The Punisher on Netflix

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I kept reading how amazing The Punisher on Netflix is. And having enjoyed a lot of the Netflix Marvel shows (Luke Cage, Jessica Jones and Iron Fist ... in that order) I decided to give it a chance. I can had never read The Punisher, Punisher War Journal or any of the other Punisher titles that Marvel would publish throughout the 1980s and 90s, so I had no frame of reference when I began to watch The Punisher as a clean slate. And I was not disappointed.

Having no preconceived opinions on the character and the universe, I was able to enjoy the show for what it is. This isn't a spoiler but, the show is really violent. You don't expect a guy called The Punisher to be someone who talks things out.

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The basic story is Frank Castle is a Marine Corp vet (now of deployments in the Middle East, as opposed to the comic book Frank Castle who got his PTSD in the jungles of Vietnam) who after the murder of his family, seeks revenge on all of those who were involved. This happens before the series and is often referenced to. Frank Castle died before the series began, at least that is what the general public is lead to believe.

But he was very much alive, living a low key life as laborer Peter Castiglione. He was waiting to find the last few people on his list. He then learns about a vast conspiracy that involved him, which forces him to come out from the shadows guns a blazing. Seriously.

There is a grittiness and tone that I haven't seen much on TV since the early seasons of Sons of Anarchy. Frank who despite his very violent nature is kind hearted and has a strong sense of morality that drives his every move. Frank is played by Walking Dead alum Jon Bernthal and he makes a seemingly uncomplicated guy, into someone you really care about. The show is really well acted and the other characters are full and as 3 three dimensional as you can get in 13 episodes.
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While this show exists in the main Marvel Cinematic Universe, and The Punisher appeared in episodes of Daredevil season 2, you can watch this show without having seen a second of any of the other shows and not miss a step. Which is what I did not like about The Defenders, since I didn't finish watching Daredevil I was extremely lost.

Not to be too spoilery, but the show ends in a way that there is a perfect setup for a second season, also while wrapping up this story perfectly. I know a show is really worth my time, when I finish binging it and am mad that I have to wait probably a year to see more.

Note: This is a totally independent review, I was not compensated by #Marvel or #Netflix ... but I'm open to working with them.


Tabletop Tuesday - Holiday Guide

With the holidays coming up, you may be at wits end what to get for one of your kids, a niece or nephew, holiday grab bag, nerdy friend or what not. So your pal Niel is here to help you. These are some of the games that I reviewed this year as part of my Table Top Tuesday series. They are all fun (for kids and adults). I haven’t been compensated for this list, it’s just a suggestion. So enjoy some non-screen time with those you love ... or slightly like this holiday season.

Great for little kids

Simon’s Cat: A really fun sequential matching game with adorably humorous cats.

Great for Bigger Kids

Snappy Dressers: A matching game featuring hipster sloths, deer and other well dressed animals.
Build or Boom: A race to build complex structures before your opponent can. And then blow up their structure.
Happy Salmon: A race to get rid of all your cards, not for the timid.

Great for Teens and Adults

Expedition the Roleplaying card Game: A great roleplaying game that you can play without reading hundreds and hundreds of pages of players guides.
Hanabi: A cooperative game where all the players work together to put on the grandest firework display.
Math Fluxx: The latest version of the FLUXX franchise. The card game with both no rules ... and a million rules.


Hold on

There is a tendency in our society to look to take care of others first. After looking after all those who depend on us, working, and running errands there seems to be no time for yourself. But without giving yourself an hour or so of "you" time every now and then you are just a robot doing task after task after task. Also when you are going through stressful and anxiety filled times in your life, you need to slip away from your reality for even a short time to recharge your battery.

Kind of falling into both of those scenarios I went searching for that time. That's when I found out about floating. And then when I did the research about that I found out about cuddling.Wait, what? Yes, cuddling. It's a thing and it's not as weird as you would imagine. I contacted Cuddlist which is one of the most reputable places to find professional cuddlers. I was intrigued, are people actually doing this? And yes apparently in droves. The founders of the organization have set up a strict screening process for the “cuddlists” which includes training (which is overseen by one of the co-founders) and a strict code of conduct that both parties have to agree to adhere to, which involves dress code, inappropriate touching etc.

The idea is that people are lacking in touch. And that is very important to a person's well being, think about a newborn and how much they need and thrive on being held. It's no different for adults. And since they have been very clear to eliminate anything sexual in the process, people are free to be held or hold someone in a non-threatening platonic way. Kind of like therapy but with fewer words. Though when I tried it there was a lot of talking.

I arrived at the place and I was nervous. I didn’t really know what was going to happen. I was greeted at the door by Ella, who by trade is a public school teacher. She had started cuddling on the side, but after a particularly tough school year, she took a year off and is now cuddling full time. She showed me the way to the bathroom, and I changed into gym clothes, she was wearing a nice pair of pajamas.

We sat on a big comfy sofa and talked for a little while. We went over the code of conduct, she turned on some quiet but invigorating music. It was the score for the movie Amelie. And then she put her head on my chest. After a few minutes I felt at ease, it was much like when you had to acclimate to the sensory deprivation tank.

The session which was an hour was really nice. It's hard to describe it in words. Kind of like falling asleep on a sofa with a cat you like asleep in the crook of your arm if you like cats. It was comfortable and un-judged. Ella who is also a graphic artist has a really easy manner about her. It was a very profound and familiar experience but not anything inappropriate, and that was great because that was what I was hoping to get out of the experience. She told me most of her clients are partnered but are so busy with real life they don't get all the touch they need at home and are not looking for an affair or what not.

Most of the clients at Cuddlist are male, Ella thinks that women, moms, in particular, could benefit from cuddling since they do so much for others and not themselves. Cuddlist employees over 100 trained cuddlists (both female and male). Since Cuddlist launched in January of 2016, they have spread throughout the country, but mostly concentrated in more how do you say progressive areas. If you are curious it is worth the small investment in yourself.

Note: Cuddlist was nice enough to provide me with a free session to use as research for this post, but all opinions are my own.

SPECIAL DEAL FOR MY NYC AREA READERS (or anyone willing to travel to NYC) - Go to Ella’s page and mention Great Moments in Bad Parenting in the notes section and you will receive $10 off of an hour session.


Tabletop Tuesday - Happy Salmon


To the uninitiated, that sounds really really untoward. But for those of us who have been lucky enough to play Happy Salmon from NorthStar Games games, it brings a smile to your face. A word of warning, this is not a quiet game or a game for the overly shy. It is a game that rewards excitement and punishes timidness.

Each player is given a stack of cards the cards have four commands, Pound It, High 5, Reverse and Happy Salmon. The goal is to get rid of all of your cards first. You give a read set go and you try to match another player who is trying to get rid of the same card, and you have to act out the card do discard it. So pound it is a simple fist bump, high five is super self-explanatory and reverse means you need to physically move where you are standing around the table. Sitting is really not recommended. And lastly the games namesake the happy salmon. Players clasp each other’s arm and then make flap their hand like a fish tail. All the players are shouting all at once so it’s very chaotic and super loud. Which is pretty fun.

Would I recommend playing this in a hotel late at night? Do you want to meet your neighbors, then maybe? But it is perfect to play in a common area of a hotel. Fun for kids … and adults. A great game to play at camp with scouts or even as an activity with scouts at one of their meetings. When I would have by Tiger scouts (1st graders) play it they loved the action and no one really cared who actually won the game.

One of the more fun games that I have played all year.

NOTE: I was given a copy of Happy Salmon by NorthStar Games for use in facilitating this review, but as always all opinions are my own.


I'm thankful for ... brands

Our regular programming will return next Monday. This week I reflect on things I'm thankful for. 

Yes, I am so clever I am being thankful for brands here on Black Friday. But without all the brands I have had the honor of working with during this past year, I don't know where my brand is. Thank you for sending me checks, but also thank you for helping me do fun things with my kids and sometimes leaving my comfort zone. I won't list them all but know that I am humbled that both major national brands and local businesses have chosen to work with me. I hope that I can continue to work with you and other brands in the future.

What is great about working with brands is they are becoming more and more receptive to a dad's point of view. And while I am more than happy to write straight from the brand bible, I really like being able to weave a brand's message into a story I want to tell. So thanks for allowing me to make sponsored content actually readable.


I'm thankful for ... Nugget and the little guy


Our regular programming will return next Monday. This week I reflect on things I'm thankful for. 

On top of being so awesome, both in your completely different ways. I am taken back by the things I learn about you guys every single day. You are tough, resilient, adaptable and are turning into amazing little people.  Nothing in this world makes me prouder or more thankful than being your father.


I'm thankful for ... Scouting

Our regular programming will return next Monday. This week I reflect on things I'm thankful for. 

A year ago, I left  Woodbadge course N2-388-16 abruptly on day 4. There was a family crisis going on and I needed to be home. We got back on a path to eliminate most of that crisis. And I contacted the course director of the next course and asked about getting on the staff. He really wanted to choose as many newcomers as he could but said he would get back to me. A few months later I got the email and immediately said yes. The course N2-640-17 was a masterpiece, yes we were behind schedule all the time. And yes that ticket pajama party lasted until 3am, and then the next night was until at least 2am, but it was great. The best Woodbadge experience I ever had. I'm going to write more about it at a later date but just wow.

And back at my home units, I have never been prouder of my team. They have stepped up in their roles and have added other roles to build up our overall group. When I was at a parents night and there were rows of blue shirts looking at me (or off into the distance) as I talked about registration I thought in a few years there are going to be rows and rows of brown shirts and it starts here. We have to keep doing what we are doing on the Pack side and keep working on the troop side. We won't be denied.


I'm thankful for ... my friends

Our regular programming will return next Monday. This week I reflect on things I'm thankful for. 

Friends are great to have. And I am very lucky to have a great group of friends. I have gone through a tough time this year and I have been lifted by my friends, two in particular. One who was constantly on top of me, keeping me distracted and caffeinated. Another who kept a little bit of distance, but was clandestinely checking up on me every day. I knew about that because the other guy can be sloppy. Both ways were exactly what I needed. You guys will never know because I don't have the words, how much you helped. So if I win a lottery and one day a boat is parked out in front of your house ... it is from me.

And to a friend from long ago ... I hope we are on a road to becoming friends again.