Dear Jack: What I Bought Instead of an $70 Gorilla Costume

4 years, 8 months.

Dear Jack: What I Bought Instead of an $80 Gorilla Costume

Dear Jack,

It all started last weekend when our family was at Target getting your Halloween costume. We amazingly found a Captain America costume for just 10 bucks!

In the next aisle, I found a gorilla costume for $30. The thing is, I’ve always wanted one. My way of thinking is, you never know when one might come in handy…

I tried it on, but fortunately, it was a “XL” size for boys; the body of it fit a little tight, but I could have made it work. However, the head mask itself was too small to even fit past my forehead.

Since then, I have checked in every store comparable to Target, as well as those seasonal Halloween stores.

The going rate for a men’s gorilla costume is $80.

So it’s $30 for an XL boy size, but $80 for the next size up; a men’s.

I have great plans for a new character for our Jack-Man series; a mutant beast that would be a reoccurring character.

And the thing is, gorilla costumes really aren’t that common, but they are recognizable. I think a gorilla would make a very fascinating and dynamic character for our videos.

As for now, the story ends with our family going yesterday morning to Super Target, near our house. I did find a men’s gorilla costume there for $70…

However, I also found a $25 Chewbacca men’s onesie and a $15 Target brand “Angry Teddy Mask.”

(I’ll still check the morning after Halloween to see if I can get the gorilla costume half off at Super Target.)

When I got home yesterday, I decided I could cover up the Chewbacca’s sash with a green puffy vest I already had, to make the costume original for our videos.

So for nearly half the price of the best deal I could find on a gorilla costume, I made my own beastly creature costume.

If things go as planned, everyone will be able to catch a glimpse of my new beastly character after we film a new webisode of Jack-Man next weekend…



Dressing As A Super Hero For Abbi’s Birthday/2014 Hyundai Santa Fe Weekend

4 years.

Dear Jack,

Dressing As A Super Hero For Abby’s Birthday/2014 Hyundai Santa Fe Weekend

I mentioned how you chose to wear your “super hero costume” to open your birthday gifts from Mommy and me when you turned 4 a few weeks ago; having received the outfit as a gift from your friend Madison at your Lego birthday party at Bricks 4 Kidz.

Dressing As A Super Hero For Abby’s Birthday/2014 Hyundai Santa Fe Weekend

Well, this weekend you were quite excited when Mommy and I learned that Abbi’s birthday actually had a costume theme.

While I tried to convince you just to wear your Ninja Turtle hoodie and be Donatello, you insisted on wearing your costume from Madison.

The logistical problem with that is that we had already boxed it up in our storage unit, as our new house should be ready by the end of next month.

Dressing As A Super Hero For Abby’s Birthday/2014 Hyundai Santa Fe Weekend

Mommy was up for the challenge so we loaded up in the 2014 Hyundai Santa Fe we have been driving this week, as we await the news of whether or not my own car will be totaled thanks the albino deer that hit me on the way home the night before Thanksgiving.

Dressing As A Super Hero For Abby’s Birthday/2014 Hyundai Santa Fe Weekend

Something really cool about every Hyundai I have reviewed is that basically the entire ceiling is a moon roof. You love that! You love being able to see so much of what’s going on.

Dressing As A Super Hero For Abby’s Birthday/2014 Hyundai Santa Fe Weekend

Mommy’s favorite feature of the Santa Fe is the heated seats, especially this time of year.

My favorite thing about it is the size. Now more than ever, I like a good strong SUV that help protect me in the event I get hit by another albino deer. Hyundais are just nice vehicles anyway, as I’ve been quick to mention in my other reviews of them.

Dressing As A Super Hero For Abby’s Birthday/2014 Hyundai Santa Fe Weekend

Speaking of safety, I also really appreciate the Blind Spot Detection System, which alerts me anytime another vehicle or object is getting dangerously close to me. (After having recently been hit by a deer, this is something I’m quite sensitive to this days!)

Dressing As A Super Hero For Abby’s Birthday/2014 Hyundai Santa Fe Weekend

And not to mention, the back-up camera saves me a lot of worries too. (See below the relevant song that happened to come up on XM radio this week while we were driving the Santa Fe.)

