pretend with Hamilton. You can sign up for Disney+ for $8.99/month or $89.99/year.

Check out the trailer:

John Legend Teams up with Comedy and Musician Dads for Father’s Day Special

John Legend Bigger Love Father's Day
(Twitter/JohnLegend)

John Legend is planning a special tribute to Dads and is having a whole bunch of entertainer dads join him in the effort. John Legend and Family: A Bigger Love Father’s Day will air June 21 on ABC.

According to the press release, the variety show will blend musical performances with comedy and “plenty of surprises.” Usually, phrases like that in a press release mean they aren’t quite sure what else there is, but that they are working hard to make sure it’s good!

Legend is a talented guy himself, if you need evidence of that, some would direct you to his Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony awards (the EGOT!). And Legend will not be alone in his efforts to entertain this Father’s Day, as those listed to join him include Jim Gaffigan, Shaquille O’Neal, Patton Oswalt, Scottie Pippen, Deion Sanders, Jesse Tyler Gerguson, Marlon Wayans, Stevie Wonder, and Roy Wood Jr…and more!

While Legend will likely be focused on musical performances from his new album Bigger Love (slated to be released two days before the special), don’t sleep on the comedy portion of the show. While everyone may recognize names like Jim Gaffigan and Patton Oswalt among the more famous dad comedians, Roy Wood Jr. is also a killer act and one of the hardest working comedians in the biz. He’d be the smart bet to steal the show, although who knows what Shaq and Scottie Pippen are doing (playing an old man game of 1-on-1?).

Legend’s two kids are also slated to make an appearance with their dad on the show.

“Some of us may wonder if it’s okay to laugh right now,” Legend told Deadline. “But music and humor have always lifted our spirits during tough times. This special celebrates love and the connection to the ones you care about most. I hope it brings joy and laughter into everyone’s homes this Father’s Day.”

Take a Break From Your News Feed to Enjoy Toto’s “Africa” on Tesla Coils

Africa by Toto on Tesla Coils
(YouTube / Franzoli Electronics / Columbia Records)

“Africa” may very well be the rare Perfect Song. From its infectious melody to its layered harmonies to that one part that goes DO-DO DAH-DO DAH-DO DAH-DO DO DO, Toto’s 1981 banger has always transcended both generation and border. It’s a masterpiece by every definition of the term.

As such, folks always go above and beyond when covering it. We’ve heard Perpetuum Jazzile, a vocal group from Slovenia, whip up this astounding version complete with manmade thunderstorm sound effects.

We’ve heard it interpreted by metalheads.

We’ve even heard Weezer and Weird Al team up to give it a go.

Well, all those covers can step aside, because the Franzoli Electronics YouTube channel has released what may very well be the crown jewel of “Africa” covers. What makes this one stand out from the rest? This one’s getting played on a set of Tesla coils.

And how, pray tell, does one play music on a Tesla coil? Here’s an explanation offered in the YouTube video description:

“The main loud music really comes from the tesla coil sparks. They are literally playing the music due to the programmed phase, pulse width and firing frequency! So, there are no speakers, no audio / video special effects. It looks even better in person and sounds almost the same, just without the beat / percussion backing track.”

Sound too gnarly to be true? Watch for yourself!

Insanely cool. Click here to check out Franzoli Electronics’ other covers, including a rendition of “Bohemian Rhapsody” that’ll certainly make you question if this is in fact real life.

Isolated Seniors Start Pirate Radio Station to Stay Connected

Radio Recliner DJ Line up
(radiorecliner.com)

COVID-19 has affected everyone, but few groups have been hit as hard as the elderly. Retirement communities have been ravaged by the virus, leading most of them to enact extreme lockdowns and restrictions on all visitors. So for a group that was already suffering from loneliness and isolation, the current situation is less than ideal. But there are some people who are trying to form connections in new ways. For starters, there’s now an online pirate radio station hosted by elderly DJs with the goal of cheering up senior citizens.

That’s the type of sentence that would have made little sense pre-2020, but you read it now and think “ah yes, this is the natural evolution of things.” The station, “Radio Recliner” was started by a marketing firm that worked with an assisted living facility. The project took off from there, and they now have close to 20 DJs from various states, who record hour-long programs.

They debut a new hour-long show each day and then play previously recorded segments and songs for the rest of the day. It’s a chance for seniors to stay connected with each other and celebrate the music of a simpler time. And how can you not get behind an 88-year-old DJ who goes by “The Karaoke Cowboy”?

Songs can also be requested by friends and family members, so there’s the added touch of hearing a loved one pop up on the station to send a song your way. This is all very cool and good.

One of the project’s founders told Ad Week that “with residents spending more time than ever alone in their rooms, we wanted to find a way to help them stay connected…Radio Recliner has been a way to turn radio into a kind of social media.”

You can learn more about all 18 DJs on the station’s website.

Study Reveals 1980s Metalheads Grew up Happy and Well-Adjusted

1980s Metal Heads Are Alright
(Getty/Michael Ochs Archives/Stringer)

For today’s youth, there is a lot of access to a lot of potentially dangerous and influential content. The internet is a treasure trove of information and, well, porn, not to mention conspiracy theories, fake news, and outright lies. Video games are more realistic, immersive, and violent than ever. And obviously porn is everywhere.

It wasn’t always so easy for impressionable kids to find questionable material.

Growing up in the 80s, porn was much harder to acquire, video games were nowhere near good enough to be an issue (unless the issue was being a couch potato), and the internet didn’t exist. For a decent stretch, the big boogeyman for 80s kids was heavy metal music. Like rap in the 90s, many parents hated heavy metal, and many politicians feared its impact on kids.

An article on Open Culture details the metal wars, wherein Ozzy Osbourne was put on trial and a bunch of musicians were hauled in front of congress to defend themselves and their art against censorship, warning labels, and murder accusations. As late as the 90s, kids were still being demonized merely for listening to bands like Slayer and Megadeth. Just as the West Memphis Three.

Well, it turns out all that handwringing was for nothing.

A study put out by psychology researchers at a collection of colleges – Humboldt State, Ohio State, UC Riverside, and UT Austin – put out a paper titled “Three Decades Later: The Life Experiences and Mid-Life Functioning of 1980s Heavy Metal Groupies,” in which they “examined 1980s heavy metal groupies, musicians, and fans at middle age.” The study looked at 377 participants and reveals that despite living somewhat riskier lives as kids (didn’t all kids live riskier lives in the 80s?), they grew up to become “significantly happier in their youth and better adjusted currently than either middle-aged or current college-age youth comparison groups.”

Wow. Who knew that getting your aggression out in healthy ways, and bonding with fellow kids over a shared enthusiasm for whatever music or pop culture you enjoy, could yield positive benefits!

Looks like Dee Snider gets the last laugh. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go get my vinyl copy of Shout at the Devil back from my dad.

Daughter Fulfills Father’s Dying Wish by Getting his Artwork to Sting

Daughter Fulfills Father’s Dying Wish by Getting his Artwork to Sting
(Instagram/theofficialsting)

In typical dad fashion, fathers will often do anything for their daughters in their times of need. From building a custom video game controller for a daughter with disabilities to bringing trick-or-treating 30,000 feet above ground, dads are gonna dad. When the tables turn and it’s a dad’s time of need, it becomes the daughter’s turn to step up. And that’s exactly what Elizabeth Santiago did.

According to the touching story Santiago shared with Humans of New York, her stepfather, Domingo Santiago, came into her life when she was five years old. He encouraged her creativity, celebrated her successes, and even built her very first bike from scraps. Domingo was an extremely talented artist but put his creativity aside to pursue a more stable career as a police officer. Before putting away his paint and brushes for good, he painted one last painting – a copy of an album cover, depicting a portrait of Sting. He dreamed of one day returning to his art, holding onto the hope of “when I retire”.

