Cornfield Meet

Things collide here.

New Arrivals

Remember these?

Now they’re these:

(click for a bigger version)

(click for a bigger version)

I’m figuring two or three days old, at most. They’re not even making any noise yet, so I didn’t know they’d hatched. I just figured I’d check in with the camera this afternoon.

June 17, 2009 Posted by | Ohio, Science | , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Sharing some link love

After adding a plug for the new “Collect All 21!” in the latest of John Scalzi’s self-promotion opportunities over at Whatever,  I let the comment thread build a little more and then went back poking around for interesting stuff. Here are a couple things that caught my attention:

This excerpt from David Mack’s upcoming novel The Calling.

An introduction to an online comic saga, Hero, which drew me in with its art and the narration-as-rollover-text presentation, which strikes me as a good way to keep an online reader engaged and focused on every panel.

There was a ton o’stuff to look at –  go explore when you have time.


June 16, 2009 Posted by | Books, Fiction, geek, science fiction, Weblogs, writing | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Akron-Canton Comic Con: Save the Date!

Thanks to West Coast comic book enthusiast Michael Hamersky for this nice weekend mention about the June 28 Akron-Canton Comic Con. I’m looking forward to setting up my table and catching up with Molly Durst (Symphony of the Universe Volumes One and Two now available on Amazon!) and, of course, hanging out with Adam, who’ll be there signing and selling copies of Deus ex Comica.

I’ll have copies of the shiny new edition of Collect All 21! Memoirs of a Star Wars Geek on hand.

Jeff Harper does a fantastic job running these local shows and supporting independent creators, and since admission is just $3 (seriously – three bucks!), that leaves plenty of extra cash in your wallet to, you know – buy books and comics and stuff!

Chapparells Community Center is  just off Interstates 77 and 76 in Akron, so it’s ridiculously easy to find from just about anywhere – so come on in and say hello!


June 15, 2009 Posted by | 1980s, Books, Current Affairs, eighties, Fiction, geek, Ohio, science fiction, writing | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Birds of a feather

At the end of April, I came home one afternoon and saw the obvious beginnings of a bird’s nest on top of our front porch light, right outside the door. Now, I figured I’d be doing the builder a favor by discouraging this from the outset: We have cats who occasionally go outside, for one thing, and the front door is the one that gets the most in-and-out use, so this nest wouldn’t be in the most tranquil of locations.

So I pulled down the half-dozen strands of dried grass and the few twigs tucked up behind the light and went inside.

The next morning, there’s a finished nest up there. I think I want these birds to re-do our bathroom, because this thing was put together neat and sturdy and fully functional overnight.

And there’s a fat robin sitting in it who flaps and complains loudly as soon as the screen door opens.

It’s just high enough that I can’t see into it, so I grab the Flip camera Jenn gave me for Christmas and hold it up near the porch ceiling for a quick blind shoot downward into the nest. A minute later, we’re looking at three tiny blue eggs on the video screen.

We missed the actual hatching, but managed to catch the babies’ growth in a series of short video clips shot between May 10 and May 18:

(Not the greatest quality, I know, but I was shooting sight unseen.)

And judging by this excellently-shot and documented Baby Robin Journal, I think we started filming them at about 4 or 5 days old.

I wasn’t home the day the trio left the next in a kerfuffle, but they seem to have stuck around and set up residence in the tree just outside my window. There’s been a lot of birdnoise out there lately.

Then today, while I was mowing, I saw two youngish birds in the lawn – Jenn had told me last week that she’d seen a baby mourning dove taking a meal out there one afternoon.

I think this is a mourning dove. (Click for a closer look.)

I think this is a mourning dove. (Click for a closer look.)

And then there was this one, which looks kind of like one of the hatchlings from our porch nest:

And of course, about a week ago, we started noticing a bird hanging around the porch again.

The nest isn’t empty anymore:

June 14, 2009 Posted by | Ohio, photos | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Seventeen Saturdays: Episode I

Today marks the first of my scheduled 17 consecutive long-run Saturdays.

Seventeen. Not a big number, really. (Heck, it’s already been 12 Saturdays since I started my freelancing career.) Still, for now it remains hard to wrap my head around the notion that I’ll be spending Saturday No. 18 resting and hanging out at JediCon WV, then waking up the next morning and making a go at my first marathon.

So, being Week Number One of the Hal Higdon novice marathoner’s  training plan, six miles were on the calendar for today. I plotted a 6.17-mile loop, loaded some podcasts on my player, and hit the road a little after 7:15 a.m.