Dressing As A Super Hero For Abby’s Birthday/2014 Hyundai Santa Fe Weekend

Well, thanks to Mommy’s supreme packing skills, she was able to pull up the door of our storage unit, then immediately open up the box with your super hero costume! You then curiously asked about your monster trucks- she found that box too.

Dressing As A Super Hero For Abby’s Birthday/2014 Hyundai Santa Fe Weekend

Before Abbi’s birthday party, we decided we should stop by our new house which is still under construction and see the latest updates.

Afterwards, as part of our tradition, we stopped by the model home so you could say hi to the in-house real estate agent. You had hidden a piece of foam (which you refer to as your “pizza parlor”) in the bushes and decided to crawl under the Christmas tree as a gift… because that’s normal for 4 year-old boys, I assume. (See top picture, again.)

When we arrived to Abbi’s party, we were greeted by hens, which we fed some dried worms to.

Dressing As A Super Hero For Abby’s Birthday/2014 Hyundai Santa Fe Weekend

Once we walked inside the house, I was glad we had found your costume beforehand, because I realized your Ninja Turtle hoodie wasn’t quite enough for this costume-themed party.

Dressing As A Super Hero For Abby’s Birthday/2014 Hyundai Santa Fe Weekend

You kept your eye mask on the entire drive and at least the first 30 minutes of the party.

Dressing As A Super Hero For Abby’s Birthday/2014 Hyundai Santa Fe Weekend

And of course, your friend Madison (who gave you the costume) was so happy to see you wearing it. (Pictured below.)

Dressing As A Super Hero For Abby’s Birthday/2014 Hyundai Santa Fe Weekend

You were lucky: you basically got to have an all-you-can-eat sweets buffet while we were there.

Dressing As A Super Hero For Abby’s Birthday/2014 Hyundai Santa Fe Weekend

So we decided having dinner at Whole Foods would be a good way to offset that, but first we stopped to see some Christmas lights along the way.

Needless to say, we had a really fun week in the Santa Fe. And you especially had fun, being a super hero the whole time!



Dressing As A Super Hero For Abby’s Birthday/2014 Hyundai Santa Fe Weekend

2014 Hyundai Santa Fe Standard Features:

5 year/60,000 mile New Vehicle Warranty

10 year/100,000 mile Powertrain Warranty

7 year/Unlimited mile and Perforation Warranty

5 year/Unlimited mile Roadside Assistance

2014 Hyundai Santa Fe

Advanced Safety Technology:

Vehicle Stability Management (VSM) with Traction Control

ABS with Electronic Brake Force Distribution & Brake Assist

Blind Spot Detection System

2014 Hyundai Santa Fe

Powertrain Technology:

3.3 L Gasoline Direct Injection V6 Engine

290 Horsepower @ 6,400 RPM

Fuel Economy:

21 MPG average: 18 city/25 highway

Annual fuel cost: $2,500

2014 Hyundai Santa Fe

Dear Jack: Dressing Yourself As A Super Hero To Open Your Gifts From Family

4 years. 

Dear Jack: Dressing Yourself As A Super Hero To Open Your Gifts From Family

Dear Jack,

A week ago was your actual 4th birthday, though your birthday party with your friends was the day before on Saturday.

That meant you had already opened your presents from your friends by the time Mommy and I let you open your gifts from us the next morning at our house.

Dear Jack: Dressing Yourself As A Super Hero To Open Your Gifts From Family

Sort of half-jokingly, I suggested that before you got started opening our gifts to you, that you should dress up in the super hero costume that your friend Madison had given you. (We actually let you open your gifts in front of your friends at your party; even though that’s nearly considered weird these days!)

Dear Jack: We Actually Let You Open Your Presents At Your Birthday Party

You didn’t hesitate.

To make things even better, you happened to already be wearing your Batman pajamas, which had served as your Halloween costume just a few weeks ago.

Dear Jack: Dressing Yourself As A Super Hero To Open Your Gifts From Family

So by the time you put on your costume, it apparently made you Super Captain Batman Jack!

It’s like you honestly believed that the red cape made you fun faster, because you were trying it out right, getting into super hero character before you sat down to open your presents.

Dear Jack: Dressing Yourself As A Super Hero To Open Your Gifts From Family

I want to be clear, you did not remove one item of the costume the entire time, including the mask.

