Cornfield Meet

Things collide here.

The Hero Factory: Don’t Hold Out

The Hero Factory. (FYI, watch your computer's volume level if you're at work, unless you're in the sort of place that won't mind supersynth versions of '80s pop.)

I have yet to figure out if this is part of some ad campaign or not – sometimes it's tough to tell with Crispin Porter + Bogusky – but it is an awfully damn fun way to spend five minutes and wind up with make-yourself-into-a-comic-hero coolness like this:

Wings? Check. Corrective-lens mask? Check. Old-school joystick emblem? Check. Lightsaber? Well, DUH.

(The randomly-generated name? Could've been better. Still, I'd trade my vintage Lobot if I could get Sergeant Masked Knight here in an action figure form.)

Edit: According to this blog, this was created last December for CP+B's holiday party invite.


March 12, 2009 Posted by | Current Affairs, eighties, geek, Web/Tech, Weblogs | Leave a comment

The first rule of Star Wars prequel enjoyment: Do not talk about Star Wars prequels.

Ten years ago, I was:

Twenty-eight years old, working at The Orlando Sentinel.

Living in Orlando with my wife and daughter and our first house.

Still a relatively new dad. Kelsey was on the verge of turning two. And yes, at the time we couldn’t believe how fast she was growing, and yes, now that she’s closing in on the last of her pre-teen years, I’m even more floored.

Absolutely ridiculously dorktastically geared up for a whole brand new Star Wars movie!!!! (And yes, spoiler-free, baby, SPOI – LER – FREEEEE! Woohoo!) Oh, man, this was totally going to rockrockROCK!

We all know what happened next. But despite the many, many flaws in Episodes One, Two and Three, I’m still emotionally attached to the Prequel Era because so much of my enjoyment of the saga over the past decade has had, really, very little to do with the movies themselves. It’s been about things like road trips to Star Wars Celebration in Indianapolis, getting to meet people who worked on the original trilogy, watching my daughter grow to enjoy the movies,and summer cookouts with friends where we watch our kids fight with foam-noodle lightsabers.

And this was a fun thing to explore in “Collect All 21!” – here’s an excerpt:

I was working in the Sentinel’s ad dummying department by the time the buzz was building over the first new Star Wars movie in 16 years.

I’d read a fair amount of speculation about the movie – my buddy Ivan and I once mailed each other copies of the Entertainment Weekly issue with an article about Ewan MacGregor as Obi-Wan, neither of us having any clue the other was chucking the same thing in the mail – but when it got closer, I decided to stay spoiler-free, limiting myself to the occasional sterile Lucasfilm-issued statement or picture.

Which means that by the time The Phantom Menace teaser trailer showed up online, I was hungry for it. I downloaded it onto my workstation the first chance I got, and it took me a bunch of tries because the connection kept timing out or locking up.

When the words “Every generation has a legend” appeared, I actually felt a lump in my throat. God, yes: Every generation – my generation – and this was our legend, returning to the big screen…

I watched it over and over and over. I downloaded a screensaver program that would play it silently on my desktop when I wasn’t there, and I’d come back to find people hovering at my cubicle. The paper’s movie writer asked how we could get the file up to his computer since it was too big to send through the office email system.

When they showed it on the local evening news, I videotaped it. I may not have known what to make of it, but I had the thing memorized within days.

When the second trailer came out and debuted on “The Today Show,” I videotaped that one, too. And grabbed it for the work computer. And when my brother-in-law and I went to see The Matrix, we called ahead to make sure we were catching a showing with the Episode I preview attached.

That spring, my friend Jim went to the first Star Wars Celebration in Denver. He said it was a rain-sopped, poorly-planned crowded mess – and he had a blast anyway, so I was jealous as hell.

In the mornings, Jenn left for work before I did. I’d get Kelsey ready to go to her grandma’s and drop her off on my way in to the Sentinel. She was a little over a year old, and we made a habit of watching the two videotaped Phantom Menace trailers every day as we sat on the carpeted step between our dining room and our living room putting on our shoes.

One day, either before or after this little ritual, I quoted part of the trailer out loud to myself: “Wipe them out. All of them.”

And my daughter, without hesitation, delivered the follow-up line: “Nooooooooooooo!”

It was gorgeous. Not even two yet and already quoting Star Wars. That moment alone is worth the price of the Prequel Era.