I’ve never run with headphones, at least outside: Most of the time I’m on fairly rural, semi-hilly roads and I like to really be aware of what’s going on around me. And even on a treadmill, listening to music can mess with my pacing, so I’ve generally only used it for shorter runs where I’m trying to keep the adrenaline up and running hard.

That said, I’m facing a lot of miles over awfully familiar ground over the next four-plus months, and as gorgeous as I find the place where I live, well, sometimes, as we learn from Wesley in The Princess Bride novel, you’ve got to be able to take your brain away. I had a couple short podcasts my buddy Ivan had emailed me which I hadn’t gotten to yet, so he kept me company for a bit, and then – since I didn’t really plan ahead on this one – I listened to the latest “Car Talk” episode  from NPR.

I only plugged in one earbud, so I could still hear the world around me, but the audio player did make the run seem to go by more quickly. I’m on the lookout for other podcasts and radio shows – the Totally Rad Show‘s usually a fun listen, and there are a ton of classic sci-fi broadcasts of Dimension X and similar shows, which I love – but I also realized I’ve got a chance here to take in quite a few audiobooks (And dammit, will someone tell me why NONE of the three biggest library systems in Northeast Ohio have the Metatropolis CD ?!? Yes, I know the print version comes out next month, but two of the authors live here in Ohio and it’s a Hugo nominee, for the love o’Pete. Sheesh.), which I haven’t done regularly in the better part of a decade.

So, to finish the tale of the pavement: I didn’t really push myself on this run. It’s been a month since I’ve done anything over the five-mile mark, so I took it easy – even all the way through the finish – and wound up averaging about 9:30 per mile, finishing in just under 59-and-a-half minutes.

Sixteen Saturdays to go.

June 13, 2009 Posted by | Books, Fiction, Ohio, running, science fiction, Sports | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Yars’ Raiding Destruction Road Race USA: The Light and the Dark

LucasArts’  return to its classic Monkey Island video game series got me thinking of all the hours I spent on the family room floor playing Atari, succeeded by the basement setup with our couch and our Commodore 64 and stacks and stacks of floppy disks packed with games from to Agent USA to Zork. I came up with a list of nine I’d love to see reborn for a new generation of consoles and players, and had a ton of fun writing it up for GeekDad: Nine Video Games Ripe for Rebirth.

June 11, 2009 Posted by | 1980s, eighties, Games, geek, video games, Weblogs | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

First step into a larger world.

That’s my right foot going from the house to the front porch just before sunrise today. It was my first step outside on Day One of Marathon Quest 2009. Between me and the Oct. 11 Towpath Marathon – my first – lie 18 weeks. 70 more days of running. 435 total miles. And after that, one more day, and another 26.2 miles.

My brother Adam – who followed the same training schedule last year for his first marathon – hit the road with me this morning. Three miles were on the calendar, and we wound up doing 3.4 at about nine minutes each, leaving me enough energy for a power sprint up the street at the finish.

I came home afterward and put a single ‘X’ through one little box on my chart.

June 9, 2009 Posted by | Ohio, running, Sports | , , , , , | Leave a comment

From action figures to X-ray specs

Kirk Demarais has done it again. As the artist responsible for the new look of “Collect All 21!“, he’s already got my gratitude and admiration in abundance, but now – now he goes and writes this on his Secret Fun Blog:

“…this book is highly entertaining and well written.And here’s the truly amazing thing about it— it’s full of all of your own memories. Really! I spent half the time reading, and the other half experiencing long-forgotten Star Wars flashbacks. It has sent pulses into my brain that are reawakening moments and stories that have been dormant for decades. And when you enjoy visiting the past as often as I do, that’s no small feat.”

This is an incredibly rewarding thing to hear, and Kirk is making it awfully difficult for me to thank him enough for his contribution and support of my book. That said, hopefully I can start by returning the favor somewhat:

If you picked up a comic book pretty much ever, then you were probably intrigued and mystified and enticed by those oddly vague ads for ultra-cheap stuff like “Life-Size Monsters!” and “Eight Billion Army Men in a Sturdy Footlocker” and pranks like Sneezing Powder and Hot Pepper Gum. I know I was. (Never enough to actually send away for any of it, of course – I mean, spending money was for Star Wars loot.)

Well, Kirk’s uncovered some of the mysteries for us:

Life of the Party - available at McPhee.com

Life of the Party - available at McPhee.com

Archie McPhee, purveyors of Great Piles o’Awesome like the Cold War Unicorns Play Set, now sells Kirk’s book “Life of the Party: A Visual History of the S.S. Adams Company, Makers of Pranks & Magic for 100 Years” and has lopped almost half the original cover price off this big 200-page hardcover pictorial history.