Even if you never wear the costume again, which after seeing this, I’m pretty sure you will, it was worth Madison picking out this outfit for you just for this event alone.

Dear Jack: Dressing Yourself As A Super Hero To Open Your Gifts From Family

It was a relevant gift for more than one reason. Turns out, one of the gifts Mommy and I got for you was a Spiderman sleeping bag.

Dear Jack: Dressing Yourself As A Super Hero To Open Your Gifts From Family

Not only have you been using it to sleep on this week, given that everything is moved out of our house now since we’re moving out to live with some friends as our new house is being built, but I also envision your new Spiderman sleeping bag to be what you sleep on when we “go camping” in our backyard of our new house next summer.

Dear Jack: Dressing Yourself As A Super Hero To Open Your Gifts From Family

And fortunately, your mechanically-minded Uncle Andew was there to help put together a Techno Gears Marble Mania Quest maze; it took him only 2 hours, whereas the box warned it would take 3 to 4!

You provided great entertainment for our family as you opened your “Mommy and Daddy” presents. You really did make the best Super Captain Batman Jack that I have ever seen!



Sometimes, Being Dressed as a Wolf in Public at the Right Moment Can Have Its Benefits

I cried wolf.  And it didn’t end badly.

In high school I played a wolf in the senior class play (1999), Beauty and the Beast. One afternoon during school hours, dressed in full shag-carpet costume, I had just left from a photo shoot for the local newspaper, as class had just gotten out.  There happened to be two girls getting into a fist fight, as a crowd was gathering accordingly. I was faced with a decision:

A) Enjoy the fight.

B) Break up the fight by simply making a scene.

I rushed up near the girls and began growling and howling, similiar to the transformation process on the TV version of The Incredible Hulk. The crowd started laughing at me instead of paying attention to the girls pushing each other around. The two fighting girls both looked at me with confused faces. It’s difficult to continue a fist fight when there’s randomly a 5’ 9” wolf waving around his claws at you, who is making so much racket that the fight itself is no long interesting.  The fight was over.  Both the crowd and the fighting girls walked back to class like nothing ever happened.

Most of Life is Just Simply Showing Up

There is an art to “being there” when it comes to discovering The Quality of Life. From gaining educational degrees, to getting a job interview, to meeting one’s future spouse, showing up is the most important part. The rest is just details.

Showing Up: 75%
Getting a person to show up for anything is a task in of itself. Because I am a first-born child and because my wife was born of both first-born parents, she and I have both been wired to be planners. There is a schedule and a calendar. When at all possible, we live by them.

It’s easy to get us to show up if we have been told two weeks in advance. But we’re bound to be no-shows when we’re told about an event the day of, via text message. Because chances are, we already have plans.

Anyone who has been married in the last several years surely has a fresh-on-the-brain story or two about RSVP’s gone wrong. Like guests who say they will be there, RSVP for guests of their own (which were not invited), then don’t know up at all. Even at just $35 a head, it still stings when the bill comes after the wedding.

Human presence at a specific event at a specific time is a flighty thing. More fickle and unpredictable than any other aspect of The Quality of Life. A person has to be there before anything else can happen. But once they’re there, things tend to work themselves out.

You show up to class, you’re likely to learn at least a little something.

Experience: 5%
How can one person qualify to relate to another without the minimal proper experience? Whether it’s enough work experience, educational experience, or just simply life experience, without a history and understanding that is similar, it’s difficult for people to be on the same page.

Appearance: 5%
Not a matter of physical beauty, but instead what a person wears when they do show up. In other words, I’m referring to the importance of “wearing the right costume.” Despite what our bodies look like underneath our clothing, what we use to cover our bodies up with is worth more than the money we spend to buy it. Just like a nice Frank Sinatra-style hat can make any slob look a little bit classier, so can a person’s well-presented wardrobe make anyone look at least a bit more attractive.

Not necessarily a matter of expensive clothing. Just simply the right “costume”. A good presentation goes a long way. Or at least 5%, according to my calculations.

A few weeks ago on the “makeover episode” of The Biggest Loser, I laughed when I saw Allen. He already was a clean-shaven, clean-cut man to begin with. They just stuck him in a nice suit and tie. That was his makeover.

