My bride and I have been excited for weeks about the partnership between Netflix and Michael Pollan to bring “Cooked” to its streaming lineup; it’s a 4-part series based on Mr. Pollan’s most recent book.  We watched the first part, “Fire,” on Friday evening.

Here’s the description of the show from Pollan’s website:

Explored through the lenses of the four natural elements – fire, water, air and earth – Cooked is an enlightening and compelling look at the evolution of what food means to us through the history of food preparation and its universal ability to connect us. Highlighting our primal human need to cook, the series urges a return to the kitchen to reclaim our lost traditions and to forge a deeper, more meaningful connection to the ingredients and cooking techniques that we use to nourish ourselves.

And if ever I were excited about the coming spring in Atlanta and the opportunity to fill my Primo with ribs, pork shoulders, wings, and anything else I can fit on there that used to run, swim, or fly, I sure as shootin’ am even more excited about it now.  It looks to be an informative and aesthetically pleasing look at how and why we prepare our food.

If you give any semblance of a damn about what you put into your body, you should check out this series (and his books!).  Some others in this category I’ve enjoyed watching on Netflix include “Food, Inc.,” “King Corn,” and “Fed Up,” among others.

One of the odder aspects of occasionally writing things on the internet is that people, companies, or locations might reach out and ask you to accept a large box full of confetti, plastic discs, and watches that don’t tell time, but do summon a little ghost butler to your aid so that you don’t make bad decisions at the behest of other little ghost butler creature thingys called Yo-kai.

The watch is also called Yo-kai, because it summons these spirits (“Yo-kai” is both singular and plural, like “deer” or “fish,” but less edible). And it’s huge in Japan.

The box was so big that I thought it too much for my 3 children, so I invited 4 additional children, which in this country means I had 7 children between the ages of 3 and 9 in my den (which is not that big of a den). My wife and I poured a couple mixed drinks, put the DVD in, and readied ourselves for the madness on a rainy Sunday afternoon in Georgia.

 I had no idea our sofa could hold 4 wide!  It’s like the Dayton 500 up in here!

The cartoon was weird. Trippy, even. I have to assume the way it made me feel is how my parents felt when I used to watch The Smurfs.

But, it was also pretty funny.  The whole room (including grownups) laughed during the dance number all the kids did at the end of the episode (after the blank stares and agape mouths faded).

That said, more than one child (including one of ours) noticed a driver’s use of the word “moron” in anger at a pedestrian in the first episode and seemed offended by it. It created a teachable moment that involved my bride’s explanation of the varying social mores and cultural differences we see across countries. I’m pretty sure one of her Ph.D. classes was The Japanese Use of Descriptors of Mental Disability Originally Coined by American Psychologists Over 100 Years Ago but Now are Used in Children’s Entertainment, which helped.

The dog was not into it until a cat got hit by a car.  Then, she was into it.

Other than the scene involving the angry driver, the children were into it.  And, I liked how everyone in the cartoons seems to blame his/her problems and shortcomings on little animated ghosts.  I’ve going to start incorporating this attitude with my clients.

We let them see a few episodes before pulling out the roughly 17′ x 89′ box the company shipped me and let them divide up the spoils. When they all got their own medals, watches, collection books, and posters, there were really into it. They chased each other and pushed buttons that made loud noises and squealed until I sent all 7 outside to play in the rain with their new toys that already had batteries.

In Japan, this TV show is the highest rated among the age 4-12 set; it’s going to air in October on Disney XD here (Mondays at 5pm). Hasbro is releasing a line of toys that kids in the States can buy, too.  Our box had several of the watches in it, several medals that slide into them to conjure up the various little spirits, a medallium collection book, and some posters.

After the party ended, and it was just my 3 children, my 7-year-old boy asked the question that toy companies love but parents fear:
“Can I start collecting the medals?

I reckon, son.  After all, I still have my collection of smurfs (somewhere).


FTC statement:  I got pay and toys from Hasbro for this review; opinions and psychological analysis are mine (or my spouse’s).

the wall

Right now, a bunch of us are at the Dad 2.0 Summit in Washington DC, and we’ve just announced that a dozen of us are walking Hadrian’s Wall this summer to raise money for Camp Kesem, and that there will be a new camp at the University of Maryland in honor of Oren Miller, who died of cancer last year (and is a U. of MD alumnus, along with his wife).

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Camp Kesem is an organization that supports children through the struggle of having a parent with cancer; they host events–camps–at college campuses all over the country.  Our group’s fundraising page is at  You should support our trip.  It’ll help 6,000 children this year.  All proceeds go to setting up camps (i.e., we walkers are covering our own travel, lodging, food–thanks, Delta sky miles!).

Delta flight to UK

I’ve personally lost grandparents to cancer and several good friends from school.  And you know what?  So have you.

Let’s give children who are facing such loss some support, okay?  Here’s the link to make it happen:

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