Sadly, that distant dream of retirement never came. In 1998, Domingo was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. MS is a disease that impacts your nervous system as well as your brain. Symptoms vary, but it can cause things like chronic pain, vision loss, fatigue, and weakness. Domingo’s symptoms began to worsen over time until eventually, he was unable to stand. In his final days, Domingo and his family were faced with the difficult task of sorting through his belongings. Domingo gave instructions for each and every item, dictating where it should go and to whom it should be given.

Upon rediscovering the old Sting painting in a dusty box, the question was posed again. Where should this go?

Elizabeth Santiago recalled, “His response was immediate. ‘Give it to Sting,’ he said. All of us started laughing. But Dad grew very serious. His eyes narrowed. He looked right at me, and said: ‘Give it to Sting.’ So I guess that’s my final assignment.”

 

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“I was five when he became a person in my world. I didn’t know exactly who he was. I just knew that there was someone around that was making my mother smile. I had to look way up to see him. I’d never met someone so strong. He’d tell me to hold onto his wrist, and he’d lift me into the sky with one hand. He worked at an auto shop, airbrushing designs onto the side of vans. I think he dreamed of being an artist. But he needed something more stable. So after he decided to marry my mom, he became a cop. He never lost touch with his creative side. He was always building things around the house—making things look fancier than we could afford. He built my first bike from scraps. He encouraged me to read. He encouraged me to write. He loved giving me little assignments. He’d give me a quarter every time I wrote a story. Fifty cents if it was a good one. Whenever I asked a question, he’d make me look it up in the encyclopedia. One day he built a little art studio at the back of our house. And he painted a single painting—a portrait of Sting that he copied from an album cover. But he got busy with work and never used the studio again. He was always saying: ‘when I retire.’ ‘I’ll go back to art, when I retire.’ ‘I’ll show in a gallery, when I retire.’ But that time never came. Dad was a cop for twenty years. He was one of the good ones. The kind of cop you see dancing on the street corner. Or skateboarding with kids. But in 1998 he was diagnosed with MS. First there was a little weakness. Then there was a cane. Then there was a wheelchair. It got to the point where he couldn’t even hold a paintbrush. We did his hospice at home. He seemed to have no regrets. He’d been a wonderful provider. He’d raised his daughters. He’d walked me down the aisle. During his final days, we were going through his possessions, one by one. He was telling me who to give them to. I pulled the Sting painting out of an old box, and asked: ‘What should I do with this?’ His response was immediate. ‘Give it to Sting,’ he said. All of us started laughing. But Dad grew very serious. His eyes narrowed. He looked right at me, and said: ‘Give it to Sting.’ So I guess that’s my final assignment.”

A post shared by Humans of New York (@humansofny) on

Mickey Sumner, Sting’s daughter, saw the heartbreaking story. She immediately knew what she had to do. Sumner got in touch with Santiago, and soon enough, the painting was held by the very hands it depicted.

Sting’s official Instagram page shared a picture of Sting and Domingo’s painting side by side with the caption, “THE EAGLE HAS LANDED”.

Two daughters united to make a dedicated father’s last request a reality. The pair also started a fundraiser for the National MS Society in memory of Domingo, which has raised over $40,000 so far. Santiago was faced with a seemingly impossible task that ended in the most beautiful, unlikely way. Ok, so maybe not EVERY little thing she does is magic, but this is pretty dang close.

“Baby Shark” Immortalized on Washington Nationals World Series Ring

Baby Shark World Series Ring
(Twitter/jjalcantara)

Championship rings are one of the great traditions in sports. Sure, they mostly all look the same in the end, just a massive collection of diamonds around the team name and year, but the Washington Nationals have something on their championship rings that no other team can claim: Baby Shark.

Yep, the 2019 World Series Champions unveiled their ring design earlier this week, and it was mostly standard fare. More than 100 diamonds, some rubies, the players’ numbers, and etched on the inside of the ring…Baby Shark holding up the championship trophy. ‘’

Baby Shark became a fan favorite once Gerardo Parra started using the internet’s favorite song for his walk-up music. It became an unofficial anthem for the Nationals as they marched through the MLB playoffs en route to their World Series win.