Personality: 5%
People like people who remind themselves of themselves. A person is much more likely to positively respond to another person who uses the same speech patterns, who positions their body in a similar stance, who laughs and shows sympathy at the right cues, who uses the other person’s name sporadically in conversation, and who maintains good eye contact. Dale Carnegie 101.

Performance: 5%
I have a philosophy I live by at work. “Do your best constantly. That way it’s easier to have your boss never say anything negative about you during a performance meeting or mass e-mail, especially when the boss is having a bad day.” With so many slackers in the world, when a person proves that they are competent, creative, and dedicated, they automatically stick out from the crowd. Just like we are quite aware of the inflation of money in our economy, it seems the same thing is happening with work ethics.

To acknowledge I can do something better is to say that I’m not already doing my best. And sometimes, for a person to do their best means that they are meeting their co-workers’ and superiors’ reasonable expectations. Which includes not pushing the dress code, taking constant personal calls, and leaving regularly for outside appointments. And that goes back to simply showing up.

Random Chance: 5%
Right place, right time. I showed up to a random filming of the CMT show “Crossroads”. I had the life experience of a 25 year-old American guy and could relate to a 25 year-old American girl. I was dressed neatly (not wearing Bachelor Pants). I was friendly and confident, not obnoxious or desperate. I successfully entertained the beautiful girl who I noticed as soon as I walked into the room, while we waited in an hour long line.

Without random chance (divinely guided or not) I wouldn’t have met the girl I would eventually marry. On October 5th, 2006 a stranger would walk into my life who would forever change it.

But of course the “random choice” of her being there too that night only reflects the importance of the most important element of the Quality of Life: being there. She showed up.

People are the meaning of life. And most of life is just simply showing up. To work parties. Service projects. Family reunions. School plays. Church activities.  People tend to notice, remember, and appreciate the ones that are there in person, not just in spirit.

This post is based on a concept presented to me by Shawn Garbett, a guy I met at my wife’s Christmas work party. We both showed up. Our initial conversion produced this as the result.

Batman or Superman?

I never realized what an epic question it is. But ask someone, while being sincerely enthusiastic, and you’ll watch that question become a conversation worthy of a bonfire setting.

Not a question of who’s better, or more popular, or cooler. Just simply:
Superman or Batman? In fact, I’m learning it’s one of the best questions one human being can ask another.

What do both of these superheroes have in common? They both came out at the same time. Respectively, 1938 and 1939. They both were created by Jews. Respectively, Jerry Siegal and Bob Kane. And they both have had several incarnations of television shows and movies in their 70 years so far.

Superman Pro’s:
He can fly. He has a steady love interest. Well-balanced American values. X-ray Vision.

Superman Con’s:

Nerdy alter-ego. He has a boring day job. He’s a not even a human- he’s a freakin’ alien. Must have easy access to telephone booths.

Batman Pro’s:
Intimidating costume. He has a faithful sidekick. Billionaire. Cool gadgets and martial arts training.

Batman Con’s:
Can’t really fly. No X-ray vision. Traumatic childhood. Lives in a cave and seems to like it that way.

Major differences:
*Superman is an alien pretending to be man. Batman is a man pretending to be a bat.
*In the 70 years of existence of both superheroes, Superman tends to be more popular among who were young during the first 35 years (1938-1973), whereas those who were young during the 2nd half of the 70 years (1974-2009).
*Superman has had more positive exposure through TV shows throughout the decades. Batman has had extreme success through several movies in the last 20 years.

My first instinct was to say that Superman is better. Almost seems like the obvious choice. He’s was raised in the rural Midwest by Methodist parents. He embraces the average American image. And has perfect blue/black hair.

But Batman is more of a real person to me. With the murder of his parents when he was a young boy, he had to both deal with that and take over their empire business. (Superman’s parents were murdered too, but he was just a baby when it happened.)

He is dark and mysterious. And intentionally embraces the whole bat theme simply because he thinks it’s creepy. So he knows it will freak out his enemies. Which he has plenty of, unlike Superman.

To many, I’m sure Superman has much allure simply because he is just that- a super man. With super powers.

But I choose the underdog of the two superheroes. Batman is a real man with no special powers. He is a self-trained man who worked hard to get where he is. He just uses cool gadgets and fights in hand-to-hand combat. Oh, and he has a really cool car.

Vote below: