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I Went and Did It Again

treeSometimes I wonder how I survived this long after my wife and I had our first child, my daughter, in late 2010. Then, we went and did it again. Our son was born only a few weeks ago on December 8th. He just survived his first apocalypse, so I’m very proud of him.

My name is Brian Zalewski. I think I’m finally getting that hang of this father thing, though I have a lot of thanks to give to the mother. I am now 32 years old, though that will tick up one number in under a month. I’ve been an avid lover of music and video games since I was a young boy. I usually lean toward the heavier rock and metal music, personally. As for video gaming, I play games across the board, from blockbusters to small, under-the-radar indie games. I also have some other hobbies like genealogy and family history. It’s something I got into about a decade ago. It satisfies my need to solve a mystery and dig through old documents, I guess.

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I’ve also been blogging on and off for over a decade now, back when Blogger just started. I’ve written on personal blogs, gaming blogs, genealogy blogs, and parenting blogs.

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I love the community it builds.

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My daughter is now a few months beyond the 2-year mark. She’s starting to gain interest in things like her favorite music and TV shows. It’s mainly Yo Gabba Gabba! all the way for her, but she does leave her comfort zone to enjoy things like Dora or Sesame Street. I told her she should not take Netflix for granted as Daddy had to wait for his favorite show to be on and he had to get up to change the channel.

I hope you enjoy my upcoming posts as a dad. I will try to let you know about some of the neat things my kids are enjoying and my journey along the way. Thanks for reading.

DVD Review: “Bunnytown: Hello Bunnies!”

Bunnytown: Hello Bunnies! (2009, Disney)
purchase this DVD (Amazon)

If you’ve been wondering why it seems to take three years for the folks who make Jack’s Big Music Show to get a season’s worth of new episodes together, this might be your answer. Disney’s Bunnytown, assembled by some of the same talent behind Jack’s, has been entertaining Disney Channel devotees since the last few weeks of 2007, and now, with Hello Bunnies! it makes its first leap — er, hop — into the home market.

Jack’s fans will instantly recognize the same visual aesthetic (and some of the same voices) behind Jack, Mary, and Mel; Bunnytown is a brightly colored world of foam and fuzz that fairly leaps off the screen. Here, take a gander:


This isn’t a carbon copy of Jack’s Big Music Show, however; it’s more of a Disneyfied version of The Muppet Show, complete with skits by human actors (including a pair of Laurel and Hardy-type characters). There really aren’t any storylines in any given Bunnytown episode; although you might see a gag repeat with slight variations, they mostly consist of bite-sized bits, light on dialogue and heavy on visual humor. A lot of it seems more suited to between-show bumpers on a network like Noggin than a full-length television series, but that works well with the short attention span of Bunnytown‘s target demographic (such as my daughter, who immediately pronounced it her new favorite series, ranking it higher than Yo Gabba Gabba! or The Wonder Pets — a change I suspect will be exceedingly temporary, but there you go).

The Hello Bunnies! DVD includes four episodes of Bunnytown, as well as a few small bonus features — one of which is, naturally, an advertisement for an upcoming Disney program. It’s all appropriate for young children, although it’s worth noting that some skits, such as “Superbunny,” are drawn along the same black-and-white moral lines that will be familiar to any longtime Disney viewers, and if you aren’t ready for your kids to digest the concept of “good” and “bad” bunnies — or people — then you may need to do some skipping around.

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CD Review: “MeeWee: Hip-Hop for Kids”

MeeWee: Hip-Hop for Kids (2008, MeeWee Entertainment)
purchase this album (Amazon)

To those of us who grew up during hip-hop’s mid-to-late ’80s golden era, the idea of a hip-hop album for kids may seem silly and unnecessary; after all, you can play a lot of those old hits without worrying about objectionable content. (My daughter, for instance, developed an intense appreciation for Heavy D at a very early age.) And then there’s this project’s name: MeeWee? Seriously? When I first heard about this album, I didn’t even want to say the title, let alone listen to the music.

Here’s the good news, then: MeeWee: Hip-Hop for Kids is much better than its title. It isn’t as much fun as the hip-hop hits you remember from your younger days, but for the most part, it avoids using the music to do any truly obnoxious pandering to kids, and the majority of the songs do a fine job of holding up to repeated listens. (A notable exception is the horrible “Keyvo,” which makes me want to give whoever recorded it a few solid punches to his MeeWee.) Some of them are really pretty catchy, actually; for instance, I’ve found myself randomly getting “I Can Be Anything” stuck in my head, and songs like “So Much Love to Give” deftly combine positive messages with solid pop arrangements.

MeeWee was developed by a former teacher and one of the producers of MTV’s Lyricist Lounge, and MeeWee Entertainment has been doing a great job of outreaching the album to childcare professionals (teachers, camp counselors, dance instructors), offering them free downloads as well as lesson plans and other materials. It’s a smart way of getting the word out, and for the K-3 set, MeeWee might work as a spoonful of sugar to help the educational message go down. Older kids are a lot savvier about music, though — hip-hop in particular — and for future installments, the company could, and should, do a better job of connecting the dots between real hip-hop and age-appropriate messages. This stuff is cute, but it’s canned, and the world is still waiting for an album of kids’ songs from rappers with household names. (Biz Markie and the Roots have contributed to Yo Gabba Gabba!, after all.) In the meantime, there’s no arguing with results like these:

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