Friday, August 22, 2008

Martha Stewart meets Indy meets Zack the Lego Maniac

The kiddo decided he wanted a Lego Indy themed birthday party this year. Building off the inspiration she found on the fabulous system of wires and tubes we call the InterWeb, my amazing and creative wife produced a cake like no other for the big day. And here are the results...

Pretty cool, eh?

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Lost but not Forgotten, from the Dark Heart of a Dream

Generally speaking, I don't read a lot of fiction. I find non-fiction just so much more entertaining most of the time, but I do burn through a handful of novels each year. And back in 2006, I picked up The Book of Fate from the library. I didn't know who Brad Meltzer was at the time, but I had heard something about the book online and ended up devouring it. I even wrote down a quote from the book I really liked to remember and keep on hand ("'Haven't you ever played Uno?' he asks calmly. 'Sometimes you have to lose all your cards to win.'")

In the past couple of years, I've come to know who Meltzer is and understand the orbit he moves in. And I am excited to read Meltzer's new book, The Book of Lies. I mean, how many novels explore the most famous murder of all time, the mystery behind the never-identified weapon, and the genesis of the Man of Steel? Not to meniton the book's trailer boasts both Joss Whedon and Brian K. Vaughan. The book even has a companion soundtrack that includes R.E.M. And although it should also include Springsteen's "Adam Raised a Cain", that's still good stuff!

The first chapter is up on his site. That'll have to tide me over for the next few weeks until the book is released.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Breakfast at Padmé's

I loved the Original Trilogy as a kid. It caught me at that perfect age to be swept up in the fantasy adventure. But after Return of the Jedi, my interest in the movies was almost completely extinguished. Unbeknownst to me, the pilot light was still burning, and my son's love of all things "A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away" reignited the blaze.

Our fantastic main library has a great auditorium where they show movies on the big screen each Thursday night. And I've taken the kiddo to movies there regularly over the years. It's where he saw things like Disney's original The Shaggy Dog and E.T. - The Extra-Terrestrial for the first time. A few years ago, they ran all six Star Wars movies over six consecutive Thursdays. We caught a few of them there. But seeing already released movies on the library's big screen is far different from seeing a first-run new release in a real movie theater.

Despite the bad (horrible, really) press the latest Star Wars installment has been getting, I wasn't going to deny my son the chance to see a new Star Wars movie in the theater... opening weekend... the week of his birthday. So John, his daughter, my kiddo, and I headed out to experience Star Wars: The Clone Wars first-hand.

I had not actually read anything about the movie before seeing it. But my wife had told me
Entertainment Weekly gave it an "F" and other friends had said they'd seen headlines promising the visual equivalent of flushing my $12 down the toilet. I had my own reservations going into this movie: I really loved the TV Clone Wars art, but wasn't sure about this new movie's renderings, and I don't really like the prequel trilogy or its characters. So I went into this thing with appropriately lowered expectations and was pleasantly surprised.

The kiddo forgot his glasses, so we sat in the third row. This helped with the experience I think. I haven't sat so close that I had to actually turn my head from side-to-side to take in all the action on the big screen in a long, long time. And the art was surprisingly not distracting.

But two things really stand out about this movie for me: First, they somehow successfully wrung tension out of characters whose fate we already know. Something they supremely failed to do in all three live-action prequels. Second (and, in my mind, their greatest achievement), for the first time I actually found myself able to invest in the character of Anakin. For once he wasn't a whiny kid or an even whinier young adult. He was a sympathetic character who was able to grow. I don't think I've ever actually rooted for Anakin before, but here I did.

It wasn't all roses, of course. I was originally intrigued by the Hutt kidnapping storyline as it began to unfold, but the introduction of Jabba the Hutt's Uncle Ziro, Truman Capote in slug form, went a long way in destroying that element of the movie for me.

Regardless, though, I don't think the movie deserves the harsh press it's received. It has problems, but it makes the most of what it has to work with and even surprises in reaching its potential at times. It also helped that I saw the movie with a seven year-old certified Star Wars nut. I find that I appreciate these things more now that I'm seeing them through his eyes and supplemented by his enthusiasm. And I'll take that any day of the week over just about any other experience.

Monday, August 18, 2008

The Creator is Everywhere

We were watching the Olympic 3-Meter Diving Finals last night and NBC showed Christina Loukas' parents after her dive. The commentator mentioned that Patty and George Loukas were in the crowd and cheering their daughter on, at which point the kiddo could barely contain his excitement that George Lucas -- "the creator of all things Star Wars!" -- was on TV! At the Olympics!