ScreenTime: How “Spirit: Riding Free” Saved Me $38,760 (Approximately)

(YouTube)

ScreenTime is not an educational column. Sure, sometimes you learn something, like Which Paw Patrol Puppy Is The Worst, or How Barbie: Life In The Dreamhouse Prepares Your Kids For The Apocolypse, but today you will learn something even more valuable: How to save $38,760 with nothing but a basic Netflix subscription.

This Friday, November 17, 2017, marks the release of Season 3 of the Netflix/Dreamworks Original Series Spirit: Riding Free. The surprisingly controversial spin-off of the 2002 movie Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron has many admirers, but my daughter and I will not be returning to it. This is the story of why.

(YouTube)

When my daughter first pointed at the title screen for Spirit: Riding Free and screamed, “NEIGH!!! WAMMA WATCH NEIGH,” I clicked with no small amount of trepidation. Netflix’s kids programming isn’t exactly Stranger Things-quality, and given the lackluster approach content makers often take when it comes to shows aimed at young girls, my expectations were at rock bottom. But I don’t like to judge a book by its cover, so we gave it a shot.

If you watch the show’s title sequence, you might think my apprehensions were well founded. The theme song is a country-pop tune blander than a Kidz-Bopped Florida Georgia Line and the animation is ripped straight from the cut-scenes of an early 2000s PlayStation 2 RPG about horse grooming. The particularly savvy amongst you may have noticed aspects of the aforementioned controversy. But you, like me, are focusing on the wrong aspect of the sequence. The key scene, the scene that unlocks the true heart of the show, is the one of the girls dodging flying boulders as they charge down a narrow canyon.

(YouTube)

It is here that we see the first hints of what this series is all about: putting humans and horses in legitimately, unnecessarily terrifying situations, over and over again.

The first season of Spirit: Riding Free only has six episodes in it, but it is not until the second episode that it reveals to the unsuspecting viewer its harsh message. The pilot is inoffensive and straightforward: girl arrives in town, makes some friends, makes some enemies, the scene is set. We are introduced to our protagonists, Lucky and her horse Spirit. Yeah, along the way she witnesses a horse being wrangled in a somewhat unnecessarily traumatic way, but it’s a minor blip.

(YouTube)

This lulls the viewer into a false sense of security. This is going to be a nice show about a girl, her friends, and their horses. Then Episode 2 begins and the facade starts to slip.

“Lucky & The Treacherous Trail” starts with Lucky’s horse Spirit going nuts and smashing through the walls of a barn, and climaxes with a set of scenes in which Lucky and Spirit ride through a dangerous trail about which we have previously been given dire warnings. First they mess up a jump and we see the deadly results of one false move. Then the unstable cliff edge gives way causing Lucky to trip, nearly plummeting to her death, with poor Spirit hurting his ankle trying to save her. I’m not too proud to admit, my heart was in my mouth.

(YouTube)
(YouTube)

The show presents the lesson of the episode as one of listening to your friends and not being too proud, but the true lesson it seeks to impart is this: Don’t Fuck Around With Horses. You Will Die.

I had learned my lesson, and was ready to move on, but my daughter is made of sterner stuff than I. I have seen her sit through scenes like Tai Lung’s escape in Kung Fu Panda, or the final battle in How To Train Your Dragon, that have made lesser children literally shit their pants. So we persisted.

As if Episode 2 hadn’t put Lucky, Spirit, and my nerves through enough, Episode 3, “Lucky & The Mysterious Map”, opens with exactly the kind of terror-inducing vertigo that drove me to drink at the end of Episode 2. Here, Lucky, her father, and her two friends, Pru and Abigail, are ascending a steep and narrow canyon pass when Spirit freaks the fuck out and causes their wagon and all their possessions to careen off a cliff. The wagon nearly takes two horses and Lucky’s dad with it, and it’s only because Lucky’s dad is some kind of super-powered acrobat that he survives.

(YouTube)

Already I was concerned: If this is where “Lucky & The Mysterious Map” starts, at what fearful pitch will it end? Sure enough, it isn’t long before Lucky, Pru, and Abigail are TRAPPED IN A DARK CAVE BY A WILD BEAR. And this isn’t some friendly, picnic-stealing Yogi Bear type. It is made clear that this bear is trying to maul and eat these preteens.