Two seconds after re-reading those last two sentences, I just watched my daughter head out the door for another day of middle school. In her bookbag is a permission slip I was asked to sign last night allowing her to watch a movie in class for a unit they’re studying.

It’s Star Wars.

March 10, 2009 Posted by | 1980s, Books, Current Affairs, eighties, Film, geek, Ohio, writing | Leave a comment

Unrelated Moments of Awesome

While I was driving northbound this morning, the sunrise was preceded by a monumentally gorgeous sun pillar that rose just as I was reaching a stretch of highway where I could see hills and trees to the horizon. If I hadn't been on an interstate, I would have pulled off and taken a picture even though all I had was my crappy cellphone camera. The column shifted from deep red to a rich orange and finally butter yellow before the sun itself was visible.

And now for something completely different but still impressive and joyous: Recently, Artist Glen Mullaly pulled off an amazing bit of marriage proposal magickery involving a bookstore, an original illustration, and Ripley's Believe It Or Not. Congratulations!

Finally,Adam unveiled the full cover of "Deus ex Comica" today, and it's Awfully. Freaking. Schweet. Gonna look good on my shelf, that one!

March 3, 2009 Posted by | 1980s, Current Affairs, eighties, geek, Travel | 2 Comments

The Lion Quaffs Shamrock Shakes Tonight

Every Feb. 28, Keith and his buddy Pete go out at midnight to celebrate March’s arrival with a run. (Update: It’s actually got a name – The “In Like A Lion” Run. Forgot to mention that!) They’ve never managed to get anyone else to join them.

Until this year. I said yes.

And Cedric said yes.

And Dan said yes. Ladies & gentlemen, we have a five-runner field!

So, we start gathering a little bit before 11 p.m. at Keith’s house to find that his wife Marcia not only created race-day number bibs for us (I’m number 42 – the answer to Life, the Universe and Everything), but she’s also put them in manila envelope Race Day Packets along with glo-sticks, green-sprinkled sugar cookies, temporary St. Patrick’s Day tattoos, green bow ties, and a single McDonald’s straw for each of us for the traditional post-run enjoyment of Shamrock Shakes.

A crepe paper Finish Line is draped across the table.

It’s fantastic.

The guys arrive one by one, and as midnight nears, we gear up in layers upon layers and don our numbers and headlamps. I decide to run with red and green glo-sticks in my hand.

At 11:55, we head outside. It’s colder than I’ve ever run: about 12 degrees. Dry, though, with low scattered clouds. And even though it’s not a race and totally just a goofy fun
thing to do, and even though I’ve been assured that we’ll keep an easy pace and it’s all stress-free, I’ve got a not-unenjoyable little knot of nerves and adrenaline tensing in my chest.

We count the final seconds down, and take off hard for maybe 15 or 20 seconds, just for fun, then ease alongside each other while we head through the neighborhood and up toward the nearby hike& bike trail.

It’s unlit and runs in and out of wooded areas, across roads and bridges, up and down a few not-too-severe hills. I jog with Pete awhile at the head of the pack. He drops back for a traditional round of calisthenics with Keith at an intersection, then takes a detour up a potentially neck-breaking set of steep concrete steps and for a few minutes, I’m alone at the front. Even though Cedric is close enough behind me that I can hear his footsteps and see my shadow leading me in the glow of his lamp, I still feel the darkness and the quiet, and I realize how much I’m enjoying this. The stars are bright in the empty spaces between the clouds, which are reflecting the streetlight glow of suburbs and, more distantly, the city’s center.

I’m not cold at all.

Pete catches up with me again with an insanely effortless dash down a bramble-packed hillside and picks up our conversation again.

At his next calisthenics break, he jogs back to meet up with Keith.

Cedric pulls even and we keep on going, not saying much, just running through dark woods where you can hear water running in the valley below and the occasional snapping of a twig or rustling of a leaf. At about the 2.5-mile mark, we decide we’ll turn around at the top of the massive hill we’re climbing and call it an even three before turning back.

Two-thirds of the way up, we’re stopped by hollers from Keith and Pete.

“Guys! We were turning back at Mile Two!”


We turn around, set paces again, and I wind up finishing the stretch home with Pete.

After a cool-down walk – which doesn’t take long, since as soon as I stopped running, it got cold real fast – the five of us stood on the front porch and stepped in unison through the Finish Line stretched across the top step.

And then we went in for the Best Shamrock Shakes Ever.

March 1, 2009 Posted by | Current Affairs, Games, running, Sports, Weblogs | 8 Comments

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