It’s been a fun couple months: In late February, I received an advance copy of John Scalzi’s new novel, Fuzzy Nation, a reboot of the H. Beam Piper classic Little Fuzzy. A couple weeks later, I interviewed him about the project for GeekDad, and this week, I wrote a review of the book itself.
Fuzzy Nation comes out May 10, but if you want more than that out of me, you’re going to have to click on those links and read the pieces over at GeekDad.
Outside, it’s been gray and rainy all day.
Not so inside.
I woke up first this morning and got in the shower. Afterward, I went to wake up Kelsey and found that she wasn’t in her room – but she was also nowhere in the house: On my way to the coffee maker, I saw her walking through the backyard in pajamas and rain boots, heading for a rogue patch of daffodils that sprouts up in at the edge of the woods. Then she went around front and found a purple hyacinth with a broken stem. When I unlocked the front door for her, she was only a little disappointed to find that she wasn’t going to completely surprise us with the flowers on the table.
Jenn and Kelsey and I dyed and decorated eggs this afternoon – after K.and I chilled out with a couple of our favorite Doctor Who episodes.
Pretty soon, our table was populated by The Pink Panther,
and this guy,
and a fish,
and this creation that reminds me of Gossamer from the Bugs Bunny cartoons:
and yes, They Might Be Giants fans, an egg with a purple toupee:
I hope your day has been enjoyable and colorful in its own way, too.
Do I prefer the original-era Star Wars movies and toys to the saga’s post-1997 era?
Lest I be accused of Hating All Things Modern Star Wars, however, I present here some clear evidence that in not all cases is The Force with the old-school side of things.
I met Bonnie Burton at Star Wars Celebration V last summer, found myself wowed by her craft skills and creativity, and was bowled over again by her talents on display in The Star Wars Craft Book, which I reviewed for GeekDad. (Spoiler alert: It’s good. If you’re a Star Wars parent, go order it.)
And while I was making my Admiral Sackbar puppet, I thought more than once about the Star Wars Activity Books we had back in the late ’70s.
Consider this display of some projects from Bonnie’s book:
Now, flash back with me to a page from one of the vintage Star Wars Activity Books – helpfully provided by fellow Rebelscum.com vintage forum member Chris Anthony:
Yeah, that’s um… okay. Maybe we’re being unfair here, showing off all those fancy-type crafts. Let’s just compare, oh, say, puppets.
The aforementioned Admiral Sackbar:
and the R2-D2 puppet (?) from the vintage book:
Bonnie’s AT-AT planter:
and the old-fashioned X-Wing for which you’d run around the house pulling all the toilet paper and paper towels off the rolls, ticking mom off to no end:
And if you have a milk or juice carton around, which would you rather make:
…or a sandcrawler which requires you to apparently visit a 1950’s soda fountain to find axles?
Here’s the thing: I actually owned a couple of those activity books, and seeing these pages still stirs that nostalgia.
But this time – this time -
Saturday afternoon, I surprised Kelsey with a pair of tickets to the NCAA Women’s Gymnastics Championships up at the Wolstein Center in Cleveland.
These were the team finals – the top 6 teams from the field of 12 qualifiers: Alabama, Michigan, Nebraska, Oklahoma, UCLA, and Utah. Seriously excellent programs, several of which we’ve watched on TV more than a few times in recent years, with really talent-packed teams.
I’ll admit that I had to be talked into it: Not for a lack of enthusiasm, but because there was a lot of stuff I wanted to get done, and awhile back we’d told Kelsey we probably wouldn’t be able to go anyway. So it was really a last-minute decision made Friday night when Jenn pointed out that the finals are usually held in one of the powerhouse college arenas – in other words, someplace not Cleveland (although, hey: Kent State qualified for this year’s championships, even if they didn’t make the Super Six finals on Saturday). And in fact, the “When are you going to get this chance again?” card worked perfectly, and Kelsey was pleasantly surprised, if not jump-around-spazzy, when I told her.