(YouTube)

It was Episode 5 that finally finished me. Specifically this scene, in which an abused and terrified horse is trapped and panicked. Our heroes can’t go near him for fear of getting a hoof to the solar plexus. Meanwhile, a dam is about to burst, unleashing a tidal wave that tears down trees and crumbles rock. Just look at this damn horse. I can’t take it.

(YouTube)

Maybe one day my daughter and I will return to Spirit: Riding Free, but we will return to it humbled, our lesson learned: Horses are terrifying.

And in years to come, when my daughters’ friends gaze longingly at horses galloping majestically in open fields, or bring home flyers for riding lessons, or for conveniently-located stables, my children will remember “Lucky & The Mysterious Map”, and, fearful of the inevitable bear mauling and near-death experiences that accompany horse-related activities, search for some safer, cheaper hobby.

(YouTube)

So enjoy your approximately $38,760 in horse activity-related costs, parents who haven’t seen Spirit: Riding Free. My daughter and I will be over here on the couch, breathing into brown paper bags, resisting flashbacks of “Lucky & The Treacherous Trail”.

5 MLB Prospects to Watch This Season Whose Dads Were Pros

Vlad Sr & Jr
(Twitter/VladGuerrero27 Getty/Mike Ehrmann)

The 2019 baseball season is upon us, and like most Yankees fans I’m hoping for one simple thing: for the Red Sox to go 0-162. I’d settle for them going 7-155, but that’s about as much as I can handle when it comes to the Red Sox succeeding. Yes, last year was difficult on me.

My personal seething hatred aside, I’m not the only one who’ll be paying close attention this season. In fact, there are a number of former major leaguers from the ‘70s, ‘80s, ‘90s, and ‘00s whose sons are finally old and talented enough to be knocking on the door of the big leagues themselves. These fathers will no doubt be keeping an eye on their offspring’s success, and you should too. Here are a just a handful of second-generation big leaguers-to-be to stay on the lookout for in 2019.

Vladimir Guerrero Jr.

The undisputed #1 prospect in all of baseball, Vladdy Jr. is—as if it weren’t obvious enough from the name—the son of Hall of Famer Vladimir Guerrero, who played for the Expos, Angels, Rangers, and Orioles throughout his illustrious 16-year career.

Vladdy turned heads with his performance in the Blue Jays minor league system in 2018, batting .381 with 20 home runs in just 95 games. But perhaps his most memorable moment occurred while playing in a spring training game last March at Olympic Stadium in Montreal—the very same stadium where his father rose to prominence in the ’90s. Check out the video below:

Vlad is expected to be called up by Toronto Blue Jays come the end of April, that is assuming they aren’t already eliminated from playoff contention. Yes, that may be mathematically impossible so early in the year, but when you’re in the same division as the Yankees, Red Sox, and Rays it’s more or less a guarantee.

Vlad Sr. recently wished his son a happy birthday via Twitter:


Fernando Tatis Jr.


Taking what you learned from the first player on this list, can you guess who this guy’s dad is? That’s right, Fernando Tatis Jr. is none other than the son of Derek Jeter. Sorry, I misspoke. His dad is actually Fernando Tatis, a former big leaguer who played from 1997 until 2010.

While pops is known for being the only player to hit two grand slams in a single inning, Junior is the #2 prospect in baseball, and is primed to make his debut with the San Diego Padres this season playing shortstop on the same side of the infield as the newly acquired 4-time All-Star Manny Machado.

Everyone is excited to see what Tatis Jr. can bring to the major leagues. That is except for fans of the Chicago White Sox, who traded him back in 2016 for James Shields, a pitcher who led the league in losses last year with 16. If only this were MLB The Show and there were a save point the White Sox could return to, but unfortunately that’s not the case, so expect to see Tatis in San Diego soon. I’m sure he likes the weather better anyway.

Here’s Fernando talking about playing under his dad’s guidance this past winter:

Bo Bichette

The son of Rockies’ great Dante Bichette and brother of former Yankees prospect Dante Bichette Jr., Bo has impressed scouts with a combination of bat speed, raw power, and clean footwork to the point that he’s been ranked the #11 prospect in baseball and #2 in the Blue Jays’ system just behind Vlad Guerrero Jr.