Kirk’s dedication to and love for these long-lost bits of pop culture oddity is apparent in his short film Flip,  on his blog and Secret Fun Spot, and I can’t wait to dig into this book.

And – almost as if I did send away for those X-Ray Specs when I was eight – I am already watching the mailbox in anticipation of my just-ordered copy’s arrival.


June 9, 2009 Posted by | 1980s, Books, eighties, geek, science fiction, Weblogs, writing | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A routine expedition? I think not.

Not that we’d planned to see the new Land of the Lost movie, but wow, judging by the reviews and the box office, it sounds like Kelsey and I have been much better served having spent our time watching several of the original television episodes during the Sci-Fi channel’s marathons.

What I remembered about “Land of the Lost” from when I was a kid was mostly bits and pieces: The opening credits and the theme song. Sleestaks. (Which, it seems to be generally agreed upon by people of a certain age, were utterly terrifying, what with the hissing and the creepy slinking and the big shark-black eyes and all.) Pylons and crystals that looked like giant Lite Brite pegs. Dinosaurs. That’s about it – nothing about specific episodes or storylines or the tone of the show. (I had also never realized that Dad/Rick Marshall actually escaped the Land of the Lost in the third season opener to be conveniently replaced by Uncle Jack.)

Then, while doing some homework for the GeekDad Father’s Day Gift Guide, I learned about the impressive list of science-fiction writers who’d worked on the show – Larry Niven, Norman Spinrad, Ben Bova and Theodore Sturgeon, for instance – and I was intrigued enough to set the DVR to record something like eight or ten episodes. (There’s a good 2004 interview with writer David Gerrold about season one, when most of those writers contributed, in the TV Shows on DVD archives.)

Truthfully, I didn’t have high hopes for my return down that thousand-foot waterfall. A few years back, I thought it would be fun to check out the Hanna-Barbera “Godzilla” cartoon my friends and I loved to watch on Saturday mornings in the late 1970s. It sucked. And I don’t even remember being super-attached to “Land of the Lost” in the first place – it was just another one of those Sid & Marty Krofft shows.

So watching “Land of the Lost” for the first time in probably close to 30 years, with my skeptical 12-year-old daughter along for the ride, I’m more than pleasantly surprised to find that:

The opening theme is exactly as I’ve recalled, down to the timing of the Marshalls’ scream as they plunge over the falls, and the miniatures-and-bluescreen work are also just as cheesy as I remember too.

The Sleestaks are still creepy: My daughter says so, without any prompting, and I find this strangely comforting.

For all the laughable special effects and simplistic acting, there’s actually some decent storytelling crammed into these sub-30-minute episodes, and the show’s tone is completely unlike the almost-all-for-laughs atmosphere of every other Krofft production that comes to mind. Multiple time streams, dead alien races, mind trips, travelers stuck halfway between worlds, questions that go unanswered and mysteries left that way. And while there are sitcom-esque one-liners regularly stuck in the Marshalls’ banter, for the most part, everything’s played straight: This is a bizarre and deadly world these kids and their dad (and later, uncle) are stuck in.

Kelsey & I liked this a lot more than we were prepared to, and I’m sad that we missed out on seeing most of the first season episodes, but that’s what DVD sets are for, and the summer stretches out ahead of us like a watercolor matte painting of an abandoned Altrusian metropolis.

June 8, 2009 Posted by | 1980s, Current Affairs, eighties, Film, geek, science fiction, Television | , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Strange things are afoot at the Circle K.

That guy on Mars? Yeah, hes a distant cousin. Kind of the family black sheep.

"That guy on Mars? Yeah, he's a distant cousin. Kind of the family black sheep."

So thanks to this guy at the left, whom I found loitering outside the water dispenser at a local gas station, I learned a new word today: pareidolia. Seeing faces in, say, a jar of peanut butter or an extraterrestrial landscape. Even Lenin in a shower curtain.

Couldn’t find “pareidolia” in my American Heritage Dictionary, though. Not on Merriam-Webster, either. (Although among M-W.com’s suggestions as to what it thinks I meant to type are Parida, La, paradiddle, and, inexplicably, Barred Owl.) Possibly the word is too new and too infrequently used, or maybe even unnecessary.

At any rate, I’ve had fun poking around the examples at Fortean Times, forgetomori and Flickr. Sadly, when I filled our water jugs, I accidentally blotted the guy’s eye out and turned his nose into an exploding cartoon cannon.

June 7, 2009 Posted by | photos, Web/Tech, Weblogs | , , , , , | Leave a comment

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