So even though we knew we’d have an enjoyable time, we really weren’t prepared for what happened when we got to the arena about a half-hour before the competition was set to start: Just seeing all the teams warming up, and realizing how close our seats were (four rows up), and being around the big groups of parents and fans who’d come here and were decked out in their school colors and keyed up for the competition, Kels and I had near-simultaneous moments of, “OhMyGoshWe’reAtTheNationalFreakingChampionships.“
The next three hours flew past – I was utterly unprepared for how quickly the competition unfolded, and how much fun it was going to be struggling to try and take in everything even though that’s all but impossible with four events going on all at once. You don’t get that sense from watching on TV, since they shoot every gymnast on every event and then edit the broadcast into a linear progression. (Now and then, you’ll catch something in the background – a gymnast’s beam routine that you watched a few minutes prior, for instance, visible during a tumbling pass on the floor.)
I got lucky and snapped this cell phone shot capturing four competitors in action at the same moment:
The other photos I took – admittedly, they’re not great quality, being sports action shots in an arena with flash photography prohibited – are here.
Kelsey and I were sitting in a section of friendly Nebraska fans, with the uneven bars right in front of us. Here’s a cell phone video of Michigan’s Sarah Curtis – one of my favorite collegiate gymnasts of the past few seasons – competing:
We had such a good time, and were sad when it ended, although we’re looking forward to seeing it when CBS broadcasts the event on May 14. (It will also be cool because despite knowing the outcome, we’ll get to see the routines we missed in person.)
After the trophies had all been handed out, we just kind of lingered, watching the athletes and the coaches mill around on the floor, chatting and taking pictures. The individual event finals weren’t held until the next day (today), but for the team competitors, in some cases, this was their last meet, and you could kind of feel, with the elation and excitement of the afternoon slowly dwindling, that sense of not wanting it all behind just yet.
Friday night, my younger brother came over and hung out for a bit. Then I dove into my first play of Dead Space: Extraction.
After lunch Saturday, Jenn, Kelsey, Kels’ friend A. and I all headed north for a long-planned get-together. Things kicked off with a ten person, nearly four -hour marathon Rock Band 3 session with excellent friends who accommodated a last minute upheaval in plans and did not throw sharp objects at my neck when I requested lead vocals on “Through the Fire and Flames.” Also, there were chips and salsa and Skittles. Lots of them.
With same friends, TACO NIGHT IN AMERICA, followed by several hours of general goodtiminess, including introducing my daughter and her friend to Better Off Dead. From 1:45-5 a.m., a four-man game of Castle Ravenloft in which a timely roll of 20 brought our party from the brink of doom – seriously: the Rogue who rolled it had just used a healing surge to go from “Mostly Dead” to “Leveling Up and Unleashing Hell in Dagger Form” at the toss of a die – to a zombie/skeleton/gargoyle/kobold sorcerer-crushing victory.
And have I mentioned that it’s sunny and close to 80 degrees here in Ohio today?
George Krstic’s Tweet asking, “Who misses Children’s Palace?“, sent me digging into the Booth photo archives. (Because, well, the answer to his question is a resounding, “I do!”)
“Classic” logo on the Coke 2-liter? Check.
Dual cassette deck AND turntable stereo system? Check.
Someone in the reflection behind me trying on the ginormous Peter Panda head? CHECKMATE.
I also have this odd tangible reminder of the most awesome of awesomest toy stores:
I dunno – maybe it was a giveaway or something, because I certainly can’t imagine that my parents would have paid money to put Children’s Palace ad space on our kitchen counter.
Two weeks ago, I posted Part One of a Super Geeky Star Wars Nostalgia Podcast with Cleveland artist Len Peralta, creator of Geek A Week and the new 50 vs. 50 Heroes & Villains Mission. Quest. Thing.
Here’s Part Two, in which we discuss not only the merits of Kenner’s Return of the Jedi toy line, but the art and craft of boombox television recording, reliving Star Wars before you could watch it on TV any darn time you wanted, and lame Halloween costumes. Also, it turns out Len does an impressive Artoo-Detoo impersonation.