Bo is also known for having much better hair than his father. Example A:

Example B:

Enjoy the hairline while it lasts, Bo. It’s clearly genetic.

Bo has yet to play above the AA level but could very well hit the big time in 2019, solidifying the left side of the Blue Jays infield along with Vladdy Jr. for many years to come.

Cavan Biggio

 

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Braden & Cavan Biggio @dunedinbluejays @bluejays @floridastateleague #cavanbiggio #biggio #bluejays #dunedinbluejays #baseball

A post shared by Brian Giacobbe (@briang0381) on

Holy hell, how many Blue Jays are on this list? The son of Hall of Famer and Astros legend Craig Biggio, Cavan may not be as highly regarded as teammates Vlad and Bo, but still remains a top Toronto prospect.

Here’s Cavan talking about the expectations that come with the last name Biggio, and how he’s crafting his own to break out from the shadow of his more famous father:


Like Bo, Cavan has yet to play above AA, but excelled last year with an .887 OPS and 26 home runs, falling just one RBI short of the century mark. Chances are Cavan may make his major league debut before the end of the season, but until then you’re going to have to head up to Buffalo to see him play for the Jays’ Triple-A affiliate.

Hey, even if you don’t care about seeing Cavan you should still make the trip for some good buffalo wings. On second thought, can we just make this list about the 5 best buffalo wings locations throughout the country? No? Too late? Oh well.

Victor Victor Mesa

 

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Got a picture with @victorvictormesa 😱 Really Cool Guy😎 #marlinsspringtraining #victorvictormesa #mesa #baseball

A post shared by ɹǝʎʍpO uɐʌƎ (@evanoscribble) on

Chances are you may never have heard of Victor Victor Mesa, nor his father Victor Mesa, a Cuban baseball legend who drew comparisons to Rickey Henderson. Not only that, but Victor won the gold medal in baseball at the 1992 Summer Olympics, and his career spanned 19 seasons in the Caribbean.

There are a lot of question marks surrounding Victor Victor, who was signed by the Miami Marlins along with his brother Victor Jr. after defecting from Cuba in May of 2018. While scouts speculate he’s more likely to debut in the bigs in 2020, his defense and speed are already said to be big-league ready.

That combined with the fact that the Marlins are desperate to attract fans to see their struggling franchise, Victor Victor may very well shoot his way up through the system sooner than you can say the word Victor twice.

There’s no doubt these five pops are as proud as can be to see their children follow in their footsteps. Hopefully twenty or so years from now, the aforementioned prospects can pass along some insight to kids of their very own, establishing yet another new generation of baseball stars.

Love baseball? More importantly, love embarrassing your kids? Well then be sure to follow the lead of this dancing dad, who left his daughter red in the face while attending a Cubs game last September.

MLB Dad Plays It Cool When Son on Opposing Team Hits a Home Run & More

Son homers Against MLB Dad
(Twitter/NBCSWhiteSox)

Alek Thomas was in high school a year ago and Wednesday, the Arizona Diamondbacks prospect homered in a spring game against the Chicago White Sox. What makes a mildly cool story even better was that his dad was in the opposing dugout when it happened.

His dad, Allen Thomas, has been the White Sox director of strength and conditioning for nearly two decades. Alex practically grew up at the ballpark, so I can’t imagine what this moment was like for them. I do know, however, that Allen held his poker face far longer than anyone could’ve expected.

I think the highest I’ve jumped in the last two years was when my daughter kicked the game-winning goal in a soccer game between five-year-olds where I was the only one keeping score. There is zero chance I could’ve been that cool in a moment like this.

If that was my kid, the second he crossed home plate I would’ve jumped out of the opposing dugout and run crazily around the infield like one of those impossible-to-catch soccer hecklers. Then I would’ve signaled to the PA announcer to play my pre-scheduled music cue, at which point I would dramatically tear off my White Sox jersey, revealing my son’s Arizona jersey beneath, like a pro wrestler making a full heel turn.

Spring training might just be take your kid to work month for Major Leauge Baseball, as the Cincinnati Reds first base coach Delino DeShields got to exchange lineup cards with Texas Rangers center fielder….Delino DeShields. In case you were wondering when Texas plays Cincinnati during the regular season, come on, you already know it’s Father’s Day weekend.