The ring also features the team’s slogan of “Go 1-0 Everyday.” But let’s be honest, as the franchise fondly remembers their first World Series, they won’t remember that. They will remember the summer of Baby Shark, and will doo doo doo, doo doo doo doo their way to reliving an incredible run.

When Snoop Dogg Needs to Decompress “Let It Go” From Frozen Is His Jam

snoop lets it go
(Twitter/arb Instagram/snoopdogg Disney)

All dads everywhere know that the front seat of your car is the absolute best place to get some solitude. We love to milk that front seat for all it’s worth. Need to run an errand? No problem. More front seat time. Fellow father, Snoop Dogg, has mastered the art of front seat time with a video that will absolutely make your day. Upon the first watch, it’s merely a famous rapper from the ’90s chilling out to the Frozen soundtrack. But upon repeat viewings, and this absolutely deserves repeat viewings, you start to realize that this video may be the answer to all of our problems. Twitter user, Amy Brown, reposted the video on her account. Take a look:

Delightful, right? Let’s break it down for further inspection. We open with Snoop’s eyes:

snoop eyes
(Instagram/snoopdogg)

Watchful. Mysterious. What’s in store? He slowly pans up:

snoop cold face
(Instagram/snoopdogg)

Snoop gives us a cold, dead stare, juxtaposing the pleasant vibe of the 2013 Disney classic. Does he hate the song? Or is he just “being?”

snoop lively eyes
(Instagram/snoopdogg)

He’s into it! He changes expressions as the chorus rolls in. Snoop is feeling this Elsa ballad like nobody’s business.

snoop laugh
(Instagram/snoopdogg)

Snoop breaks the tension. Snoop loves the song. This is the Snoop we know and love. But why, Snoop? Why this song?

I had to come sit in my car and listen to this shit, man. Let it go.

snoop taking it in
(Instagram/snoopdogg)

Snoop’s really taking it in now. This is who we all strive to be in the front seat. Once again, and this is the best part of the video, Snoop reiterates his purpose.

I’m just sitting in my car listening to Let it Go.

He can’t believe how good this song is. He is flabbergasted by the sheer power of Idina Menzel’s vocals. And the message? Forget about it. This is the song that snoop, and all of us, truly need right now. Snoop reaches nirvana in this next moment:

snoop knowing eyes
(Instagram/snoopdogg)

Could it be? Has he finally done it? Yes. Snoop has fully…100%…let it go:

snoop truly letting it go
(Instagram/snoopdogg)

After rocking out to the next verse, Snoop reminds us, once again, to let it go. He closes with a truly uplifting message:

We’ll be outside soon.

First of all, wow. What a journey. Thank you, Mr. Dogg. Twitter seems to agree:

This exchange sums it all up for us:

And finally, because sometimes the world is perfect, here is Idina Menzel sitting in her car listening to Drop it Like it’s Hot:

Thank you, Snoop. Thank you world.

‘Sleep It Away,’ Adam Sandler’s New Music Video About Lockdown Laziness

Sandler's Sleep it Away
(Facebook/Adam Sandler)

Some people are taking advantage of all the quarantine-based free time. They’re finishing long-gestating DIY projects, getting started on that novel they always planned to write, learning a new language, taking up the guitar, even just finally binge-watching The Sopranos for free.

Other people are napping.

Adam Sandler, one of the biggest movie stars and successful comedians of all time, is sort of doing both.

First, he performed a funny and touching “Quarantine Song.” Then he starred in a PSA with Jimmy Fallon called, “Don’t Touch Grandma” A few weeks ago, Sandler appeared with Pete Davidson in a quarantine music video called “Stuck at Home.” Now Sandler is back with a video of his own. It’s all about being lazy during the lockdown.

The song is short and sweet, a mere minute and fifteen seconds, and it focuses on the superstar’s daily routine. He gets up, stretches, and goes back to bed. He makes some toast and goes back to bed. He takes a shower and sleeps on the bathroom tile. He gets dressed and naps on the couch.

And then he has a bizarre dream that features Shaq and an alien that looks suspiciously like Sandler’s friend Rob Schneider before he speculates about what will happen when the pandemic is over and the quarantine is lifted. (It involves people fucking on his block.)