The other sports video that took the internet by storm this past week was a youth basketball game. If you’re curious why so many people have been spreading it around, I’m pretty sure it’s because it is a classic example of how bad sports officiating has become. It’s pretty clear that #50 travels like four times RIGHT IN FRONT OF THE REF! How does he not even see that???? The fix was in, I’m tellin ya.

March Madness is just heating up but we already have one-star performance, after Ja Morant put on a clinic when No. 12 Murray State blew out No. 5 Marquette. Zion Williamson has made his mark as one of the most impressive prospects in more than a decade, but Morant may have done enough to get himself to second. If you ask his dad, he thinks he should go even higher than one, which is exactly how I would act after my kid put up a performance like that. Honestly, it’s not even fair to put a microphone in front of a parent’s face after that, of course, they are going to say something nutty.

In sports dad revenge news, Richard Pitino coached No. 10 Minnesota in a big win over No. 7 Louisville, the school that fired his dad, Rick. At least, that’s the narrative that was being pushed by a small part of basketball media. Rick did, after all, get Louisville entangled in one of the biggest bribery scandals to hit college sports in years. So, I don’t know that I’m quite on board for the revenge story when his dad was a disgraced coach who led his program to more FBI investigations than championships (granted, how you view his legacy depends on how much you value things like vacated final fours and sex scandals).

No matter how you spin it, it doesn’t pack quite the emotional punch of a major leaguer still trying to get his dad’s attention after hitting a home run.

Dad Shaves Toddler’s Head With Photoshop to Prank Wife

(Bobby Wesson)

Bobby Deacon, a writer from Birmingham, Alabama, knew his wife was feeling anxious about their first family photo shoot with their 3-year-old son, so he decided a little prank might lighten her spirits.

Rayena, his wife, works as a trauma nurse, so Bobby and Deacon get to have a lot of ‘guys nights’ during the week. Given the intensity of Rayena’s job, she rarely has time to respond to a bunch of text messages, so when a calmer than usual night finally arrived, Bobby struck.

(Bobby Wesson)

Putting his photoshop skills to use, Bobby doctored a photo of their son to make it look like he had buzzed off a giant patch of his hair.

“She went 0-100 quicker than Drake lyrics,” Bobby told GoodHousekeeping.com. “I knew she would.”

And he wasn’t even close to being done.

(Bobby Wesson)

(Bobby Wesson)

Yes, along with a devious looking photo to remind his wife of his own glorious locks, Bobby claimed to be willing to shave his own head, all in hopes of consoling their own son of course.

Because what father wouldn’t do such a thing for their kid, right?

(Bobby Wesson)
(Bobby Wesson)

Bobby finally decided to call it a day when it looked like “she was going to leave the hospital to put me in one,” as he put it.

(Bobby Wesson)

When she got home, they both (allegedly) had a good laugh about it, claiming that pranks are a standard in the Wesson household.

“We play jokes on each other all the time,” Bobby said. “I ended up with her name tattooed on my butt thanks to a bet lost last year.”

Bobby put the text exchange on social media and it, understandably, went viral almost immediately.

It’s not the first time the couple has achieved internet fame, though. Back in 2015, Bobby put his writing chops to use and penned a beautiful and sincere note about his wife and her amazing roles as both mother and nurse. It has over 920k likes and over 200k shares.

From these posts, it appears there’s rarely a dull moment in the Wesson home, but we doubt they’d prefer it any other way.

Teacher’s Test Has Unique Extra Credit Questions and a Savage Prank

Teacher's Extra Credit Questions
(Imgur/SharkyTheSharkDog)

An extra credit question is like finding a life-preserver in the middle of ocean. It won’t radically change your outlook, but might just be the one thing that saves your life.

And while most teachers tend to tack on an extra difficult or vague question at the end of an exam, one special scholar has thrown the extra credit rulebook out the window.

Imgur user SharkyTheSharkDog has been taking photos of the extra credit questions from this specific teacher and most of them are outrageously fun… with the most recent being a truly special kind of social torture.

1. How many seasons was “Full House” on the air?

 


2. Complete the verse… “I been in the game for ten years makin’ rap tunes…”

 


3. What color pants does Jake from State Farm wear?

 


4. “Yesterday, during my lecture, I quickly mentioned that only a pink pen will save you tomorrow. Draw a stick figure below in that pink pen.”

(brutal…)

 

5. Describe the dumbest conversation you overheard recently.

(extra extra credit!)

 


6. Including “The Revenant,” how many times has Leo DiCaprio been nominated for an Academy Award?

 

7. (And, finally, a savage test of one’s patience and reading comprehension skills…)

First person to read this, stand up proudly on your chair, and yell at the top of your lungs, “Oh Captain, My Captain!” will receive a 95% on this exam.

*Just kidding. Name the drummer for The Beatles.

(Imgur/SharkyTheSharkDog)

We proudly reward this fine teacher with an additional 10 points for their hilarious cruelty. Huzzah!

Aussie Airline Passenger Checks a Single Can of Beer as Luggage

Beer Luggage Check
(news.com.au/supplied)

Often times, beer is the answer.

The question? What is the only piece of luggage that an Australian man checked on a recent flight from Melbourne to Perth?

That’s right, no toothpaste, no underwear, and in turn, no hygiene. Dean—a beer lover through and through—checked only one item of luggage: a single can of Emu Export Lager.

Dean conceived the idea with the help of a friend who works at the Melbourne Airport, reassuring fellow fliers that practical jokes take greater priority than airline safety. I for one think that if the TSA pied people in the face while groping them then they wouldn’t have such a lousy reputation, but that’s just my opinion as a big Three Stooges fan.

As you can imagine, Dean wasn’t 100% sure his plan would work. However, in stereotypical Australian fashion, his beer was treated like precious cargo and loaded onto the airplane. Before Dean “hopped” on the flight, he snapped this picture:

Beer Luggage
(news.com.au/supplied)


The trip was no doubt a nerve-wracking one. Honestly, Dean could’ve used that beer to calm his nerves, which poses quite the conundrum since it was stowed away. But when he finally landed in Perth and approached baggage claim, something amazing happened:

Beer Checked
(news.com.au/supplied)

Wow, who knew Emu Export lager was as sturdy as it is refreshing.

The beer arrived in pristine condition and was given the same treatment that actors get from TMZ when they land at LAX, as fellow passengers took out their phones and begin feverishly snapping photos of the can.

Being either incredibly cheap or a stickler for technicalities, Dean was prepared to file a lost luggage report had his beer not arrived, but thankfully that wasn’t necessary.

Instead, Dean could sit back and enjoy a refreshing can of beer before realizing he had no changes of clothes for the days ahead. Also, it’s safe to assume that the can would be pretty shaken up after a turbulent flight, so hopefully he was careful opening it.

Cheers, mate!

Like beer as much as Dean? Well if you also like Breaking Bad, then you need to check out “Schraderbrau,” a beer brewed by one of the show’s stars himself.

Evander Kane Loses Baby in Utero, Hockey Community Rallies

Hockey Rallies Around Evander Kane
(Getty/Brandon Magnum)

Learning that you’re going to have a baby is one of the most joyful moments a person can have, and the next nine months or so are among the most exciting you’ll ever experience. You spend that time rearranging your home and your head-space to accommodate the little person that is going to upend just about every aspect of your existence.

When something goes wrong and you are robbed of that experience, it can be absolutely devastating. It helps to have family and friends around to comfort you.

That’s what happened when hockey player Evander Kane announced that his wife had lost the daughter they were expecting. Earlier this month, Baby Eva passed away mid-pregnancy, at just 26 weeks. Kane took to Twitter to share the news with San Jose Sharks fans, many of whom had been wondering why he hadn’t been on the ice lately.

The player’s statement thanked the community for reaching out in the aftermath of their loss.

“I would like to thank everyone who has reached to to my wife and I during this extremely difficult time,” he wrote. “Over the weekend, our daughter, Eva, at 26 weeks, passed away. As expecting parents, this past week has broken us.


Evander’s statement was met with condolences from people throughout the NHL community, including the league itself, and his team.

Other players offered sympathy as well, including both Evander’s teammates and players on rival clubs.


The LA Kings mascot sent well wishes.


And fans.