Of course, just because the quarantine is over doesn’t mean Sandler is going to suddenly become active again. There’s a documentary he needs to finish!

Check out the hilarious video here:

8-Yr-Old’s Viral “What’s Inside Your Butthole” Song Gets Multiple Remixes

What's Inside Your Butthole Remix
(Twitter/LisaRieffel/zacharycarlsen)

Quarantine is boring, even for kids.

They’ve got no playdates, no recess, no trips to the playground, or the movies. Mine are even starting to miss school! They’re being forced to fill their time in other ways. Kids being kids, some of these ways involve whining and fighting with their siblings, but some kids are getting creative.

One little girl took advantage of her boredom to craft some new content we can all get behind. No pun intended.

Twitter user and author Lisa Rieffel posted a video of her adorable daughter playing an original song on her guitar, and it’s taken the internet by storm. And rightfully so. As Lisa said in her tweet: Quite honestly, it slaps.

Did I mention it’s called “I wonder what’s inside your butthole”

With speculation about astronauts and aliens, and lyrics like, “what’s inside your butthole, I always wanna know!”, the power of the song is undeniable. It’s catchy, it rocks, and it’s delivered with panache.

Obviously, the internet agrees! The video has been liked 327,000 times and retweeted by almost 75,000 people since it was posted on Saturday.

It’s the song of the summer:

A doctor weighed in to help answer the song’s question:

A scientist offered resources to help:

And many people created their own versions, from remixes:

To covers:

It’s safe to say that this little girl’s song has taken the nation by storm and one can only hope that when the quarantine lifts and things are back to normal, she performs it at the Super Bowl.

Once she clears up this copyright issue with Blink 182, of course:

WOWZERS! Inspector Gadget Theme in 8 Cello Parts Played by one Musician

(Youtube / Samara Ginsberg / Lexington Broadcast Services Company)

Fair warning: you’re about to have the Inspector Gadget theme song stuck in your head for no less than one (1) week.

Playing one cello is impressive as it is. Two cellos? Even more so. Three cellos? Okay, okay, settle down. No one likes a showoff. Four? Four cellos? Well, now you’re practically begging for hand cramps. Five cellos? Seriously? Hey, save some cellos for the rest of us, pal. Six? Six. Six cellos. We are truly through the looking glass. Seven cellos? Well, that just leaves… oh. Oh no. You couldn’t…

EIGHT CELLOS?

Samara Ginsberg is a super talented cellist who recently broke down the Inspector Gadget theme song into eight distinct parts for cello, recorded her one-woman octet, and the end result is magnificent. She was even able to reproduce the screeching police siren sound effects at the beginning!

Listen to and hum along with Samara’s haunting rendition of this iconic tune right here:

Go go Gadget musical chops, am I right?

Sandler Strikes Again With New Quarantine Duo “Stuck in the House”

Sandler is Stuck in the House
(Twitter/SNL)

A few weeks ago (maybe months, I dunno, I’ve lost track of time) Sandler performed a fun PSA with Jimmy Fallon called “Don’t Touch Grandma.” On Saturday the legendary comedy star dropped in on SNL to deliver a song about that quar life. This time, Sandler teamed up with Pete Davidson for “Stuck in the House”.

The catchy song aptly captures the moment, as it’s about being stuck in your house (if you couldn’t infer that from the title) with your family while communities across the nation are under shelter-in-place orders. The song was one of the highlights for an improved episode of SNL From Home.


Sandler raps about only being able to “pet my dog with a baseball mitt, baking my own bread and it tastes like shit” and also throws in some digs at Davidson, saying he was ‘so bored he was doing songs with Pete.’

In a nice touch, the families of both stars are featured prominently. Sandler dancing with his wife was a highlight for some commenters (The Youtube video has nearly 2 million views already), as was the appearance by his kids (both holding signs supporting first responders). Pete’s mom and sisters also make an appearance in the video.

There’s also a great Rob Schneider cameo, which is essential for any great Adam Sandler performance.