Evander missed a handful of games for the Sharks, having departed in late February and taking two weeks to be with his wife as they dealt with the tragedy. The player was clearly relishing the chance to be a dad and was heartbroken to have his unborn daughter taken from him before he was able to become one.

“Words cannot express how excited we were to welcome our baby girl into the world and watch her grow,” Kane wrote. “Eva, you have been the absolute biggest blessing of our lives and we are so grateful for all the joy you brought us in such a short amount of time.”

Father Figures: Rainbow Baby

“I never thought i would be a great father. I grew up in a home with a father who had anger issues.

As the years went by, I got married to my first wife, and we decided to try to be parents. Time and time again it was pregnancy, doctor’s visits, then, a few months later: miscarriage.

I gave up hope, and life being life, we separated. 7 years later, I met my wife Julie. 2 years after that, I got the text: two blue lines.

I was ready for a repeat. The months and visits kept happening, and I began to see my child grow. Her heart was strong, and she began moving. Then the visits began in the middle of the night. My wife’s blood pressure kept climbing and the threat of losing yet another baby became real.

Then, three weeks early, I get the call: my wife is being induced. 33 hours later, I’m holding my little girl.

9:12 a.m. on July 18, 2018 Victoria Ruth VanHuss, my rainbow baby, stole my heart.”

– Evan VanHuss

Want to share a story about fatherhood? Email fatherfigures@thedad.com

6 Dads Who Made the Most out of Winter 2019 [WATCH]

6 Dads Who Made the Most out of Winter 2019
(Eric Fobbe)

Winter is the best season! There’s snow to play in, there’s ice to skate on, and sometimes the commute to work is just too tough to struggle through (even though you managed to drive to the good tobogganing spot without a problem).

While lots of people are content with snuggling up indoors with some cocoa and a movie, these Dads are showing the season who’s boss.

1. Dad builds a wheelchair accessible snow fort

Gregg Eichhorn of Cincinnati spent five hours building a wheelchair-accessible snow fort so his daughter and son could both wheel through it. And he has seven other kids, get the full amazing story here.


2. Snow+Batman = Snowman? oh.

Alan Wolfard in New Mexico built an 8-foot snow Batman in his front garden in Bloomfield. He said it took him about three hours to build and it’s been getting lots of attention from his neighbors. He followed up Batman with Wonder Woman shortly after.


3. B.C. Dad builds an ice rink for his hockey-loving son

The winters are notoriously temperamental in British Columbia, Canada. After waiting weeks for the cold weather to stay, Sam Dinter and his dad, Chris are skating around their own backyard.

Ever since he was a boy, Chris wanted to build his own hockey rink in his garden and now, as a Dad, he can do it. Along with his sons, he put a liner down and filled it with a layer of water.

After weeks of worrying that the big freeze was never going to come, the weather finally cooperated and their garden was transformed from a shallow pool to the perfect ice rink.

4. Dad builds a monster snowman

Yet another dad putting our moderately proportioned snowman to shame, Eric Fobbe of Buffalo, Minnesota wanted to build ‘The Father of All Snowmen’.

He used a snowblower, a skidsteer, and a shovel to construct the 20-foot-tall ‘Snowskwatch’ in his yard. His neighbors must be so happy.


5. Saskatoon man builds an ice castle

Elsa has nothing on Don Greer of Saskatoon, Canada who built a 22-feet tall ice sculpture in the shape of a beautiful castle.

“Built with a one-by-two wood armature – with a chicken wire mesh that’s applied over that and then you begin to spray with a fine mist of water from a garden hose,” Greer said.

Inspired by Disney’s Frozen, it took Greer over 60 hours to finish and almost all of December.


6. Dad builds a snow tubing track in his front yard

Brian Johnson in Moorhead, Minnesota was inspired by the sheer amount of snow they’ve had this season. He has been working on the snow tubing track since February and is over 6 feet tall at the highest point. You can watch a video of the fun here.

“Just an epic tubing hill…of course, the children, they need something to do, keeps me busy,” he said.

In the spring Johnson said that he’ll turn it into a slip ‘n’ slide hill.

Wow! I wish he was my neighbor.

Dad Builds 6 Foot Snow Tube Hill
(KVRR Local News)

Looks like I’m going to have to up my game next winter!